Source: David Airey

There are certain questions you should ask yourself and your commercial printer in order to make the most of your print budget. Here are 12 of them, with some excellent additions in the comment thread.

#1 Did more than one person proof-read the job?
An obvious one, this. No matter how many times I proof-read text, I can miss the same glaring error each time it’s passed over. Another set of eyes can sort this quickly. In fact, the more people that proof your job the better. Unlike online content, print is permanent. Mistakes can’t be corrected.

#2 If we change the size of the printed product can we print on a smaller press and save money?
There’s no need to have your A5 flyers printed by a large commercial printer. If you’ve been using one printer for all your projects try shopping around. A printer who specializes in small-run jobs can be much more competitive.

#3 Did you make a “dummy” or mock-up to check configuration and presentation?
If you’re producing a folded leaflet, for example, it’s always worth printing the pages yourself to be sure you have them in the correct order. If you’re in any way unsure, ask your printer for help. (We at Print Media Collective will check the composition for you.)

#4 Are you absolutely sure about the quantity to be printed?
A second print run will cost a lot more than extended first runs (or “run-on” as printers call it). If you’re asking for a quote of 10,000 copies, for example, be sure to also ask for “run on” costs. This will help with budgeting.

#5 If there are photos in the document, do they need to be retouched?

One of the most common changes I make in Photoshop is to adjust the levels of an image. This is to make sure that white areas are bright white and black is actually black. Also, color prints tend to get darker after scanning, and large reductions can make shadow areas heavier.

#6 Is the paper opacity sufficient or will there be any see-through?
If you hold a newspaper up to the light, you can read the text and see the images on the other side of the paper.  Choose a good weight of paper stock (approx. 150gsm+) and you’ll not only prevent this from happening, but your colors will print more brilliantly too.

#7 What about the texture of the paper?
Cheap paper feels cheap. Is this the impression you want to give? When receiving a quote, why not factor in a few different weights of paper? You might be surprised at how little extra you need to pay for a higher quality paper.

#8 Can we substitute our choice of paper for a stock that’s less expensive, while still looking as good?
We can advise you. One factor this depends on is the amount of ink you’re going to use. For instance, if you have large areas of black to be printed, you’ll need a decent paper stock to prevent the paper going out of shape.

#9 Will ink colors change when printed on a particular type of paper?
Printing inks are transparent and will change depending on the brightness or “yellowness” of a white paper. Remember, paper critically affects the color of your printed product.

#10 Does the printed sheet need a varnish?
If your print job is to be stacked and packaged, you have to be careful that the ink doesn’t transfer from one brochure/poster/business card to another during storage and transit (this is called offsetting). Varnishing can be a useful preventative. If in doubt, ask.

#11 Can we print four colors on one side of the sheet and black on the reverse to give the illusion of a “four color process” job?
If you want to use color, but find that it’s too expensive, you can always print one side of the paper using full-color with the reverse in black only. Newspaper companies use this technique to give the appearance of full-color printing. This saves money, yet gives the appearance of higher quality.

#12 Can we combo-run any of the elements for a cost-savings?
Always ask the printer if there’s any space left on the printing plates for extra work. You could, perhaps, print some extra business cards on the same printing plate as a batch of brochures, saving you money.

Consult us at Print Media Collective when you are planning your next printing job.