Frequently asked questions
Answers to the most commonly asked questions are provided below. If you do not see the answer to your question feel free to contact us.
Graphic design services and templates
Who provides the graphic design for NAU? Accordion Closed
- University Marketing provides high quality graphic design work to campus departments. Please initiate your design request via their project intake form. Marketing can also help review a file that you have already created to ensure it follows the required branding standards, but note that this design review does not check for print specifications.
- Printing Services only offers templated design through our digital storefront or order related adjustments such as cutlines. If you are unsure, or if your order will include adjustments please Complete a Custom Estimate Request Form for both your print project as well as any possible design needs and we will review.
- You can also provide your own graphic design work. In order to ensure the highest quality finished product, please review all of the guidelines on this FAQ page and implement into your file as necessary.
Many products available on our digital storefront can also be designed during the ordering process. This includes items such as: letterhead, name tags, business cards, and envelopes.
Are pre-made graphic design templates available? Accordion Closed
Yes! We highly recommend using the full service design services offered by University Marketing by submitting a project intake form.
However, if you are designing your own files there are two sources offered on campus to access templates for many of our more commonly ordered products.
- University Marketing has compiled a number of easy-to-use NAU branded templates for your design needs. Visit the widen collective website template portal for items such as: brochures, flyers, postcards, and posters.
- Access and download blank templates for many of our more commonly ordered products. These templates should be used to confirm size, bleeds, trims, and folds.
If you are designing a product that does not currently have a template but have questions about layout, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help.
Print ready files
What are the guidelines for print ready files? Accordion Closed
When placing an order for your product it is very important that print ready files are provided. This will ensure your order processes smoothly, avoids any turnaround time delays, and results in a high quality product.
- File type:
- All project files should be submitted as press quality PDF’s (see image below).
- Booklets should be submitted using single, non-facing pages within a multi-page PDF. They should not be provided as spreads.
- Size and bleeds: The dimensions of your files match the finished size of your product and bleeds with crop marks are included when necessary.
- Resolution: The resolution of all images in your files is at least 300 DPI. Products that are larger than 6 feet may be submitted with lower resolution, but not below 72 DPI.
What is bleed and how much should I add? Accordion Closed
Bleed is the industry term for any color or image that goes right to the edge of the paper. What actually happens is that a picture or other graphic will need to extend 1/8” (.125”) beyond the edge of the page and that excess image or color is then cut off as a part of the bindery finishing process. Bleed must extend past the cut-line and will be trimmed from the product during the final cutting phase.
- The bleed for standard products is .125” on all sides of your file.
- Additionally, please keep all text at least .125” inside the cut-line (the edge of your file).
- It is also important to review the NAU logo spacing requirements when creating your design.
What size should I make my file? Accordion Closed
Please ensure your file is the correct vertical and horizontal dimensions and matches the intended output print size. It should also include bleeds when applicable.
- If you’re ordering a product that is 6”wide x 4”tall with bleeds: submit a file 6”wide x 4”tall + .125” bleeds on all sides.
- We will print and trim to the finished size of 6”x4”.
- If you’re ordering a product that is 6”wide x 4”tall without bleeds:
- submit a file 6”wide x 4”tall.
- We will print and trim to the finished size of 6”x4”.
If you have questions about product sizing, bleeds, or any other printing related items we are happy to help. It can be helpful if you contact us before designing your file and we can help you make the important decisions early on. Of course, our team and University Marketing are here to help at any stage of your project.
What are the guidelines for print ready booklets? Accordion Closed
In addition to the print ready file, bleed, and sizing guidelines provided in the previous FAQ sections, the following are requirements for booklet design files:
- Only accepted as PDF’s
- PDF’s should be single page readers, not spreads.
- Booklet pagination is not required. The print ready PDF should be multi-page going from the front cover (page 1) to back cover (page x). View an *example file with no bleeds here and an *example file with bleeds here.
