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FAQ…other than “How quickly can I get my sign?!”

At Swift Signs, we know signs and we have the answers to some of our most commonly asked questions below.

Still have questions? Give us a call... we are happy to help!

Do I Need a Sign Permit?

Every municipality has specific signage bylaws, and most require a permit before installation. Our team is well-versed in these bylaws and can assist you in determining if a permit will be necessary. You can also visit the following City of Calgary link for more information. Part 3: Division 5 (pg. 75)

What Documents Do I Need to Obtain a Sign Permit?

The City of Calgary fascia sign permit application form and complete list of documents needed can be found here under Sign Applications.

Swift Signs will take care of the following permit requirements for you:

  • City of Calgary application form

  • Scaled renderings of the proposed signage

  • Building elevation drawings (if not already available) and colour photos


The City of Calgary has simplified their sign permit application process and a Certificate of Title and Letter of Authorization is no longer required. You will only need to provide the SITE PLAN for the development or building and we will take care of the rest. Other municipalities may require additional documents.

How Much Will a Sign Permit Cost?
What File Formats do You Accept?

We accept .EPS, .AI, .CDR, .PDF, .INDD, .PSD, .TIFF, .PNG or high resolution .JPG files.
Word documents and PowerPoint files will require design time as these file types cannot be imported directly into our design software.

What is a Vector Graphic?

Vector artwork is always best. As far as print output is concerned, you just can’t beat a vector file. Vector graphics are made up of lines or paths that are defined by a mathematical equation between a start and an end point and are not comprised of pixels like bitmap photos. Why is this important? Unlike raster graphics (.JPG, .TIFF or .PNG files) which become “blocky” and pixilated when enlarged, vector-based images can be increased to any size and still maintain image quality. Vector files are also ideal for matching specific pantone colours or correcting colour output because it enables us to adjust the colour on one or more parts of the design, which is not possible with raster graphics. Raster graphics are flattened images that cannot be colour separated, so for example, if one part of the design is printing “too pink” then we must adjust the magenta levels for the whole image rather than having control of the area of concern. Adjusting colour levels for an entire image is not something that we generally like to do as one colour will inevitably become out of balance as another is adjusted.

For some projects like cut vinyl decals, we require vector files and there is just no way around it. Swift Signs can reproduce almost any logo or typeface if you do not have vector artwork, however design fees will apply.

Note: It is possible to save just about any type of file with an .EPS extension. If a true vector file is needed containing lines and paths, then a raster (or flattened) file type that has been saved as an .eps will not suffice.

Can You Use a .JPG, .TIFF or .PNG File to Print?

Yes we can but there are several factors that will affect the final print quality and colour when a photo (or flattened image) is used. Just like printing any photograph, there needs to be enough quality or resolution to an image for it to print clearly, otherwise it will have blurred lines and potentially “fuzzy” or “blocky” text. See “How Can I Make Sure My Files are Print Ready?” for more information.

Images that have been found on the internet will never print well. Typically these images are very small in size and have been saved at 72dpi (dots per inch) resolution so they cannot be enlarged to produce a nice quality print. It is possible to decrease the number of dots or pixels and size of a raster image without losing quality, but unfortunately the conversion does not work the other way.

How Can I Make Sure My Files are Print Ready?

Colour Reproduction
Full colour digital printing is achieved by printing only four colours; cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, better known as CMYK. To achieve your desired colour, all images, text, and colour used must be created and saved in the CMYK colour spectrum. If we receive a file that has been assigned a RGB colour profile we must convert it to CMYK for our printing process. Sometimes this conversion can alter the colour, which will have an impact on the final colour output. Another factor to keep in mind with regard to colour is that your computer monitor displays in RGB colour. When viewing images or files on your screen, it is not a true representation of how the colour will look when actually printed using CMYK inks. What might appear correct on your computer monitor will more than likely not be represented in the final output at the printer.

All colours that are critical to your design or corporate identity and require a specific colour match must be specified as a Pantone or you must supply a colour correct sample for our reference. Please note: Not all Pantone colours can be reproduced using CMYK inks. Where an exact colour match is not available, we will use the closest possible match. We can always provide a colour sample for approval prior to full production if there is a concern.

Before saving the file, make sure all the text in your artwork has been converted to outlines. This will ensure the integrity of your design is maintained (i.e., kerning or special effects applied to the font). Production may be delayed if we do not have the fonts you have used in our font library and need to install them or ask that you supply them.

Scaling and Resolution for Photo/Raster Graphics Only
Whenever possible, it is best to create your artwork at the final print size with the proper resolution. A higher resolution (300 dpi) is always best for print quality, but the following guidelines represent the minimum recommended dpi for your raster graphics based on viewing distance.

  • If the raster graphic will be viewed from a far distance (i.e., billboards, etc.) artwork can be 35 dpi at final print size.

  • If the raster graphic will be used for vehicle graphics, site signs, banners, etc., a minimum of 100 dpi at final print size is recommended.

  • If the raster graphic will be viewed at less than 6 feet (i.e., trade shows, retail displays, etc.) it is best if the file is a minimum 150 dpi at final print size.


If your raster file requires enlargement, then a higher resolution is necessary (300 dpi) to avoid loss of image quality once scaled. Sometimes artwork can be too large to create/submit at final print size so it must be scaled. For easy handling, files are best scaled at 1:10. Example – A file is being printed at 1200mm x 1200mm and needs to be 100 dpi at that size. When scaled to 10% of the final size, it will produce a 120mm x 120mm file with a resolution of 1000 dpi

Bleed – Allow for 1/8” On All Sides

If all or any part of your design extends right to the edge of the sign, decal, etc., it is a good idea to include a 0.125” bleed on all sides of your artwork. The extra bleed area will be trimmed away but will ensure that there is no visible unprinted white space at the edge of the design once printed and cut.


If you have questions or need help preparing your artwork, contact our Art Department directly at

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