Not everyone can have a top printer (opens in new tab) in their studio space. If you do a lot of print work that you outsource, here are top 10 questions to ask your printing company when you're finalising a printed project.
01. What are my choices?
Ask your printer which print process is best for you. Quantities will often determine whether the job should be digital or litho, so find out how it will be printed. Work with the printer to find the best option for your budget.
02. What's the creep and bleed?
If you're printing a brochure or book, you should always check if you need to allow for creep. This can take a long time to adjust for pre-designed work. Bleed should always be checked whatever the job: 3mm is a standard safety net.
03. What about paper stock?
You might know what you want already, but if you give your printer an idea of the finish you're after, they will be able to advise on stocks, how the ink handles on them, the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly options.
04. Should I mark it up?
I like to mark up my artwork with the specs and the colours printed, and any guides, just so everyone knows what's going on. Set the guides up in a single spot colour and call it 'GUIDES ONLY - DO NOT PRINT'.
05. And what size?
If you can be flexible, it's always worth speaking about the size you want your piece to be. Quite often a difference of a few millimetres can mean you can plan up more pages per sheet and have a much more economical print. This might leave you with extra budget to get that metallic.
06. What are your supply requirements?
Find out if there are any specific colour profiles you should be working to and make sure nothing is set to overprint unless it's meant to be. It's worth checking whether the printer wants the fonts outlined or packaged up and sent with the artwork, as well.
07. Can I use folds or unusual formats?
Your printer will also be able to advise on any unusual folds or die-cuts. Different printers might want artwork adjusted to allow for folding, so go through how you want your final piece to look and they will figure out how to do it.
08. Can I see a proof?
Crazy things can happen when work goes to print, so even if it's just a PDF proof, make sure you see something. Ideally your printer would invite you to check the material as it's being printed - a practice known as to 'press-pass' or 'pass on press'. But with more time and budget restrictions, this happens less and less.
09. How fast can you do it?
Find out from your client when they need the finished items and where they want them delivered. Your printer will then be able to work backwards from that time and give you a deadline for the artwork. It's always best to do this sooner rather than later in a project.
10. Can I call you at any time?
Check in with your printer on a regular basis. If there is a problem your printer should get in touch, but it's always good to call up and hear that everything is running nicely and delivery will be on time. If you're aware of everything at every stage, it can't go wrong.
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