General Guidelines

We prefer vector art (illustrator CC) with all imported graphics and fonts. Type and images must not print closer than 1/8” to the dieline unless it is bleeding beyond the edge of the card. If there are bleeds, they must be 1/8” past the dieline.
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Card Size:

Standard card size is defined as 3.370 inches wide and 2.125 inches high/long. The thickness is 0.030 inches. This is the size that is commonly referred to as CR80 and encompasses all financial cards and most other common cards.


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Images and Photos:

Must be at least 300 dpi (we will accept up to 2400 dpi). Anything less may result in poor quality. Save as CMYK PHOTOSHOP, TIFF or EPS format (in layers if possible).
All supported images should be “linked” rather than “embedded” so needed adjustments can be made. Send the links files at the time artwork is submitted.


Acrobat PDF files often need to be edited, which necessitates having the original created document (the file would be created in). For example if the original document was created in Illustrator or Photoshop, it is more efficient to edited those files rather than a PDF.
If a PDF is the only providing artwork, PDF files need to be vector output or high resolution.


Include all type fonts (screen and printer fonts) when you send the job. Or convert all type in the document to outlines (note that converting type to outlines the document type uneditable.)


Text should be editable built in one of the above programs or text that has been converted to outlines. Please avoid providing text as raster images unless special effects are being used (note that converting the type to outline means the document will then not be able to be edited).


A vector file is composed of points and lines. This type of rendering style produces a much cleaner image with a much smaller file size. This is a good file type for logos and trademarks. Some popular software programs that produce vector files are MacoMedia FreeHand, and Adobe Illustrator.


Raster files are composed of pixels, or small colored squares. This is the file type most digital photography is composed of. Vector files are not capable of producing the generous number of colors that help to create depth and shading. A popular software program for producing raster files is Adobe Photoshop.

A little about type in Photoshop

Photoshop is a wonderful program that in the last few years has expanded the capabilities of the designer tremendously. But it is not the place to set type. When working with type the objective is to have clear crisp letters that the audience will be able to easily read. Unfortunately Photoshop is incapable of producing this kind of lettering. The only exception to this should be when you are applying effects to DISPLAY type in Photoshop, it too is rendered IN those, such as bevelling, embossing, inner glows etc. These effects should not be applied to regular body copy.
As we explained above Photoshop renders files as small squares of color. When type is set in Photoshop it too is rendered of those same small squares.
When that file is then sent to the printing press it is converted to small dots of black and white. These dots will cause the type to look fuzzy and gray.
It is best to set type in a page layout program like Quark or InDesign where it will be sent to the process as vector information. Adobe Illustrator is an acceptable program for setting type.

Bleeds, Buffers and Die Lines

When laying out artwork it is always GOOD to keep in mind how the cards are produced. First the final adjustment files are sent to Platesetting to output to plates then sent to an offset printing press where the final adjusted files are sent to the output device of the platemaker. After plates are made, the plates are put on the press and the graphics are printed on the plastic substrate. Printed sheets are then laminated with extreme heats and pressure, producing the final laminated graphics. The extreme heat & pressure needed to laminate can cause color shifting, dot gain and shrinkage in the sheet.

So we ask that you include:

  1. A .125” (1/8 inch) BLEED (sometimes called background art) must extend beyond the die cut marks by 1/8 of an inch.
  2. A .125” (1/8 inch) BUFFER. The BUFFER is the space between the die line and the LIVE area. It is critical that important information like text or logos do not encroach on this BUFFER area. Art in the buffer area risk being cut off.