Not satisfied with your current printer? Let us help you know what to look for in choosing a new print vendor. While we're not a print shop ourselves, use this guide below (or our PDF) to help outline your requirements and preferences.
For definitions of printing terminology, see the Glossary below.
Print order specifications
This method dramatically reduces cost but doesn't guarantee highest quality.
Is it suitable for you? Does your print job require any of the following:
- Critical CMYK color matching
- Colors outside of the CMYK color gamut
- Foiling or embossing
- Special ink, like fluorescent or metallic
- Custom print size (anything other than a business card, postcard, pocket folder, catalog, poster, envelope, letterhead, etc.)
- Non-standard paper (anything other than book weight 80#, 100#, coated and uncoated; and cover 80#, 100# 10, 12, or 14 pt.)
There are many types of binding: saddle stitch, loop stitch, side stitch, and more. Make sure your printer is capable of fulfilling your binding needs.
Aqueous coating: a clear, water-based coating that can provide a gloss or matte surface and is less likely to crack when folded that UV coating
Bleeds: the margin of error between the margin of your document and the edge of your printed product; protects against frustrating, unpredictable white borders
CMYK: "cyan, magenta, yellow, key (black);" a subtractive color model used for printing
Digital printing: a printing process that prints directly onto a substrate from a digital file which is sent directly to an inkjet, laserjet or other type of digital printer; cost-effective for low-volume (<1,000) print jobs
Embossing/debossing: pressing a pattern, text, or image into the paper to create a three dimensional design
Flexography: a printing process that uses flexible rubber plates to allow printing on a variety of surfaces, including cardboard, plastic, metallic film, and cellophane
Foiling: a premium printing method that stamps a metallic foil die onto your product
Gang-run: a process where printers combine multiple jobs to print on the same sheet; this process helps to significantly reduce prices by dividing the set-up/production costs across several jobs; generally used with sheet-fed printing presses and CMYK process color jobs
Gravure: highest quality printing method and most cost-effective for very long run lengths (tens of millions)
K/0: indicates that one side of the print uses black ink and the other side is blank
Matte: a non-glossy, dull finish
Offset printing: a printing process that uses plates to transfer an image onto a rubber sheet, which is then used to transfer the image onto paper; cost-effective for high-volume (>1,000) print jobs and high-quality output
Paper weight: given in pounds (#), is a measure of paper thickness. There are two types of paper weight:
- Text weight: lighter paper; akin to high-quality printer paper
- Cover weight: heavier paper; used for items like cards or folders
For reference, 50# text weight paper is what you might find in a household printer, and 100# cover weight paper is often used to make business cards. Please note that 100# text weight and 100# cover weight will have different thicknesses because they use different types of paper.
PMS: "pantone matching system;" a universal color matching system where colors are pre-mixed with a specific formula of inks prior to printing to produce a more exact color
Scoring: mushing the fibers of the paper together at the score to weaken them so the paper is thinner and much easier to fold
Screen printing: a printing process to print directly on apparel
Thermography: a printing process that sprinkles resin on the ink while it is wet and exposes it to heat to raise the lettering and create an engraving effect for a fraction of the cost
UV/gloss coating: a clear-coat applied to printed material that gives the material a glossy look, helps protect it against damage, and enhances the brilliance of its ink. We recommend adding UV coating to documents that will be handled frequently, such as business cards and postcards
Varnish: essentially a colorless ink that manipulates how light relfects or is absorbed into a sheet
Velvet/soft touch: a soft finish that appeals to touch rather than sight
6C: a color profile that includes the four CMYK colors plus two others to expand the color gamut
8C: a color profile that includes the four CMYK colors plus four others to expand the color gamut