Large format printing

Printing Services offers a large format printing service for students, staff, and organizations on campus. Past projects have included digital photography prints, event signs, scientific posters, and various banners.

Before you begin

Please keep in mind, Printing Services must follow these guidelines in order to help make sure all requests are handled in a timely manner. We ask that you pay attention to these details as they can directly impact the cost and result of your print request.

Intention of offered services

Printing Services typically performs large format printing for posters and images that are larger than what a standard printer (or 8.5" by 11" paper) can support. This includes research posters for classes, prints for digital photography students, event signs, and so forth.

Smaller prints, such as a 4" by 6" photo, can be printed on everyday printers or at photo processing businesses. While Printing Services provides a cost effective and quick way to print larger items, it is more expensive for us (and ultimately, you, the end consumer) to print these smaller items.

There is a color printer in the Olin Hall computer lab, Library, GIS lab, and the Mattson lab to print these smaller items.

Request processing time

Printing Services is now strictly enforcing the long standing policy of three business days to process all requests.

To ensure Printing Services can handle all print requests efficiently and effectively, we require three business days to process all requests. This due to the lengthy process that is needed to complete the prints, and largely due to the fact that these requests are handled by the student employees of Printing Services. In order to meet your request we must:

  • Collect all information necessary for printing and enter it into our request tracking system.
  • Notify and arrange for qualified student workers to come in and process the request.
  • Queue up files in our printer software, as well as perform necessary preflight operations such as resizing images.
  • Allow for the RIP software to process the file for printing. Depending on the size and file format, is can take upwards of 12 hours for the computer to process the data.
  • Print your request - average printing time for most prints is 20-30 minutes.
  • Perform post-printing tasks, such as trimming and lamination or dry mounting (if requested.)
  • Process all billing information and create necessary invoices.
    • All students must sign the invoice or pay by cash/check before their prints will be released to them.
  • Update ticket information in our system, double-check accuracy of billing information, and notify you of the completion of your print, so that you may come and pick it up.

The following table shows the earliest time at which any print can be picked up, given the submission time. Please note: any request submitted after 5 PM on a weekday is considered as submitted at 8 AM on the following business day.

Submitted Day Submitted Time Earliest Pickup Time
Monday Morning Thursday morning
Afternoon Thursday afternoon
Tuesday Morning Friday morning
Afternoon Friday afternoon
Wednesday Morning Monday morning
Afternoon Monday afternoon
Thursday Morning Tuesday morning
Afternoon Tuesday afternoon
Friday Morning Wednesday morning
Afternoon Wednesday afternoon
Saturday Anytime Thursday morning
Sunday Anytime Thursday morning

There are absolutely no exceptions to this rule. We kindly ask you to plan ahead. Thank you for your cooperation.

Preflight fees

Preflight fees apply to files that need custom resizing, cropping, color correction, or file type conversion.

Some files that are submitted are able to be printed from directly. Others require processing by our staff to ensure that they are prepared and modified to meet the specifications of your request. There is a $10 preflight fee for each file which requires custom resizing, cropping, or color correction. A simple resize (such as scaling an image to a specified percentage change- "print at 200%") will not result in a preflight fee being charged.

Additionally, there is a $30 per hour fee for files that require manipulation or other editing to have print correctly. Our system is unable to support native Microsoft file formats (Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, etc.) and should be converted to a postscript or image format. If we are required to manipulate the files or convert them into a PDF format, Printing Services is unable to verify that the output is consistent with your original layout unless you provide us with a hard proof to compare to. We will try our best to make it look as it should, but it may not appear how it was originally designed. (This is especially true with Microsoft Publisher and PowerPoint files - avoid them at all costs!)

Suggested file types and methods

Submitting PDF or TIFF files at size is the easiest and recommended way to avoid the above costs.

  • PDF files are recommended for event signs or posters displaying information.
  • TIFF files (or other standard image formats) are recommended for photographs being enlarged.

Why should I avoid Microsoft files, such as Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher?

There are several reasons why we do not support files created by Microsoft products.

  • Our print software is unable to open them because they are proprietary.
  • Our machine may not have the same fonts you have on your computer, so text will appear differently (different size, spacing, layout, etc.)
  • We do not know how you want your print to look, so if we convert the file, we cannot guarantee the final outcome.

How should I design my files?

We would recommend using a product like Adobe InDesign, which is installed on all Gustavus campus computers. However, we can print any file in a postscript, PDF, or standard image format. As long as you design the file on your computer and then export it as one of these formats, it will look very similar when we print it. If we need to convert the file, it will look different because we do not have the same fonts or software that you do.

The general idea here is this:

  1. Design your print in any program that you would like. Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Publisher are not preferred, but they can be used.
  2. Export or "print" the file as a PDF, postscript, or image format on the same machine as the file was designed.
  3. Verify the file was converted correctly. Check for font sizes, spacing changes, correct font styles, overlapping content, and images or text floating off the side of the page. If the file was exported on the same machine as it was created, it should look quite similar.
  4. Submit the converted file to Media Services for printing.

Brief instructions are provided below for exporting files to the PDF format.

