TKs Korner Masthead

July 2022


Ways to Save Money on Your Next Printing Project



If you, like my client Dan, often wonder...


“What can I do to save money?” ... THIS ISSUE IS FOR YOU!


Before we delve into the many cost saving avenues that are available to you, we need to touch on the bidding process. It is here where some of the actual print costs are overlooked. Keep in mind, that the bidding process encourages print vendors to cut corners and exclude specifics in order to bring down their price in hopes of being awarded the project, only later to add on up-charges or alterations to the final billing of the project.


Unfortunately there are instances of print specs being changed, or inferior papers, finishes or bindery processes being substituted — either without a client’s knowledge, or maybe in the hopes of sliding past a customer who is not as knowledgeable about the entire process and/or the ultimate product they are expecting. Some projects are practically given away in order to get a client ‘in the door’; later their projects seem to have constant and continuing upward rising costs.


Think back to how many of your projects actually came within an original print bid? Do the up-charges or alterations seem reasonable? If your billing is not coming in within the original bid, the only additional charges you should be receiving are from alterations you have made. If the charges do not seem reasonable, you may start to realize substantial savings just by making sure a more detailed estimate is obtained up front.



The question is: “What is my goal with the bidding process?” Is it simply to get a variety of bids that are ‘apples to apples’ and make a decision based on that? Is it to get the cheapest price? Or, am I concerned about making sure that everyone really understands the design, how the piece is intended to be used, and what the desired end results are?


The latter is what I aim to provide with my consultative and partnership approach. My goal is to ensure that every one of your projects that we work on together is completely understood, that the design intention can be accomplished, and that the bid is accurate. The only way to make sure this is possible is for both parties to ask questions up front. That way surprises will not be encountered along the way.


We know that, in most cases, not all of the print specifications are decided upon early in the process. Yet, the more precise you are up front, the better your chances are that the bids are indeed ‘apples to apples’. This is especially important when you still have creative to be approved, budgets to be OK’d, and PO’s need to be cut.



Providing accurate, detailed information along with a 100% to-size color mock-up will ensure that the print bid you receive has been estimated correctly and can be looked at as ‘apples to apples’.


Listed below are line items that are commonly furnished in a bid, plus items that are overlooked and additional options that we could look into further if your design or end-use allows.




Name of project and format of piece

Date and time print bid needs to be provided


Size — flat size and finished / folded size

Stock — weight, brand (if a specific paper brand is known) and finish

Ink — number of colors: 4cp, PMS, metallics, bleeds?

Coating — varnish, aqueous, UV, or whichever is recommended

Artwork — original working files provided on disk, via upload, or as print-ready pdfs files; date when artwork will be ready

Proofs — dylux proof, matchprint and/or softproofs

Press check or not

Variable Data Printing (VDP) — number of sides with VDP, number of VDP fields, number of images/logos/copy within each field

Color Moves — outline specific areas and color manipulate versus overall color moves

Die cutting or perforations

Embossing — register to print or blind

Foil Stamping — register to print or blind

Lamination — one sided or two, flush or sealed edge, and thickness

Binding — saddle stitch, perfect bind, wire-o, spiral, plastic coil, GBC etc.

Mailing Services — ink jetting, labeling, post office drop

Delivery — date, location, contact person




(Typically this is where most of the up charges will be encountered.)


How does the piece fold? — roll, letter, gate, accordion, double parallel, etc. If a roll fold, have the panels been adjusted for the fold. Any critical crossover hookups? If so, on what pages. Has the art been adjusted for crossovers?


Stock — comparable stock okay or not? (Not all papers are created equal.) Even a grade marked number one to another number one have differences. Domestic to Foreign ratings are also very different. (See TKs Korner, Picking the Right Paper and Substrate for more specifics.) (Note: A family member piece printed with a substitute paper could result in colors and images not matching.)


Ink — 4cp, versus PMS, any metallics and their colors. Percentage of coverage for each. Does ink run across folds and is a score necessary. If scoring, will a press, folder or letterpress score be OK.


Coatings — wet or dry trap, contaminated or clean. Are drawdowns needed? Varnish, aqueous, and UV will protect your piece in a variety of levels. Their costs sometimes will not follow the same suit. Aqueous allows you to seal the sheet and move onto the next step faster than a varnish, which could nullify the savings of the coating itself. A soft-touch aqueous coating is a unique technique that provides a very soft, rich and "velvety" feel to printed pieces. It is important to note that the darker the palette, the more muted the colors will appear. Soft-touch aqueous will definitely add a unique dimension to the right pieces. (Note: Fingerprinting is more apparent with UV over the aqueous, soft-touch aqueous, and varnish coatings, especially with darker background colors.) For more information on Creative Coating Techniques.


Artwork — format and/or working software. (Some software programs are not print-friendly.)


Proofs — are you familiar with the 2 different types of proofs Shapco has, how each can be used and save money? Ask me about Dylux / Forms Proofs vs. Matchproof / Epson Proofs.


