Frequently Asked Questions


Here is a list of most frequently asked questions. If you have a question that is not covered here, please contact us and we will be happy to help you!

Why pick PrintFast over other competitors?

PrintFast has been exceeding the expectations of print buyers since 1903. Bill McGowan, our third-generation owner, has 50 years of experience in the industry. He and the entire PrintFast team believe in long-term relationships built on trust and respect.

Does PrintFast offer quality assurance?

At PrintFast, we take pride in the quality of our work. In a recent survey, 99.1% of our customers said that we “met or exceeded” their expectations and that they would reorder from us again and recommend us to others. A tremendous amount of our work is generated from favorable customer reactions and recommendations. As such, we stand strongly behind our work. If a job is unacceptable due to defects in workmanship, we will reprint and ship out the job to you at no cost, or issue a future credit. No cash refunds are offered. Please note that the original run must be returned to us and inspected before reprinting. This guarantee does not cover customer errors such as low-resolution images, poor photography, or incorrect copy. Furthermore, we print to industry-accepted “pleasing color” standards. We will make every effort to produce a reasonable representation of your job based on your supplied materials. However, note that PrintFast does not guarantee color matching so defects due to color matching cannot be honored. If a color proof is requested for critical jobs, we guarantee the color proof matches the final printed piece within recognized industry standards. See “Will my printed job look exactly like it does on my color printout or the proof on my computer monitor” for more info. We feel confident that you too will be in the 99.1% of those happy with PrintFast’s commitment to customer satisfaction.

What type of paper will my job be printed on?

All jobs are best suited for only certain types of papers. We will be happy to give you suggestions of the papers that would best suit your intended need, as well as a cost-saving optional paper.

How do I place my order?

Placing your print order with our site is easy. Simply navigate to the product that you are looking for, select the quantity and other options then consider your design options. You may create your print-ready document online for free in our Design Studio (most products), upload your print-ready files, or use one of our templates (many products) to create your final design. If you have any questions please feel free to call us and we'll be happy to assist you. 800-810-4818.

What is your minimum order quantity?

Our minimum order quantity varies for each product. Please note that the price per piece goes down dramatically as the quantity increases. Envelopes, since they are sold in 500 per box, have a minimum order of 500. Ask us to quote on several quantities and you can decide how much you want to save.

Can you print a different quantity than you have on your website?

Yes, sometimes we can print exact quantities. Please call us to see if your job qualifies.

Will I always receive exactly the quantity I order?

As per industry trade customs, “overruns and underruns not to exceed 10% of the quantity ordered shall constitute an acceptable delivery”. However, we appreciate that when you order 1000 cards, you would like to receive 1000 cards. Rarely, if ever, due to the inherent nature of the printing process, we may ship slightly fewer pieces than you ordered. Printing industry trade standards allow for underruns up to 10%. Therefore, it is within the industry standard that a shipment of 4,500 pieces on a 5,000 order is an acceptable order. Also, you will only be billed for the actual quantity delivered. This scenario is the extreme exception and not the rule. 

Do you offer mailing services?

We offer a complete direct mailing service. We have the latest high-speed equipment and US Post Office Certified software that guarantees the lowest postage costs. We can also obtain mailing lists based on any criteria such as homeowner, geographical areas, levels of income, etc.

What is your turnaround time?

Our standard turnaround time for most items is 3 to 5 business days. Certainly, jobs that involve higher quantity, multiple colors, folding, bookbinding or mailing may take a few days longer. You have our guarantee that we will always produce your job in as few days as possible while maintaining our high level of quality.

Does your turnaround time include shipping?

No. Our turnaround time is measured as the time needed for us to complete your job and have it ready for you to either pick up or send by courier, UPS or USPS. It is the amount of time it will take for your job to be completed and it starts when you give us your approval to print along with payment information. Shipping times are in addition to the turnaround times posted on our website.

What methods of payment do you accept?

We accept Visa, Master Card, and business checks. Personal checks are not accepted.


What methods of shipment do you offer?

We use United Parcel Service ( UPS ) and the US Post Office ( USPS ). Each service has its advantages for the least cost to ship. We will use the service that will cost you the least.

How do I send my files?

It is easiest for you to email or upload your files to us. We have links on our site to help you to convert your files to PDF format and then send them to us.

What is the preferred format to send print-ready files to PrintFast?

We only accept native files from QuarkXpress, Adobe InDesign, Photoshop or Illustrator. However, that does not mean you are out of luck if you don’t have these programs. We also accept PDF files created from any program if they are created correctly for commercial printing concerning file resolution and embedded fonts.

