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.

Stretch Your Budget with Self-Mailers

self mailers
Companies can save substantial amounts of money by eliminating the need for envelopes. The possibility of creating a self-mailer should be considered with any direct mail piece.A self-mailer is simply a piece of mail that doesn’t require an envelope. All of the necessary mailing information is located on one of the outside panels.Because self-mailers do not require envelopes, you must be more creative when designing the format, since you don’t have the luxury of an envelope to contain any extra sheets of printed material.

Here are some things to consider when designing a self-mailer:

  1. Will the delivery address be printed directly on the self-mailer, or will self-adhesive labels be used?
  2. The amount of written material in the self-mailer will determine the overall size of the mailer.
  3. Information needs to flow quickly and smoothly from the initial pitch to the fine print. The fewer words needed to convey your message, the better.
  4. The type of closure needs to assure safe passage through the mail. Staples are used often, but many people find them unappealing. Miniature self-adhesives are available in many colors, shapes, and sizes.
  5. If perforated sections are used, keep them in mind so that nothing can slip loose while being passed through the mail.


Thomas Watson, who founded IBM in 1924, placed on the wall behind his desk a single framed word: THINK. It became the corporate motto of one of the most influential companies of the century.

Think. The handiest source of new product ideas is your mind, if for no other reason than that you are always carrying it around with you. You have a mind. The next step is to open it and keep it open. What you want is to be open to change.

Management guru Peter Drucker has made the observation that most successful innovations exploit change. In his 1985 Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Drucker defined seven specific kinds of change that are sources of innovative opportunity:

  1. The unexpected, including unexpected success, unexpected failure, and unexpected events.
  2. Incongruity between reality as it actually is and reality as it is assumed to be.
  3. Innovation based on process need.
  4. Changes in industry structure and market structure — especially those that catch everyone unaware.
  5. Demographic shifts.
  6. Changes in perception, mood, and meaning.
  7. New knowledge, including the scientific and the nonscientific.

We are keenly aware of the effect of change in the graphics and arts industry. Few industries have undergone as much change during the last few years as printing. While two of our heroes are Johannes Gutenberg and Benjamin Franklin, we also deeply admire Steven Jobs, Michael Dell, and Bill Gates. We anxiously embrace new technologies and see the changes as opportunities — not something to fear or dread. We just thought you needed to know.

Tips for Choosing a Readable Type

You’ve worked hard to create just the right look for your client’s newsletter. But will your masterpiece also be easy to read? Balancing beauty with readability can be challenging. Here are some areas to keep in mind as you choose a typeface and layout the text on your next project:

X-height. X-height refers to the size of a lowercase x in a given typeface. The larger the x-height, the denser the type will appear on the page, and the less readable it will tend to be.

Tracking. Tracking refers to character spacing. Any variation from normal tracking (narrowed or expanded text) can have an adverse effect on readability.

Serif vs. sans serif. Research shows that serif fonts are more readable than sans serif fonts for large areas of body text. This may be due to the serifs’ ability to lead the eye from one character to the next. On the other hand, typefaces with serifs that are too pronounced can have the opposite effect. Also, sans serif fonts tend to be more readable than their serif counterparts in smaller point sizes, such as those used for footnotes or fine print.

Line length. Shorter lines of text tend to be more readable than longer lines. However, lines that are too short may also prove difficult to read. Experts suggest setting line length at approximately 39 characters, or two times your point size, converted into picas (e.g. 2 x 10pt =20 picas or 3 1/3 inches). Experiment with both of these options to see which works better for you.
line length

Leading. The leading, or space between each line of text, can also affect readability. In general, leading that is 2-3 points larger than the typeface enhances readability. Leading that is too much larger or smaller than that, however, can make the type more difficult to read.

Widows and orphans. Widows occur when the final line of a paragraph contains just a single word. Orphans are paragraphs that carry over just a single line from one column to the next. Both are visually distracting, unattractive, and reduce the readability of a page.
widows and orphans

Point size. Body text is generally set at 9-12 points in size. This can vary, however, depending on the typeface and purpose involved, so make adjustments accordingly.
point size

Signatures Could Save You Money

Of course, we aren’t talking about your autograph, but a printing concept. As you may know, we don’t always print documents in the one-page-per-sheet way that your office laser jet does. signaturesInstead, we may print several pages of material on a single, larger sheet (that’s called a press sheet) and then fold it and cut it to get the final finished page sizes.

What that means is that one large piece of paper coming off the press (before it’s folded and trimmed) could hold four, eight or more pages of material. That large piece of paper containing multiple finished pieces is called a “signature,” and the number of finished pages in one signature is called the “signature unit.”

The key to properly planning your multi-page documents is to think about the signature unit. If you have a project that is nine pages long and the signature unit is eight signatures (meaning the signature contains eight finished pages), you would use two signatures: one signature for the first eight pages, and a second signature for that last (ninth) page. But if you were to do a little bit of editing to reduce your document page length to eight pages, you would only use one signature.

By being aware of the signature unit (the number of finished pages that can fit on a press sheet) required for your project, you can remove or add content so that your final product fits the signature, which reduces waste and saves you money.