Adobe Illustrator? CS Templates

Adobe Illustrator® CS Templates

The instructions below will help guide you in preparing the best possible files for production and print using Illustrator version CS (sometimes referred to as version 11.0). For Illustrator 8, 9, 10 users, please click here.


Mac Format Windows Format

Control-Click ( Mac ) or Right-Click ( Win ) to save these files.

Adobe Illustrator® CS Help

Trim and Bleed

Before you start work on any design and layout, make certain that your Illustrator document is set at the appropriate trim dimension for your project (or download pre-made templates here). The “trim size” is the final dimension that your printing job will be cut to (before any folding, if needed). An additional 1/8” “bleed” is required wherever design elements touch the edge of your trim dimension. This means that any element that touches the trim edge must be allowed to extend past the trim edge by at least 1/8”. This assures a safety margin during the post production trimming of your project to assure that your bleed elements remain touching the trim edge without any white, unprinted gaps between the bleed element and the trim edge. If you have any design elements (including borders) that come too close to the trim edge, and you do not intend for them to touch the trim edge, then you must “back it away” from the trim edge by at least 1/8”.

Maintaining Legible Type and Hairlines

One typical mistake is design is the use of type or hairlines that do not print well and thus wind up being illegible. To avoid this mistake, shy away from type sizes smaller than 6 pts and lines (rules) thinner than .25pt.

  • Type smaller than 6 pts becomes difficult to read anyway, and finer details may be difficult to hold on press anyway. Typical body copy should run between 9 and 12 pts in size for maximum readability.
  • Be careful when using “reversed out” copy (ie: text that is a light color running across a darker area). Because the darker area tends to bleed into the lighter text area on press, it is recommended that you use at least 6 pt type, and sans serif fonts, in these instances.

Hairlines thinner than .25 points may not show up when printed.

Image Quality and Color

When using images within your design, it is very important that you use the best quality images and color spaces possible.

  • Resolution: Be certain to use image resolutions 300 dpi (or ppi) or better for color and grayscale images (otherwise known as “halftone” images), and 1,200 dpi (or ppi) for bitmap images (otherwise known as “line art”). Click here for more information on image resolution.
  • Image quality: Use non-compressed file formats such as TIFF, EPS or native Photoshop files when possible (without compression settings). If you need to use a compressed file format like JPEG in your design, make sure the image is saved with “Maximum Quality” settings. This will prevent loss of image quality during the compression process.
  • 4/4 and 4/1: The use of 4-color process (CMYK) on both sides of your print job is referred to as “4/4” (pronounced “four over four”). The use of 4-color process on the front side of your job, but grayscale or black and white on the back side is called “4/1” (pronounced “four over one”).
  • 4-color Process (CMYK): When using color or color images in your design and layout, be certain to use CMYK values instead of RGB. CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black “K”) is the color space that printers use to run your job. If you have an image that is RGB, like images that come from your digital camera or scanner, you must convert them to CMYK first before placing into your design.

Using “Rich” Blacks

When using black elements in your 4-color design, it is best to you use a “rich black,” which is a black composed of all four process colors. This gives your black a deeper, darker shade of black on press. It is best to use rich blacks in larger areas of black, such as thick black borders, headline type and shapes. It is still preferable to use 100% black for body copy (text).

To achieve rick blacks, create a color swatch or assign a process color with the following CMYK combinations: Cyan = 60%, M = 40%, Y = 20%, K = 100%.

Even though a “normal” black may appear as dark as you wish on screen, it may not come out as dark and rich on press. Use the “rich” black to be certain. Here is an example of setting the CMYK sliders in Photoshop’s color palette.

Set Output Resolution & Transparency Settings

Go to File > Document Setup, pull down to Transparency, and then click the “Custom” button. Be sure that the transparency slider is set all the way to the right, Line Art is at 2540 ppi, and Gradient Resolution at 300 ppi or higher

Set Document Raster Effects Settings

Go to Effect > Document Raster Effects Settings. Be sure that the Color Model is set to CMYK, resolution is set to 300 ppi or higher, background is set to “Transparent,” and "Anti-alias" should be enabled.

Convert Fonts to Outlines

In order for your type to come out the way you intend on press, we require that you convert all type into “outlines.” This process converts type into vector shapes and discards the need to provide fonts with your file. Before doing this, it is recommended that you first save your file as a copy with a different name to identify it as a file that has been outlined. This will allow you to go back to your original document later if you need to make any text edits in the future. Remember, once you convert type into outlines, you can no longer edit the type. Make sure all elements are unlocked. Select All (Command-A Mac or Control-A Windows) and go to Type > Create Outlines.

Embed All Placed Images

All images placed into your Illustrator document must be “embedded” before sending. This assures that your images are “built” into the file rather than simply linked to another file. This will increase your file size though. To do this, go to the Links palette and pull down “Embed.” For layered Photoshop files, make sure to select “Flatten Photoshop layeres to a single image.” Do this for each linked image until the picture icon is displayed at the right of each image thumbnail (see below).

Save File as PDF (.pdf)

STEP 1: General

We prefer that you save your Illustrator CS file as a PDF. Go to File > Save As and select Adobe PDF.

Set Compatibility to 1.4. Be sure that “Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities” and “Embed Page Thumbnails” are enabled.

STEP 2: Compression

Set all images to “Not Downsample”, set image compression to “None”, and do not compress text and line art.

STEP 3: Marks & Bleeds

Do not select any marks, be sure Offset is set to “0” (zero), and that NO bleed is included (bleed is already accounted for by using our templates).

STEP 4: Advanced

Some options are grayed-out. Please be sure to subset fonts (if you are not converting to outlines).

STEP 5: Security

Please DO NOT apply security to your PDF file. We will be unable to open it unless you supply us with the password.

You may skip “Summary” and click “Save PDF.”

Compress And Send Your File

Compression: After you have successfully saved your file, we prefer that you compress your file using Stuffit or ZIP (Aladdin DropStuff or Stuffit Deluxe (Mac) or WinZip (PC). This will not only optimize the file size for faster upload through FTP, but will ensure that your file is protected during transit. NOTE: When creating your SIT or ZIP file, please include the PO# and Project name in the filename.

File Transfer:After you have successfully compressed your file, and placed your order, you will have the option to upload your file through our Web site. Follow the instructions accordingly.

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