The “perfect” print job is an elusive thing, perhaps even a mythological object. But there are steps that you can take to help your bound print job to be closer to perfect. Crossovers, bleed, creep, examples and asking questions are key in making your print job successful. In the end, much of what goes into trying to make your print job successful is communication.
• Crossovers. Crossovers are when an image or text is going to literally “cross over” to the next signature. If the print piece is going to have crossovers, check with your printing company where the guide and gripper will be located. This will help you to keep your cross over area as close as possible to the guide and gripper. The reason for doing this is that the guide and gripper area of the press is the area that will experience the least amount of paper stretch and press bounce. Just be sure to keep in mind that you should avoid splitting a word in half from one page to the next signature.
• Bleed. Bleed is the portion of an image that runs off the page. When printing, it is impossible to make sure that every single sheet in the print job is perfectly aligned to each other. It’s recommended to always include at least a 1/16″ bleed on simple trim jobs and 1/8″ on others. Due to variance in sheet size and variance in print position on the sheet, adding the correct bleed will make sure the entire job will appear to be lined up perfectly when it’s time to cut.
• Creep. In the print world, creep doesn’t refer to a person. Creep refers to when the inside pages or signatures creep away from the spine of your binding job. Creep occurs due to the increased thickness at the spine, as caused by the multiple layers of paper. This is especially important to remember when the binding is saddle-stitching. When creep happens, this causes the text and images on the inside of the spreads to push out and cut off. To compensate for creep, take care to gradually narrow the gutter margins on each page. Start on the outside pages and finish on the inside spread. The creep amount you will need to counteract can be determined from a sample or dummy binding job from the same stock on which the actual job will be printed.
• Examples. A finished example with notations can be crucial when submitting your job to a print company. A way in which to build a finished example is imaging the job from start to finish as if you are seeing it freshly, or for the very first time. If the job doesn’t have page numbers, pencil them in on the example. Get a second opinion by sharing the example with a set of “fresh eyes” to make sure that the example demonstrates how the final product should be bound.
• Ask Questions. Ask questions as early and as often as possible. Starting at the concept stage, check with your print company or bindery and consult with them. They should guide you on how to best create the project for printing and binding. The print company or bindery can also have suggestions as to how costs can be kept down. By checking with the subject-matter experts, you can hopefully avoid making the simple and easy to catch mistakes before it’s too late (and more costly).
Ultimately, much of what goes into trying to make your print job as perfect as possible is communication. By maintaining contact with your print company or bindery house you can help to ensure that all parties involved are on the same page and that your project is (almost) print perfect.