5 Things For Every Print Job

The 5 Things You Must Know For Every Print Job

We always advocate for working with your sales consultant or account manager on each print job. We push planning as the most important part of the process because the specifications for each job makes a big difference for the final result. Without proper planning, you'll end up with a rushed job—figuring things out on the fly, which can lead to costly mistakes.

Once you've planned out your job, there are five major points that you need to communicate with your account manager to get the job started. Before they can initiate the job process through the print shop, they need as many details as possible. This way, the entire shop knows what the coming project entails and can plan their workflows accordingly.

1. Size of the Project

Knowing the finished size of your project is important—there's not much you can do without knowing what your final job will look like. But if you know the "flat size" of the project, that's going to impress your account manager! Flat size means the size that the project will be printed, before any folding or other bindery operations happen. For example, if your project is going to be a trifold with a final size of 8.5 x 11, the flat size will be 25.5 x 11. (Or will it? Don't forget to chase your folds!) Flat size even comes into play when you are talking about a large book or magazine. If the job bleeds (see #3 below), this affects your size. You can also undersize a project to save money. For example, instead of 8.5 x 11, you can run 8.25 x 10 7/8. Your sales consultant can help you figure out if undersizing will make a big difference on your job.

2. Paper Stock Needed

Determining the paper stock you'll use is a specification that you might want to consult with your account manager or sales rep on. Sometimes you can leave it at whether you want an offset or gloss stock. (And don't forget to tell your account manager whether you are looking for text or cover weight paper.) But other times, for a more technical project, you might garner better results with a specific type of paper. Or, you could be looking for a certain texture, sheen, or other paper characteristic to make your job stand out. Don't forget about specialty substrates! If you’re trying to be economical, you can explore different grades of paper (how refined it is) or look at increasing the quantity of your print run to reduce the cost per piece.

3. Ink Colors to Print

This one seems obvious, but is it? There are 1,867 spot colors in the Pantone Matching System, plus metallics! Not to mention all the colors you can get when you use CMYK (also called 4-color process). Sometimes, it's more cost effective to "build" a PMS color with CMYK—another reason to plan before you need the job completed. Your sales consultant can help you determine how best to print the job. Along with the colors, you'll need to include whether you want aqueous coating or another finishing element.

I would almost create a section 3-A called "Whether Your Job Bleeds". It's critical to know whether your job bleeds or not at the initiation of the project. Depending on the size of your project, the amount of space necessary for the bleed could mean increasing paper size, which could affect the cost. Knowing about the bleed ahead of time saves time and money!

4. Bindery Operations Necessary

The bindery department is a magical place where many different processes happen to finish your job. (In fact, every job that passes through the shop has to enter the bindery, for cutting at the very least.) From cutting and folding to actual binding and padding, there are myriad operations that your job could need. Are you printing inserts for 3-ring binders? You'll want 3 holes drilled into each page. Are you packaging sets for distribution? You might want to think about shrink wrapping them. If you're planning a fancy die cut, you'll include that here too. I'm telling you, there is so much that you might need from the bindery. Once again, talking through your job with your sales consultant—including its end use—can guide your finishing processes.

5. Delivery Instructions

I'm almost certain you didn't see this one coming. While not part of the job itself, the delivery instructions can affect processes all the way back to the estimate! If your item will be delivered locally, that's great. But what if you are shipping it across the country? We have partnerships with freight shippers who can get it there at less cost to you. What if you need a specific breakdown of pieces to go to different locations? Depending on the finishing operations, your job could be packaged at several different locations. Having the shipping instructions ahead of time will make the process efficient and keep your job specifications straight as the job passes through the shop.