Water Street Fresh Marketing for B2B2C Brands

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New To Print Buying?

New To Print Buying?

Georgiana Dearing, Jun 15, 2009

As much as the world has turned to the web, printing is not dead. If the job of buying and ordering printing just landed on your desk, you may be baffled by some of the language at first. We’ve created this as a layman’s introduction to the world of printing, to help you through reading print quotes and specifications.


Short for specifications. This first section is about the specifications, or the technical description of a print job. A print quote should include all of these specs:  Quantity, Trim, Bleed, Stock, Number of inks, Number of Sides, Bindery instructions, Proofing Method, Packing instructions, Delivery, Billing, etc..


The actual size of your final document. The trim size for US print jobs would be expressed in inches. The WIDTH of the page is always listed first, then the height. We use 8 1/2 x 11 paper for our standard page size in the US (Not 11 x 8 1/2, that’s how I always remember the rule)


This refers to the area of ink coverage on the page. A job “bleeds” if the ink extends all the way to the edge of the page. The artwork must extend at least 1/8 inch beyond the trim size on all sides. The job then prints to a bigger sheet of paper, and is trimmed back to the final size.

The page design doesn’t have to be a huge photo to require a bleed, even if you only have one thin line that extends off the edge of the page, you have a job that bleeds. If your page has a white margin on all four sides, then your job does not bleed.


This means paper. Paper comes in many weights, colors and textures. After the word stock should come a description of the paper that your job will print on. Pay attention to color names for white: white, bright white, ivory, buff, ecru are all white papers, but some are really white, and some are almost yellow. If you are unsure, ask to see a sample before you release the job or approve the estimate (they are free!)

Weight (paper)

In the US, paper density is described in pounds. The ” # ” symbol can also be used to replace the word pound. The short explanation of a pound wieght is that it describes how many pounds 500 sheets of a certain type of paper weighs. (It gets really confusing beyond that, because the size of those 500 sheets varies by the type of paper you are measuring.) Basically, the higher the number of pounds used to describe your paper, the heavier an individual sheet will be. 80# Text is heavier than 60# text.

Text Weight (paper)

When used in reference to paper, the term “Text” is used for all the papers that would be the inside pages of a book, and also stationery weights. (Text weight can also refer to font selection, but that’s another topic.)

If you are creating a small brochure and you select a heavier text paper, such as a 100# Text, then you could run it as a “self cover,” meaning the cover pages and the inside pages are all the same kind of paper. The advantage is that your job could run all at one time on the same press, instead of running the cover pages separately.

Cover Stock

These are heavier papers that you would normally use for booklet covers, and also business cards. Some people use cover stock and card stock interchangeably, but card stock really describes more inexpensive sheets, stuff you might run through a  photocopier. Cover stock comes in all kinds of colors and textures, and can be expensive if your sheet is really unique. It can also be a fun way make an impact. 80# Cover or 100# Cover are common weights for booklets or brochures.

Coated Stock vs. Uncoated Stock

Coated stock means the paper comes from the mill with a coating on it, which is usually clay based. Coated paper holds ink up on the surface better, with less absorption. Uncoated paper is more absorbent, and the ink soaks in to the page more.

Coated stock can come as gloss, matte, or a semi-gloss. Coated stock will also feel a little more substantial than uncoated paper. Uncoated stock can come in a LOT of textures (think of stationery) as well as some very smooth surfaces (think of bright white ink jet papers).

Card Stock

This is lower grade paper that has some body to it. 10 pt. (10 point) card stock is about the equivalent of index cards. A typical use would be for postcards. Stock described as “10 pt. C/1s” is a 10 point card stock, coated on one side, the other side is uncoated. The coated side holds a lot of ink, like a photo, the uncoated side is easy to write on with a pen—less smearing (like a postcard).

 Bond Sheet

Used to describe copy paper and paper you would load in to your desktop printer. 20# bond is lighter and thinner than 32# bond.

Amador Loureiro