What does PDF stand for?

PDF stands for Portable Document Format. It is a format that was developed by Adobe. PDFs are a universal file format that preserves the fonts (in most cases), formatting, graphics, and color of any source document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it. PDF files are compact and can be shared, viewed, navigated, and printed exactly as intended by anyone with free Adobe Acrobat®Reader®software. You can convert any document to PDF using Adobe Acrobat software, namely Distiller or Distiller Assistant. (source: If you created your files in an “office program” such as PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Microsoft Publisher, etc, saving your file as a PDF will be your best option in trying to get your files over to us for review. Please be aware that PDF files are not bulletproof as text may reflow (on our end) if your file was not created with fonts embedded.

Do I get a of proof before my job is printed?

Yes. We will create a digital proof for you in our proofing portal. This service is free of charge. You will receive an email to access your proof when it is ready. Please note, that colors viewed on computer monitors and various devices may vary significantly from the appearance of the final printed piece. Our online proofs are only meant to be a visual tool for proofing and are only a rough draft of the final printed piece. Do not trust the colors on your monitor or device unless you have a monitor that has been accurately calibrated to SWOP standards. PrintFast will make every effort to print your job to industry-accepted “pleasing color” standards, however, we cannot guarantee exact color matching. If color matching is critical to your job, you can request a hard copy color proof from PrintFast. The cost for a color proof is $75. The price includes the shipping of the proof to you via UPS overnight. The customer is responsible for shipping the proof back to PrintFast. These color proofs are SWOP calibrated. Only SWOP color proofs will accurately represent the color in your digital file. These proofs must be returned before printing since they are used as a color reference on press. Your job will not be considered approved until the proof is signed and returned to PrintFast. Because of differences in equipment, proofing substrates, paper, inks, and other conditions between color proofing and production pressroom operations, color variations between color proofs and the completed final product are to be expected, unavoidable and shall constitute an acceptable delivery. Postcards and similar products are produced in gang run format and limitations of this format may result in a slightly greater variation. A 10%-15% deviation should be expected and is held to be within generally accepted printing standards. PrintFast makes every effort to produce a reasonable representation based on the files supplied by the customer. However, PrintFast cannot guarantee color matching.

What is Online Proofing?

PrintFast utilizes an online proofing portal built and hosted in the cloud. This allows our busy clients to log in and see their proofs from any device, wherever they happen to be when the proof notification email is received. Please be aware that the colors in your online proofs may not appear correctly as they will depend on the device or monitor being used as well as the lighting conditions in the room.

Do I have to use the Digital Proofing Portal?

Yes. PrintFast requires that all proofs be marked up, commented on, and approved via our online digital proofing system. This provides a detailed history of changes requested and by digitally signing off, you can confirm to us that the design has met your requirements.

Will my printed job look exactly like it does on my computer monitor?

Probably not. All monitors display colors using RGB colors (red, green, blue). Meanwhile, all printing presses print full-color images using other colors; the CMYK colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black). The RGB color spectrum is larger than the CMYK color spectrum. As such, it is possible to create colors in RGB that you cannot make in CMYK. These colors are said to be “outside the CMYK color gamut”. So if you are working in a photo editing program such as Adobe Photoshop, and are working in RGB mode, you can create colors that look great on your monitor but are nonetheless impossible to print. This is because before a file can be printed on an offset press it must be converted to CMYK. If your image editing program has a “CMYK Preview” option, you should always work in that mode to allow you to gauge the limitations of the CMYK color gamut. Otherwise, you should always work in CMYK mode. Also please remember when you look at your computer monitor you are looking at color projected at your eyes. Factors like the age of your monitor and the settings for brightness and contrast can falsely change your expectations of what your printing will look like. Add, external factors like room lighting, fluorescent vs incandescent, and sunlight will again change your perception of the colors that appear on your monitor. Let’s assume that the file you created in Photoshop is in CMYK mode. First, your monitor is still using RGB colors to display the CMYK colors. This is the first limitation. Secondly, your monitor’s calibration affects what you see on your screen and as such, colors on the printed card may vary from what you see on your screen. If your monitor is not calibrated, and 90% of the time consumer monitors are not calibrated, your artwork will look different than it would on a calibrated monitor. Because our printing is run by SWOP standards, printed pieces usually represent truer colors. Please note that your monitor’s calibration affects what you see on your screen. Colors viewed on computer monitors may vary significantly from the appearance of the final printed piece. DO NOT TRUST the colors on your monitor unless you have a monitor that has been accurately calibrated to SWOP standards. Please keep in mind that PrintFast does not guarantee color matching. If precise color matching is critical, we strongly recommend purchasing a hard copy color proof from PrintFast.

