• How to prepare your digital file for printing

    Digital Photo of Sunflowers on LaptopNow for more from the PrintPlace.com pre-press department (aka art department). They want to be sure every order that rolls off our presses looks professional and exactly as you expected. Everyone here does their part to ensure consistency in color and monitor every step of the printing process. The first step though, includes the digital portion of the printing. That’s where you come in. There are a few things you should keep in mind while creating your artwork and saving your file.

    We want to make the process is as easy as possible for you, so we asked the art department for some of their best tips. This is what they said.

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  • How to fold paper into a brochure

    Brochure_folding-options_printplace

    There are several ways to fold a brochure, and each has its own benefits. At PrintPlace.com, we realize that not everyone is as passionate about printing as us, and you might be confused by some of the printing terms we use on PrintPlace.com. That’s why we want to clarify some for you. The half-fold and tri-fold are pretty simple and easy to figure out, but with names like double parallel fold and French fold, they can be a bit harder to remember. No problem. That’s why I am writing this post.

    We even designed a video that clearly shows the different folds we offer. Take a look. The folds become easy to understand when you see them right in front of you.

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  • What Tracking Information is Available?

    As soon as you place your order with us, we’ll assign a job number that follows that order through the entire process. You can log in to your PrintPlace account to track your order at every stage.

    Order Status:

    • Upload Art – When you place the order, the first status will be the uploading of artwork. From your account page you can upload the artwork file(s) for your print job.
    • Reject Proof – Once your artwork is uploaded, our automated system will create a proof for you. If you’ve chosen the electronic proof, you can view the high-resolution PDF from your account page and either send the order to press, if you’re happy with the results, or reject the proof if you’re not satisfied. You can upload new artwork if you reject the proof.
    • Send to Press – Once the proof is accepted by you, the order will be sent to press. From this order status, we can no longer cancel or change the print order (you may still be able to adjust shipping). We’ll print the order in the turnaround time you specified and have it ready to ship on the date shown in your account page.
    • Shipped – When the order has shipped, you’ll see a link on your account page with the UPS tracking information. You can find out the location of the package and the estimated delivery date from your PrintPlace account, or through the UPS website.
    • Completed – After your order has been printed, shipped and delivered, your final status will be completed, but the job number will stay in our system. If you want to re-order the same print job, just click the green “Re-Order” button from your account page.

     

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  • What Paper Options Do You Have?

    You can choose between cover stock and text stock paper for booklets and catalogs and thick card stock for your business cards or postcards. You can choose a coating for the paper so that it has a glossy or matte appearance. And you can choose a finish for the paper which might be an aqueous coating, a high gloss UV coating, or a dull UV coating, all of which change the appearance of the finished product slightly.

    Not all paper options are available on all products. What you see in the dropdown menu when you configure your order is what we have available for that product. However, if you want to do something unique, you can always contact our custom order team for a quote. Either call 877-405-3949 or contact them online.

    The first thing to look at in paper is the thickness. Thicker paper is often perceived as being higher-quality, and it lasts longer under heavy use, so it’s ideal for business cards and postcards. The thickest paper is card stock (also called cover stock) and the measurement is given in points. Each point of thickness is one-one thousandth of an inch, so a 14pt cover stock is 14/1000ths of an inch thick (.014”). We offer both 10pt and 14pt card stock and cover stock.

    Text stock paper is thinner than card stock; typically it’s used for the insides of a book or catalog. This paper is measured in pounds per 500 sheets- the heavier the weight designation, the thicker the paper. You can choose 70 pound (abbreviated 70# in our options), 80# or 100#.

    Paper Options:

    • Cover/Card Stock
      • 10pt  – glossy coated on both sides. Typically used for two-sided printing like flyers and brochures.
      • 14pt  – uncoated, there’s no glossy coating, just plain paper. This is a common choice for business cards.
      • 14pt – glossy on one side. The cover for a booklet or a presentation folder can have gloss on the outside, but be uncoated on the inside.
      • 14pt – glossy on both sides. Graphic intensive business cards or postcards where you have printing on both sides would use this paper.
      • Text Stock
        • 70#  – uncoated. This is our letterhead paper of choice. It works well in laser and inkjet printers.
        • 70# – coated. The glossy coating is ideal for making images pop inside a booklet or catalog. Choose a heavier paper weight for a more substantial feel and durability.
        • 80# – coated. Imagine a magazine cover and you’ll get the sense of the weight and feel of this paper. We use 10% recycled paper for this option.
        • 100# – coated. Slightly thicker than a magazine cover, but thinner than card stock. This paper is well suited to flyers, brochures and sales cards.

