Preparing to Print

With the help of our guides on course and event promotion, you’ve created a wonderful flyer to advertise an upcoming event. Fantastic! So, what’s next?

In our increasingly digital age, you can certainly use the flyer as an image or PDF for promoting your event online. Print still has its place in advertising efforts, and in some cases is better than a solely digital approach. While the Canon printers in-office are great for some tasks, printing high-quality flyers is not their forte. Instead, we recommend sending your flyer to the professionals. What are the steps you need to take?

Why Professional Printing?

Printing straight from the printer/copier in your office certainly seems like the easier option. If you’ve ever attempted to print anything with a background color, or large swathes of color, you’ll know that the results are usually lackluster. The color is streaky and uneven, the graphics aren’t crisp and clean, the paper wrinkles when it dries from all the ink, and if the flyer is double-sided the ink bleeds through. You also can’t print to the edge of the paper, so you will have a white margin around the flyer.

Professional printing, however, allows for the use of thicker paper in a variety of finishes and better ink. The flyer will print crisp, clean, and won’t have the translucent quality of standard paper soaked with ink. And the colors will go right to the edge. Overall, your flyers will look much more professional and impressive if printed through a professional. It’s also easy to do! The GMU Print Hub makes printing easy, so we recommend making use of this valuable campus resource.

What is GMU Print Hub and how do I use it?

The GMU Print Hub can be used by Mason faculty and staff for their printing needs, including banners, posters, flyers, and postcards. The Print Hub allows payment via your assigned Organization Code. All faculty and staff can use the Print Hub for printing.

To use Fund/Organization Code, you will need to create an account. You will need to log into this account each time you order if you wish to use your Fund/Organization Code.

Key Terms

Safety Zone: For text and images, you’ll want to make sure they remain in the “safety zone” of your file. This area, at least 1/8” in from the edge of the final trim size, makes sure your text or photos won’t be cut off during the trimming process. Imagine the margins of a Word document; as your writing shouldn’t extend into the margins of a document, neither should the text and graphics of your flyer.

Bleed: One of the key difference in printing professionally versus printing on a standard printer is the ability to print right up to the edge of the page. This is called the “bleed.” Files with bleed need to be built to the final trim size plus 1/8" extra on each side for the bleed. For example, if the flyer will be 8.5" x 11", the graphic file's size should 8.75" x 11.25", and the bleed color should extend to that line. Learn more about bleed on the GMU Print Hub’s Learning Center.

DPI: DPI stands for “dots per inch”. The two numbers you may run across most commonly are 72 DPI and 300 DPI. 72 DPI is common for image files, like JPGs and PNGs. 300 DPI is necessary for high quality printing.

Image file showing a template with bleed, trim, and safety zone marked

How to prepare your document for professional printing

GMU Print Hub requires your files be submitted as PDFs. PDFs lock in the formatting, so to say, so when the file is opened on another device or in another program, it will not change. PDFs are also able to have 300 DPI (dots per inch), higher than image files, which is necessary for high quality printing.

When you export your document to PDF, the Print Hub requests that bleed marks be included. These marks show the printer where the print should be trimmed once completed.

How you export your file varies by program. The two most common programs we use are Canva and Adobe InDesign.


In Canva, you will need to download the file as a “PDF (Print)” and check the box for “Crop Marks and Bleed”. 

Screenshot of the Canva download process for a print ready PDFScreenshot of the Canva download process for a print ready PDF

Adobe InDesign

There are two ways to export a PDF: “Adobe PDF Presets” and “Export...” The former is the easiest.

File > Adobe PDF Presets > [High Quality Print]

Screenshot of the Adobe InDesign export process

After you save in the file location you want, you’ll be taken to the Export Adobe PDF menu. Most of these settings are preset and far more complex than what you need to deal with. The one thing you will need to click in this menu is in “Marks and Bleed”. Under “All Printer’s Mark,” click “Crop Marks” and “Bleed Marks.”

Complete the process by clicking “Export” at the bottom right of the menu.

Screenshot of the Adobe InDesign export process

Keep in mind that the process for exporting a print-ready document is different than exporting a document for digital-only use.

Now we can submit an order. For help, follow our walk-through here.

Source: GMU Print Hub website