The Best Print-Ready File Types to Send to Your Commercial Printer

January 27, 2023

When it comes to creating print-ready files, the most common programs used are Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Photoshop. Each program has its own unique advantages and is best suited for different stages of a print project. All three can export or save print ready PDF files, however.

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based program that is widely used in the print industry for creating illustrations, logos, and other graphics. Vector art from Illustrator are resolution-independent, meaning that they can be scaled up or down without losing quality. When exporting an Illustrator file, you can choose to save it in a variety of formats such as PDF, EPS and SVG. Saving as a native .ai file is a better option for placing in an InDesign document.

Adobe Photoshop is a raster-based program that is widely used for editing photographs and image manipulation. A Photoshop file is resolution dependent and should be 300 DPI (dots per inch) at the size it is intended to print. Increasing and decreasing the size of an image in InDesign (or another layout program) will affect the resolution of the image when output. Setting an image's color space is not as critical as it once was. Your PDF export can be set to change an RGB image to CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) for offset printing. Be aware that an RGB image on screen will look different from the CMYK version when printed due to the different sizes of each mode's color space.

Adobe InDesign is a layout program. InDesign brings all the files generated by Illustrator and Photoshop into your layout. It is the best option for formatting text, placing images and vector art on your page. InDesign also has printing preflight tools built in. Allowing the project to be checked for issues before creating a print ready PDF. It also will package your project, gathering the links and fonts into one folder to send to your printer.

PDF (Portable Document Format) is a versatile file format that is best suited for documents that need to be printed or viewed on a computer screen. PDF files are considered to be the best for creating print-ready files because they maintain the integrity of the original document and can be easily shared and printed. Additionally, PDF files can include vector and raster images, making them suitable for a wide range of print projects.

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