Monthly Archives: August 2009

How to Prepare and Send Files for a Foolproof Offset Printing Process

When you have sent your business files for printing, ranging from a simple business flyer to greeting cards, it is not only money that is being invested. The reputation and brand image of your company is also at stake, with the printed version of the documents representing your company wherever it is dispatched. Hence, knowing the basics to a foolproof sending of printing material is what often defines the fine line between success and failure:

File Application

Files, ready to be dispatched to the printing agency (or service bureau), should be checked for the version of applications they have been developed in. If the agency does not have the same version, an accurate print of your files would not be possible.


Agencies often reject files that have been developed in non-professional applications, such as MS Publisher (files which have a .pub extension). Professional software applications include the Adobe formats, Corel Draw and QuarkXpress applications. Make sure that you have not used such an application or have not upgraded to a newer version, while the agency is still using the older formats.


Font is another huge aspect that counts while trying to obtain perfect prints. Many companies and individuals use personalized font types, trying to provide style and suavity to the file. However, while sending files for printing, make sure they are accompanied by separate font files too, especially those used in the documents you intend to print.


This is important as many offset printing agencies only possess a set category of font types. Thus, if the font used in the documentation is not available to the printing agency, they may substitute the fonts with what they have. This can significantly ruin the whole look of the document, apart from altering formatting, text flow and indentations too.


Graphics is another factor that may influence how your printed files look like. Some points to keep in mind before you tinker with the graphics:


  • EPS and TIFF formats are the safest to use, else consult your printing agency or service bureau.


  • Do not compress the graphics or images.
  • Changing the names of the graphics files before re-linking is not advisable.
  • The original files, apart from the already embedded images/graphics should be sent to the agency for assistance in troubleshooting during the complete process.

Sending the Files

Keep a track of the following things before you assign the printing agency your project.

  • Make a detailed list of all the files, images and fonts that have been used in your files and send them to the agency.
  • All original artwork or photographs are to be sent to the agency for FPO placeholders.
  • Clearly indicate the areas where the agency is to pay special attention – including punch-lines, artwork in a brochure, contact details, etc.
  • Send a dummy or have a mock-print issued by the agency to check the obvious font or textual differences in the printed versions. Rectify accordingly.
  • Files can be sent through various channels – CD/ DVDs, zipped or compressed files or even through electronic or conventional mails.


Now that you know of the basics that would help you gather a great offset printing output, keep the aforementioned points in check while sending your files to the agency for printing.

Did You Know This About Graphic Design?

Graphic Design is not only a creative subject, it is interesting too! There are several facts and figures about the enigmatic history of graphic design that would take even a seasoned graphic designer by surprise. From the disputed coinage of the very term ‘graphic design’ to the recent development of Photoshop, a popular graphic design software, the history of graphic design has had many a twist and turn on its way of becoming one of the most progressive and commercially popular art forms of the day!

Here are some fun facts on Graphic Design I bet very few people know about:

  • The first traces of graphic design can be attributed to French cavemen, with symbols and pictorial descriptions etched in the caves of Lascaux, France.

Caves of Lascaux

  • Sir Henry Cole, an Englishman, designed the first Christmas card – one of the pioneers in advocating the commercial and artistic importance of graphic design in Europe. His leading force made graphic design an accepted art form in mid-19th century Europe.

Sir Henry Cole

  • Who invented the term graphic design? Some say its Brit designer Richard Guyatt while others disagree, calling William Dwiggins as the inventor of the term!

Richard Guyatt's Work

  • The London Underground signage was a major inspiration for developing graphic design further, including font types and design examples.

  • In the 1920s, in post-revolution Russia, graphic design took concrete shape as objects were designed for utilitarian reasons. This was when it was use widely, especially as logos, posters or even graffiti for clothing and on buildings.

  • Paul Rand, an American design genius, laid the foundations for graphic design as used for establishing a corporate logo or identity in the 50s and 60s of the 20th century for many industry bigwigs such as IBM, ABC and UPS.

Paul Rand's work

  • Paul Rand was also responsible for developing the Swiss Style in graphic design – which emphasizes on readability, neatness and objective approach towards graphic designing.

Swiss Style

  • Apple was the first in line to produce computers that incorporated bitmap graphics – the origin of modern computerized graphic design!