- Page count of stapled (aka saddle-stitched) booklets must be divisible by 4 (i.e. 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, etc.). If a provided PDF is not divisible by 4, blank pages will be added to achieve.
- Variable data printing (VDP): If a booklet requires unique information like names, addresses, or other personalization is added by Printing Services, packaged InDesign files will be required along with the print ready PDF.
* Note: the examples provided are not comprehensive of all booklet options and are meant as a visualization for PDF page setup. Contact us with any additional questions you may have.
What happens if my file is not correct? Accordion Closed
PDF proofing: When you place an order with NAU Printing Services your file should be ‘print ready’. Before print, we perform a series of ‘pre-flight’ checks which review for many print specifications; however, it is the submitters ultimate responsibility to ensure a file is print ready before the order is submitted.
It is important that your files are correct when your order is submitted. Contact us with any questions you may have.
How do I send a file to you for printing? Accordion Closed
There are three different ways to provide us with files for your upcoming printing needs:
Digital Storefront: When placing an order through our storefront, you will either design the file as you place the order or you can upload your print files and attach to your order.
Custom Estimate Request Forms (CERF): If your files are ready to go when placing a CERF, you will have an opportunity to upload and attach your files to your request.
Email or Use a File-Sharing Program: If you need to send us a file outside of the ordering or estimating process please email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your estimate or invoice number. For large files, you may utilize a file sharing service like Teams, DropBox, or WeTransfer to send a download link to email@example.com or your assigned representative.
Developing my project
What are NAU’s branding guidelines? Accordion Closed
As members of the Northern Arizona University community we all have a responsibility to ensure that our branded materials meet the guidelines set forth by the university. These guidelines can easily be referenced by reviewing the Visual Identity Policy. It is important that you consider items such as: placement and sizing of NAU logos, color use, and typography when designing your printed materials.
The best way to ensure you are following NAU’s branding guidelines when developing your project is by using the services of University Marketing. A great place to start is to find the Client Services Manager dedicated to your department and start a conversation about your current and future design needs.
If you are designing your own materials, you can also place a Design Review Request with University Marketing. They will review your files and provide their approval or suggest any changes. In addition, please refer to our FAQ regarding CMYK values and ensure your files are using the appropriate values for NAU True Blue and NAU Gold.
When you place an order with NAU Printing Services, we perform a complimentary proofing process called ‘pre-flighting’. While we check that files the specifications for print, it is ultimately the submitters responsibility to ensure all printed products meet the guidelines set forth by the university.
Does Printing Services offer installation? Accordion Closed
Printing Services provides professional installation on certain jobs using architectural films, such as adhesive vinyl, that apply directly to a surface. Note that some installations may require the client to facilitate with other services for space preparation or for compliance. Timelines for these external coordination’s are not generally included in the turnaround times provided on Printing Services estimates.
For consultation and evaluation of an upcoming project that may require installation, please submit a Custom Estimate Request Form (CERF).
- Full surface wraps are comprehensive projects that may require coordination with University Marketing, Facility Services, Disability Resources, Landscape Review Committee, and Printing Services. We suggest allowing 6 to 12 months from start to completion.
- Site evaluations can be performed by Printing Services to determine scope and cost; however, this is a charge back service and will be invoiced appropriately.
- To start your project, please submit a CERF for each large format wrap location or one CERF if there are multiple graphics in the same location. Our team will gather any additional information required and create a site evaluation estimate and send it to you for approval. Once approved, we visit the site and take measurements and possibly recommend any relevant parties like Marketing, Disability Resources, and Facility Services. The purpose of a site evaluation is to gather dimensions and review any potential nuances at each site. After site evaluation, we complete a basic site evaluation document which can be shared with any relevant parties. The cost for this service is hourly and will be provided in the estimate.
- If relevant, the cost and timeline estimate for production and installation is provided after the site evaluation.
