Specifications For Printing Quotations

First of all, don’t wait until the job is ready for press. Involve us early in the design process unless the job is very simple. Other than your contact information and the name of your organisation, your request for a quotation should include the schedule for the job: when it will be ready for press and when you will need it delivered, plus any particular packaging and delivery requirements.

You also need to note how the job will be provided – are you in a position to provide print-ready PDF files or will you need us to work on the layout for you. Also, tell us the level of quality you expect: basic, good, premium or showcase – a good understanding of your expectation will help us to offer suggestion regarding papers, processes and finishes.

In specifying the paper stock on which your job will print, note the weight, type, colour, finish and any other information you have, if you want us to suggest cheaper, alternative stocks, note this as well.

If your project is a book, specify the type of binding. Also remember to count both sides of the pages in a book.

If your job is complex, make a paper mock-up for us. It’s always easier to communicate your printing needs when you have a three-dimensional sample showing exactly what the finished product should look like. This is a lot to include, but the more specific you are, the less likely you will be to receive additional, unexpected costs.

Specifying Paper

Paper colour is tricky. It changes the colour of the ink. If you print the same PMS colour, for instance, on a gloss stock and an uncoated stock, the colours will not match.

If you print a photo of faces on a cream-white sheet, the faces can look jaundiced. Also, coloured stock is more expensive than white stock because of the dyes used and because it is less in demand. Therefore it is normally better to print the background colour you require onto white paper. Keep in mind that the same ink will look different on different paper stocks, surface coatings and the brightness of the paper stock is also a factor.

Most inks are transparent. Light travels through the ink film, bounces off the paper and is reflected back to the eye. The colour of the paper dramatically influences the perceived colour of the ink. White sheets make the ink appear brighter.

Paper is either coated or uncoated. Uncoated paper soaks up ink like a sponge and photo quality suffers. Premium uncoated stock has a smoother surface, so the ink is better able to sit on the top of the paper surface. There is, nevertheless, more bleeding of the ink into the paper fibres than with coated stock. Therefore, the printer must compensate, so less ink will print.

For a subdued, ecologically-friendly look and feel, premium uncoated stock is ideal. Coated stock has a surface sealant (think if varnish on wood). Coating allows ink to sit up on top of the surface, therefore very crisp and controllable print is possible. Within the realm of coated stock, you have two main options: matt and gloss. Both give you varying amounts of surface sheen. A good rule of thumb is to choose a gloss coated stick if your publication relies heavily on photographs for its design. The gloss coating reflects light rays directly back to reader, causing the photos to appear sharper and of higher contrast. The colours also look richer. However, it is less suitable for text. If the reader must absorb large amounts of text, a matt coated sheet would be more appropriate.

Specialty papers available include: NCR paper (no carbon required) for forms; translucent sheets; synthetic paper made of untearable plastic; label stock and the like.

The more you know about the characteristics of paper, the better able you will be to save money when specifying paper for your printing jobs. In fact, if you specify the qualities you require in your paper, rather than a specific name brand, we may be able to offer several acceptable options.

What Are Bleeds?

A bleed is created when an image area extends past the trim, as no printing press can print edge-to-edge. After your job has been printed on a sheet larger than the final size of the piece, the extra paper is cut away, giving the impression that the image prints to the edge of the page.

If supplying files for us to print from, please make sure that all edge-of-page items bleed beyond the trim area by at least 3mm.


Four-colour process work involves the printing of cyan, magenta, yellow and black, one over the other, at slightly different angles to produce full-colour.

Sometimes, however, the four process colours don’t capture the intensity or specific colour you want. Suppose you want to build a particular red that matches the PMS 199 of your logo, but it appears a little muddy. Or you want to build a particular blue that matches the PMS 286 of your logo, but it is a little drab when compared with the actual Pantone colours the designer of your logo had in mind.

In cases like these, you can add a fifth spot colour. This colour will be premixed from a recipe listed in a Pantone colour chart or book, similar to how your hardware store will mix a paint colour for you.

Has your printer ever called you to say your job will be a day late because it is taking longer than expected for the ink to dry?

First of all, understand that your printer is making a reasonable request. It is prudent to let ink dry before folding a job to avoid streaking or offsetting, in which wet ink smears or transfers from one sheet to an adjacent sheet.

Heavy ink coverage on uncoated paper or matte stock takes longer to dry, particularly if the ink mixture includes any reflex blue. A print job also dries more slowly on a humid day. If you have taken all this into consideration when scheduling your job, you can understand and accept your printer’s request for more time.

If a quick turn-around is needed, you should choose colours other than blues and purples and/or choose a gloss sheet as a substrate. If these options are not appropriate in your case, ask us about costing in a varnish or aqueous sealer. These coatings cover the ink as it cures, minimising scuffing and allow us to progress your job faster.


Most clients are happy to receive emailed PDF proofs from us. These proofs show all design elements as they will print, but colour accuracy will not be 100%.

Hard copy digital proofs are produced with products other than printing ink – toners or inkjets. Toner-based proofs (laser prints) offer good enough colour predictability for most projects, while inkjet proofs are more accurate, but cost more. Bear in mind that these proofs are produced on paper stocks that differ in colour or surface texture from that used for the final product.

Press proofs are the most accurate proofs. Using the actual ink and paper stock you have selected for your job, they are produced with actual plates mounted on a printing press. Press proofs are unusually expensive, since you are essentially paying for two press runs.

One item the estimate for your printed product will not address is the charge for alterations you make due to errors or omission not corrected at the proof-reading stage. For instance, you see a typo on the cover of your book after you have approved it for printing – this change may require making four new plates. If this is the case, you will be charged so consider the cost and make an informed decision as to whether to make the correction or leave the error as it is. Better still, take extra time to proof-read and if possible as someone to double-check your proofs for you.

Binding Options 

Case Binding: This method results in what is commonly called a hardcover book. It is the most expensive options yet also the most durable. Signatures are gathered and sewn together for strength. The book block is trimmed on three sides and then glued into a spine, front cover and back cover (a single unit – the ‘case’) made of binder boards covered with printed paper. The first and last sheets (end-sheets) are then pasted to the board.

Perfect Binding: Like case-bound books, perfect-bound books are also made up of stacked signatures. These are gathered into a book and the edges of the spine are ground off (or notched). When this book block is glued into a paper cover, the glue that attaches the signatures to the spine can flow into the notches or ground-off areas. The increase surface area for the glue allows for more permanent adhesion. Perfect-bound books are less durable than case bound books but are significantly cheaper.

Saddle-Stitching: Signatures are nested (set one into the other rather than stacked as in the previous methods) and then stitched through the fold with staples made of thin wire.

Side-Stitching: Essentially loose sheets of paper stapled together. A card cover can be attached and the spine covered with binding tape. This is normally used for docket (NCR) books.

Wire-O Binding: Wire-O is a series of parallel wire loops attached along a wire and allowed the product to lie flat.


Folding is one of the least precise of the machine processes. This is useful to know while you are designing your printed piece and before it goes to press.

What can you do to avoid problems? Put crossovers on centre spreads to avoid the need for precise alignment. Set up your files to allow for slightly shorter interior panels when creating a roll-fold brochure.

Folding is a complex art and so is describing a fold to a printer. Remember that no verbal description of a fold can match a three-dimensional folded prototype: that is, a laser mock-up of your final printed piece.

When in doubt, discuss your folding needs with us early in the process.