How to set up Illustrator files for print-ready files?

How to set up Illustrator files for print-ready files?

How to set up Illustrator files for print-ready files?

Follow this step-by-step tutorial to set up Illustrator’s files for printing. It is super easy and straightforward. Whether it’s about photoshop, illustrator, or InDesign, there is only a little difference in the document setup.

In this detailed article, we have explained how to export a print-ready file using Adobe Illustrator. Take a look!

Step 1. To Create a New document

  1. To begin with, download and install the Adobe Illustrate Application.
  2. Click on file > New document
  3. According to the trim size of your printer, set the height & width of the document.

Step: To set up the Bleed

  • To ensure precise cutting on all four sides of the paper, set the bleed to 0.125” or 1./8” in all four boxes.
  • Now click OK to create.

What if your artwork has borders?

If you are using a border in your artwork or another design element that bleeds,  it is important to use a minimum of 1/4″  or 0.25” of white space between the edges of the artwork.

Note: Make sure to complete your design properly. As the orientation & other settings rely on your finished design.

Step: Setup the Safety Zone

  • Select a rectangle from various tool options.
  • Click once on the document.
  • Set the height & width in the rectangle box.
  • Now, press Shift+F7, and the ALIGN box will appear.
  • Click on align to> Align to the artboard.
  • To create guidelines, press CTRL+5/ Command+5 on MAC
  • A light blue margin will appear; this is your safety zone and will not be printed on paper.

Note: Always enter the values as the size of the paper minus 0.25”

Step 2: Select the CMYK Color Mode

(CMYK is Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) To ensure whether or not your illustrator file/image is in CMYK mode, you need to follow the steps below:

  • For files, select document color mode > CMYK.
  • For artwork or photos in RGB mode; Click on Edit > Edit Colors > Convert to CMYK.

In case you want to convert everything in your document:

  • Press CTRL+A and then apply these fixes.
  • For creating rich colored backgrounds, change the setting of all four CMYK sliders to 100%.
  • For solid black color; set the sliders to 100K%.

Step 3: Resolution & Color Mode

The output PDF from Illustrator should be at 300DPI. To ensure this, you need to check the raster effects settings.

  • Click on Effect > Document Raster Effects Settings (set high to 300DPI).
  • Finally, click OK.

Note: Simple press Shift +F3 to check the image resolution. The document info window will appear.

  • Click on the menu button in the window.
  • Choose Embedded/linked Images from the list. 
  • If the image resolution is below 300 DPI; either edit the image or use a high-resolution image.

Experts tip: To check the printed resolution, zoom the image to 300-400%.

Step 4: Convert Text to Outlines/ Typography

You can unlock any of the available text layers. Just make sure to save a backup file and apply the changes to the latter. To flatten your file and convert fonts to outlines, all you need to do is:

  • Go to select menu > Choose All or press CTRL+A/ Cmd+A on Mac.
  • Select Object > flatten transparency.
  • In the Flatten Transparency box, Check “Convert All Strokes to Outlines” and “Convert All text to Outlines” and 
  • Whereas, Uncheck “Preserve Alpha Transparency” and “Preserve Overprints and Source Color”
  • Open the Type Menu > Click on create outlines.

Experts’ Tips on Text: 

The text becomes an object which means you can’t edit the text but can apply the fills & strokes. That’s why it is suggested to save a backup file.

If you are printing reversed text, for example, white on solid black background. To avoid overlapping colors, make sure to add and select a thin stroke of 0.1 points to 0.25 points of white color.

Step: To Add Images

Check if your Link checkbox is checked to include images in your document. 

  • Choose File>Place

Step 5: To Save Your Files 

After you have finalized the design, remove the guidelines and created outlines; all you need to do is:

  • Click on file > Save as
  • Choose a file name for the selected design.
  • Change the format to Adobe PDF.
  • Select [PDF/X-1a:2001] from the presets list.
  • Also, type 0.125″ in the “Marks and Bleeds” box.
  • Click save & Adobe PDF window will appear.

Step 6: Save your file as a Print-Ready PDF.

  • PDF is the most reliable format for producing high-resolution prints. Printsource360 follows a PDF workflow to process design files.
  • Open the save adobe PDF window and make sure to match the settings of various parameters to save the print-ready PDF file. 

Now, quickly Check the illustrations below:

Paste images for each section 

General :

Marks & Bleed:






Step 7: Save your settings

Once all the settings have been completed, click on save PDF.

Questions & Answers:

Which is the best format for printing an illustrator file?

PDF is an ideal format for creating a document in illustrator.  PDF format is not only larger than other formats but also provides other information about the document. To save a file in PDF format:
1. Click on File > Save as
2. Now enter the name.
3. Click OK.

Can I use Illustrator for printing?

Illustrator is way more flexible than other platforms and has been designed specifically to create high-quality images. Illustrator allows you to control and customize the setting on the web and on the printer.

How to flatten an Illustrator File for printing?

The process to flatten an image in Illustrator is pretty simple. It conveniently combines the multiple layers into a single layer. check below:
1. Open the Layers menu.
2. Click on the menu in the top-right corner.
3. Now select “Flatten Artwork“. 

Can I print high-quality files in Illustrator?

Yes of course by changing the Document Raster Effects settings, you can produce images of a resolution of 300 DPI. Rest assured that you have selected the CMYK color model. Also, change the anti-aliasing settings to high.

Summing up

For laying out Illustrator files or documents, PDF is a print-friendly format. Now you know the technique to master the illustrator. So use the information and set up the illustrator files on your own. All the best!