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Designing For Print

Designing for Print

The Print Manual is a resource pack for any graphic designer wanting to learn more about commercial print. Within the pack there is two books which go through designing for print and printing methods and finshes. With the added sample pack, The Print Manual is everything you need to get the best print within commercial printing. This is the first book from the resource pack. Within this book we have outlined all the information about desinging for commercial print. For your ease of use the book has been split down into three main categories; Basics of Colour, Colour Techniques and Artwork. In each of these chapters there is detailed information along with illustrations to explain the terms and techniques for you to create the best peice of design work which is suitable to be printed within a commercial print company. Once you have gained the knowledge of designing for print, you can use the second book: Print Production and Finished to learn about the different printing methods and how to give your design those extra elements which will make it stand it from the rest.

1 Basics of Colour Pages 4-11

CMYK RGB Brightness, Hue & Saturation Colour Management Pantone & Spot Colour

4 Costing

Pages 32-35 Costing Costing Factors Sample Quotations



Colour Techniques


Colour Layers Multi-Tones Half-Tones Tints Overprint Multi-inks Gradients

Document set up Format Bleed, Registration & Trim Trapping Imposition Proofing

Pages 12-19

Pages 20-31

Designing for Print

Basics of Colour Colour provides dynamism to a design, it attracts the viewer to the work and can add an emational element through the right of colour within a design. Colour can also be used in other various ways: helping organise the elements on a page, lead the eye from one item to another and form a visible hierachy within a design. Printing technology is still expanding the boundaries and reproduction of colour. Such developments like six-colour hexachromatic printing push the printing boundaries and use of colour. Colour is now a permanent fixture within graphic design. Alot of printed media such as magazines and newspaper take advantage of colour, by being able to use a four colour print within the product. Graphic design is now a much brighter and vibrant sector due to the application of colour.

Grafik Magazine

The front cover is a full CMYK print.


Designing for Print

Basics of Colour

Basic Terminology A lot of terminology is used to describe colour and its various functions. Here we examine the terms in which designers, photographers, printers and other professionals use to communicate colour.

Describing Colour

As colour is different wavelengths of light, professionals use different values of hue, saturation and brightness to describe it. There are two main colour modes in which most designers work in - CMYK & RGB.

Brightness, Hue and Saturation These terms help a designer specify and communicate the colour information. Using these terms the designer and client can meet the expectations of the client.


This colour mode is made up of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This colour system is subtractive, because as the colours overlap each other they combine and create a darker colour. As the C, M & Y overlap each other they create the RGB colour system, when all three overlap they create black. This colour system is used for print based media.


This colour mode is made up of Red, blue and green. This colour mode is addictive, because when the colours overlap and combine they create a lighter colour. As each individual colour overlaps each other they create the CMYK colours. When all three colours combine they create white. This colour mode is used for on screen design.



This is how light or dark a colour is. Changes of brightness can be achieved by adding black or white to a colour.


Hue or colour is the unique characteristic that helps us visually distinguish one colour from another. Wavelengths of light form a hue.


Saturation or chroma refers to the purity of a colour. Saturation levels describe a colours tendency to move towards or away from grey.

Designing for Print

Basics of Colour

Colour Management Colour management is the process that governs how colour is translated from one machine to another in the printing process. Colour management is needed to produce a consistent colour throughout the print process. Different machines respond and produce colour different, so you need to make sure you use the same colour throughout all print matter.

Gamut & Colour Space

Gamut and colour space are used by designers and printers to calculate the amount of colour that can be produce within a colour mode’s range.


In the print industry the gamuts that are used are RGB & CMYK dependant on what the design is for depends which gamut needs to be used. The human eye can see more colours than what the RGB & CMYK can produce, which is a limitation, but one that the designers have to work with. RGB has a bigger colour range as it is used for on screen design, whereas CMYK is limited because of the inks used to print. Colour printing systems cannot reproduce the full colour spectrum that we can see. Within RGB 70% of colours can be reproduced and with CMYK this is even less. When designing a four colour print, the designer needs to be aware of the colour limitations and make sure that the colours aren’t outside the CMYK gamut, if it is then it will be substituted for the next best colour which can produced, but this is often noticeably different.

