Most marketers start off with a dollar amount in mind when embarking on a new print project. It’s great to have a target but your final costs will ultimately depend on materials selection, project shape and size, the number of pieces required, and how you want it delivered. We’ve compiled a list of reference points to help as you begin working on your next print project.

Offset vs digital

There are two main types of print processes, offset and digital printing, each with their own advantages. Offset printing is great for high-volume print jobs. Offset printing uses a system of metal plates – one for each color process CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) – to transfer your image onto a rolled sheet of paper. Offset printing is more time consuming than other processes and leaves little room for error. Mistakes require a new set of plates to be created and the process must start over.

Digital printing is faster and less expensive for smaller volume print runs. The process applies the image directly to the material surface via a liquid powder or toner. It’s advantages along with speed, include flexibility like A/B of messaging and personalization of each individual printed piece. Digital printing technology has advanced considerably in recent years to rival the color and image quality previously reserved for offset. Another type of digital printing is inkjet. In this process, droplets of ink are precisely applied directly to only the surface of the paper or material to recreate high-resolution images.

Circle Gets a Square

Size and shape are among the first decisions your creative team must make when putting together a print project. Utilizing common project sizes help printers estimate expenses by anticipating if a project can be run in multiples also known as gang run thus reducing costs and paper waste. Additional considerations for size apply to postage as well. Undersized, oversized or oddly shaped items are charged additional handling fees as they may not be able to be machine sorted.

Material Selection

Today’s printing technology allows for the use of a wide array of materials for your projects. The sheer number of options can be dizzying. Coating and weight are questions you may be called upon to answer when you’re completing a print project. Paper weight is determined by how much one ream or 500 sheets of the base size weights. It is often referenced in pounds. Text, index, and cover are common paper weights.

Coating refers to whether any additional coating has been added to the paper. Uncoated, matte, and gloss papers each have their own properties and uses. Uncoated paper is best for reading and you’ll find it used most often in books. It is also easiest to be written upon so its most common for forms as well. Matte paper has a slight coating applied that allows for good image adherence but low glare. This is good for brochures, pamphlets and catalogs. Gloss coating is used for high shine where image quality and color are a must.

Mail Matters

How you want to deliver your print project is important. If you are sending this piece via USPS, there are several ways you can trim costs.

Working with a valued print partner like Lawton right out the gate will help keep your expenses manageable. Be up front about what you want to achieve, estimate what you want to spend, and more importantly be open to cost saving suggestions.