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Everything you need to know about printables

printables blog image

First of all, I would like to take a moment to file a case with my spell check, because the word ‘printables’ needs to be a thing.  I do not need your squiggly line to suggest it’s not a word.  Everybody knows it is.

Official word or not, printables are really popular right now.  Downloading files to print yourself has made organizing and decorating easy and fast.

If you’ve downloaded free printables from my blog, or purchased them from my Etsy shop, I thought I would compile everything you need to know about printables.  (Mostly for your sake, but also a little bit for my own sanity because I answer these questions on a daily basis!)

First, I wanted to share a graphic that outlines the different types of file formats.  While I won’t go into detail about each one (it’s not especially important for printables), you can read more in this blog post by Saffron Avenue.  (The graphic I created was based on hers; I just wanted mine to match my blog!)

file formats graphic

Most printables will be in PDF or JPG format, and can be either editable (so you can make changes and input text) or un-editable. 

There are a few options for printing printables (does anybody think that sounds too redundant?!):

1. Print at home

This option works well if you are comfortable using your home printer, and is the most economical.  However, it can be very time consuming.

2. Local print shop

Taking digital files to a local print shop is less time consuming, and can often provide higher-quality results than most home printers.  However, it is more expensive, and could limit your paper choices and size options.

3. Online print business

Printing websites have made uploading designs for printing relatively simple, and they will take care of the printing for you.  However, you may have to wait longer to receive your printed documents, and you are limited to their paper selections and size options.

When printing organizational printables, any standard paper will work, however, you should upgrade your paper thickness if you plan on printing double sided so the ink doesn’t show through.  For decorative prints and party decorations, cardstock (80lb-110lb) works best. My favorite place to purchase paper and cardstock in different colors and sizes is paper-source.com.

When printing at a local print shop or online, ensure you choose the ‘lustre’ finish instead of ‘glossy’ for a more professional appearance.

If your printer reads your printable as a photo, ensure the ‘auto-correct’ feature is turned off, so colors are not automatically adjusted.  If you are printing at Walgreens, they do not offer this option unless you talk to a manager to have it turned off.  Ensure you use the ‘print preview’ feature to ensure the colors look okay and the margins are correct.

A note on colors: Colors may look different across various computers and using different printers.  Computer screens read colors in RGB (red, green, blue format).  CYMK (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Key/Black) are the four process colors for printing.  I would always recommend doing a “test print” with one page to ensure the colors are what you were looking for prior to printing about multiple pages.

Often, printables come in standard sizes, including letter size (8.5″ x 11″), and photo sizes (8″x10″, 5″x7″, and 4″x6″).  If your printable prints smaller than the paper size it was printed on, I would recommend cutting it out with a paper cutter to ensure straight edges.  

I’ve received a lot of questions about resizing my letter-size planners, so I thought I would link to a helpful video tutorial on resizing printables to fit smaller binders here.

Questions I often get about my printables:

What program do you use to design printables?

Typically, I use Adobe Photoshop (I have Photoshop CC, but prefer working in the older CS6 version since I’m most familiar with it).  I have also used Microsoft Word for more simple templates. 

What program do I need to open printables?

For all PDF files, Adobe Acrobat works best. You can download Adobe Acrobat for free here.

What kind of printer do you have?

I’ve tried quite a few printers over the years, and don’t have a specific brand that has worked better than any other.  Laser printers are quick and convenient, but I personally prefer inkjet printers for more complicated printing projects.  Inkjet printers are also typically more inexpensive (ink too!)

Are your printables editable?

Unfortunately, I don’t create editable printables. Using installed fonts and more complicated designs means saving them as un-editable files.

Which fonts do you use?

I use a variety of fonts for different projects, and have over 1,000 fonts in my font book (it’s a problem… I’m working on it).  Most of the fonts I use for my printables are paid fonts that are licensed for commercial use.  My favorite places to purchase fonts are myfonts.com and Creative Market.  If you’re wondering what a specific font name is, check out the ‘WhatTheFont?‘ feature on MyFonts.  Simply upload an image of the font, input the letters, and it will guess the font.  It’s been pretty accurate for me so far!

Can I share your printables?

All of my printables are available for personal use, and can never be used for commercial purposes (unless specifically designated by me).  If you would like to share any of my printables, I’d love for you to provide proper credit linking to me and either my Etsy shop or the blog post it was featured in.

Can you create a custom printable for me?

Unfortunately, right now I have to regretfully decline any custom work.  However, there are quite a few Etsy shops that offer custom design work for a great price.  

There you have it, friends.  Hopefully I’ve answered your most important questions about printables.  Be sure to check out the free printables section of my blog, or check out my Etsy shop for fun designs! 

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