It all starts with an idea, with a motivation.
Sometimes, a simple and exciting idea, such as printing one's brochures, or producing a Direct Mailing piece, or simply printing color copies and handouts for a board meeting, can become a nightmare if you do not have a clear idea of what the final piece that your're trying to come up with is meant for.
So STEP #1 is to be very clear on the fundamentals of the project. Ask yourself more questions that you can answer. That'll help you search for the answers you need.
STEP #2: Lets assume that you've just decided to create a brochure that you'll use to advertise the services that your company provide. You are all excited about designing the brochure, but before you dive yourself into the desktop publishing world, come up with an answer to the two following questions:
- Who is going to get the brochure, when and how.
- Once prospects get the brochure, will there be a follow-up action that I'll take? Will I expect them to follow-up?
STEP #3: Once you've made a determination regarding the previous two questions, you are ready to decide what's the best piece to create: If you were running a booth at a trade show and expected significant traffic, you might consider creating a piece specifically for that show. You will not know the people attending the show.
If you were creating the piece to mail to existing customers, then you could take advantage of information that you already have and try to connect directly with your customer. If your plan is to send less than 2,000 pieces, you might consider personalizing the piece.
Personalization and full color printing increase the rates of response significantly when compared with blank mail and single color pieces (shown by research)
STEP #4: If you are like many self-made entrepreneurs, you might want to inmerse in the world of desk publishing and create your piece. Microsoft Publisher is a great tool that you'll learn to use in no time. But you shoud know that non-professional graphic design usually generates non professional looking pieces. It is crucial that the images used in the project are high resolution (300 dpi) and that they belong to the same color-world (RGB or CMYK) because otherwise, distorsions in color reproduction might occur.
The use of fonts represents a challenge in itself. Unless there are very precise reasons, a limited number of fonts should be utilized in the project. An excess of variaty often makes the reader unconfortable. Some of the fonts that you use on your computer might not be widely available. So when you send your files to the printing house, chances are that they will not receive the fonts and therefore they will be unable to match what you did when creating the document. Microsoft Publisher has tools to embed the fonts in the section that's named: Printer output
ALERT: Non-professional desk-top publshing software such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint, etc do not allow to export fonts so unless you copy the used fonts and supply them with your file, there's a likelihood that a font will default into an unwanted one. And there will be no way to know. Across-platform solutions solve much of these problems: If possible save your documents as PDFs
STEP #5: Decide who is going to print your piece. If you're going offset you'll need a commercial printer. If the count of pieces is about 2,000 it might be more convenient to go digital. Therefore dealing with a printing house that can combine digital and offset printing is your objective.
Laser printing provides short run, high quality, inexpensivelly. The quality will be perceived as better if the quality of the substrate (paper) is improved. Therefore I encourage you to ask your provided for their recommendation of selected stock. Better quality stock is obviously more expensive but the improvement on the piece fully justifies the upgrade cost in most cases.
Differences created by stock: Smothness: Smoother papers create smooth images (as opposed to bumpy ones). Smooth paper creates sharper images. Smooth papers and smooth glossy papers create the perception in the final reader of the piece of enheanced quality of the product or sevice represented in the piece.
Good luck with your project. We look forward to having helped you focus on what you need.
For further assistance, please call us right away.
Here's a summary of different terms that will help you get fresh ideas. I've used http://www.printusa.com/glos.htm as the source for most of this glossary that will help you learn all about color copies.
If you don't find what you need, please email us and we'll try to answer to you ASAP. MyCopies@ColorCopiesUSA.com
Here we go!
The first thing we want to make clear is that we're always better-off if we print on paper that's a standard in the industry. A standardized paper size is available in different qualities and optimizes the printing expenses.
So the standard for the Best Practices in the Digital Color Printing sizes are:
1 - 81/2"x11" - which can be broken down to
* 4 postcards in the size of 4.1/4"x51/2".
Or it can be transformed into
* 2 postcards in the size of 51/2x81/2 each (this pieces are usually known to be Jumbo Postcards)
2 - 81/2" x 14": Legal size. Although it's one of the standardized sizes in the office world, for the digital printing industry it does not have to many advantages. It does not optimize the use of the printing equipment and even though standard, its price is higher because the amount of waste involved in the manufacturing.
3 - 11" x 17": This size is optimum because of the different ways to use it. 11"x17" pages can be easily transformed into newsletters, brochures, self mailers, etc. Even posters are very useful in this size.
4 - 12"x18": This size is a standard among the companies using the most up-to-date digital printing equipment that is used to print color copies. This paper size allows to print full bleed pieces (we'll explain bleed in a little bit). This size of paper requires more sophisticated equipment to process it and there's some additional waste involved. The nice part is that with this large size, almost all of the corporate and private needs get covered.