PDF files versus JPEG images

When you convert one of your files to a PDF file, the text is saved in a way such that it will look similar on all machines and will not be blurred when the file is enlarged for printing. Using a standard image format, like JPEG, will not maintain this quality, which will result in blurred text.

Please note that there is no way for us to prevent photos from blurring if the resolution of the submitted file is too low.

How do I create a PDF file?

If you are using Adobe InDesign please make sure you use the export as PDF option instead of printing the file as a PDF.
Mac OS X

This technique should work on all Mac-based computers on campus. You can use other techniques also, as long as they create a PDF file. Programs may provide their own "export as PDF" utilities.

  1. Open the file you wish to convert to a PDF.
  2. From the File menu, choose Print.
  3. In the bottom left corner of the print dialog, click on the PDF drop-down menu and choose "Save as PDF...". Give the file a proper name.
  4. Your PDF has been saved as specified and can now be uploaded to Media Services for printing. Please open the file and make sure it appears how you would like it printed.

Note: Campus computers are also equipped with a "Adobe PDF" printer in the printers list. This can also be used and has the same functionality.

Windows XP

If you are using your own personal computer with special fonts, you may save the file as a PDF using Adobe software. You may also download and install PDFCreator, a free program which installs a PDF printer option. When you try to print the document, choose the PDF printer (instead of your dorm or office printer) in your print dialog.

Some programs may provide their own "export as PDF" utilities. You may also use those if they are provided.

If you are using a Gustavus lab or faculty computer, Adobe PDF tools have already been installed.

  1. Open the file you wish to print as a PDF.
  2. From the File menu, select Print.
  3. Select the Adobe PDF option from the printer drop-down menu.
  4. Follow any other on-screen prompts.
  5. Your PDF has been saved as specified and can now be uploaded to Media Services for printing. Please open the file and make sure it appears how you would like it printed.

Square footage rounding

The cost of a print job is determined by the rounded square footage for the print multiplied by the number of copies requested. In order to cover the cost of waste paper and ink, we must round the final size of each printed piece.

For example: you request 4 copies of a 11" by 17" print, on a printer costing $2.00 per square foot (including the cost of ink and paper.) The actual square footage of a single print is 1.29, however, this will be rounded up to 2 square feet. Your final cost will be 2 sq ft x 4 copies x $2 per square foot = $16.00 (plus applicable taxes and surcharges.)

Note: we round down if the square footage is less than 1/10th beyond a whole number (ie 1.023 is considered 1).

Common print sizes

A very common question is "what size do people commonly print this at?" It is difficult for us to answer this question because everybody's needs are different. However, we can try provide you a list of common uses and sizes for prints. If you feel anything should be added to this list, please let us know.

  • Display cabinets outside the Dining Center
    • These cabinets are slightly larger than a typical movie poster, but keeping your print at movie poster size would likely be the best option.
    • 24" by 40", or roughly 2 feet width, 3 feet height

Printing options

The following section provides information on the printing possibilities we offer for all print requests. The final cost of the print request is the sum of: all paper costs, ink costs, additional services/supplies provided, and any applicable fees or taxes. We charge based on the square footage of your print request.

Printers and ink

Printing Services now uses two Epson StylusPro large format printers. You only need to specify the media and resolution you wish to print at.

Our printers...

  • Use an eight- or nine-ink pigment system which will not fade over time and is high quality.
  • Best for high-quality prints (720, 1440, or 2800 DPI) or prints which will be reused or displayed for a long period of time, rated up to 100 years.
  • Suitable for short use in outdoor conditions.

Ink prices

All prices are per square foot and are rounded accordingly.

Resolution Price Comment
720 dpi $2/sq ft for long-lasting prints, most course-related requests use this option
1440 dpi $4/sq ft higher quality, for Art displays etc.
2800 dpi $8/sq ft Not recommended, as there is no visible improvement over the 1440 resolution.

Paper and other materials

The following materials are stocked and can be printed on-demand.

Media Price Comment Maximum Dimension
Medium-weight stock luster paper $1/sq ft Works well with most poster needs. 60"
FAB-6 Polyester $1/sq ft with $25 surcharge Lightweight polyester banner fabric which we call FAB-6. There is a $25 dollar surcharge for this fabric since we need to "hot knife" the fabric edges to prevent unraveling. 50"

Other options

Provided here are some of the additional services we can provide you. If you have any further questions, please contact Media Services.

Foam Core mounting

We are also starting to offer mounting of prints on Foam Core, for use on easels, etc. We do our best to use foam core economically and will mount multiple images on one sheet of foam core if possible.

We stock white foam core in the following sizes:

14x18" for $10 per sheet

18*28" for $15 per sheet

22*34" for $20 per sheet

28*38" for $25 per sheet


We are able to laminate prints with one dimension that is less than 26", and the cost is $1.50 per linear foot.

Calculating final price

The cost of your request is determined by calculating the total square footage of the request and factoring in the cost of materials, processing fees, and finishing fees. The most basic request will be charged for the total square footage multiplied by the combined cost of the media and ink. Other more complicated requests may include preflight fees, trimming or mounting fees and possibly lamination fees.

For assistance in determining the estimated cost of your project, feel free to email the details of your project to Printing Services, and we will respond as quickly as possible.

Submitting the print request

Please contact Printing Services.