Apple Logo

  • Today, almost every aspect of modern life – from road signs to imagery on Boeing 747 passenger jets carry elements of graphic design embedded within.

With these fun facts in hand, try out your next project in graphic designing. I’m sure you will have found an unearthed source of energy and vigor, along with a desire to emulate some of the names mentioned earlier!

Commercial Offset Printing or Desktop Printing? Do You Know How They Differ?

For any printing job a major question that arises in the minds of all my clients, unless they are experienced with this, is should they opt for commercial offset printing or desktop printing? But to know which one is the best for the requirements of your printing project, you have to know at least a little bit about these different methods of printing.

Three main points that differentiate offset printing from desktop printing are:

  1. Ink color
  2. The printing process
  3. Printer/ Press

So, let’s start with the first point – about the ink color.

Offset printing is also known as offset lithography. Both inkjet desktop printing and commercial offset printing use CMYK colors. CMYK stands for Cyan (Blue), Magenta (Red), Yellow and Black. When used together, one on top of the other, in varying proportions they create millions of colors.


If you go for offset printing, you also get the option to use standard premixed colors as well as metallic or fluorescent inks, which are known as spot colors. Desktop printing doesn’t use these spot colors.

How does the printing process differ?

In case of desktop printing, you put a paper in the printer and it comes out fully printed in just one go. But in commercial offset printing, a single sheet of paper is printed 4 times for each of the 4 colors (or more if spot colors are used) using the lithography printing process.

Press or the Printer?

You have the press for offset printing and the inkjet or laser printer for desktop printing. Inkjet printers are connected to computers with cables and they are self-contained units that use ink cartridges to spray ink on the paper.


An offset lithography press uses a web or sheet press with multiple units for printing. First photographic printing plates are made of the file that has to be printed. Then these plates are used to transfer ink to the paper, using basic lithography printing method. With advanced technology this happens at an amazingly fast speed.


So, now that you know the basic difference between these two methods of printing, wait for my next post tomorrow. I’m going to write about how you should prepare your file for printing. Till then, cheerio!

Purchase Decision Steps Followed by Companies and How to Influence Them

If you are new to the world of business and wondering what a company goes through before reaching any purchase decision, then read on because here I’ll discuss about the purchase decision steps followed by most companies. Understanding these steps would be crucial for you to influence their buying process.

Recognizing the Need: Any decision to make a purchase is absolutely need based for a company, unlike individual buyers who may purchase products or services just for their happiness. No emotions are involved when a company decides to purchase anything. It’ll buy only what it needs. If you can fulfill their needs, then bingo!!

The source of these needs can be traced back to anywhere in the organization. In the buying center concept, “initiators” are those members of the organization who recognize any need for the first time. In fact, these initiators also buy or use the products or services in question. It’s important for you to know who they are and what makes them tick.

The ‘need’ for new solutions is usually identified by users, while buyers identify any requirement for re-purchasing any products. A new trend has emerged among companies to make automated re-purchase decisions by removing any human involvement. So, how can you barge into the process to promote your products or services?

As a marketer it’s very important for you to understand this aspect well, as it would be a great challenge to replace the products that are currently being purchased by the company. Straight re-purchase situations are even more difficult to handle as companies often reach the purchase decision immediately after recognizing a need.

Companies usually generate a specifications sheet documenting the requirement for any particular product or service that needs to be purchased. Several members of the buying center may be involved in creating the specifications document.

So, if you want to sell your products or services to a company, try to develop close contact with those who play a lead role in creating the purchase specifications documents. This will definitely improve your chances of being considered while a company is buying any products or services that you supply.

Even though it may sound very simple, the actual process of reaching a purchase decision in a company is quite complicated as various factors are taken into account.

Buying Needs Assessment

Search for a Better Deal: Now this is one point that is different between individuals as customers and companies as customers. You’ll hardly find a person who’ll want to save 2 cents on a gallon of gas. But a company that has a large fleet of trucks and cars, saving even a cent would be a great amount. That’s the reason they’ll always search for suppliers that offer them a better deal. When companies decide to change a vendor, most of them are looking to reduce their costs. Are you ready to fit the bill?

The ‘search’ step for companies in their buying process involve identifying a number of suppliers who meet product specifications set by them. Members of the buying center then screen the suppliers to select the vendor that offers them the best deal. What you should do at this point is thoroughly analyze the business in question and make an offer that is customized to their needs.