CMYK Gamut

When designing for print, you need to make sure that you are working in CMYK mode and when working with colour, this needs to be within the CMYK colour range, the best way to ensure this is by using the CMYK colour sliders to mix a colour within the software. If you use the colour picker this will show all colours available to use, but not necessarily ones that can be produced when printed, if a colour you select isn’t within the CMYK colour range then a exclamation mark will appear next to the colour. The easiest way to get around this is to click the exclamation mark and it will select the next closest colour that is available in the CMYK colour range. Another way to solve this problem is to use the ‘gamut warning’ within photoshop, when this is turned on the image you are working on will have grey areas over the sections of colour which cannot be produced when printed, to correct this you can use the ‘hue/saturation’ or ‘levels’ correction tools to bring these colours back into the colour range. The grey area will reduce when the colours are within the colour range.


Colour Space

A colour space provides a definition for the numerical value of the combination of colours present in a given pixel, each value will represent a different colour. Each different device uses a different colour space, so this value will always be different dependent on the device you use. Changing the colour space will change the colour associated with that value, so you must make sure you are aware of the colour space an image or design is using when editing it.

There are 5 colour space models which are then sub divided into others: - CIE - RGB - YUV - HSL/HSV - CMYK The main ones we need to know about are RGB and CMYK.

The Common Colour Spaces RGB The RGB coluor space can reproduce about 70% of the colours within the colour spectrum that the eye can see. sRGB Standard RGB is a standard, device-independant, calibrated colour space defined by HP and Microsoft. This was to provide a consistent way to display images on the internet. Adobe RGB ColourMatch RGB has a wider colour space than sRGB. It was designed to encompass most of the colors achievable on CMYK color printers, but by using RGB primary colors on a device such as the computer display. CMYK CMYK is used in the printing process, because it describes what kind of inks need to be applied to the substrate. One starts with a white substrate, and uses ink to subtract color from white to create an image. CMYK stores ink values for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. There are many CMYK colorspaces for different sets of inks, substrates, and press characteristics

Designing for Print

Basics of Colour

Pantone & Spot Colours Designers use a spot colour to make sure that a given colour in a design will print that exact colour. The main reason would be if a certain colour has be consistent across different formats and stock, or if a colour is outside of the colour range and cannot be produced from CMYK.

Pantone 307 C

Pantone 150 C


Spot colours

A spot colour is a ready mixed ink, that has no combinations of colours mixed together, it is one single ink. When printed a spot colour prints as a solid colour and is not transparent in any way. As said above designers will use a spot colour to print a certain colour in a design exactly the same, if printing across different stocks or in mass. This will make sure a consistent print quality is met for the design and it will look the same on every print. It could also be used if the colour needed is outside of the colour range, or if a specific colour has been specified by a client to be used. Other reasons may include: If the colour was overlapping another colour, so it would prevent the colours from mixing. Or if the design needs a specific colour to be more vibrant or stand out from the rest a spot colour would be used.

Mixing spot colours

As we have already discussed, spot colours are ready mixed inks, you can either buy these as mixed inks in pots or mix them using various base elements to a specific recipe. You can also mix up spot colour using other ready mixed spot colours. Some printers can mix this in house for you.

Pantone colour system

The Pantone colour system is system which we use in England for spot colours. It is a system which allocates a unique reference number to each colour combination. Every Pantone library is exactly the same, which makes it easy for designers and printers to work together. When a Pantone colour is used within a design, the colour combination and reference number is stored within the document information, so when the printer receives the document he can find this colour combination to use within the print. It is a very simple but effective system which makes the printing process a lot easier and more efficient. All design software will include the Pantone colour system within it, so any designer can access the libraries where ever they are.

Pantone Libraries

Pantone Solid A range of metallic, pastel and process colours that can be used on different paper stocks and substrates. Pantone Pastel A range of flat, solid but very pale colours. These are different to tints as they print as a solid without visable dots. Pantone Hexachrome A range of six process colours used for hexachrome printing. In addition to CMYK process colours, the system adds green and orange to the mixture. Pantone Metallics A range of over 300 special colours that give a metallic effect including silver, gold and copper colours.

