Commercial Offset Printing: Just Ink on Paper… or IS it?!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Feb 25, 2011 @ 04:00 PM

It should be pretty clear to anyone who knows and does business with us, that we love what we do!  Each day is different, filled with new projects and opportunities (and occasionally some  “curve balls” to troubleshoot and solve.) But I can promise… it’s NEVER boring!  We work on a lot of different types of projects, too.  Sometimes we have an awesome graphic design project in-house or some large direct mail project, other times we’ll have complex kits to produce and assemble.  It’s safe to say, that every project we work on is unique and important in its own way.

BUT… sometimes we get to work on a project that stands out because it’s more than simply ink on paper: It’s the opportunity to change someone’s life forever.  Last week we were fortunate enough to take part in one of those projects.

For the past few years, we’ve produced posters for the Army Navy Photograph Print Project. Each year, during the Army/Navy Game in Philadelphia, the Corp of Cadets from the US Military Academy and the Brigade of Midshipmen from the US Naval Academy take part in the March-On celebration. Photographs of each group are taken and later “digitally stitched” together and become the subject of two highly detailed panoramic posters.  Once the poster files have been prepared, they are presented to us in the form of high-definition Photoshop files and photographic prints.  Most people realize there is a decent amount of color shift between photographs and process-color printing.  Of course, as GRACoL G7 Master Printers, our calibration curves and color profiles allow us to address these color shifts easily and accurately.  Even the photographer himself, who comes to press-proof the project each year, seems amazed at how accurate our press run is compared to his original photographs.

Operation Support Our Troops PostersThe proceeds from the sale of these commemorative posters have gone toward providing incredible things in support of our troops.  Everything from fully equipped handicapped accessible vans (given to war veterans who’ve lost limbs in action) to neoprene face masks (for soldiers actively on duty in temperatures at or below freezing) have been purchased with the help of this project. Sizable donations to other support organizations, like Returning Heroes Home, have also been made.  It’s simply an amazing project and does so much to help our troops.  No matter what your race, religion, or political affiliation, we all seem to find common ground when it comes to our support for the men and women who dedicate their lives to preserving our freedom.

So at the end of the day, we produce high quality printing, standout graphic design, and an amazing array of other products and services.  We don’t save lives; but in a small way, the part we play in projects like these helps CHANGE lives… and that feels pretty darn good!

For more information about this project, visit the Army Navy Photographic Print Project

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: graphic design, commercial printing, G7, Adobe Photoshop, color correction, calibration, poster printing

These 5 Tips Will Make You a Better Proofreader!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Feb 18, 2011 @ 10:30 AM

Let’s face it... NOBODY enjoys proofreading. Ok, maybe there’s a rare few that get a kick out of it from time-to-time, but nobody really "likes" it. Still, it’s a very important step in any graphic design project or page layout process, and one that sometimes gets overlooked. It’s easy to “pass the buck” on this, and assume someone else should have proofread; but anyone involved in putting files together for printing should take a moment to proof their work. Granted, I’m only talking about proofing for completion and accuracy. Grammar and punctuation can be addressed in someone else’s blog! For us, we just want to help get it on press quickly, and address any concerns BEFORE the project is plated and printed. These tips will help make your proofreading process a little easier.Focus on Proofreading your design project before going to press!

1)      Print it out – It’s way easier to read from paper than on screen (sorry Kindle and Nook people, but it’s true)

2)      Read it out loud to yourself – When you incorporate other senses it helps keep you from making assumptions about what you’re reading.

3)      Read it slowly – In fact, it’s helpful to run your finger along under the text to keep your eyes focused on each word one at a time

4)      Read out of sequence – If you’re proofing tables or charts, try reading in columns instead of rows. Also, sometimes taking paragraphs in reverse-order, or reading body copy separate from headings will keep you from making assumptions about what you’re reading.)

5)      Take extra care with special text – If you have special instances like fine-print, call outs, italicized type, and such, be sure to proofread them more than once.

6)      Double check small words – “or” “of” “on” and “it” “if” “is” are often interchanged without people realizing it.

7)      Watch out for homonyms – Spellcheck only checks spelling errors, not homonyms; so take extra care to check for instances like “their” “they’re” and “there.”

8)      Avoid fluorescent lights when possible Fluorescent lights are harder on your eyes and can lead to eye strain if you’re reading for a long period of time. If you can avoid it and there's a lot of text to proofread, try to take occasional breaks.

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: printing, graphic design, setting up your files, Universal Printing, printing services, business solutions

5 Things to Remember for Setting Up Your Files for Printing

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Feb 11, 2011 @ 12:30 PM

Great printing starts with great files.  I haven’t crunched the numbers, but I would guess that maybe 9 out of 10 jobs delayed from getting on press are because those files had to be kicked back and fixed.  For those clients that send files which are truly “print ready”...  THEY get 1 million COOL POINTS!

Here are a few things to keep in mind when setting up files for printing:

You DO have time to BLEED!

 Image with bleedsWhen your images, backgrounds, or borders print all the way to the edge of the sheet, you need to include Bleed.  This means those elements should continue at least 1/8” past the trim edge. We will print your project on a larger sheet and then trim it to final size.  If you’re submitting a PDF, your PDF should be set up for a larger page-size as well.  In short… if your letterhead bleeds, your file should be set up for at least 8.75” x 11.25”

PDFs are GREAT… unless they’re NOT!

