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File Setup Guidelines

Thank you for choosing StationeryHQ as your printing partner. To ensure that your files integrate smoothly with our systems, here are some general good practices for submitting files:


All designs must be submitted as a flattened PDF (PDF/X-1a, which is compatible with Acrobat 4/PDF version 1.3) in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) color mode. Remove all crop marks and any other printer's marks. Outline all fonts. All bitmap and raster images must be at least 300dpi (dots per inch) to ensure the best quality printing. Use flat black (C=0%, M=0%, Y=0%, K=100%) rather than rich black. Use of black or any heavily saturated color must be under a combined CMYK value of 240% (ex. C=40%, M=50%, Y=50%, K=100%). All spot, RGB, and PMS colors must be converted to CMYK. Remove all ICC profiles before creating your PDF.


Remove all overprint - it is not necessary and will not print correctly. StationeryHQ requires 0.125 inches of bleed area around the perimeter of your artwork to ensure accurate cutting. Include bleed area in all files, regardless of whether or not your artwork reaches its edges. Borders, if included, should be a minimum of 0.125 inches PLUS 0.125 inches of bleed for a total size of 0.25 inches or greater on each side.


Files should be right reading and appear on screen in the same orientation as intended for the viewer. If the file is a portrait card, then the file should be sent "view portrait." If the file is a landscape card, then the file should be sent "view landscape." Carefully review your PDF/X-1a for color, text, and general appearance. Generally, what you see in your PDF/X-1a is how it will print. For easy file set up, check out Mountaincow Design Software.


Some example sizes of printing pieces:

5" x 7" Flat Card: Bleed Size=5.25" x 7.25", Cut Size=5" x 7"

5" x 7" Foldover Card: Bleed Size=10.25" x 7.25", Cut Size=10" x 7"

Business Card: Bleed Size=3.75" x 2.25", Cut Size=3.5" x 2"

Variable Data Setup

Creating a multi-page PDF file with variable data is a relatively straightforward process once you have done it a few times, however, the first time it can be very confusing.

Here are some tips and instructions directly from the Adobe website.

Create from Illustrator

Create from Indesign

Create from Indesign (2)

If you need any additional help, email

How To Videos

Click here to see our how to video series. Email if you have any topics you'd like us to cover in future videos!

When setting up files for printing with StationeryHQ or any other printing company, it's important to follow their specific guidelines to ensure accurate and high-quality results. While I don't have access to StationeryHQ's specific file setup requirements, here are some general tips that can help you prepare your files:

  1. File Format: Typically, printing companies prefer print-ready files in PDF format. PDF files are widely compatible and retain formatting and image quality.

  2. Bleed and Trim: If your design extends to the edge of the paper, include a bleed area. Bleed is the extra space beyond the trim edge to ensure that no white borders appear when the final product is trimmed. Check with StationeryHQ for their specific bleed and trim size requirements.

  3. Resolution: Ensure that your images and graphics are of high resolution (usually 300 DPI) to maintain clarity and sharpness in the printed output.

  4. Color Mode: Set your document to the appropriate color mode based on your design. For full-color printing, use CMYK color mode. For spot color or specific branding colors, consult StationeryHQ for their color specifications.

  5. Fonts and Typography: Embed or outline all fonts used in your design to avoid potential font compatibility issues. This ensures that the text appears as intended in the final printed piece.

  6. Safety Margins: Keep important elements such as text and critical images within a designated safety margin. This prevents them from being cut off during trimming.

  7. Proofreading and Spell-check: Before submitting your files, thoroughly proofread all text for accuracy, grammar, and spelling errors. It's best to double-check everything to avoid any mistakes in the final print.

These are general guidelines, and it's crucial to consult StationeryHQ's specific file requirements and guidelines for the best results. They may have specific templates or instructions available on their website or provide you with a file setup guide.

Remember to communicate with StationeryHQ directly if you have any questions or need clarification on their specific file setup requirements. Providing them with properly prepared and print-ready files will help ensure a smooth printing process and a final product that meets your expectations.