Print File Setup Guide

Whether you're new to Mixam or a printing expert, check out our setup guide to walk you through the process.
 

Our Downloadable Templates

You can download layout templates tailored to your order specifications under our Instant Quote Calculator or when you generate a pending order. Our templates display and define the quiet area, bleed area, trim lines, and binding line. The spine's bleed and quiet area are included but do not contain text. The bleed area will appear turquoise, and the quiet area will be yellow. You can find your spine width dimensions once you’ve added an item to your Shopping Cart, in your Artwork tab and on your template. You don’t need to include the template when you upload your files.

Full Bleed Printing 

  • Bleed is an extension of colours or graphics that extend past the trim line. Bleed ensures no unprinted edges appear on your final prints. The bleed box guideline is blue. Your artwork or colours must fill the space between the trim and bleed box guidelines. You can learn more about full bleed printing here

Quiet Area 

  • Printed pages can move slightly during the trimming stage, and this guideline will prevent your content from being cut into or away entirely. The trim box guideline is bright green to indicate where we intend to trim your pages. Set your page margins to 0.25” on all outer edges and 0.5” on the bound side of your page as a quiet area. 

Gutter Area

  • The gutter area shows where we’ll bind your publication. This guideline applies to Perfect (PUR), Hardcover, Wire-O Bound Books. Place all content 0.5” away from the trim line to avoid gutter loss on Perfect (PUR) and Hardcover Books and 0.6” away from the trim line on and Wire-O and Spiral Bound Books. The gutter box guideline will appear as a shaded, purple area on your page thumbnails to indicate the binding side.

Head to our YouTube channel for visual guides on how to set up your files with specific design programs:

 

Which Design Programs Should I Use?

There are many programs to choose from, but we’ve compiled a list of some popular options to help you decide.

 

Mixam’s Design Online Tool

Adobe InDesign

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Photoshop

Canva 

Affinity Publisher

Set your own bleed and trim areas

Automatic

 

✔*

Work and export in CMYK colour profile

✔**

Export files as PDFs

Easily work in spreads

   

Easily work in single pages

Single and Double

Create vectorised files

   

*You can only set a 0.125" bleed with Canva’s free and paid versions.

**Canva can export in a CMYK colour profile with Canva Pro (paid) and doesn’t currently offer an option to choose specific CMYK colour profiles.

 

How To Set Up Single Pages

Single-page files can be set up automatically as double-page spreads in programs like Adobe InDesign. But you can switch to single pages by going to Document > Set Up - and deselecting the Facing Pages option. You can set your canvas or artboard to single pages in Illustrator and Photoshop and output them as a High-Quality or Press-Quality PDF with bleed marks set as On. Remember also to select the correct page range and deselect Spreads. InDesign users can select Use Document Bleeds in the Export PDF dialogue box.

Ensure you have the correct measurements and bleed on your files before uploading them. Naming your files will ensure they appear in the intended order and are easy to locate if you need to edit them. You can use names like frontcover.pdf, backcover.pdf, page1.pdf, page2.pdf, etc. 

Add a 0.8” bleed on all sides of the front and back covers for Hardcover Books. You can also review our bleed requirements for all binding types on our Binding Support page here

Let’s use an 8.5” x 11” Perfect (PUR) Bound Book as an example:

  1. Set the trim size to 8.5” x 11” plus a 0.125” bleed on all sides. 
  2. The complete dimensions, including the bleed, would be 8.75” x 11.25”.
  3. These dimensions will be the same for the front and back covers and all interior pages as Perfect (PUR), Staple and Wire-O Bound items.
 

How To Set Up a Double-Page Spread

Double-page spreads are an eye-catching feature with high visual impact, ensuring your content extends across two opposite pages and through the centre of a publication when open.

You can calculate the spread dimensions by multiplying the width by 2. You will also need to include a 0.125" bleed on all sides of this spread.

While we cannot guarantee perfect alignment due to manufacturing variance, place text away from your margins, and you can prevent images from becoming obscured by the gutter by offsetting them. This method will create a space in the middle of the page that makes images look duplicated. But it will not be visible when printed.

Please note that Page 1 will always be a right-side single page for interior spreads. The first full-page spread will appear across Pages 2 and 3. 

A spine refers to the book edge where the outer covers and interior pages are bound, as seen on Paperback and Hardcover items. Spines face outwards when placed upright on shelves and typically feature artwork, the publication title and the author's name. You must include the spine width in the middle so the front and back cover create a spread. You can leave this blank in the middle, as the binding area will cover it. But you’ll need to ensure you’ve added an extra 0.125" white gap on each side of the spine to serve as a glue trap. These gaps help the adhesive bind the book in the unprinted area around the interior pages to ensure they easily open and turn. We apply PUR adhesive on an unprinted area when we wrap the cover around your internal pages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Hardcover Books, you cannot print on the inside covers as this is where we’ll apply the endpapers. For Perfect (PUR), Staple and Wire-O items, you can supply a page spread for the front cover and Page 1.

