Print Specs 101

Print specs are the basis for everything we do in the print world. Whether you’re requesting an estimate or submitting a job, making sure everything is spelled out concisely and clearly is important.

Maybe you’ve already received an estimate, but when it comes time to submit your files for production, print specs have actually changed. Be up front about these changes, and we’ll work diligently to get your revised numbers to you to keep the job flowing through production.

We’ve given you the breakdown of things you need to double-check when submitting your files, but what about submitting job specifications for your print project? On both our blog and our website there Request a Quote forms available for you to submit job specifications and here we’ll break down what should be provided in each field.

  • Email Address / First Name / Last Name – These help us identify who the project goes with should question arise down the road.
  • Phone – While not required, providing a phone number helps us reach out to get those quick questions answered to get your project moving through estimating more quickly.
  • Delivery Date – Do you know when you will need to have the project delivered? Including the due date in the quote request gives us the opportunity to let you know ahead of time when we must receive files to hit your desired date.
  • Proof Type – There are several different methods of proofing we utilize.
    • PDF Proof – This is referred to as a soft proof that can be sent electronically. This proof helps us show you what the art looks like after passing through our Raster Image Processor (RIP) at the final trim size.
    • Dylux Proof – We also refer to this proof as an “Impo Proof”. In printing, we print multiple pages up on a press sheet and fold it down to create signatures. We impose, or lay out, the pages as they will appear on the printing plate and fold this up to ensure proper order. This proof should notbe used as a color proof.
    • Color Proof – We use an EPSON to produce these proofs so you may hear us refer to these as an “EPSON”. These proofs contain all pages that have full color design elements. If color is critical, we do recommend utilizing the color proof.

      To minimize the back and forth between screen and proof, load this Photoshop Proof Setting by accessing the “View Menu” > Select “Proof Setup” > Select “Custom” > Then Select the “Load” button to add the MetroProofing proof setting.
      MetroProofingThis will help your proof preview look as closely to our output settings as possible when viewing images in Photoshop. To ensure that the preview is on, it is best to select View > Proof Setup > MPS Soft Proof Settings after making changes to your images.

      If you are producing a project utilizing specific Pantone spot colors, we do not traditionally provide colors proofs for these pages because we use the exact ink color for production. If you would like to still see an EPSON color proof for these pages, please provide a note stating so.

  • Press Check – If you have a color critical piece and want to make sure that your color is translating properly on press, select “Yes” and we’ll keep you updated on when we schedule the project on press for you to review and sign-off on production.
  • Quantity – How many do you need?
  • Job Description – Something as simple as a job title your project refers to. This especially comes in handy when you’re requesting multiple quotes overtime and we have to sort through exactly which “brochure” you’re referencing.
  • Special Notes – Is there something special you need us to do? Any collating, inserting, shrink wrapping or special processes (like die cutting, foil stamping or embossing) you need done to your piece? Make sure you spell it out in this section for us.
  • Colors – Here we are looking for the number of colors you intend to print this job with and on how many sides. Here’s a breakdown of some specs we’re used to seeing:
    • 1/0 or 1/1: This refers to one color (“/0” lets us know if it is one-sided or not). Your one color may be black or a specific Pantone color. If you know what color you intend to lay down, please go ahead and note those for us. (i.e. PMS 363 / PMS 363)
    • 2/0 or 2/2: This allows you two colors. Again, please feel free to specify the inks you need used in production if you know them.
    • 4/0 or 4/4: This is commonly referred to “full color”.  If you have full color imagery, please specify by stating “full color” or spelling out 4/0 or 4/4
    • 4+1 PMS: If you have a specific PMS color you need used in addition to our traditional four-color process, please specify and include the PMS number if available.
    • UV/Aqueous/Varnishes: If you want special coatings included on your print piece, please include that in the color section. Here’s the lowdown on coatings and below is a breakdown of abbreviations we use to specify which coatings we’ll be using:
      • UV: The most common UV we use is GL UV, or gloss UV.
      • Aqueous: Our most common coating is the Aqueous coating. We use SaAq (Satin Aqueous), GlAq (Gloss Aqueous), DAq (Dull Aqueous) and Soft Touch Aqueous to add a special texture to your project.
      • Varnish: Another coating we can use is a varnish. We offer satin varnish, dull varnish and gloss varnish.
      • Spot Coatings: If you are wishing to have any of the above coatings as a spot (only a specific area is coated) instead of a flood coat, please include that for us in the description.
  • Bleed – Does your project have color or images that extend past the trim line? Please make sure we are aware so we can account for the added space when imposing the project.
  • No. Pages/Panels: We know page counts can be confusing, but a single page refers to a single side of a sheet. Remember, we work in divisibles of four. Make sure your page count can be divided by four to minimize back and forth.
    • Plus Cover: Specify Inside pages + Cover if you intend to use a different stock for the cover than the inside pages.
    • Self Cover: A self cover book uses the same paper stock for cover and inside pages.
  • Flat Size: If you were to lay an unfolded, unstapled piece down, how large would it be?
  • Folded/Finished Size: When we carton or mail the project, how large should it be?
  • Fold Type: Select from the dropdown the type of fold you wish to be made to get from flat size to finished size.
  • Binding: There are several options for binding, select from the dropdown the type you prefer to use to finish your project.
  • Shipping: Do we need to include the cost to ship your project to a specific location? Please provide the destination zip code so we can include it in our estimate.
  • Packaging: Can we use our own cartons, or do you prefer unmarked boxes?
  • Samples: When all is said and done, would you like any samples left over for your records? Please include a specific number here.
  • Paper Stock: What type of paper do you want the project printed on? Please specify weight (100#, 80#, etc) and type (cover, text). If you have a specific paper brand you would like to use, please also include that here.
  • FSC: Would you like us to ensure your paper is coming from responsible logging resources? We’ll keep track of the chain of command and allow you to utilize our Forest Stewardship Council logo on your materials if you’d wish.
  • Special Handling: Here you can select different processes (emboss, die cut, foil stamp, etc.). In the Additional Special Handling Notes, please let us know how large the emboss and foil stamp will be to ensure accurate pricing.

Have additional questions? Feel free to contact us by phone 800.626.3048 to have you questions answered before submitting.


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