How do I prepare for my Direct Mail order? Accordion Closed
Direct Mail projects can be complex and require additional coordination and turnaround time. To the best of our ability, Printing Services strives to ensure your project is properly prepared for successful mailing, but it is highly recommend that client coordination with University Marketing, NAU Postal Services, and/or USPS also occurs during design and project development. Though Printing Services may manage your mailing project, clients will be invoiced directly from NAU Postal Services for any processing, mailing, and postage costs using the speedchart provided.
- Ask Printing Services if there is a mailing template available for your project before you start graphic design.
- Identify if you would like to mail with First Class mailing or Non-Profit Bulk.
What is CMYK, Pantone, and how do I choose? Accordion Closed
The type of color your print files contain is very important not only in regard to following NAU’s branding standards and guidelines, but also to the timeliness and quality of your print project. Here is a brief explanation of color and what it means to you.
- CMYK or four color process:
- Most of the your print projects will require that the color of your design is provided in CMYK. This stands for the four colors of ink used in most printing C=Cyan, M=Magenta, Y=Yellow, and K=Black.
- Please refer to NAU’s color guide and ensure that the values of your NAU True Blue and NAU Gold ALWAYS match the provided guidelines. This will be particularly relevant for color in logos, text, and large portions of color on printed materials.
- Pantone printing or spot colors:
- On more rare occasions your print project will require the use of Pantone or spot colors. Pantone printing is a process that uses a very precise mixture of inks to achieve a certain color and provides branding consistency.
What type of paper should I choose? Accordion Closed
Choosing a paper type for your print project can sometimes feel like a daunting task. Below is a brief description of the different type of papers you will see available on our products.
- Cover: refers to a thicker paper, and can commonly be referred to as card stock.
- Book or text: refers to a thinner paper type (not as thick as card stock)
- Coated: convey brighter colors, whereas uncoated stocks convey softer colors
- Uncoated: useful for projects that require writing or would benefit from a less ‘shiny’ finish.
- It is not ideal: to write or re-print on glossy stocks. As alternatives, consider matte or uncoated stocks
- We do not recommend: using heavy, dark ink on uncoated stocks due to offsetting
We are happy to help you determine what type of paper you should use for your project. We can provide you with samples of many paper types as well as a blank assembly proof. See the related FAQ on this page.
How do I place orders on your Digital Storefront? Accordion Closed
We have a growing number of products available for you to order easily and quickly on our Digital Storefront. Simply:
- Visit nau.edu/order and log-in with your university credentials
- On the left hand side, hover over Categories to view all
- Select your desired category then product
- Design your product or upload a print ready file
- Select your due date and time
- Complete your order using your departmental speedchart
Still have questions? We have some helpful step-by-step how-to resources for our most frequently asked questions and popular products on our digital storefront.
How do I submit a custom estimate request? Accordion Closed
Any products or quantities that are not available on the digital storefront can be requested using a custom estimate. This includes higher profile projects, projects that require special handling, or contain complex pieces. If you would like to know what we can do for your project, you may also request a consultation meeting by submitting the form and providing as many details as you may have in the special instructions. Your inquiry will be assigned to an estimator who will reach out to discuss your project.
NAU Employees: Submit a CERF (custom estimate request form) here to get started.
Non-NAU customers: Submit a CERF (custom estimate request form) here to get started.
The CERF is not considered an order form; instead it is intended to initiate projects by collecting customer information, delivery and billing information, and project information. An approved estimate, valid Speedchart number, and print ready file are required to move the project into production.
How long will my print project take? Accordion Closed
We will do our best to get your print project to you in the quickest timeframe possible. Below are the general guidelines surrounding what to expect at this time. Please note turnaround times are subject to change with staffing availability, supply chain impacts, and other influencing factors.
Note that in all circumstances, turnaround times go into effect after a signed estimate is received or online order is placed AND the print ready file passes preflight.
