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How to prepare your design files for print with Panda Press

Even experienced designers know how important it is to check all documents thoroughly before sending artwork to print. Spotting spelling mistakes, poor image resolution or incorrect colour profiles being used will save you a lot of money on reprints. Use our checklist below.



Check what size your artwork should be. For example, check the dimensions for A5 if you are designing an A5 flyer, or the dimensions for a business card (which is 85mm x 55mm in the UK). See industry-standard print sizes here.


Safe area:

Always add a margin or ruler marks to your artwork to ensure no text or logos are outside of the safe area. We’d recommend at least 6mm from the trimmed edge.


Crop marks:

These are the marks that we will use to cut your print project to the correct size. Usually, there will be an option in your software to add crop marks when exporting your artwork as a PDF.



If you want your artwork to cover the whole print area, you would need to include a bleed (3mm with Panda Press), otherwise there might be some uneven white cardstock left after trimming. Anything with large blocks of colour or a coloured background will require bleed, so it’s important to check those elements reach up to the bleed line, which is 3mm past the edge of the page. If the software you are using does not allow you to add bleed, you’d need to incorporate the additional bleed into the dimensions of the file size. So, for example, an A4 document of 210x297mm would become 216x303mm to accommodate the extra 6mm (3mm all round) bleed.



When designing for print, all artwork must be in CMYK, which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (black). Digital artwork is in RGB (Red, Green, Blue), and should not be used for print.We can convert a document made with RGB colours to CMYK, but please be advised that with CMYK, colours such as neons might appear dull and vibrant colours might appear more muted. If you convert the document yourself you should get a good idea of what the CMYK version will look like, but it’s always best to ask the printer to make the conversion for better accuracy.


Rich black:

If you are printing artwork with a lot of black in the design, such as yellow text on a black background, you might want to consider using a rich black formula. This is next level stuff but basically printers will often require a specific CMYK formula to create a black which is, well, rich. To get a very deep black with Panda Press, our formula is C60 M40 Y40 K100.



Ensure the quality of the artwork is set to 300dpi (dots per inch) for print. Digital artwork might automatically be set at 96dpi, which might not be high enough quality depending on how large the item is that you are having printed.



It’s also important to check that images are downloaded and used at a high resolution, so as not to adversely affect the overall quality of the artwork. Please also check the licensing on any stock images used, as they must be suitable for commercial use, and some licensing options limit against the number of things printed with that image.


Thin lines:

We recommend using a minimum line weight of 0.25pt to ensure thin lines remain visible.


QR codes:

Just a reminder to check all QR codes when sending them to print. Please also be advised that usually the longer the URL, the more complicated the QR code will be, which can make it harder for people to scan.


File formats:

We’ve been in the printing industry a long time and we’ve seen a lot of file formats! We can print from any format your artwork is in, but if we need to recreate it, there will be an additional charge. Ideally, artwork should be a high resolution, print ready PDF with 3mm bleed, crop marks, and CMYK colour profile.


Font size:

The minimum font size should be no smaller than 8pt, and we recommend using 100% black for text smaller than 12pt. Text should also be embedded within the document.

An important note about embedding or outlining fonts for print

You can’t just use any font you find on the internet for commercial use. Usually, you’ll need to purchase a licence and the licence varies depending on the end use. For example, there are licences for e-books, for websites, for print, for merchandising – it’s all very confusing for small businesses and if you break the rules, you could be fined thousands, or even end up with a criminal charge against you!

You can either purchase a font from somewhere like Creative Market, or to be on the safe side, you can head over to Google Fonts and use any of those absolutely free for commercial use.

TIP: If you’re designing anything for business use, we cannot stress enough the importance of having a set of brand guidelines. This is a document that sets out what fonts, colours, logo variations and graphic elements you can use to represent your business. Contact whoever it is in your company who looks after your brand or contact the graphic designer who made your logo and branding and request this document. It should have been included with all the logo files. This helps your business remain consistent and professional in all its designs.

Usually, when submitting artwork to a printer, they will ask that you either embed fonts, outline them or ‘convert text to curves’. The latter two mean that you are converting fonts to lines and artwork, rather than an editable text field.


Should you outline fonts or embed them into the PDF?

When you purchase a font licence, you purchase a number of ‘seats’ for that licence, so think about the number of computers that font is installed on. Whoever you send the artwork to might not own that font licence and therefore would not have permission to use it. Never send the font files to anyone who doesn’t have a licence for them.

Some printers ask you to outline your fonts, converting the font text to ‘shapes’ from editable text, and others might ask you to embed your fonts into your PDF. Both ways can help you to avoid font licensing issues, however, some formatting can be lost when outlining fonts, so embedding them is a better option.

According to Adobe, embedding fonts in a PDF file is generally allowed, but it is important to read the font license agreement carefully to ensure that you are using the font in compliance with the terms. You won’t need to worry about this if you’ve used an open-source font like a Google Font.

Another important reason to outline or embed fonts is to ensure the text stays as you want it. Have you ever made a presentation in PowerPoint using your company fonts, then opened that same file on another computer to discover that your company font has been replaced with another? If you don’t outline or embed your fonts, and that artwork file is opened in graphic design software on another computer which doesn’t have your font installed, it might automatically be replaced with an alternative! Not what you want when sending files to print. If the PDF doesn’t need to be edited, everything will stay put.


How to send files to Panda Press for print

Once you have exported your print-ready file, please send it over to the Panda Press team using any of the options detailed on this page.

Read more printing advice