How to buy and specify print

How to buy and specify print

A beginners guide

Twenty years ago buying and specifying print was a job for experts only. Turning a design into a finished brochure or leaflet was a complex process involving several different stages. Now all you need from your designer is a high resolution pdf which you can send to almost any commercial printer.

If you’re just beginning to work with external agencies here are some tips that will help you get started.

Identify what paper stock you want or need

The quality of the paper you choose will determine the end result;
 – Textured
 – Coated or uncoated
 – Laminated
 – Embossed
 – Paper weight or density i.e.
 80-100gsm for general use such as stationery; 120-170gsm for booklets, flyers or brochures and 200 – 250gsm for brochure covers or folders.

Decide on the details of the print job

What quantity do you want to print?
What size is the final print to be – A4, A3, portrait or landscape?
How many colours? Is it a standard 4 colour process or do you have a specialised colour or pantone reference to print?
Are you looking for any specific effects or finishes? eg. spot UV varnish – where clear gloss varnish is applied to part of the page to highlight a logo or photo.

Get at least three quotations from different printers

This will help you to get the best from your budget and choose a printer on the basis of ‘best fit’ to your requirements. Always make sure that you include a ‘printers proof’ in the quotation. This enables you to see the printed item on the exact paper and finishes specified before the job goes to press.

Check with the printer how they need the artwork to be supplied

Often a printer will accept a generic, print-ready, high res pdf, but it’s always worth checking whether they have any specific requirements. These could be non-standard bleed settings or colour profiles that need to be embedded into the pdf. You’ll need to make sure you pass on all this information to your designer before they prepare the artwork. If you’re in any doubt, get the printer to liaise directly with your designer.

Send your artwork to the printer

Check with your printer how they would like to receive the artwork. High res files can be too large to email, so you can use an online file sharing service such as Dropbox or WeTransfer, or some printers may have their own online file transfer systems.

Check the printers proof for quality and accuracy

Your printer will send you a ‘printers proof’ for you to sign off on before the job goes to the printing press. Here’s your chance to give the artwork one final proof read for typos, grammar, spacing, graphic and text placement etc. If changes need to be made you can request a further printers proof.

If you have used a creative agency to produce the artwork, then choosing and specifying your print will be easier as they will be able to offer advice and guidance throughout the process. If you’d like to know more about creating artwork, choosing the format and specifying/buying printing, we’d be happy to help.

 

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Working with logo formats

Working with logo formats

The difference between vector and pixel formats

Most people will be familiar with pixel-based formats for photography such as JPEG or TIFF. We know that more pixels equals a better quality image, so it’s tempting, when asked to supply a logo, to think the same way and assume that a JPEG is the best way to go.

In some cases, mainly for online use, that’s true, but most logos are drawn in a vector format, so supplying a pixel based logo will miss out on all the benefits that vectors have to offer.

When to use pixels

If you’re asked to supply your logo for use on a website, then by all means supply a JPEG, TIFF or PNG version. All you need to do is make sure the resolution is 72ppi (pixels per inch – sometimes also referred to as dpi) at the size you want it to appear.

When to use vector format

If your logo has been drawn using Adobe Illustrator (and, if it’s been done by a professional designer, it most likely will have been) the resulting EPS file will be in vector format, and should be used in all printed applications.

What’s the difference between vectors and pixels?

A pixel-based image always has a fixed size for a given resolution – 72dpi for web and 300dpi for print. So, if you have a 300dpi image that’s 10cm wide and you want to enlarge it to be twice the size, it will still have the same number of pixels, just twice as big. You’ll see that if we enlarge a pixel-based logo beyond it’s ideal size; eventually we’ll start to see the individual pixels that make up the image.

pixelated image 

 

A logo drawn in vector format contains no pixels of its own, instead it contains a series of instructions that allow the final output device (usually the printer or plate making device) to construct the logo at it’s maximum resolution no matter what size it is.

For example, if you were having your logo printed on an exhibition panel, and the output resolution of the printer was 1200dpi, your logo would be printed at 1200dpi whether it was 1cm or 1000cm across.

You can see from the above example that for all printed applications, supplying a vector format EPS file will give the best results.

Hopefully you’ll now be confident of always supplying the right format for the job. Please feel free to give us a call on 0845 468 0982 if you need any help or advice on different logo formats.

 

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Our top tips for social media

Our top tips for social media

If you’re planning on using social media to grow your business, here are a few simple tips you can use when making your plans:

Who is your audience?

Think about who are you trying to reach – what’s their profile? It could lead you to use a very specific social media channel – for example instagram is very popular with a younger demographic where an older demographic will probably use something like Pinterest.

Do your research

Choose the channel that best fits your target audience. The more you segment and profile your audience, the more informed you will be about the channel you choose to reach them. There are some really good statistics available online on who, typically, uses what social media.

Plan your message

Is your message general or very specific? If it’s a campaign/series of messages, plan them carefully. You might find it better to produce a plan with the messages you want people to read plotted against when you’ll publish your updates. There are lots of social media services available that will give you the ability to schedule your updates such as Hootsuite.

Remember to include a ‘Call to action’

What do you want the person seeing your message to do. If you want the person to visit your website, remember to include your website link. If it’s a specific landing page that you’ve created, use that url instead. Don’t forget to update your websiteready for all the lovely new visitors you’ll be getting! Social media such as Twitter has a limitation on the number of characters you can use, but you can use sites such as bitly to reduce the number of characters your url takes.

What’s your budget?

How much do you want to spend on the channel? Not every social media channel incurs a charge for basic use but you may choose to advertise, which could use up your budget fast. Set what budget you can afford or want to spend for the total campaign, then work out how many responses you are looking to generate and how much each response will cost.

Be patient!

Social media needs to be researched well. When you know who you want to reach and what you want them to do, you need to give the message time to resonate with your audience. In many cases you will need to generate a ‘following’ before you’ll see real action being taken by your audience. People will feel more confident about following your call to action if you’ve got a decent following. Best of luck with planning your social media, we hope these tips are of use!
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