Archive for the ‘gloss coated paper’ Category

When it Comes to Paper, Mind Reading is Not Practiced Here

Monday, November 9th, 2009

As a printing broker one of the most difficult challenges I face in trying to determine bid specifications is paper. Why paper? Because most people have no idea how many different kinds of paper are available. Usually I have to resort to questions like, “Does it feel about the same as the paper in your office copier?” Or, “Is it more like poster board?” These questions at least get me in the ballpark. Then maybe I can start pinning it down by asking about the surface of the sheet. “Is it smooth, or textured?” “Is it shiny, or flat?” “If you scratch it with your fingernail does it leave a shiny spot?” “If you hold it up to a light source can you see a watermark?” Anyone in the printing business will understand what I am talking about. It’s like a game of twenty questions, particularly if we’re speaking on the telephone.

Here is something funny–I was discussing a job with a customer the other day–and to help me determine the weight of the paper, he flipped the corner of the sheet over the mouthpiece. When I asked what he was doing, he half-seriously said, “You [Bill] have been in the business for so long that I thought you’d be able to tell how much it weighed by the sound.”  That was a first. I’ve had customers expect me to read their minds, but never has one asked me to identify the weight of paper by the sound.mindmatrix

Of course, the easiest way to figure out what kind of paper a customer wants to use is to have them provide a sample. Usually the stock will become immediately evident, but then there are those occasions when it is not a domestic sheet and importers don’t carry it either. I had that problem once with a local company who represented a skin care line of products manufactured in France. They produced a paper sample that neither I, nor three different paper merchants could identify.

Some of the problems come from the paper industry itself. Paper has been around a long, long time. Just like a foot became a length of measurement by the King’s shoe print, paper weight had rudimentary methods of comparison. How many shovel-fulls of this or that went into the mix. For example here is a list of some weights you may encounter when buying printing: Cover, Text, Book, Bond, Ledger, Tag, Duplex, Blanks, Bristol, and Index. To make it more confusing you can buy 80# Cover, or 80# Text but they aren’t the same thing–not at all. 80# Cover is heavy more akin to poster board, and 80# is similar to your office stationery but probably a little heavier. People will often say something like the paper is  eighty pound and be sure they answered the question, until I ask, “Cover or text?” That’s when they get stuck.

Most stationery is printed on bond and you can often recognize it by a watermark. A 24# bond sheet weighs about as much as a 60# offset. Confused? We haven’t even gotten started yet. No wonder customers can’t figure out what they want the printing/paper industry has made it impossibly difficult. Not on purpose, but there it is.

If your job requires interaction with printers, I have some recommendations to simplify communications:

  1. Always try to provide a sample of the paper you would like to match.
  2. Create a paper sample book. Put various papers in a binder and label them with their weight, finish, and color. By doing this you will have a ready reference to help you.
  3. Watch for paper that crosses your desk. It might be direct mail, catalogs, or invitations. Slip them into the pocket of your binder if you like them and have your rep identify them later.
  4. If you find a paper that you particularly like and want to use it often, ask your print rep to get you a swatch book to keep with your binder. The paper mills put them out to display their wares and they will show you all of the weights, textures, and colors that the paper comes in.
  5. In many markets, the paper merchants will conduct seminars to teach customers about various aspects of paper like weight, thickness, surface, and brightness. Ask your printer if there are any learning opportunities like that in your area.
  6. Avoid using phrases like, just regular paper, something cheap, you know what we like, or something like we did last time. Honestly we want to help, but most of us in the printing business are terrible at reading minds.

Why Are the Bids Wildly Different?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Yesterday’s blog was a continuation of bid specifying. We shot a photo of my specification sheet that I use, but it came out too dark, and is too small to read, so we will try to correct that problem shortly. In the meantime, I thought a specification list would be easy for you to follow and if you want to create your own spec sheet you can. You are free to use the following information:

I. Customer’s Company Name

A. Contact Name, Address, and Phone or email address

B. Date including when estimate is required, when the job is due, when customer art is expected, and if a partial delivery will do.

C. Does the Customer want proofs? How? What kind? Attend a press check? How much notice is required?

II. Job Title

A. Description, for example: 16 page booklet, self-cover, saddle-stitched.

B. Quantity

C. New or Pickup? Is it a new job (never been run before) or a rerun (pickup) from a previous order? If pickup provide last invoice or job number and date.

D. Size, Flat,  Finished, Page Count, Self or Plus Cover

E. Are There Bleeds? Where, head, foot, right side, left side, full, or none?

F Printing Method? Digital, Sheet-fed offset, Cold Web, Heat-set Web, Letterpress, Other.

G. Any Other Special Requirements?

III. Customer Furnished Art and Proofs

A. Customer supplies: disk, PC or Mac, Program Name and Version, Dummy. Will send by email, or ftp?

B. Printer supplies: Typeset, Layout, Design, Proof, What type of proof (hard or electronic?)

IV. Paper

A. Describe Paper for Each Part i.e. Cover, Text, and page count for each. For example, a 16 page booklet with cover and flyleaf, saddle-stitched would be: 4pages cover, 4 pages flyleaf, and 16 pages text, for a total of 24 pages.

1. Weight of stock or thickness (cover weight, book, text, ledger, etc.)

2. Color of the Paper?

3. Description: Mill, Paper Line, Finish (linen, wove, etc.)

4. Coated or Uncoated? If coated is it Gloss, Dull, Satin, or Matte?

5. If it is an envelope will it be custom (converted from flat sheet, windows) or stocked? Size, prints face, flap, inside?