But there are some industries where buyers are given other options for selecting suppliers other than through supplier presentations. These industries include chemicals, auction sites and online marketplaces. If you are one of them, then keep your eyes and ears open! Something off the beaten track may work out well for you!

As a supplier, try to become one of the options that a company would consider while making any purchase. In some cases, you may have to become a part of an approved supplier’s lists, thus, ensuring that members of the buying center will not overlook your offer when they fix any deal. Suppliers in auction sites or online marketplaces should try to be included in those websites that are relevant to their business.

Great Deals

So, now that you know how companies make their purchase decisions, I hope you’ll be able to develop the right strategy to be at the right place at the right time and with the right offer! It’s time to beat the recession, so all the best!

Is It Printed Digital Or Offset? Do I Care?

Even though most people know these days what digital printing is, I have been asked many times the question – “Is it printed digital of offset?” So, here I have put down some basic information about digital printing. Hope it’ll enlighten my audience!

What is Digital Printing?

Printing which is done using Electrophotography process. Click on it to learn more about how it is done. I am not going to go into the scientific details, lets the science professors worry about those details. Some of the main highlights are

  • Digital Printing is fairly a newer technology then Offset Printing
  • Digital Printing –  1 or 1000 – will cost the same, where as offset printing usually has a setup charge for making plates, making inks , wastage etc.
  • As far as quality is concerned – now days Digital Printing Technology has advanced so much that it is hard to make out if it is printed digitally or offset. Usually I can tell easily by looking at it.
  • Wastage of the amount of paper and chemical during printing goes down, as there is no setup required for digital printing. So basically a Digital Printed Job is more greener than a Offset Printed job, as there is chemistry involved (for e.g. Blanket Wash, Inks, Ink Washes ++).
  • Unlike conventional ink, the ink or toner used for digital printing do not permeate the substrate. It creates a thin layer on the surface. Sometimes,  fuser fluids are used with UV curving process (for ink) or heat process (for toner) so that it sticks to the substrate.

When to Choose One over other?

Usually a good print shop will be able to do that for you easily. Also it will depend upon the type of job. For e.g.

1. If you need 50 flyers or brochures then most probably it will be printed digitally. It is economical to do that. But if you need 2000 of those flyers then it will be printed offset, as remember the cost for digital printing remains the same – whether it is 1 or 1000 sheets. But in offset printing once the setup is done all you are paying for is for the paper and press time. And usually the offset presses runs much faster then the digital counterparts.

2. Take the previous example one step ahead – lets say you need the 2000 flyers by 5 PM today. So if you need it real fast then most probably it will be printed digitally as there is no drying time and setup time involved. You provide the proper file and there it goes to the press. By the way we do these rush kind of datasheets very freqeutly – like run 2500 of letter size flyers on 100lb Gloss Text in less than 3 hours.

3. Lets say you have a print job which requires the logo colors to match exactly, then it has to be printed offset using PMS (or Pantone Colors). For e.g. Business cards for companies like Intel and Microsoft are usually in 1 or 2 colors. And the logo colors will remain the same from one card to another. Digital Printing cannot do that very relaibily!! That’s what some people say but here in PrintPapa we have been able to match colors on our Digital Press exactly to what the previous printed samples or PMS color swatches.

4. If you need large quantity of any job then it will be printed Offset.

Do I Care?

No! If you are not too picky about the colors. Usually the printer should provide the best economical solution for the job. At PrintPapa we always try to choose the best possible solutions for your money. Obviusly the printer has to have proper printing machines and tools to provide that. There are Digital Printers which are available for $10,000 and then the top ones go upto half a million. So make sure your printer has both the capability.

If you are very picky about the colors then ask for a printed proof. If you are happy with that then go for Digital Printing. Why spend that extra money on offset printing.

In Some cases the jobs can only be printed Offset, because of paper type, thickness, accuracy in registration and so forth. A Good Printer should be able to provide you with all the information.

Hopefully this will prepare you for your next project and you can ask the right questions to your printer.

Who Says Direct Mail Won’t Work in Recession?

The first thing that will perhaps come to your mind in a downward economy is to cut down on your advertising and marketing budget. And experienced people can tell you how harmful it would be to invest in direct mail. But wait a minute before you reach any conclusion! Is direct mail really not going to work in your favor? In fact, many experts believe that if used intelligently, direct mail is the perfect tool that can help you to come out of a bad business situation. In any circumstance, a growing business can benefit a lot from the strategic use of direct mail.

