Whether you’re planning a battle, an important speech or even Thanksgiving dinner, preparation is key. The more you prep, the better you fare.

When it comes to printing 10,000 copies of a brochure or a bulletin that will speak to hundreds of thousands, preparation is THE KEY to getting your print project completed faster and easier.

So how do you make this happen? Here’s a short checklist:

1. Answer All the Questions First

Take a step back from your project and consider all of the different angles regarding materials types and specifications. You might ask:

  • What types and sizes of paper do I need?
  • What paper weight works best here?
  • Am I going green and therefore need special inks, paper or even environmentally-friendly printing processes?
  • Do I need another special type of ink? Whether you choose heat-resistant inks, wax-free inks or other types, you’ll want to square this away early.
  • What colors am I using? Make sure that you note the exact ink colors you desire as Pantone, RGB or a CMYK code.
  • Would I like the paper to be coated or uncoated? Coated paper helps photos show great details and brings colors alive since the ink sits on top of the surface. Uncoated, or smooth, vellum, laid, wove, linen or felt finishes are easier to read since they are not reflective.
  • In addition to the printing, will the project require special actions like folding, scoring, perforations, embossing, die cutting or UV coating?
  • If I’m binding a book, what paper stock and cover options will enhance the project?
  • What finishing touches are important? Do I need aqueous coatings, spot varnishes, foil stamping, UV and film laminations, embossing and debossing, die-cutting or any number of special processes?

Once you know exactly what you’re dealing with, you’ll be more prepared to hand it off to the printer. Some of these choices will require more time, so you’ll be able to plan for that as well.

Related: How to Write a Creative Brief Your Designer Will Love

2. Proofread like a Pro

It goes without saying that your work should be completely proofed ahead of time. Get it right the first time, and don’t rely on the printer for this! Then when the printer sends their own proof, pay careful attention to it since it’s your responsibility to sign off on everything to keep things rolling.

How do you know that your document is print-ready? It will be mistake-free, in a PDF format with the right trim and bleed areas, have high-quality images and feature accepted fonts. This will speed you right along.

3. Go Digital

There are two options for printers: digital and offset. Digital is the fastest and easiest way to print – it’s basically a larger version of your home printer. Offset printing uses plates and other production materials that add time and money to the project, but this can be a smart strategy for specific projects.

How you send the file also determines your turnaround time. Sending it digitally will speed it along, versus sticking it in snail mail. You’ll provide a digital file with all of the correct specifications, (see our Pre-Press Checklist blog for a quick cheat sheet) and the printer will fulfill it faster than they would mailed-in materials.

Related: Digital vs. Offset Printing: How You Can Save Time & Money

4. Be Realistic

Many times a unique project with different paper types or sizes may not be readily in stock. Special finishes and extra processes take longer. So you’ll have to wait a little bit. If you go standard with paper and skip some of the finishes, you can get your printing done quicker and easier.

TALK TO A PRINT EXPERT  

5. Let Your Printer Fulfill

Some of the most time-consuming steps in the printing process are the sorting, packing and mailing. Most printers are experts at this, and they will take far less time than you will to distribute the final printed copies to your end users. You’ll save yourself massive amounts of time and headaches this way.

Phew. Now you’re ready to press “print.”

Got all that? If not, we can help! A lot goes into the preparation of a great print job. And just like that Thanksgiving dinner, it’s an effort well worth it. But if you want another sous-chef to do some of the prep work, you know where to reach us. Happy Thanksgiving!

Written by Jeannette Bezinque

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