Experience Piles on at Universal Printing

Posted by Fred Midgett on Mon, Sep 30, 2013 @ 04:11 PM

Bob and Sandi MouraUniversal Printing is Durham's most respected and reliable resource for graphic products like banners, printing and mailing. Over the past 33 years Bob and Sandi Moura have recruited a versatile team of graphic professionals who provide fast, reliable results from the heart of RTP. So it's no surprise to learn that even more experience has recently joined the Universal team.

Fred Midgett Fred Midgett recently came aboard with the title of Project Manager. Fred has life-long roots in the community and a long history of printing excellence. Born in Durham NC, Fred is a graduate of Chowan University in Murfreesboro NC. With over 37 years of industry experience, Fred brings a wealth of expertise in a variety of areas. From prep to presses, marketing to mailing, he has a knack of helping clients find successful ways to communicate their message. We aren't sure if the the title adequately fits all that Fred brings, but we are sure Fred is a great addition to Universal Printing.

Reagan Register Reagan Register joined our roster this summer as as Account Manager. Like Fred he has a heaping helping of experience in the print industry and all of it right here in the triangle. Reagan is a graduate of Wake Tech, and spent a few years in mechanical drafting before that spun off into a printing career - now 24 years and counting. If you haven't met Reagan yet be prepared for some knowledgable and courteous service... with a big smile.  If you're lucky, you've already had the pleasure of working with Reagan. One thing's for sure, we're mighty lucky to have him on our team.

Fred and Reagan were both mentioned in the people section of the Triangle Business Journal. They're just the two most recent additions to the deep well of experience and know-how that is Universal Printing. Next time you need printing, banners, posters, envelopes, mailing or just about anything ink-on-paper, contact us or give us a call. We're right around the corner.

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Tags: commercial printing, Universal Printing, digital printing, offset printing, blog, cross-media marketing

Is Printing Offshore a Good Idea, or Just Plain Lame?

Posted by Robert Moura on Fri, Apr 15, 2011 @ 02:59 PM

Offshore Printing - Just Plain Lame

We’ve noticed over the past several years that some of our clients have tried the offshore printing gig (like in China, for example.) As far as we can tell, they have all come back to buying locally with someone they can trust, have a face to face conversation with, and avoid experiencing any of the challenging cultural differences.

This experience has been both rewarding and frustrating for us. Frustrating because we usually don’t find out until a client has already printed overseas, been burned or let down, and then come back. Rewarding because they do come back, with similar stories and a realization that the trust, professionalism, quality and reliability we provide as a “given”, which they had previously taken for granted, has real value to their companies.

The most common issues we've heard are: longer than promised delivery times, unanticipated shipping expense, and customs tariffs and delays. Add poor quality, short count delivery, inferior packaging causing freight damage and spoilage, and the impossibility of making up those shortages in a timely fashion, and you’ve pretty well summed up the top challenges.  Communication is also usually sketchy but, somehow in the buyer’s mind, worth the allure of savings and the adventure of international intrigue! (P.S. The last thing we are told is that the savings never really materialized, which made the rest of the above even more painful for them to endure!)

Having lived overseas for over 15 years I understand that international trade is a good thing. Unfortunately, the printing industry is already highly commoditized in the U.S., despite including all the value benefits mentioned above. So the question becomes: Why would you want to go overseas, where you typically give up all the benefits your local printer offers and add all the risks? Not to mention, your work will probably be produced on equipment that the rest of the world has previously discarded.

I am sure that some may have different takes and experiences regarding offshore printing, but these are my experiences and my views for what they are worth. Let us know if you have any experiences, good or bad.

So if you want to “Think Globally and Act Locally” and be a contributor to your local economy — where your kids and ours go to school, your friends and family live, play, worship, and pay taxes  — then maybe you are on the team that thinks Offshore Printing is just plain lame!

Tchau for now!

Bob Moura

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: commercial printing, Universal Printing, printing services, business solutions, digital printing, offset printing

Universal Printing's Elite Eight!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 @ 03:15 PM

NCAA March Madness 

"It's NCAA

Tourney Time,

Baby!!!" 

