Perfect Your Proofing

It may seem like there is never time to proof something thoroughly the first time, but when it is not done, you may end up making time to do the entire job a second time. Just what are some of the things that should be checked during the proofing process? Here is a list to perfect your proofing strategy:

perfect proofing

Proof the text.
The first place to start is the text. Review all text for spelling and grammatical correctness, check punctuation, and most importantly, accuracy of content. Making changes to text later in the production process will only slow things down, so make sure that everything is perfect before moving on to the next step.

Proof the images.
Viewing the images on your computer is a great place to start, as long as your screen is calibrated properly, but keep in mind that the colors on-screen will not be a perfect match to the colors that are printed. Be sure to check the size and resolution of the image. For high-level image quality jobs, it may be wise to have a physical proof rather than just an on-screen proof of the images done on professional proofing equipment–you will get a better idea of the true color of the piece.

Proof the pages.
Checking an entire page of an original can be done on screen, but it is also a good idea to print out the pages. Look over the typography, placement of images, illustrations and text, as well as hyphenation and line arrangement, page format, and bleeds.

The difference between a thorough proof and no proof at all is the time you may spend having to redo a job. Taking the time at the beginning will save you time and money in the long run.

Effective Use of Varnish

Just as varnish on a dresser or table protects the wood and gives it a nice finished look, the varnish used on printed pieces enhances their look and durability. If you are interested in using varnish on your next printing project, here are a few things you should know:

  • In-line press varnish, where the varnish is applied to the complete surface of the printed piece, is a relatively inexpensive way to add a lush finish, and may be less expensive than printing on glossier, cast-coated paper.varnish
  • Spot varnish is a great way to maximize the contrast between matte and gloss surfaces. It allows you to apply varnish to a certain image or graphic on your printed piece, such as a logo or photo, while leaving the rest of the piece unvarnished.
  • While you may think of varnish as a glossy coating, a matte varnish can be used to protect your project from scuff marks without adding the shine of a glossy varnish.
  • Certain varnishes may yellow over time. If you have a project with a long shelf life, be sure to let our print shop know and we can help you find an appropriate varnish.
  • A UV varnish is applied off-line and is cured with ultraviolet light. This process gives the surface an exceptional gloss and rub resistance.

If you would like to use a varnish to polish off your printed pieces, it is important that you work closely with our print shop staff to ensure that your project will be completed to your specifications. It is our pleasure to help you navigate this process.

When Color Matters: Tips for Specifying Colors

You’re designing a new brochure, flyer, or newsletter and want to make sure it looks great. You’re considering printing it full-color, but aren’t sure if that’s the best option to choose, considering your budgetary needs. Here are some tips to help you decide how many colors to use and how to make the most of the colors you choose.

letter head When to use spot colors…

    • You only need one or two colors for the printed piece.
    • Your project doesn’t include any full-color photos.
    • Your corporate colors need to be reproduced to exact specifications and cannot be reproduced faithfully enough by combining cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK)… the four “process” colors.
  • Your project calls for fluorescent, metallic, or other special inks.

When to use process color…

    • You need more than two colors.
    • Your piece includes full-color photos.

When to use both…

    • You want to enhance the colors by including a “bump” plate (an extra printing plate set up in one of the four process colors and meant to enhance that tone).
    • Your project includes full-color photos, but your logo or corporate colors don’t reproduce well with process color inks.
  • Your project includes full-color photos and also requires metallic, fluorescent, or other special inks.

No matter what color combination you choose, there are some things you can do to ensure your project goes more smoothly. For example, as you’re preparing your artwork, make sure you aren’t “duplicating” any colors. Look through the color palette in your page layout software. Remove any duplicate colors you find, and reassign the corresponding objects and layers accordingly.

Also make sure you give your colors the same names in each application you use for the project. For example, make sure you give the color the same name in InDesign as you give it in Photoshop and Illustrator. This will help reduce confusion and ensure the colors separate properly when preparing the piece for print.

And finally, if you decide to go with process printing, use your design software to convert any spot colors you have to their CMYK equivalents. When doing so, double-check the values the software assigns, to ensure good printability. For example, if Photoshop gives a color a 1% magenta value, you might want to do some tweaking to eliminate the need for that value. We’ll be happy to help you optimize your files for print and answer any questions you have while producing your files.

