Thursday, 28 February 2008

Hints on Paper Use


1. For smaller leaflets, eg A4 or less, or for short runs, increasing the weight of your paper can be an inexpensive way of improving the quality of your print. Going from 115gsm to 135gsm might add less than £30 to the cost of 10,000 1/3 A4 leaflets.

nb these are bulk purchase prices obtained from a printer who buys £15,000 of the same brand paper each month. Recommended retail prices are up to 4 times higher!


1000 SRA2 sheets of matt Art paper:
115gsm 1000 sheets £28
130gsm 1000 sheets £32
150gsm 1000 sheets £37
170gsm 1000 sheets £42
250gsm card 1000 sheets £64
400gsm card 1000 sheets £78

From 1 sheet of SRA2 paper you can print:

1 x A2 poster or
2 x A3 posters
4 x A4 leaflets
6 x 2/3 A4 leaflets
8 x A5 leaflets
12 x 1/3 A4 leaflets
16 x A6 cards
1 x 24 page 1/3 A4 stitched booklet
1 x 16 page A5 stitched programme

1. If you were printing 100,000 24 page 1/3 A4 booklets, 115gsm would be thick enough paper for the job because the fold and bulk of the 24 pages adds strength. However, the cost of increasing to 135gsm would be £38.50 - £30 = £8 (cost difference per 1000 sheets) X 100 = £800. You should talk to your printer about possible paper cost increases and take advice about saving money by ordering your paper in bulk.

2. Specifying a particular brand (e.g.'Conqueror') usually costs you more than any equivalent that the printer has in stock. Ordering small quantities of special papers is often not possible.

3. When you are next at your Printer, see if he/she has any special papers in stock you might have at a discount. There may even be occasional opportunities for you to print small leaflets or cards on the same plate as a larger job.

4. If printing a single sheet A5 or even 2/3 A4 leaflet folded to 1/3 A4, be wary of using paper lighter than 115gsm. 135gsm - 150gsm is best if the leaflet needs to stand up in leaflet racks. Conversely, a stapled ("stitched") 1/3 A4 brochure has enough strength through the folding to allow you to use 115gsm or even 100 gsm paper.

7. Recycled paper is improving in quality all the time and getting cheaper. Why not ask your printer about recycled paper? Better still, give me a call on 01432 870528 and I can send samples on request. For coated papers, 9Lives is a good choice, as is Revive, which is however more expensive.

Listed here with the most expensive and accurate at the top.

1. Traditionally, special one-off 'Machine-proofs' or 'Wet proofs' are provided from the final plates. These will look identical to the final printed job, but are expensive (approx £30 - £40 per colour) and author's corrections are charged extra - So this will mean making new plates.

2. A common compromise for four colour process work is 'cromalin' or 'matchprint' proofs. These are produced from the final films, so they are a guarantee that the content is accurate. They are also a very accurate guide for the weight of type and quite a good guide for strength of tint and colours, though the glossy finish will make colours look brighter than the final result (unless you are printing on card and adding a gloss varnish). Blacks appear very dense, and it can be a shock to see your finished print with dark grey where the black should be - designers should where possible put a tint of cyan behind the black to avoid this. Ask your printer what other inconsistencies you should be looking out for.

3. Dye Sub/Inkjet proofs - eg Scitex Iris Inkjet, Rainbow or Epson give a good idea of final colours, though some are not accurate on small type. Because these proofs can be produced direct from computer generated A/W without outputting films, it is much cheaper to make corrections than with cromalin proofs. They do not, however, guarantee that all your copy will be there on your final printed brochure, and the colour accuracy is dependent on the way the printer's computer has been set up. Dye Sub,laser and inkjet proofs have the added advantage that they are on thin enough paper to be folded to give a realistic dummy of the final brochure.

4. Colour laser proofs can also give some idea of the finished result, but again do not guarantee accuracy of colour or copy. Type can appear bolder than the finished print.

5. PDFproofs using Adobe Acrobat software are becoming the most common way of designer's showing colour visuals before hard copies are outputted. The PDF files can be emailed and read on any computer, using Adobe's free Acrobat Reader Software. The software is also included on the free CDs in monthly computer magazines. No guarantee of colour or copy.

6. If you've seen a proof other than a Cromalin or Matchprint and can't afford a wet proof, you may be concerned about last minute mistakes cropping up. You have a few options:
(a) Ask the printer to email you a corrected pdf file so that you can check that the corrections have been done; or
(b) Ask for mono laser proofs. For absolute guarantee that the changes have been done, ask for
(c) An 'ozalid'- a large blueprint from each film. or
(d) See the filmwork or plates before they are on machine. or (e) See the job 'on machine' (ie while it is being printed). But at this stage you can only change the ink colours unless you get new plates made. This is very much a last resort option.

