What does “14pt” mean?
Points are a measure of paper thickness, equivalent to approximately 1/1000 of an inch. Generally, thin postcards are 8pt to 10pt thickness, medium weight postcards are 11 or 12pt, and thick postcards are 14pt or thicker.

What is a “Bleed Area”?
Most offset printing is done on large sheets, then trimmed to size. Because of inevitable slight imprecision in the trimming process, a sliver of white space can mess up an otherwise great layout. If you want color to the edge it’s good practice to extend colors outside the final trim line an eighth inch, to avoid this. Color beyond the trim edge is called the bleed area. Consult our general Layout Guide for visuals.

Why do I need to convert text before sending?
Your page layout program will use fonts that are installed on your computer. When you send unconverted text to another computer, other fonts may be substituted. You can prevent such unwanted substitution by converting fonts to curves before sending. Some programs call this “rendering text,” “converting to outlines,” or “converting to shapes.”

What is “Resolution”?
The resolution of a computer bitmap [or “raster”] file is the number of dots per inch [dpi] or pixels per inch [ppi] that make up the image. It’s important to understand that bitmaps that look great on a computer monitor might not print well. This is because most monitors show about 72 to 96ppi resolution, while most quality printing requires at least 300dpi for optimum results.

A 72dpi image that looks great posted on your website, will translate to an image about a fifth it’s screen size when printed at a proper print resolution of 300dpi or more.

What are “Vectors”?
Unlike bitmaps, which are built from rows of colored dots or “pixels”, vector files are drawn from mathematical formulae. Behind every vector image is code describing line length, position, curvature, etc. The advantage being that a vector image can be resized to infinity without losing any detail. Bitmaps, on the other hand, don’t resize nearly as gracefully.

Common Vector Formats

  • AI: Adobe Illustrator
    Adobe’s answer to Corel’s popular Draw program. Not as powerful as CorelDraw, but preferred by the Adobe/Mac crowd
  • CDR: CorelDRAW
    One of the earliest and most popular vector drawing programs. Very powerful out of the box, and probably the easiest to use professional vector graphics program available.
  • EPS: encapsulated postscript
    One of the oldest and most reliable vector formats. All professional vector graphics software will export to EPS

Common Raster Formats

  • GIF: graphics interchange format
    Invented by Compuserve way back in 1987 for optimizing web graphics. Ideal for smallish graphics and animations on the internet, especially graphics with few colors. Because of a limited color pallet, gifs are not acceptable for print files. Can include transparency.
  • JPEG: joint photographic experts group
    Invented by photographers for photo optimization in digital files. Great for screen viewing. Can be used for print, if not overly compressed. No transparency or animation.
  • PNG: portable network graphics
    Sharp raster images with transparency option. Preferred for web design except for large photos (jpeg is still the way to go with large photos on the web)
  • TIFF: tagged image file format
    Preferred raster format for maximum color depth to print. These files are way too large for web use, but will provide great results when transferring to print.
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