Commercial print buying made easier
Buying print is not easy – there are a plethora of questions, the answers you give to which will determine the final outcome of your product. For those lacking experience, this can mean that while you’ll receive what you asked for, what you asked for may not have been what you actually wanted!!
To try and go through every option for every job would be an impossibility, but a few tips may help you ensure you put in the right requests – remember what you ask for in the quote stage is likely to remain as the specs by which your printer will produce the final job, so essential to be as clear as possible from the start.
Professional printer’s terminology – size and colour
Number of pages to print
Make sure you know the size of the finished product – sticking to standard paper sizes (A6, A5, A4, 210mm square) will help you get the most effective price. You’ll be asked for the number of pages, stated in your estimate as “pp”. Each “pp” or “page” referred to represents a side at the finished size – ie: 16pp A5 equates to 4x double sided A4’s that, when folded in half in booklet format, give you 16 sides at the finished A5 size. In booklet format the page count MUST be divisible by 4, but, depending on page size, it will be most cost effective to have divisible by 16 (A4), 24 (210 square) or 32 (A5).
How colours in commercial printing work
You need to know how many colours – most brochures are full colour (referred to as 4/4, CMYK or 4 colour process) but if you want a specific “Pantone” (pre-mixed precise colour) then make sure you select this as a “special”. Whilst it adds to the cost, those very image conscious do sometimes feel it necessary to protect their brand. Finally, on the print side, you need to be sure to identify if your cover needs to be on a heavier material – very popular on brochures and allows you to apply certain special finishes.
Print finishing uses a language of its own
Onto the finishing, therefore – there are again numerous options that will help give your product that “wow” factor. To protect and enhance the look laminating your covers is very popular (matt, gloss or silk layer of thin plastic) while adding a Spot UV Varnish (picking out certain areas in high gloss – especially effective with a matt lamination underneath) or a foil block (not just silver or gold but a whole host of colours) are stunning finishing touches. Stamping an image through the back (embossing) or the front (debossing) can add an interesting tactile feature. There are also binding options. Standard booklet format is referred to as saddle stitching, to you and I folded with 2 central staples, but you can have perfect binding (wraparound cover in paperback book style with a spine), PUR binding (as perfect but using an extra strength glue), Case Binding (hard backed) or wire bound (punched pages are secured by a metal coil).
Ask a printing expert
So loads to think about. Any good printer will have a quote request form that will prompt the right questions, the better ones will have some form of help or prompt for you to refer to so you know you’re answering correctly. Printhouse.co.uk have this and also supply a complete finishing glossary so you know what’s what, well worth a look if you’re at all unclear. Experienced buyers can upload their own specs but my advice is simple to those less knowledgeable….if in doubt don’t guess, rather pick up the phone and make a call where the professionals can talk through what’s required and help you spec it up as essential to make sure you ask for what you actually want.
Dan Jacobs is Sales Director of PrintHouse Corporation. You can get in touch with Dan on 020 8963 0123 or use this contact form to ask him to give you a callback to discuss your printing queries in person.
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