Submitting files for print can be tricky if you’re not familiar with the process. When you’re printing with spot UV, foil, letterpress, or embossing features, you’ll need to send in a “separation” file in addition to standard artwork files. This additional file reflects the area that will have the special print treatment. 

It’s easier than you think.This guide will help you set up separation files correctly.

Step 1: Determine Which Areas Will Get Special Treatment

Looking at your existing CMYK files, determine which areas you want to set apart using special print treatment.



Step 2: Define Separation

Create a separation file that only includes the elements that are to receive special treatment. This file must only be black and white, with the black elements indicating those which will have the special print treatment applied to them.



Note: the black elements must be 100% black and should be submitted in a vector format.


K100 Black

CMYK: 0, 0, 0, 100


Step 3: Check Alignment of Separation

It’s a good idea to double check that your separation aligns exactly with your artwork. It’s easy: Just place your separation artwork and CMYK artwork on two different layers to ensure the elements align. You might want to adjust the opacity of the top layer to see the bottom layer properly for this step.

Step 4: Export Files

It’s time to export. During this step, name each file with its corresponding print method, so we can easily determine which file should be used for each printing process you’ve chosen. 

Take these files and file names for a spot UV printing treatment as an example:

  1. BusinessCard_Art_Front

  2. BusinessCard_Art_Back

  3. BusinessCard_SPOTUV_Front

  4. BusinessCard_SPOTUV_Back

Identifying each file clearly can help avoid order processing delays, especially if you’re ordering multiple sets of materials or requesting multiple print processes.