Printing Companies
  1. About Printing Industry
  2. Printing Services
  3. Print Buyers
  4. Printing Resources
  5. Classified Ads
  6. Printing Glossary
  7. Printing Newsletters
  8. Contact Print Industry
Who We Are

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.

Need a Printing Quote from multiple printers? click here.

Are you a Printing Company interested in joining our service? click here.

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.

PIE's staff is here to help the print buyer find competitive pricing and the right printer to do their job, and also to help the printing companies increase their revenues by providing numerous leads they can quote on and potentially get new business.

This is a free service to the print buyer. All you do is find the appropriate bid request form, fill it out, and it is emailed out to the printing companies who do that type of printing work. The printers best qualified to do your job, will email you pricing and if you decide to print your job through one of these print vendors, you contact them directly.

We have kept the PIE system simple -- we get a monthly fee from the commercial printers who belong to our service. Once the bid request is submitted, all interactions are between the print buyers and the printers.

We are here to help, you can contact us by email at

Blog Articles for

Archive for April, 2020

Custom Printing: How to Approach a New Print Job

Monday, April 27th, 2020

What do you do if you’re faced with a new kind of commercial printing you’ve never seen before? Or at least maybe you’ve seen it but certainly not specified or bought printing for such a project.

This happened to me just this week, and I’ve been in the field for 44 years. When a client approached me with a request for a vinyl binder that will hold 32 stained wood samples, I had to decide how to proceed. I thought this challenge might be of interest to you since for everyone, at some point, everything is new. The big question is how you will apply your prior experience to make sense of the new job and find vendors who can manufacture it.

The Backstory

A friend and colleague in the printing industry encouraged the new client to contact me, saying I would be a good resource and ally. The client initially wrote an email describing the product. Needless to say, without photos I was at a loss, so I wrote specs for what I did understand based on prior jobs. My initial version of the specifications was essentially for a laminated press sheet (with the thickness of a menu and with the 2” x 4” x .5” sample wood pieces hot melt glued to the makeshift folder). This, if I recall correctly, is what I had seen at a flooring store at some prior point in time.

My new client then sent me photos of all pages of the sample wood binder. This clarified matters significantly. The client was more interested in a high-end binder, a double gatefold, with two pages side by side to the left of the (approximately) 3” spine and two pages to the right of the spine. These would fold in (page over page) to a thick, 8.5” x 10.5” binder. Only the interior pages would have wood samples (two samples across for each page and four samples down for a total of eight wood samples per page). When these book pages were folded in, the back of the pages would be visible, and these would only have a printed sheet of text attached. When folded up completely, the book would have a photo inset into the front cover and more text inset into the back of the book.

Within the book, each sample page would be covered in vinyl (with open windows for each of the inset wood samples). Inside the book (the sample pages) text would be printed in white, and on the covers the logo and some text would be white, raised printing.

How I Approached the Job

The photos gave me a clear picture (literally) of what my client wanted. So I amended my overall description of the project as well as the precise binder specs. These I had taken from another client’s book specifications as a template to which I could add all of the unique attributes of this new work. The spec sheet template ensured that I would not miss anything (like delivery specs, proofing specs, etc.).

I approached the book printer I trusted the most first. I sent him the specs (which by then my client had approved) and the photos my client had sent me. By then my client had also sent me a video of the book being opened and closed, showing exactly how each page looked, how the book was constructed, and how the various panels folded over each other.

Opening the Bid to Other Commercial Printing Vendors (Online)

Once I thought I knew what I wanted, based on what the customer had requested and how the customer had clarified things for me with the photos and video, I submitted the specs to the Printing Industry Exchange website.

(I know this sounds like a commercial, but I thought it would actually be quite helpful. Even if I didn’t wind up going with a vendor based on the specs I had uploaded to the PIE website, I would still learn something. I would also get a sense of the trending price for such a job, of how different custom printing vendors might approach the job, and what they might offer that I hadn’t considered: i.e., their own version of such a book. And I knew I might also find a good new vendor this way as well. After all, over the years I have found a number of good vendors online through the PIE server.)

