Printing & Design Tips: OCTOBER 2006, #63

What is a "Making Order"?

Let’s say you have chosen a particular paper stock for an invitation and envelope mail package. You found the paper stock in a swatch book from your local paper merchant. The art file is done and you’re ready to send everything to your printer. Then your printer tells you the bad news. The envelopes are a “making order” or “manufacturing order” or “mill item,” and it will take two weeks, instead of two days, for the envelopes to arrive.

Why did this happen, and what can you do?
Perhaps the invitation and envelope are an odd size or shape, perhaps square. Maybe the paper you have chosen is not very popular, like canary yellow 50# offset. In short, you have chosen an item that has to be made for you in particular rather than for a vast number of paper consumers, and you have to either pay more or wait for the paper stock to be custom manufactured or both. Often in addition, you (or your printer) will also have to accept a rather large minimum order. For example, you might have to order 5,000 envelopes when you really only need 2,000.

How can you avoid this?
First of all, you should involve your printer early in the design process. Perhaps changing to a similar paper will do the trick (tell your printer you will accept a sheet comparable to whatever you have specified), or maybe altering the size of the invitation and envelope just slightly will turn a custom job into a standard paper order. If you are still committed to your choice of paper, if you at least know at the onset of a print job that you will need to wait two weeks for a “making order,” you can factor this into your schedule and ask your printer to order the custom paper long before you hand off the art files. Basically, if you stay informed, you won’t be surprised.

Self-Cover Vs. Plus Cover

When you provide specifications to your printer for a booklet or magazine, it is very important to distinguish between a self-cover publication and a plus-cover publication because the total page count will be entirely different in the two cases and so will the final bill.

A 16-page booklet on 80# text stock, for instance, is a single signature (eight pages on either side of the press sheet before folding and trimming). It is also a 16-page self-cover booklet. If you add a four-page cover on 80# text stock, you have a 20-page self-cover booklet. On the other hand, if you add a four-page cover on 80# cover stock, you now have a 16-page booklet plus cover. The difference is the stock of the cover. If the cover paper is the same basis weight as the text paper, you will call the project a self-cover book. If the cover is on a heavier stock, you will call the project a plus-cover book.

To complicate matters, if you add a four-page cover printed on 100# text stock to a 16-page booklet printed on 80# text stock, you would still call the product a plus-cover job, even though the cover stock has been printed on text-weight paper rather than cover-weight paper.

One thing to keep in mind as you design your booklet is the size of the press sheet. A 25” x 38” text-weight press sheet can accommodate eight 8.5” x 11” pages on either side of the sheet (a line of four pages over another line of four pages, printed front and back). Trimmed and folded, this sheet would yield a 16-page signature. It is cheaper to stop here, if you are able (if you have nothing further to say in your book). Adding a four-page cover to this 16-page self-cover booklet would require a separate press run for printing the cover, prior to stitching the cover to the text signature and trimming the job. This additional press run will add hundreds of dollars (or more) to the price of the 16-page self-cover booklet.

Egyptian Vs. Gothic Typefaces

Egyptian typefaces are typefaces with slab serifs. The serifs are the little tails on the ends of letterforms that lead the eye from one letterform to another. The letterforms are also consistently thick. Look closely at various type forms. Letterforms with serifs often have a diagonal slant, and there are curves where the serifs are attached to the longer strokes (stems) of the letters. Egyptian typefaces characteristically have squarish serifs. In direct contrast to Egyptian letterforms are Gothic letters, forms with no serifs and broad even strokes. Since both are less readable than most text faces, Egyptian and Gothic typefaces are usually used for headlines rather than body copy. Each gives a distinctive look and feel, depending on the tone or design approach you want for your printed piece. But, remember use them sparingly and as headlines only. They also make good chapter headers on divider pages in books.

[Steven Waxman is a printing consultant. He teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.]