Internally designed (a.k.a. "design-it-yourself") marketing material,
created on relatively inexpensive desk top publishing (DTP) systems, has
become the norm
within more and more organizations. The relatively low cost of most DTP
systems is one reason for their popularity; ease of use is another.
Closely paralleling this "design-it-yourself" trend is another
phenomenon: print-it-yourself. If you need to produce a few color
brochures, almost nothing can touch
the combination of an inexpensive inkjet color printer coupled with a
However, what many managers don't realize is that just about the only
thing low cost
about inkjet printing is the initial cost of the printer itself.
Four-color inkjet printing can cost anywhere from $.25-$1.00 per (8-1/2
x 11 inch) sheet, depending on
whether the coverage is light or heavy, one side or two, etc. But this
include labor (which can cost as much or more than the inkjet printing
itself), paper, etc.
And laser color printers are not much better (than inkjets) on a
cost-per-printed-sheet basis. Plus they cost thousands of dollars to
boot. Further, most inkjet
4-color printing doesn't look as professional as conventional 4-color
process printing, despite a real potential cost of more than $1.00 per
Compared to inkjets, 4 color process printing looks better (to most
observers), and in quantities of 1,000 sheets or more, it usually costs
less. Next time you need to obtain color literature, process printing
may offer the better value, everything considered.
From Concept To Finished Product: Anatomy of a Printing Job
Print buying can be a complex, confusing and daunting task, especially
in light of the
numerous advances in printing technology that have occurred over the
past few years. There are more choices for buyers of printing to
consider than ever before.
However, new options can be a two-edged sword: They can help you or hurt
you, depending on how they are used. So, to help "de-mystify" this
subject area, we thought we would walk you through a printing job—in
this case a multi-page,
four-color catalog—from beginning to end.
What follows is a checklist; it includes much of what you need to know.
First, you need to create initial job specifications, i.e.: 4-color
process printed on 100 lb. C2S (Coated 2 Sides) matte book for interior
sheets, 14 color photos,
etc. See b) below for additional specs pertaining to this job. Next,
there are four important steps involved in a printing job like this:
pre-film (our term), pre-press,
printing and bindery.
Pre-Film (A & B below)
- Product & people shots
- Shoot and get prints developed for those pictures
you want to see in the catalog.
- Have color transparencies made (from the same
negatives used to make the prints).
- Give your printer the transparencies so they can be
drum scanned into
- Eventually you and your printer need to agree upon final job
- Final page count for the catalog (i.e. eight)
- Page-by-page placement of graphics, photos & type
- Typestyle(s) determination: fonts, type sizes and
- Cover stock weight (heavier than interior sheets):
80 lb. 2CS matte cover
- Finished size: 8-1/2 x 11 inches, overall
- What the text copy will be (word processing)
- Total quantity of catalogs to be ordered
Once graphics, photos & type are turned into digital form by the
printer, the result
should be a flight-checked disk: used first to create proofs, then film.
- To ensure the accuracy of the specs, request that your printer
provide black & white, laser-output proofs from the disk—1 for each of
the 8 pages (or 1/8)—for
- Next, request (1/8) IRIS proofs (95% true-color digital output). Once
the IRIS are approved, the disk is used to create composed film, unless
your vendor is using a
film-less, computer to plate (CPT) method.
Once film is outputted, your printer should provide you with Matchprint
(99% true-color) or color key proofs—1/8—for your approval.
Printing & Bindery
- After Matchprint proofs are approved, lithographic printing plates
are created and the job can go to press.
- Once printed, the job goes to the bindery to be: final trimmed,
saddle-stitched (stapled) and shrink-wrapped.
Glossary Of Terms Used In This Article
Composite (composed) film: Complete color separations ready for printing
Disk, "flight-checked": ensures that all type styles, fonts, etc. are
properly called out
according to specifications.
Drum-scan: High-resolution reproduction, from transparencies into
digital format, using a very high speed electronic drum scanner
Match print: negative color proofing system that simulates process ink
Pre-press: Prep work done before printing commences.
Process color printing: uses cyan (process blue), magenta (process red),
yellow, and black inks, which are combined in varying amounts to produce
the complete color spectrum. They are applied, in varying intensities of
the 4 process colors, to produce full color printing.
IRIS: Color calibrated digital proof that provides a realistic portrayal
of what the final
(process) printed colors will actually look like before going to film.
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This article was created and is copyrighted by Business Printing
International. It has been reprinted with permission.