eTip #5

Maximizing Your Print Projects

If your company does any type of internal or external marketing communications, you will most likely at some point need print marketing pieces. With many options available, how do you know you are maximizing your print projects? Do you know how to specify printing and get the most bang for your buck? Below are some pointers that will help you stay on top of your next print job:

Select the right type of printing
Many factors determine the right type of printing for your job. Basically, you can go with offset or digital printing. Offset printing is best for high quality reproduction in a quantity of 500 or more. Offset printing uses ink, which typically yields a much higher quality than digital printing, which uses toner. However, Digital printing technology has improved in the last several years and some digital printing is comparable to offset printing.What makes digital printing a good choice is that it requires less setup, which makes it a great choice for short runs and quick, economical jobs.

Paper stock makes all the difference
Paper will either enhance or destroy the print piece. Besides the weight of paper, you can choose a coated (gloss) or uncoated (flat) finish. Texture also plays a big part in the overall feel of the piece. Do not underestimate what paper can do for your print piece. There is nothing like a cheap paper to ruin your print job.

Number of colors
The number of colors will help determine what kind of printing. In offset, you may choose to print using spot colors such as PMS (Pantone Matching Systems®) or 4-color process (CMYK) depending on the number of colors and/or effects you want to achieve. Spot colors such as PMS will give you a solid ink coverage rather than dots combined to create a color using cyan, magenta, yellow and black. You can see these small dots in 4-color process if you look at a magazine under magnification. The advantage of 4-color process is that you can print as many colors as you wish and still only pay for a 4-color print job. With spot colors, if you print 6 different colors, you will pay for a 6-color print job. Printing presses come in even number of colors. There are 2-color, 4-color, 6-color, or 8-color printing presses. The higher the number of color units, the higher the printing rates will be. Remember, more colors doesn’t necessarily make a piece look better – it’s the message and design of the piece that make it work.

Binding and finishing
Does the job require die cutting or scoring? What about business card slits or folding? These things need to be included in the specs when getting a quote for a print job.

Proofs and press check
This may be the most important stage of a print job. With so much effort spent on creating the piece, you want it to turn out right. Before the job prints, it is very important that you see a proof and conduct a press check, especially if the print job is fairly complex. A press check allows you to see a sample of the finished piece before the complete quantity is printed. There are a number of things you need to check while on a press check. How is the color density? Should the ink be run heavier? Is the correct paper used? Are there any trapping issues? Is registration dead on? Sometimes subtle adjustments can make all the difference. Do not forego this last step.

There are more things involved in a print project we did not cover. You will want to rely on your agency’s expertise to ensure the job is done right all the way through the end.

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