Blacker than Black: Using “Enriched” Black Ink

When we think of colors, we often think of many different shades of each primary color. Take blue for example…it can vary between colors such as baby blue, aqua, turquoise, teal, royal blue, or navy blue.

overprint blackMany people would assume that the one exception to these color variations is black. After all, we think of black as being absolute darkness, and expect it to appear this way when printed on a document as well. However, black that is used in full-color (process) printing is transparent, like all process inks, and cannot cover ink or paper as thoroughly as you may like.

Although using an opaque black ink may seem like a simple solution, it would cause adverse reactions to other color or high-res images that contain black ink. Instead, the wise choice would be to add various “enriched” process blacks to your color menus. Their use should vary according to how and where the black is applied.

Here are two types of enriched blacks to consider using:

  • Rich black. Rich black combines process black with one other process ink (traditionally 100% black and 60% cyan), which causes the black to appear “blacker” because the second ink color increases its density. Use rich black whenever the edges of a black object are fully exposed, or when a black object straddles other image information. And remember, it’s only appropriate for objects that are at least a quarter-inch thick.
  • Super black. By combining three process undercolors (50% cyan, 50% magenta, and 50% yellow), you can create the deepest, most satisfying process black you can reproduce on-press. Use super black only when all the object edges are within other colors, or when they bleed off the edge of the page.

Note: Because computer monitors cannot accurately duplicate printed results, the graphic illustrating the use of enriched black is meant only to give an approximation of the end result.

Color on Color

Two-color printing adds life to a printed piece without draining the budget. Now you can make those two colors work a little harder by using a technique called overprinting. Overprinting involves the layering of two ink colors to create a unique third color. By doing this you can create many new possibilities for creative design. Not only will this process intensify the colors you are already using, you can often achieve a third color at no additional printing costs to you. A quick glance at how to overprint: Shown here is an example of how you might use overprinting to achieve the effect of a third color. The color PMS 299 and PMS 233 overlap, producing a third color similar to PMS 268.


Stationery Paper Basics

With so many papers available, how do you decide what papers to specify for your business stationery? Here are a few basics to keep in mind. For more advice, talk to one of our customer service representatives. We’re experts at choosing the perfect paper for every job.

  • papersStart with the basics. Letterhead is typically printed on an uncoated, 20 to 28 pound bond paper. For business cards, consider an uncoated, 80 pound cover stock. If your design includes photos or other fine touches, choose a coated stock instead, for better print quality and clarity.
  • Know your limitations. Check your office laser or inkjet printer’s specifications before selecting a stock. You don’t want your letterhead’s weight to exceed the limitations of the office equipment you plan to use it on.
  • The color of paper you select will affect how inks appear when printed on it. Even different shades of white can affect print quality in different ways. Make sure you select a paper that will complement the ink colors needed for the design.
  • In the same way, it’s generally a good idea to avoid darker colors or distracting background images. Otherwise, your correspondence may be difficult to read when printed on your letterhead.
  • Study the samples. All of the major paper companies provide sample books filled with examples of the various papers they have to offer. Many even show how different inks appear when printed on the page. Visit our print shop to take a look at these sample books and to get our advice for selecting a paper that’s right for you.

How Old Are Your Carbonless Forms?

carbonless forms
Did you know that carbonless paper ages? If you’ve ever used a carbonless form that doesn’t print very dark on the second or third sheets, the problem is most likely caused by old paper that contains dried-out micro ink capsules. You’d be interested to know that some of our competitors buy “old” carbonless paper on sale to lower their costs. We never do. We only purchase fresh carbonless paper!Carbonless Form Production and Design Tips:

  1. Give yourself 1/2″ of white space at the top of any carbonless form. Occasionally, the padding compound that printers use will bleed down from the padding edge and cause the top 1/8″ of the paper to wrinkle slightly. White space makes it very hard to notice the wrinkling.
  2. Just because carbonless forms are practical doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Experiment with bold graphics to add pizzazz to your next project. In addition, two colors of ink can make a dramatic improvement in the appearance of carbonless forms, most of which are printed in black ink.
  3. Since many carbonless business forms are saved or filed for record keeping, why not consider designing the form so it includes three-hole drilling on the left side for those who want to archive their forms in three-ring binders?
  4. Consider shrink-wrapping the finished carbonless forms. They’ll look nicer and actually last longer.

