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Working with Images for Print

Working with images for print differs completely to images intended for the Web. For the latter, see the complete guide here

Whether scanning or preparing images for inclusion in a printed document, always save them in either TIFF or EPS format - this will preserve the colour and clarity of the images. If you are scanning a previously-printed image such as a magazine photo, you will need to 'de-screen' the image, blurring it slightly to avoid a moiré effect.

Do not save as either GIF or JPEG formats as they compress the size of the image file by discarding colour information and may cause colour shifts, blurriness and may actually print in black and white. Also don't use LZW, JPEG or ASCII encoding or DCS files, LAB colour, Duotones or Tritones - convert them all to CMYK. Images that are meant to be black and white should be converted to Grayscale.

Save as EPS or TIFFSave as JPEG or GIF


When scanning images, bear in mind the final size of the image you will use. Always scan images at 300 dpi at the size you are going to use them. (It's no use scanning a small image at 300 dpi and then blowing it up in size). Use your scanning software to help you calculate the output resolution. Conversely, scanning photos at more than 300 dpi will have little or no effect on the quality of the final print and will merely increase the file size and therefore processing time. Scan black and white line art (i.e. a logo) at 1200 dpi for best results - any lower and it may look blurry.

Don't enlarge or reduce your scanned images in a vector program (Illustrator, Freehand, Corel etc.) - it is best to use Photoshop for this.

When converting images from RGB to CMYK in Photoshop, go to EDIT...Color Settings (it's under the Photoshop menu on a Mac). In the "Working Spaces" part of the dialogue box, choose "Custom CMYK".

Custom CMYK

This box will appear:

Color Settings

Pay attention to the CMYK makeup of any black in your image. In the example above, we have "Total Ink Limit" of 300% which is far higher than the desired 225% to minimise the risk of "Set-off". More Therefore, type 225% in this box and see what effect it has on your image.

Finally, remove any alpha channels and flatten all layers before saving the image.