Printing... Where to Start?
Considerations for a print job.
While much of the world moves to online communication there is still a time and place for the humble printed piece of collateral. In fact there is much research to show the return on investment or effectiveness of communication can be greatly enhanced by the use of printed material. Below are four of the main factors to consider at the beginning of the planning process.
Broadly speaking papers can be split into two groups: coated and uncoated.
So named because of the clay coating applied in their manufacture – can be matt (also known as silk or satin) or gloss and the ink appears more vibrant on these types of paper. This is because the ink sits on the surface of the paper and hence the colour reproduction is not compromised by the ink absorbing into the paper stock. Because there is less absorbency it also means you can print finer details on this type of stock. Coated papers are graded from A1+ (Coffee table art books) through to A3 (direct mail letter box drops). Most printing is on A2 or A2+ graded stock.
These are grouped in bonds (for photocopiers), offsets (for printers) and specialties (used for letterhead, business cards etc). These types of paper do not have the clay coating so ink is absorbed into the stock more than with coated papers. However, these papers are better suited to office technology (laser compatible) and have a tactile feel to them. Colour appears flatter and can sometimes be much darker than expected. However, there is a trend these days to print colour on these types of stocks for the unique look and feel that these papers can give to the finished product.
A common mistake is to refer to an uncoated stock as being a matt stock. For a printer, matt is always associated with a coated stock so it is far better to refer to coated (gloss or matt) or uncoated when specifying a job.
The size of your finished job is really only limited to the press size the job will be printed on but with some pre-planning you can save money by ensuring the size suits the press sheet size. Jobs are almost always printed on a larger sheet size before post-press activities like folding, trimming and binding take place.
There is an international paper standard (IPS) of sizes that are purpose built for the A-series of sizes – eg A5, A4, A3 etc., so if you finished product fits to one of these ‘A’ sizes then you know your job will efficiently fit on an IPS print sheet.
However, if you are looking for something different then it is always a good idea to consult with your printer to discuss the best way to go. Sometimes the difference between 5 or 10mm can save you hundreds of dollars.
There are two main colour standards in printing. If the job is printed in full colour it is done so using the four process colours of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (aka CMYK).
There are also special colours that are made to a specific formula known as Pantone colours. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) allows printers anywhere in the world to mix a PMS colour to a specific formula using the PMS swatch books.
Often customers get confused about the letter ‘C’ or ‘U’ that follows the specific PMS number. For example, PMS 072C and 072U are in fact exactly the same colour and come out of the same can of ink. The C is referring to coated and the U is referring to uncoated. As mentioned in the previous section on paper, ink colours perform differently on different stocks. PMS 072 will look different on a coated stock to an uncoated stock, and it doesn’t matter if one was to specify 072C and print on an uncoated paper because it is not the ink that is different (remember it comes out of the same can), the colour is affected by the paper and not the other way round.
It is important to consider how the job is going to be finished (folded/bound) before the design process starts. Binding of your publication plays a very important part in the design process. For example all saddle stitched books (stapled on the spine) have to have a page count that is divisible by four.
Perfect bound books lose image area where the hinged part of the cover attaches to the first and last text pages of the book. The image also tends to disappear into the spine of the book so any double page spreads need to be considered carefully. For example, probably ok for an image to spread across two pages but a table or map with important information that needs to be clearly visible is probably best contained to 1 page.
If your document is to be housed in a ring binder and needs to be drilled, or is to be wire bound then do you have enough margin on the binding edge to allow for this. If a job is to be folded then you need to think about the different ways of folding. For example even on a simple 6pp DL brochure (A4 folded twice to DL) there is a U-fold (also known as a roll fold) or a Z-fold (also known as a concertina fold. If the job is roll folded then the panel that folds in first needs to be around 1.5mm shorter so it can fit inside the other two panels.
A common area for confusion is how to describe a portrait or landscape publication. The artwork of a wall calendar, for example is often landscape in nature but is staple on the long edge making it a portrait bound saddle stitched booklet.
The best way to avoid confusion is specify the finished size (eg A4) and the flat size when opened (eg A3 would be a portrait bound book or if the flat size was 210mm x 594mm this would make it a landscape bound book).
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