frequently asked questions

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your business hours?

 

We're open Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

 

 

 

 

What types of printing do you offer?

 

We do two types of printing:  offset lithographic printing (on printing presses using ink and metal plates) and digital laser printing (on commercial printing devices using toner). We print 1-color to 6-color, CMYK and spot. We also offer aqueous, varnish, and UV coatings.

 

 

 

 

What types of jobs do you print?

 

We print all kinds of jobs:  business cards, postcards, rack cards, invitations, envelopes, flyers, brochures, inserts, bookmarks, pamphlets, posters, booklets, newsletters, pocket folders, note pads, collateral materials, custom die cut pieces... you name it, we can probably print it for you!

 

 

 

 

What is your typical turnaround time?

 

Turnaround time can vary and it depends on the complexity of your job. If you want a specific due date, please ask us and we'll let you know if we can complete your job within the desired time frame.

 

 

 

 

How do I get price quotes?

 

 

 

 

 

What file format should I give you for printing?

 

Please send us your print-ready artwork as a PDF file. We use print-ready PDFs for almost every job.

 

 

 

 

What makes a PDF "print-ready"?

 

 

 

 

 

Can I send you native files instead of a PDF?

 

In most cases it's better to print from a PDF, because PDFs are much easier and require significantly less time to process. The advantage of PDFs is that they are cross-platform, self-contained files that require no external supporting files (i.e. the fonts and graphics used in the layout) in order to print correctly. By contrast, native files (such as files created in Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator) generally require all supporting fonts and graphics to be packaged and supplied along with the layout itself. While this method works most of the time, there are potential issues with supplying files in this manner. For one thing, sometimes fonts don't always work as they should from one computer to another. This can lead to unexpected issues like text reflow or font corruption. Sometimes fonts won't even load, even though they were packaged correctly from the source computer. Packaged supporting graphics can sometimes have issues as well, depending on how a layout is built, how the graphics are named, and where the those graphics are stored on the source computer. Supplying us with a print-ready PDF eliminates these issues and allows us to go through the process of checking your artwork much more quickly.

 

 

 

 

Do you accept native files under any circumstances?

 

 

 

 

 

What is a proof?

 

 

 

 

 

How accurate is the color in the printed piece to what I see on my screen?

 

Unless your computer screen has been calibrated to a printing press/device using specialized equipment, there will be a difference in color between the printed piece and what you see on your computer screen. So if you're viewing a PDF proof on your computer screen, tablet, or smart phone, you should expect that the colors you see on those devices will not match to the printed piece. PDF proofs should be used to check the content only, not the color. If your job is color critical then we recommend that you see a hardcopy proof to get a better idea of how the color will look on the printed piece.

 

 

 

 

What is a press check?

 

A press check is an appointment that can be made for you to come to our facility and look at your job while it's beginning to run on press. The main purpose of a press check is to examine your job for color accuracy, and if necessary to make slight adjustments in real time.

 

 

 

 

What are the most common sizes for my print job?

 

Brochures:  8.5x11, 8.5x14, and 11x17

 

Booklets/catalogs:  5.5x8.5, 6x9, 8.5x11, and 9x12

 

Postcards:  4x6, 4.25x6, 5x7, 5.5x8.5, 6x9, and 6x11

 

Posters:  11x17, 18x24, and 19x25

 

Pocket folders (finished size):  6x9, 9x12

(We also have many custom pocket folder dies)

 

 

 

 

How do I setup my print job for mailing?

 

 

 

 

 

Should my job print on coated or uncoated paper?

 

It depends on the look you're going for and how the piece is being used.

 

Coated paper is made with a coating on it that gives it a gloss finish or a dull (silk) finish. (The difference between a gloss and dull finish is how much the paper is polished during manufacturing.) With offset printing, gloss coating creates a barrier that allows the ink to sit on top of the paper more so than soaking into the paper, which in turn causes the ink to stand out more and gives the printed piece more "pop". Dull coating does the same thing but to a lesser degree than gloss coating, and as such the ink will soak into dull coated stock more than gloss coated stock but less than uncoated stock. Uncoated stock has no coating, so ink soaks into the paper more. This causes the ink to have a softer look that is also a very nice effect.

 

With digital printing, the toner sits on top regardless of the paper finish, and the toner itself has a glossy finish.

 

Another thing to consider is whether or not you intend the piece to be written on, such as a form for people to fill out. Uncoated paper is best for that because it's the easiest to write on, although dull coated paper can also be written on fairly easily. Glossy paper isn't as easily written on, and pen ink doesn't dry as quickly on top of a glossy sheet.

 

 

 

 

What type of binding is right for my multi-page print job?

 

It depends on the look you want and the intended use of the finished piece.

 

Saddle stitching uses staples on the folded spine edge to hold pages together. It is perhaps the most common way to bind pages into a booklet form.

