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.