File Specifications


File Processing The life cycle of the file from the time you upload it to the point it is sent to the press for printing

Flattening A process in which the multiple objects created by transparent effects are reduced to a single layer or object while maintaining the same appearance

Head Direction The top of the artwork when it is in the correct viewing position

Live Area / Viewing Area The part of a page where critical elements such as type and logos should reside so they are not in danger of being trimmed off or won't be hidden by frames or other large format hardware

Orientation Describes the rotation of the flat sheet. Landscape is wider than tall (11" x 8.5") Portrait is taller than wide (8.5" x 11")

PDF Page Boxes Data within a PDF file describing the page trims, bleed edges and overall media area

Preflight The process through which files are checked against multiple criteria and must pass before moving into the production workflow

Soft Proofs Low resolution representations of your pages after processing through the workflow that must be approved before the job can proceed

Templates Downloadable InDesign documents to use as a base for building your files

Transparency An effect that allows adjustment to the opacity of ink colors creating the look of layered tints, shadows, etc.

Versions One or more similar documents with same attributes as the product you're ordering (same number of pages, same size, same quantity and same finishing)


We have posted templates for your convenience and to provide important guidelines for positioning of artwork. In some products such as folding brochures, correspondence cards and large format items we strongly recommend you use these templates for components such as shortened panels, changes in head direction, folding, and interruptions in artwork due to hardware placement in large format products.

Each template has a non-printing layer labeled INSTRUCTIONS - DO NOT PRINT and is identified as non-printing by the italicized type. It's best to position it as the bottom layer and lock it so you don't inadvertently place any printing elements on the layer.

The instructions layer illustrates, at a minimum, the size of the document, the edge of the bleed area, and the live area shown as a light blue background. Keep any important elements such as type and logos or parts of images you wouldn't want cut off within this area. In large format templates, you may also see grommet positioning, areas that will be covered by a frame, and other items such as holes for bolts, etc.

Some product templates contain a Marks layer. Do not delete this layer.

The templates are saved in Adobe InDesign's .idml format. This format enables you to open the file in any version of InDesign CS4 and above and opens as an "untitled document."

Most templates such as business cards, flyers and posters, for example, contain one page. If you are creating a two-sided document, right-click on the page in the InDesign Pages palette and select "Duplicate Spread." This ensures that you get the same template parameters on the second page.

Brochures, correspondence cards and booklets contain all necessary pages (not just one page that you must duplicate) as short panels, head direction, page order, and binding edges must be maintained. Do not change the order of the pages in the templates. Do not use an 8-page template to create a 4-page file by deleting four of the pages. Use the template intended for the product you're ordering.

When you are finished with your design, delete the instructions layer (make sure there is no live artwork on this layer) before exporting the PDF. Even though the layer is defined as non-printing, it's always best to avoid embedding unneeded data in the PDF. Do not change any settings in the Document Setup palette.


ExpressLX accepts only print-ready PDF files. In the templates download area, you'll find a download link for our .joboptions. Use these settings to export a PDF from your InDesign document. In lieu of using the expressLX.joboptions you may use the built-in PDF/X-1a:2001 preset.

To install .joboptions: With InDesign open, go to the File menu > Adobe PDF Presets > Define > Load, navigate to the expressLX.joboptions file, and click Open. You will see "expressLX" appear in your Adobe PDF Presets menu. Both the expressLX and PDF/X-1a:2001 presets flatten transparency. This is important to avoid undesirable transparency artifacts on the printed products.

If you have created a document with more than one page, export the document as one complete PDF — not as individual pages. For example, a two-sided flyer will be one, two-page PDF; an 8-page booklet will be one PDF with eight pages.


After completing your purchase on ExpressLX, you'll be prompted to upload one or more files. You will receive the order confirmation before uploading files; this is normal. We recommend giving each job a name in the space provided to later simplify searches.

Please view your PDFs before uploading to ExpressLX.

After uploading, our automated system renames the PDFs based on the products purchased. Each file then runs through a preflight process. Certain information is expected to be in a file based on the product you ordered. Preflight checks for embedded fonts, PDF page boxes, page size, number of pages, resolution (under 200dpi or over 600dpi), number of ink colors and certain metadata built into the automated file name. If you use the correct .joboptions you won't need to worry about embedded fonts and PDF page boxes.

We do not check for RGB objects but we do check for spot colors. RGB is allowed but will be converted to CMYK on-the-fly for non-large format products. We use the GRACoL 2006 profile to convert RGB to CMYK. Because of the wider ink gamut on large format devices, RGB will be processed as received. Files containing spot colors will fail preflight. Ink colors can have unique names such as "Sky Blue" but must be defined as CMYK or RGB in the Swatch Options window of the Swatches palette.

While you may be able to upload a file with an incorrect number of pages or a size that is different from the product you ordered, it will fail preflight. Example: you purchase a two-sided flyer but upload four pages or order a business card and upload a postcard. Preflight will flag the incorrect number of pages or incorrect page size, etc.

If your file doesn't pass preflight, you'll receive email notification with the problems listed. You'll then need to correct your file and re-upload it through the "Upload Artwork" section of the "My Account" page. You must upload the entire file not just the pages with problems. If you placed an order with multiple products but only one of them failed preflight, you need only re-upload that file. If you don't understand the preflight errors or need guidance in correcting your file please contact us and we'll be happy to assist you. Your order cannot proceed until receipt of an acceptable file. The re-upload will not incur any additional costs to you.

If your file passes preflight, it will proceed through the workflow.


Once a file has successfully processed, you'll receive an email notification that a soft proof is ready for review. This notification should arrive within one hour. Click the link in the email which will direct you to the "Proofs" page where you will review the content of your processed file and either "Approve" or "Reject" it. If you reject, you will need to upload a new file and go through the process again. "Approve" and "Reject" apply to the entire product. For example, if you are reviewing an 8-page booklet and you find one page that you're not satisfied with, you reject the whole booklet. You will then need to adjust your file and re-upload via the "Upload Artwork" section of your "My Account" page. If you approve the soft proof, your order will move into production.

Please note that the colors on the printed products may differ from what you see on your computer monitor. ExpressLX takes great pride in superior color reproduction. However, ExpressLX DOES NOT GUARANTEE COLOR MATCHING. If your job is color critical, we recommend you contact ExpressLX to discuss your color requirements before placing an order.

ExpressLX does not render opinions regarding the artistic quality of your file (i.e. quality of photography, design, layout, use of color, or choice of font).