 

Perfect binding is a method that uses glue to hold interior pages to a cover that has a squared-off book spine. This binding method is very commonly seen on books in any bookstore.

 

Spiral binding uses a coiled metal or plastic wire that is threaded through holes that have been punched along the spine edge of the pages. Spiral binding allows a booklet to lay flat when opened. Spiral-bound books are also sometimes hole punched for use in a three-ring binder.

 

Wire-o binding uses a custom-shaped metal wire that gets threaded through holes that have been punched along the spine edge of the pages. The wire is then clamped down to form the spine. Like spiral binding, wire-o binding allows a booklet to lay flat when opened.

 

GBC binding uses a special plastic piece with "comb" teeth that hook through custom holes that have been punched along the spine edge of the pages. Like spiral binding and wire-o binding, GBC binding also allows a booklet to lay flat when opened.

 

Three-ring binding is a method that uses a binder with three retaining rings. Loose pages are hole punched/drilled and then threaded onto the rings, which then clasp to hold the pages together.

 

 

 

 

Should I send single pages or printer spreads for my booklet job?

 

We prefer for booklet artwork to be set up as individual pages in a single PDF file. For example, if you have a 32-page booklet then you would send us one PDF file with 32 separate, individual pages in it. An exception to this would be for the cover of a perfect bound book, which should be setup as spreads, and it should include the spine artwork. Also if your booklet has blank pages, please include them where they belong in the correct page order.

 

 

 

 

My artwork has extra space around it. Can you use it that way?

 

 

 

 

 

What software do you use?

 

We use the most current version of Adobe Creative Cloud software (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat DC). We also use the Heidelberg Prinect workflow (for conventional, ink-based offset printing jobs) and the EFI Fiery Command Workstation (for toner-based digital printing jobs). All of these are industry-standard and state-of-the-art.

 

We also use Microsoft Excel and Apple Numbers, but only for variable data purposes. These applications are designed to create data spreadsheets, not page layouts.

 

 

 

 

Are there any other applications that you can use?

 

If you've built your page layout in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Excel, then we can either use the source file to extract the text and graphic elements in order to recreate the layout in a usable format (which would require computer time and additional cost), or you can save/export your artwork as a PDF to send to us. Please note that the default page size in PowerPoint is 10" x 7.5", so if you're intending to produce a standard size piece then you would need to change your page dimensions accordingly. Please also note that Word and PowerPoint use an RGB color space, which may produce unexpected color results when converted to CMYK. And, please note that Excel is a data spreadsheet application and it is not intended for creating page layouts, so if you need to create a page layout then we strongly recommend using a different application.

 

 

 

 

Are there any applications that you don't use or support?

 

We don't use or support QuarkXPress, PageMaker, or Freehand. Though these applications were once industry-standard, they are either no longer developed/supported by their copyright holders or they no longer have the user base that they once had.

 

At this time we don't use or support Affinity Designer or other alternative applications.

 

We also don't use or support Microsoft Publisher or CorelDraw. These applications are problematic, and as such the layouts created by them also tend to be problematic in one way or another. If you've created your layout using one of these applications then here are a couple of tips based on our previous knowledge and experience:  1) Microsoft Publisher does a very poor job with its CMYK color space. If your artwork is in Publisher, the final printed piece may actually look much better if you leave the CMYK color space alone and only use the default RGB color space to create the layout and the print-ready PDF.  2) CorelDraw doesn't do a great job with raster effects like drop shadows, outer glows, etc. CorelDraw's raster effects tend to look choppy and blotchy, not smooth and uniform like the raster effects generated by Adobe InDesign or Adobe Illustrator. For this reason we suggest using raster effects in CorelDraw very sparingly, if at all.

 

If you've created your layout using any of these unsupported applications then you can save/export your final artwork as a PDF to send to us.

 

 

 

 

What are the types and formats of image/graphic files, and what are they used for?

 

There are two main types of image/graphic files: raster images and vector graphics. There are many file formats, and they are categorized as either a raster or a vector file type. The EPS and PDF file formats can be raster or vector, depending on which application creates them. The below list is by no means exhaustive, and it is intended only as a general guide. For best results, please use only the recommended raster and vector file formats noted below (the other two categories below those are shown for informational purposes only):

 

Recommended raster file formats (used for pixel-based images like photographs and scans, typically made and/or edited using Adobe Photoshop or similar application):

TIFF (.tif or .tiff), Photoshop (.psd), JPEG (.jpg), EPS (.eps)

 

Recommended vector file formats (used for line-based graphics like logos, icons, and clip art, typically made and/or edited using Adobe Illustrator or similar application):

Adobe Illustrator (.ai), EPS (.eps), PDF (.pdf)

 

Unusual file formats (these are not commonly needed so we don't recommend them):

DCS (.eps) - typically used for saving spot colors and/or low-res EPS previews out of Photoshop

JPEG 2000 (.jpf) - an enhanced version of JPEG that uses lossless compression

 

File formats used for websites (not recommended for use in printing):

GIF (.gif), BMP (.bmp), PNG (.png)*

 

* PNG is a raster file format that can be used for supporting images in a layout, with a couple of caveats: 1) It offers no advantage over other raster file types except for its convenience as the file type used by macOS to create screen shots. 2) It's not supported in the CMYK color space, so any PNG images in your artwork would be RGB, which we don't recommend.