My friend and colleague also suggested two vendors that specialized in unique bindings, and I contacted both of them immediately. So at this point I had two serious contenders for the job who would be actively bidding (one of the two vendors my friend/colleague had suggested and the vendor with whom I had had a long-term professional relationship). Granted, they might still need to tweak the specs to match their own capabilities. But they were especially good leads.

So I updated my client and waited. I also received photos from one of the printers, almost immediately, of what she could do (which was slightly different, but still attractive to my client).

What’s Next?

Hopefully I will soon have pricing from both of the most promising custom printing suppliers. If either declines to bid the job, I will ask what they can offer instead. If they still can’t help, I will ask for referrals. After all, a referral from a trusted print supplier holds a lot of weight. As noted, I will keep my client apprised of any progress.

With all prospective printers, I will ask to have samples of this particular kind of work sent to my client. I don’t want her to have any surprises. The first printer I have known for a decade. The second vendor I have not known for long, but she has been immediate in her email responses, and that goes a long way with me. I will ask both for samples. In the final analysis, my client can make a decision based on both the pricing and the samples, so she will know exactly what to expect.

And I still may get feedback and pricing from the two custom printing suppliers who approached me after I had uploaded the job specs to the PIE website.

What You Can Learn from This Case Study

This process actually illustrates a number of teaching points regarding how to approach such a complex, unique print job. I would think that each of you who is either a graphic designer or a print buyer may well have faced such a situation.

Here are my thoughts:

  1. Nothing communicates a client’s needs like a photo or, even better, a video. If you can’t get the actual product, ask for photos or a video, particularly if there are moving parts and other complexities in the product. And once you start approaching vendors to discuss your project, send them the photos as well as the written specs. Then ask for feedback before requesting prices. (After all, if you wind up making changes to the overall design, it’s better to do this in general terms before requesting a specific estimate.)
  2. Work through current vendors and trusted colleagues to get names of custom printing suppliers. These referrals will increase your level of confidence in the vendors, and you will be more likely to find high quality, appropriate printers.
  3. Point #2 above illustrates why it’s so important to cultivate honest, mutually beneficial working relationships with commercial printing suppliers throughout your career.
  4. See what you can find online with a service like the Printing Industry Exchange. You can always request samples and references from new vendors. And you might develop an important, new professional relationship.
  5. You may not have all vendors bidding on the exact same thing, because they may have different equipment and therefore different offerings. Focusing on what the product does, more than on whether all vendors offer the same product, might be a prudent approach. For instance, my client is looking at binders with foam inserts that hold the wood, with a vinyl covering on each sample page to surround and secure the samples. Each vendor’s offerings may be different. And the prices may vary. But the goals are to make sure the book looks professional and to ensure that the wood pieces cannot be easily removed. Sometimes there’s more than one way to achieve the same goals. It may serve you to be open to various options.
  6. Ultimately it all comes down to reliability (i.e., trust) and the vendor’s skill. No low price will make up for a product that isn’t stellar.

Custom Printing: Asymmetrical Balance in Your Design

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

When I first started designing publications forty years ago, I had no formal training. I made a lot of errors. Or, worse, I produced a lot of mediocre work.

In part this was because I had started in publications as a word person. I wrote and edited, but did not yet think in terms of how to design a page for a print book, a brochure, or an advertisement in such a way as to grab the interest of the reader. I could, however, recognize good design.

Over time, I found a number of print books on publication design, and I collected an expansive “swipe file” of printed products (everything from business cards to printed shoe boxes to posters) that I considered excellent examples of their own particular category.

The Rules of Design

I am a great believer in practicing the “fundamentals,” just as a basketball player practices dribbling and does lay-up after lay-up daily, I study the rules of design and composition. So year after year I studied “the rules” of design, first of all becoming aware that the rules of graphic design were no different from the rules of fine art. (I had studied painting and drawing for years before moving into art production for commercial printing, so I had absorbed many of the design rules already.)

This is how I think my entry into the field of design for commercial printing might be relevant to you, if you design anything from print books to brochures to banners for hanging on the sides of buildings. In some cases you may have come into the field by accident (without formal training), and as you develop your own skills, you may be looking for pointers.

