FAQ

1. What type of files can I send to TFA Signs?

We recommend and prefer PDF files with outlined fonts. These files are easier to handle and will likely speed up your turn-around. Remember to flatten your PDF before uploading.
You may also submit files in the following types: jpg, jpeg, psd, tif, tiff, eps. *PLEASE NOTE: We do NOT accept Adobe CC files. Please output all CC files as PDF before submitting.

2. What color mode should my files be?

You should always start and finish your designs in CMYK color mode.
If you send us an RGB file, there is a chance that a color shift may occur and you may not be satisfied with your job.

These colors are in RGB

These are the same colors but in CMYK      

3. What resolution should my file be?

We only accept 300 dpi files and no less.
Low resolution files may be printed as is or placed on hold until we receive new files, slowing your turn-around.

4. How should I set up my bleed and crop marks?

Bleed must extend further than the cut line. Using one of our TFA Signs Templates can help you visualize this. Please keep all text and anything you do not want cut at least .125" away from the cut line.

5. Does TFA Signs accept borders on jobs?

Yes, but they are not recommended. If the border is too close to the cutline, it may be cut off-center.

We cut through many sheets at a time, so watch your borders to avoid an unwanted mistake.

6. How should I set up my files for proper rotation?

TFA Signs requires Print Ready files with proper rotation. Files submitted are printed HEAD to HEAD as-is based off your files.

Make sure to set up your files so that when we print them HEAD to HEAD the final product will read the way you would like. Also, front and back files need to be set up with either both sides vertically or both sides horizontally.

If you would like your back file to be upside down, please send your artwork as shown below.

If you have a fold-over or greeting card, please send your artwork as shown.

For files not properly set up, TFA Signs will use best judgment and will not be responsible for improper rotation.

7. How can I avoid transparency issues?

Any transparency issue can be resolved before saving your file.

What a transparency problem looks on screen     After a transparency problem is printed...

To prevent this, never use shadows, glows, or any other transparency (image or otherwise) on top of a spot color. Always convert your spot color to CMYK and flatten before sending.

All of these effects will cause transparency problems.

8. Should I send a proof file or sample file?

When sending artwork, do not send extra files, like proofs or samples, because they might get printed. Only send the files you need printed.

DO NOT SEND THESE KINDS OF FILES
We are not responsible for these kinds of files being printed. Unless requested by one of our employees, DO NOT send files that you do not want printed.

9. What is overprint, and how it can ruin my file?

Primarily used to intentionally overlap inks for a number of reasons, overprint can cause unexpected results. We suggest that you turn all overprint objects off before submitting your files.

In this case the logo was set to overprint. The colors from logo are mixing with the colors from the background. Unexpected results may occur if you have accidentally set certain objects to overprint. Always check logos and other artwork before submitting.

10. Can I submit front and back in same file?

No. We are now specifically set up to process one side at a time, and this requires that each side of a job must be a separate file.

Not separating files will cause delays and you might have to send the files again. Remember to separate the pages of your .pdf files as well.

11. How should I set up a Spot UV?

When creating a Spot UV job, You must include a Spot UV template file along with the regular full color file. The Spot UV template file is used to show where the UV will be placed.

Use 100% K to indicate where you would like the UV. White will indicate no UV.
REMEMBER "IF IT'S WHITE, YOU CAN WRITE!"

12. How can I set up a file for silver ink?

Silver ink files must be sent in a vector format. You must use a vector program, like Illustrator or InDesign, to call out the object you want in silver ink.

To indicate the silver ink, you must set the object color to Pantone 877 C. Any other color will not be accepted as silver. Also labeling the layer as "silver mask" or "silver" will not qualify your file.

Remember, silver is a spot color and transparencies like drop shadows should be avoided.
We recommend using 100% silver. However, we are able to print silver gradients and different percentage tints of silver.

13. How can I make sure my blues don't come out purple?

When using a blue in your design, always make sure to leave at least a 30% difference in your Cyan and Magenta values.

Because blue is close to purple in the CMYK spectrum, you must use a low amount of magenta whenever using high amounts of cyan to avoid purple.
EXAMPLE: C-100%, M-70%, Y-0%, K-0%

14. How do I export a PDF correctly?

When exporting from any program such as InDesign or Illustrator, use these settings to make sure your .PDF files export correctly.
EXPORT SETTINGS FOR .PDF FILES

15. How do I create a grayscale image in a CMYK document?

Grayscale images that are converted to CMYK will have a color shift in the final print.

Always check the CMYK values of your grayscale in the final CMYK document. If there are other values other than K in your grayscale image, there is a chance that the color will vary.
To eliminate all values other than K, use your Channel Mixer (adjustment layer) in Photoshop, then click "Monochrome" and adjust accordingly.

16. What is rich black and how can I get it?

Rich black is an ink mixture of solid black, 100% K, with additional CMY ink values. This results in a darker tone than black ink alone. If you print black alone as 100% K, the resulting black may not be as dark as you might like.

We recommend using
C-50%, M-40%, Y-30%, K-100%
This will give you a deep, dark, rich black.

17. Why does my business card crack aroun the edges?

Cracking of the edges of a business card sometimes occurs when the card contains high values of ink, as with dark colors.

