The Top Ten Tips for Looking Good and Saving Money in Print
Learn about the printing process.
In today’s world we have copying, digital copying, colour laser copying, direct-to-plate printing, offset printing, etc. What makes this profusion of different technologies even more confusing is that no one way is the best way. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses and different quantities and applications where they make sense. In this jungle of technology, it’s best to keep an open mind and to ask your printer what the most effective way is to have a specific project printed.
For example, our iGen4 performs best when photographs are the highest possible resolution because the technology is incredibly sensitive and the finest details will be visible, creating a more vivid and pleasing image. However, the iGen4 is not particularly strong when printing very small font size text in a low percentage greyscale.
Click here to link to a summary of the different methods of printing.
Make sure that your logo and company artwork can be used in a variety of different mediums.
Some computer generated logos look great on screen, but look horrible in print. There’s a wide range of subtle effects, blends and shading that you can create on the computer. Keep in mind when you use these effects that your logo will have to look good in black and white if you ever decide to run a newspaper ad or make photocopied flyers. In a newspaper ad or photocopy with a 75 line screen, subtle effects are destroyed and logos made up of multiple colours get incredibly expensive and sometimes impossible to reproduce. Also, make sure that you examine your art at the smallest and largest size it will ever be viewed to make sure it is crisp and bold enough to be effective.
If you choose custom colours, try to choose colours that print accurately when made up out of cmyk. All digital printers print this way and setting up offest presses to print custom colours can be expensive.
Develop a Relationship with a Printer
If you can develop a relationship with a print company, you will find that they are much more likely to take extra steps or make helpful suggestions than if you just walked in off the street. Over the long haul, you will get better service and pricing by sticking with one place. That said, check from time to time to make sure that you are still getting competitive pricing. Remember that companies sometimes will give you a first time low price to win your business. Make sure that your printer offers the right combination of products, service, quality and pricing for your business.
Be Specific in the Art Stage and Do As Much Preparation As You Can Yourself
Over the years, I’ve had people bring me their rough ideas or artwork in a variety of different formats. Some people supply their work on disk, formatted correctly with all their fonts and a hard copy sample. More often, people come in with a disorganized bunch of notes and scribblings that indicate rough layout and formatting. I once had someone come in with a mock-up of their newsletter sketched on the back of a ripped up Kraft Dinner box. I’ve also had a client bring in his mock-up for a several thousand dollar brochure on the back of a beer soaked coaster. Who do you think ended up paying a lot of money to get their job set up to print?
Not everyone has the ability to prepare their own art, but everyone can get their materials well organized. If you are limited in what you can do, at least do some research so you can give good direction for your art. A good example might be someone wanting to put a brochure together for their bed & breakfast. In this case, you might want to go visit a Tourism Information Centre or your local Chamber of Commerce and look at some of the brochures displayed there. You can see samples of brochures with great styles, colours and ways of presenting your information. From there, you can then type up the text you want for your brochure, save the text file to disk and sketch out a rough layout. Armed with this information and preparation, you will likely pay a fraction of what you would pay if you walked into your print shop with little or no idea what you wanted your final product to look like.
If you’re looking at software for doing layout by yourself, there’s one good recommendation: ask your printer first. Ask about both your software and about any file submission guidelines. For example, some software packages will not support CMYK colours. This makes them an incredibly poor choice for setting up documents for full colour printing. Sometimes it can cost more to fix a bad file than it would cost to set it up from scratch.
Get the best quality you can at the level of printing you’re at.
You’ll often have a nicer looking piece if you choose a photocopied piece on a nice looking stock over a printed job on the cheapest stock available. If you make effective use of design (or pay someone else to), you can have great looking printing at fairly modest costs. The same goes for making the jump from spot colour to full colour. A professionally designed one or two colour piece will always look better than a poorly designed full colour piece. By selecting a dark ink and using various screens of that colour, a good design can achieve a great multi-colour effect and only use one or two inks on the press.
Tip # 6
Break the rules
Sometimes the best way to make your mark in this age of information overload is to go a little nuts. If you use a crazy design, an odd size, or a unique stock you can stand out from your competition. You are only limited in this area by your imagination. One way to do this might be to use understatement. If you had sales literature that was being displayed in an area where everyone else had bright, full colour brochures, imagine how much a crisp black and white brochure would stand out.
Tip # 7
Use effective design to look better than your competition
This may not mean spending more money! It may actually mean spending less money. You want to think in terms of class over cost. In many industries, looking better than your competition is as simple as making a one time investment in logo design or in having a designer develop a cohesive look for your company. It’s well worth it to pay for a professional logo and a corporate look, which may involve a series of ad “blanks,” brochure & stationery. Once you have paid for these items to be designed, you own them. You can use them over and over again.
Tip # 8
Plan in advance
This seems totally obvious but is often widely ignored. If you have your materials ready well in advance you are way better off. Not only can you shop around and get the best price available, you also leave enough time so that the item can be reprinted if some sort of disaster occurs.
Tip # 9
Order Appropriate Quantities
Much of the cost in printing is in the setup and cleanup of a press. You can often double your print order for as little as 20% additional cost. Another thing you can do to save money on print runs is print large quantities of preprints in one or more colours. You can then imprint them as needed on the press or copier. Examples of where this works well is with recurring newsletters that have a printed masthead or with business cards that have multi-coloured logos.
Tip # 10
Have a message
What is your goal with a particular piece? If you don’t know exactly what you want to achieve with your printed piece, there is no chance that your prospective client will either. Whether your printed piece is a flyer, an ad or a brochure, your prospective client should be able to take one glance at it and get an instant impression. In that split second they should understand what you are offering and form a good impression about your company.
There are so many messages bombarding us today that you can’t afford not to be clear and concise in your printing. Picture yourself opening up the Saturday paper and having a big stack of flyers fall out. Chances are you quickly leaf through them and then throw them into recycling unless one of them has a headline or image that catches your eye. If you have a longer message, that’s great – just make sure you have a clear and effective headline.
We strive to be as accurate and current with our information as possible. Due to the infinite number of scenarios that occur in print & desktop publishing, we can not guarantee that the above information will be correct in all situations.