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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven 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.

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The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

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Printing Companies Can Save You Money When You Specify Paper

It is a fair assumption that the majority of custom printing jobs are printed on paper. In many cases paper costs are a large portion of the total price you pay printing services for their efforts. This is particularly true when you work with book printers or catalog printers (or other print companies that provide multi-page “signature” work). In some cases, paper can comprise up to 30 percent of the total cost of a business printing project, so it behooves you to consider what you are buying.

Here’s a way to save money buying printing. Specify paper based on qualities rather than name brands. You do this in the pharmacy when you specify generic brands, and you probably do it in the grocery store as well. Why not do it when buying printing?

In many cases print companies will have certain paper stock “on the floor.” That is, they will probably have negotiated with paper suppliers slightly discounted prices for those paper stocks that many or most of their customers will order (in contrast to the specialized paper one client may order for a particular job). While it is sometimes desirable for you to choose a specific stock, you don’t always need to do so. Print companies can usually pass on some of the discount received for buying paper in bulk. Therefore, to share in your printer’s lower paper costs, specify paper qualities rather than brand names.

For instance, you might choose Opus, a paper stock produced by Sappi, a large paper manufacturer. On your specification sheet, you might list “Sappi Opus 60# White Satin Text” for a web offset print project. It has a brightness of 92 and is a #2 sheet.

If your print job will consume a large amount of paper, consider requesting a press sheet “comparable” to Sappi Opus 60# White Satin Text instead of specifically ordering this paper. In this case list the qualities you require, as follows:

1. 60# text (a good text weight for a book; more substantial than 50#)
2. white (ask whether it’s blue white or yellow white and how accurately it reproduces colors, flesh tones, etc.)
3. satin (a finish between gloss and dull); or any other finish (not all papers come in all finishes)
4. a #2 sheet, 92 brightness (not the brightest white, but still crisp; a #1 sheet would be brighter)

You can also specify caliper or thickness (7pt for a small marketing reply card, to be acceptable to the US Post Office), surface texture (such as wove, antique, linen, laid, etc.), and opacity (also known as “show-through”: the extent to which paper obscures images on one side of the sheet while you’re viewing the other side of the sheet). Also, let the printer know of any special finishing needs (such as diecutting, folding, or scoring, since some printing papers respond to these operations better than others). If you will need to print letterhead and then run these preprinted pages through your laser printer, note “laser compatible” as a specification as well.

When you work with book printers or catalog printers (or any other print companies that consume a large amount of printing paper), discuss paper options with your custom printing service early in the process. By being mindful of specific paper qualities, rather than just buying brand names, you can save money on your next business printing project.

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