Sending PDFS for Commercial Printing

Correct preparation of PDF files

When creating a PDF in Acrobat Distiller, there are job options which must be set for commercial printing. These include default resolution, compression settings and font embedding.

Please ensure you choose high resolution. Compression settings for colour and greyscale should be downsampled to 300dpi with "auto compression" set on high. Bitmapped (monochrome: i.e. line art) images should be set at 600dpi. Font embedding should be set to "embed all fonts."


Make sure there is 3mm bleed all round the PDF, i.e. save the PDF with 6mm added to each measurement (i.e. for A4 usually 210mm x 297mm, save as 216mm x 303mm). Crop marks may be included. If it is not saved in this format, we will not be able to use it as artwork and if there are any changes to the job, you may have to amend and re-supply the artwork.

Artwork must be suppplied as CMYK for commercial printing, NOT RGB!

Please ensure that all embedded images are CMYK files please. RGB images may look good on your screen but final output to print is always in CMYK. One should be aware that files converted from RGB to CMYK may alter the colour composition significantly.

Microsoft Office & Publisher files

If you are creating a PDF from a MS Publisher or Word file, care must be taken to ensure spot colours are created correctly in your original documents. Do not set to RGB colours.

Supplying EPS files

Any other file formats not listed above must be saved as an eps or jpeg. If there are any changes to the job, you may have to amend and re-submit the artwork as we will be unable to change it. Ensure file has bleed and crop marks and please confirm the final size of the artwork and supply a hard copy for reference.

Bleed and crop marks

All artwork must have 3mm bleed if you require the image to bleed off the edge of the paper.

Crop marks should be included if artwork does not fill a whole page area (i.e. no bleed). They should be 5mm long, 3mm outside of the page area and coloured in the colour 'registration' to ensure they appear on each colour separation.

Please ensure that artwork is supplied at the correct finished size required. If this is not possible, please inform the printer to allow time for amending the artwork.

Artwork amendments or re-submission

Please remember that most printers charge for any amendments needed.


In General, please do not supply imposed pages or "printers pairs" because most printers workflow includes imposition software to impose correctly for their printing processes.


If you are supplying a document with multiple pages, please try and make the front and back cover of the document a separate file, and supply as single pages in page order. Also, please remember to allow for "creep" I suggest you keep all text and copy at least 5mm away from the trimmed edge.


Include all fonts you have used in the file. Whilst printers have extensive font collections, there is no guarantee the version you have used matches theirs. This can create problems with line lengths and spacing of the type.

Lineart and images

Scanned colour and greyscale images should be 300dpi at the final size in the document submitted for output.

Images should be submitted as TIFF's, JPEG's or EPS.

Lineart (bitmapped) should be 600-1200dpi at the final size in the document submitted for output.


Screen tints may range from 99% down to 1%.

From a practical viewpoint, anything above 90% or less than 5% will generally not be visible to the naked eye.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Environmental Friendly Laminating

Many of you might not be aware of the fact that there is now a
"Environmentally Friendly" form of lamination available. This
is called "Celllogreen"

This is an environmentally friendly alternative to the normally used
OPP laminate.

With refined wood pulp at the heart of this film, the environmental
issues are checked at every stage. The timber used is harvested from
SFI-managed forests (SFI is the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and
is the North American equivalent to FSC), where full considerationis
given to wildlife, the eco system and the landscape in which the trees
are grown.

In comparison OPP, with its source rooted in petroleum, has taken 35
million years andsignificant processing and distillation before it can be
laminated once, discarded and ploughed into the subsoil as landfill forever.

Please give me a call on 01432 870528 if you would like more info on this, or maybe some samples sent.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Envionmental Printing - Useful Things to Know

Alcohol-free or low-alcohol printing

Lithographic printing that uses reduced amounts or no isopropyl alcohol (IPA), thereby reducing VOC emissions.

Dampening (or fountain) solution

This is used to keep the non-image areas of the plate moist, preventing them from accepting ink. Dampening solution usually contains high levels of a solvent called isopropyl alcohol (IPA) which contributes to VOC emissions. Some are available with a low IPA content or are IPA free.

Waterless printing eliminates the need for dampening solution altogether.

Heavy metals

Heavy metals are natural components of the Earth's crust. They cannot be degraded or destroyed. Tiny amounts are essential for human health, but at higher concentrations they can lead to poisoning.

Heavy metals may enter the body in food, water, air, or by absorption through the skin.