Designing for Print

Colour Techniques Colour makes a design more dynamic and aesthetically pleasing, by elevating certain elements and attracting attention to specific parts of the design. Creative colour techniques can dramatically change the appearance of a design and also add to it.

Visible Signs, David Crow Features a single colour halftone design as part of a double page spread.


Designing for Print

Colour Techniques

Colour Layers


The first and easiest way to use colour creatively within a design is to use the blending options, these are preset blending modes which can be used when layering images on top of each other. The good thing about this is that the original image below will keep its contrast and detail intact. Colour layers can be used in Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign, the best program to use them in is Photoshop, as this is an image editing software. To use a colour layer in Photoshop, you would apply a new layer above the image and fill it with a colour, on the blending menu above you would select a blending mode and you will be able to see how that mode effects the design.

The printing process that uses CMYK but produces them in different sized half-tone dots. When viewed once printed the eye is fooled into seeing a continuous image, but really it isn’t.

Blending Modes Colour Dodge Saturation Overlay Multiply Vivid Light Luminosity Lighten Hard Light Exclusion Difference Colour Hard Mix

CMYK, RGB & Greyscale

The half-tone dots of each colour plate within the image interact with each other to create a continuous pattern which makes it look like an image, this is done by using screen angles. The angles vary depending on which colour mode is used. RGB replicate the computer screen and CMYK replicate those used in printing. As each colour mode using a different angle, they have to be edited in that colour space. The radius and angle of the half tone are edited in the ‘Colour Halftone menu’. For a greyscale halftone you would use only channel 1, RGB would use channel 1,2 & 3 and CMYK would use channel 1,2,3 & 4. As you can see the number of channels used are determined by the number of colours used in the colour mix.

Greyscale Half-tone

RGB Half-tone

Screen Angles

When the screen angles aren’t set to the correct values they interfere with the halftone pattern and disrupt the continuous tone which makes the image look like an image. By changing the screen angles you can get different effects and patterns, these all relate to the printing inks used.

CMYK Half-tone


Multi-Tones Multi-tones are again layers of colour built up on top of an image, there are several different typesMonotone - Duotone - Tritone - Quadtone


All multi-tone images start off being monotone and use a monotone image as the base layer. A monotone image is one that works with one colour only, this can be any colour and tends to be done with spot colours. If you are creating a duotone etc then the base monotone image, normally is made with black.


A duotone image is one made up of two colours. The first colour would usually be black and be the basis of the monotone base image.


This is an image that is made up of three colours. Within photoshop there are presets set up that use tritones such as: sepia and other image overlays.


An image made up from four colours that are layered on top of an image.

Monotone & Duotone

Tritone & Quadtone

Designing for Print

Colour Techniques


0% Cyan 0% Black

A tint is a colour, which is created by using either a spot colour, a CMYK or RGB process colour. Using these colours you mix it with white to create a lighter version of the original colour. To do this within digitally, you would select the colour and make it a global swatch, when you then go to the colour slider it will only let you edit the swatch colour as a tint. The advantage of using a tint is if you are limited to a certain number of colours within a design, using a tint will introduce a new colour but only use the same colour ink when printed. It is a good way to get around a limited colour design and print budget, but still design a good piece of artwork.

100% Cyan 0% Black

Tint Charts Tint charts show the different variations of colours that can be obtained when you combine different colour together. Using Cyan, Magenta and Yellow, you can create over 1,000 new tints and if you introduce Black then even more can be created. A tint chart is created so that designers have a reasonable idea of what a colour combination will look like when printed. But they must remember that it is not 100% accurate as there are dependents such as – colour control, the press used and stock used that could determine the outcome of the colour.

100% Black 0% Cyan

100% Black 100% Cyan


Overprint Overprint is where once ink overlaps another and when printed they mix to create a different colour. To overprint effectively, you need to know the order in which the process colours print, in order to use overprint to the best of its ability. Overprinting can produce creative effects within a design piece and works well when used with graphics and images.


