Every day business people enter a print shop with an emergency or impossible deadline. They often expect miracles by the people behind the counter. However with a little more forethought and planning, potential stress and panic can be avoided. Follow these tips to a stress-free experience with a printer. Then you can focus on the meeting, presentation or proposal and not on whether you will show up with the quality materials you need.
With most printers, consultation is free. If you are thinking about a new project or design, before you spend the time designing it yourself, talk to your printer about what your main objectives and goals are for the project. We can advise you on: the best application to create your document, proper margins, color, paper stock, timing, and anything you might need to know ahead of time. Consultation is a good way to avoid the costs involved with correcting your document or worse, redoing you job.
When in doubt about file format, use PDF or Portable Document Format. It is the industry standard for workflow. You can create a PDF from pretty much any application these days and anyone can open it on any computer on any platform. There are still specific things you might need to know depending on your file, so it doesn’t hurt to ask questions. The worst case scenarios is that we have something to look and can let you know if its something we can work with, easily correct or what you need to do on your end to ensure you are happy with your job!
Is this going to be a two-color business card or a four color brochure? Specifying the right kind of color for you output device is very important. The industry standard for matching color is the Pantone Matching System. They make extensive color books for reference, pretty much any printer or designer will have one. Most full color is out put on a CMYK device. CMYK stands for Cyan Magenta Cyan and Black (K). Specify the right color for the job and get it the way you want it to look. Colors on your computer screen don’t always look the way they will print as screens use an RGB (Red Green Blue) color space.
It is never too soon to start thinking about a project. Talk to your printer and plan a realistic timeline for your project. Consider factoring in time for consultation, quoting, design, review and proofing, approval of a print-ready piece, then production time. Many factors play into each of these steps. If possible, allow at least three weeks for an average project.
Snail mail is still alive and kicking. Getting snazzy printed materials in front of potential customers still works. Talk to your printer about cost effective ways to use the power of print and mail to attract customers. Moreover, you can use technology as an integral part of your traditional direct mailer. Variable data printing, for example, allows for customization of direct mail during the printing process based on your customer database, allowing you to send the right message to the right person.
Images used on the web are raster-based images. This means everything is broken down into small units called pixels. If you don’t have enough pixels in your document then it’s going to look like a mosaic. This is called pixelation or low resolution and it doesn’t look good. A good rule of thumb for anything is to start at 300 dpi, or dots per inch.
The basis weight of a given grade of paper is defined as the weight (in pounds) of 500 standard-sized sheets of that paper. With that in mind, here are different examples of paper grades and their respective basis weights. Rely on your printer for advice on the pros and cons to each paper type and weight.
Bond: Most commonly used for letterhead, business forms and copying. Typical basis weights are16# for forms, 20# for copying and 24# for stationery.
Text: A high-quality grade paper with a lot of surface texture. Basis weights range from 60# to 100# with the most common being 70# or 80#.
Uncoated Book: The most common grade for offset printing. Typically 50# to 70#.
Coated Book: Has a glossy finish that yields vivid colors and overall excellent reproduction. Basis weights range from 30# to 70# for web press, and 60# to 110# for sheet press.
Cover: Used in creating business cards, postcards and book covers. Can be either coated or uncoated. Basis weights for this grade are 60#, 65#, 80# or 100#.
Do not think what you see on your monitor will match what you see on paper. The technology of design, layout and printing has come a long way to the point where much of the work is done in a WSYWIG (What You See Is What You Get) digital environment. However, there are sometimes noticeable differences in color calibration and spatial conformity from monitor to monitor and consequently from screen to print.
The process for minimizing any variance begins with adjusting your monitor for optimal color and clarity according to the manufacturer's recommendations as outlined within its product manual or website. Doing this will alleviate a number of potential issues.
Beyond that, for the greatest conformity in color from screen to print, there are tools available that will ensure exact color calibration. Perhaps you have already invested in such a tool. If so, let us know what you use and we'll work with you to achieve the best results. If you are considering investing in a color calibration tool, talk to us first and we'll be happy to offer our advice.
Ask for a proof. I make mistakes. You make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. To try and minimize errors we offer a proof on pretty much any job. Proofing lets you see what the colors are going to look like, what the text is going to look like, and where everything is going to fall. So, read your proof. Read it again. Have your friend read it. Stop a stranger on the street and ask for their opinion. Scrutinize! The proofing stage is the time to make and find mistakes! Nobody’s judging, so let’s fix it now!
Basing your decision to work with a particular printer solely on price, you could be sorry. There is no guarantee that they will stand behind their work if there is an error. You could end up spending more than you bargained for. Ask some key questions about service and work guarantees. Ask to see samples. When you choose a printer, consider capabilities, customer service and price. If all three are in place, you’ve made a solid decision.
Communication, realistic expectations, and planning are the keys to a successful experience in working with a professional print shop. With a bit of research and insight, you will understand what to expect and how to get exactly what you want, every time!
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