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PDFs, JPEGS and More: A Guide to File Formats


The print industry, like many others, is surrounded by jargon. Floundered by the different file types? Read on to discover the difference between the most popular formats for print submission:

PDF – Most people have come across PDFs – even if they weren’t aware of it at the time. The abbreviation stands for Portable Document Format.  According to Wikipedia ‘PDF is a file format used to present documents in a manner independent of application software, hardware and operating systems.’ In a nutshell, PDFs allow everyone to view the same document regardless of their equipment.  PDFs are therefore our preferred format for submitting proofs to clients. Many clients also submit their files to us in PDF format, so that we can get a feel for their requirements. Don’t worry if you’re uncomfortable submitting material to us as a PDF; we are equally happy to convert files from packages such as Word, Publisher and Illustrator.

JPEG – JPEG stands for Joint Photographics Expert Group.  This file format is one of the most popular for saving and sending images. Lots of the photographs that we receive for use in brochures, flyers, newsletters and posters are sent to us as JPEGs.  In technical terms, JPEG is described as a ‘lossy compression technique for colour images’. Lost about the meaning of lossy? It means that the JPEG format loses or compresses some information so that the file is easier to read by the human eye. Don’t be put off by this. Provided your JPEG file is at a decent resolution (see below), it should be more than adequate for print purposes.

EPS – The clever people at Adobe were the driving force for PDFs and they are also proponents of the Encapsulated Postscript or EPS format, which is used for vector-based images in Adobe Illustrator. An EPS file can contain text as well as graphics. This makes the format very popular for saving and sending company logos.

Resolution – No-one wants fuzzy images in their marketing materials. To avoid this, it’s important to get your file resolutions right. Resolution refers to the degree of details that an image holds: the larger the number of pixels (or dots), the better the quality of the image. We recommend a minimum of 300 dpi (dots per inch) for all images for printing.


Which paper’s right for my print project?


Putting together a print promotion involves many decisions. Amazing artwork and tantalising text are a great beginning – you want your literature to look good and read well. But what about how it feels? Make sure your material choices are a tactile hit with our handy guide to paper stocks.

What do you mean by paper stock?

The paper stock refers to the weight, or thickness, of the material you select for your print promotion.  It’s measured in grams per square metre, which is normally abbreviated to gsm.

Why is the right paper weight important?

There are many reasons.  Consider the impact that you want your printed materials to make and their end purpose.  If you’re printing restaurant menus, for example, you’ll want them to be durable. Sending out newsletters via post? Remember that the weight of your item will affect the cost of postage. Need to run letterheads through your own printer? Keep it slim.

The material you choose also sends an important message about the quality and positioning of your product or service.

Any rules?

These general guidelines should keep you right:

Up to 120gsm – Standard stationery items such as letterheads and compliments slips.

130 – 170gsm – Leaflets, flyers and posters with a short shelf life, as well as brochure inserts.

170 – 200gsm – Double-sided flyers, brochure covers and more durable posters.

200 – 250gsm – Approaching card territory. Ideal for brochure covers.

300 – 400gsm – The norm for business cards, although some may go above 400gsm for maximum impact.

Finishing touches

There are a variety of paper finishes on offer. The most common choice is between matt or gloss.

As a rule of thumb, matt tends to be slightly more subtle and fosters an air of understated professionalism.

Looking to make more of a high-profile splash? A gloss finish can help powerful graphics ‘pop’ off the page.


If paper stocks leave you stumped, remember that your printer can help. The choices are many and varied, however the right decision can give your print promotion that extra edge.




Under pressure? Ask your printer


Deadline-driven. The very nature of the print business.  It’s an extremely rare occasion when a client tells us to “take our time because there’s no rush”.  Some people thrive under pressure, others most definitely don’t. That’s why the team at can help make all your most common print problems disappear in a twinkle…

“I don’t have a design but I need one”. Lots of our clients are small to medium sized businesses – or SMEs – and they don’t have an in-house graphic design expert. That’s not an issue. has access to a studio team that can sort out any artwork angst pronto – as well as creating designs from scratch (they secretly love being let loose on the latter).

“I need more copies of my print materials – but I’ve lost the print-ready file.” Printed it via last time? Heave a sigh of relief. We keep all final document artwork on file. Just in case. And if you – gasp – went to another printer? You’ll be amazed how quickly we can recreate something for you.  Just provide us with a finished hard copy – or the individual images, draft text and logos if you have them.

My boss has just asked for a last-minute change – argh!”  Approved artwork already with us? Now is no time for email.  Lift the phone pronto – 01224 898966 –

“I’ve been let down by another printer and I need my project yesterday.” Our new digital presses are super-swift. Don’t be shy. Get in touch, tell us what you need and we’ll be on the case. We can’t turn back time but we can turn around projects. Extremely quickly.

“My print items are needed for a specific event.” By now, you should know that we’re fast. What you may not know, however, is that we’re also very flexible. If your print materials are needed for a trade show, conference or business exhibition, we can ship them straight there. It’s all part of the service.

Some people thrive under pressure. Fortunately, the team at are among them.