When you are looking for a printing company, price, quality, customer service and flexibility are just a few of the factors you will need to consider. You or your company will be judged on the quality of your printed product, so you want to ensure that the printing company you choose is reputable and has experience producing quality printed projects. Here are seven important questions to ask your printer so that you can make an informed decision:
1. Can I get a quote?
Getting a quote for printing your project should be free, and most printing companies have websites that allow you to enter in your project specifications and request pricing online. Be sure to note if the quote you receive is an estimate or the actual cost. If you need assistance with paper selection or other details, a phone or office visit can ensure you are getting an accurate quote for your project. Developing a relationship with an account representative can be helpful.
2. Do you offer design support?
If you need creative assistance with your designs, you may choose to enlist the services of a graphic designer. Some printing companies will have designers on staff to do custom work for you, others will offer templates, and some on-line companies require print ready files. Be sure to ask how design charges are calculated and billed.
3. How should I prepare my files for printing?
Different projects require different types of files. If your file requires editing or tweaking, you need to provide a native file created in a program such as Illustrator or In-Design. Ask your printer before you begin the creative process which programs and file types they recommend. If your project is print ready, send a PDF file. If you are using unusual fonts you may need to imbed them in your file or send them to your printer. Images designed for the web are done at a low screen resolution of 72 dpi, but print images will usually need to be created at 300 or 350 dpi to ensure good quality. Also, be sure to ask about color space. Some printing companies request CMYK, others RGB, and black and white files may need to be converted to grayscale.
4. Will I see a proof?
You want to see a proof of your printed piece and give approval before it goes to the presses. A digital PDF proof is a good visual to check for type and grammar errors and the placement of elements, but a hard copy proof will more closely represent the colors that will actually be printed. Some printing companies will also arrange for press checks, which take place after the job is set up on the presses but before the printing is underway.
5. What about paper stock?
There are different kinds of paper with different finishes and weights from which you can choose. Coated or uncoated. Gloss or matte. There are also different finishes than can be added such as aqueous or UV coating. If you are not sure of the paper stock or finish, let your printer know how the item is being used and distributed so they can make a recommendation or provide a sample. If you’re going green, ask your printer if they offer paper products that are recycled from certified sustainable production systems.
6. What is the turnaround time?
Printing companies usually will have a standard turnaround time, and some may offer expedited schedules or rush orders. The turnaround time does not usually include the time it takes to ship your project, if you are having it delivered.
7. Do you offer a guarantee?
Of course, we want the printing to be perfect, but sometimes, equipment is off, colors shift, there are trimming errors or printing delays. Some printing companies strive for 100% customer satisfaction and offer a money-back guarantee. Others will correct the errors and reprint the job at no added cost to you.
Communication with your printing company is key to getting your projects completed exactly like you want. By getting answers to these questions and keeping up with the project throughout the production and manufacturing processes, there will be no surprises at the end and you will be satisfied with the results!