Creative Cadence
Design for lone marketers

Views from the studio

Views from the studio

Quoting print. 7 things a designer needs to know from a client.

Tight print deadlines and the need to just ‘get the job out’ often leads to jobs being rushed out nowadays. Spending a little more time thinking about the job in hand, will help the finished piece look so much better. The additional planning will, counter-intuitively, also help the job progress quicker and more smoothly.

Here are 7 things a designer like me needs to know, or at least discuss in order for a print job to progress:

Seems simple, but it can dictate how it’s printed. A simple flat sheet poster up to A3 can easily be digitally printed. Anything larger will need to be inkjet printed (think exhibition graphics) or printed on a lithographic press as digital printers sheet sizes generally only go up to A3+.

Also bear in mind flat size versus finished size. For example an A4 brochure is the finished size, but the spreads opened out make the flat size A3. A concertina folded piece of print may have a finished size of A5, for example, but if it has more than three panels, it will take the flat size over the maximum sheet size for a standard digital printer.

The number of copies of your piece of print you require. It’s generally more economical to print a larger quantity. As you go up in quantity, the cost per unit (each poster, brochure, flyer etc) will come down.

The cost for printing on a digital press will work fine up to around the 1,000 quantity mark. Beyond that, it may be worth looking at litho print.

The great thing about digital print is that it’s great for low numbers, as you don’t have the set up charge of making printing plates. You can print 5 or 10 or something straight from computer to printer. The turnaround time is also shorter with digital print (2 to 3 days) whereas litho requires at least 5 days.

Digital printers can work with paper/card up to around the 350gsm mark. In terms of paper types, there are lots of varied coloured, textured, metallic and translucent paper stocks out there. However, for general ‘every day’ print, they would fall into the categories of uncoated or coated (silk or gloss). You can also choose 100% recycled paper and FSC certified paper (a promise that the forests the trees come from to produce the paper will be renewed and the environment protected).

Ask for our advice on paper stocks – digital printers nowadays can even do funky things like print white ink on coloured stock … lovely!

Both litho and digital print use the CMYK method of printing (all colours created from varying mixes of cyan, magenta, yellow and black). However, as I mentioned above, some digital printers (who we can recommend) can print white ink too.

Litho print has the advantage of being able to use special ‘spot colour’ inks such as Pantone colours, including metallic inks. Some colours (such as yellows and oranges) show a marked difference in colour between their CMYK and Spot versions, so you may choose to print 5 colours (CMYK + a spot) for an awkward orange, especially if it’s your brand colour.

For exhibition graphics, inkjet printers use the CMYK colour route, but you can sometimes add brighter colours or metallics with vinyl material, for graphics applied to walls, vehicles etc.


Wiro binding, stitching (‘normal‘ brochure type stapling), perfect binding (like books), actual stitching, using cotton or thread, or using metal clips or bolts.


You can add interest to a piece by folding it differently. Think French folds, concertina folds, roll folds and gate folds (we’re happy to advise or show you how some of these work).

With both digital and litho print, you may want to think about special finishing techniques to add something extra to your printed job

Die cutting

Cutting or punching shaped holes into the paper or making your booklet or poster a different ‘non-straight-edged’ shape.

Embossing or debossing

Making a shape, text or a texture look slightly raised or indented into the paper.

Foil blocking

Coloured or metallic foil is pressed onto the paper in specified areas (think shiny silver or gold, or you can achieve subtle techniques such as gloss black foiling on a matt black paper stock).


Gloss, matt, satin, or velvet varnishes can add texture, shine or dull-down areas of a print piece to add effect.

Machine sealing

Where a full coating of gloss, matt, silk or velvet can be applied to full pages or covers. These can help seal heavy areas of ink in, to stop them marking other lighter pages they sit against. They can also help stop fingerprints, especially on the covers of brochures or books.

This should really come at the start of the job. All too often I’m asked by clients to provide a quote for the design work and the print at the same time – before I’ve even designed anything.

I’m aware business owners & marketing managers need to sign off budgets etc before starting work. This is fine for a standard four-colour poster or flyer, but every now and then it would be interesting to add some special techniques into the design, which will only become apparent during the first design stage – and therefore difficult to quote for at the start.

A way forward would be to quote for the standard print piece, as a guide, at the start and then re-quote (if necessary) during the design process.

I’d love to help you with your next print job (on both the design and print front!), so please do get in touch.

WithPrint, based just outside Weston-super-Mare are an experienced digital print supplier I work with on a regular basis. Working in conjunction with them, we’re able to offer a sampling service. So, if I design a potential piece for you, we can see how the finished thing will look before printing the full run.