Posted by: AG | April 27, 2009

How to Cut Prices -part one

Continuing from the last article, the following sections will include some questions a print buyer might ask in order to reduce costs for their proposed printing job. The first one I’ll discuss here will be aimed at the graphic design of the piece.

Are we using the most cost-efficient layout for our purpose?

Space on a layout is precious and a well-planned design is essential. This is the starting point of the print production phase and the graphic designer is the person who can make sometimes-minor changes to a layout to save substantial printing costs. You could be examining a rough drawing, sketch, or mock-up that lays out all the basic components of the artwork. Those would include the position and sizes of photographs and illustrations, the sizes and positions of headlines and text, the inclusion and location of borders, background tints, or page bleeds (where the ink runs to the edge of the sheet.)

A few alterations and quick decisions could have immediate benefits. Your goal, as the buyer, would be to not waste space for the sake of design where cost and the text message are more important. The paper your job will be printed on will be a standard size and your piece will need to be standardized to fit in common size envelopes. The postal service has precise measurement parameters for magazines and envelopes and anything larger that those can add a special surcharge to your mailing fees.

Sometimes the layout uses type sizes that are unnecessarily large or have too much leading (space between lines.) Reducing those can tighten up the layout without affecting readability. If a brochure has 300 words of text, a 10% savings in space can allow you to add another 30 words or add some more sub-heads to improve the looks.

Photos and illustrations

Photos and illustrations can be modified more easily. They can be reduced, cropped differently, overlapped, or even placed behind text. Surprisingly, even having too many images with a much larger percentage of printed areas, can require slower press runs and more caution. For instance, an abnormal amount of heavy ink coverage requires more drying time or more heat as it comes off the press, and lack of care can lead to image transfer to the next sheet coming off the press. Printing 5,000 posters, for example, will take about half an hour and the sheets at the bottom will have around 500 pounds of weight sitting on top of them. If the ink was not totally dry when it came off the press, the backs of subsequent posters would all have an “offset” impression.

Consider the margin areas, and the white space around text and images. When a designer knows what your priorities are, they can easily adjust those areas to give you more room for the other page elements. Related to margins are bleeds, when images like photographs have edges that run off the sheet. It’s common on jobs with bleeds that a larger size paper will have to be used thereby increasing the cost.

As a last resort to saving space and cutting costs, you could consider just removing elements from the layout: photos can be taken out, text or headings can be shortened, and entire products left out of catalogs – at least until next time.

In summary, the design stage is the easiest one to begin reducing costs.

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