In this light, I found a book at the thrift store entitled Graphic Design Basics, which was written by Amy E. Arntson. Basics, fundamentals. This book fits the bill.

Principles of Balance

When I speak of “rules,” I want to be clear that I think design rules can be successfully broken. That said, if you break the rules, you have to do it for a good reason, so the first and most useful step is to learn the rules from the masters.

Graphic Design Basics contains everything you need to know (so you can absorb the information and then practice it for the remainder of your career). Because the print book is so comprehensive, I’m going to pick just one concept as a starting point for this blog article, one that I think is particularly effective for spicing up your design work: asymmetrical balance.

To define our terms, the opposite of “asymmetrical balance” is “symmetrical balance.” Your face is pretty much symmetrical. If you draw a line down the center, everything on the left side has a corresponding element on the right. One eye, the other eye, one nostril, the other nostril. Everything is visually in balance. You can tell this intuitively. It’s just right.

You can approach a conservative business card or a formal invitation in much the same way. You can imagine a central vertical line with everything centered, balanced on the left and right, going from the top to the bottom of the card.

Symmetrical balance provides a sense of formality, gravitas, security, to a design. You can do the same thing with photos and text. Just draw an imaginary vertical line down the center of the page, and make sure every element on the left has a corresponding element (of equal visual weight) on the right.

Unfortunately this can become very boring very quickly.

Asymmetrical Balance

Whereas symmetrical balance works through a rigid balance of equal visual elements, asymmetrical balance works through contrasts. Based on things like size, color, and placement on a page (toward the center or toward the edge of the page—perhaps using a single-page advertisement as an example), you can achieve a visceral (or gut) sense of balance that is far more dynamic than a stolid symmetrical balance. This sense of energy and movement can be a useful way to capture reader interest.

But how do you do this? What are the rules? Fortunately, Graphic Design Basics lists a number of them, which I will share with you. You will find the same rules of asymmetrical balance also apply to works of fine art. Therefore, I would encourage you to both visit museums and also study samples of commercial printing.

Here are the principles of asymmetrical balance as noted in Graphic Design Basics. As we discuss these, consider how you might balance weights on a seesaw (teeter-totter). For instance, you could put a large weight on one side, close to the central fulcrum, and then actually balance this heavy weight with a few smaller, lighter weights at the far end of the opposite side (far away from the central fulcrum). Consider this metaphor when you read these rules, and when you look at samples of commercial printing work, I believe you will develop an intuitive, gut reaction to what is or is not “in balance.”

The rules (from Graphic Design Basics):

  1. Location: A large shape in the middle of a page is already in balance. It feels anchored (probably based on our intuitive understanding of symmetrical balance (half of the shape on either side of the imaginary central vertical line of balance). You can balance a large central shape with a much smaller shape if the smaller shape is near the edge of the page (any edge). This is just like the seesaw metaphor noted above. To put this in the terms of graphic design, the central shape might be a large photo, and the small shape near the edge of the page might be a smaller photo. Or, the central shape might be a photo, and the smaller shapes near the outside edges might be call-outs (pull quotes) or even large initial caps beginning paragraphs of text. Squint as you’re designing, and you’ll see the artistic shapes instead of the typeset words.
  2. Isolation: If you position a small shape surrounded by a lot of white space (negative space) on the page, this graphic element will have more visual weight than a much larger group of small objects. The key word is “group.” For example, when you’re designing a page, you can balance a group of head shot photos with a single photo positioned away from this collection of photos.
  3. Texture: “A small, highly textured area will contrast with and balance a larger area of simple texture” (Graphic Design Basics, p. 72). For instance, if you’re designing an advertisement, you can balance a large block of body copy text about the product with a more complex but much smaller headline, perhaps set at the top of the page and extending into the margin, maybe even at an angle. The visually-perceived (as opposed to actual, or physical) texture of the headline, with its complex letterforms, will contrast with and balance the much larger “sea of grey” provided by the body copy of the advertisement.
  4. Value: High contrast adds to the visual weight of a shape in a design. For instance, a small black and white photo on a page (if it has a lot of contrast and rich black tones) will balance out a much larger light (high-key) photo or an area screen of a color. The contrast between the overall black (or other dark color) of the photo and anything else on the page will give the dark photo more visual weight than the lighter, larger shape (perhaps a block of text typeset all in one size).
  5. Shape: “Complicated contours also have a greater visual weight than simple ones” (Graphic Design Basics, p. 74). An example would be a starburst design (in an ad) out of which you might reverse the words “Free Trial.” The jagged edge of this much smaller shape would contrast with, and balance, a much larger photo on the opposite side of the imaginary central line of balance (again, always think in terms of this central line, whether you’re creating a symmetrical or asymmetrical balance in your page design).
  6. Color: Bright and intense color (used sparingly) will balance out much larger design elements in less bright, less saturated color. Think about the use of an intense red color in any ad you have ever seen. Usually a little red goes a long way. In fact, if you highlight even a few words in deep, intense red, the rest of the advertisement can be printed in black, and yet the reader’s eye will go directly to the much smaller shapes (letterforms) printed in red.

