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Please check when you’re having artwork designed by an outsourcer that you ask for the correct print files… or else you could end up having a stressful (and potentially expensive time) further down the road.

I’ve recently done some printing for a client who had a 24 page brochure designed on eLance and was sent what they believed to be print files, which they then supplied to me.

The problem was that the files were suppled in the correct resolution but not in the format required for printing. So, it has meant finding a printer that would accept the files they had and print from them, which many won’t because they require extra artwork to process the job. This also meant that the printer we wanted to use (right price, right timescale, right quality) we couldn’t because the files were incorrect and they just plain wouldn’t print from them as they were.

The client had been trying to get through to the outsourcer to re-supply the files but we were on a deadline and they have did not hear back from them in time. Thankfully we found a printer to do the job, but it was more stressful, time consuming and costly that it needed to be.

Worst case scenario for this sort of problem is that the files cannot be used for print at all, in which case, because there are no ‘working’ (ie editable) files supplied, the whole job would need to be re-set into a new file to be able to be presented to the printers as they wish. Which would of course result in further artwork charges. All of which is un-necessary stresses and costs when it’s a 5 minute job to re-save the files in the correct format from the original job.

Far better to get the right files when you order and make your life so much easier.

Why is it important to get the files correct at the time of order?

Many outsourcers will delete the client files after working on them, especially if they are high volume suppliers. So it could be that you’d have to pay twice for the same job if you do not get what you need when you first complete the job.

So, the lesson of the day is:

1) Check with the printer, or any printer, what files you need to supply to them for the job you want done. In most cases they will be something along the lines of:

  • 300dpi CMYK
  • Outlined Fonts
  • Flattened Transparency
  • 3mm bleed
  • Trim Marks

2) Give those specifications to the designer.

3) Ensure that you are supplied with the files you might want/need. A good rule of thumb to have is:

  • Jpeg proof for your files and for sharing online if you wish
  • A high resolution PDF for sharing and also printing in house
  • A print PDF ready to be supplied to the printers

In addition to the above, if you are working with an outsourcer on say Fiverr or eLance and it’s a one-off job, then I would suggest that you request a copy of the working file (eg an .ai file that is editable). This way, if you want a job done in the future you will have files you can supply to either this same designer, or another one of your choice.

A word of caution…

Many graphic designers will feel uncomfortable sending you working versions of their files and may well assume that you want to have the work they have done edited by someone else. It could damage your relationship with your designer if you suddenly start asking for lots of working files so I wouldn’t suggest you get them for every job you have done by your own designer just bear it in mind. The above information is more aimed at you if you’re using someone who you might not be able to easily access in the future and Fiverr is a prime example for this, I know many people who have had logos or graphics done there and not got good quality files and had to start from scratch again later.

In an ideal world you will find one or two designers that you build a relationship with and use long-term. This is far better for everyone involved for a number of reasons:

  • Consistency of design/brand.
  • Ease for both parties as most information is stored on file for easy access later.
  • Good relationships mean you’ll be supported at times of need (ie when you need that job done NOW your designer will pull out the stops to make it happen for you).
  • Clearer understanding of the brief – no need to re-explain everything every time, your designer knows you and what you’re trying to achieve so can deliver a better suited finished product.

To summarise

Find a good designer that you work well with and stick with them.

If you’re managing your own print ordering get clued up as to what files you need for the print jobs you want to have done.

If you’re outsourcing, be sure to request the files you need at the time the job is taking place as not doing so may result in losing the files and having to pay again to have them re-done. An expense that can be easily saved.


What print or outsourcing successes and horror stories have you got to tell? Do share in the comments below 🙂