93% Cyan, 26% Magenta, 1% Yellow, 12% Black

A note about percentages in colour mixtures

Tints of two colours or more process colours can be combined to create a new colour combination, using the multi-ink tool. When creating a multi-ink you can select different colours and tints to mix, changing the percentage of each colour in the mix, will effect the outcome of the new colour; as more colours are selected into the mix, the colour will become darker. This is a useful tool to use, if you are restricted to a two-colour design, as mixing them two colours in different percentage will introduce new colours that you can use within the design.

As a CMYK ink can be applied with a value ranging from 0 to 100 percent, a colour will therefore be expressed as a percentage of each colour within the mix. The total number of these values shouldn’t exceed 240 because any colour over this amount will result in a ‘muddy’ colour. You can also have the opposite effect if not enough colour is added to the mix and the colour becomes too light, and when printed it won’t register properly; this is referred as a ‘drop off’. Tints are produced using half-tone dots, so a rule with mixing tints is that you must you at least 10% of ink within a colour mix, anything less than 10% may not be reproduced well in the printing process.

Designing for Print

Colour Techniques

Gradients A gradients uses one or more colours that combine in a gradual scale to create the coloured effect. With a two colour gradients, one of the colours will get darker as the other will get lighter. When using gradients you must be careful that the gradient isnt displayed with a banding pattern running across it; this happens because the half-tone printing screens simulate the tone changes within the gradient. To get around this you can apply noise to the gradient which disperses the colour by adding more random screen angles.

Multiple Coloured Gradients

Many gradients feature a single or pair of colours, but multiple colours and patterns can also be used. The same principles apply that banding can still occur when using light colours and with strong colours they can intefere with each other.

Application of Gradients

Gradients can be used in many ways. The most common way is to use them as a way of adding extra definition to an illustrated object, either to make it look 3D or to add shadowing. It can also be applied within print based design as a background or an overlay to a design, which again is to add more detail or to make the design become more intestering with the addition of extra colour. Another use is within photo editing. Here a gradient can be applied over the top of a base image by the use of the blending modes. This could be usful to make a greyscale more interesting or to work within a certain colour scheme and again i can add more detail or highlight to the base image. When applying gradients within a design, it is good to think about the colours and the type of gradient to use, because this will effect your design in either a good or bad way dependant how you approach it. The choice of graident is important as the majority of the time you can tell what type a gradient is used on an image if you look closely; this isn’t a bad thing but make sure its the right decision.


Linear Gradient

A linear gradient blends from one colour to another in a series of vertical steps. The blend colours are shown in the bar that also has sliders s that the designer can determine the emphasis of the blend. The default is half way between the two colours, but this can be changed by using the sliders.

Multiple Gradient

This gradient features multiple colours. The gradient sliders can be moved to make the transition from one colour to the other sharper or more subtle.

Radial Gradient

A radial gradient creates a blend in a circle pattern so that it issues from a central point. This gradient can be controlled in the same way as a linear gradient to change the emphasis of the gradient application, giving precise control to the designer.

Designing for Print

Artwork Here we will talk about artwork in the means of how to set up and use the document within a software program. This will cover the basics of formats and registration to trapping and knockouts. All these aspects of the artwork need to be correct in order to produce a accurate print.

Designing for Print, Artwork title page.

A press proof with full printer marks and guides showing how the page was set up


Designing for Print


Document Set Up

Preparing colour for print

Once you have sent your work to print, it is very unlikely that you will be able to make changes to the file or correct any mistakes. Making sure the document is right and everything is set up correct, it is necessary to spend more time on this.

