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Preparing digital files for output can be a complicated affair. Below we offer advice and recommendations on how you should proceed setting up your graphics for maximum efficiency and clarity.

General Recommendations

We use primarily Macintosh computers here at Chattanooga Printing & Engraving though we can use some Windows based files. Sending us press quality PDF files is preferred unless file editing needs to be done, in which case please send us your original layout files. Please see below for a list removable medias we can read and a list of applications we support. If your disk media or application is not listed we may have to make special arrangements to complete your order.
The most common problem in Digital Imaging is missing files. When preparing for output be sure to include the following: The actual file to be imaged (be sure and include the name of this file when ordering) Any support files that have been placed in the file to be imaged. All font files used in the image file or support files (missing fonts is the single most common production problem).
When preparing digital files for output it is almost always a good idea to set them up at 100% of the size, resolution and proportion of the desired final image. If you are unable to work at 100% we ask that you work at half or quarter size (50% or 25%) and double check your proportions and resolution. If your art bleeds off the page please be sure to add an eighth inch bleed to your document. (1/8 inch extra image on each side of the page)

Currently Supported Software:



Adobe Photoshop CS6
Adobe Illustrator CS6
Adobe InDesign CS6
Adobe Acrobat X Pro (PDF Format)
Freehand 10


In addition to the applications listed above we also accept files in Microsoft Word. Please note that this program is often problematic when it comes to producing printable output and may require additional time to work with.We cannot currently open Publisher or Coraldraw files.

We can read files from the following storage formats:

  • CD & DVD disks
  • USB Flash drives
We can also receive files vie the internet through E-mail and Internet FTP. Files sent over the internet should be compressed in either .zip or stuffit .sit formats.

To send files to Chattanooga Printing via email, you can attach a file(s) up to 10mb in size total and email it to us at

To send files to us larger than 10MB and up to 2GB each in size (total per upload), please use our online FTP Dropbox link.

Please send press quality resolution PDF files with fonts embedded and/or packaged layout files with all linked images and fonts used included.

We want to make using electronic file submission an easy task. To help make the pre-press phase of your projects trouble free, please follow the electronic file specifications and pre-press information below.

Supplied Media
We accept files for primarily Macintosh.
Please provide hard copy dummy or mock up at the time you submit your files so we may compare to our proofs. This will help avoid problems and save time.
Popular software: InDesign, Illustrator, PhotoShop, and FreeHand.
We use Adobe Creative Suite 6 currently. Please save down newer versions to the CS4 Interchange file format (.IDML).

Supported File Formats
All native file formats from popular desktop publishing software (InDesign, Illustrator, PhotoShop, and FreeHand.)
PDF files optimized for print

Only send the documents that you want us to output. Delete all other files from the disk you supply to us.
Make sure the document is the actual size being printed. If not, please specify enlargement or reduction for imaging.
Gather all "output documents", "fonts" and "links" and place them into three individual folders.
Always supply laser prints with your job. We need these to compare to the proofs.

Supply all screen and printer fonts, or truetype fonts used in the job and linked images/graphics.
Avoid assigning type attributes (bold, italic, bold italic); instead, use the correct font. (This will avoid using a type style you do not have an actual screen and printer font for.)
Avoid Multiple Master fonts.
If text is intended to look black, please ensure that all text is 100% black with no other colors added and also set to overprint the background unless the text needs to knockout the underlaying color for visual affect.

Bleeds: Any image that bleeds off the page must extend at least 1/8" (.125").
Live Area: This is your graphics and type that cannot bleed or it will be trimmed into during finishing/bindery. All type and graphics not intended to bleed, must be a minimum of 3/16" clear and free from the head, foot, face, gutter or trim area.
All photos must be at least 300 dpi. All line art or bitmap images needs to be 1200 dpi.
Supply all fonts and placed images with your linked supports.
When creating silhouettes use the path tool. (Remember to turn clipping path "on" and flatness setting of "8" when saving your EPS.)
Rotate and size images in the original program: Illustrator, Freehand, Photoshop, before importing into Indesign; they will image faster.
Do not embed graphics. If graphics are embedded, supply the original graphics with the job also.
To reduce banding in gradations, use a broad range (e.g. 5%-95% as opposed to 40%-60%).
Do not use JPEGS. Support files need to be EPS or Tiff files.
Remove extra channels from Photoshop files.
Try to avoid doing typesetting in Photoshop files. Use Indesign instead. Photoshop tends to change 100% black text to CMYK black text when rasterized and flattened.
All images must be in CMYK mode if possible, otherwise we will convert RGB colors to CYMK before printing. This can cause color shifting in images.