    Coating Options:

    • Aqueous Coating – When we finish printing on glossy paper we need to coat the ink for protection. The basic coating is aqueous. It allows writing on the paper with ballpoint pens, but isn’t compatible with printers or copiers. There’s no additional charge for aqueous coating.
    • High Gloss UV Coating – To make your glossy printing extra glossy, and water resistant, you can add the high gloss coating (for an extra charge). It helps colors to pop off the page. The UV Coating makes it difficult to write or print on the paper.
    • Dull UV Coating – It provides the same protection that the high gloss coating gives, but leaves the paper with a satin or matte finish. There’s less glare on the paper and it won’t show fingerprints like the high gloss coating will, but some colors may appear muted. If you’re concerned about how the colors will look in the end, request a hard proof.
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  • What Kind of Paper Should You Use For Your Booklet?

    Booklets and catalogs have two paper options: one for the cover and one for the internal pages. When you choose the paper for the cover, it can be the same as the internal pages, if you want, or it can be thicker stock. You can also select different coatings for the internal and cover paper depending on the look and feel you’re going for in the final product.

    The internal paper can be coated or uncoated and it can be from 70, 80 or 100 pound weight or 10 point. The 70# paper is the thinnest and lightest and the 10pt paper is the thickest you can choose for the internal pages. The 70# paper is uncoated and what we use for letterhead. If you select 80#, 100# or 10pt paper, it’s coated for a glossy look, like magazine paper. The 100# paper is the same weight as a magazine cover, the 10pt paper is thin card-stock.

    For the cover you can choose to use the same paper as the inside, or do something different. You can choose 100# gloss text, 10pt gloss cover or 14pt uncoated cover stock. We have a free sample pack you can order to see examples of the different types of paper and coatings we offer.

    For the thinnest, lightest booklet, you would choose 70# uncoated for the inner paper and the cover. This will leave you with an inexpensive booklet, but it will be less durable due to the light-weight, uncoated  paper.

    A magazine feel will come with using 80# glossy pages for the inside and 100# glossy paper for the cover.

    If you want the feel of a paperback book, you’d use 10pt glossy paper for the cover and 70# uncoated paper for the insides.

    Choose any combination of the papers to get your booklet exactly right for you. Just remember that colors and graphics will pop on the glossy paper, but tend to look softer and muted on uncoated paper. So if you have a lot of text, choose the uncoated paper for ease of reading, but if you have a lot of full-color graphics, it’s probably worth it to use glossy paper to highlight all the work you did putting the graphics together.

    If you have any questions, or if you want to order your free samplepack, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 877-405-3949 or contact us online.

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  • What Kind of Ink Do We Use?

    At PrintPlace we use 100% offset printing using four colors of vegetable-based ink that is free from dangerous heavy-metal pigments.

    Offset printing means that we create metal plates for your print job. On press, the ink is transferred from the metal plate to a rubber mat (that’s the offset) which is then pressed against the paper. The ink used in offset printing must be oil based since both water and oil are used on the metal plate to define where the ink should go and where it shouldn’t go. The water cleans off any ink splatter from the places where there shouldn’t be any ink. Then when the metal plate is pressed against the rubber mat, only the ink necessary for the printing is left.

    Four-color printing uses cyan, magenta, yellow and black (abbreviated as CMYK—where K is Key for black). Each of the four colors is pressed separately in the process, so we create a plate for the cyan, another for the magenta and so on. After a job has been pressed four times, the final color combinations appear.

    Vegetable-based ink allows us to avoid using petroleum-based inks. This reduces the amount of volatile organic compounds that are released into the air during the printing process by a significant amount. Additionally, by using just the CMYK color spectrum to make up all our color options, we’re able to use ink that doesn’t contain heavy-metal pigments which can be hazardous.

    You might wonder what we do for black and white print jobs. When you select the printing options you can only choose the 4 Color printing method (either one-side or both sides). Our offset presses run the same regardless of which colors you need. Even if you’re printing black text (like the inside of a booklet, for example) it’s still running through our 4-color system. We only apply the ink necessary for the printing, though.

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  • What is the Difference Between a Flyer and a Brochure?

    In some ways there’s no difference at all between a flyer and a brochure, both are small documents that present a limited amount of information to a general audience. However, a flyer is typically a tool to spread information to a large number of people while a brochure lets you give a more in-depth tour to a smaller group. Think of a flyer as what you give out on a crowded street, but a brochure is what you hand to a potential client after you’ve explained your business.

    Flyers give you a way to communicate with a crowd. As such, your flyer should be easily digestible at a glance. It should take no more than a couple seconds for people to see what you’re trying to communicate with the flyer. Are you offering a coupon? Are you inviting them to a grand opening party? Whatever your core message, it should be simple and easy to spot on the flyer. Because of the fast nature of communication, consider not folding a flyer. The option is available, but the more steps you ask of your audience, the less likely they are to see your core message. One, A single unfolded sheet with concise communication is ideal for a flyer.

