I have just submitted my first design to a print shop; an advert for a magazine measuring 3.333" x 4.583" at 300 dpi. This was a simple design created in Photoshop, layering a logo over an image. When I created the file in Photoshop I set the dimensions and resolution as mentioned above and set the color to CMYK. I should mention, I created the file in InDesign as well which produced the exact same results below.

I saved the finished file as a JPEG. I noticed when I opened the file on my computer the image appeared extremely large (visually, not the file size) 1000 x 1375 to be exact. Realizing that these dimensions were 3.333 x 4.583 multiplied by 300 (The value I had set for pixels per inch), I sent the file off to the printers. I received a message back "the artwork is almost the size of a full page, please resize and resend". I had the same issue with the TIFF format.

enter image description here

I then saved the file as a PDF, when I opened the file on my computer, visually it looked perfect on screen (i.e it appeared actual size, 3.333" x 4.583" - not blown up, like the JPEG and TIFF formats). I sent this file to the printers and the design was approved for print.

I was initially confused about the "resolution" shown below, being only 240 x 330, I was worried it would be rejected by the printers for being way too small! I now realize this resolution is only relative to my screen and has nothing to do with the print dimensions.

enter image description here

Having no experience with designing for print, what I'm confused about is why the JPEG/TIFF files were rejected by the printers? Why do the JPEG/TIFFs look drastically larger on screen compared to the PDF which seems to be viewed at actual size.

The problem was resolved by saving to PDF but what I'm looking to avoid is not being able to save as JPEG and TIFF in the future if those formats are required by a specific print shop who won't accept PDFs.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

  • I'd be curious to hear what the final print quality of this ad is, the Finder screencap suggests the PDF was downsampled to 72dpi. I am curious if there is an advertisers specification available for the publication.
    – Yorik
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 20:09

3 Answers 3


This particular printer did not know what they were doing. The size of the second dimension you submitted was 3.333" x 4.583" but at a resolution of 72 dpi, which is standard screen resolution. If they're printing your design at this resolution, then the resolution of their magazine is really low for standard printing. The general resolution used in the industry is the one you initially submitted, 300 dpi.

Another hint that they did not know what they were doing: any experienced printer will take a large image and resize it to fit if the size is proportional. Blowing up an image is an issue; down-scaling is not.

  • 1
    Actually, most great print providers would never alter artwork without prior consent.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 9, 2015 at 5:03
  • I never made that assertion. I simply pointed out that a professional printer would know what to do with an oversize proportional image. They certainly wouldn't send an email saying "uh, no idea what to do with this". Like you said, they would ask if they can alter your artwork to fit their print size, and probably send you a proof.
    – Uli Troyo
    Commented Mar 9, 2015 at 5:42
  • Hi Uli. Rich27 is not saying that the printer asked for that dimension. It is an asumption he is doing confused by what he sees on his screen. - I agree with something. The provider dosen't explain what modification to the file they need.
    – Rafael
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 18:50
  • I think this answer addresses the thought process of the print provider. It really does sound like the print provider has somehow altered the DPI of the images (bad online submission tool?). When placing a 72dpi image that nonetheless has the proper pixel dimensions for the specified use, Indesign would place it at something larger than 8x10. I am left wondering how the OP accidentally forced downsampling to 72dpi when saving the PDF in photoshop: the most aggressive default preset downsamples to 100dpi.
    – Yorik
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 20:06
  • 1
    This would appear to be the correct answer. Any printer who, expecting a 3.333"x4.583" printable ad, receives a 1000x1375 file at 300 ppi and sends back an e-mail asking the designer to resize because “the artwork is almost the size of a full page” doesn't know what he's doing. Simple as that. Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 8:34

First, jpg is customarily an unacceptable format for print production. So, forget about jpg entirely. Any commercial print production is not using jpgs. Don't be confused by the "mom and pop print your own" photo stuff out there. That's not the same as commercial print production.

For commercial printing either .tiff or .pdf are customarily fine. The key things to watch is that you work at size and at 300ppi or better. So for a 4x3" card, you need to set your document up as 4x3" and 300PPI. Then save as .tiff or .pdf.

A great deal varies with the applications you may be using. Each application may have some minor issues to watch for. The following question may assist with that: How to prepare a design for CMYK printing?

  • Probably not the best but jpg is still an option. A high quality jpg only looses 0.5% information on the compression, saves de ppi information and the colour profile. For people knowing what they are doing, can be an option.
    – Rafael
    Commented Mar 9, 2015 at 17:14
  • jpg are not sent through commercial RIPs. The format itself may be an issue not the loss of quality. It would all come down the the print provider. For a digital press, jpg may be fine. But unless you specifically know jpg will be acceptable, it is best to shy away from it for production files.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 18:30
  • In this case the jpg is not being used for direct output for the plates. It is an advert that is going to be included on a magazine. They will place it into some page and after that they will make the output. So, in this case jpg is still an option. - For a final output I agree with you.
    – Rafael
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 18:41
  • The magazine will be doing final output. They may not work with jpgs. Trusting some intern at a magazine to convert your ad from jpg to tiff is haphazard. Just send a tiff or pdf.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 18:42
  • I have always been confused why Jpg compression is the default enabled compression for PDF export in Adobe products.
    – Yorik
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 20:10

Ok. You are talking about several issues here. But lost inside all your text is, in my opinion, the real question:

I received a message back "the artwork is almost the size of a full page, please resize and resend". I had the same issue with the TIFF format.

They are not talking about file format, or resolution. They are talking about artwork size. You need to ask them what are they talking about.

You say that the advert is 3.333" x 4.583". Are you sure you don't need an extra margin for bleed, or something?

Probably the logo is too close to the outer limit of the artwork, or a text. Stuff like that.

On the other questions you have, it does not matter how a raster image looks on your screen. It can look big. It can look bigger if you change resolution settings on your monitor. It can look bigger on a projector, or smaller on a phone.

The important thing on a reaster image is that you prepare it on the correct dimension units. In this case (for print on a magazine) inches and ppi.

On the case of the pdf file. There are tons of things you can modify on a pdf, internal raster resolution, color mode etc. So you can mess a pdf file... and it is still a pdf file.

But one aspect here is that a pdf file is a printed orientated file. You can export a verey low resolution image inside a pdf or a verey high one, and both images will look at the same aparent size vieweing them in adobe reader. But this adobe reader is just a viewer. You can view it to fit your screen. But... do you have a big screen? or a small one. Again, the important thing are the correct values inside the file.

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