So what is Direct Mail?

Direct Mail is the way to reach your prospects or customers by delivering a hard copy (paper + ink) to their mail box by US Postal Service. Few e.g. are

How much does it cost?

Cost depends on the following 5 things

1. Graphic Design: Very important.. please do not cheap skate on this. If you are not going to spend money on this, then DO NOT DO DIRECT MAIL AT ALL. It is the most important piece. AND GRAPHIC DESIGNERS are not the best person to come up with the correct message.

Then you would think who it is?

IT IS YOU. DAMED!! Who knows about your business better that YOU. So do not leave it just on your graphics designer to come up with the message. Work with the designer, give him or her the ideas about what you want to promote. Then let the designer come up with the correct piece. If you are dealing with an experienced graphic designer then usually he or she will come up with a good one in maximum of 2 revisions.

If you have already done 4 or more then find another graphic person who can do this job.

By the way our graphic design professionals are the best. Usually my senior graphics person (David) comes up with the correct message in maximum of 2 revisions. By the way check out our graphics offering.

2. Mailing List: You will need a list of people to whom you will send the mailers. Don’t start by opening up yellow pages and start typing them up. You will need it in a soft copy format. Prefreably comma seperated or excel format.

Best vendor for this is . Go to the website or call them to get a proper mailing list based on your needs.

For e.g. if you own a business to repair residential garage doors (I had a customer yesterday asking about it), your target customers should be having homes with garage and located very close to where your shop is, i.e by zip codes and have a certain income range.

You Get the Point!! PrintPapa does not provide any mailing list, but we will need one if you want us to handle the direct mail campaign for you.

3. Printing : Alright!! So now you are ready to print.

Choose the right kind of paper. Get some samples or even look at a proof. Postcards are very common as it is the most economical and most effective method for direct mail campaign.

By the Way Did I tell you that we specialize in that. We print literally millions of postcards per month. We offer 6-7  standard sizes and these are printed on nice thick (14 point card stock) with UV Coating on the non-addressed side. The UV Coating actually protects the postcard from the harsh handling by USPS mailing system, that way your customers gets a postcard which looked the way it came out of the press.

4. Preparing mail for USPS : This is where we take the printed piece, your address from the mailing list, and our permit number and print them up on the mailer.

Sounds simple? Right!! Not that easy!!

To get the discounted mail rate or bulk mail rate the addresses have to go through few validation process. For this we have to use USPS certified software solutions (licensed yearly – can cost anywhere from $1500 – $5000 /year) which takes your Excel file or mailing list and goes through each record and validates the zip code, address, city, state.

Then it starts doing the Move Update process (new thing started this year by USPS and is mandatory for mailing providers). This move update process check each address against the USPS database of all the addresses and makes sure that the address is correct for that person.

For e.g. if the Joe was living in San Jose and moved to New York last week, and the mailing list which you provided to us is 2 months old, according to which Joe is still in San Jose, this move update process will update the address to the correct one. (this will only work if Joe did submit a change of address form). So this kind of validation not only ensures that the mailer reaches the recipient, it also gets you the best buck for you money.

BTW did I forget to mention that you get anywhere from 30 to 40% discount if you choose bulk mailing.

5. Postage: Yup you need to pay USPS some money to get the mail delivered. Right!! So how much will be the postage??

For e.g. I have 1000 postcards 8.5×5.5 – by first class it will cost 44 cents per mailer. So around $440.00? CORRECT??WRONG? – You will get a disocunted rate if you let us do the part #4 above. As we are doing lot of work which otherwise the post office has to do you get a better discount, roughly anywhere from 30% to 50%.

So to get an total postage amount – we have to pass the mailing list thought the software which will then provide the total postage cost.


When it comes to building relationships with your customers, there’s perhaps no better way to promote your products than through direct mail. It helps you to reach your target audience at an individual level and address them directly with the benefits of your products and/or services. If you are a small business owner, try adding specials with your direct mail piece so that your mail will be remembered by your potential customers when they actually make any purchase decision. The results won’t be far away if you concentrate on using the direct mail option intelligently. Don’t shy away from innovative ideas!

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