What You Should Remember

  1. All of this comes down to two things. If you want the reader to be comfortable, find ways to create balance in a page spread. However, you may want to make the reader uncomfortable in order to confront or challenge her/him. In this case, consider ways to subvert the rules described above.
  2. The main goal is to lead the reader’s eye through the printed page in a specific order you have chosen, based on the levels of importance of the content (or the relationships among the elements of content). Think about the lines of direction and movement you create (for instance, if a model in a photo is looking in a certain direction, your reader will do the same; therefore, it might be effective to place an important block of copy there).
  3. There are many, many more rules (textbooks full). This is only one brief topic. So collect design textbooks and steep yourself in them. Then forget the textbooks and rules, and look at printed design and fine art you like. You’ll see more, and the rules will become a part of you. Some you’ll follow; some you’ll discard.

Commercial Printing: Tips for Printing Envelopes

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

I think most people would agree that in the realm of custom printing, envelopes are decidedly not sexy. That said, I’d actually like to disagree.

I recently came upon an old handbook on printing paper from the 1980s, which in fact includes a wealth of information that is just as pertinent now as it was when I started my career in commercial printing. It’s called Walden’s Handbook for Salespeople and Buyers of Printing Paper (published by the Walden-Mott Corporation). If you ask your printer or paper supplier, I’m sure you can get a comparable (but current) text. What makes this such a good print book is that it focuses only on paper and related subjects, unlike most textbooks on graphic design and printing that don’t have this depth in this one subject.

Back to the envelopes. Walden’s Handbook includes a section on envelope styles and sizes. When you remember that nothing you design for direct mail can get to your intended recipient without a functional envelope, and when you consider that nothing is actually read by your intended recipient without your having produced an attractive envelope that entices your reader to open the envelope, envelope printing starts to get interesting.

First of all, you can find this particular information online, including relevant drawings of the envelopes. It would probably be useful to check out some envelope websites to research envelope printing, but if you learn better from paper charts, these are available, too.

In no particular order, here’s a smattering of useful concepts and terms related to envelopes.

