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Invite Your PRINTER to the Design Table

Printing is a Custom manufactured process. Much like a Custom piece of Furniture, it takes the designer and artisan working together to make sure what is on the computer screen matches the finished product.

When I first started in the print business, there was an estimator with years experience that would look at job specs and quote jobs for me. From time to time, he would bring them back to me and say where were you when they wrote these specs? I would ask why and he would say…this one is an Art vs. Science project…meaning it was impossible to produce and make the designer happy.

Many things that look good in the creative phase will look better if a printer has a chance to review and make sure the production process won’t get in the way of the vision of the project. In addition, they can make suggestions like page counts and trim sizes that will help produce the product most efficiently.

Here are just a few problems that could be overlooked in the design phase of a project.

  • Bleed and Type – When your ink extends off the trim of the page that is “bleeding” the ink off of the page. When designing a page with bleed, your design in your file must have the image extend beyond the trim by an 1/8 of an inch. This ensures that your vision of a page with wall to wall color is achieved. Another important design factor for printing is how close you place type to the edge of a sheet of paper. In the Manufacturing process, an image can shift slightly and the closer you have type to the trim edge, the better of a chance you have of cutting off the words, noticing imperfections or ascetically just not looking clean. A design that keeps Type at least a ¼” from the trim will always look better!
  • Page Counts – Presses are designed to maximize the sheet of paper. For example, a 40” Sheet-fed press can run a max 16pg signature for an 8.5 x 11design. If you have a catalog that is 156pgs, it would be cheaper to run as a 160pg because you are running 10-16’s. Another example is running 50,000 copies of a simple 28pg Manual. A Web Press has to run in page increments of 8 so it would be much cheaper to run ONE 32pg signature otherwise, you would run a 16pg on the web and a 12pg on the Sheet-fed press. This would be 2 Press runs instead on of one.
  • Trim Size – There are standard trim sizes that American Printers typically run when it comes to things like Catalogs, Manuals or Magazines. 8 ½ x 11 is typically a max size for a sheet-fed job and 8 3/8 x 10 7/8 for a web press job. Also, a digest size is a good size to run 2 up on a web press. The maximum being 5 ¼ x 8 3/8. Some designers may design smaller booklet at 6 x 9…by tweaking the size to 5 ¼ x 8 3/8, the job will print and bind 2x as fast!

By including your Printer at the planning stages, you will save money and time as well as have a great printed project.