When you need something printed, get a quote from three different commercial printers. Here is the information they'll need to know to give you a quote.
Giving the Printer a Computer Disk
- The quantity you need.
- Page size.
- Total number of pages.
- Any folding or stapling they'll need to do.
- The number of colors of ink. Four-color means, basically, color--every color. Printers often refer to that as CMYK printing, which means they mix four color--cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (I don't know why black is K) to cover the entire color spectrum.
- Paper stock. Printers can provide paper samples and make suggestions.
- Will you give them "camera ready" copy, which means it's ready to print? Or will they need to add photos, artwork, headlines, or do anything else themselves? When you design something on a computer (in Publisher, InDesign, Photoshop, or some other program) and deliver it to the printer ready to print--well, that's the new "camera-ready."
- How soon do you need it? Give them a firm date; otherwise they (like building contractors) might dawdle.
- If you're submitting the job on a computer disk, what type of software did you use (InDesign, Pagemaker, Quark, Word, MS Publisher, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.).
If you design something on a computer, most commercial printers can use it straight from a computer disk. The best choice (and cheapest) would be a CD that you burn, though some burners don't produce CDs that are compatible with all computers. Another option would be a flash drive. Or, depending on how big the file is, you could email it. Some printers provide an FTP site, or an FTP function built into their regular website, for transferring files.
If you submit digital print jobs, you'll also need to include the fonts you use. Just copy the fonts onto the disk you give to the printer. It's preferred that these be Postscript fonts, rather than Truetype fonts. Ask the printer what they need.
Check with the printer to make sure your computer and the programs you use are compatible with what they have. Most printers will be able to use files created by the high-end desktop publishing programs, Quark Express, and InDesign, plus Microsoft Publisher (because so many people use it). Checking Proofs
Insist on seeing a proof. This might be a print-out they provide, which you can mark on. Or it might be a PDF file sent over the internet. You then need to describe to them in any email or through an online form any corrections or changes.
Printers typically correct their own mistakes for free. But any corrections which were your fault will cost you extra. This includes any misspellings you didn't catch before sending the job to the printer, or something you decide to change after the printer has already invested time in preparing the job for printing.Accepting Delivery
When you accept delivery, spot-check the materials in different places to make sure the printing is consistent. Presses can get a bit off-kilter as the job runs. If the pressman lets the press run while he goes to get a cup of coffee, a number of pieces may come off that aren't very good--the ink is lighter and faded, or perhaps two colors don't line up as well as they should.