Size Matters in the Print Production Process

When it comes to planning a new print marketing piece, size matters, and here’s why.

Your chosen marketing services provider may own, or have access to a wide array of manufacturing capabilities, but it’s not unlimited. Because of this, product size is one of the most important attributes that contributes to manufacturing and cost efficiency. Understanding your provider’s capability and looking to your provider for guidance before designing your next marketing piece could help you get more for your money. Here are two brief examples to illustrate this.

Example # 1. Let’s say your designer has in their guidelines that the max sheet size of your current print provider is 28” x 40”. You are creating a direct mail piece and have planned on something in the size range of 9”x6”, 8.5”x5.5”, or 8”x5”. You designer has determined that 8”x5” is the way to go because they can fit 20-up on a 28” x 40” sheet, and only 18-up of the other two sizes. But let’s do the math for this layout. You may be able to fit 20-up, but your paper waste is 23% because, you cannot quite squeeze another row of cards on that sheet size. In this case, with a larger 9”x6” card, you can only fit 18 on the sheet, but the waste is only 7%. Remember, paper is purchased by weight.  Paper waste = money waste. There are likely other standard sheet sizes readily available such as 24”x36”or 25”x38”. Fitting a project to the best sheet size is often more than simply looking to the max sheet size.

Example #2. You are ready to produce a 16 page, upright, stitched, brochure. You have considered that 6”x10.5” would be a good size. If you have any intention of producing a high volume of catalogs, your provider will produce them on a web press. Many of the web presses in the U.S. deliver a piece that is 10.875” long. At .375” extra trim length per page, and considering  the piece is 6” wide, times 16 pages, that’s  36 square inches of real estate that your printer is charging you to produce anyway. By designing a brochure that is 10.5”, you may be giving away extra space, decreasing the potential value of the brochure. Be flexible and get input from your design and print team to decide your priorities, but if the size you have chosen is preferred, by all means stick with it.

While both of the examples above are rather specific, they illustrate common issues. Before you begin designing a new print marketing piece, remember, size matters. Consider consulting with your print services provider if your designer does not have a solid print manufacturing background. Understanding your print provider’s manufacturing capability, along with their guidance, may provide you with surprising cost savings and/or greater value for your money.


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