- The Legendary
"Dickie V"
Dick Vitale

Yes... Universal Printing produces a bunch of of projects and ships them all across the country and throughout the world, but our base of operations is smack in the heart of North Carolina. Specifically, the Triangle — That happy bustling region that includes Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, but also encompasses Apex, Carrboro, Cary, and Morrisville. 

Around here, we like our College Basketball!  We're surrounded by 4 of the 12 ACC teams (UNC, Duke, NCSU, and yes I'm counting Wake Forest!) and when it comes down to "Tourney Time," we are right here in the thick of it!

So in honor of "March Madness" and the NCAA Basketball Tournament, we're posting our own "Elite Eight" of our 8 most popular blog posts.  We hope you'll take the time to read or re-read them, or share them with friends and colleagues!  In the meantime, we'll be rooting for Duke and Carolina, and the other ACC teams representing the Atlantic Coast this weekend.

  1. Choosing Inks for Color Printing - Coated vs. Uncoated

  2. Tips to enhance your graphic design portfolio

  3. More about Color: Digital Color | RGB vs. CMYK

  4. Choosing Inks for Color Printing - Spot Color vs. Process Color

  5. Direct Mail... Back-in-the-day or Future Play?

  6. Choosing Inks for Color Printing - Metallics and Other Specialty Inks

  7. How to Save PDF files for Better Printing!

  8. Tweet me... Social Media and Commercial Printing CAN work together!

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: graphic design, tips and tricks, commercial printing, Universal Printing, blog, Social Media, direct mail, poster printing, Photohop

These 5 Tips Will Make You a Better Proofreader!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Feb 18, 2011 @ 10:30 AM

Let’s face it... NOBODY enjoys proofreading. Ok, maybe there’s a rare few that get a kick out of it from time-to-time, but nobody really "likes" it. Still, it’s a very important step in any graphic design project or page layout process, and one that sometimes gets overlooked. It’s easy to “pass the buck” on this, and assume someone else should have proofread; but anyone involved in putting files together for printing should take a moment to proof their work. Granted, I’m only talking about proofing for completion and accuracy. Grammar and punctuation can be addressed in someone else’s blog! For us, we just want to help get it on press quickly, and address any concerns BEFORE the project is plated and printed. These tips will help make your proofreading process a little easier.Focus on Proofreading your design project before going to press!

1)      Print it out – It’s way easier to read from paper than on screen (sorry Kindle and Nook people, but it’s true)

2)      Read it out loud to yourself – When you incorporate other senses it helps keep you from making assumptions about what you’re reading.

3)      Read it slowly – In fact, it’s helpful to run your finger along under the text to keep your eyes focused on each word one at a time

4)      Read out of sequence – If you’re proofing tables or charts, try reading in columns instead of rows. Also, sometimes taking paragraphs in reverse-order, or reading body copy separate from headings will keep you from making assumptions about what you’re reading.)

5)      Take extra care with special text – If you have special instances like fine-print, call outs, italicized type, and such, be sure to proofread them more than once.

6)      Double check small words – “or” “of” “on” and “it” “if” “is” are often interchanged without people realizing it.

7)      Watch out for homonyms – Spellcheck only checks spelling errors, not homonyms; so take extra care to check for instances like “their” “they’re” and “there.”

8)      Avoid fluorescent lights when possible Fluorescent lights are harder on your eyes and can lead to eye strain if you’re reading for a long period of time. If you can avoid it and there's a lot of text to proofread, try to take occasional breaks.

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: printing, graphic design, setting up your files, Universal Printing, printing services, business solutions

Choosing Paper for Your Printing Project... Part 2

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Feb 04, 2011 @ 03:00 PM

So you want to know even more about paper, eh?  I don't blame you. Our previous blog post went over some of the basics of paper, like the type of coating or finish, and caliper, weight and bulk.  This post will cover opacity, brightness, shade and grain. Let's get started!

