Language used by Printing Companies
When placing a print order, it is very important for your to get familiar with a few terms used by printing companies as it will help you to understand what printing companies are talking about.
Paper thickness is measured in grams per square metre, abbreviated as gsm. There is very little difference between the price of gloss paper and matt paper.
- 115gsm = Thinner paper suitable for printing flyers and magazines.
- 170gsm = Thicker paper suitable for printing high quality brochures and magazine covers.
- 350gsm = Thick paper, very durable, suitable for printing business cards and folders
Printing companies sometimes use high gloss protective coating called UV varnish to coat the printed job. It makes the paper resistant to dirt and water stains and gives the paper a high gloss finish.
Bleed is a technique used by the printing industry to ensure the image will continue to the very edge of the page after trimming. The idea is simple, a margin (normally 3mm) is included in the initial design which will be cut off at the final stages of print. This extra margin ensures that images will always reach the edge of the document.
When colours go right up to the edge of a page the designer makes the colour extend past the edge of the page or bleed over the edge of the page. Artwork should be supplied to the printing company with at least 3mm bleed. This makes it easier for the printing company to cut the job to size without leaving a white space on the edge of the page.
Picture resolution (Hi-res and Low-res)
Printing companies refer to the quality of a picture in dots-per-inch abbreviated as dpi. The higher the resolution the better the quality of the picture. Low resolution pictures will look blurry when printed.
- 72dpi = Low-resolution (Only suitable for internet, not offset printing.)
- 300dpi = Hi-resolution (Suitable for offset printing.)
- 900dpi = Hi-resolution (Too high resolution, files size will be very big.)
This is the printing method used for high volume, high quality printing and is also the cheapest way of printing high volumes. Offset printing machines are about the size of a small single garage.
2. Printing prices
Your printing cost will depend on the following:
- QUANTITY – The more you order, the lower the cost per unit.
- PAPER – The thicker the paper the higher the cost of the job, especially on high volume printing.
- DESIGN – This is a once off charge regardless of the quantity.
- DELIVERY – Remember to include delivery charges when comparing prices from printing companies.
WARNING*( Printing large quantities on Inkjet or laser Printers is very expensive.)
3. Delivery time
There’s never enough time to do a job properly the first time, but there’s always time to fix a mistake and re-print the job. Allow enough time for the printing company to get the job done without rushing. Printers need to put your job in a production line, they dont just press a print button. Allow an extra few days for delivery if you are not in the same location as the printing company.
- Hire a professional digital creative agency to prepare your artwork.
- Printing companies should be supplied with print ready artwork in the desired format like PDF, Quark files, PSD, Illustrator, Freehand and CorelDraw.
- Not all printing companies have a graphic design department to assist with incorrectly prepared artwork.
5. Design errors
- Don’t use too many fonts, one or two fonts are normally enough.
- Don’t use fonts that are difficult to read. Your design should be easy on the eye.
- Keep text and important elements at least 5mm away from the edge of the page.
- This will allow for some inaccuracy when cutting the job. A cutting error of a few millimeters either way won’t ruin the job.
- Don’t use small white text (7pt or less) on a dark background because it makes the job extremely difficult to print and the text often becomes unreadable.
- Don’t waste time trying to do your perfectly in MS Word, Excel or any other office program before you have spoken to the printing company about what files they can use. In many cases the artwork will have to be converted to another program or even re-done from scratch.
- Colour varies from screen to screen and from printer to printer, so dont think that the colour you see on your screen will be the same as the printed job. The best way to check colour is by referring to a colour chart to get the correct colour specifications. Your printing company should have one available on request.
6. Proof reading your artwork
The easiest way to find a mistake is to print the job. Print out a few copies on your desktop printer and ask people to proof read your artwork. Pay special attention to phone numbers, email addresses and other contact details. Spelling mistakes and language errors can create a damaging first impression of your company. Incorrect contact details can mean having to reprint the entire job.
Remember that the final sign-off is your responsibility and you will have to pay for a re-print.
Print 100% scale samples when proofing to establish if all text is readable and pictures easy to view.