PDFs are very handy little files.  In fact, they can be the PERFECT format for sending print-ready files. Just remember that there’s no easy way to edit them.  Proofread your content BEFORE submitting your files, and check your settings so you don’t lose bleeds or image resolution. For more helpful info about this, read How to Save PDF files for better printing!

Don’t make color a GREY area!

By the time you’re ready to submit your files, you should already know how it’s being printed.  Full color projects print as CMYK, so any RGB files might print unexpectedly.  Also, if you’re printing with spot colors, there shouldn’t be any RGB or CMYK data in your files. Be clear on how your files color separate, so you don’t have any surprises down the line.

Seriously… it’s NO IMPOSITION!

Imposition is the term used for how many of something runs on a sheet.  For example, postcards measuring 4 ¼ “ x 5 ½” will fit 4-up on an 8 ½ x 11 sheet;  but if they bleed, you can only fit 2-up on that same sheet.  Also, some people will try to set up their business card files with 10 names all on one sheet.  DON’T!  It’s easier for us, and cheaper for you in the long run, if you just give us one PDF file with multiple pages.  We determine the imposition best for your project based on many factors: the artwork, how many are being printed, which equipment your project will run on, what sheet sizes are readily available for the desired paper, etc.

Use the right tool for the job!

There are a lot of software programs out there that create files, but not all of them were designed for commercial printing.  True… not everyone has access to the entire Adobe Creative Suite. But there are several free or web-based PDF writers available.  Just remember the other rules apply, like including bleed, and knowing that if you’re limited to RGB or CYMK, you’re limited to process or digital printing (unless you spend money having your files fixed.)  Also, even those who DO have legitimate graphic software will make rookie mistakes: Like trying to use Photoshop for everything.  Image editing programs generally shouldn’t be used for business cards. BUT… if that’s all you have, try to do things like leaving your type as vector, and remembering to include your fonts. When you rasterize type it is going to look terrible, especially if you don’t have your resolution set correctly.

If you follow these 5 simple rules, your print projects will always get on press smoothly and quickly.  Not only that… but you’ll be able to get those 1 million COOL POINTS all for yourself! Good luck, and happy file creation.

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: graphic design, Adobe InDesign tips, tips and tricks, commercial printing, Adobe Photoshop

Choosing Paper for Your Printing Project... Part 2

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Feb 04, 2011 @ 03:00 PM

So you want to know even more about paper, eh?  I don't blame you. Our previous blog post went over some of the basics of paper, like the type of coating or finish, and caliper, weight and bulk.  This post will cover opacity, brightness, shade and grain. Let's get started!

Opacity is just a fancy way of saying the "show through" or "see though" quality of the paper: As in, how much will the printing on the other side of the page "show though." Some papers are categorized as "opaque" sheets, as opposed to "offset" or "bond" papers.   As a general rule, the thicker the paper, the less light gets though; however less bulky papers like vellum are thicker but less dense, leaving more chance for light (and printing) to come through.  Text-heavy projects like annual reports, manuals, or product brochures should be printed on paper with more opacity.

Next in line come brightness and shade.  It would sound like those are the same thing, but in reality they aren't. Brightness is the overall visual appearance of the sheet in terms of how much light they reflect. As you may recall, ink is slightly translucent, which means the brightness of the paper effects the brightness and vividness of the color. Brightness is measured on a scale of 0 to 100; which is to say a sheet measuring as 96 bright is more reflective than a 92 bright sheet.  

Shade refers to the whiteness of the paper. Don't be fooled and think we're talking about the color.  If the paper is light blue, dark blue, yellow, red, cream, natural, eggshell, that is its color. Shade is all about white: Blue White, Yellow White (also called Cream White), and True White.  Papers made with optical brighteners tend to have a cooler hue. These absorb warmer colors and give off more of a faint blue tint. Yellow white uses no brighteners and have a warmer more yellowish hue.  True white is a perfectly neutral sheet.

Boring Science Fact: White light is built of all colors (ROYGBIV) and travels in wavelengths. Blue light has a short wavelength and travels faster, while red and yellow light have longer wavelengths and travel slower. So a Blue White sheet appears to be visually brighter than a yellow white sheet because your eyes actually "see" it first!

Finally it's time to talk about Grain. We all know paper is made from trees, so it would stand to reason that if wood has a grain, so should paper!  In order to make paper, all these trees are ground down into fibers and mixed with water, resin and other stuff (which altogether is known as pulp) and run through huge paper machines that form them into large rolls. Between the speed these machines run and the process the paper pulp goes through, the fibers naturally all tend to line up in the same direction which is the grain direction.  Paper is then cut down, and can be either long grain or short grain. Long grain means the grain direction runs with the longest side, and short grain means it runs along the shortest side.  

The grain direction of your paper can play a very critical role in your project. You've likely heard the expression "going against the grain."  All paper is flexible, but it's always more flexible along the direction of the grain. This is important when thinking about folding projects. When you fold against the grain, the fibers break and crack, which appear ragged and less crisp.  This can easily be addressed by scoring a piece, which pre-creases the sheet and breaks down the fibers in a more controlled way.

Fortunately, we never expect our clients to know everything there is to know about paper.  If you need help picking paper for your project, please contact our helpful Sales or Customer Service Representatives or a member of our award-winning Graphic Design team. They’ll be more than happy to get you started.  We also get to work with some wonderful paper vendors that are always willing to assist with answering questions or providing samples of any paper you can imagine. 

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: printing, graphic design, commercial printing, Universal Printing, printing services, business solutions, direct mail, poster printing