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As someone laying out an event program or the like for an amateur production, I need to call the sponsors and ask for the print-layout material for their ads.

I'm getting second hand scans from yellow pages (!) and screen shots and low-res jpeg files. So if I call up the sponsor and ask for the real file to be used for the ad, what do they call that?

Before I make the rounds to direct contacts, I want to know what to expect and what to call things. The people who buy ads at big companies have this down pat, and the little shops can be prompted for something they got from the designer and sent in for printing before.


Clarification: I understand that small businesses won't have such stuff, or may need help to dig up the real file they got from the designer when the thumbnail is the only thing they see in the file explorer.

But a good sized business that has a corporate brand effort with logos in ai files and detailed instructions for placement... "some guy" working in department X doesn't know that. When he passes the request up to the right department, to the people who do know about preparing material for print and other uses, what do they call this?

Is it a "comp"? Is it a "for-print capsule"? I want to know what they call this (along with the dimensions) to effeciently ask for the right thing and sound (to them) that I know what I'm talking about.

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    If they are scanning yellow pages ads, I think you can safely assume that they have no words for what to call it. – Yorik Oct 28 '15 at 16:44
  • I think the company has stuff, but the guy who's daughter is in the band doesn't know about that side of marketing. – JDługosz Oct 28 '15 at 18:00
  • You ask for print files such as vectors or high resolution. If they don't have them, you ask for native files and a PDF of that file; sometimes you can extract it in vector. If clients has nothing, you ask them for the biggest version they have of the logo, either on the web or a printed copy to scan and you add @JohnDangerous advice. Some online logos are 2000pixels and big enough for some printed projects! Thanks to people not optimizing their websites, sometimes it's a good thing! – go-junta Oct 28 '15 at 20:32
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I'd ask for "your logo in a vector file format. This may be an EPS, PDF or SVG file".

But be prepared to accept the fact that a lot of these businesses likely don't have a version of their logo in a vector file format. In fact, you'll often encounter businesses that don't even have a proper digital source file of their logo. Getting 'scans from yellow pages' and low quality JPG files is certainly common when it comes to dealing with small businesses that have never really properly invested in their brand assets.

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    One trick I have learned is that if they give a docx with a tiny logo and no fonts, if you rename the docx as a zip and unzip it, you might find the the original unresampled jpeg buried in the assets. The xml files also may indicate what typeface they used so you can fake it, or rebuild it so the 8.5 x 11 fits in the 4x6 half page they bought – Yorik Oct 28 '15 at 16:49
  • My only issue with specifying a file format in such a way is the client ends up sending a low resolution jpg saved in Illustrator as eps. Which is really not uncommon and understandable... they followed instructions after all. Not all good logos are vectors either, they can be raster images too; even 3M often send their logo as font...! Even though the small businesses never "invested in brand assets" that doesn't solve the issue and often they're not even aware why they should invest in this in the first place. We can't be snob, we need to be flexible, & guide the client with many options. – go-junta Oct 28 '15 at 20:29
  • @go-meek for sure, but if they don't actually have the files, there just aren't many options. They just have to go with what they have. – DA01 Oct 29 '15 at 3:58
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Everything that has been said is right on point. The dialog that you should have is"

"I need all of your design assets for this project. I need your logo in a vector or high resolution format in order to print it correctly. I need all images in high resolution. I need all licensed fonts you intend to use. If you don't have these assets in the proper format, I will work with what you have but I can not guarantee they will reproduce properly in the finished product."

You might want to have them sign off on a sample of the finished product especially if they didn't have the correct assets. If something prints blurry because they gave you a 72dpi image they pulled from the web that is not your fault but you better believe they will come back and complain.

  • +1 It's smart to mention both vector and high resolution; we see it here everyday, even some people who call themselves designers get all confused when asked only for a vector. In my experience, working with sponsors and small bands is often a trial and error, and it's totally normal to have to scan logos or receive all kind of files that are not eps or pdf or svg. That's why I like how you specifically mention the "I'll work with what you have BUT...." because that's the reality. There's a lot of people with "homemade" logos & you can even offer them to resell them the updated vector version – go-junta Oct 28 '15 at 20:17
  • Yes, I understand that a small business with a website (only) won't have slick print ads and branding assets. I'm interested in what companies that do have stuff would call them, when I get in touch with the right people. And using specific jargon will help the communication to find the right people. – JDługosz Oct 29 '15 at 7:36
  • I assume that you'd also mention that extracting something printable from dodgy files could cost them extra (depending on the contract)? Either way, would you charge the client for then providing them your high-resolution / vector(ised) files for use in further projects? – Lilienthal Oct 29 '15 at 15:29
  • I think it's safe to call the files by what the common format would be. I have been in digital advertising for the last 10 years and have had to request these materials on a day to day basis. You will encounter people who have no clue what they are doing and will have no idea what you will be asking for, and will likely have to ask someone else to explain to them what you are asking for. Then there are people who are very knowledgeable about the process and will know what you should be asking for and have a wealth of knowledge on all file types and nomenclature. – John Dangerous Nov 9 '15 at 16:16
  • So for something like a logo ideally you want a vector file but you will find people will send you an .EPS file or a high resolution .ppg. or high resolution .png. These are fine in most cases. What you don't want and some people will give you (because they don't know better or someone passed it to them) is a low res image unless its for web use and it’s same size or larger than the intended size. You can look at the file size right away and if its only a few kb then you can't use that. For content I would ask for copy or content. – John Dangerous Nov 9 '15 at 16:16
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But a good sized business that has a corporate brand effort with logos in ai files and detailed instructions for placement... "some guy" working in department X doesn't know that. When he passes the request up to the right department, to the people who do know about preparing material for print and other uses, what do they call this?