Once a piece of design has been completed, the designer will carry out a number of checks to make sure the document is set up right, so that there is clear communication between the designer, printer and client. The designer must review certain aspects of the document that may cause problems during the printing process. Innovative use of the printing processes can also help reduce the printing cost. Using the checklist you will be able to eliminate some of the problems, which could occur when printing: 1. Delete all unused colours 2.Ensure all that you want to print in black is actually black, not registration 3.Ensure that everything that should be in registration is registration and not black. 4. Ensure all spot colours are accounted for, if the job is printing with special colours it is okay, if the job is printing with CMYK, make everything CMYK 5. Ensure all images are converted to CMYK and not RGB; This includes logos, maps additional icons. In some circumstances it may be better to leave them as RGB, so they convert themselves to the right colour profile, but that will be specified. 6. Ensure you are clear that your colour-fall matches the printer’s expectations. If a four colour job is been requested to print, then make sure the document specifies four colours to print with. 7. Ensure your imported swatches are of the right value, if the job is being printed on uncoated stock, and then make sure the spot colours are from the uncoated library.

Printed Pages and Panels

Printed pages are the actual number of pages printed and not the number of sheets printed on. E.g. a booklet that is made up of four sheets with print on every side will have eight printed pages once folded. The easy way to remember this is that one sheet printed double sided is equal to two printed pages. The same rules apply to panels, which are another way of folding a printed sheet.


Bleed, Slug, Registration & Trim When printing your work, the responsibility of the accuracy and quality of it, is passed onto the printer, but there is ways in which you the designer can reduce the margin of error within your document.


A bleed is an area outside of your artwork, usually 3mm (can differ with different printers, but they will specify) that you would extend all the elements in design near the edge of the printed area to. A bleed is usually used if the artwork goes right up to the edge of the page, extending the design past the edges and into the bleed means when the design is trimmed down to the correct size no white/stock colour will be left behind.


A slug is again an area outside of the print area; this extends outside of the bleed and is used for any document information. It will display the document name and time printed, you can also add more details to be printed into this area during the printing process: - Trim marks - Notes - Registration marks - Colour mode Once the document has been trimmed the all the information within the slug area will be cut away.


Registration is used to align two or more printed images with each other on the same stock. If you are doing a one colour print job then registration is no problem as there will be nothing to align within the printing plates. The issue is when you come to using two or more colours, in the commercial printing process each colour within a design is printed on a separate printing plate, so registering these plates on top of each other is difficult. Mis-registration can cause a blurred image or show the different colours used in the mix within the design. To make the registration more accurate you can add registration marks to your document, this will print on every colour layer and be a way in which the printer can align each layer together.


Once your artwork has been printed, the printer will then take it to be trimmed. This process is where the waste stock around the edge of the artwork is cut away to leave the final design and format. To trim the artwork down, you would add trim marks to your document, which will be displayed in the bleed and slug area.

Designing for Print


Format Standard paper sizes provide a convenient and efficient means for the designer. It enables the designer and printer to communicate well and know that the design will be printed to the correct specifications.




Paper & Envelope Sizes

Standardised paper sizes provide a all round ease of selecting paper and which size to use, having the different paper sizes which all together make it way for a designer to plan what sizes they need to use for a design, also when printing you can print multiples and set it up easy







A0 A1

The ISO standard provides a range of standard paper sizes, so that it can cater for all common printing needs. The ISO range of paper is split down into 3 categories; A , B and C sizes, each category is used for a different purpose: A sizes This series of paper sizes is used for all print matter. It is used to print anything from posters and technical drawings to magazines, office paper and postcards. B sizes

This series of paper sizes are used for printing books C sizes

This series of paper sizes are used for printing envelopes to fit A sizes. Also known as DL.

Paper Formats The image across shows the format of A sizes and how they are scaled within each other. This also applies to B and C sizes.


DL Sizes

The DL envelope sizes allow an A4 sheet with two horizontal and/or parallel folds to fit inside. The envelope and any DL sized compliment slips are the same width as an A4 sheet of paper.


SRA paper sizes are used in commercial printing companies because it is slightly larger than the A series and provides room for grip, trim and bleed which is needed for an accurate print. These paper series are untrimmed raw paper. RA stands for ‘raw format A’ and SRA stands for ‘supplementary raw format A’. Once the sheets have been printed and binded, it will be cut down to match the A format.

