Archive for the ‘typesetting’ Category

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.

What is Lost, What is Gained?

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

I’m not just talking through my hat, every time something changes for the better something is lost. My brother, Dan Ruesch, is a well-known graphic designer in the Inter mountain area of the US. He has won awards for his designs locally and internationally. Do you get it? Dan is very, very good at what he does and I’m proud when someone asks, “Aren’t you Dan’s brother?”

If you would like to check out his work go to You’ll be impressed, I’m sure.

Years ago I dropped by his studio to find out the status of a job that was due to go into production. This was a job for Novell, a software company in computer networking,  and the deadline was immovable. You see, there was a trade show coming up and the fliers I was expected to print had to make the truck, or my name was mud. This was before computer layout, graphics, and design. Type was set on long strips of photo paper which was pasted-down with wax onto an art board and shot at the printer to make film. It was a time consuming process, and we were out of time.

To meet the deadline I needed those finished art boards right now! But there Dan was standing in his office examining two strips of galley proofs and comparing the merits of each type face. He did it like wine connoisseurs describe the properties of a fine wine. He said things like, “this one has the flavor and bouquet of…” and “this one smacks of …”  I was dying to get on with it and he was still smelling flowers. God have mercy.

As much as this frustrated me I recognized the art. Dan wasn’t a hack, he was an artist. Graphic design was and still is his pallet. Unfortunately graphic design doesn’t have longevity. It doesn’t hang on museum walls like fine art paintings. Its primary function is to sell things. Once it has served its purpose it goes to the round file and becomes landfill. That is what Dan told me, that his life work can be found in the trash heaps. Is that sad?

I’ve taken the long way around to get to the point, and the point is that computers have changed graphic design like they have changed everything in the modern world. They’ve made it faster, more creative, and less expensive. Have they made it better? Not necessarily. Dan tells me that typesetting used to be a craft. That a great typesetter would play with the ledding and kerning to produce works of art in the type. The graphic designers have more control over their product now, but they have lost some of the art. Like I said at the beginning whenever something changes for the better, something is lost.  Is it sad? I don’t honestly know. We can cry that no one makes hand painted lithographs like Currier and Ives, or we can recognize that if Currier and Ives were working today they wouldn’t be doing hand painted lithographs either. They were using state-of-the art technologies for their time. We can cry for the past, or appreciate the past and embrace the future. That is what I plan to do–embrace the future. Isn’t it exciting?

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