top of page

How to Make a Digital File for Printing

Updated: Feb 23

Every business will require printing sooner or later. Learning how to make a digital file for printing can come in handy when designing marketing materials like letters, catalogs, and brochures.

These direct mail pieces can be used to create a deeper bond with your customer base. You can use them to inform clients of a new product line, invite them to a promo event, or surprise them with a sale.

If you want to extend your customer reach with printing, there are many tiny details you’ll have to get right, like the size and font of the print or the resolution. Continue reading our step-by-step guide below to ensure a quality print every time.

How to Make a Digital File for Printing
Source: / Photo Contributor: Andrey_Popov

How to Make a Digital File for Printing

If you’re new to printing, you’ll have a hard time choosing between digital formats. We’ve created this simple guide so you can skip the research part and jump right into designing and printing your digital file, start to finish.

1. Know your printing requirements

Are you wondering, “How do I create printable digital files?” Before you start creating your digital file, you have to note the requirements for the piece:

  • Size – The measurements used to scale the final print size.

  • Color mode (CMYK) – Refers to the ink plates cyan, magenta, yellow, and key. Dots of ink from these four colors make up the final print.

  • Resolution – Refers to the number of pixels per inch (PPI), which determines the final print's quality. 

  • Bleed – The print is extended beyond its edges to prevent white borders in the final print.

There's a quick solution if you’re encountering this terminology for the first time. A professional commercial digital printing service can help you outline the print layout and all relevant measurements error-free. You can get in touch with us or address the customer service team for any inquiries.

2. Choose the right software

When it comes to design software, there are more sophisticated options with significant learning curves, like Photoshop and Illustrator. This software gives the user granular control over their design, which means they include specialized design tools too complex for first-time designers.

Instead, you should be looking at free options like Canva that let you tweak a design template to your desires. This gives you a limited design range, which prevents you from reordering the different elements too much and creating an unappealing, unhandy design.

3. Design your print

Learning how to prepare digital files for printing also includes designing the piece. Once you’ve picked a software, design your print. Choose what elements you’ll feature and where you’ll place them. Also, use dummy text like Lorem Ipsum to outline the writing and integrate it into the graphics.

4. Set up your document

Prepare your document for printing by first determining the page size – we recommend referring to ISO 216 for this. ISO 216 is an international standard for paper sizes used globally for writing and printing. The sizes range from A0 to A10 or largest to smallest, with A4 as the standard option for letters, documents, and art prints.

Next, set the resolution. The standard resolution for print is 300 DPI (dots per inch). However, you can adjust it according to the image sharpness you require.

Change the color mode to CMYK and set up a bleed area if the print has elements that go over the edge of the page. Then, choose the orientation (portrait or landscape).

If you’re creating a multiple-page document, make sure to enter the number of pages. Finally, use master pages to align the design elements and text across pages.

5. Save your file in a print-ready format

Save your file in the proper format before printing to prevent errors. Use PDF as the standard print-ready file format. Double-check the file setting to ensure everything is in the correct order. Then, flatten the transparency so that the graphics come out as intended.

Moreover, set compression settings according to your design. You should use a PDF preset for printing, specifically "High-Quality Print" or "Press Quality".

6. Print your file

Once you’ve learned how to make a digital file for printing, you can print the file yourself or outsource it to a printing company such as CityPress. Handing your work to professionals is one less thing to worry about regarding the print quality.

Print Your File
Source: / Photo Contributor: Kostenko Maxim

How to Resize Digital Art for Printing

Want to learn how to resize an image for printing without cropping? If you tested the print and the size doesn’t suit your criteria, here’s a quick step-by-step fix:

  1. Open the file in the design software.

  2. Adjust the size in the "Image" or "Canvas Size" menu (this will vary based on the software). Make sure the aspect ratio is optimal for high image quality.

  3. Check the quality of the print by zooming in and catching any visible pixels that point to a low resolution.

But how to resize an image for printing without Photoshop? The steps may vary slightly based on the graphics software you’re using but should be similar to what we just described.

Why not crop the file instead?

Unless you’re a professional graphic designer, you’re probably used to cropping images instead of manually adjusting the size ratio. However, cropping a design can ruin it by cutting out crucial elements like pictures or text or leaving white lines at the edges.

If you crop a large design, the new picture will have reduced resolution, losing its sharpness. In addition, by cropping it, you’re changing the size ratio and distorting the proportions. It’s always safer to resize it using the steps we provided.

Common Challenges in the Printing Process

When mastering how to make digital prints of artwork, you may experience certain issues with the final print. Here are some common challenges you might face:

  • Font and text issues – The text might be tiny or hard to read. Fix this by adjusting the font size, avoiding decorative fonts, and using straightforward, easy-to-read typefaces.

  • Color-related issues – The colors might not transfer as intended on the printed material. You can solve this by calibrating your monitor and using an ICC profile for color accuracy.

  • Resolution issues – The images on the printed material are pixelated or lack sharpness. Fine-tune them by adjusting the resolution to match the print size you want. 

  • Paper selection issues – The print doesn’t look good on paper. Consider hiring a professional printing service to help you pick the right paper stock and coating for the intended use.

Maximizing Print Quality With Professional Services

Where to get a digital file printed? If you need a simple design on paper, your home printer will do just fine. However, if you require more refined printing for marketing materials, you can turn to professional printing services.

Besides the printing, we will perfect the final piece using print finishing solutions – coating, binding, folding, lamination, etc. Combined with expert in-house designers, this will result in top-quality pieces that will drive results.

Maximizing Print Quality With Professional Services
Source: / Photo Contributor: Andrey_Popov


We hope we’ve made learning how to make a digital file for printing easy with our detailed guide. The basic steps include establishing your printing needs, choosing design software, creating and preparing the design for printing, as well as saving the completed document in the appropriate format.

To avoid printing errors, double-check your digital file before printing and run a test piece to see how it comes out. If you see any discrepancies between your design and the printed material, go back and adjust the layout, size, font, resolution, etc.

Can’t get it right on your own? Rely on our premium commercial printing services to ensure a quality print on the first try!


bottom of page