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Printing Step by Step: Understanding Your Project from Vision to Finish

So you have this great idea in your head of a postcard, magazine, brochure, or other print product for your company. Great! Now what? The printing process can seem daunting—but it’s not as scary as you think, especially if you have the right team of professionals by your side. Here is an outline of the printing process with some tips and tricks to look out for as you work to bring your vision to life.

What You Want: Solidifying Your Vision

Your first step is getting your vision drawn out by a designer. If you have graphic design abilities yourself, that’s great! If not, you’ll need to find someone who can help translate your ideas onto a canvas.

Whether you’re doing it yourself or outsourcing, there are several printing technicalities to consider before you even begin the creative process to ensure that your digital design will look the way you want it to on paper. For example, the typical print project uses between four and six colors, but some can have as few as one or as many as seven. You will also want to consider your resolution, bleed size, and scale.

Selecting Your Printer

Once your designer presents you with the final digital product, you need to get it printed out. But beware—even a fabulous design can be sabotaged by bad printing decisions or poor execution. Thus, it’s important to work with a printer who will help guide you in making the right printing decisions.

Choosing a printing company can make or break the success of your print product. If you choose the right one, their expertise will guide you towards making the right decisions for your specific goals. Unless you have experience with professional printing, you probably don’t know the difference between offset and digital printing (or when to use each type) or which binding style would be best (perfect, case, or wire-o bound). That’s where a trusted printing partner comes into play.

For help in your research, check out our post on the things to look for in a printing company. In addition, be sure to think about the entire process your print product will go through and consider a printer who also offers mailing and fulfillment services like Advertisers Printing does.

Print Logistics

You have your design and have chosen your printer—what can you expect next?

Your printer will need some more details from you in order to produce exactly what you want. If you choose a great printing company, they’ll walk you through this process and recommend choices tailored specifically to your individual goals. If you need a large project finished fast, they may recommend offset printing. If you have a smaller job with multiple customizations, they can recommend digital printing to reduce editing time. A good printer could even recommend a hybrid of both offset and digital printing, depending on your specific project.

Other decisions your printer can walk you through include shape, size, paper coatings, and binding options. Be sure to ask your printer about any extra features they may offer, like embossing, foil-stamping, die-cutting, or laminating, to give your print product that extra pop. Be upfront with your printer about your timeline and budget so they can recommend the right products and services.

Once you’ve worked through these decisions with your printer and you’re both on the same page about what you want, the prepress process can begin. During this process, you’ll send your digital design file to the printer. Some printing companies offer easy online uploads for a faster, more streamlined transfer. This online communication system between you and your printer makes the next part of the prepress even faster. Once your printer receives your digital file, they’ll review any of its technical aspects that could affect the printing (margins, color matching, resolution, etc.). Then, they’ll create a proof of what your final product will look like once it’s printed. This proof will then be uploaded back to you for final approval before the physical printing begins.

If you choose a printer without an online portal to transfer files, the process should be the same, but it may take a little longer to get through the prepress stages due to less efficient methods of file transfer.

Delivery & Use

Whew! Your product is being printed! That’s great, but now what? Well, hopefully, you chose a printing company that also offers mailing and fulfillment services. You’re going to want your printer to perform a design review of your mailing piece, ensuring it meets postal regulations, and also assess your mailing list to make sure it’s clean, certified, and deduped to save on postage costs and allow for prompt delivery.

Final Thoughts

We know it can be frustrating when you have creative ideas for print materials but aren’t sure how to realize them. With this outline of the printing process, you can breathe easy knowing that you have some guidance on what to expect as you move your idea forward. As each step unfolds, it will be much easier and less stressful with a great printing partner by your side, guiding you along with their unmatched expertise.

Advertisers Printing is a full-service, sustainable printing company that offers assistance from initial project planning to final distribution. We have decades of experience printing materials ranging from professional business cards to annual reports. Contact Advertisers Printing, a St. Louis Printing company today to learn more about our services and speak to one of our print professionals. Let us help you bring your vision to life!

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