    Brochures communicate a message to people who are already interested. The cover of the brochure might be the thing that creates the interest, or it might be your winning personality and presentation skills. Either way, the inside of the brochure offers more information. Think of the rack sitting in the lobby of a hotel, it’s filled with brochures about all the tourist attractions in the area. The bit that sticks up over the holder needs to grab your attention, but you expect to find out enough information to take action once you open it up. Brochures are most often folded twice, either in a Z-fold or a tri-fold, but we offer a variety of folds and sizes- choose the one that provides you the best value.

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  • Should You Upload Your Artwork as a Separate File?

    We require your artwork be uploaded in one of two ways. For two-side print jobs like a flyer or brochure, we need two image files (JPG or TIFF), one for the front and one for the back, or one PDF file with two pages. If you’re printing a booklet, catalog or calendar we need one PDF file with all the pages in the correct order. An easy way to know if you need to upload two files is to look for two upload slots on the PrintPlace website. Log in to your account and click the “Upload” button next to the print job; the number of upload slots will tell you the number of files we need to correctly print your order.

    Your best bet when creating artwork to upload for printing is to use a template. We have templates for every design and size of paper available in our ordering options. The templates include not only the size, but also the trim line, bleed line and safety zone, so you know where to position your artwork. If you’re creating a folded design, the templates also have the fold lines showing you where to place each panel so that it your artwork lines up with the folds.

    Each template file comes in PDF, JPG and EPS formats so you can choose the program you want to design your artwork. If you see a template that has “front” as a part of the file name, that’s a sign that you need a “back” template as well since it’s a two-sided design. Two sides means you need to send in two files or a 2-page PDF file.

    Don’t forget to delete the template layer from your final artwork so that the lines don’t show up in the printing. You can download the templates here. If you have any questions or need help with your files, call us at 877-405-3949 or contact us online for help.

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  • Should You Get a Hard Proof?

    We recommend that you order a hard proof if color matching is essential. There are several ways that you can ensure the color is correct without using a hard proof. You can set your artwork to use the CMYK color scheme when you create the file. That will give you the closest match to what we’re using. Finally, you can calibrate your monitor, either using a hardware calibrator or you can use the built-in software calibration (which is good, but not as accurate) in Windows or Macintosh.

    If all of those steps still aren’t enough, you can absolutely order a hard proof. We offer the electronic proof because it’s faster and less expensive (i.e. free). For example, you can get a same-day turnaround and next-day shipping with an electronic proof, but not with a hard proof.

    Ask yourself how important the color matching is to you. If your print job is color critical, we recommend ordering a hard copy proof for the most accurate representation of your finished product. If, however, anything that’s close to the right color is good enough for you, an electronic proof will be adequate.

    Figure how much a hard proof costs as compared to the entire order. For example, if you’re ordering 250 business cards at a starting price of just $15.50 (before shipping and tax) a next-day mail proof will add 400% to the total cost ($50). But if you’re ordering 100,000 business cards (starting at $827.50), the hard proof only adds about 6% to the final cost (the same $50). A $15 mistake, if you get the wrong color on your order or have a typo in the file, isn’t as big a deal as an $800 mistake. If you’re ordering large quantities, consider a hard proof.

    If you have any questions or concerns, we’re happy to help. Just give us a call at 877-405.3949 or contact us online.

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  • How Long Does It Take To Print & Ship An Order?

    There are two components to the equation, the turnaround time and the shipping time.

    Turnaround + Shipping = Total Time to Delivery
    All the days in the equation are business days, which excludes weekends and federal holidays (unless you request Saturday delivery).

    Work backward from when you need the order to determine the shipping and turnaround options you need. Imagine you need to have your flyers ready for the conference in two weeks and it’s a Tuesday. Our longest turnaround time for flyers is 5 business days and that time starts on the next business day after the order is sent to press (the day ends at midnight Central, except for 1 and 2-day turnarounds, which need to be approved by 6pm). So, day one would be Wednesday and day five would be the following Tuesday (which is seven calendar days from the order date). You can then choose your shipping method from UPS Ground, 3-day, 2-day or next day. Ground shipping is from one to five business days, depending on how far you are away from our production facility. So with ground shipping at five days, you would get the flyers two weeks from the order date.

    If that’s cutting it too thin for your taste, you can play with reducing the turnaround time or the shipping time. The turnaround options are available for quoting from the product page, so if you click on “Flyers” from the list on the left of PrintPlace.com you can select the turnaround option from the dropdown menu on the right. Notice how the price changes when you select a different turnaround time. Using a faster turnaround is typically going to be less expensive than using faster shipping. This isn’t always the case, though. Use our free, instant quotes online to play with the different turnaround times and shipping methods to determine what will work best for you (or just give us a call at 877-405-3949).

    Once you’ve added the order to your shopping cart, you can see the estimated shipping costs for the different options. Choose the option that will get the order to you in the time you need it. Note that we can’t guarantee shipping times, they are only estimates and subject to change. What we do guarantee, however, is that your order will ship on time. We’ll print it and have it ready to ship in the turnaround time you select or we’ll upgrade your shipping to compensate.

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