Try to ensure there is extra image area in the pages of your file. A minimum of .125 inch bleeds on all sides of the pages for any images that run off the edges, and a minimum of .125 inch space inward from the page edge is best to keep text from getting too close to the trim edge but between .25 and .50 inches is optimal. Total page count should always fall on an even number due to how the pages are arranged on the press sheets and later folded down into final form.

If the file will be in full color, please ensure that all black text is some percentage of pure black where possible. Image resolution for linked images should be at 300 dpi for best print quality, anything less than 150 dpi tends to look pixelated or low quality. If linked images are not included or found for an Indesign layout file the resulting graphics will print out pixelated and poor resolution. TIFF or JPEG CMYK or greyscale image formats are preferred for photo images linked into a layout file. PDF and EPS CMYK or greyscale file formats are preferred for graphics (with or without included text) linked into a layout file. Other file formats can been used but may not turn out quite as well.

All used fonts should be either embedded in print quality PDF files sent to us or packaged with the Indesign file along with all linked graphics: File>Package>Package>(save folder). Otherwise I will use our system fonts if needed which might not look exactly the same as intended.

Ink saturation is also something to check for full color graphics. Usually we don't like to run something on press that is over 300% ink coverage to avoid runny ink spots. I will include instructions below on how to check for and adjust for total ink saturation. Otherwise I make any necessary adjustments here if I can edit the images, depending on what sort of files I am given. Some shift in overall color tonality can occur when I do this.

If the file will be all or mostly greyscale, same as above except for ink saturation. Please ensure all text and graphics are greyscale and/or pure black where possible, otherwise I will make the adjustments as needed and where possible. Some shift in tonality is possible when I do this.

Pertaining to the issue of total ink saturation in print files - Basically there shouldn't be more than 300% total ink coverage in an image for press printing, otherwise the inks saturate the paper too much and cause problems, slowing down the printing process.

To check for total ink coverage:
Open the PDF file in Acrobat (I am using ver 9) and select the following menu: Advanced>Print Production>Output Preview + select the checkbox for Total Ink Coverage and select 300%. The color saturation over 300% will show up as a bright color on the page. These areas need to be adjusted for less ink coverage overall to be optimally printable on press.

Or to check file in Indesign (I am using CS6) select the following menu: Window>Output>Separations Preview + select the dropdown menu for Ink Limit and select the second dropdown menu of 300%. The color saturation over 300% will show up as a bright color on the page. These areas need to be adjusted for less ink coverage overall to be optimally printable on press.

To adjust the total ink coverage:
If you want to adjust the images yourself, this is the method I use in Photoshop CS6: You can check the color numerical values of images with the Info panel and eyedropper tool in Photoshop. The total percentage of each color will be shown in the Info window. Too much ink saturation tends to be in the shadows on images and can be adjusted downwards just in the Black color range without affecting overall color too much. Go to Image>Adjustments>Selective Color + Select Black from the dropdown menu and lower the Cyan, Magenta and Yellow color values by -15% or -20% and set the Black to 10% or 15% respectively. Toggle the method buttons at the bottom between Relative and Absolute with the Preview checkbox on to see which method looks better. Adjust the numbers as you see fit but the goal is to reduce the overall ink coverage to 300 or below. Check the areas with the eyedropper and Info window to see if the numbers dropped sufficiently - the totals will be shown with current numbers on the left and the preview adjusted numbers on the right. Once the totals look right, hit Return on the adjustments to run it. Repeat as needed.

If you have any questions, please email or call us.

When Sending A Digital File Please Check the Following:


Images - When saving an image as a digital file, save it at twice the resolution you intend to use on the printed piece. For example:

Printed piece needs to be 150 line screen... Save your image at 300 dpi
Printed piece needs to be 200 line screen... Save your image at 400 dpi

Save your images in CMYK Color mode (or inform us if you are using RGB images).


Locating all the files used in a document can sometimes be difficult, especially when it comes down to finding fonts hidden in obscure places on your system. There are several programs on the market that can automate the process for you. Extensis Collect Pro is one. Adobe Indesign has a Package menu command for gathering all linked images and fonts for a file as well.

Tiffs & EPS - Be sure to send all files that are linked to the document and make sure all tiffs and eps files are linked and up-to-date in the document.

Text - If you have imported ASCII or other text into your document, there is no need to send the original files since they are not required after importing them.