A Mini-Glossary of Typographical Terms

The following is a short list of common typographical terms:

  1. The baseline is the invisible baseline that type sits on.
  2. Body copy, body text, and sometimes just plain body or text refer to the main block of text that you read, as opposed to headlines, subheads, titles, etc. Body text is usually between 9 and 12 points in size.
  3. dingbatsA bullet is a little marker typically used in a list instead of numbers or between words. This is the standard bullet: •
  4. A dingbat is a small, ornamental character. You might have the fonts Zapf Dingbats or WingDings, which are made up of dingbats.
  5. Elements are the separate objects on the page. An element might be a single line of text, a graphic, or a group of items that are so close together they are perceived as one unit. To determine the number of elements on a page, squint your eyes, and count the number of times your eye stops to see each separate item on the page.
  6. Extended text refers to large amounts of body copy (see above), as in a book or long report.
  7. Eye flow refers to the way someone moves their eyes around a page. Designers need to become more conscious of this flow and design accordingly.
  8. justified typeJustified type lines up flush on both the left and the right edges.
  9. A rule is a drawn line often used under headers.
  10. White space is the space on a page that is not occupied by any text or graphics. Beginners tend to be afraid of white space. Professional designers use lots of it.
  11. Trapped white space occurs when the white space (see above) on a page is seemingly “trapped” between elements (such as text or photos), with no space through which to flow.

Creative, Low-Budget Design Tips

The low-budget project can be the bane of a designer’s existence, or it can be an exciting challenge. With a low-budget project, the client usually has everything to lose. This letterhead project is probably all he or she can afford, perhaps for months or even years. It has to do the job right, or there may never be a second chance. volmer accountingYou will find that it is possible to do a lot with a little.

  • Make a low budget into an asset by producing a package that’s stylishly down-at-the-heels.
  • Spend the bulk of a client’s budget on one expensive but attention-getting element: a heavy paper, a die cut, engraving, or embossing.
  • Rely on a strong design in one or two colors, with ordinary offset printing on common paper stocks.

Producing nice layouts and stunning graphics is only half the battle. Solving your client’s design problems is the other half. As a designer, you must try to create practical and aesthetic designs targeted to your client (and your client’s clients). Here are a few tips for achieving those goals:

printing Printing Most letterhead is printed with offset lithography, which offers more options than most people use. Die cuts, foil-stamping (a specialty printing service), varnishes, and a variety of other printing tricks can help make a piece stand out.
logos Logos Most established companies have corporate logos that must be included in their printed products. While corporate identity design goes far beyond the scope of this article, even an outdated or downright ugly logo can, if used creatively, be part of a fresh, new design.
artwork Artwork Artwork gives a piece personality. It communicates without words and targets the emotions. Using scanners and laser printers, even clients with small budgets can reproduce personal photos and copyright-free images for their printed pieces.

Use these tips, and represent your client, not as you think they ought to be, but as they are. Your work is sure to do its job. Then you will, indeed, be a great designer.

Understanding the Potential of Paper

Paper is often taken for granted. Even by designers.

Older than Jesus
The first sheets of paper were made in China in about 200 BC. Since then, it has become indispensable. Paper was originally intended to be purely a carrier of images and scripts, but because of its natural properties — strength, flexibility, and durability — and its low costs, it has subsequently been developed and exploited to produce a vast variety of items from disposable clothing to loudspeaker cones. However, the main use of paper continues to be as a surface on which to print information.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Whitepaper
In recent years, there has been an encouraging increase in experimentation with different sorts of papers and in the diversity of techniques, both traditional and new, which designers apply to them. Whereas in the past there may have been some resistance to this, both printers and manufacturers are now becoming increasingly accommodating.

The Choice
For designers, choosing the right paper for a job should be just as important as choosing the right typeface — both decisions are part of the designer’s creative input. However tight the brief, however demanding or restricting the client, the choice of paper is generally made by the designer.

At our print shop, we specialize in searching out beautiful, alternative papers. Would you believe we have over 463 different papers available, over 86 different kinds of white paper, 200 different colors, and 31 different textures?

We care, because paper matters.