You can export your double-page files as spreads or single pages. If you choose single pages, the bleed area may be missing or look different on the binding side of the book, but we will glue this area together, and it won’t require bleed. Please note your canvas or artboard size is equivalent to double your trim size if you create your pages in Illustrator or Photoshop. If you export your file as spreads in InDesign, select Spreads in the Export panel. Our software will split your pages when uploading to our online platform. Although they'll appear as single pages in the Artwork Dashboard, the files sent to the printer will keep their alignment.  

When uploading double-page spreads, including both page numbers in the file's name is essential. For example, a page spread across pages 2 and 3 should be named similarly to ‘pages 2-3.pdf’ to ensure our system positions them correctly.

Here's how to offset an image in InDesign: 

  1. Split your images into individual frames on separate pages (not a single frame running across both pages).
  2. Move the left-hand image to the left by 0.125" and the right-hand side image to the right by 0.125".
  3. Then, adjust the frame to fill the pages and bleed correctly.

Alternatively, you can watch our YouTube tutorial to learn how to set up page spreads and gutter areas here.

 

How do I set up Cover Spreads?

You can upload files separately, either as a Front and Back cover with a separate spine file or a single file with an integrated spine design. Your cover artwork will wrap around the binding edge, which is always on the left-hand side. Therefore, your front cover is on the right-hand side, and your back cover is on the left (see image below). If you add special features like Spot UV, you only need to provide a same-size, second cover file with the areas marked out by a single colour. But you don’t need to include a spine when creating a cover spread for Staple and Wire-O items. 

Spine Design Tips:

  • Centre the spine on the spread and ensure that the text is legible and fits within the spine width.
  • For Hardcover items, set all text to a minimum of 0.2" for legibility and position it vertically. You can create text so it can be read from top to bottom, meaning it won’t appear upside down if placed on a shelf or be illegible if laid on its side. 
  • For Hardcover items, position all text 0.2” away from the top and bottom edge of your spine to minimise content from being trimmed into or off.
  • Set your spine dimensions before uploading your file to minimise content loss once our system sets trim boxes. If you cannot upload spine artwork, add a blank page by pressing the blue three-dot button under the spine thumbnail. Print work will only appear in this area if you upload a spine design file. Otherwise, it will remain blank.
 

How do I set up Cover Spreads?

Staple-Bound, Perfect-Bound (PUR) and Wire-O items all require a 0.125” bleed on all sides, while Hardcover Book requires a 0.8” bleed on all sides. As for the quiet area on cover spreads, especially for Hardcover Books, you should place text at least 0.6” away from the spine edge to ensure it does not overlap the hinge. You can refer to your downloadable PDF template when you enter your print specifications on the Instant Quote Calculator.

For Perfect-Bound (PUR) items, add the spine width to the centre of the spread. This area must be left blank as we’ll bind it with glue. If you have a continuous colour or image reaching the spine edge, add a 0.125” margin to each side. This area is known as the glue trap, which ensures the adhesive adheres directly to the paper.

Use the formulas below to set up your cover spread for each binding type and this helpful YouTube tutorial can also show you how to create a spine and cover spread.

Example:

Let’s use a 5.5” x 8.5” Hardcover Book with a 0.38” spine. This item would have the following dimensions:

5.5" Width + 0.2" Hinge + 0.38" Spine Width + 0.2" Hinge + 5.5" Width

Since the height is the same, add 0.8” bleed on all four edges of the spread. Overall, the dimensions will be 0.8” bigger in height and width.

5.5” + 0.2” + 0.38” + 0.2” + 5.5” x 8.5” (and add 0.8” bleed on all edges - top, bottom, left and right)

Final Dimensions (without bleed): 11.78” x 8.5”

Final Dimensions (with 0.8” bleed on all edges): 13.38” x 10.1”

Staple Binding (0.125” Bleed + Back Cover Width + Front Cover Width + 0.125” Bleed) x (0.125” Bleed + Height + 0.125” Bleed)
Perfect Binding (PUR) (0.125” Bleed + Back Cover Width + Spine Width + Front Cover Width + 0.125” Bleed) x (0.125” Bleed + Height + 0.125” Bleed)
Wire-O Binding (0.125” Bleed + Back Cover Width + Front Cover Width + 0.125” Bleed) x (0.125” Bleed + Height + 0.125” Bleed)
Hardcover Binding (0.8” Bleed + Back Cover Width + 0.2” Hinge + Spine Width + 0.2” Hinge + Front Cover Width + 0.8” Bleed) x (0.8” Bleed + Height + 0.8” Bleed)
 

Upload Single Files or Multi-Page Files: Which is Better?