Opacity is just a fancy way of saying the "show through" or "see though" quality of the paper: As in, how much will the printing on the other side of the page "show though." Some papers are categorized as "opaque" sheets, as opposed to "offset" or "bond" papers.   As a general rule, the thicker the paper, the less light gets though; however less bulky papers like vellum are thicker but less dense, leaving more chance for light (and printing) to come through.  Text-heavy projects like annual reports, manuals, or product brochures should be printed on paper with more opacity.

Next in line come brightness and shade.  It would sound like those are the same thing, but in reality they aren't. Brightness is the overall visual appearance of the sheet in terms of how much light they reflect. As you may recall, ink is slightly translucent, which means the brightness of the paper effects the brightness and vividness of the color. Brightness is measured on a scale of 0 to 100; which is to say a sheet measuring as 96 bright is more reflective than a 92 bright sheet.  

Shade refers to the whiteness of the paper. Don't be fooled and think we're talking about the color.  If the paper is light blue, dark blue, yellow, red, cream, natural, eggshell, that is its color. Shade is all about white: Blue White, Yellow White (also called Cream White), and True White.  Papers made with optical brighteners tend to have a cooler hue. These absorb warmer colors and give off more of a faint blue tint. Yellow white uses no brighteners and have a warmer more yellowish hue.  True white is a perfectly neutral sheet.

Boring Science Fact: White light is built of all colors (ROYGBIV) and travels in wavelengths. Blue light has a short wavelength and travels faster, while red and yellow light have longer wavelengths and travel slower. So a Blue White sheet appears to be visually brighter than a yellow white sheet because your eyes actually "see" it first!

Finally it's time to talk about Grain. We all know paper is made from trees, so it would stand to reason that if wood has a grain, so should paper!  In order to make paper, all these trees are ground down into fibers and mixed with water, resin and other stuff (which altogether is known as pulp) and run through huge paper machines that form them into large rolls. Between the speed these machines run and the process the paper pulp goes through, the fibers naturally all tend to line up in the same direction which is the grain direction.  Paper is then cut down, and can be either long grain or short grain. Long grain means the grain direction runs with the longest side, and short grain means it runs along the shortest side.  

The grain direction of your paper can play a very critical role in your project. You've likely heard the expression "going against the grain."  All paper is flexible, but it's always more flexible along the direction of the grain. This is important when thinking about folding projects. When you fold against the grain, the fibers break and crack, which appear ragged and less crisp.  This can easily be addressed by scoring a piece, which pre-creases the sheet and breaks down the fibers in a more controlled way.

Fortunately, we never expect our clients to know everything there is to know about paper.  If you need help picking paper for your project, please contact our helpful Sales or Customer Service Representatives or a member of our award-winning Graphic Design team. They’ll be more than happy to get you started.  We also get to work with some wonderful paper vendors that are always willing to assist with answering questions or providing samples of any paper you can imagine. 

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: printing, graphic design, commercial printing, Universal Printing, printing services, business solutions, direct mail, poster printing

Choosing Paper for Your Printing Project... Part 1

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 @ 12:30 PM

Paper comes in all colors, weights, and finishes; and sometimes our customers know EXACTLY what paper they want. More likely, we'll take in a project where the client won't have a clue what they want, or even need.

When choosing paper, we need to know some paper lingo. Let's start with the surface of the paper. Is it Coated or Uncoated? There are different types of coating, based on how shiny it is. Gloss is the smoothest and most reflective. It’s perfect for photos or flyers; anything that needs a quick visual POP. Matte is on the other end of the scale. It reflects very little light, so it’s easier on the eyes when reading text. Paper companies don’t have any rules for how they categorize coatings. There are a lot of in-between terms – Silk, Satin, Dull – but each is still coated and takes ink very well. Some papers are coated on one side and uncoated on the other, called C1S (for “coated 1 side”). With both sides coated it would be C2S, but it's generally just called Coated.

Uncoated sheets have different surfaces called Finish. Most common are Smooth, Vellum, Felt and Embossed. Again, some paper companies like to be fancy and come up names like “Super Smooth” or “Laser” to describe the finish of their paper. Ink lays down well on most of them, but you’ll want to be careful when using toner-based printers or copiers. This is especially true with Embossed papers like Linen (cross-hatched like fabric) or Laid (similar to corduroy) since the toner won’t sink into the deeper crevices of the paper.