A note about fonts:

Type fonts come in two major varieties, True Type and Postscript. The True Type format is most common on the Windows platform. The problem with True Type is that it is incompatible with our postscript RIPs. When you have a choice please use Postscript Type 1 Fonts. If you must use a True Type font, include it with your order and we will convert it to a Postscript font. A True Type font is contained in one file which on a Mac looks like this: , postscript fonts on the other hand always have at least two often more files for any single set, this fact can cause some confusion. Each Postscript font will have a printer file (containing the postscript line art) which on a Mac might look like this: or this: and a screen font (containing a bitmap drawing used for rendering the font to screen) which looks like this: . To further complicate matters screen fonts and True Type fonts can be gathered together inside a file called a suitcase which looks like this: . Variations of fonts require separate files, for example, the times family has A Times-plain, Times-Italic, Time-Bold and Times-Bold-Italic. This set will have 4 printer fonts and at least one screen font for each of the 4 variations. Since screen fonts are used for displaying text on screen, fonts often have several screen fonts of different point sizes for each printer font file. Only one screen font per printer font is necessary. OpenType is a format for scalable computer fonts. The symbol looks like this : It was built on its predecessor TrueType, retaining TrueType's basic structure and adding many intricate data structures for prescribing typographic behavior. Because of wide availability and typographic flexibility, including provisions for handling the diverse behaviors of all the world's writing systems, OpenType fonts are used commonly today on the major computer platforms. However sometimes using these fonts are problematic so please include all opentype fonts with your files as needed.

Application specific notes (Problems to watch out for)

Adobe InDesign:
If you are combining multiple graphics into a single page or multiple page document you should use one of these page layout programs. We prefer InDesign. Photoshop, Illustrator and other drawing programs can do many of the same functions of page layout programs but they tend to get bogged down when large files are placed in them. Avoid using a drawing program for layouts with large graphics. Create your layouts at full size whenever possible. Adding crop marks in the document itself is unnecessary if you have sized your document correctly as crop marks are added when the document is printed.
If you document does not bleed to white add an eighth inch bleed to the document by having your elements hang over the page edge. This bleed will print and the crop marks will indicate the page edge.
Please set up you document in reader spreads. You might think it would help us to set it up in printer spreads but it doesn't. If your document is 2 pages side by side set it up that way and not as one big page. Most programs will allow you to print a 2 page spread in one piece.
Adobe Illustrator:
Output resolution: Illustrator allows access to the output resolution of vector graphics, which is a different feature than the pixel based resolution of raster image files. The output resolution can create problems if set to low, circles appear not as curves but as a series of short connected lines. To avoid these problems make sure the output resolution is set correctly. Adobe says the optimal output resolution is 800 dpi, remember this number is relative to the enlargement factor, for example: if a documents output resolution is set at 800 dpi and the document is enlarged 400% the output resolution at final size will be 200dpi, too small (this is the typical problem). The output resolution should always reflect the enlargement factor. The correct output resolution for this example is 800 dpi X 4 = 3200dpi. You can set the output resolution in the Document Setup window (under the File Menu), however this only sets the output resolution of objects you create after you enter this number. If you need to change the output resolution of existing graphics do this: Select All (or the graphic you wish to change), open the Attributes palette, enter the new output resolution and press return. This may be an issue in other Drawing programs as well, consult your manuals for more information.
Overprinting: You can set objects to overprint in Illustrator by selecting them and checking a box labeled "overprint" in the attributes palette which is useful when you want to achieve a specific effect. With four color process work overprinting is rarely used and can be problematic. Two things you should keep in mind: 1) In our Scitex RIP Black overprints automatically so there is no need to set it manually, 2) A white object that is set to overprint will disappear.

Transparency: Adobe Illustrator 9 supports a wide reaching transparency feature which allows you to set the opacity of almost any object. While this feature looks great we have found it to be difficult to RIP. A more reliable workflow might be to export your illustration to a TIFF file and place that in your final layout. If you do that it may be a good idea to include the native illustrator document with your job in case we have to modify and re-export it.

Macromedia Freehand

Freehand is a popular illustration and layout program and is used by many of our customers. In general Freehand does a good job doing the wide range of tasks under its umbrella. Our main complaint with this program is how it handles high resolution images. When you open a Freehand file with images in it Freehand scans each image file and creates a low rez proxy image for use on screen at that time. If you have a large document with multiple pages and lots of images it can take a long time even with a fast machine just to open the file. Other programs such as Quark Express create a low rez image when you first place the image and then store it in the layout file so that opening the file take much less time. This is why we recomend useing one of the three layout programs to do multiple page documents. If you do want to use Freehand as your page layout program we recomend that you brake down a large document into sections and create separate documents for each section. For example: if your document is 64 pages create two 32 page sections or if you are useing alot of images brake it down into four 16 page sections.


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2014 Chattanooga Printing & Engraving, LLC
Last updated 12/2014