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Adjusting Ink Density | Using Transparency
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General Ad Specifications

Accepted File Types
* In lieu of a PDF/X-1a file, Source Interlink Media will accept a PDF file created according to the instructions on this site.

Guidelines for Page Layout Documents

A Media

• Files can be sent on CD, Zip disk, or by FTP. Your production contact at Source Interlink Media can provide details or information.
• CD-ROMs should be burned for cross-platform (Mac and Windows) compatibility. Use ISO-9660 or other standard that will enable cross-platform access. If you don't have the ability to burn cross-platform CD, you should submit your ad via FTP.

B Proof Policy

Content Proofs
• A content proof is required for all ads. A content proof can be provided as either a hardcopy print or a a low resolution JPEG file. A JPEG file should be clearly labeled "Proof" to differentiate it from the high resolution ad file. For instructions on creating a JPEG click here.
• All content proofs must be generated at 100% and include crop marks.
• If spot color(s) are purchased, the provided content proof must clearly show the separation of the spot color(s). (Areas which contain spot color(s) must be clearly identified.)
Contract Proofs
• For color ads, a contract quality, properly calibrated SWOP-standard proof should be included for color guidance on press. A list of SWOP-certified systems is available at
• All contract proofs must be generated at 100%, and contain a color bar and crop marks, located outside crop area. A color bar is available for download in the Downloads section of this site

Color Bar

• Contract proofs can serve as content proofs. (If a contract proof is provided, it is not necessary to also provide a content proof.)
• If a contract proof is not provided, Source Interlink Media will generate one for an additional charge of $60. Source Interlink Media is NOT responsible for matching color on ads that do not supply a SWOP-certified contract proof.


C Fonts

• To minimize possible registration problems, below are the recommended minimum type specifications for all ad files:
- Knockout type should be larger than 5pt and should only knockout of one or two colors. All type 5pt or smaller should overprint.
- Minimum type to knockout of a 4C image is 8pt. Type should never knockout a 4C black.
- Black type should always be set to 100K (100K, 40C for rich black) and set to overprint.
• Recommended minimum size of serifs in small type is 0.5 point.
• Source Interlink Media will trap all vector elements within a file to ensure proper registration. Type or other elements knocking out of continuous tone images are not trapped, and thus should be avoided. At the least, the type guidelines above should be adhered to when setting type over raster elements.
• Type must not have artificial styles (bold, italic etc.) applied in the page layout program. The actual (bold or italic) font must be selected.
• White type should be set to knockout, not overprint.
• All fonts must be embedded or outlined.
• Postscript, True Type, and Open Type fonts are acceptable. Multiple Master (MM) fonts will not be accepted and should never be used.

D Colors

• All spot colors, including Pantone and RGB colors, must be converted to process (CMYK).
• The total ink density of any color must not exceed 290% ink density. To obtain the best “rich black” use: 100K, 60C, 40Y, 40M.
• Spot color exception: A Pantone based spot color is allowed if it was purchased. A spot color separation proof must be supplied in addition to a color proof. If the ad is created as a multichannel photoshop file, it must be saved as DCS 2.0, single file, color composite.

E Document Setup

IMPORTANT: For all ads, your document page size should match the trim size of your ad space. Please include trim marks with 12 point offset. Bleeds should extend a minimum of 1/8" beyond trim.
• If you are unsure of the trim size of your ad, visit Magazine Specifications and click on your magazine title. Pre-set templates are also available for every ad size from this site.
• Maximum one ad per document/PDF.
InDesign and Illustrator users: All transparencies must be flattened prior to ad submission. More info on Transparency can be found here.
• All white type, images and vector artwork must be set to knockout, not overprint.
• Spread ads should be supplied as a complete reader spread, not as separate pages or files.
• Spread ads should be provided with a 1/4" gutter allowance (1/8" on each page) for perfect bound titles. Images spanning the gutter need to be pulled out of gutter 1/8" each page so image(s) are not lost. Text spanning across the spine is not recommended. Click here for an example and instructions. If you are unsure about the binding of a magazine title, contact the ad coordinator for the magazine in question.

F Images Within Ads

Photographic/Continuous Tone

• Images should be saved in TIFF or EPS format (not JPEG) using Binary encoding (not JPEG encoding) and must not contain extra channels.
• The color space should be CMYK or Grayscale, not RGB or spot color. Images in black & white ads must be Grayscale.
• The maximum ink coverage (C+M+Y+K) should not exceed 290%. Ink density is the total percentage of the four process colors. Ink densities higher than 290% may be adjusted by Source Interlink Media to avoid printing problems. A slight color shift may be noticed because of this. More info on reducing ink density can be found here.
• The effective resolution of images should be between 250 and 400 dpi. Images with an effective resolution of 150 dpi and above will not be flagged during the preflight process. Effective resolution is the resolution at which the image was scanned, divided by the scale at which it is used in your layout application. For example, an image scanned to an output resolution of 300 dpi and used at 75% would have an effective resolution of 300 / 0.75 = 400.
• EPS images should not contain embedded transfer functions or halftone screens.
• Do not use ICC profiles or any other color management. If ICC profiles are used, they will be honored during processing, possibly altering the ad colors.
• Silhouettes and clipping paths should be created in PhotoShop, never in QuarkXPress or other page layout programs. When using clipping paths, leave the Flatness settings blank. Do not use the embedded path feature in QuarkXpress.

Linework Images

• Images should be saved as a bitmap TIFF.
• Effective resolution should be a minimum of 300 dpi.

Vector Artwork

• Vector artwork must be in EPS format.
• Photographic images must be embedded within EPS files, not linked. Click here for instructions.
• Fonts should be converted to outlines (preferred) or embedded within the EPS. Click instructions for embedding fonts or creating outlines within Adobe Illustrator.
• It is not recommended to place vector EPS files inside other vector EPS files. Vector artwork should be copied and pasted from source EPS files into the destination EPS file.

F Transparencies

Designing ads with transparency features in programs such as Adobe InDesign and Illustrator can create interesting effects such as drop shadows, feathered edges, blending, and translucent objects. Many designers use these effects without realizing that they are using transparencies. Although utilizing transparency effects is easy, printing transparencies properly is tricky. At Source Interlink Media, we ask that all objects that contain transparencies be flattened prior to submission. The flattening process involves taking all objects involved in a transparency stack and reorganizing them into a group of opaque objects that simulate the same appearance when printed.

The easiest way to ensure that transparencies are flattened in your ad is to simply save your ad as a PDF/X-1a file. Most Adobe CS and newer programs support exporting or saving in the PDF/X-1a file format. For information on creating a PDF/X-1a file from an Adobe CS program or using Acrobat to create one, please refer to the Tutorials section on this website. Ad files containing unflattened transparencies will be returned to the advertiser for flattening.

Helpful resources on Transparencies:
Adobe's A Designer's Guide to Transparency for Print Output (PDF: 6.5M)

Adobe's Getting Started with Transparency (PDF: 4.3M)




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