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The marketers guide to printing .. [exclusive]

by on December 5, 2018 in Business, Digital Marketing, Latest News, Lead Article, News you can use, Nuggets, Small Business, Startups

The marketers guide to printing .. [exclusive]

Printing is really easy! Don’t let your designer, printer or agency tell you otherwise. In this guide for marketers, we’ll cut through the jargon and simply explain everything you need to know.

Bamboozling people with technical terms to assert control isn’t anything new. As a marketer you’ll have encountered every day marketing jargon to pitch the USPs of a 360 offering with KPIs to be agreed by EOP.

FYI, printers have been doing the same thing for decades. So don’t worry about CMYK, DPI or Bleed, because all will be explained.

Thankfully, with the rise of online printing and self publishing, it’s becoming easier to cut through the noise and get to the true costs and procedures as print becomes commoditised.

There are 3 fundamentals in printing.

1. Paper
2. Binding
3. Print File Setup


While some printers offer an overwhelming range of papers, there are the 4 essentials.

Silk/Satin – This is the most popular paper with a smooth, silky finish.
Gloss – A paper with a shiny finish, commonly associated with photo albums.
Uncoated – A little rougher, while slightly dulling colours for a more vintage finish.
Recycled – Very rough with a visible texture, which can dull colours further.

If in doubt, choose Silk/Satin paper as a sensible ‘default’ option. The other paper types are intended for artistic expression, adding emphasis to your brand materials.

For example, a cool new burger restaurant appealing to a hipster audience will probably print their menu on Recycled paper. The Lawyers down the street will print their flyers on Silk/Satin paper. While a Photographer will hand out business cards made from Gloss paper to show off the photo in their design.

All papers are available in a variety of paper thicknesses, known in Europe as gsm and lbs in the US.


If you’re creating a booklet, such as a brochure, catalog or magazine, it’s best practice to include a ‘cover’ consisting of 4 sides in a thicker paper. Thicker cover paper not only looks professional, but it also protects the thinner paper pages inside your booklet.


Laminations for posters, postcards, business cards and the cover paper of booklets are always recommended. Once again, this is for protection, durability and a more professional presentation

While some printers offer an overwhelming range of special finishes, you only need to concern yourself with 2.

Matt lamination – a smooth protective coating
Gloss lamination – a shiny, smooth protective coating

Much like a Silk/Satin or Gloss paper, these laminate finishes have the same effect, while providing additional protects.

So if you choose a Gloss cover paper and apply a Gloss lamination, the finished effect is extremely shiny with a slightly increased colour contrast.

If you choose a Silk/Satin cover paper and apply a Matt lamination, the finished effect is a standard matt presentation.

Once again, if you’re unsure, choose Silk/Satin paper with a Matt lamination as a sensible ‘default’ option.


If you are creating a booklet, brochure, catalog or magazine, there are 3 types of binding to concern yourself with.

Staple Bound – Also known as Saddle Stitch. The booklet is held together by 2 staples.
Perfect Bound – A square edge along the spine. Minimal page count/paper thickness needed.
Wiro Bound – The booklet is together by looped rings of wire.

Case Bound is also an option for creating hard back books. But this is quite complicated, expensive and unlikely to be needed for your marketing materials.

Which binding you choose for a booklet will vary on purpose and price. For example, you can expect a comic book with around 20 pages will be Staple Bound. While a professional magazine with 200 pages will be Perfect Bound. A large engineering technical booklet on the other hand, may be Wiro Bound with thick pages to allow for quick access to important information while being highly durable.

Which binding you choose will also have an impact on your Print File Set Up for how you lay out the design of your pages. Because you have to make space for the binding type you’ve selected. Not to worry, because it’s a far simpler than it sounds.

Print File Setup

Essentially your Print File is the design aspect of your booklet, flyer, postcard or other printed marketing material. Some printers refer to this as your Artwork File.

All you need to know is what size you want your item to be and which binding you’ve chosen (if needed). Adding your Bleed Area and marking the Quiet Area in your design is then simple.

The following guide explains how to set up your own print marks in your print file, but there are many templates you can download for free online.


Pick whatever size you like. A4 and A5 are the most common in Europe, while 8.5” x 11” and 5.5” x 8.5” are the most common sizes in the US.