Let's talk about "bleed". Best practice for designing your piece
This is probably the characteristic that brings more confusion to people like yourself. And this is why:
When you go to get your pictures developed at a Kodak Store (or Walgreens or CVS for the matter), you expect to get your pictures taking up all of the paper. You rarely expect a white frame around them. (Our grand-parents had to live with those white frames, but there's no need for us).
Thos pictures as the ones described, (image all over) are called pictures that "bleed". Because there's no white frame, in order to get it done properly, you must get the photograph printed on a slightly large paper and trimmed. In that way, you make sure that no white edge will be present.
The same concept is utilized in printing. Either in the case that you're printing brochures, of printing color copies, or doorhangers, or business cards, every time you want your images to bleed, the printing house will need to use oversized paper that will later be trimmed to size:
Oversized papers are more expensive than the standard papers just described because a) there's more paper and b) once printed, there's a need to further process the printed piece.
Let me explain: If you're printing a color copyon an 81/2x11" page without bleed, you take the paper in the final size, print it with the propper equipment, and you're done.
But if what you want is an 81/2x11" piece that bleeds, then you need at least a sheet of paper that's 9"x12" (I'm sure that you already realize that the additional paper around what you actually expect to get is a "long piece" of about 1/2"inch with by 42" long (perimeter). That extra paper in turn needs to be cut down to size. To cut paper with precision you require an expensive cutter, with sharp blades and skilled operators to get things done.
I'm sure that you're getting the point by now. When a printing company asks you about the 'bleed", they're asking you about a key element in the job that will have a big impact both on the speed of delivery and mainly on the cost
The best practices to prepare files that are easy to handle and produce the most efficient results is to leave an over-print area that's 1/8" around the final size. This pricatice ensures that there's enough room to center the piece and prevent any white area to show-up..
Accordion fold: Bindery term, two or more parallel folds which open like an accordion.
Against the grain: At right angles to direction of paper grain.
Alteration: Change in copy of specifications after production has begun.
Artboard: Alternate term for mechanical art.
Bind: To fasten sheets or signatures with wire, thread, glue. or by other means.
Bindery: The finishing department of a print shop or firm specializing in finishing printed products
Bleed: Printing that goes to the edge of the sheet after trimming.
Blueline: A blue photographic proof used to check position of all image elements.
Bond paper: Strong durable paper grade used for letterheads and business forms.
Brightness: The brilliance or reflectance of paper.
Caliper: Paper thickness in thousandths of an inch.
Cast coated: Coated paper with a high gloss reflective finish.
Coated paper: A clay coated printing paper with a smooth finish.
Collate: A finishing term for gathering paper in a precise order.
Color correction: Methods of improving color accuracy in the printing process.
Comb bind: To plastic comb bind by inserting the comb into punched holes.
Continuous-tone copy: Illustrations, photographs or computer files that contain gradient tones from black to white or light to dark.
Contrast: The tonal change in color from light to dark.
Copy: All furnished material or disc used in the production of a printed product.
Cover paper: A heavy printing paper used to cover books, make presentation folders, etc.
Crop: To cut off parts of a picture or image.
Crop marks: Printed lines showing where to trim a printed sheet.
Process colors: Cyan (blue), magenta (process red), yellow (process yellow), black (process black).
Cyan: One of four standard process colors. The blue color.
Magenta: Process red, one of the basic colors in process color.
Densitometer: A quality control devise to measure the density of printing ink.
Dummy: A rough layout of a printed piece showing position and finished size.
4-color-process: The process of combining four basic colors to create a printed color picture or colors composed from the basic four colors.
Gloss: A shiny look reflecting light.
Grain: The direction in which the paper fiber lie
Image area: Portion of paper on which ink can appear.
Imprint: Adding copy to a previously printed page.
Indicia: Postal information place on a printed product.
Loupe: A magnifying glass used to review a printed image, plate and position film.
Offset paper: Term for uncoated book paper.
Opacity: The amount of show-through on a printed sheet. The more opacity or the thicker the paper the less show-through. (The thicker/heavier the paper the higher the cost.)
Page count: Total number of pages in a book including blanks.
PDF: Stable File Format that became the industry standard. PDF documents carry along the necessary information to guarantee equal reproduction utilizing different printing devices, as opposed to light formats such as Microsoft Word, or Microsoft Power Point where the same file might look and print differently on differnt computers
Perfect bind: A type of binding that glues the edge of sheets to a cover like a telephone book, Microsoft software manual, or Country Living Magazine.
PMS: The abbreviated name of the Pantone Color Matching System.
PostScript: The computer language most recognized by printing devices.
Saddle stitch: Binding a booklet or magazine with staples in the seam where it folds.
Score: A crease put on paper to help it fold better.
Self-cover: Using the same paper as the text for the cover.
Side stitch: Binding by stapling along one side of a sheet.
Spoilage: Planned paper waste for all printing operations.
Under-run: Production of fewer copies than ordered. See over run
Waste: A term for planned spoilage.
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