Once you know what the surface is, you’ll want to figure out the thickness. This can get VERY confusing, since it involves three aspects: Caliper, Weight and Bulk.

Caliper is the actual thickness measured in mils (1/1000”) or points.  Paper that measures 0.010” thick is 10pt, 0.014” thick is 14pt, and so on.

Weight is the “basis weight,” which is how much 500 sheets weigh at a specific sheet size: 25” x 38” for text weights, and 20” x 26” for cover weights. If 500 sheets of 25”x38” paper weighs 80 lbs, that would be 80lb text and 500 sheets of 20”x26” cover weighing 100 lbs. would be 100lb cover. Often “lbs” is replaced with the “#” symbol, so 100 lbs = 100#. Get the idea? Good! Let’s move on.

Bulk is the overall density of the paper. Like how the metric system measures “mass” instead of weight (on the moon you would weigh less, but your mass still takes up the same amount of space.) It’s a formula that considers Caliper and Weight.  In simple terms, thicker sheets have more bulk. Also, coated sheets have less bulk then uncoated sheets, which helps explain why 100# coated cover feels much thinner and less stable than 100# uncoated cover.

Next, paper is classified into two categories: Text and Bond. Cardstock has more categories: Bristol, Index, Cover and Board. Bond or Writing is your general multipurpose paper. It ranges from copier-grade 20# bond all the way up to nice fancy resume-type papers like 28# writing. Text is what’s often used for books, newsletters, flyers, etc. Here’s where confusion starts… in terms of thickness 50# text is equal to 20# bond, 60# text equals 24# bond, 70# text equals 28# bond, and so on.

Bristol, also called Vellum Bristol, is a lightweight cardstock. The surface is a little rougher since it isn’t compressed when it gets made. It feels a little thicker, even though it’s not as dense. This makes it less expensive and is often used for mailers and single-use pieces. Index is smoother and feels thinner and is often used for tabs, file folders – and you guessed it – Index Cards!

Cover is the general usage term for most cardstock weights. It’s usually made to match their companion text weights, so it is usually used for newsletters and books so all the text and cover sheets in the same piece would match. Board is used mostly for display pieces, pocket folders, posters, etc. Unlike other stocks, which are listed by weight, Board is generally selected by thickness (10pt, 12 pt, etc.)

There are so many paper choices available and every single one of them is just waiting for a printer like us to start slapping some  ink on them. We love paper – we love, love, love it. If you need help picking paper for your project, please contact our helpful Sales or Customer Service Representatives or a member of our award-winning Graphic Design team. They’ll be more than happy to get you started.

Also check out Part 2: Opacity, Brightness, Shade and Grain.

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: printing, graphic design, commercial printing, Universal Printing, printing services, business solutions, direct mail, poster printing

Digital Image Editing | Removing an Image From It's Background

Posted by Universal Printing on Tue, Jan 25, 2011 @ 10:30 AM

Photoshop has come a long way since its original release back in 1991.  Sure... I know some of you hardcore Adobe fans will argue and say it first came out in 1988. But let's get real... Photoshop didn't REALLY become impressive until it's version 2.0 release. 

Like most commercial printing companies, we use Photoshop ALL the time.  Probably more than most, since we also offer in-house graphic design. Our art director, John Francis, has put together a super helpful and easy to follow tutorial that shows how to remove the background from an image.Mouse Image from Stock Photography

Once you go through this tutorial, you will be able to take any image and remove the subject from its background.  This will allow you to easily drop the image into another layout from Adobe Illustrator or InDesign without the need to spend a lot of time tracing or created complex clipping paths. This is also helpful if you need to replace the background with another Photoshop image.

Sample of Image placed into a layout

 

More tutorial videos like the one shown below, are featured on our YouTube channel.  Need help setting up a calendar, or samples of the latest tools and effects in Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, or Photoshop? Using CS4, or want to learn more about CS5? Maybe you just want to know the fastest way to get those special text effects. Let us know which tips and tricks you'd like to see!  Leave your suggestions in the comments field below, or leave a comment or video responce on any of our YouTube tutorial videos.