You can upload single files and multi-page files to your orders. We recommend supplying covers, spines and cover spread files separately from the interior pages for bound products. This method is particularly relevant for Hardcover Book designs as the bleed area differs from the covers and inner pages. 

Here are some more tips on removing and supplying files:

  • Remove a file entirely before uploading a revised version. This step ensures no duplicate files and that your artwork appears in sequence.
  • You can remove specific thumbnails by pressing the three dots symbol. 
  • You can also remove files by clicking the red X symbol next to each file name under your Artwork tab and rename them by clicking the pencil icon.

Uploading Single Files:

  • Great for small page counts
  • Easy to remove and resupply files
  • Uploading files with higher page counts may take longer

Uploading Multi-Page Files:

  • Easy to organize
  • Fast loading time 
  • Must remove and reupload the entire file when resupplying files. (You can also delete a single page by clicking the button with three dot symbol underneath the thumbnail image. When resupplying this file, ensure the single page is labeled for the correct location, like ‘page 1.pdf’).
 

Printing Fonts

For optimum print quality, choose a print-compatible font. Web fonts are optimised for digital display only and may cause issues that won't be visible in your virtual Preview and Downloadable Proof. 

To preserve a font's appearance, you can convert web fonts (text) to outlines (artwork, shapes) in your PDF. Check your text post-outlining to ensure all characters appear accurately. Here's how to convert web fonts to outlines in Adobe for print:

InDesign

  1. Use the 'Type' tool to select all the text in your file.
  2. Type > Create Outlines
  3. Click File > Save As and give your file a new name to avoid saving over the editable version.

Illustrator

  1. Click Command + A to select all text in your file.
  2. Click Command + Shift + O with the fonts selected.
  3. Click File > Save As and give your file a new name to avoid saving over the editable version.

Photoshop

  1. Right-click or use Command on the text layer in the Layers panel.
  2. Select 'Convert To Shape'.
  3. Click File > Save As and give your file a new name to avoid saving over the editable version.

 

For white or lightly coloured text on dark backgrounds, you can prevent text bleed, flood and ghosting with these tips:

  • Use fonts larger than 6pt in regular or bold.
  • Place text against lighter backgrounds.

Avoid:

  • Narrow, small fonts.
  • Highly decorative, thin-detailed fonts.
 

Export Print Files With .joboptions 

Adobe program users can optimise files for our presses by downloading Mixam's .joboptions preset files. They 'calibrate' files with our preferred PDF print settings, such as colour space, fonts, transparencies, and printer bleeds. Adding a .joboptions file to one Adobe program will automatically update the other programs.

First, download and install Mixam's preferred CMYK colour profile for colour consistency:

GRACoL2006_Coated1v2

Now download the relevant .joboptions file below:

.joboption File For Single Greyscale Pages

.joboption File For Single Colour Pages

If your .joboptions file doesn't load automatically, you can manually install it in Adobe programs (note settings may differ across operating systems and program versions):

InDesign

  1. File > Adobe PDF Presets > Define
  2. Select the Mixam .joboptions file and click 'Load'.
  3. Click Mixam's .joboptions file from the 'Adobe PDF Presets' drop-down list and click 'Load' ('Open' for Windows).
  4. Select Mixam's .joboptions file in Adobe PDF Presets and click 'Done'.
  5. To export your files, go to File > Adobe PDF Presets > Mixam .joboptions file > Export.

Illustrator

  1. Edit > Adobe PDF Presets
  2. Click Import > Select Mixam's .joboptions file.
  3. Click 'Load' ('Open' for Windows).
  4. Select Mixam's .joboptions file in Adobe PDF Presets and click 'OK'.
  5. To export your files, go to File > Save As... > Save as type: Adobe PDF (*.PDF) Save > Mixam .joboptions file > Save PDF.

Photoshop

  1. Edit > Adobe PDF Presets
  2. Click 'Load' > select the Mixam .joboptions file > Click 'Load' ('Open' for Windows).
  3. Select Mixam's .joboptions file in Adobe PDF Presets and click 'Done'.
  4. To export your files, go to File > Save As... > Save as type: Photoshop PDF (*.PDF, *PDP) > Save > Mixam .joboptions file > Save PDF.
 

How To Submit Your Files

Uploading your files to Mixam is easy, and even after uploading your files, there's no pressure to buy. Once you've added a quote from our Instant Quote Calculator to your Cart, click Continue, and you can begin uploading your files to your Artwork Dashboard. You can drag and drop files from your desktop or submit your files for printing directly from your computer. You can even add them from services like DropBox or WeTransfer.

Submit and manage your print files in the Mixam Artwork Dashboard
 

Seeing (and feeling) is believing

Order a Free Sample Pack
poster