Is it a "comp"? Is it a "for-print capsule"? I want to know what they call this (along with the dimensions) to effeciently ask for the right thing and sound (to them) that I know what I'm talking about.

You should ask for logo ready to be use for printing in CMYK, ideally vector formats. A good marketing department should know what you need and care to give you the best quality possible because they want to look good. To my knowledge, a person who has to send a logo and knows about quality will ask you "what do you want to use the logo for?" and send the right file. Already when you mention "a logo for print purpose", that person will know what are the requirements. I don't know if there's an EXACT term but anyway, trying to find one term to mean a few things might not help you and simply confuse people even more.

People get confused because you say they only see thumbnails.. well the designer who gave them these logos should have identified each of them properly so even a monkey knows what to use.

Have a look at the comments on the following answer, you will see that clarity isn't a concept shared by all designers (Industry standard file format deliverables for logos?) so it's normal the people who didn't prepared the files or don't know a vector is better than a PNG will be confused. So you need to guide them since the designer didn't. As I said in one of my comment, there's people who simply have no clue and you have no choice but to educate them on this.

After asking for a logo in vector or with a print quality (high resolution), the best is to do like most online printers do and prepare a requirement sheet and send it by email with your request. It's very professional, it's precise and there's options.

That sheet should have at least 3 options, starting with the top quality one, and it should be mentioned which one is the best.

  1. with vectors, it should be specified which file formats are good vectors, to have the text vectorized or fonts included, and if spots should be converted to CMYK or not.
  2. with high resolution, it should be mentioned what's the minimum size, the color space, and file format.
  3. for anything else, ask for the native file and a PDF. In worse case you can always try to extract that logo from the PDF or print/scan it.
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I once made a survey in my class about image formats (I teach engineers). Most did not know of any other format than jpg, some knew PNG. It didnt occour to most of the students that images could be anything other than photographs. Its not like they are not aware of PDF or in other formats they just dont think in similar terms thus unable to comply.

The above explains why many people have hard time providing a good solution. They need some help mentioning the format can help them expand the search appropriately. Using terms such as high quality can also help them narrow things down. Just dont get too technical. Mentioning things like DPI, color space and such is just going to confuse most clients, worse a industriois client can comply by interpretting the request completely wrong.

Unfortunately, this is how the world is. Theres not much we can do about it, learn to live with imperfections and you will become great. Dont learn and you will have problems.

  • But I'm not taking about making something new; these companies have ads. They are professionally prepared and used to print in various media. It's a matter of getting connected from the informal contact to the correct department, and the 3rd-hand person doesn't know about image files. – JDługosz Oct 29 '15 at 7:31
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    @JDługosz Yes but that does not mean that the marketting has easy access to these materials. It has been handled previously by X or they always use same agency who themselves have a archived copy. So if these have recreated the logo they might not have given the originals back. ETC. It seems reasonable that they would know but tgey might not. Companies lose competency all the time. – joojaa Oct 29 '15 at 7:35
  • @JDługosz There's a lot of people who 1) have no discipline, 2) are ignorant, 3) work where they shouldn't, 4) are careless. Even if you ask a "real designer" or the manager at a marketing department for print-ready files or a logo, 60% of them will send you a logo that isn't vectorized, a png of 300pixels width, a PDF with security, a proof-sheet, the logo guide but not the logo, etc. For good designers, they'll send you what you ask for, and for the others who "don't get it", you need to ask 2-3 times... I don't think you can be much more precise than asking for files meant for printing. – go-junta Oct 29 '15 at 7:45
  • Yet even in my junk mail I've never seen a printout made from a phone-photo of a screen showing the cursor and glare. Every ad seems to get the right stuff. – JDługosz Oct 29 '15 at 7:51
  • @JDługosz Maybe it's because some designer rolled their eyes when getting the phone-photo-logo and simply re-did it to be print quality. I do that all the time when I get crappy files because I simply can't allow myself to use the low quality file. And the "funny" part is sometimes 1 week later the client sends me the exact vector files I asked for and says "dunno if that can be useful..." That happens even with marketing and advertising firms who should know better and have designers preparing the files. – go-junta Oct 29 '15 at 8:18

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