Getting things printed

So, how will you know the colour of the final print job will be the same as the proofs you signed off? How do you avoid those unexpected extra costs? How can you ensure you always get the best quality combined with great value from your print supplier? If you were hoping for a lengthy essay then I’m going to have to disappoint you. In fact if you are particularly pressed for time, I can sum it up in four words.

Choose your printer first.

I’m often dismayed by how often printers are seen as the enemy, a situation that both printers and their clients have a responsibility to change. For the last decade or so there has been a heavy emphasis on the technology of printing. There have been good reasons for this. New technologies have changed the landscape,ranging from robot pallet stackers to stochastic screening. But we’ve forgotten something. We’ve forgotten that printing can never be a pure science. After all the calibrating, editing, colour management and proofing, the final result is still produced by rollers squeezing ink onto very hot paper at very high speed. All your efforts and expenditure now rest with the craftspeople in control of those rollers and the levels of ink on the press. To enable them to give you the benefit of their experience, your files need to have been prepared for that particular press. Not the press in the next hall.

That press.

Designers and their clients need to start working backwards. Choose your printer first. This will seem hard initially but once done you’ll never accept the old open-ended way of print planning again. Don’t let anyone tell you that its not possible to determine how pages the document will have or how many copies will need to be printed right at the beginning of the project. If no one can give you an answer to these questions then the project isn’t ready to start. Why? Because nobody ever designed a ‘catalogue’ or a ‘brochure’. They designed the content. Without the content the design can’t commence and without that the pagination can only be guessed at. So the typical scenario ensues, involving many print quotes with many options to far too many printers. This is particularly the case documents with over 48 pages. When the content arrives it becomes clear that another 16 pages are required. Which at some quantities means that it would be more cost effective to use a web offset press rather than sheetfed. So more printers are contacted.

You get the picture. Working ‘backwards’ from a particular press means test proofs can be carried out and the proofs you sign off will have been set up for that machine. What you see will be what you get.