Watch the video below for step-by-step instructions!

Tags: graphic design, tips and tricks, commercial printing, Universal Printing, CS5 tutorials, Adobe Photoshop, training video, Photohop

Do You Have a Multi Channel Marketing Plan for 2011?

Posted by Universal Printing on Wed, Dec 22, 2010 @ 10:35 AM

 

Universal Printing Multi Channel Marketing 2011

With 2010 rapidly coming to an end, it's a perfect time to evaluate your 1st Quarter marketing goals for 2011. It really doesn't matter what industry you're involved in, EVERY company, group or organization uses marketing to some degree. If you're anything like us, you're most likely focusing your marketing efforts on growing new business and maintaining existing clients. Whether it's finding new leads, or developing existing customers, you need to maximize every chance you have to deliver your message. Your BEST option is an Intgrated Multi-Channel Marketing Campaign.

Symphony, our Multi Channel Marketing software product, offers a complete cross media solution that will get your message out there utilizing multiple conventional, digital and social channels. Not only will you dramatically increase your net impressions (or "touches"), but you'll also be able to track your results utilizing your campaign dashboard and ROI calculator!

Here are a few helpful things to keep in mind when you're planning your integrated marketing campaign.

1- Use a Cross Media approach: Your competitors are either already doing this, or will be VERY soon. There are so many ways to communicate with your audience and if you're not using all of them, you're leaving chips on the table. Utilizing mass media options like radio, newspapers, magazines, and billboards, as well as one-on-one methods like email and direct mail are all great. But shouldn't you also be taking advantage of the latest technologies that integrate all these channels and add text messaging, flash video, QR codes and other social media to reach your audience and measure responses?
 
2- Engage your audience: You have less than 3 seconds to deliver your message and request some kind of action. "Less is more." Keep your creative clean and simple, your message clear and concise, and your offer appealing.
 
3- Measure your results: Even if you ARE using all the media options available to you, do you have one central place to track and analyze all your results?  Using seperate tracking URLs for different mass media campaigns will help you see which channels are most effective.  You can do the same with social media pages or QR codes too.

4- Don't forget to follow-up: You've delivered your message, made your impression, and learned as much about your leads as you can. What next? Micro sites and landing pages add power to any campaign. Of course there's the "Thank You" page, and auto reply "Thank You" email, which should always include a way to "refer a friend." But don't miss out on a chance to use surveys to gather valuable client preference information. Utilizing rules based logic allows for dynamic responses and automated follow up based on stated preferences! Real-time lead information is automatically sent to both sales and management. You should also consider integrating SMS or text options for lead follow-up. 95% of all text messages sent get read! 

5- Now INTERACT with them:  Adding personalization to your direct mail or email pieces will get noticed faster. Going one step further and giving them a pURL or link to a personalized website is more likely to keep their attention. As long as you are providing clear actions and strong reasons to continue, you will get more chances to learn what your potential leads want from you.

There's a timeless saying: "Knowledge is power." Symphony helps you harness that power and use it to increase your lead generation and plan future marketing efforts with real measurable information.

So go ahead... Use our cross media solution for your multi channel marketing, and get INTEGRATED!  To help get you started, our friends over at iContact have posted some GREAT ideas to help get your creative juices flowing.

Tags: commercial printing, Universal Printing, business solutions, email marketing, Tips for improving direct mail and email marketing, direct mail, multi channel marketing, pURLs, response rate, email blast

Happy Holiday Wishes from Universal Printing!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 @ 12:30 PM

Every year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, all of us at Universal Printing get together for our annual Holiday Luncheon. The owners, Bob and Sandi, supply turkey and ham while everyone else brings in their favorite entree, side item, or dessert.

Universal Printing Holiday Luncheon - Food Table

Universal Printing Holiday Luncheon - Desert Table

This year, it seemed that some early morning snow and sleet might postpone our luncheon but our dedicated staff braved the elements and the feast went on!  We are so fortunate to have such a diverse group of people working here, and it seems like EVERY person on our staff is an amazing cook (or at least KNOWS one!)

