A few years ago, we wrote the 7 Cures Series to help people with various problems they asked us about. The information is still useful.
This article talks about how to keep your next print job from turning into a nightmare.
- Buy the print quality you need.
There are three basic types of presses: small offset duplicator presses, sheet-fed offset presses, and web presses. Each type of press is good for cerain types of jobs. For example, don't run large jobs with halftones or screens on small presses that use paper plates. Bigger presses are more cost effective for bigger quantities. Make friends with a print rep. Take a tour of their facilities and understand what each type of press can and cannot do. Look for a company that has the right equipment to do your job.
- Ask the right questions.
Find out about quality vs. price vs. turnaround time. When you call printers for quotes on a job, if you are unfamiliar with the printing terminology, spend time with a print rep and show him/her your artwork. Explain what you want to do. A good print rep can suggest options and frequently can give you ideas on how to print the piece more easily or inexpensively.
- Create a printer's dummy.
A printer's dummy is a printout of all of the pages in order and bound the way you want it, if possible. On the dummy, write more than you think the printer needs to know. Write down the type of paper, the inks that will be used, any special handling, and anything else you think they might forget. Even if you told the print rep these specifications, write it all down.
- Watch for extra costs.
Everyone knows color printing costs more, but so do bindery tasks such as folding and stapling. Also be sure to tell printers about bleeds. Bleeds cost extra because the printer must print the image on a larger sheet of paper and trim the paper down to the final size. Odd size papers, special papers, special inks, and special coatings all cost extra. Work closely with your print rep to find out ways to keep your job within your budget.
- Watch for dot gain on uncoated papers.
Dot gain occurs because dots print slightly larger on absorbent uncoated paper than they appear on a negative or plate. Dot gain causes darker tones and colors in reproduction. Those subtle shades of gray in the scanned photograph on your monitor may turn into a blurry mess once it gets on the press. Talk with your printer before this happens to you.
- Check the proof or blueline carefully.
Look at the proof upside down. Errors may pop out at you if you are not reading the text of the document. Check for sharpness, spots, marks, and flaws. Also check that nothing has been reversed or omitted. Be specific in your corrections. Circle the problem and describe what is wrong and how to fix it. If the problems are serious, request a second proof from the printer.
- If all else fails, reject the job.
If, after approving the proof, something goes wrong and the finished product is badREJECT the job. You are within your rights to reject a faulty job. For example, in humid weather, if a printer does not allow enough drying time between printing colors, the inks will smear. Check the final product carefully. You do not have to keep a print job if it is bad. A good printer will graciously own up to his mistakes.