Set your design to your chosen size.

Trim Line

The edge of the size you’ve chose is known as your Trim Line. Because that’s where you want the print machine to ideally trim the edge of the paper for your item.

But printing isn’t an exact science, which is why you need a Bleed Area.

Bleed area

Regardless how big or small your chosen Size may be, the Bleed Area extends 0.125” or 3mm OUT from the Trim Line.

Your design needs to extend into this Bleed Area, with the expectation of getting cut off anywhere between the Trim Line and the outside edge of the Bleed Area.

This is because you have to plan for a tiny margin of error when you paper is cut during the printing process – In the same way that even the most skilled human with a pair of scissors cannot cut perfectly along a straight line.

Quiet area

The Quiet area extends 0.5” or 5mm IN from the Trim Line. This isn’t intended for the printer. This is intended for the designer to keep all important text and imagery a sensible distance away from the Trim Line. Because text shouldn’t come right up to the Trim Line, it needs a little bit of space away from the edge of your paper so that it looks pleasing to the eye.
An additional Quiet Area is needed for Perfect Bound and Wiro Bound booklets, because of the binding along the spine edge.

In the case of Perfect Bound, the Quiet Area extends IN a total of 0.5” or 12mm from the spine side Trim Line. This includes the cover, as there is a ‘binding line’ on the cover pages as well.

For Wiro Bound, this Quiet Area extends IN a total of 0.8” or 20mm from the spine side Trim Line to make room for the holes and coiled ring binding.

For Staple Bound booklets, a standard 0.25” or 5mm Quiet Area within all of the Trim Lines is sufficient, as the binding isn’t as tight or doesn’t eat into the page and cover papers


Because you’re going to be submitted your artwork to an online system, you’ll need to meet some technical requirements, which will help ensure that your materials is printed how you want it to look.

For the best results, always upload PDF files exported from inDesign using the ‘high quality print’ setting. All images should be at least 300 dpi or higher, as anything below this may appear low resolution.

All files should be supplied in CMYK colour. This is because RGB colour files will be converted to CMYK colours for the printing machines, which can result in some colour variations. Although they may be relatively close, the colours won’t match your artwork.

The colour profiles we recommend are ISO coated V2, U.S. Coated SWOP v2 and GraCOL2006.

Not sure what this means? Ask your designer.

3 Booklet Examples

Now to put all this knowledge into practice with 3 booklet examples. We’ve created some popular specifications below.

1) Staple Bound Booklet
A5 size
20 sides
Staple bound
Silk/Satin 100gsm paper
Silk/Satin 170gsm cover paper with a Matt lamination
3mm Bleed Area all round
5mm Quite Area all round

This is a typical booklet specification.

2) Perfect Bound Magazine
40 sides
Perfect binding
Silk 100gsm paper
Gloss 170gsm cover paper with a Gloss lamination
3mm Bleed Area all round
5mm Quite Area all round
12mm Quiet Area on spine facing side of pages and cover

Whenever people go Perfect bound, they seem to like a gloss cover with a gloss lamination while having Silk/Satin pages. It looks really good and gives a premium feel.

3) Recycled Engineering Manual
24 sides
Wiro binding
Recycled 170gsm text paper
Recyled 200gsm cover paper

Because of the Wiro Binding, we made the paper extra thick for durability.

People who go uncoated (or recycled) tend to go for thinner paper, creating a more rustic feeling product. Recycled cover paper cannot have a lamination, but this isn’t so much of an issue, as the ink soaks into the paper quite nicely, while Silk or Gloss papers are more susceptible to wear over time.


Booklets, brochures, catalogs and magazines are some of the more complicated printing materials, but once you’ve got your head around how these work, getting print files ready for flyers, postcards, posters and business cards couldn’t be easier.

So now that you’re armed with this new print knowledge, you can take charge of your printed marketing materials and your costs. Still printing with your local high street printer who’s been taking care of all this technical stuff for you? Take a look at the prices online. Because you’re in for a revelation!

About the Author

Adam Smith is the Marketing Manager at a specialist booklet printer called Mixam. Having successfully launched in the US, the UK based company is rapidly expanding by disrupting the online market with fresh ideas, new innovations and a real passion for printing.

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