6. If it is a form, how many plies, color rotation for carbonless (w/y/p).

V. Ink

A. How Many Color on each side? Does it print 4/2 (four color one side and two on the other? Or maybe 1/1 (one color both sides). Is it the same color on both sides, i.e. red ink on one and blue on the other.

B. How Much Ink Coverage? Heavy, Medium, or Light.

C. Specialty Inks, laser ready, quick dry, hard dry, etc.

VI. Bindery

A. How does it Bind? Saddle-stitch, Perfect Bind, Wire-o, Plastic Comb, Hard Cover, Velo, Plastic Coil, Spiral, etc.

B. Does it require–Folding, Scoring, Collation?

C. Padding? How many sheets per pad, with chipboard or without, std. padding glue? Where, top, or sides.

VII. Other

A. Die Cutting

B. Foil Stamp/Foil Emboss/Blind Emboss–die required? What size? What material: Copper, Brass? How intricate? One level, two or more?

C. Numbering–beginning number, ending number. Red or Black?

D. Tabbing–how many banks? How many positions? Each sheet unique or are faces common and tabs the only variable? Mylar reinforce tabs, color? Three hole drill or other? Reinforce holes?

E. Gluing–as in pockets for a kit cover. How many? Other?

F. Perforation–Corner, “L”, or straight? Standard perf or micro? Laser ready?

G. Drill–how many holes and where? What size hole?

H. Shrink wrap–How many to a package,number of packages.

VIII. Packaging and Delivery

A. Bulk Box–product placed in box without any other wrapping.

B. Paper Band, Rubber Band, Shrink Wrap–how many per package, how many per box?

C. Standard Boxes, or special?

D. One local delivery address or more? Specify how many to each location.

E. To Ship? How (FedEx, UPS, USPS, other)? Use customer account or printers?

F. Samples? How many to customer, or other?

Can you believe that I was able to boil down all these points on one 81/2″X11″ form, and still have room to make a sketch to communicate more thoroughly? The real trick is understanding the job, and writing it down in such a way that the vendors will have the same clear information for giving you their best bid. If done right, a spec sheet removes all guesswork. Guessing, and assuming are the bane of printers. When they are all working from common specifications you’ll see their bids will come in much tighter. Wild pricing differences will be a thing of the past, and you won’t have any more surprises after the printer receives the art. They won’t call and say, “This is different than the way we bid it. There will be additional charges.” Had you budgeted for that contingency? I doubt it.



To Coat or Not to Coat

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
wax paper vs paper towel experiment

Another 60 second soap box lecture I like to use in teaching customers is the one about coated paper vs uncoated paper. Visualize yourself going into the kitchen and tearing off a sheet of paper towel. Lay the sheet on the counter. Now, do the same thing with a sheet of wax paper. Take a singe drop of liquid and release it on the paper towel. Do the same with the wax paper. What do you notice? The drop on the towel spreads and penetrates. The drop on the wax paper beads and stays on the surface.

paper surface

“And what does that have to do with printing?” you might ask. The above example is a dramatic representation of what happens with ink on paper. The softer the sheet the larger the ink dot gets. A hard surface keeps the ink on top. So? What does that mean? Think of a newspaper, or better yet go get a newspaper. Find a color picture of a person, usually on the front page. Now, get a shiny magazine. Compare the image on newsprint with the image out of the magazine. What are the differences? It won’t take you long to discover that the colors are more brilliant on the magazine and the images are sharper.

Does that mean that magazine printing is superior? No, not at all. There are many times that a graphic designer may want to choose an uncoated paper.  The purpose of the piece might be better served with a softer look. Pastels usually work better on uncoated paper. If there is something the customer needs to write on like an RSVP or order form, uncoated paper accepts pen, pencil, crayon or any other writing implement. Coated paper doesn’t.

gloss, dull, and matte

I’m tempted, at this point, to walk you through the paper making process so we can discuss the differences between the three most common paper coatings  gloss, dull,  and matte, but I think I’ll hold off on that. What I will talk about is how these three coatings accept ink dots. You understand by now that the harder the paper surface the more the dot stays on top and the less it penetrates into the sheet, right? Which of the three, gloss, dull, or matte would you imagine has the harder surface? If you said gloss, you are right. Dull is next, followed by matte. I’ve had customers confuse matte with uncoated paper because matte looks similar to uncoated. While the ink dot penetrates the fibers more on a matte than a gloss, it doesn’t penetrate a matte like it does on uncoated. So, if you want a softer look, but want to still get some pizazz out of the ink, try matte. If matte is good but lacks a little crispness, go to dull coat. If your image screams for brighter deeper color, by all means specify gloss.

deciding which is best

So out of gloss, dull, matte, and uncoated which paper is best? The answer is it depends. The best paper is the paper that fits your project.  It seems like that should be a no-brainer, but believe me it is not. Graphic designers usually have bookshelves full of paper swatches to play with, to aid them in deciding what stock to specify. Choosing the right paper can make the difference between a successful result and one that just doesn’t make it. If you don’t have a bookshelf full of swatches and you are a designer, or a designer wannabe, call your local paper merchant and ask to meet with their paper specifier. They can guide you and usually provide you with more samples than you will ever need to use. You can also rely on your printer for help, or if you are lucky enough to get me, you will have one of the best in the biz, I say with all humility.

The Easy Way To Reach Bill Ruesch
He's available to help you with any of your printing, or publishing needs. Please contact him if you need a book, marketing materials, or anything else printed. His thirty-five years of experience, and thousands of happy customers is your guarantee of satisfaction.

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© Bill Ruesch, Talking Through My Hat, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bill Ruesch, Talking Through My Hat with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.