Heavy metals such as barium, copper and zinc are contained in certain ink pigments, particularly metallics. Studies have linked the use of heavy metals in some inks to an increased risk of printers developing bladder cancer.

IPA (Isopropyl alcohol)

Isopropyl alcohol is commonly used as a cleaner and solvent in industry. Lithographic printers combine it with water to create ‘dampening solution’ which repels the ink in non-image areas.

IPA contributes to ground level ozone which can effect plant and crop growth and poses a potential health hazard to printers as it can lead to, amongst other things, asthma.

Mineral oil based inks (also known as petroleum based inks)

These are the most commonly used inks not least because of their quick drying time. The pigment is suspended in petroleum with Isopropyl alcohol as the solvent (see above). As the ink dries, alcohol and petroleum evaporate, releasing VOCs.

Added to this – petroleum is a non-renewable resource.


A solvent is a liquid substance capable of dissolving other substances. Solvents used in the lithographic print process include:

  • mineral oil which is used to reduce the viscosity of ink
  • Isopropyl alcohol (also referred to as IPA, see definition above) which is toxic to aquatic life
  • Toluene which is used in cleaning solutions and contributes to the formation of ozone
  • Methyl Ethyl Ketone which is used as a solvent for lacquers, adhesives and inks and is also toxic to aquatic life

Vegetable based ink

Vegetable based inks can be made from a variety of vegetable oils including soy-bean, corn, and linseed oils. Replacing mineral oil with vegetable oil means that you can reduce or even cut out VOC emissions.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

These are carbon-containing gases and vapors that are released from solvents used during the printing process.

The most significant environmental impact of VOCs is their formation with vehicle exhaust to form photochemical smog. However, in liquid form VOCs can effect water and soil quality.

They also have an effect on the health of pressroom workers and have been linked to breathing difficulties, liver and kidney damage.

Waterless printing

Waterless printing is basically sheet-fed litho printing using different printing plates and a method of transferring the image to the paper without using water.

Removing water from the process means that you also eliminate the problem of achieving the correct balance of ink and water on press. It also eliminates the need for IPA (see above).




This stands for the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, an initiative designed to improve companies’ environmental performance. EMAS sets the highest environmental standards of all the environmental management schemes (EMS). Its aim is to recognise those organisations that go beyond minimum legal compliance. In addition, it is a requirement of the scheme that participating organisations regularly produce a public environmental statement that reports on their environmental performance. It is this voluntary publication of environmental information, whose accuracy and reliability is independently checked by an environmental verifier, that gives participants in the EMAS scheme enhanced credibility.

IS0 14001

This is an internationally recognised scheme. It provides a framework for environmental awareness, monitoring and continual improvement. The three key areas to be managed are:

  • Compliance with environmental regulation
  • Prevention of pollution
  • Improvement in environmental performance
  • The emphasis on continual improvement means that standards may vary as the longer a printer has been in the ISO14001 scheme, the more progress they will have made.

Green Dragon

This scheme is for Welsh companies that wish to improve their environmental performance but don’t have the resources for ISO14001. There are five levels, each one contributing towards the achievement of international and European environmental standards, ISO 14001 and EMAS. Green Dragon Level 5 is in fact a slightly higher standard than ISO14001, partly because it takes carbon emissions into account.


This was developed by the London Environment Centre (LEC), part of London Metropolitan University and is more appropriate for smaller companies who lack the resources for IS0 14001. All participants enter the scheme at Level One where you must demonstrate that you are taking responsibility for your environmental impacts. Further levels involve recommendations being made and targets being set and met for reducing environmental impact.

FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Chain of Custody

If a printer holds the FSC Chain of Custody and the paper being used in a project is FSC certified or FSC recycled (100 per cent recycled post-consumer waste), the end product can be labelled as FSC certified. This certificate is about the fibre tracking process only and ensures that there is no contamination between FSC and non-FSC material.


The following three terms, ECF, PCF and TCF, are commonly used, but since no papers are made in Europe using chlorine bleaching, all European papers are either ECF, PCF or TCF. So when choosing a paper, bear in mind that these terms cannot be used as a differentiator.

Elemental chlorine free (ECF)

This term is used to mean paper that is made from virgin or recycled fibre and bleached using alternative chlorine compounds as a substitute for elemental chlorine. See note above.

Processed chlorine free (ECF)

This is used to mean paper that is made from recycled post-consumer waste (PCW) and bleached without chlorine, or left unbleached. See note above.

Totally chlorine free (TCF)

This term is used to mean paper made from 100% virgin fibre that is bleached without chlorine, or left unbleached. It isn’t applied to recycled papers, because the source fibre cannot be determined. See note above.

Post-consumer waste

This is when the end product has reached the consumer, been used and then recycled.

Pre-consumer waste

Also known as post-industrial waste, this describes printers’ waste such as off-cuts and unused copies which may have been over-ordered.


The Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification Schemes is an international forest industry initiative that acts as an umbrella for many smaller national forestry schemes.


The Forest Stewardship Council is an international, non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests and is the only certification scheme endorsed by NGOs worldwide.

The number of FSC-certified forests is growing rapidly, covering 84 million hectares worldwide – about 10% of the world’s production forest.

Forests are inspected and certified against the 10 Principles of Forest Stewardship, which take into account environmental, social and economic factors.

In addition to forest management and certification, the FSC Chain of Custody tracks the timber from the forest to the paper mill and then to the printer.

If a printer is FSC certified, then the end product can carry the FSC label ensuring that there has been no contamination between FSC and non-FSC material. However, the Chain of Custody is broken if the manufacturing mill or printer is not FSC certified.

There are three types of FSC Certified paper:

FSC Mixed Sources

The Mixed Sources label states that at least 50 per cent of the virgin fibre must come from FSC certified forests with the remaining percentage from 'controlled sources'. Recycled waste can also be included up to a maximum of 90%. The majority of FSC certified materials featured on Lovely as a Tree carry this label.

Controlled sources exclude:

  • illegally harvested timber
  • forests where high conservation values are threatened
  • genetically modified organisms
  • violation of peoples’ civil and traditional rights
  • wood from forests harvested for the purpose of converting the land to plantations or other non-forest use

100% FSC

No explanation needed!

FSC Recycled

These papers are made from 100% post-consumer waste by FSC accredited mills.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Paper Sizes

As promised, here are some useful paper sizes. The first table is the actual finished size, the second table is the actual size of the sheet when it goes on the press.

ISO A Series
ISO B Series
4A1682 x 237866 1/4 x 93 5/8
4B2000 x 282878 3/4 x 111 5/16
2A1189 x 168246 13/16 x 66 1/4
2B1414 x 200055 11/16 x 78 3/4
A0841 x 118933 1/8 x 46 13/16
B01000 x 141439 3/8 x 55 11/16
A1 594 x 84123 3/8 x 33 1/8
B1707 x 100027 13/16 x 39 3/8
A2420 x 59416 1/2 x 23 3/8
B2500 x 70719 11/16 x 27 13/16
A3297 x 42011 11/16 x 16 1/2
B3353 x 50013 7/8 x 19 11/16
A4210 x 2978 1/4 x 11 11/16
B4250 x 3539 13/16 x 13 7/8
A5148 x 2105 13/16 x 8 1/4
B5*176 x 2506 15/16 x 9 13/16
A6105 x 1484 1/8 x 5 13/16
B6125 x 1764 15/16 x 6 15/16
A774 x 1052 15/16 x 4 1/8
B788 x 1253 7/16 x 4 15/16
A852 x 742 1/16 x 2 15/16
B862 x 882 7/16 x 3 7/16
A937 x 521 7/16 x 2 1/16
B944 x 621 3/4 x 2 7/16
A1026 x 371 x 1 7/16
B1031 x 441 1/4 x 1 3/4

ISO Press-Sheet Sizes
Width precedes height; Metric measurements are exact;
Inch measurements are approximate (calculated at
25.4 mm = 1 inch and rounded off).

RA Sizes, for work without bleeds,
allow 3 mm (1/8") head, foot,
and fore-edge trim margins

SRA Sizes, for work with bleeds,
allow 3 mm (1/8") head and foot and
6 mm (1/4") fore-edge trim margins
RA0860 x 122033 7/8 x 48
SRA0900 x 128035 7/16 x 50 3/8
RA1610 x 86024 x 33 7/8
SRA1640 x 90025 3/16 x 35 7/16
RA2430 x 61016 15/16 x 24
SRA2450 x 64017 11/16 x 25 3/16
RA3305 x 43012 x 16 15/16
SRA3320 x 45012 5/8 x 17 11/16
RA4215 x 3058 7/16 x 12
SRA4225 x 3208 7/8 x 12 5/8

Use Recycled Papers

As Global Warming becomes more of an issue, "Green" policies are
gaining ground. If you need any printing, please consider using recycled papers, & printing companies that have ISO 14001 or FSC accrediation.

There are excellent recycled papers out there such as Nine Lives & Revive, to name but a few.

This cat is extremely angry, he's running out of trees to climb. For the plight of a tree, see the "Talking Tree" video on You Tube.