Setting Up Your Files – Part 1

Setting up your files utilizes more than just putting some images on a Photoshop document (.psd) or Illustrator file (.ai) and saving it to an Encapsulated PostScript format (.eps) or Adobe Acrobat file (.pdf). You need to download a printer’s template for the product you want to have printed. That template will contain everything you need to design your product with, including the bleed and content/title safe lines.

Note: We are assuming the use of a page layout program such as Adobe InDesign™.

Content/Title Safe Area – This is also referred to as the Margin in word processing. This area guarantees that, during the cutting process, the artwork and/or text you want to be seen is safe from being accidentally chopped off on either the left, right, top or bottom of the product. It also guarantees that elements are not folded around edges of the box or insert. (Title Safe comes form the broadcasting industry where, with older television sets, text outside the title safe area might go off the edge of the screen and become unreadable.)

Cut or Die Line – The edge of the card or product. This is the line the cut occurs on.

Bleed Line – Also referred to as the Trim area. In order to make sure that the image or visual content goes all the way to the edge of the card or box, make sure the image extends past the cut line to at least the bleed line. This way, if, during the cutting process, the paper shifts, you won’t end up with the paper color being seen along the edge of the product. The bleed area is most commonly .125″ or 3.175mm. But this can vary based on the item you are printing. Always refer to the printer’s templates and use those as each printer could have slight variations on their bleed set ups.

In addition to the bleed, when it comes to the box the components are stored in, you need to have some wrap – an extended graphic area that wraps around the edges of the box into its interior. The wrap area is usually 15mm, making for a total 18mm of “bleed”.

Slug Area – This can be one of the most important, yet most overlooked, areas of your document. It is the assigned area where the creation or modification date of the document is displayed so it can be referenced by you, the creator, and the printer to make sure the right version of the file is being printed.

Fold Lines – Indicates where the product will be folded during the manufacturing process.