25 Tips to Control Printing Costs from Commercial Printing Company
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25 Tips to Help
You Save Money
on Your Print Job
Through a secure customer-branded store-front that
can be setup on Ryan Printing’s servers, clients can
access, customize and order their printing on-line.
Web-to-Print offers significant savings in
prepress, proofing and inventory control while
improving workflow efficiency. Ask about tailoring
pricing, products, ordering, tracking, proofing, and
much more, for your organization's specific needs.
A great way to save time and money is to install a print
driver on your desktop computer downloadable
through Ryan Printing’s website. As easy as typing file
print, this driver will correctly assemble, convert and
send your digital file to us.
Research has shown that when people receive
something in the mail that has been personalized with
their name, interests or lifestyle, they (not
surprisingly) pay more attention to the piece. Though
more expensive per piece to print, targeted print earns
a much higher return on your print investment and
makes print work harder. In fact, the U.S. Postal
Service estimates that every dollar spent on direct
marketing will return almost $12 in sales.
If you are doing a mailing, print less and save money
by setting aside time in the early phase of your project
to update your mailing list. Remove unlikely
respondents and duplicate addresses.
Keep Prepress Under Control
Prepress professionals at printers are responsible for
ensuring that the electronic files that they receive from
clients will print correctly on press. At prepress, client
files are converted into a format that the press can
Much like a pilot performs a series of cross-checks
before taking off into the sky, file creators should pre-
flight their documents to be alerted to missing fonts,
images, colors, incorrect color space and transparency
issues prior to uploading their raw files to a printer.
Many industry-standard page layout applications, such
as Adobe InDesign and Quark XPress have such
The ideal format for transferring digital files is the
Adobe Portable Document File (PDF), but not all PDF
formats are alike. File creators should save their files as
a press-ready PDF to gain maximum time savings
during the proofing process, or use Ryan Printing's
Web-to-Print Driver (see above). When working with
Ryan Printing for the first time, consult with one of
our prepress technicians before sending your file(s) to
make sure everyone is on the same "page".
Talk to your printer about whether your job can be
printed on a digital printer. Ryan Printing's HP Indigo
digital presses can usually match offset’s printing
quality, and can be more cost effective. For shorter
runs, digital printing may cost less, allow
personalization, require less complicated prepress and
involve less waste. Digital printing is not be suited for
certain jobs, however, particularly those requiring
certain types of paper or Pantone color matches, so
speak with a Ryan Printing representative.
As every printer will tell you, each print job is unique.
Talk to a Ryan Printing representative early; don’t be
afraid to ask about any potential prepress or
production issues that can be avoided through better
Nothing is truer than the old adage “haste makes
waste” especially when it comes to printing. Rush jobs
are charged an additional premium to accommodate
rapid prepress, press time, fulfilment and mailing - try
to avoid this!
It might seem silly to mention this, but many print
cost overruns are due to press downtime or reprints
that results from avoidable mistakes such as
typos, incomplete sentences, bad dates, wrong
captions, etc. So take a breath, slow down and review
your piece carefully with the spell checker on and off.
Or better yet, have several people in your organization
not involved with the project look it over prior to
submitting it for print.
Design a Lower Cost Piece While Maintaining Brand
Printers use a particular stock of paper for their
everyday printing that has proven itself to be the most
versatile in printing and reliable on press. This stock is
purchased in large quantities at substantial discounts
which can be passed on to you. Inquire about printing
your job on house stock and ask to see samples so you
can evaluate how your piece will look on that paper.
Paper comes in different weights which affect its
durability and its opacity. Heavier basis weight sheets
of the same type of paper costs more money. For
example, printing on an 80# cover stock versus a 100#
cover stock can save you up to 20% in paper costs.