(Only a Sampling) of Envelope Sizes and Styles

  1. In the realm of commercial and official envelopes, let’s start with #9 and #10 envelopes. The #10 envelope is the one you receive most often in the mail. It holds standard tri-folded letter paper (8.5” x 11”).
  2. If you receive a marketing package, and the sender wants you to fill out a form (or remit payment) and send it back, usually this goes in a #9 envelope because this will fit comfortably (with other direct mail items) in the #10 envelope, which is also called an “outgoing envelope.”
  3. Both the #10 and #9 envelopes are usually made of 24# stock (usually white wove, comparable to 60# text). Obviously your printer has latitude in paper stock, but if you can print on pre-made envelopes, they will be cheaper, and you know they will be acceptable to the US Post Office.
  4. The #10 envelope comes in two “flavors,” regular and window envelopes. If you will inkjet the recipient’s address on the envelope or on a label, the regular envelope will be your proper choice. However, if your mailing insert (usually a letter) has the recipient’s address on the front, your envelope printing supplier can fold the letter in thirds and insert it into a window envelope with the address visible through the window in the envelope. This makes labeling the #10 envelope unnecessary. These windows come in a variety of sizes and positions on the envelopes.
  5. Regular and window envelopes come in many, many other sizes (noted in envelope charts as 6¾, 7, 7¾, Monarch, and the like). On the charts, each has a number and a size (7¾, for instance, is 3 7/8” x 7 1/2”).
  6. It’s very important to choose an envelope that is large enough for your insert. Many envelope charts also include notations of the insert size as well as the envelope size. You want to have a 1/8” clearance on the top and on either side of the insert when the insert is in the envelope. An A-1 envelope, for instance, is 3 5/8” x 5 1/8”. It will accept 3 1/2” x 4 7/8” inserts. (That is, when the insert is in the envelope, there’s 1/8” of leeway on the left and right plus 1/8” leeway at the top opening, or “throat,” of the envelope.)
  7. Envelopes appropriate for various business uses come in a multitude of classifications in addition to the regular and window envelopes noted above. You can buy large flat envelopes (9” x 12”, for instance) that open on the long side and are called “booklet” envelopes (or open-side envelopes). Or you can buy envelopes that open on the short side and are called “catalog” envelopes (or open-end envelopes). You can buy printed “Airmail” versions of larger envelopes as well. Some of these larger envelopes also have windows (of various sizes and placements) through which you can read addresses (or messages).
  8. Other envelopes for commercial use (usually in-house use) include policy envelopes, coin envelopes, inter-department envelopes (in case you’re sending an inter-office document from one department to another), job ticket envelopes (with one open end and a lip). Envelopes like these can also be used for film (as opposed to digital) x-rays.
  9. If you’re announcing something, you may want to use A-6, A-7, A-8, etc., announcement envelopes. Or you may want to use baronial envelopes, the flaps of which usually come to a point. These are great for social occasions such as weddings. You may also want to include a flat or fold-over RSVP card and smaller envelope in the main envelope.
  10. If you want clients to pay for something, like a magazine subscription, you might print a “bangtail” envelope, which would have an additional, detachable panel attached to an envelope, and this entire unit might be stitched into the center of a magazine. Your subscriber could tear off the printed stub and then mail back the attachment in the envelope.
  11. Some envelopes will have flaps with remoistenable glue. You wet these to reactivate the glue, and then you seal them.
  12. Other envelopes might have a button and string, or a metal clasp, to seal the envelope. These are customarily used within an organization rather than sent out to clients.
  13. Still other envelopes might have a paper liner laid over a glue strip. You just peel off the liner and fold over the glued flap to seal the envelope. Still other envelopes might have a latex-to-latex bond. To seal these envelopes, you just fold the flap so the two strips of latex (like rubber cement) touch one another and the envelope will be sealed.

What You Can Learn from All of This Envelope Information

The first thing you may notice is that this is way too much information to keep in your head. That’s why there are charts with line drawings to which you can refer.

The next thing to learn is that it helps to break down your envelope needs into such categories as social, business, and functional. If you’re designing a social announcement, you might consider A-style envelopes or baronial envelopes. If you’re sending out a direct mail package, you would probably choose something like a #10 envelope. If you’re sending an envelope around the office, you might consider a button-and-string or metal clasp envelope. Envelopes like the bangtail noted above might be good for billing your customers. If you can articulate your envelope needs, you’ll either find the appropriate envelope in the charts or your printer or paper merchant can suggest a solution.

Think about whether you want a flat envelope or one that will expand. This will depend on what you want it to contain, but there are envelopes with gusseting that can hold a lot of forms or other items.

Think about the paper. White wove is good for most business uses. Choose from 20# (the same as 50# offset), 24# (the same as 60# offset), 28# (the same as 70# offset), or even 32# in some cases.

Think about the color of the envelope. If your insert is on a cream stock, you will probably want to choose a matching paper stock for the envelope. There are paper swatch books you can get from your printer that include matching business card, envelope, and letterhead papers for such a coordinated project.

Some envelopes even come to you “converted” from brown kraft paper stocks. These are especially durable.