Will my printed job look exactly like it does on my computer printout?

Probably not. Your computer printout may use inkjet technology where water-based inks are sprayed onto the paper. Our printing process uses oil-based inks that are placed onto the paper in a very different process called offset lithography.

Can you explain dot and file resolution?

In Photoshop, Make Sure Your Images Are 300 DPI, at 100% of Final Size. The number one problem with image resolution is not having enough. When preparing your high-resolution images in Adobe Photoshop, make sure the resolution is high enough so no pixelation occurs. If you find your image has too low a resolution, the best thing to do is to rescan. Whatever you do, don’t upsample the image. Simply put – In Photoshop under Image > Image Size… in the Resolution box, don’t type in a larger number. This is called upsampling and can cause problems. Photoshop images are made up of lots of little dots (like 300 dots per inch or dpi). These are called raster images because each color is recorded in a cell and the grid of cells is called a raster. They contain a fixed number of pixels to represent image data. If a raster image is printed at too low a resolution, your image may appear jagged, fuzzy or soft-edged. Trying to fix this problem by typing in a higher number won’t make the image look any sharper or more detailed, just bigger. Adobe Illustrator creates vector images, which are made up of mathematical equations called vectors. They can be infinitely scaled and are device-independent. That means they will print smoothly and at the maximum resolution of an output device. Unlike vector images, you only get so many dots to work within a raster image. Some strategies can help you prevent running into resolution problems. One is to have your images scanned oversized or at a higher resolution than your standard procedure. Many times, cropping an image will drop the resolution too low, so having extra inches and pixels to work with saves time, money and grief. But don’t use images that are too oversized, and be sure to scale them down for the final output. Ultra-large images can bog down printing, design work and the whole process in general. One trick to eke out more resolution in an image is to use a smaller version in your design. Instead of using an image large, try building a border or some other design element around it. If you have no option but to upsample, type in a number that is 1.5 to 2 times the line screen of your print job and choose Bicubic next to the Resample Image drag-down box. This is a last-resort measure and is risky. Remember that we suggest using a resolution of 1.5 to 2 times the line screen of your print job without upsampling. For example, for a 150-line screen print job, your images should be between 225 and 300 dpi.

Do I need to know about cross-platform font compatibility?