Dylux / Forms Proofs are a CMYK, backed up (not laminated together) and is ideal for projects that may need many eyes to approve and/or possible changes.


Matchproof / Epson Proofs are for those really color critical projects.


Press Check — all forms or just one form to set the color.


Digital Printing — is exceptable option to consider — great for short run 4cp projects. Depending on size and quantity, there are economy of scale price break points.


Die Cutting — does a die currently exist and can it be furnished, or do we need to create a new die?


Size of Die — if perforating, is it on folds only or L-shaped, etc.


Embossing — is die existing and can it be furnished, or do we need new?


Height of Die - single level, multi or sculptured.


Foil Stamping - does die exist and can it be furnished, or do we need new?


Blind - or registering to print.


Lamination - lay flat, satin, gloss or dull film, sealed or flush edge.


Binding — are you familiar with Ota binding and its benefits/cost savings over perfect binding?


For more detailed information on the different bindery techniques, please see the Sappi 6 Bindery Techniques (9.3 mb pdf) and discover; History of Binding, Binding as Design, Binding Techniques, Binding Glossary. It’s filled with great information, images etc.


Grain Direction — sometimes this can really matter with various finishing processes and folding, especially with your heavier weights. If this is not discussed up front in the bid, your end pricing could reflect additional costs.


Mailing — how many lists will we be working with? Will we merge/purge and dupe eliminate? Whose indicia will we use? Is it mailing out First-Class, First-Class Presort or Presorted Standard. Is this for a non-profit? Is there a Business Reply Card and what is the size? (To get automation postal discounts you need to be at a 7pt or 9pt minimum paper weight. When over 4.25" x 6", paper must be 9pt minimum).


Quantity — total number to be printed versus amount that mails.





Bleed — where on the piece? Sometimes going with no bleed may allow you to go to a smaller paper and/or press sheet size.


Size — downsizing the piece so it will fit onto a smaller paper and/or press sheet size. (This may also allow you to keep a bleed in some cases for no additional cost.)


Stock — using a similar grade of a different brand name, or ordering a special sheet size cuts down on waste. (Note: this usually takes time to get from the paper mills but can provide huge savings. If you only need a partial quantity, you may choose to put that small amount onto a standard sheet size, while waiting on the balance of the special sheet size and savings.)


Scoring — going with a press or folder score over a letterpress score can save money. (Note: threat of cracking is only reduced by going with a letterpress score, not eliminated.)


Tint Stripping — a PMS color can save money. However, this can also cause you color consistency issues if heavy areas or several process images are included. This should be discussed up front to see if it makes sense or not.


Crossover Hookups — can add to your project by requiring several extra procedures. Typically, a text weight stock requires these extra steps while cover stocks will not.


Foiling Repeat Patterns — to avoid them within your run or live work, requires extra material to be purchased as well as a slower run speed to make sure none get mixed in.


Prepress — you can reduce production time by supplying a press optimized (print ready) PDF file. This will reduce the amount of time necessary to prep and process files.


Wow! Dan had no idea of the many options available to him in these different categories. When combined with being specific upfront in the bid process, he had a successful project AND is now realizing the cost savings he wouldn’t have otherwise.



Before we go...

If you have a production issue not discussed above that you would like me to address, or a project that needs to be looked at, please give me a call or send me an email.


As always, I will do whatever it takes to ensure you receive the best value for every marketing dollar you invest.


Connect with me on LinkedIn


You can also check out my profile, join my network and view more client comments on LinkedIn at:

Referrals are greatly appreciated. If you know someone I can help, or who might like to receive TK's Korner, please let me know.

Take care and have a great day!


Tom Kubinski

Printing Consultant Who Helps You Make Good Impressions
Direct: 612-278-1568
Cell: 612-760-3700


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Did you miss an issue of TK's Korner? Click below to view!

Branding - 22 Laws Of
Brand Warfare
Clear Dry Ink
Creative Coatings Techniques
Desktop Techniques
Digital Printing - Variable Data or Business Development
Direct Mail Raise Response, Lower Costs
FSC Certification
In House Mailing Capabilities
Ink Tour—Everything you wanted to know
Marketing More Effectively
Paper Mill Tour - Coated
Paper Mill Tour - Uncoated
Picking the Right Paper and Substrate
PDF Formats
PDF Info & Quark vs. InDesign
PODi - Digital Print Success Story
Postal Changes, Mailing Requirements & Rates
Press Check Tips
PURL - Avoid Dog House Campaign
QR Codes
Save Disk Space
Social Media -- The Basics
Social Media vs. Print
Top File Issues
UV Burn
Ways to Save Money
What Sets Shapco Apart?
Why Print in a Down Market?
Why Work With TK?



Tom Kubinski
Printing Consultant
Direct: 612-278-1568
Fax: 612-334-5879
Cell: 612-760-3700
1109 Zane Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN. 55422
Phone: 612-375-1150
Fax: 612-334-5879
Toll Free: 1-800-230-2828

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