Book sizes

Books come in a wide variety of sizes, to provide a range of different formats to suit different types of content that will be used within books. A book format is determined by the size of the original sheet of paper used to print on. Folio editions are formed from signatures once folded to make the separate booklets. Quarto editions are made from signatures folded twice and Octavo made from signatures folded three times. Each edition and book size is based on the standard ISO and RSA paper sizes, so they will have a relation to one of the paper sizes within those series.

Poster sizes

Posters also work to a standard size series to make the production of them much easier and simpler. The A series poster system is based on the single sheet which is 762 x 508 mm in the portrait orientation. The rest of the series is made up by using multiples of this: - 4 sheet – 1524 x 1016 mm - 12 sheet – 1524 x 3048 mm - 48 sheet – 3048 x 6096 mm - 96 sheet – 3048 x 12192 mm

Designing for Print


Trapping When printing a colour job especially one that contains two or more colours, which overlap, the one thing you need to be accurate is the colour registration. This is not always possible and is a factor that you can never control. However there is a way in which you can help eliminate this, which is by using ink trapping. Trapping is the compensation for mis-registration between printing units on a multicolor press. The process involves creating overlaps (spreads) or under laps (chokes) of objects during the print production process.


The ‘lighter’ color within a design should always be spread into the darker. This reflects the way the human eye perceives color: since the darker colors define the shapes we see, distortion of the lighter color will result in less visible distortion overall. It is important to know that the darker color always keeps its shape. The neutral density of a color is used to determine its darkness.


Spread and Choke:

When a mis-registration happens within a colour design, you will see a white gap or the colour of the stock between the two colours, to stop this from happening there are 3 ways in which trapping can be applied: Spread The lighter colour becomes bigger, because it spreads into the darker colour Choke

The darker colour becomes smaller, because the lighter colour has expanded into that area. Centered Both spread and choke are applied – this is rarely used.

Spread - the orange circle becomes bigger.

Choke - the orange square makes the blue circle smaller.

Knockout and Overprint

Whilst you can use trapping to register colour, there other techniques that don’t involve trapping which can also reducing mis-registration; knockout and overprint. Knockout The process in which you would remove an area within one colour for the second colour that is printed on top to sit within. Overprint This process is where the area of the two colours which overlap mix together and produces a new colour.

Centered - both applied.

Reverse Out and Surprint Reverse Out A reverse out is when a design that is being printed is removed from a block of colour and left as an unprinted area. Surprint A surprint describes two elements that are printed on top of each other and are tints of the same colour.

Designing for Print


Imposition Imposition is the arrangement of the pages within a publication and shows the designer how it will print.

Pages to view

This refers to the number of pages that will print onto one side of stock.

Printer Plans

A printer plan describes how the publication and the different sections of it are going to printed. The pages are grouped together depending on how they are going to printed, the stock to be printed on, and how each section backs. This makes it easy for the printer to see the document in a overview form and to determine which pages have special finishes or spot colours etc.

Throw-outs and gatefolds

Throw-outs and gatefolds are different methods you can use to add extra pages within a publication. These pages create an oversized page and are typically used to show large images or visual elements.


A throw-out is made out of three panels. The first two panels are the same size of the publication and the third is slightly smaller. It is bound into the publication between the first two panels, giving one side an extra panel to fold out. The fold out panel must be slightly smaller so that it can fold and sit within the main page of the publication.


A gatefold is made up of four panels that are the same size as the publication. It is bound into the publication down the middle with the two fold out pages either side of the spine. This is often used in magazines to provide extra space.


Tip-ins and tip-ons

A designer can add odd sized pages to a publication by using a tip-in or tip-on. These different elements within a publication will add an different interactive element to the publication and make them more interesting for the viewer when reading it.


A tip-in is an extra page/spread that is added to a publication, but the size of this spread is much smaller than the publication. It is bound into the publication like the rest of the pages. As is these pages are smaller than the publication they use be aligned either to the top or bottom edge.


A tip-on is when a page or other element is placed within a page in the publication. This can be placed anywhere within the publication and is normally something that is temporary; the viewer would take it out.

Please take

Designing for Print


Document Proofing Proofing a method used to check the accuracy of the design through the different stages of the print process.