Font usage can be an issue even when the document creator and the Printer are both working on the same platform, but if you are trying to move a job from the PC to the Mac or vice-versa, you open a whole new can of worms. Compatibility is one reason why PDF has become so popular: it is a platform-neutral file format, and you can embed the fonts right into the document. This is not an issue when the job is moved from a PC to a Mac. However, PDF presents its challenges, especially if you do not create the PDF using the correct settings. If you are interested in sending us PDF files, please give us a call to discuss the details. PC Fonts vs. Mac Fonts Adobe, Agfa, Bitstream, Emigre, FontHaus: these are just a few of the most popular companies out there selling fonts. Many websites have free fonts to download. If you have materials coming from both Windows and Mac that will ultimately be combined into the same document, make sure that everyone is using fonts from the same company – for example, all Adobe fonts. If you need to buy a font for the Mac to match a font in use on the PC, make sure to buy it from the same company that produced the font you are trying to match. For example, almost every font maker (called font foundries) has a font named “Helvetica,” but fonts from two different companies can have different “metrics,” different spacing between the characters, or even different special characters like bullets and currency symbols. These differences can result in type re-flow, replacement of characters, and other issues that could cause your document to look substantially different from one platform to the other. Even worse, the document may look okay on the screen, but then output very differently from what you expect, leading to problems and delays. Both the Mac and the PC have proprietary “system” fonts that ship with the computer and the operating system, such as Chicago on the Mac and Symbol on the PC. Another example might be the font that you use for bullets and other special characters: On the PC, there is a font called “WingDings,” while on the Mac you will find Zapf Dingbats. It is fine to use WingDings to create a PowerPoint presentation that will only be shown on a screen in your conference room. But this font may not be the best choice when quality is essential, such as when your job is headed for a costly, four-plus color offset litho print run with tens of thousands of impressions. A better move would be to make sure that you have Zapf Dingbats installed on both machines. That way, the printed piece is more likely to look like what you have on your screen. TrueType vs. PostScript There are several different types of fonts, including a new format called OpenType that is being promoted by Adobe and Apple. You’ll find support for OpenType built into Mac OS X. However, most fonts in use today fall into two categories: TrueType and PostScript Type 1. TrueType was an attempt by Apple during the late eighties to get away from paying royalties to Adobe for each Postscript laser printer they sold; the format was aimed at both displacing Adobe and creating a scalable font format for screen use. Apple also collaborated with Microsoft on TrueType, and on a screen-imaging model called “TrueImage.” Microsoft introduced TrueType into Windows with version 3.1 in early 1992. Working with Monotype, they produced the core set of fonts – TrueType versions of Times Roman (Times New Roman), Helvetica (called Arial) and Courier. These fonts looked good on the screen, and perhaps just as important for Microsoft, they worked well with the mass-market inkjet printers that were just starting to take off. Unfortunately for us professionals, Adobe stayed the course with expensive and proprietary PostScript Type 1 fonts and released Adobe Type Manager to handle the screen scaling and display issues on both Mac and PC. TrueType fonts didn’t work well in professional applications, because the professional, high-resolution output devices used in printing plants were all made using Adobe technologies. A large number of knock-off font CD promoters emerged, selling hundreds of fonts on a disc for prices as low as $49.00. These fonts were hastily thrown together rip-offs of the major foundries’ designs and often did not print properly. In addition, mixing these cheap TrueType fonts with PostScript fonts would often scramble the brains of professional-quality output devices like Imagesetters that printing companies and service bureaus used to produce film for offset printing applications. Just like with anything else, keep in mind that “there is no free lunch.” Cheap or free fonts are probably going to create issues as many discovered during the early days of TrueType. Fortunately, in the late nineties, Adobe finally relented and opened the PostScript Type 1 format to outside font developers. Almost simultaneously, they lowered their font prices. Adobe fonts are still expensive, but they are less expensive than ever, and they are of the best quality that you can buy. Apple and Adobe made friends again, and so we’re in a much better situation today than we’ve ever been on the Mac side of things. Bottom line: Avoid TrueType Fonts. Here’s a checklist to help you avoid the most common font issues: – Always use the same PostScript font from the same company (foundry) on both platforms. – Don’t use an application’s built-in “Styles” or its style menu to apply things like bold or italics to text. – Always use a specific font like “Helvetica Bold” or “Helvetica Bold Italic.” This will save everyone time and headaches when your job is being imaged. When you apply styles from the menu, they often do not output properly. Both Mac and PC come with fonts that aren’t available on the other platforms. Similarly, some programs you buy come with fonts (an example of this is Microsoft Office.) Don’t use these fonts for your professional jobs. Arial isn’t the same as Helvetica. They look the same to the naked eye, but when output on a high-resolution device on another platform, only Helvetica from the same foundry will match. – Do not use system fonts like Chicago. If you like the way a system font looks and want to use it in designs, then convert the type into “curves” with Adobe Illustrator. That way, the type will image properly. – Supply fonts to your printer. Although we have a huge library of fonts, if you use a font that, for example, isn’t in the Adobe Library, you may want to send it on a CD along with your job so that we can output it. We will only use it for your job. If we don’t notice that we don’t have the font, our output device may “substitute” the font and your job won’t look the way you intended. – Plan to spend time making sure that the cross-platform document works properly (or we might have to, and that could cost extra. ) If you are moving a complex document created with a page layout or other desktop art program from the Mac to the PC or vice-versa, please make sure that you can print it out on a PostScript laser printer to your satisfaction before you send it to us. Doing so will save us both a lot of troubleshooting time and possible delays. Summary There is no substitute for running jobs in the software, on the platform, and with the fonts that it was created with. In the graphic arts industry, we are living in a world with two very popular computer platforms: the Mac and the PC. This can create challenges and require all of us to make compromises. We’ll work with you to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible, regardless of which programs or platforms you use. We’re committed to making your job look its best at every stage in the process, and to producing the best possible piece when all is said and done!

Do you accept Microsoft Publisher or Microsoft Word files?

Sorry, we do not accept native Publisher or Word files, but that does not necessarily mean that you cannot use them. These programs are widespread and commonly used in businesses of all sizes. They are, however, better suited for use with projects that will be printed using your office laser jet or inkjet printer, i.e. internal documents, company presentations, etc. However, if Word or Publisher are the only tools at your disposal, you can attempt to use them if they allow you to create a PDF file. Please be aware that Publisher files converted to PDF format can and will most likely have a substantial change in the colors to be printed.