 

 

 

 

What's the difference between CMYK (process), and spot color?

 

These terms describe different modes of printing, that is, different methods of putting ink onto paper, and therefore how ink creates color on paper. CMYK and process describe the same thing. There are four inks used in CMYK (aka "process") printing:  Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. Since CMYK inks are translucent, when they are printed on paper in various strengths and at different angles, the result is overlapping inks that can be used to create an entire gamut of other colors. Consider these simple color combinations:  Magenta and Yellow makes Red; Cyan and Yellow makes Green; Cyan and Magenta makes Blue. The way this works is that CMYK data is sent through a RIP (a Raster Image Processing computer), which translates that data into a halftone dot pattern and assigns a different "screening angle" to each of the four colors ( i.e. an angle of 45°, 105°, etc.). The different angles at which the screens (halftone dots) of each color are generated, and the strengths (amounts) of each of the colors, determine if and how much each color overlaps the other colors, thereby creating different color combinations. For example, if you want to produce an orange color in CMYK printing, you might create a custom CMYK color in your layout with the values set to 40 Magenta and 80 Yellow. When the file is sent through the RIP, the RIP will assign different screening angles to these colors, as well as halftone dots with diameters based on the amount of each color specified in the layout (so in this case the Yellow halftone dot would be bigger than the Magenta halftone dot, which translates into more Yellow ink on paper than Magenta ink). Now let's say you want to make the orange color darker without changing the strength/saturation of the color itself. You could add 20 Black to the orange color, which would introduce a screen of 20% Black into the mix. The specific halftone dot and Black screen angle would be generated by the RIP, and the corresponding amount of Black ink would be printed on paper, thereby lowering the brightness of the orange color.

 

Spot colors work differently. Spot colors are pre-mixed inks that are determined by a specific standard, which is almost always based on the Pantone® Matching System (PMS). The terms "Pantone color" and "PMS color" mean the same thing. Jobs that are printed as two spot colors or three spot colors will almost certainly use PMS inks. It helps to think of spot color printing as inks that are printed in specific locations or "spots" on the sheet, according to how the colors have been created in the layout. For example, let's say that your layout has a blue square and a red square next to each other. In CMYK process printing, those colors would be reproduced with the four CMYK inks in their corresponding halftone dot sizes and screen angles. In spot printing, two different pre-mixed inks would be used (for example PMS 293 for the blue color and PMS 185 for the red color) to print the two squares onto the two positions (spots) that they each occupy on the printed sheet.

 

 

 

 

What is bleed and how do I use it?

 

Bleed is the area immediately outside of the live area. It's needed whenever a layout contains text, images, or graphics that touch the edge of the live area. The purpose of bleed is to prevent paper white from showing on the outside edges of layout elements when a printed piece is cut to size. For example, let's say you have a postcard layout with a blue box that's touching the left edge. Unless the blue box is extended into the bleed area, it's very likely that the blue box would have an flash of paper white along that left edge when the postcard is cut to size. To use bleed in Adobe InDesign or Illustrator, go to the File menu, choose Document Setup, and enter .125" in the Bleed text fields. Once you do that and click "OK", you'll see a new set of guides surrounding the live area that are showing an extra .125" area on every edge (if you don't see that then turn your guides on). Then go through your layout and check for any text, images or graphics that are touching the edge of the live area. Extend those elements outward until they touch the edge of the bleed area. When doing this, if you find any images that don't go all the way to the outer edge of the bleed area, then adjust the position or scale of the images until they do reach the outer edge of the bleed area.

 

 

 

 

What is trapping and why is it necessary?

 

Trapping is a method of compensating for color registration misalignments on press, and it's used to prevent flashes of paper white between different colors that are touching each other. For example, let's say your layout has a blue square right next to a red square, and the two squares are touching. Because the two squares are touching in the layout with no white in between, they should also look the same in the printed piece. But if the colors don't register correctly on press then you might see a thin line of paper white showing between the two colors. Trapping compensates for this by adding a very thin line of overlap from one color to the other. In the event that colors don't register correctly on press, the overlapping line prevents paper white from showing through, thereby visually "trapping" the two colors together. Unlike bleed, you don't have to manually set traps for your job. In fact, we strongly advise you not to trap your artwork because our RIP takes care of trapping automatically.

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