Products ordered on our digital storefront:
- Standard turnaround: Products that are available to order on our digital storefront generally have a standard turnaround time of about 5 business days from proof approval. There may be some exceptions and you will be able to choose available due dates and times during checkout.
- Express turnaround: Many of our products available to order online can also be printed using our express service. Available time frames will be from 2 business days to 4 business days from proof approval. When available these dates and times can also be chosen during checkout. Express fees will apply.
- Express Job Criteria:
- Express jobs cannot have hard proofs. PDF Proofs only.
- Express jobs must use Curbside Pickup.
- Express jobs do not include shipping lead times.
Products ordered via a custom estimate request:
- Turnaround times will vary for products ordered via a Custom Estimate Request Form (CERF). In general, many items can be available within 10 business days from proof approval. However, when you are supplied with an estimate it will include the anticipated turnaround for your specific project. Estimates also require time for manual processing. If you are in need of a project by a certain date, you can select this date on your form and also supply any additional requests or details in the special instructions. Orders with converted envelopes or other complex/custom elements are generally estimated at about 25 business days from proof approval.
Printing requests needed faster than 2 business days:
- If you are unable to prepare and submit your print project within our available turnaround times and have missed the 2 business day cut-off for express service, a Printing Policy Exception Request will be required prior to using an off-campus provider. To ensure proper exception approvals and to avoid any out of compliance violations, please make sure the completion of a Printing Policy Exception Request and the receipt of an approval is received PRIOR to using an off-campus provider to avoid any P-card usage violation.
‘How to’ ordering resources
How do I order name tags on DSF? Accordion Closed
First, visit nau.edu/order and select the NAU Name Tags Category from the dropdown. Then, choose your design method – We have two convenient options available for ordering your official NAU name tags. View our tutorial resources page for step-by-step ordering instructions and to download the spreadsheet template. Name tag pricing is on a tiered structure based on the number of items ordered together.
Option 1 – design online: this option allows you to add custom information to the name tags in real time and submit your order. Good for up to 30 name tags.
Option 2 – Printing Services designs: submit your order with the necessary spreadsheet and we will send you a proof of your custom name tags before printing will begin.
How do I order bus shelter posters? Accordion Closed
Product dimensions are 24” x 36”, single-sided, and printed on uncoated poster paper.
Bus Shelter Posters are subject to the same turnaround times as standard orders, view the relevant FAQ for details. Printing Services installation occurs by the 1st and 15th of each month.
Take these steps to order bus shelter posters:
- Submit a Custom Estimate Request and include any of the following details that you may have 1) quantity of posters** 2) installation and removal date, 3) design approvals, and 4) bus shelter locations. Items 3 and 4 are provided by University Marketing.
- Approval from University Marketing is required for the printing and installation of Bus Shelter posters. If this information has not been provided to you by Marketing prior to your Custom Estimate Request, we will contact them to gather the required details.
- Only once we have received confirmation of the 1) quantity of posters 2) installation and removal dates, 3) design approvals, and 4) bus shelter locations from University Marketing an estimate will be provided with pricing turnaround time.
- Bus shelter posters will not go into production until a signed estimate has been received.
**Desired or approximate quantities are required on the estimate and may be decreased based on budget or bus shelter availability.
Click Here to request an estimate.
What are NAU’s approved sidewalk signs? Accordion Closed
Northern Arizona University is committed to maintaining the integrity of the campus community and NAU’s brand standards while promoting and supporting the communications needs of various campus constituents.
- Approved sidewalk signs include Windmaster Classic sign hardware with “Corrugated Plastic” or “Outdoor Waterproof Poster” inserts and “Corrugated Plastic” overlays. These signs are professionally made, designed, and printed for temporary exterior promotions.
- Sign hardware can be rented through a NAU Facility Services work order. Sign inserts and overlays must be purchased through NAU Printing Services. Review our temporary exterior sign tutorial for more information.
- During checkout, the Fulfillment Method option for Windmaster Signs must be selected. Facility Services will pickup the signs when complete.
