Home > Help Center > Layout Templates > Illustrator Templates > Guidelines and Step-by-Step Instructions

Using Our Templates

Illustrator Illustrator

We created our design templates with you in mind. Whether you're a novice or a design professional, you can use these templates to ensure the files you send us will print the way you want them to. That said, here are some instructions to help you get started.

  1. Download your template from our template library. You can use either the JPG or PDF file. Both will work fine in Illustrator.
  2. Open Illustrator and create a new file (File > New).
  3. Set the height and width 0.25 inches larger than the size of the finished printed piece. For example, if you're using an 8.5 x 11 brochure template, make the dimensions 8.75 x 11.25 inches instead. A standard 2 x 3.5 inch business card would need to be 2.25 x 3.75 inches.
  4. Illustrator New File Dialog
  5. Under the Advanced options, make the color mode CMYK and the raster effects High (300 ppi).
  6. With the document now created, select File > Place, and choose either the PDF or JPG template file to import it onto the page.
  7. Illustrator Place Dropdown

Why the Extra Space?

The 1/4 inch of extra space is intended for bleeds. Bleeds are text or images that extend all the way to the edge of the finished page. Since printing equipment can't always accommodate printing all the way to the edge of the page, extra space must be added to allow for it. This excess space (1/8 inch on all sides) is then trimmed off as part of the production process.

Adding Guides

Our templates include guidelines to help you in laying out your project. We recommend adding guides to your document that correspond with each of these lines, as well. One of the lines we include marks off the safety margin. It runs the perimeter of the entire document (1/8 inch inside the cut line), and all text should remain inside this margin. Any text that extends beyond the safety margin will fall outside the mechanical tolerances of our paper-cutting equipment and may get cut off inadvertently. Add your own guides as needed. Those guides can't go past our guidelines, however. For templates that include a fold (such as a tri-fold brochure), we recommend adding guides at the fold lines and 1/8 inch on either side of the fold as safety margins for each panel as well.

Handling Images

When designing for print it's important to use high-resolution images with CMYK color. While 72 dpi and RGB are acceptable (and preferable) for web-based viewing, print-based images need to be 300 dpi and must use CMYK. Otherwise, they will not reproduce properly on printing equipment. For more about image resolution, visit this help center article.

Making Sure Black is Black

We all know about shades of gray, but in printing, there are also varying shades of black. For richer, darker black, we recommend a CMYK setting of C=30%, M=30%, Y=30%, and K=100%. This is known as Rich Black.

One Final Step (IMPORTANT)

Once you have your design in place and ready to go, remove the template from your file. Otherwise, all our guidelines will be included on the final print piece.