The term “converted,” noted above, just means that a flat (printed or unprinted) press sheet has been die cut, folded, and then glued to make the envelope. This process adds time and extra cost to your envelope printing purchase. If you can use standard paper stocks and standard sizes, the job will cost less and be completed more quickly.

Finally, make it a habit to communicate early and often with your envelope printing supplier. It is also wise to make paper dummies of your marketing initiatives, including the outgoing envelope, #9 return envelope, letter, and anything else that will be mailed in the package. Make sure everything fits comfortably in the envelope. And make sure your US Postal Service business mail representative approves everything for both “mailability” and “machinability.” That is, you need to ensure that there will be no mailing surcharges (as there are for square-format envelopes, for instance) and that the complete mailing package can be successfully processed by all automated USPS equipment.

Commercial Printing: Thoughts on Developing/Using a New Logo

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

I’ve been “refreshing” the corporate identity of a client of mine for whom I have been brokering commercial printing. In developing a new logo and new business card, letterhead, etc., I have been reminded of all the issues that arise in logo development and implementation: the issues I have mentioned a number of times in the PIE Blog articles.

The Logo Development Process

At my client’s request, I started with her three names (first, middle, and last) set across one line. Since my client had expressed the desire for a sophisticated logo similar in tone to the logos in Glamour magazine, I started with a classic serif font and set her name on one line. I used initial caps and set the remaining letters in lowercase form.

Below this I drew a thin rule line. Below that, I typeset the name of her company. For contrast, I used a thin sans serif typeface. At my client’s request, I removed the periods after her initials (used in her business name) and the comma before the LLC notation. This simplified the text treatment. Overall, the “stack” comprising my client’s name, the rule line, and the name of my client’s business created a tight rectangle due to the left and right alignment of the first line, the rule line, and the second line. In my experience, simple geometric forms help the reader (viewer) better organize graphic information.

By itself, this communicated the essential information, but it was boring. A huge number of logos look like this. So, to give this logo a unique sensibility and to continue the visual theme of sophistication and glamour, I added an image. My client had shared with me (for a purpose unrelated to her logo) a silkscreen portrait a friend of hers had created many years ago. In this portrait, the artist had framed my client’s head resting on her hand, with her hair cascading down in the background. It was the perfect glamorous image.

So I vignetted this image (fuzzed out the edges to give a dreamy tone to an image that already looked a bit posterized, with only a handful of discrete tones) and placed it above the type. I also produced an option using the same image to the left of the logotype (the reader’s eye will go to the image first and then read to the right, to the words in the logo). My client chose to use both versions, one for the business card and one for the letterhead.

Using the New Logo

A logo can look stunning and yet be totally worthless as a communication device. Design and marketing utility are two distinct issues. So, once I had the two logos in hand, I began to explore design uses to see what problems would arise.

First, I chose a vertical treatment for the business card. With the screen print of the model’s (my client’s) face and hand centered over my client’s name and her business name, I felt a vertical treatment would be unique, would allow for symmetrical balance in the card design, and would allow me to enlarge the logo enough to ensure readability.

After positioning my client’s email address and phone number, centered below the logo, I printed out a version of the business card and ruled it out (drew lines connecting all crop marks). I did this because it would be the exact size of a real business card. (It’s too easy to make design decisions for commercial printing by just using the computer screen at an enlarged magnification, which bears no resemblance to the final, printed business card. One easily forgets this in the moment of design.)

Granted, I did not (and have not yet) add color, although I did suggest to my client that she only add a highlight color in a minimal way, perhaps to the three words of her name (first, middle, and last name).

Issues with the Business Card

Nothing good happens without work, so I was not surprised to find areas of the business card to tweak.

  1. I made the screened image of my client’s face and hand larger in the Adobe Illustrator logo file.
  2. I made the name of my client slightly taller relative to its width (i.e., slightly condensed). This allowed me to enlarge the type on the card to improve legibility (within the small sized width of the vertically oriented card).
  3. I experimented with vertical spacing in an attempt to create balance and allow for maximum white space around all content on the card. (Generous use of white space suggests opulence and sophistication overall.)
  4. I chose the next darker version of the same sans serif typeface I had used for the name of my client’s business. I did this because reducing the size of the logo for the business card had made this typeface too light. It impeded readability.

