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.

 

Make print-ready PDFs 

Set up your PDF print-ready files correctly to save time, money and effort. Ensuring details like your files have the appropriate color mode, resolution and are the correct size will help speed things up. We take a no-detail-spared approach to print, and our print file setup checklist will ensure you miss nothing.

Our FREE PDF Templates - complete with fold lines, trim lines, bleed, and quiet areas - have their own simple explanation underneath. You can find templates on the lower left-hand side of our product pages.

Setting up a print file at a workstation
 

Interior page setup

Picture your final print. How will you print it? How will your specifications affect your design? Questions like these will help you organize your pages and artwork accordingly. To set up internal pages for a multi-page item, like a Hardcover Book or Magazine, follow these steps:

 

1. Choose single or double-page spreads

For Adobe InDesign users - files will be automatically set up as double-page spreads. But you can change to single pages by going to Document > Set Up - and deselecting the option for Facing Pages. And for Illustrator or Photoshop users, you can set your canvas or artboard to single or double pages.

 

2. Add bleed and quiet areas

Add 0.125" bleed regardless of size, and allocate a 0.25" quiet area along the edges of your design (no content should be in this area whatsoever). These areas will prevent any content from being cut away before being bound.

Next, extend the content that touches the trim edge beyond the bleed area.

In Adobe programs, you can use our templates to help you see the correct margins and quiet areas. You will also need to increase the canvas size by 0.25" to accommodate bleed on all sides.

InDesign users can select Use Document Bleeds in the Export PDF dialog box.

 

3. Set up your margins

If you want to print a single-page Flyer or staple-bound Booklet, your margin measurements can be the same for your quiet area. However, for perfect bound, wire-o bound, or Hardcover Book designs, you will need to allow extra space on the inside margins - so no content is lost during trimming. 

Please ensure text is at least 0.25” from the trim edge, as content can get hidden when bound. We recommend a 0.5” margin on the binding edge to ensure no text is hidden or obscured.

 

4. Preparing for Output

Before outputting your file, follow our complete checklist to ensure the images and format are the correct sizes. If you want to output as a single page document, you can switch from facing pages to single pages in InDesign, but this may require some reformatting to ensure all the elements are in the bleed areas.

When outputting, ensure you select the correct page range, deselect Spreads, and output your file as a High Quality or Press Quality PDF with bleed marks set as On.

InDesign users will need to select Use Document Bleeds in the Export PDF dialogue box.

Illustration of trim lines

 

Illustration of the bleed area

 

Illustration of the quiet area
 

Double spreads

Double page spreads hold so much creative potential for multi-page items. You could even expand your designs across two pages, suitable for prints like Lookbooks. Follow our step-by-step guide to setting up your double-page spreads:

 

1. Set up your file as double pages.

In Adobe InDesign, by default, your file will have facing pages. In other words, Page One (your cover) will be automatically on the right-hand side. Subsequent pages will appear side by side in the Pages palette.

If you create your pages in Illustrator or Photoshop, you have to ensure your canvas or artboard size is equivalent to double your trim size. For example, if your book is 8.5” x 11”, you need to create a canvas that is 17” wide (i.e. 2x 8.5”).

 

2. Add bleed and quiet area.

Add a 0.125" bleed regardless of size, and allocate a 0.25" quiet area along the edges of your design. These areas will prevent any content from being cut away in the trimming process before being bound.

Next, the content that touches the trim edge must extend beyond the bleed area.

In Photoshop or Illustrator, you can use our templates to help you see the correct margins and quiet areas. You will also need to increase the canvas size by 0.25" to accommodate bleed on all sides.

InDesign users can select Use Document Bleeds in the Export PDF dialog box.

Select 'ALL' and also 'Spreads' in InDesign

3. Make sure your design works across a spread.

Align your elements to prevent any detail from becoming lost in the inside margins. Words that run across should have spaces added - and images offset, so neither falls into the gutter.

To offset an image in InDesign: 

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

This method will create an area in the middle of the page that makes the image look duplicated. But it will not be visible when printed.

With both image offsetting and text formatting, it might not look ideal on your artwork on your computer. But when printed and bound into a book, it will be accurate.

 

4. Exporting files as spreads.

If you export your file as spreads in InDesign, select Spreads in the Export panel. When uploading your file to our online platform, our software will split the pages for you.

Although they will appear as single pages in the Artwork Dashboard, the files sent to the printer will keep their alignment.

 

 

 

Select 'Use Document Bleed Settings' in InDesign
 

Cover setup

Your cover design will depend on the binding you choose. Page 1 on a folded, multi-sided or multi-page item will be your cover. Our software will do the rest automatically.

If you plan to print a Hardcover Book, you need to supply separate cover files. You can upload the Front and Back covers as individual pages with a separate spine file - or a single file with the integrated spine.

Spine width shown in the Mixam Artwork Dashboard

1. Creating a cover file

Remember the artwork will wrap around the bound edge, and it is always on the left. So during the artwork setup, note that the front cover is on the right-hand side, and the back cover is on the left.

If creating a new file from scratch, it will need to be twice the trim size, with space allocated for a spine. For example, if you have an 8.5” x 11” book with a 0.25” spine, it will be (8.5” x 2) + 0.25” = 17.25” wide.

2. Calculating your spine width

Mixam automatically calculates the spine width when you create a quote. We calculate the spine width on the number of pages you enter into the Instant Price Calculator and the chosen paper weight. You will find the required spine size in your Artwork Dashboard once you have clicked on the Add to Cart option, and you can review your final specifications.

3. Special features

Stand out from the competition, give your prints a premium look, and make a lasting impression - special features truly elevate your print work. Whether you add a Spot UV finish or Spot Colour to your cover, you only need to provide a same-size, second file of your main cover file with the areas marked out by a single color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to submit your files

Uploading your files to Mixam is easy, plus there's no pressure to buy the items, even after uploading your files.

Once our Instant Price Calculator has given you a quote, click Add to Cart, then Proceed and upload files to begin uploading your work to your Artwork Dashboard.

On the left-hand side of your screen, you will see a note: Please drag your file(s) here or use the button below to upload your artwork. Please note that page order is rearranged every time a file is uploaded. 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