The basic American size is 8-1/2″ x11″ because both paper and printing presses are made around this size. Appropriate paper sizes also include derivatives of 8-1/2 “x 11″: 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″(half a sheet); 11″x17″ (2 sheets wide) 22″x34″ etc. Sizes based on 8-1/2″x11” are the most economical. Printer’s can offer you any size you choose, but standard sizes are more efficient in utilizing paper and equipment. Odd sizes just make you pay for extra paper that gets tossed away. (or a smart printer uses it for their own give away notepads) Note that “legal” size of 8-1/2″x14″ is not an economical size. European sizes (metric based sizes) vary slightly (8-1/4″x 11-3/4″).
Dot or Pixel resolution on a computer monitor can look good “on screen” but not print well as ink on paper. Pixels on a monitor don’t need as much definition to look good compared to dot line screens on paper. In order for printing to trick your eye into blending colors together (CYMK) or as a photograph, the dots have to be really tiny, almost subliminal. Computer images, on the other hand, don’t need such detail. Figure that the dpi (dots per inch) on a monitor in your graphics file will print at half their value on a printing press. So, anything below 250 dpi will look coarse without smooth lines. Offset printing uses from 150 to 200+ lines per inch, which translates into a minimum 300-400 dpi, 600 dpi is standard.
Typefaces can show up when you print out a document on the printer attached to your computer, because the ink-jet or laser printer has some fonts on hand. But when a print shop opens the same document, no fonts exist and they default to “courier”. You need to outline type and/or supply type fonts to your printer, separate from your graphic files. Why? Because the graphic program you purchased with typefaces on it are owned by you and nobody else. If a printer or service bureau used their type fonts for you, well, first, they wouldn’t ever own all the possible choices that clients use and secondly, you can’t use somebody else’s typefaces! Why? Capitalism and intellectual property! Instead of selling thousands of font libraries, type providers would only sell a few dozen, which would be given out “free” to anybody else. Buy type, imbed it in your graphics or more properly send the font along with your graphics file to the printer. You do own them; so don’t be skimpy on using them! And never, never expect the printer to use their type fonts because you forgot to provide them. It’s the law and the font police will find you.
Recycled papers actually DO NOT SAVE TREES (well maybe one specific tree), but paper making companies are not stupid, they aren’t going to run out of trees. North American paper makers actually own more trees than the U.S. Government Forest Dept and National Parks Service combined. So, why use recycled papers? Because it saves our garbage dumps! The less paper we send to the landfill, the better for all of us. But be sure to look not just for “recycled paper” but paper with a “Post Consumer” recycled content. This is the stuff we recycle in our offices. We are consumers and this is “post consumer”. we recycled it. Why not ask for it and use it again and again! And , no, recycled papers don’t necessarily cost more, there is such a huge demand for it in America, it is very prevalent and very cost effective. There are, however, some fine text brands of recycled papers that cost more than the average because they have special colors or textures. You’re paying for those things, not the recycled content. Caution: recycled papers do tend to be a bit “softer” and sometimes are not fit for specific printing jobs. Discuss which type and brand of recycled paper to use for each job with your printer to ensure that the final resting place for the ink won’t be a funeral.
You may notice that some printers routinely do hit you up with 10% over-runs on every bill. This translates into the fact that they are “low-balling” your bid to get the job and make up the difference by selling you more copies. Do note : the printer must supply you with more copies before they can ask you to pay for them. It is also limited to a maximum of 10%. If this bothers you, discuss it upfront before giving a job to your printer. They’re usually pretty reasonable folks.
So, now how do you explain a 10% under-run? Waste must be planned for in the printing process. Every step from printing press to bindery must account for a certain amount of your custom printed job being wasted to “set up” the machines before a run. So, if you wanted 10,000 pieces, the printer may have bought enough paper for 12,000 quantity and hoped, like heck, they got close to at least 9,000 quantity. But if all went well, they may actually have ended up with 10,600 pieces that were deliverable to you. So they charge another 6% (600 qty in this case) for your bonus copies. Why? Well, whom else are they going to sell your job to? Are they just going to toss out some very fine printing that was custom to you? But at the same time, they may have intended to give you 10,000 quantity, but lost more in the printing and bindery process and ended up delivering about 9,300 quantity. So, they will give you a 7% discount from the original bid and just hope it’s enough for you. If you were able to demand that they reprint another few hundred pieces to hit your expected quantity dead-on, well, printers would go broke. So, they offer a variance you should live with of either 10% less or 10% more. It’s really not so bad. If you have a mailing list and need an exact minimum quantity, discuss this with your printer beforehand and they’ll do everything to make sure you get the minimum needed.
Toilet paper, napkins and tissue paper are often printed upon (that’s probably why you bought the one with cat graphics on it). Printing provides us with: holiday wrapping paper, voter registration forms, business cards, Motor Vehicle Department forms, newspapers, hand-written bank checks, (ATM receipts), gift certificates, instruction manuals (ouch), labels up the gazoo on everything we buy, packaging for your computer, software, box and manual. Yes, little one, it would be a far different world without Gutenberg’s invention providing us with : printing on all those wonderful products in the supermarket from toothpaste tubes to cereal boxes (and the coupon inside). Actually, the “big-box” stores got big because they hired fewer people to advise on purchases and left it up to the box to explain what’s inside. Without printing, how would you mail in your monthly car payment without the provided envelope? Would you curl up at night with a good book on your monitor? Could you dog-ear a page in a catalog hoping your darling might buy it for you? Yes. Virginia, printing still survives, there is offset lithography, gravure, digital printing and flexography, because it would be a color-less, non-advertising, un-informed, black & white world without it.
He wrote the *1987 book, “How to Buy Good Printing and Save Money” by Art Direction Book Company. He has lectured to print buyers and printing sellers alike.
Bob’s philosophy is ‘always make the client look good to their superior”.