Ask a Designer Before you go to Print

Print is so close to the finishing post, but it’s easy to get tripped at the last hurdle.

There are a lot of decisions to be made when specifying print.
It is relatively easy to order print through online printers, but do you know all the reasons behind some of the decisions you need to make?

Material (what you print onto)

There are various weights available to specify card and paper, often heavier weights add quality to a communication. Some pointers that might help:

  • Printers specify card and paper in gsm – grams per square meter.
  • For a letterhead printers often offer 100gsm, for a quality stock, it is better to select 120gsm, it will prevent show through – when you can see through to the other side.
  • For a business card 350gsm is probably the lightest to consider.
  • If you are producing a brochure, you might select a different weight cover to the inside (maybe 250gsm cover and 150gsm interior pages).

Don’t just accept material a printer offers because it is the cheapest option, silk paper has become standard; don’t hide in the crowd!

Finishing (the nice touches)

This is the stage once the basic print has been completed. Some pointers that might help:

  • Matt lamination – this is the waxy finish that is applied to a whole surface – for example on business cards or brochure covers.
  • Spot UV – this is where just part of an image is printed with a varnish.
  • Rounded corners  – a special cutter is used rather than usual straight trimming.
  • Embossing – where part of the material is raised. (this works better if the area is not printed too – called blind embossing)
  • Perforation – cutting into material – either to make pattern or tear mark.

The finishing touches can be the elevation your marketing needs.

Print Methods

Digital Print

If you are only printing a few items (often under 250 copies, but this can vary) it is likely to be produced on a digital press. It keeps costs down per item, but can have an impact on quality. There are limitations with colour as the full colour is produced by printing a mixture of dots in only four colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. Like your desktop printer, it can’t reproduce some colours well and some colours – fluorescents can’t be produced at all, there are some versions of metallics now, but don’t quite match up to other methods.

Litho Print

This is generally for longer runs, will produce crisper outcomes and can be used for special Pantone colours, single solid colours as well as CMYK for full colour photos. It is more expensive for short runs, as there is more cost in set up, but becomes more economical the more copies that are printed.

Colour Explained (very briefly)


These are specially mixed inks based on the Pantone Matching System, they are really accurate and can be metallics and fluorescents. They are great for matching specific brand colours.


Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black: these are the colours used to recreate full colour, but have limitations, sometimes, greens, burgundys, purples can be dull.


Red, Green, Blue: these are the colours used on screens to recreate full colour, using light. If you have an RGB image it won’t reproduce well printed and is likely to appear duller or off colour.

Need some print help

If we are working with you we can advise you on the best papers and finishes for the function of your piece of marketing. We can make it a less stressful process and manage the whole process, obtain quotes, liaise with the printer, upload artwork and arrange delivery.

Are you still in? Do you want to work with us to craft print?