In toto, I probably printed out ten different versions before settling on one to send my client. My goals were to maximize type size and image size in the small space to ensure legibility.

Moving On to the Letterhead

I actually did the letterhead first and liked it, but when I moved on to the business card and had to thicken the logo type and lighten the screen print of my client’s face and hand, I created a logo treatment that had become visually different from (and incongruent with) the logo treatment I had initially used for the letterhead. So I adjusted all elements of the new letterhead logo (with the screen-printed image of my client to the left of the logotype rather than above it) and then positioned it in the bottom right corner of the letterhead as an anchor. I made it large enough that the reader’s eye would go to the logo first, regardless of what else was on the page.

Then I printed out the letterhead and compared the business card and letterhead. I looked at them, walked away, came back later, and printed out another several versions of the business card and letterhead, tweaking both to make them just right.

What You Can Learn from This Case Study

  1. Design the logo first. Get it as close to perfect as possible, but remember that this is only the beginning.
  2. Print everything out on paper. It’s too easy to make bad decisions on screen, assuming an enlargement that looks perfect on the monitor will look perfect when the physical business cards and letterhead arrive. Rule out the business card with a pencil, from crop mark to crop mark. Make sure you leave adequate trim margin all the way around between any text and the edge of the business card. (Ask your printer for confirmation, but 3/8” to 1/2” is a good start.) You will be surprised at how little of the card is left for art and type after you allow for the margins.
  3. You can enlarge type a little in one direction (making it taller) so you can fit more on the card at a larger type size, but remember that typefaces were designed with a specific ratio of height to width. If you distort the type too much, it will look odd.
  4. Try every possible option you can think of, in terms of placement of the logo type and image. Try a horizontal and then a vertical treatment of the business card. See which works better. Put the job aside and come back to it. You’ll have a fresh approach. Also, show it to several people and request feedback.
  5. Keep in mind that readability takes precedence over design (ideally, you really need both). If a logo on a business card is unreadable, you need to find ways to improve its legibility. In most cases, the logo you use on the business card may be slightly different from the same logo used on the letterhead or on a large format print sign. Keep going back and forth between/among all items in the corporate identity until all treatments are readable and all logos “look” (rather than “actually are”) the same.

Recent Posts


Read and subscribe to our newsletter!

Printing Services include all print categories listed below & more!
4-color Catalogs
Affordable Brochures: Pricing
Affordable Flyers
Book Binding Types and Printing Services
Book Print Services
Booklet, Catalog, Window Envelopes
Brochures: Promotional, Marketing
Bumper Stickers
Business Cards
Business Stationery and Envelopes
Catalog Printers
Cheap Brochures
Color, B&W Catalogs
Color Brochure Printers
Color Postcards
Commercial Book Printers
Commercial Catalog Printing
Custom Decals
Custom Labels
Custom Posters Printers
Custom Stickers, Product Labels
Custom T-shirt Prices
Decals, Labels, Stickers: Vinyl, Clear
Digital, On-Demand Books Prices
Digital Poster, Large Format Prints
Discount Brochures, Flyers Vendors
Envelope Printers, Manufacturers
Label, Sticker, Decal Companies
Letterhead, Stationary, Stationery
Magazine Publication Quotes
Monthly Newsletter Pricing
Newsletter, Flyer Printers
Newspaper Printing, Tabloid Printers
Online Book Price Quotes
Paperback Book Printers
Postcard Printers
Post Card Mailing Service
Postcards, Rackcards
Postcard Printers & Mailing Services
Post Card Direct Mail Service
Poster, Large Format Projects
Posters (Maps, Events, Conferences)
Print Custom TShirts
Screen Print Cards, Shirts
Shortrun Book Printers
Tabloid, Newsprint, Newspapers
T-shirts: Custom Printed Shirts
Tshirt Screen Printers
Printing Industry Exchange, LLC, P.O. Box 394, Bluffton, SC 29910
©2019 Printing Industry Exchange, LLC - All rights reserved