What resolution should my files be?

Your images should be 300 dpi at the final dimension that you intend to use them. So if an image is 2″x2″ at 300 dpi and then placed in a page layout program and enlarged up 200% to 4″x4″, the resolution now is only 150 dpi.  Please watch out for this pitfall.

My image is 72 dpi. Is that OK?

NO. Most web graphics are 72 dpi which is not a problem. But when it comes to printing, the images or files that you submit must be 300 dpi, at final size, to ensure maximum sharpness and quality. Failure to do so may result in pixelation and blurriness. Beware of Interpolation! DO NOT interpolate! Here’s the scenario. You created your files at a low resolution (ex 72 or 150 dpi) and then you manually go and change the resolution to 300 dpi. This results in asking the computer to calculate the pixels that are not there and to add new ones, thereby interpolating the image. Computers cannot add new data to sharpen the image, they can only add “filler” pixels. This usually always results in blurry and muddy images. Hence, if your original file was created at anything less than 300 dpi, it is not acceptable to simply go and manually change the resolution to 300 dpi after the files have been created. Your files or images must be either recreated or rescanned at 300 dpi. Please remember that the image or file needs to be 300 dpi at FINAL SIZE. So if an image is 2″x2″ at 300 dpi and then placed in a page layout program, such as Quark Express, and blown up 200% to 4″x4″, the resolution now is only 150 dpi. Please watch out for this pitfall.


Low Res

High Res

We only accept 300 dpi files and no less.


What is a bleed?

A bleed is a term used in the printing industry that simply means that there is printing going right to the edge of the paper. When that occurs, bleeds must be incorporated into your file. For example, if you are ordering a 4″x6″ postcard and there is printing up to the edge of all four sides, you must incorporate a 1/8″ bleed on all sides. In the above example, your file or page size must be 4.25″ x 6.25″. If you were to draw guides on your 4.25″x6.25″ image that were 1/8″ from the edge all the way around, the area outside that box formed by your guides is the bleed area, and that area will be cut off. You must make sure that the text and image you desire to appear on your card are comfortable within those guides. Another 1/8″ within the guides is an acceptable safety zone.

Should I use RGB or CMYK?

Understanding the difference is critical. Colors displayed on your computer screen do not always match the colors on your printed output. DO NOT trust your monitor! Why would the color on your monitor and the color on the actual postcard vary? Simply because they use different methods for creating color. There are differences between what you see on your computer screen and the output of your color printer. In some cases, they can be quite different. As a result, producing attractive printed documents involves compensating for these differences. The color displayed on your computer monitor is created by projected or additive light. Red, Green, and Blue lights (hence the term RGB) are projected in differing strengths to form various color combinations. White results from combining Red, Green, and Blue at full strength. Printed color, however, is reflected or subtractive color. The printed inks absorb (subtract) certain colors from the visible light spectrum — what you see is the light that is reflected off the printed matter (paper and inks). Printed color is referred to as CMYK color because Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks are used to create the colors. (In theory, Black would result from printing Cyan, Magenta and Yellow at full strength. A true black ink, however, is often added to provide stronger solid blacks.) As a result of these different methods for creating color, color mismatches often occur between monitors and printers. The range of colors that can be produced on a monitor differs from that of a printer — both devices produce some colors that the other cannot. Further problems occur because computer monitors are rarely calibrated to any standard settings and their colors shift as they age.

What's the difference between the JPEG and TIFF image formats?

JPEG: Joint Photographic Experts Group TIFF: Tagged Image File Format JPEG is a file format developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group from which it got its name. JPEG, unlike TIFF, is a lossy compression, as information that is deemed unnecessary is eliminated. The losses can be very slight, or large, depending upon the specific file and image quality settings picked by the user. All JPEG files sent to PrintFast should be created at 300 dpi and saved with maximum quality. (Please review our digital guidelines for more important information). JPEG files tend to be MUCH SMALLER in size than TIFF files. The trade-off is that JPEG files contain losses in image quality but can be uploaded or emailed much faster than TIFF files. If you will send your printing order via regular mail, or have a high-speed internet connection and will be uploading files, it is recommended that you send TIFF files. However, for those preferring JPEG files, as long as they were created at 300 dpi and saved as maximum quality, the losses are generally very slight and unnoticeable in the final printed piece.