Seven Steps to Printing with an Eye on the Budget

22 Sep

Printing can be a large part of your budget, especially if you do promotional printing. Not all printing needs to be expensive, however. If you look at these general ways to save money on most printing jobs, you’ll have some money left over for special touches (see our blog, Special Touches in Printing) on pieces which deserve to be highlighted.

1) Plan ahead.


Print Cost Savings

Although this sounds like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised how many people wait until the last minute to think about their printing needs. Last-minute printing can result in poorly executed designs, mistakes with no time to fix them, and rush charges assessed by the printer.

2) Design your piece without bleeds.

This suggestion is especially valuable in digital printing. Bleeds require a larger size paper and additional cutting time. For example, consider a 4-page brochure with a folded size of 8.5 x 11.  If there are no bleeds, the piece can be printed on 17 x 11, folded (most likely on the digital press) to 8.5 x 11, and no cutting is required. If the piece has bleeds, however, not only is the paper size increased to accommodate the bleeds, but excess paper needs to be trimmed away.

3) Print only as many as you need.

Know what your needs are and print only as many as you need. One thing to keep in mind is that industry standards allow for 10% over or under the requested quantity. In offset printing in particular, unless you specify a different quantity, you may automatically receive 10% over. Due to the many steps involved in offset printing (and the resulting bindery work),  many extras are usually printed to allow for spoilage which may happen at each step. If you’re printing a large number of pieces, it’s okay to ask for a smaller percentage of overs — say 5% — but keep in mind that due to spoilage, it could mean actually receiving less than the requested quantity.

Digital printing has made it much more affordable to print small quantities. If you’re not sure of the quantity you need, make your best guess and know that you can always print more digitally without breaking the bank.

4) Get the design right the first time!

If you have not been trained in preparing files for print, consider hiring a professional to create the file. The time a printing company spends on making your file print-ready usually charges out for more per hour than a designer would charge. A professional will also have the software such as InDesign and Quark with which printers prefer to work.

Before submitting the piece to a printer, make sure it is correct in every way — size, color, and content. Changes at the proof stage are expensive.

5) Discuss your budget concerns with your printer.

In terms of opacity and brightness, the quality of paper has improved over the last several years. Paper costs vary widely but, due to the improvements in paper, it is possible to use a less expensive paper without affecting the look and quality of your piece. Many printers have in-house stocks which are papers bought in bulk for better pricing. Before specifying a paper, tell your printer that price is a factor and ask them what they recommend.

Your printer can also suggest printing, binding and coating methods which are most cost-effective for them.

Although it may be tempting to do something different, using an unusual size or shape will add to the cost of the piece. Papers are manufactured to standard sizes geared towards getting the best yield from a press. Likewise, what have become standard sizes for brochures and other printed pieces are so because they result in the best yield from typical paper sizes.

6) Consider digital proofs.

Technology has changed and high-resolution color-correct proofs are usually no longer needed. Most printers now charge extra for printed or hard-copy proofs. If an electronic proof suffices, it is a great way to save a few dollars.

7) Remember, per-job pricing isn’t everything!

Relationships go far in the printing world. If you consistently work with one printer, you may see savings based on overall volume. Not only that, but your printer knows your likes and dislikes which means they ask questions when something seems off. This means better results for you, and is a win-win for both you and your printer.


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