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Layout and Design for Print Publishing

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Layout and Design

All finished pieces start with an idea. Determining the way your printed piece will look is known as layout and design.

Layout includes the prospective product's dimensions, its orientation, the color scheme, the general typefaces to be used, and where on the piece different content will appear. Layout is the big picture of the creative process.

Design is the mechanical process of fleshing out the layout in detail, including:
  • Selection of font styles and sizes
  • Precise placement of various headings and content, controlling how content flows on the finished piece
  • Inclusion of crop marks for sizing, alignment of color separations, and for cutting down the finished piece
  • Placement of special elements such as overprints for color bleeds and close registration for color separations

For print publishing pieces (business cards, letterhead, announcements, invitations, advertisements), we need to set your idea down into a formal layout and design. Very simple layouts may have no costs associated with them. Most pieces will involve at least a small design charge.

Layout and Design Pricing

Based on the type and complexity of work, layout and design work is billed by the hour, with rates ranging in cost between $25 and $45 (US dollars) per hour. Action Graphics reserves the right to waive design charges at its discretion.

If you already have a design and just wish Action Graphics to print your finished piece, you can submit the design to us in in camera-ready electronic format (see guidelines below), or you can send the camera-ready copy to us via United States postal service.

Submitting Camera-Ready Artwork

Benefits for Do-It-Yourself Designers

If submitting art electronically in camera-ready format, you eliminate design costs, providing the files are adequate and in the appropriate format. Check your files carefully before submitting.


  • Problems with electronically submitted files will most likely result in a delay in delivery of the job. Action Graphics is not responsible for such delays.
  • Action Graphics is not responsible for any errors in the final product (including, but not limited to, typographical errors, incorrect logos, images of poor quality, improper screening, or poorly separated or unseparated files). These are considered author's errors, and the individual or company submitting this artwork is fully responsible for any costs associated with reprinting all or part of any job.
  • Additional costs (including reprinting of a job) caused by erroneous files submitted electronically are the responsibility of the customer. Action Graphics is not responsible for additional costs. If jobs are reprinted, Action Graphics may, at its sole discretion, waive or reduce fees, costs, or shipping.
  • Additional layout or design costs may result from files containing errors, or that were submitted electronically in camera-ready format but subsequently required changes. Such costs will be the responsibility of the customer.
  • Action Graphics may, at its discretion, charge layout or design fees for jobs specified as including customer-submitted camera ready copy. These charges can apply if repeated guidance is required to be provided by Action Graphics staff (including email messages, phone or personal conversations, or other communication channels) in order to obtain files in the appropriate format and of the appropriate quality to result in a satisfactory final product. Such costs will be the responsibility of the customer.

Color Separations

If your design is to be printed in two or more ink colors (including black), then your finished printed piece must be color-separated. Provide one color separation design for each color, and clearly label each. Please include crop marks on separations for easy alignment.

Send Business Card Artwork 4-Up

Business card designs must be provided to us in 4-up format. For your convenience, we provide an annotated 4-up template you can view to set up your design, and a downloadable 4-up template in EPS format.

Acceptable File Formats

For submitting camera-ready artwork, the following file formats (listed in the order of preference) are acceptable. Please note the specifications for each format.

  • Adobe Illustrator 11.0 or lower: All type (fonts) and artwork must be converted to outlines (we also recommend including the typefaces with your submission). Fonts must be Postscript-compatible.
  • Adobe PageMaker 7.0 or lower: Images in TIFF or EPS; fonts must be Postscript.
  • Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format): All typefaces (fonts) MUST be embedded; if creating from Adobe Illustrator, first create outlines of all type.
  • EPS (Encapsulated PostScript): (colors separated for SPOT colors, not process colors)
  • QuarkXpress 5.0 or lower: Images in TIFF or EPS; fonts must be Postscript. You must be certain that your Quark files are suitable for publication. Generally, we do not check these files before sending to press.

Note that Adobe Photoshop is NOT an acceptable file format. Yes, we use this program as well. Yes, we love it. Photoshop is not suitable as an output file format, although you can generate EPS and PDF files which are.

Our preference is to receive files in Adobe Illustrator 11 or lower format, particularly if we will need to edit the files.

A Word About Fonts

You clearly want your finished piece to look as designed. If you are submitting electronic files for print output, to guarantee an exact match, any fonts or typefaces in your design must either be outlined, or you must provide the font files (screen and outline files) with your artwork submission.

  • We perform our layout and design on the Apple Macintosh OS X platform. If submitting electronic files that we must open and modify, all fonts must be either be Postscript fonts, or they must otherwise be acceptable to Adobe Illustrator for production of Postscript output.
  • If required, we can set your design in Adobe PageMaker, which accepts TrueType fonts. In this case, you must send us the appropriate fonts in Macintosh TrueType format.
  • Always specify whether your electronically submitted typefaces are for the PC or the Macintosh platform.
  • We can obtain required fonts for you if required. In this case, upon your acceptance of this arrangement, you will be billed the cost for us to obtain the typeface. Action Graphics will retain the license to use purchased fonts unless otherwise agreed in advance.

View other business card related pages:

Business Cards   |    Ink Colors   |    Foil Stamping   |    Card Stock   |    Design   |    Card Pricing   

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