Types of Proofs

There are different proofing methods which check colour, registration and layout within the print process: Soft or Screen Proof A proof used for layout and colour information control and to check the screen structure of a print. Laser Proof A black and white computer print. Pre Press Proof An analogue or digital proof that gives an approximation of what the finished print will look like. Blue Line, Dylux or Salt Proof A contact proof produced from film. It’s shows imposition, photos and text as they will appear when printed. Along with trim and binding edges. Scatter Proof A proof of an individual photo or group of photos not included as the part of the print layout. Composite Integral Colour Proof High quality proof produced using four sheets (one for each colour) laminated together using registration. Press or Machine Proof A proof produced using the actual plates, inks and paper. Contract Proof A colour proof used to form a contract between the printer and client. A final proof before sending to press.


Scatter Proofs

Above are two different scatter proofs, here the proofs have been used to test the reproduction of both the photographs and colour in the designs.

Press Proofs

Above is an example of a press proofs, which are printed on the same stock as the final publication.

Designing for Print

Costing When printing a design or job the designer needs to bear in mind the cost of the print run. Whilst you are designing the given job, you should always have in mind the budget that you have and try keep your design within this budget. Using certain printing and colour processes will increase the cost, so getting this right is key to meeting both the design needs and the budget.


Designing for Print


Costing Factors Size





Time Frame

The finished size and number of pages/sections – please note in printing terms, a “page” is classed as a single printed side to view. So for example, an A4 brochure with 16 printed sides plus front/ back cover will be classed as A4 16pp + 4pp cover; for a book with 80 x internal leaves will equate to 160pp for printing

The print and colour process of a job is essential to get an accurate estimate, this takes up the majority of the cost. If you were to print a 4 colour process (full colour), defined spot/pantone/metallic colours or a combination of the two , generally it would include a machine seal on all silk/matt coated stocks and also a special seal for uncoated stocks with large ink coverage requirements. This will not affect the printing or final appearance, but will prevent rubbing/marking.

If you’re not 100% sure,it is good to know the minimum and maximum you’re likely to need as it will be fine to estimate within these parameters. Generally speaking the larger the print run the cheaper it will be for that quantity. For anything “litho” printed a large element of the overall cost can be the set up, the “run-on” figure for increased volumes is usually a pleasant surprise.

Some jobs are very straightforward, others involve several finishing elements – there are certain finishing options, lamination, spot UV varnishing, performation, foil blocking etc all these would be an additional cost to the job and depending on how much of it is used within the job will again incure a higher cost.

With such a wide range available,it is hard to know exactly what you want, but if you discuss this with the printer they will help you out and advise the best choice. The default materials for most printers are premium grade triple coated silk/matt/gloss, which can be FSC certified with minimum 15% recycled content, or FSC uncoated. Most printers will have a wider range than this, but again speak to your printer in advance first.

Advance warning is the key, even if the final artwork is not ready you can usually reserve a repro & press slot working back from your deadline and also organise the materials if size/ quantity is known. As all proofing/ printing is usually completed under the one roof, the printers are in complete control of the project and therefore the deadline.


Sample Quotes When you are wanting to do a print job, it is always best to get print quotes for the specific job you want doing. Getting three quotes is the best way to see which printer is right to go with.

Example 1

A3 poster - 297x420mm Folded to a 4 page A4 brochure Printed in full 4 colour process On 170gsm silk stock, double sided With Spot UV Varnish on 1 side Quantities - 100 & 200 Cost: £445 + VAT

Example 3

A3 poster - 297x420mm Folded to a 4 page A4 brochure Printed in 2 spot colours On 135gsm uncoated stock, double sided Quantities - 100 & 200 Cost: £182 + VAT

Example 2

A3 poster - 297x420mm Folded to a 4 page A4 brochure Printed in full 4 colour process On 135gsm uncoated stock, double sided Die cut shape on 1 corner Quantities - 100 & 200 Cost: £348 + VAT

Designing For Print The Print Manual Nathan Bolton

Designing for Print 2  

A publication that explains desiging for commercial print. Highlighting the important factors that you need to be aware of.

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