- Printing Services does not install the inserts into the Windmaster hardware or coordinate placement of signs. This is the responsibility of the requestor to coordinate with Facility Services.
- Standard signs can be designed during ordering from Printing Services or built using these guidelines and templates available from the Widen Collective. Designs for non-standard signs must be requested and approved through University Marketing.
- Outdoor Waterproof Poster – short term use
- To be used for 1 week or less or single event
- Non curling, waterproof plastic poster
- Budget friendly
- Not available for “overlay” option
- Corrugated Plastic (Coroplast) – long term use
- To be used for longer than 1 week or recurring events.
- Durable and lightweight
- 4mm thick
- Available for “base sign” and “overlay”
- Non-approved signage includes hand-made signs and signage printed with department’s own printing equipment.
- Other signs: Plastic A-frame style sandwich boards, aluminum stands, yard signs, and directional traffic signs are not recommended for exterior on-campus use. Alternate signs require approval from the Landscape Review Team (LRT) for design, location/placement, display duration, quantity and frame type. Unapproved signs will be removed and brought to Facility Services Sign shop. User shall have two days to collect removed signage prior to disposal.
How do I order award certificates on DSF? Accordion Closed
First, visit nau.edu/order and select Certificates from the category dropdown. The Printing Services team will design your certificates for you.
- Step 1: Select Printing Services Designs
- Step 2: Download the Certificate Spreadsheet List Template and add the necessary information for each recipient. Save your file.
- Step 3: Provide job name and select quantity you are ordering.
- Step 4: Select a design option and Add to Cart.
- Step 5: Upload your file
- Step 6: Follow prompts to place your order and we will be in touch with a proof when ready.
How to order NAU research posters? Accordion Closed
Undergraduate Symposium Research Posters: Refer to the how to order Undergraduate Symposium Research Posters document.
NON-Undergraduate Symposium Research Posters: Refer to the how to order NON-Undergraduate Symposium Research Posters from Printing Services document to take the proper steps for successful poster design and ordering.
Tips to ensure your poster is ready by your due date
- Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute to place your order.
- Use up-to-date logos. Outdated logos (shield logos and others) will not be printed and correcting your file could delay turnaround time.
Can I recycle my aluminum name tags and banner stands? Accordion Closed
Many of the products procured or produced through Printing Services are recyclable, including the aluminum name tags and aluminum banner stands. For appropriate recycling of these products:
- Complete a Disposal Request with NAU Property Surplus
- Deliver your products to Property Surplus between the hours of 8am and 11am, or as instructed in your request
Thank you for help in managing university resources in an increasingly sustainable manner!
What does 4CP/4CP , K/K, 282C, or VDP mean? Accordion Closed
When receiving a custom estimate on a project you may see some of these acronyms which indicate various combinations using CMYK/four color process, Pantone printing, and/or variable data:
- 4CP/4CP: double-sided color printing
- 4CP/0: single-sided color printing
- K/K = double-sided black and white printing
- K/0: single-sided blank and white printing
- 3514C & 282C: These are the Pantone acronyms for NAU Gold and NAU True Blue, respectively.
- On some occasions you may also see VDP (4CP+VDP/4CP) added to one or more sides of these acronyms. This stands for Variable Data Printing and is commonly used on items like: addressed postcards or envelopes, personalized letters, and surveys.
What are the different types of proofs I can order? Accordion Closed
PDF Proof: Included with every order
- Description: Your file is run through a series of ‘pre-flight’ checks to check for compliance with print specifications.
- Proofing Intent: This is a quick and inexpensive way to proof your file on most projects.
- Description: Printed using standard office equipment at low quality. Not on finished stock; no treatments included. Can be hand trimmed and folded to project specifications.
- Proofing Intent: Gives the customer an idea of the sizing/folding as it relates to the design.
Blank Assembly Proof:
- Description: Not printed. Created on the finished paper stock and assembled in a way that represents the finished product size and specifications.
