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Specifications for Printing Quotations
When you have designed and produced
electronic mechanicals for your print job, how do you describe
your job to your printer to get an accurate price quotation?
What specifications should you include?
First of all, don't wait until the
job is ready for press. Involve your printer early in the
design process unless the job is very simple.
Other than your contact information
and the name of your organization, your request for quotation
should include the schedule for the job: when it will be
ready for press and when you will need it delivered. You
need to tell the printer whether it is a new job or a reprint,
and if it is a reprint whether any changes must be made.
You need to note how the job will be
provided: mechanicals, disk, or film, and what kind of prepress
work you expect to be done. For example, if you are providing
FPO's (for position only) of photos you want the printer
to scan, let the printer know this.
Note the number of copies you want
printed, the size of the job (flat and folded), and whether
the job will bleed (this last specification can determine
whether a smaller press sheet will be adequate or whether
you will need access to a larger press to print a larger
press sheet). Also note the number of pages, or panels if
the job is a brochure. Remember to count both sides of the
pages in a book and both sides of a brochure when determining
the number of panels. If you are requesting a bid on a book,
note whether it is a self-cover book (no extra cover) or
whether it has a cover of a thicker stock.
Tell the printer the level of quality
you expect: basic, good, premium, or showcase.
Note separately what colors the text
pages will print and what colors the cover will print, specifying
whether the colors are process (full color) or 1 PMS (1
For example, a cover that prints 2/0
(PMS + K(black) / 0) prints as a flat sheet with a PMS color
and black on covers #1 and #4 and no printing on covers
#2 and #3. A four color process cover or text would be specified
as 4CP (color process). When describing the ink coverage,
note whether it is heavy or light, and remember to specify
the ink for any inserts as well as for the text and cover.
If your publication will include any coatings, such as UV,
aqueous, or varnish, tell the printer whether they will
be flood or spot (placement) and whether they will be dull
or gloss (surface).
Any extra services should also be noted,
such as embossing/debossing, die cutting, or foil stamping.
In specifying the paper stock on which
your job will print, note the weight, grade, color, finish,
and any other information you have. If you want the printer
to suggest cheaper, alternate stocks, note this as well.
Remember to specify cover and text stocks separately.
Don't forget post-press work: finishing
and binding. If you want your job trimmed and folded to
a specific size, note this on your request for quotation,
and include the type of fold (wrap fold, accordion, double-parallel,
At this point you could request scoring,
perforating, laminating, crash numbering, three-hole drilling,
If your project is a book, specify
the type of binding, including saddle-stitch or side-stitch,
perfect binding (and burst perfect binding), GBC or plastic
comb, spiral wire or plastic spiral (or wire-O), or case
binding. Tell the printer also what side will be bound,
and note any lamination (film or liquid lamination, lay-flat
lamination) you will need.
If your job is complex and includes
hand inserting, pockets with builds, etc., make a paper
dummy for the printer. It's always easier to communicate
your printing needs when you can hand the printer a three-dimensional
sample showing exactly what the finished product
should look like.
Finally, specify packaging and delivery.
Tell the printer if you will need any samples, if the job
will deliver to a mail house or a warehouse, or if you expect
the printer to enter the finished job into the mail stream.
Labeling, ink-jetting of address information, etc., would
be included in the specifications at this point. Bulk packing,
shrink-wrapping, and maximum carton weight should also be
This is a lot to include, but the more
specific you are, the less likely you will be to receive
additional, unexpected charges on your bill.
Avoiding Jagged Edge Quark Picture Boxes
Usually you will save your photos in
a TIFF format after adjusting them in Photoshop. If you
are working with silhouettes or duotones, you will save
them as EPS files. To avoid jagged photo edges in Quark
picture boxes, set the background of the picture box to
either "0 percent black" or "white"
when importing TIFF's. Only set the background to "none"
when you are importing the silhouettes and duotones you
saved as EPS files.
[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.]