You've got printing questions. We have answers.

Wondering how to turn your ground-breaking vision into a high-impact visual? Need a short run print project for your corporate event next week? Whatever the job, AlphaGraphics marketing and print professionals have you covered.

Check out the answers to some of our most frequently received questions below. Don’t see what you’re looking for? Contact us right now and a friendly team member will be happy to assist you.

Order Questions

  • How do I get an estimate?
    You can fill out an online estimate request form, or call and talk with one of our team members.
  • How long will it take for my order to be completed?
    If you’re working within a time constraint, let us know when you call for a quote. We can look at our print production schedule to ensure that you will meet your deadline.

File Details

  • What file format is preferred for digital documents?
    We prefer PDFs (Portable Document Format) with a minimum 1/8” bleed and crop marks. Most office and design programs allow you to save or export your files into a PDF format. Occasionally, the original file may be needed if artwork edits are required.
  • What resolution do my photos and graphics need to be set to?
    Resolution should be set to 300 dpi. Pictures and graphics pulled from the internet are often low resolution, typically 72 dpi or 96 dpi. Avoid these graphics, as they will appear pixelated and blocky when printed. Also, save all photos in CMYK mode, not RGB when possible. Images saved in RGB mode may not print properly. If you are unable to save your image in CYMK mode, please let us know.
  • How do I know if my fonts will look correct?
    The best way to ensure your artwork fonts will print correctly is to send them as outlined objects in your original file. If your program doesn’t allow this, packaging or sending us the fonts will work as well. If you have a question about how to send your fonts properly, please call us and we’ll be glad to help.
  • Common File Formats
    Like most commercial printers, AlphaGraphics requires a PDF document for printing. Fortunately, converting almost any type of
    file or document to a PDF is relatively easy. 

    Below is a list of common file types, what they mean and how they’re used.

    PDF (Portable Document Format)
    A file format developed by Adobe Systems that can be universally downloaded and viewed by any computer that has the Adobe Acrobat plug-in.

    JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
    A raster file best used for web-based designs because their compressed sizes load quickly. JPG images lose some quality when printed but are great to use for emails or anything web-based. 

    EPS (Encapsulated PostScript File)
    A vector format for your graphic. It can be resized without losing image quality. Due to its high quality, it is commonly used in print elements such as business cards or brochures. 

    TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)
    Works in almost any program. It produces a higher quality image than a JPG or PNG, but is not a vector format like EPS. It is widely used by photographers.

    PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
    A web-based file that does not lose quality when compressed. PNG files were created to improve on the quality of GIF files and are best used for the web.

    AI (Illustrator), INDD (InDesign), & PSD (Photoshop)
    Files often referred to as “working files” or “native files” and are usually layered files that are used to create printable PDF files.

    PUB (Publisher)
    Files are created using Microsoft’s publishing software. Most commercial printers cannot print these documents so they must be converted to PDF’s prior to printing.

    PPT/PPTX (Powerpoint)
    Files are created using Microsoft’s presentation software. PowerPoint slides are usually smaller than a standard sheet of paper. The way that PowerPoint handles graphics, layers and fonts can sometimes be tricky, so it’s important to convert PPT or PPTX files to a PDF format and review carefully prior to printing.

General Questions

  • What types of products and services do you provide?
    AlphaGraphics is a full service marketing communications provider, and offers a wide range of print, marketing, design, and sign services.
  • What types of marketing techniques can you add to my printed materials?
    Our multi-channel marketing solutions include:

    • QR Codes
    • PURLs
    • SMS and MMS marketing
    • Video production and editing
    • Variable mapping
    • Social media marketing
    • Mobile optimized websites, and so much more!
  • What type of Design Services do you offer?
    Whether you're a new business looking to establish your brand, or a seasoned business that needs help with print or signs, our design team can help.  We offer a full range of design services for businesses of all sizes. Contact us to schedule a free, in-person consulation to discuss your design needs.

    Preparing for a Design Consultation
    Gather up materials that inspire you and help explain your vision.  This can be something as simple as a swatch of paper or fabric with colors you like, or samples of work from other companies that resonates with you.  Think about the fonts you find appealing and the type of images you prefer. Visuals will always spur ideas and conversation. 

    During the Consultation
    Be prepared to discuss the purpose of your project.  Are you launching a new business or a new product?  Are you promoting an event?  Who is your ideal customer/client/participant?  Is this project a stand-alone or part of an on-going marketing campaign?  Our team will review the scope of the project and your timeline.  Feel free to ask all the questions you need.  The consultation should be comfortable and informational.

    After the Consultation
    After your meeting, our design team and sales team will meet to review your needs.  We'll draft a formal estimate of the cost of the project as well as the time to successful completion.  Once you're satisfied with the proposal, you may be asked to place a deposit for any design work to be done.  This ensures all parties are invested in the project and reserves a block of design time for you.

    During the Design Phase
    As your project is in development, our design team will occasionally send you proofs* of our progress for you to review.  You'll have a chance to review our work and request any changes to the project.  Your assigned Sales Representative will be included in any email correspondence and we ask that you use the "Reply All" option when responding to ensure they stay informed.  

    Approving Your Project
    Once you are happy with the final design, we ask that you respond via email to your assigned Sales Rep and our designer noting your approval.  At this time, your sales rep should be able to give you an estimated timeline for project completion.