- Proofing Intent: Gives the customer an idea of the weight and feel of the stock at the project specifications.
Digital Print Proof:
- Description: Option only available for digitally printed projects. Created on the finished paper stock and made to exact project specifications using the
same print technology as the entire job.
- Proofing Intent: This is considered a ‘live’ proof and will be representative of the finished project for stock/color/finish.
Low Resolution and High Resolution Hard Proof:
- Description: Option only available for “offset” printed projects. Not printed on finished project stock. Low resolution printed on matte proofing paper. High Resolution printed on glossy proofing paper (industry standard).
- Proofing Intent: Low resolution proofed for size, folding, page layout, and special finishing. High Resolution proofed for color. This option can be combined with the Blank Assembly Proof to visualize the print on the finished stock.
What is digital vs. offset printing? Accordion Closed
The primary difference between digital and offset printing is the way the images get transferred onto the paper. Digital printing uses ink toner and laser printers, while plates and ink rollers are used for offset printing. The difference in set up time for the two printing methods effects the cost so the best choice for a particular project often comes down to volume ordered and turnaround time.
- Better suited for short run printing (no setup costs)
- Most cost-effective option for small quantities but less cost effective for larger runs
- Faster turnaround – express services available
- Limited finishing options (soft touch, digital die cutting, saddle stitching)
- Variable Data compatible
- Maximum image size is 12×18″ plus bleeds (larger requires offset or large format)
- Best for large scale or higher volume printing projects (higher setup costs)
- Most cost effective for higher quantities but less cost effective for smaller quantities
- Slower turnaround associated with more complicated set up
- Express services not available (15-25 business days turnaround)
- Advanced finishing options (soft touch, die cutting, perfect and saddle stitch binding, foil, emboss, Spot UV)
- Variable data address block only
- Maximum image size is 26.75×39.25″ (larger requires large format printing)
Generally, digital printing is best for low quantities and have a faster turnaround, while offset printing is more cost effective for higher quantities when a faster turnaround is not required. You may see an overlap in quantities for both digital and offset printing on many of our products.
Contact us if you are unsure of the best printing method for your project.
What is rich black and how can I get it? Accordion Closed
Rich black is an ink mixture of solid black, 100% K, with additional CMY ink values. This results in a darker tone than black ink alone. If you print black alone as 100% K, the resulting black may not be as dark as you might like. We recommend using C 60 M 40 Y 40 K 100 for your values. This will give you a deep, dark, rich black.
What size type should I use for my sign? Accordion Closed
Events, directions, parking, menus, and maps…the list of signs we use across campus is near endless, and perhaps the most important part of each one is it’s readability by the intended recipient of the message. So, how do you know how big your type needs to be at different distances to be read? This is an important design question and we have a great resource for you to get the answer.
Use these tools to calculate using visibility by distance, letter size, or by traveling size. Very cool!
Do you accept borders on a project? Accordion Closed
Please avoid borders if at all possible. If the border is too close to the cutline, it may be cut off-center slightly. We cut through many sheets at a time, so watch your borders to avoid an unwanted mistake.
What if my banner stand is no longer working? Accordion Closed
Printing Services is not able to offer maintenance on banner stands that have been broken or are malfunctioning nor can we extract insert graphics from broken stands. Please visit the Printing Services Storefront for options on ordering a new banner stand and insert graphic or printing a new graphic and installing into an existing banner stand that is in good working order.
If you have a graphic in good condition and need it installed in either new hardware or existing hardware, please submit a Custom Estimate Request Form.
See our FAQ on recycling best practices for banner stand disposal options. For additional questions, please contact us.
How to fold custom boxes? Accordion Closed
Cube, pillow, and roll end tuck top boxes can be customized with your department/college logo, contact information, and unique message. Boxes are printed on coated cardstock, laminated, and delivered flat with assembly required. Assembly instructions for each design are provided below: