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Why Ordering More Costs Less

Paper Work

How To Talk Like A Printer

Why Ordering More Costs Less

It's the most important question in printing. You come in with a brochure, and you need 2,650 copies. The printer says, "you might as well get 3,000."  "I don't need 3,000, I only need 2,650," you reply, thinking, "Can't this guy hear me?"

The unique economics of printing

Well, yes I can, but the economics of printing are such that the more you order, the less it costs. Now, that's true with most anything - when you buy a bag of oranges, you get each orange for a lower price than you would if you only bought one orange. But printing is unique in that the first sheet bears almost all of the cost. Why?

Well, to print that brochure, there are quite a few things that have to happen before the ink hits the paper.

The first sheet is the most expensive

First, the brochure has to be written, typeset, designed, and a layout has to be made. Then, proofs must be generated and the printing plates are burned. If it's a colour job, the right inks have to be put in the press. Then the press itself is adjusted for paper stock, size, and position.

After all that, the first sheet can be printed. The first sheet has incurred all of these costs.

After that, it's gravy

But once the press is running, it cranks out sheets at a rate of 5,000 - 10,000 per hour. Your only extra costs from there on are paper and running the press. On a per-sheet basis, that doesn't cost a lot.

Another factor to take into account is that paper is sold in reams, which are packages of 500 sheets. If the stock you need is special order - a kind we don't keep around the shop - we need to buy it in even reams (500, 1,000, 1,500, etc.) So if you order 2,650 of something, you are paying for 3,000 sheets of paper. And as we've already said, the extra 350 sheets cost very little to print.

How can this help me save?

Always ask us for the next quantity break - if you're ordering 2,650 brochures, ask us how much it would cost to print 3,000. You'll be surprised how inexpensive the difference will be.

Paper Work

Picking paper can be the most confusing part of your project. We're about to make it simpler by giving you the 5 basic things to look for: grade, weight, size, colour and finish.


There are more than 15 grades of paper. Here are 3 of the most popular:

Bond or Writing: The lightest of the common grades, Bond is often used for letterhead, copier paper, and handouts.

Offset or Text: A little heavier, Offset is used for slightly more substantial items like flyers, newsletter and book pages.

Cover: This grade is used for what it sounds like -- covers of brochures, booklets, and more. It's heavier than Bond or Offset.


Paper is sold by weight - 20 lb, 70 lb, etc. But you can't compare weight across grades. It's kind of like shoes - a men's size 7 shoe is different than a woman's or child's size 7 shoe. That's why 50 lb Cover isn't the same as 50 lb Offset. However, within grades, the higher the number, the heavier the paper. So 100 lb Cover is heavier than 50 lb cover.


8-1/2" x 11" is the standard size for office use. Most grades come in sizes that a number of 8-1/2" x 11" sheets can be cut from. For example, Offset comes in 17-1/2" x 22-1/2" sheets (Called 4-out because you can cut 4 8-1/2" x 11" pages from it) and 23" x 35" (8-out).

Any extra inches allow for trimming after printing. Not all grades and weights come with extra room to trim. Be sure to check with your printer before designing a layout with bleeds (where the image goes to the edge of the page) to make sure your paper is big enough to handle it.


One popular brand of writing paper is available in Ultimate White, Bright White, Fluorescent White, Electric White, Natural White, and Soft White. Some whites aren't really white, but cream or off-white. Always be sure to ask for a stock sample so you can choose exactly which white (or colour) you want.

And remember, buying paper is like buying wallpaper. Mills don't guarantee that different batches of one colour will match. Some brands are better than others at keeping their colours consistent.


The surface of paper can be finished in different ways. And ink looks different on each one. One popular Offset paper comes in glossy, smooth, vellum, luster, embossed, satin, and linen finishes. Some brands are only available in one finish.

Paper selection can have a big impact on your design, your timetable and your budget. So you should start thinking about paper early in your planning stages. Different weights can make your project look expensive or make it look thrifty. Some finishes are formal, while others are casual. Some colours whisper conservative, while others shout trendy.

We've covered the basics here. But there are a few more questions you may want to ask. Do you have time to order a special paper, or will you need to use whatever the printer has in stock? Can you get envelopes to match your paper? Do you want to use recycled paper?

How To Talk Like A Printer

Sometimes it may seem like your printer is from a different planet. One where "bleed" has nothing to do with skinning your knee. Where "crop" isn't something you use to make a horse go faster. And "spread" isn't something you put on bread.

But take heart - it's not as confusing as it seems. Here's all the printing jargon you'll ever need to know:


Short for Author's Alterations. It means copy that's been changed after it's already been typeset, at the request of the author or client.


A bleed is a special printing effect. It extends the print image beyond the crop marks (see "crop" below.) Then, when the page is trimmed, the colour or printed image goes to the edge of the page.


This printing technique lets darker coloured areas overlap very slightly into lighter colour areas to eliminate those ugly white gaps.


The four colours from which all other printing colours are made: (C) Cyan, (M) Magenta, (Y) Yellow, and (K) Black.


To cut out portions of an illustration or photo so it fits into a certain area. You can also "crop out" any graphic elements that you don't want or need.

Crop Marks

Those pair of narrow lines at the corners of a proof that show you where the page will be cut.

Die Cut

When a specially designed steel die custom cuts paper or other material into unique shapes and designs. Die cuts can add substantially to the cost of a job.


It means "For Position Only", and it's when you put low quality illustrations or photos where they'll be in final. That shows your printer the position of the real images, but tells him not to use the ones that are there.


A continuous tone of photograph that has been screened into patterns of very small dots of different sizes and shapes.


In printer lingo, "M" means "One Thousand". So if you want 5,000 finished copies, ask for 5M.


The degree to which you can see the printed image through the other side of the paper. Generally, the thicker the paper, the more opacity you have.


This is when your printer prints more copies than you need. Say you asked for 1,000 brochures, and 1,153 get printed. You have an overrun of 153 brochures. The industry allowance is between 5% & 10% of the quantity ordered.


A pica is the basic measurement unit in typesetting. There are 6 picas in 1 inch.


The proof is a copy of your job, which you then can make corrections on.Your printer will fix it before it goes to press.


The basic unit for ordering paper. A ream is 500 sheets.


A coating applied over a printed piece that gives it surface protection against wear. It can also be used to highlight an area for special emphasis. Varnishes come in either glossy or dull finishes.

Wafer Seal

Yes, this is the technical name for those little gummed labels that are attached to self-mailers to keep them shut during mailing.

Copyright © 2002 Corporate Printers All rights reserved.

Corporate Printers
83 Iber Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K2S 1E7
Telephone: (613) 591-2335 Fax: (613) 591-1817

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