Incorrect File Type – PDF must be PDF/X-1a:2003
All files need to be PDF/X-1a:2003.
Acrobat 9 and earlier: Select (from the topmost menu) Advanced>Print Production>Preflight. In the pop-up window that results, click the Standards tab at the top (the diamond is next to it), leave the first item checked (Save as PDF/X), click Continue. Leave the first item checked (PDF/X-1a), click Continue. Leave unchecked "Create PDF/X-1a according to the following PDF/X-1a conversion profile box." Instead, in the drop-down menu under "For the following viewing or printing condition:" select US Web Coated (SWOP) v2 and be sure the Apply Corrections box is checked. Click Save As (maybe save as a different name to not lose your original if things go awry).
Acrobat 10 or later: Click the Tools tab (located at the upper right of your open PDF file). Click Print Production and you will be able to open the Preflight window. Follow the directions as detailed above for the rest of the process.
No Bleed – Your card file must include a bleed
A bleed is required. If your art does not bleed, include a white or black border (or a dominant card color) that will bleed to the edge. Make sure your bleed is 1/8" (.125") on all four sides and is built into the PDF. For example, for the U.S. Poker-sized cards (2.5" x 3.5") your final layout size should be 2.75" x 3.75" with the bleed.
If you're using our InDesign template, select export from the File pull-down menu, name the file, and click the Save button. In the window that opens, be sure that PDF/X-1a:2003 is selected and in the menu on the left select Marks and Bleeds. Under Bleed and Slug, check the Use Document Bleed Settings box to allow it to use the bleeds from the template. Click Export.
NOTE: A bleed is required on card PDFs only. Tuckbox PDFs should not be outputted with a page bleed. To get the tuckbox required specifications, go here.
Safe Area – Don't lose key text or graphics
Do not place any text closer than 1/8" (.125") from any finished edge. This is your "safe zone." If any element (important text or art) drifts outside of that safe zone, there is a chance that element could be trimmed.