Planning Your Next Print Project

Thomas Edison said, “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” Most successful printing projects don’t happen by accident; they start with a good plan. No matter what the project is, it will require many decisions, and you want to communicate with us as early in the process as possible. We can offer helpful advice and tips that can save you money, time and energy throughout the process.
To plan your project, you need to answer a few questions.

1. What is the goal of this printed piece? Is it to entertain or inform? To impress clients? The goals of your project influence the design and quality of the piece. We can tell you whether certain ideas will have an impact on the time or cost of the piece. For example, you might not realize that some binding options can take extra time, or that a certain trim size might incur extra costs. Your paper choices also might affect the project cost and turnaround time.

2. Who is the audience, and how will they use the piece? Your readers influence your design decisions. If you are designing a flyer for an academic lecture, it will look different than a flyer for a rock concert. Also, people read a book differently than they read a poster. Again, before setting anything in stone, you should talk to us to determine how your design decisions can affect the project budget and schedule.

3. How many suppliers are involved? In creating your plan, you need to take into account the schedules of any outside service providers. For example, if you are using a freelance illustrator for a label design, you might need to take his availability into consideration. If you’re going to place your printed piece on a product, such as a label on a bottle, you might need to work with the bottle company to ensure that the bottles are available when you need them. Similarly, if you’re going to have your piece mailed, you might need to work with a separate mailing house.

4. When does the piece need to arrive? You need to plan backwards from the delivery date. It’s particularly important to involve us in this part of the planning process so we can schedule your project. Because we juggle many jobs at any given time, you need to make sure that your project gets press time. It’s important to understand that if you don’t meet your date to get the files to us, your delay can have a ripple effect. We might place another job on the press in front of yours, and we’ll have to push your project back to the next available opening. The larger the job, often the more difficult it is to reschedule.

Finally, you need to incorporate “fudge factor.” Always add in buffer time to accommodate slippage in the schedule. The larger the project, the more buffer you will need. Keep people in the loop, and tell them when you need the job to be in your hands. When everyone is working toward the same goal and communicating effectively, you are more likely to be rewarded with a project that comes in on time and on budget.

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What Does Your Font Say About You?

Good typography equals good communication. We have thousands of typefaces to choose from. What does your choice of typography say about you?

Historically, typographers designed almost all of the classic fonts for specific purposes. Let’s look at the history of some of our favorite fonts.

• Venetian book printer Aldus Manutius invented italic type not because he wanted to stress everything, but because it was the best way to fit all of a book’s text in a “pocket edition.”

• The British newspaper The Times commissioned the creation of Times Roman after font designer Stanley Morison criticized the paper for its poor typography.

• AT&T designed a popular sans serif face, Bell Gothic, in 1938 for its telephone directories. Its goal? Legibility and economy of page space.

• Charles de Gaulle International Airport developed Frutiger, another popular sans serif, for airport signage. The goal was for travelers to be able to quickly and easily read it from a distance.

• Highway Gothic, the official font of the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, spawned the creation of Interstate, the typeface used on highway signage. Typographers modified to use at smaller sizes.

• People who have never even seen a typewriter often use Courier, which was originally designed for IBM typewriters. It still evokes a homemade feel, even though few homes have typewriters anymore.

Type often obeys the law of engineering—form follows function. That is, a typeface should be appropriate to what the typesetter designed it to do. At the same time, fonts go in and out of fashion. The basis of good typographic design is balancing “logistical” requirements with what is pleasing and attractive.

Font choice affects the perception and reception of a document and is one of the crucial elements to good design. You should not treat it lightly. Every font tells a story. Is it the story you and your client want to tell?