More on printing

Things you need to work out

Dead-line for delivery

Make sure the printer knows your required delivery date. If things are on a tight schedule ring up the printer every couple of days just to keep them on their toes, so if an urgent job comes in they don't give your job a lower priority.

Print-run - ie. how many you want

This is a complex question that depends on your distribution network and the time period you expect to be distributed over. It's easy to over-estimate the numbers needed for one-off distributions. For long-term distribution, however, it is easy to under-estimate your needs.

'Stock' - ie. the type of paper you want

Let your printer show you samples of the types of paper you can choose from. Gloss papers are more expensive but because the ink doesn't 'bleed' they have a finer printing quality. Gloss papers are usually used for covers, posters and 'prestige' publications. Matt papers are suitable for most kinds of work. Generally ask your printer for their standard paper sizes. You can have in-between sizes, but the cost will be much the same as the next size up as they'll have to cut it out of a larger sheet of paper.

Offset printers have 2 general types of machines

1. sheet-fed machines

The paper size usually starts at A2 (420 x 594mm) and is cut down after printing. Plan your artwork to minimize paper wastage.

A wide range of papers and boards can be printed on these machines eg.-

  • Bond 75-85gsm (ie. photocopy paper - available in many colours)
  • Gloss art 65gsm(eg. light magazine covers)
  • Gloss art 115 gsm (for gloss posters)
  • System board 150gsm (the lightest quality card)
  • Optix 220gsm (a heavier card)

2. web offset machines

ie. where the paper arrives in large rolls 4 feet wide. Only light papers are available for these machines eg. -

  • Newsprint 49gsm
  • Kimpress 55gsm
  • Australcote matt 60-65gsm

Because of the setting-up costs of these machines they are not economical for small print-runs, but for print-runs of many thousands, they can be very economical.

Folding, stapling, trimming

(make sure these are included in the quote)

Does the image run ('bleed') off the edge of the page? If so the printed sheets will have to be trimmed down from a larger size of paper.


Remember each colour requires an additional film, plate, ink change and run through the press. Make sure colours are included in the quote. Does the art-work have large areas of black or colour? If so the printer will charge a little more for the extra ink.

Spot colours

If you want black areas on your art work to appear as a colour, place a paper overlay over the page and colour the outline of the image to be coloured, with appropriate instruc-tions. This is a true 'spot-colour' and is not too expensive. If however,you want a white area to appear as a colour, then you need to include properly registered art-work for the coloured area, otherwise the printer will charge to have the film coloured in by hand which can often be very expensive.

Number of pages

Plan your publication size from the start. Because books and booklets are folded and trimmed out of large sheets of paper, the number of pages is almost always limited to muliples of 8 ie. 8, 16, 24, 32, etc.. It is possible to have an odd number but it is difficult and expensive to do so. Where the covers are on the same stock as the inside pages the publication is said to be 'self-covering'. This is very economical. Where the cover stock is different it is printed separately and folded in at a later stage. The number of pages will then be the covers (4) + the internal pages (a multiple of 8) ie. 12, 20, 28, 36 etc.