If you are not concerned with slight differences
between printed pieces for a particular job, ask your
printer to suggest alternative papers that may be
appropriate for your job. Will any of the recipients of
your newsletter notice that their paper is slightly
different from others? If not, be flexible and allow the
printer to substitute similar papers to keep your costs
Sometimes a design or organization's brand identity
just calls for a special paper and paper must be ordered
for the print job. Paper comes in cartons and the more
cartons you buy, the less the unit cost of each sheet. If
you know that you will be using more of this stock in
the future, it pays to purchase it all at one time to take
advantage of savings and to warehouse the rest at a
nominal cost at the commercial printer. Be aware that
if you print less than the carton amount, you are still
responsible for paying for the carton price.
The sheets of paper that are fed through digital and
offset presses come in standard sizes up to 28" x 40".
These large-size press sheets were created to easily fit
multiples of commonly used finished sizes such as 8
½" x 11" with minimal waste. Pieces that are designed
to these standard sizes save paper as well as money.
Given that paper comes in standard size
sheets, sometimes reducing the size dimensions of
your piece by a small amount will enable you to use
more of each parent sheet of paper. Talk to your printer
about your specific project to see whether this might
be the case with paper you have chosen.
Standard size envelopes save time
and money. (See table for common
invitation and commercial envelope
sizes). Envelopes should be at least
¼" longer than the longest insert
and the recommended clearance
from top to bottom should be no
less than ¼". Make extra allowances
when inserts are thick or bulky. And
stick with two color inks on your
envelopes for the best price.
Prior to printing, a piece is laid
out (imposed) to utilize as much
of the press sheet as possible.
Multiple copies of the piece will
be squeezed onto a sheet. Due to
the particular dimensions of a
piece, often there is extra room
on the press sheet. Instead of
wasting paper that is paid for, it
might be possible to use the extra
space for another printed piece
(i.e. do a Combination (Gang)
Run - see example).
As a general rule, marketing pieces tend to work best
using CMYK process colors
(Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) to take advantage of
full-color offset and digital printing. Other products
like invitations, business cards, envelopes and
corporate stationery may work better and cost less
printing in one or two spot Pantone colors.
Often, brand identity determines which colors to be
used, so consult your Ryan Printing representative to
come up with the best solution for your needs.
Speaking of inks, print jobs with solid ink coverage
require more press time since it is harder to maintain
consistent color and quality throughout the run.
Consider using large solids carefully when determining
the purpose of your design.
Spot varnishes and laminates, metallic inks, die-cuts,
embossing and debussing can add to the cost of
printing. Depending on your goals and the end-use of
the product, these special effects may be well worth it
and even necessary (i.e. packaging or similar
applications), but talk about this with a Ryan Printing
reprehensive to weigh costs and benefits.
If you anticipate needing more print pieces in the
future, it often makes financial sense to print more of
these pieces now. With offset printing, the more you
print, the less it costs per piece. Printing involves
various fixed costs regardless of the volume of printing
such as prepress, imposition, making plates and
setting up the plates and ink stations.
Choose Your Printer Wisely
Having an on-going dialogue and relationship with
your printer is the key to printing smarter within your
budget. Here are some qualities you should look for in
choosing your printing partner.
Not all printers are the same. Some, like Ryan
Printing, offer graphic design, digital and offset
printing, wide-format printing, binding and
finishing, personalization, direct mailing and database
management services in-house, while others
subcontract part of their printing processes with
outside vendors. Keeping your job in-house means
more quality control, flexibility in meeting deadlines
and lower cost.
A little due-diligence on your part now may save you a
bundle down the road. Ask for long-term client
referrals to assess the quality of the printer’s work. Ask
about the level of service they provide and their
reliability history. Visit the printer and get a plant tour.
Ryan Printing's clients know what a good printer does.
A good printer asks questions and is concerned with
your overall communication goals as well as your time
and budget. A good printer is honest about what and
when they can deliver. And a good printer takes the
time to understand your objectives and to offer
workflow, product or production solutions.
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Blauvelt NY 10913
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