This usually happens on a small amount of cards in the run. To prevent this, use lighter colors on the edges. If you must use dark colors, use as little ink as possible when choosing the CMYK values.

18. What is banding?

Many things can cause banding. Banding can be caused by the program that it is exported from, such as InDesign or Corel. Also, too many gradient steps, for example going from a very light color to a dark color, in a small area will cause banding.
CLOSE UP OF BANDING.

To prevent this, check your digital files before sending. If you use a gradient, make sure it has enough room for a smooth transition.

19. Why is there cracking on my scoring job?

There may be cracking on the product when scoring it, if there is heavy ink coverage on the sheet. By scoring the job the we may be able to reduce the cracking but not eliminate it completely.

If the job is critical then we recommend to score the job with the help of die cutter. You can submit your specification of the job through our custom request form and get an estimate for price and turnaround time.

20. How can Pantone colors affect the way my job prints?

There are three different ways Pantone colors can affect the way your job prints.
The first is by object effects, such as shadows or glows, on top of your Pantone colors. Here is what the effects will look like on screen:

Here is what the effect looks like after printing:

As you can see, when a Pantone color is under these object effects, transparency issues show up during printing. To avoid this, convert all your Pantone colors into CMYK before submitting your order.

The second way Pantone colors can affect your file is when you use transparent images. Here is what a transparent image looks like on screen:

Here is what a transparent image looks like after printing:

You can see the image is no longer transparent on top of the Pantone color. These white areas will show up during printing. To fix this issue, convert all your Pantone colors into CMYK. If you need to have a Pantone color in your art, for example when doing a silver 877c job, you must create a clipping mask around the image so the white area will not show up. This must be done before submitting the order.

The last way Pantone colors can affect your order is the color conversion between a Pantone color and CMYK. All of our normal printing is done in CMYK unless you specifically order a Silver or Custom job. If you use Pantone colors in a job that will print CMYK, your job might print with undesirable colors.
Here are some examples of what the Pantone color looks like in the Pantone color book and what the CMYK print will look like:

If you send in a job with Pantone colors, the CMYK conversion will change the Pantone color. Before sending your order, make sure all Pantone colors have been converted to CMYK.

21. How can I use TFA Signs templates?

Our Certified Templates are a great tool to create artwork that can be printed faster, easier, and more accurately. If you are using Illustrator, you can use our specialized EPS templates. If you are using something other then Illustrator, download the JPG version.
Here is what each of the lines mean inside the template:
Here is what an 8.5x11 brochure template looks like:
These templates will help you identify where the cut line, bleed line, and safety line, are located along with other information so you can design your art correctly.
Some of our templates are labeled as OUT and IN. This means that there is some folding involved with the template. OUT means the FRONT of the job and IN means the BACK. During the upload part of your order, remember that OUT is the FRONT and IN is the BACK.
Here is an example of the fold-over business card template:
As you can see, OUT is the FRONT of the job and after folding, will be facing outward. You can also see the rotation of the job. The front must be positioned upside down so it can fold correctly.
Remember, do not move or change any part of the template when using them.

22. Digital color printing

Our brand new Digital color presses are in a different class. The print quality of digital prints exceeds professional standards. Here are a few facts about Digital Color Printing:
- Tests show digital quality matches offset.
- Digital printing offers larger color gamut.
- Print buyers find digital quality interchangeable with offset quality.
- Today, many showcase applications are printed digitally.
- Digital printing is more affordable for short runs, due to very low set up cost.

23. How should I set up a spot AQ job?

When creating a Spot AQ job, you must include a Spot AQ template along with the regular full color file. The Spot AQ template file is used to show where the AQ will be placed.

NORMAL CMYK FILE

SPOT AQ TEMPLATE FILE

Use white, 0C 0M 0Y 0K, to indicate where you would like the AQ. Black, 100%K, will indicate no AQ.

24. How should I set up a Plastic Card Job?

When designing plastic cards, it is important to keep in mind that the frosted and clear plastic cards are transparent. Also, all plastic cards come with round corners at no extra charge!
As you can see, the difference in the transparency is shown in the image above. The clear cards (right) are completely transparent. The frosted cards (center) are semi-transparent and cannot be seen through easily. The opaque white plastic cards (left) are solid white and not transparent at all. Keep this in mind when designing your plastic cards, it will affect how your design will print.

Since there is no white ink in CMYK, it is important to keep in mind that the frosted and clear plastic cards are transparent. The three designs above are the same as in the first picture. You will notice that the white area in the clear cards (right) and the frosted cards (center) has no ink and will show the transparent material it's printed on. In this case, the clear cards and frosted cards white area show up with no ink on the printed piece. Also, keep in mind that all colors that are printed on clear cards or frosted cards will be transparent as well.
With the clear plastic cards, there might be a small percentage that may have light scratches. This issue originates from the manufacturer and is due to the material and handling. To help compensate for this, we run overs of the clear plastic cards to help meet the required quantity.
Clear plastic cards will come with a thin protective layer on one side that can be peeled off. This is to prevent the cards from scratching during packaging and shipping.

25. What is TFA Signs standard round corner radius?

We offer 1/4" and 1/8" radius round corners to all of our customers. The image below shows the two different radiuses for comparison.