Printing & Design Tips: April 2005, Issue #45

Sheetwise Vs. Work-and-Turn and Work-and-Tumble

Sheetwise, work-and-turn, and work-and tumble sound like just so much gibberish, but grasping their meaning can save you money buying printing.

When your printer prints your brochure (for instance) sheetwise, he may lay out four copies of the front of your brochure to print on one side of a 28” x 40” press sheet. When this side is dry, he can change plates, turn the stack of press sheets over, and print the opposite side of the sheet (the backs of the brochure), then trim down the stack of paper to produce four brochures from each press sheet.

Another approach would be to print the job work-and-turn or work-and-tumble (the only difference between these methods is how the sheet is turned over: either from side to side or end-over-end). In these two options, the four brochures would still be laid out on the sheet, but two front sides of the brochure and two back sides of the brochure would print on the same side of the 28” x 40” sheet noted above. This would allow the printer to turn the sheets over (once they are dry) and run them through the press a second time exactly the same way on the opposite side of the sheet (“backing up the job”) without changing plates. The same plates would print the back of the sheet (two fronts and two backs of the brochure), creating four brochures (called “four-out” or “four-up”) prior to cutting and folding.

Of course, work-and-turn and work-and-tumble jobs save time and money by not requiring a plate change before printing the second side of the sheet. However, if you were to print the same job sheetwise, you could print (for instance) two colors on one side of the sheet and two different colors on the other side of the sheet without needing more ink fountains on press and without requiring extra passes through the press. In this way, you could increase the complexity of your design without paying a premium.

Barn Doors VS. Gatefolds

A Quick Tips reader asked a question recently about the difference between a “barn door” and a “gatefold.” After I took this question to several printers and a few advertising executives and production artists, this is what I discovered.

There are three complex folding formats that are often confused with one another. They are gatefolds, barn door flap folds, and letter folds (wrap folds).

  • “Gatefolds” are two parallel folds on at least a six-paneled sheet (three panels on each side), with the center panel twice as wide as either the left flap or the right flap. The left and right flaps touch at the center when the job has been folded. Be aware that this is the term printers use for this folding format. However, advertising executives and designers often refer to this exact same format as a “barn door” fold, particularly when used on the cover of a magazine. Therein lies the confusion.
  • The “barn door fold” is a term coined by, and understood by, advertisers and production artists. This fold is created when two differently sized sheets (different in width but both equal to the magazine’s vertical dimension) are folded and attached to each other and then bound around the inside signatures of a magazine such that the reader initially sees the front cover image but can open the left and right “barn-door” flaps to expose a second cover underneath.
  • The terms “letter fold” and “wrap fold” refer to a folding format often used for magazine covers in which the front cover is double the width of the normal front (or back, for that matter) magazine cover (when bound onto the nested signatures that comprise the magazine). This cover includes a partial or complete flap that folds inward toward the gutter and page one and obscures (or partially obscures) the normal inside front cover. Be advised the terms cited here are what printers call this folding format; advertising executives and designers, however, often call this a “gatefold” cover. Seeds of confusion are clearly sown due to these name differences.

From my informal research I have gleaned the following rules of thumb:

  • Visit your printer and give him a sample of exactly what you want. Only in person and with sample in hand can you avoid a miscommunication over folding format terminology and determine whether your printer can even do the job. You’ll want to know this before you say yes to your advertising client.
  • Assume the process will cost considerably more than producing your usual cover.
  • Assume the process will take longer than producing your usual cover.

[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.]