Frequently Asked Questions About Print
Got a question about print? Here are some answers to questions that Sphinx Business Solutions customers ask frequently. We want your project to be just right . . . just let us know if you have a question and we'll do our best to help.
- What type of products and services do you provide?
- How do I go about getting an estimate from you?
- Tips on how to save your design files
- At what resolution should I save my photos and graphics?
- Can you print on glossy paper?
- What is a proof and why is it important that I look at it?
- What are PMS colors?
- What Are CMYK Colors?
- Why do the printed colors look different from the colors on my screen?
- Is white considered a printing color?
- What file format should I use when submitting my electronic document for printing?
- Once I submit the documents, how long will it take to finish my job?
- What is digital color?
- What is variable data printing?
- What do I need to provide for variable data projects?
What type of products and services do you provide?
Good question! There's not much in the area of print that we can't do or source for our clients. Sphinx still produces most of our projects in-house, but we regularly manage complex printing work that may be produced all or in part by one of our partner companies. Sphinx Business Solutions provides print management services for many of our clients, providing the expertise needed to design, source, and produce a wide range of printed products.
How do I go about getting an estimate from you?
Tips on how to save your design files
We greatly recommend converting your files to Adobe .pdf format before sending them for print. Sometimes, this can get a bit complicated, so here are a few tips:
- If possible, select the PDFX-1A joboptions format. This will not be available from all applications, but will solve lots of problems if it is
- Embed all fonts. If there is a subset option, set it to 0%
- Make sure all color is in CMYK color mode
Sphinx will accept native documents created in Adobe CS applications and Quark. Please make sure to send all supporting (linked) files and fonts along in a zipped file. Files can be packaged from InDesign using the "package" option in the File menu. In Quark, save the file, make sure all fonts are present, and use "collect for output" under the file menu.
Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Word are really not recommended for print production. We strongly recommend conversion of Publisher and Word files to .pdf using Adobe Acrobat. Some versions of Publisher have a "pack and go" option that allows images, text and fonts to be collected for print providers. This is a good thing, but not foolproof.
Call us if you need help with file creation. We'll suggest the best option for the software platform you use. And don't worry. We'll call if we find a problem.
At what resolution should I save my photos and graphics?
We recommend a minimum resolution of 300 dpi at final size.
Pictures and graphics pulled from the internet are often low resolution, typically 72 dpi or 96 dpi. Avoid these graphics, as they will appear pixilated and blocky when printed.
Also note that you should save all photos in CMYK mode, not RGB mode when possible. Colors saved in RGB mode may not reproduce correctly.
Can you print on glossy paper?
You bet! Sphinx Business Solutions offers a selection of coated (gloss), uncoated papers, and even fine writing paper. We'll help you make a selection that's perfect for your project.
What is a proof and why is it important that I look at it?
In printing terms, a proof is a one-off copy of your document after all modifications and printing setup processes have been completed. It is your last and best opportunity to make sure that the print job comes out the way you want. By carefully inspecting the proof, you can help us assure an accurate, flawless delivery of your print job on the first run. Please make sure to review Sphinx's proof policy and let us know if you have any questions about the process.
What are PMS colors?
The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a color reproduction standard in which colors all across the spectrum are each identified by a unique, independent number. PMS colors are "spot colors," which means that they are named colors that use a specially mixed ink. The use of PMS allows us to precisely match colors and maintain color consistency throughout the printing process.
What Are CMYK Colors?
CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. These colors are also called process color. Process printing combines these four inks in a way that creates a spectrum of color, also called a color gamut (in printereze). It's a cool process . . . almost like magic!
Why do the printed colors look different from the colors on my screen?
In short, printers and monitors produce colors in different ways.
Monitors use the RGB (red, green, blue) color model, which usually supports a wider spectrum of colors. Printers use the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) color model, which can reproduce most—but not all—of the colors in the RGB color model. Depending on the equipment used, CMYK generally matches 85–90% of the colors in the RGB model.
When a color is selected from the RGB model that is out of the range of the CMYK model, the application chooses what it thinks is the closest color that will match. Programs like Adobe Photoshop will allow you to choose which color will be replaced. Others may not.
If you're very concerned about the color of your finished product, Sphinx can provide digital color proofs that will give a close approximation of the final product.
Is white considered a printing color?
Not typically. Because white is the default color of paper, it is simply recognized as the absence of any ink.
What file format should I use when submitting my electronic document for printing?
PDF (Portable Document Format) is the most common and preferred file format for submitting digital documents. With the installation of a PDF print driver on your computer, virtually any program can generate a PDF file suitable for printing. Both commercial and free PDF print drivers are available online for download from different sources.
Once I submit the documents, how long will it take to finish my job?
Simple jobs are often completed on the same day they are ordered. Some jobs, however, may take several days to complete depending on their complexity and size. We always strive to provide an accurate estimate of the turnaround time for each job we do. And we’ll always work with you to find ways to complete your project when you need it.
What is digital color?
Digital color is simply printing that is produced on a digital press, instead of a conventional offset press. Today, there is little quality difference between digital and conventional printing. Advantages include the ability to run very small quanitities and to personalize individual documents with variable data or images.
What is variable data printing?
Variable data printing is technology for printing documents so that each piece is personalized to the specific recipient. At the most basic level, this means adding names and addresses. For real impact, many projects include unique graphics and content that speaks directly to the recipient.
What do I need to provide for variable data projects?
We work with many types of data files, but CSV files are the safest bet. Microsoft Excel spreadsheets may also be used in database format. These are data files that have commas separating each field, and returns separating each line of data. To save time and hassle, make sure your data is properly formatted with each piece of data in separate fields.
Complex projects may require other files, like image files or additional data files. If you are unsure of what may be required for a particular variable project, give us a call for a free consultation.