Setting up your CD for print

Setting up a CD design for print can be quite a minefield if you don’t know what you’re doing or where to start so I have put together this brief guide highlighting some of the key points you need to be aware of.

I have split them into…

  • Templates and sizes
  • Colour overview
  • Text borders and bleed
  • Saving for the printer

Templates and sizes:

Templates are ready set up files that have the correct colour mode, bleed, and text borders marked up and are just waiting for the artwork and type layout of your design. You can generally get hold of the required template from the printer who will be producing the work, however sometimes this isn’t the case. Don’t worry tho, you can easily find them on the internet, just look.
Here’s one site I’ve used in the past:

Some common sizes for projects I’ve done tend to be.. (linked to completed artwork)

The plastic wallet inlay – usually used for demos and freebies
J-card slimline case – Again for demos and singles
Standard Jewel case – Demos and albums.
4 Page and up Jewel case – mainly albums
Digipacks– Albums and special editions

Colour overview:

The colour mode used for all kinds of printing is CMYK (C=Cyan M=Magenta Y=yellow and finally K=Key or black) It is best to have your artwork ready in this as colours can change slightly when swopping modes from RGB (Screen colours R=Red G=Green B=blue) to CMYK. However there are advantages to working with RGB to do the artwork stage, like a wider variety of colours and filters, and you can use a handy check called “proof colours” in photoshop to see how your artwork will look in CMYK. (to find “proof colours go to “View” then  “Proof Colors” Ctrl / Cmd + Y)

It’s up to your personal working preference which mode you work in as long long as your end result is saved in CMYK.

Text borders and bleed

These are areas that are safe and clear from any relevant information or artwork you want in your finished design but still allow the printer a safe area to trim the artwork to the edge with out letting any white areas that shouldn’t be there appear on the finished design.

The typical measurements for the “bleed area” are 5mm and another 5mm on top of that for the “text safe area” (Text border)

Saving for the printer

Different printers have their own preferences for the work you send. Here are some commonly used formats that are usually accepted. I tend to flatten the artwork leaving the fonts adjustable or set as outlines and saved as a PDF (Including and fonts with the packaged artwork)

Common File formats

Photoshop – layers flattened, at least 300 dpi, JPEG, PDF or Tiff

Quark Express – supply fonts and images

Illustrator – fonts converted to outlines



Indesign – fonts converted to outlines


If you need help with your CD design/artwork or print set up then get in touch with ASYLUMseventy7 and see how we can help with all your artwork/design and print set up needs.

If you liked this and are Setting up fliers have a look at this great article by Conzpiracy


  1. Very helpful and well written. I’ll get this linked from my flyer article! Conzz


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