Category Archives: Printing

Face your page right into the gutter

A couple more printing terms to brighten your day. Facing pages are pages that do just that, face each other. Page four and five face each other. Facing pages are also called Spreads or Readers Spreads. None of these are to be confused with Printers Spreads. Printers Spreads are a very different animal. Printer Spreads are how documents are built. Take a look at a newsletter or booklet that is folded and stapled down the center. The front cover and the back cover are printed on the same sheet of paper. The inside cover and the back inside cover are printed on the other side of the front and back cover. The entire booklet/newsletter is done this way. When a document is being built this way it is called imposing. It is very confusing trying to keep track of page order, which is why most printers rather do it for you. They are much better at it. The gutter is easy. The gutter is where the pages meet at the centerfold. The thing to know about gutters is to make sure they are wide enough so the type from a thick book doesn’t end up in the gutter. A sad thing that is, when good type goes into the gutter.


Too many choices and not enough options

More print terms to warm you heart. Some have already been explained under the topic of texture but here a few more printing/finishing terms. And don’t forget if you don’t understand a term your designer or printer uses, ask. Sometimes we forget you may not be conversant in our language.

  • Varnish—This is a finishing process. It’s a coating added to uncoated paper to minimize smudges. A black cover will often have a varnish. Only in principle is it like floor varnish.
  • Deckle edge—It’s that rough uneven edge that is left untrimmed from the paper making process.
  • Throw out—A page that is bound into a publication that folds out. A centerfold.
  • Tip-in—A card or page (usually of a different type of paper than the rest of the publication) glued into the binding of a book. Think of magazines with their subscription cards glued in.

The resolution revolt!

Time to understand a little more about resolution. The fundamental truth still applies though time goes by, a low resolution image cannot be made into a high resolution image. Well it sort of can, but it will be a teeny tiny picture. Resolution is how close pixels are, pixels by the way, are the blocks of colors that when viewed at a distance create an image. Your monitor has a resolution of 72 (dpi—dots per square inch as left over from print, just go with it). Your monitor will show you your image at 72, no matter what. But what if you want to print? A little more explanation before that bit. Higher resolution yields a clearer sharper picture but at a smaller size. Lower resolutions results in a less distinct, blurry, pixilated picture but at a larger size. If you have a 3 x 5 image at 72 resolution you can’t make it 300 without it getting very small. If you want it to stay the same size, if your software permits, it will resample. Resampling is when your software gets rid of information it doesn’t need (300 to 72) or creates information (72 to 300) to reach your desired resolution. Except to create information your computer software guesses based on the information of adjacent pixels. It looks bad so don’t do that. What about printing? Your printer likely has a print resolution of 300. If you send a 600 resolution to your printer it will resample the image. Don’t let your printer do that, you change the resolution to 300. You and your imaging software will do a much better job.

To mock–up or not to mock–up

First, what is a mock–up? It is a model of the work that is to be printed. It might be a 8.5 x 11 color print out of a 24 x 36 poster. It could be a folded and taped together facsimile of a booklet. Do you need a mock-up for a single page document? Not really but it’s a good idea. For something with multiple pages, absolutely. Nowadays lots of things are printed via online printers. It’s often cheap but, and that’s a big but, they print what you send them. If you made a mistake it’s your mistake there’s nothing to be done. You also likely cannot send a mock–up since all is done electronically. If you use an online printer I still advise you print out and assemble a mock–up for yourself to try to catch any mistakes. Me, I find local printers can be competitive and having a relationship with a printer can save you time and money.

Getting exactly what you want–spec sheets, what did you think?

Sending a spec sheet with your print job is the best way to eliminate errors and get what you asked for. Send the spec sheet to your print rep if there is one and with the files to the printer herself/himself. A spec sheet need not be fancy, it can be as simple as please print this on yellow paper and it can be as complicated as paper color, weight, inks, folds, counts, on and on. If you are doing something different you want to include a note saying so. For instance, I am creating a brochure with a mail–in form. I set–up the brochure so that the form is on the back of the inside cover. Not typical and can confuse the printer into thinking the brochure was set up incorrectly. It wasn’t. I will send a spec sheet and indicate in my email the unusual set up and why. A spec sheet can be a form or it can be a note written in a word processing document. Send it as a document with the emailed files even if it is word for word in the email. Here’s the information I will put in the spec sheet for my non–typical brochure:
File name: Event Brochure 2011.ind
Size: 8.5h x 11w pre–fold
Color: Process
Special instructions: file is set up so that return form is on the back of the cover and mailing panel is the center back, folds down as per postal regulations.
Contact information: Lisa Belloli, etc.
Now I can go on and spec paper, special things like foil stars, what ever I want. I’m handing this off to some one else and I don’t know how many are being printed. I don’t know where they are being sent after printing. If you do know those things send it along you can never provide too much information.

It seems so obvious and yet …

Certain combinations of ink and paper don’t mix. Here are a few to avoid. The ubiquitousness color printers allow for checking colors but sometimes that color of paper isn’t available. Be careful but don’t be afraid to do something different. Check with your printer, that’s what they are there for.

  • Transparent ink on colored paper can disappear
  • Blue ink on dark green paper
  • Yellow on white paper
  • Black ink on red paper

These combinations can work, but best stay away or develop the color scheme in concert with your printer.

Adding texture, adding interest, adding to your cred

Along with that comes the other caveat: Nothing kills a bad product faster than great packaging. In other words, don’t make it so pretty the content doesn’t stand a chance. Here are a few was to add texture other than paper to a printed item.

Silkscreen–This process pushes ink through a fine mesh screen. The effect is areas of dense bright color with a velvet-like feel.

Embossing–A die is cut from metal or plastic and paper is pressed into the die. The result is a raised or depressed image creating a texture that usually has no color. A depressed image is referred to as de-bossing.

Foil–Like embossing in that it uses a die, the difference is that the foil is heatset onto the paper. It can be just about any color though gold and silver prevail.

Engraving–Text or image is etched or carved into a block and the paper is laid over the inked block and pressure transfers the ink and raises the lines in the image as the paper is forced into the etched lines.

Thermography–A process where the ink is heated, melts and is fused to the paper with a raised quality.