Universal Printing Holiday Luncheon - Gift Table

After the feeding frenzy, we enjoyed a laugh-filled White Elephant Gift Exchange (also known by some as a "Yankee Swap" or "Dirty Santa.") The basic idea is that each person brings a small wrapped gift (or re-gift).  Numbers are drawn and everyone in sequence takes turns getting a present from the tree. The TWIST in the game is that as you go down the line, each subsequent person has the choice of selecting an unwrapped present, or stealing an opened present from one of the people who went before them. In that case, whoever has a present taken from them can steal from someone else or take an unopened gift from the tree. To avoid total anarchy, there is a "steal limit" where stolen gifts can change hands twice. The third "owner" of a gift is the FINAL owner of that gift. And to keep all things fair, the person who drew the #1 and went first, gets a final chance to exchange their gift with anyone whose gift is still able to be taken.

We also got another special treat: Owner and CEO, Bob Moura penned a special Universal themed Christmas poem which you can enjoy below, or on our YouTube channel.

Needless to say, we had a great time. It's nice to have a chance for everyone in the shop to come together and enjoy each others' company as a group. It's one of the best things about being part of a company where we are truly like one big family. Honestly, it's one of our strengths: Having an talented and dedicated group of like-minded people working together to achieve whatever projects we're working on from day-to-day. Just like Bob says in his message on our site, "The people who work at Universal Printing are friendly and seem happy to be at work... That's the Universal difference."

Tags: graphic design, commercial printing, Universal Printing, green printing

Office 2010: Good, But Still Not Graphic Design Software

Posted by Universal Printing on Wed, Dec 08, 2010 @ 11:30 AM

Earlier this year Microsoft released their newest Office bundle, Office 2010.  For many people who upgrade to Office 2007 a few years ago, their Ribbon Interface was a huge and often unhappy surprise.  They changed their entire navigation layout, making it very difficult for even the most knowledgeable Word, Excel, and PowerPoint users to find what they were looking for. Most annoying was the lack of a File menu, which had been replaced with a strange little “Office Pearl.”  In Office 2010, they have brought back the File menu, and even enhanced it to become a very complete File Panel complete with file properties, permissions options, and other features making for easier document sharing and collaboration.

One of my favorite new features is in Word, the Paste Preview. It automatically shows you how your pasted information will appear depending on which Paste Format you chose. It’s a relatively minor thing, sure. But it’s still very helpful especially when Cutting and Pasting from webpages, which are often unpredictable.

Universal Printing reviews Office 2010

As with any release, there are a few bugs.  For some unknown reason, the 64-bit version doesn’t offer all of the features as the 32-bit install, but for most users the speed and file save advantage might make it worthwhile.

Also, the way Office 2010 is set-up after installation, it makes setting new file associations difficult.  In the case of Excel, for example, only half of the file formats offered in Office 2007 will automatically open in Office 2010. You can still manually open them through the File menu, but this becomes a little annoying. Microsoft is aware of this known bug also, and is allegedly working on a fix.

The biggest issue that Microsoft Office users seem to be complaining about is the lack of Upgrade pricing.  While some people will opt to purchase the much more economical “Home and Student” Version, those wanting everything included in the Professional Version will to pay full price.

It should also be mentioned, that while Office 2010 is a very comprehensive Business Software package, it still lacks a lot of the features necessary to make files that work well for commercial print. Most people will continue to set up their files in Word or PowerPoint, and pay to have us fix their bleeds or color separations. Microsoft's "desktop publishing" solution, Publisher, still has a clunky interface, and it isn't intuitive in setting up files for commercial printing.  In those cases it is best to produce the highest resolution PDF you can create, and cross your fingers.  Please visit our Software Requirements page for a full list of file formats we accept.

Also, if you aren't sure of the best way to set up your files, you should explore our Graphic Design services. We can either offer expert consultation or simply your project for you.

Tags: graphic design, setting up your files, commercial printing, Universal Printing, business solutions, product reviews