File setup

Bleed areas and margins


Extend the background of your design to fill the full “bleed area” (3 mm). There is minimal clearance during cutting. This prevents white edges after cutting and ensures that the background extends nicely on all sides.

Safe area

Keep 2 mm free of text and important images. There is a chance that a slight deviation will occur during cutting.


Save your design elements as vector files (without clipping masks). Make sure that you leave at least 1 mm distance between your finish or spot color and your cut lines. Do note that spot colors can’t be printed as full bleeds.

Specialty fonts

To avoid surprises when printing specialty fonts (sometimes even our systems don’t recognize every font out there), make sure that you outline your fonts in your files.

Overprint and transparency

Make sure that you keep an eye on your design if you are using overprints and transparencies. What you don’t want is the wrong layer combination showing up. (By default, the top color knocks out the layered colors underneath.) If you set the top layer in overprint, the colors underneath will also be printed.


For the best possible printing quality, we highly recommend 300 dpi resolution.

Where do I find the guidelines or templates for my cards?

Colors: CMYK or RGB?

If you are printing full-color cards, we highly recommend that you deliver your files with CMYK colors. If you deliver your files in RGB, we will translate them to CMYK. This might cause color differentiation.

Saturation: Black in your design

If you want a deep black color on your business cards, set the color saturation percentages to: 50% Cyan, 40% Magenta, 40% Yellow and 100% Key (black). If you set only key or black to 100%, there is a very good chance that you will get a darkish grey tint.

For text, do use 100% black. The black isn’t mixed with the other three colors. This gives a finer raster and makes the text more readable, even with the smallest font sizes.

Optimal color coverage and digital watermarks

Make sure your color saturation doesn’t exceed 280%. Higher saturation levels can cause ink spots and splashes and other irregularities on your cards. Saturation under 8% is also not recommended. This places too much distance between the raster points and the colors will be barely visible. If you want to design a watermark, then it is best to choose between 8% and 12%.

Saving your files: PDF preset

We prefer to receive your files in a .pdf format. Opt for the PDF/X-1a:2001 preset. This format lets you automatically crosscheck any special design effects you may have added. (This means less work for everyone.)

Naming of files

  • Keep it short.
  • Please don’t use special characters like / \ < > $ * ...
  • Use clear names including the name of your product, like: Companyname-84x54mm-GoldFoil.pdf

How to add a special finish?

Add a spot color swatch

Add a spot color swatch (100% black) for all the elements you want in a special finish. Give this swatch a logical and related name. (For example: “3D Gold Foil”).


Vector elements

Make sure all your design elements are vector elements. Select all text and go to: Type: Create Outlines.

Overprint fill

Set all the special finish design elements to “Overprint fill”.

Indesign: Go to Window / Output / Attributes. Select your special finish design element and mark "Overprint Fill" and/or "Overprint Stroke".

This way you make sure that your CMYK design also fills the space behind your special finish design elements, so you won’t see white marks or lines around them.

Do not use gradients

It's not possible to use gradients on special finish elements.

How to create a pdf file correctly?

Before exporting files

  • Remove all objects from the artboard that are not intended to be printed, including any extra swatches, links or extra objects.
  • Your artwork should be in CMYK color mode.
  • Images should be at least 200 dpi (we prefer 300 dpi).
  • Delete the guidelines layer if you used a template.

Step 1

InDesign: Go to File > Export...

Give your file a logical and related name, including the product you chose, like: GreatFrites_Businesscards_3D_GoldFoil.pdf

Set Format to: “Adobe PDF (Print)”

Step 2

Export Adobe PDF (dialogue box)

Select Adobe PDF Preset: [Sheet_cmyk1v4_IND4] / Standard: [PDF/X-1a:2001]

Under “Marks and Bleeds”, specify the following settings:


Under "Output", specify the following settings:

Step 3

Click "Export"

Make sure your PDF is exported to include the 3 mm bleed area you defined earlier in the file set up.

And don’t worry! Before printing, your files will always be double-checked by our experts! :-)

Do you check my files before printing?

Yes. An INKO expert checks if everything looks good before we print.

This includes sizing, formats and bleed zones. We’ll also make sure that the available colors are set correctly and that design elements that need special foils and spot colors and varnishes are good-to-go as well. If something isn’t right, we’ll get in touch as soon as possible.

Of course, we recommend that you check your files carefully before sending them to us.