Print Specifications

Use our Artwork Resources to prepare press-ready digital files.

Print Specifications

Artwork Resources

  1. Color Mode
    All color artwork and/or images must be provided in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) color mode. All black & white artwork and/or images must be provided in grayscale color mode. Artwork submitted in RGB (red, green, blue) mode and Pantone (spot colors)  will automatically be converted to CMYK process color upon preflighting, this may render unexpected color results. We print within a 7% tolerance of CMYK values submitted.
  2. Resolution
    All file formats must have a minimum of 350 dpi (dot per inch) resolution, excluding large format products such as banners, and PVC boards which must have a minimum/maximum of 150 dpi (dots per inch).
  3. Bleeds & Margins
    We require a 1/8” (.125”) bleed on all sides of the artwork past the trim. We require all vital text and image elements are within 1/8” (.125”) inward from the trim for the safety margin.
  4. Fonts
    Whenever possible outline all fonts, otherwise all used fonts must be collected and submitted along with your artwork. When submitting fonts be sure to include both screen and printer fonts.
  5. Other Specifications
    For all lines and rules, be sure the thickness is no less than 0.25 pts. Lines less than this value may not print properly or may be converted by our servers.
  6. Templates
    All files should be built using Sharpdots templates. These templates include marks that are important to the production of your product. Template guidelines will not print as part of your artwork.
  7. Page Orientation
    The diagram below demonstrates how Sharpdots will orient the front and back of customer supplied artwork based on a “Head to Head” format. *Please note that for all UV coated jobs, the side labeled “front” or indicated as “page 1” will be UV coated. Sides labeled “back” or indicated as “page 2” will not be coated.
  8. Accepted file format
    Print artwork must be submitted in PDF format. Submitting files in any other format will delay your order. 
  9. Catalog Submissions 
    Catalog submissions should be submitted as one PDF file. Artwork must be submitted in single page layout, not printer spread. If catalog artwork is provided in printer spread your order will be placed on hold and we will request the file be re-uploaded in single page layout.

Please note:
Digital files not meeting these specifications may be returned and corrections will be requested in order to proceed with your job. Not meeting these specifications will delay your order, and may add additional costs.

1. Understanding Color Mode

The color mode of submitted files must be CMYK. CMYK refers to the primary colors in art production: red, blue, and yellow. If your files are submitted using any other color standard, such as RGB or Pantone, they will be converted to CMYK. Conversion from one color standard to another may cause colors to shift due to gamut constraints. By doing your own color conversions, you will have more control over the color of your printed piece. If color accuracy is of extreme importance to you, we highly recommend you purchase a hard proof with your order.

Gamut Constraints
When we look at the RGB and CMY color models—which are essentially models of color production—we see that the gamut of colors we can reproduce is far less than what we can actually see.

While not precise, the illustration below clearly shows this.

Red, green, and blue are the primary stimuli for human color perception and are the primary additive colors. The relationship between the colors can be seen in this illustration:

RGB diagram Artwork Resources

Cyan, magenta, and yellow correspond roughly to the primary colors in art production: red, blue, and yellow. In the illustration below, you can see the CMY counterpart to the RGB model shown above:

CMYK diagram Artwork Resources

CMYK Color gamut
CMYK color gamut refers to the range of colors that can be reproduced using the CMYK color model. The CMYK model is a subtractive color model used in printing, and it stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black).

When combining these four ink colors in different proportions, a wide range of colors can be created. However, the CMYK color gamut is narrower compared to other color models, such as RGB (Red, Green, Blue) used for digital displays. This is because CMYK inks can’t produce certain intense and vibrant colors that are achievable with light-based RGB systems.

CIE Chromacity Diagram

Rich Black
Rich Black (C-60 M-40 Y-40 K-100) should be applied to larger fills of black or font sizes greater than 3/8″ wide to ensure a dense color. Our rich black ink total is 240%. Any ink builds greater than 240% may not print properly.

Black & White Artwork
All black & white artwork and/or images must be provided in grayscale.

2. Understanding Resolution

Scanned Images
Image resolution is important for quality results. If your print artwork includes any scanned photographic images, they should have a minimum 350 dpi (dots per inch) at the actual size you intend to print them. All scanned images should be submitted as CMYK images in EPS or TIFF file format.

*Scanning photographic images at a larger resolution than 350 will not help to increase the quality of your raster image. It only makes the file size larger than they need to be and may introduce more problems to your file. Larger resolutions are only required for line art.

Line Art
Line art images (1-bit tifs) should be scanned at a minimum 600dpi (1200dpi preferred) and at the actual size to be printed.

Low Resolution Images
Beware of using images saved as JPEGs downloaded from web sites. Images used on web sites are optimized for screen/monitor viewing. These images tend to be only 72 dpi and are too low of a resolution for commercial printing.