    *Proofs are often low resolution or watermarked versions of your project and not the final print-ready version.

 Printing FAQs

  • What is a proof and why is it important?
    In printing terms, a proof is a one-off copy of your document after all modifications and printing setup processes have been completed. It is your last, and best, opportunity to make sure that your print job comes out the way you envisioned. By carefully inspecting the proof, you can help ensure an accurate, flawless delivery of your print job the first time.
  • Do you require minimum quantities of any of your products?
    Nope! Some printing methods may be more cost-effective than others, but our professional staff are happy to work with you to determine which printing method is best for your project.
  • Do I need to know about color separations or half-tone printing to get my job completed?

    Absolutely not!  We handle all the "back-end" production for you.

    The terms are pretty easy to understand, though. Color separation refers to our offset printing process, where we use cyan, magenta, yellow, and black in four separate plates that go directly to the press. These four colors can create almost any color you can imagine!

    Half-tone printing refers to converting a solid tone of black ink or one color into tiny dots that are invisible to the eye to create your image. You see a solid image, but it’s really created from the spacing of these tiny dots.

  • Is white considered a printing color?
    Not typically. Because white is the default color of paper, it is simply recognized as the absence of ink.
  • What paper types do you offer?
    We have a large collection of “house” stocks in our production area. If you have a specific style in mind, we can check our in-house inventory to see if our selection is able to match your tastes. Or, we’ll check with our paper vendors to see what they have on hand. Keep in mind that special stocks or materials may require bulk purchasing from suppliers.
  • What is the Pantone Matching System?
    The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a color reproduction standard in which colors all across the spectrum are each identified by a unique, independent number. The use of PMS allows us to precisely match colors and maintain color consistency throughout the printing process.
  • Why do the printed colors look different than the colors on my screen?

    In short, printers and monitors produce color in different ways. Monitors use the RGB (red, green, blue) color model, which usually supports a wider spectrum of colors. Printers use the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) color model, which can reproduce most—but not all—of the colors in the RGB color model.

    Depending on the equipment used, CMYK generally matches 85–90% of the colors in the RGB model. When a color is selected from the RGB model that is out of the range of the CMYK model, the application chooses the closest matching color. Programs like Adobe Photoshop will allow you to choose which color will be replaced; others may not. We’ll provide you with a sample print right before we print your job to ensure a "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" final product.

Common Document Sizes

Common Printing Terms

  • Bind

    To fasten sheets with wire, thread, glue, or by any other means.

  • Binding
    A name given for any of many procedures used to put pages together.
  • Bleed
    Printing that goes to the edge of the sheet. Trimming is required to make the printing run to the edge of a sheet.
  • Brand
    Brand is the term used to describe the identity of a business, company or individual.  Brand is comprised of elements such a organization name, logo, color scheme, typeface, mascots and more.  The Brand is anything that prompts recognition of an organization. 
  • Cast-Coated
    Coated paper with a high- gloss reflective finish.
  • Coated Paper
    Paper with a clay or other coating applied to one, or both, sides. The coating can be dull, gloss, matte, or a number of other finishes. Coated paper generally produces sharper, brighter images and has a more reflective quality than uncoated paper.
  • Collated
    To put pages in a certain order for binding.
  • Color Correction
    Methods of improving color separations and definition.
  • Cover Paper
    A heavy printing paper primarily used to cover books or make presentation folders.
  • Crop
    To trim a picture, image, or printed sheet.
  • Crop Marks
    Printed lines showing where to trim a printed sheet.
  • DPI - PPI
    DPI refers to the number of printed dots contained within one inch of an image printed by a printer. PPI refers to the number of pixels contained within one inch of an image displayed on a computer monitor.
  • Gloss
    A shiny paper coating that reflects light.
  • Laminate
    To cover with protective film. Also used to bond or glue one surface to another.
  • Matte Finish
    Dull paper or ink finish.
  • Offset Printing
    Printing which involves a plate that makes an inked impression on a rubber-blanketed cylinder, which, in turn, transfers it to the paper.
  • Perfect Binding
    An unsewn, flat-spined book binding made with glue.
  • Pixelation
    Images are made up of a small grid over very small boxes called pixels, In low resolution files, there may be as few as 72 pixels per inch.  Pixelation occurs when a low resolution image is enlarged to the point that the individual square pixels become visible. Pixelated images appear blurry.  Images of 300 ppi (pixels per inch) are preferred for most printing project.
  • Proof
    Digital Proof - An on-screen version of a printable file used to proof a project for layout and content.  Digital proofs are usually emailed for review and may be compressed or watermarked.

    Press Proof - A printed copy of a printable file used to proof layout, content and for editing purposes.  Press proofs are usually not finished (trimmed to size, bound, etc,).

    Hard Proof | Finished Proof - A printed sample of the final project, often trimmed to size and completely finished. Used to proof content, layout, as well as color and paper.
  • Resolution
    The degree of sharpness of a computer-generated image as measured by the number of dots per linear inch in a hard-copy printout or, the number of pixels across and down on a display screen.
  • Saddle Stitching
    A type of binding that uses wire stapling at the center of a magazine or pamphlet.

Still have questions?

Call our team today to learn more about the tools we can use with your printed communications to improve your ROI.

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