*Your monitor displays images between 72 and 96 dpi. To adequately view print resolution on a monitor, you should zoom in 400%.

See examples below:

Images scanned at 350 dpi will print great!

Images scanned lower than 350 dpi will print badly!

If an image is low resolution can I increase the resolution in Photoshop?
No, you should never increase the total pixel dimension of the image. Your computer will try to interpolate (calculate and add) pixels that are not there. The result will be a printed image that looks fuzzy and blurry.

Images interpolated to 350 dpi will print fuzzy and blurry!

To correct a low resolution image, you need to re-scan your image at 350 dpi and at the actual size you intend to print them. Note that scaling your images up when placing them in layout programs such as InDesign, will lower your image resolution.

3. Understanding Bleeds & Margins

In order to print a color to the edge of a sheet of paper, we must actually print past the document size, and then cut the paper to size. This is called a bleed.

If your image is not white on all four sides, you MUST include bleeds in your files. Add quarter of an inch (.25″) to each dimension to allow for cutting. For example, a 3.5″ X 2″ business card with full bleed, the image size should be submitted at 3.75″ x 2.25″ (red box below).

.125″ (1/8”) on each edge of the card will be trimmed off during the cutting process. This will leave you a 3.5” X 2” standard business card (black box below).

Your type (text) should be .125″ or 1/8 of an inch inside the cut box on each side, represented by the green safety box below.

The cutting process for printed materials has a mechanical tolerance of about .0625 or 1/16 of an inch.

Bleeds and Margins diagram

What is a bleed?
It is the portion of the card that will be trimmed off when cut to the final size.

Why do I need a bleed?
The purpose of a bleed is to continue a color, image or design to the edge of the card.

Critical Elements Margin
All critical elements (text, images, logos, etc.) must be kept at least 0.125″ inside the edge of the margin line. Anything left close to the edge may be cut off during trimming.

We do not recommend using borders close to the cut line of your print artwork. Due to the shifting of paper that can happen in the cutting process, borders may appear uneven. If you must have a border in your artwork, it is essential that you allow at least .25″ of white space between the cut line and your border. This will help to maintain a symmetrical appearance. If the border is solid, and bleeds to the edge, be sure to include bleeds in your file. If you are using a line border, be sure to make the line at least .25” thick to assure the line prints correctly.

4. Understanding Fonts

Whenever possible outline all fonts, otherwise all used fonts must be collected. When collecting fonts, be sure to collect screen and printer fonts.

Use only PostScript type 1 fonts. True Type fonts may be supplied, but we recommend against using them since we cannot guarantee their integrity in our systems.

Please do not submit fonts less than 6pt., as the fine lines in text this small may not print properly.

5. Understanding Line Width

For all lines and rules, be sure the thickness is no less than 0.25 pts. Lines less than this value may not print properly or may be converted by our servers.

6. Understanding Templates

All print artwork must be submitted using a Sharpdots template. These templates include marks that are important to production of your printed piece. You can design within the template or simply copy your finished design into the template.

7. Understanding Page Orientation

Sharpdots page orientation diagram Artwork Resources

*Please note the side labeled “front” or indicated as “page 1” will be UV coated. Sides labeled “back” or indicated as “page 2” will not be coated.

8. Understanding file formats

Submit a PDF!

Print artwork must be provided in PDF format for all “No Proof” jobs. Submitting files in any other format will delay your order.

Print artwork file types we do not accept: .Jpg, .Jpeg, .Gif, .Png, .Tif, .Tiff, .Eps,.


We not not accept print artwork files created in any Microsoft program (Expression Studio, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Paint, etc). This also includes PDFs created within any Microsoft program. You may submit PDF files from these sources, at your own risk.

9. Understanding Catalog Submissions

Please submit Catalog artwork as one PDF file, including the following:

  • Single pages (not printer spreads)
  • Bleeds to all edges of page (1/8″ min.)
  • Fonts/images embedded
  • CMYK color mode. (RGB/Pantone colors will be converted)

Place all pages in sequential order as the book would open to the viewer’s eye.

Page 1 is always the cover and the last page should always be the back cover.

* Except in the case for perfect bound books in which the cover may be submitted as a separate file due to adding spine width which would include the front cover, spine width and back cover together.

You may submit a native file in the event that any last minute changes/adjustments are needed. In this case, please include any fonts or links.

Please follow Sharpdots artwork resources guidelines as required.

Still have questions?

Please feel free to contact us at with any questions or concerns about submitting your artwork for print. Please submit our Custom Quote form, if you have a specific request.

Holiday Schedule: Sharpdots will be closed on Monday, January 2, 2023.  Production will resume on Tuesday,  January 3 , 2023.
If you have any questions about your turnaround times, please contact us.