What is a print signature?

A signature is a group of pages that are printed, most likely on both sides of a single sheet of paper that once folded, trimmed, bound and cut, become a specific number of pages. The number of pages on a signature depends on your page size and the size of the press sheet they fit on.

print signature

Another term associated with a print signature is a less common term that is known as imposition.This is the placement and direction of pages that are in a signature. Some pages may appear upside down or backwards, but once the sheet is folded and cut, the pages will be in their proper position and sequence. It is the printer’s job to setup a signature’s imposition.

Printers will often speak of two kinds of spreads: reader spreads and printer spreads. When you open a brochure, page two is opposite from page three. This is a reader’s spread; it’s what the reader sees. If you take the brochure apart, you’ll see that page two is actually connected, through the binding, to another page near the back of the brochure. This is a printer spread; it’s what a printer prints.

 

How to create brilliant designs on a budget?

As a print designer you should take full advantage of working with print signatures to achieve maximum effect for your design concept and learn how to maximize the printing budget.

Instead of using the same paper stock for the whole brochure, you can use different papers and different combination of inks for each individual print signatures. The possibilities are endless for creating amazing brochures.

Each signature is a print run and for each print run, you have to choose a paper stock and the number of inks to be used. The number of inks you print per signature on a specific paper will not only affect your design concept, but the print budget directly.

When designing with print signatures, you also have to take into account from the start, your binding type. Your binding type always depends on the total amount of pages your brochure has, your design concept and the printing budget. By selecting different binding types, it will change the order in which print signatures are assembled in the final brochure, therefore giving you the ability to manage the order in which different papers are presented.

For example, when you use ‘saddle stitching’, first page will go with last page, second page with before last page and so on. If you use a ‘perfect bound’, signatures are stacked one after the other. In the case of a ‘spiral bound’, signatures are also stacked one after the other, but you can insert a single sheet pretty much anywhere and the brochure will lay flat when open. Understanding how different binding types work, is essential to get the most out of designing with print signatures. The ‘pull out’ is another, different type of signature. It could be considered a loose sheet, even though it’s folded, depending on where it’s inserted in the binding. But most pull outs are commonly inserted between two signatures, during the binding process.

The important thing to remember is that when it is bound together, when a job is laid out correctly, the right pages will almost magically turn up next to each other. The more the number of pages in a job, the tougher it is to lay it out correctly. A proof is always sent out before any printing is actually done and one of the things to check for is that all the pages have ended up in the correct order.

 

Avoid these common mistakes when creating artwork files for print

When creating your print design, there are some simple yet common mistakes we want to help you avoid. These errors can make an otherwise smooth printing job a complete pain. Here at Pel Hughes we want to make sure your printing experience is altogether flawless – just like your final product. Read on to find out which mistakes you can easily avoid.

1. Using a Low Resolution Image

Though you might not believe it, we are not miracle workers. We have moments, but on the whole, we can’t do too much to fix a poor quality image and ready it for high resolution printing. While a file may look fine while on your screen, it can very easily turn out blurry if the correct resolution is not set. The quality of your printout will be determined by the dots per inch (dpi) and the resolution. An image with 300dpi will be of much better quality compared to the one with 72dpi, which is why 300dpi is recommended.

Another way to work around the issues low resolution images present is to save all of your images as vectors. What is a vector, you ask? Unlike images created from pixels, vector images are made up of a series of corners and curves that allow them to be enlarged and maintain high resolution. We’re big fans of vectors.

2. Failing to add Bleed

You will notice that at times the document layout will extend to the edges of your design. In this instance, it is important to use “bleed,” which will extend your colors past the edges of your document. After printing the design, you can trim off this extension, ensuring that there is no white edge on the finished product.

3. Setting the Incorrect Size

Before sending the design for printing, you should confirm that it matches your desired size. You should also ensure that the design is positioned correctly and has the right proportions. If you intend to have a have a 25 x 25mm sticker, you should set the layout at 31 x 31mm so as to include the bleed area. After setting your document correctly, you should send it to the printer without making further changes. There are many pre-set templates which can be downloaded online including PDF versions with step-to-step guides on how to set your design’s proportions correctly.

 

4. Using Incompatible Software

Help us help you by saving your work in the version of software we’re working in. This might require you to pick up the old phone and give us a ring, but we’ll all appreciate being on the same page when it comes time to print! Once you know what version to work in, you’ll need to backdate the file by saving it as an EPS and then picking the correct version of Illustrator.

 

5. Making Simple Spelling Errors

Last but MOST DEFINITELY not least is the fatal error of including spelling and grammar errors in your piece ready for printing. While we’ll do our best to catch any obvious mistakes, please make sure to be double, triple, and quadruple checking your materials. The very last thing you want to discover on the 600th copy of your gorgeous new mailer is a silly and avoidable spelling error.

 

Avoid these headaches, and always feel free to give the team at Pel Hughes a call with any questions! We can’t wait to hear from you.

What is paper scoring and how does it work?

Did you know there is a professional way of folding paper? Yes. There is a correct way to make those crisp lines, and if you don’t believe us, go grab a cereal box and do a little experiment.

Take said cereal box and disassemble. Now take a square section of the box and fold it in half to create a clean, sharp line.

How’s it looking over there? We’re going to guess it’s looking neither clean nor sharp.

That’s why “scoring” exists in the great wide world of paper products. In short, scoring is the creation of a crease in a piece of paper that will allow it to fold easier and result in a better looking line.

This is achieved by creating a ridge in the paper with an indentation device, and that ridge is where the fold line will occur. Typically this line is made by using a piece of metal to compress the fibers of the paper in one small area in order to create a dip in the paper where it can easily fold.

You can score paper as it goes through the printing press (inline scoring) or you can score the paper after it is finished printing (offline scoring). We recommend offline paper scoring as it tends to be more precise and offer the printer greater control over the process.

 

So why score paper?

It’s all about looks. Scored paper is less likely to “buckle” or “crack” while being folded, and it decreases the chance that the folding process will hurt the ink that is delicately placed on the surface of the paper.

 

When should you score?

Scoring is most effective when used upon heavyweight papers like cardstock and cardboard. It makes sense that these varieties would be more resistant to our manipulations as they are thicker and more stubborn. Generally, the thicker the paper, the wider the score.

 

Tips for scoring paper:

  • Only use new paper. Old paper tends to be dryer and less receptive to a successful score
  • Always score with the grain of the paper, never against
  • Score one practice piece before scoring an entire batch
  • Once scored, fold the paper so the hinge is on the inside of the fold

 

If you have any additional questions about paper Scoring or any other printing or finishing operation, give Pel Hughes a call. We’re always happy to answer your printing related questions.

4 examples of clever interactive print ads

Business card tips: Make yours the right way

First impressions last. You’ve got seconds to ensure that first and lasting impression is positive. A well designed, unique business card is a fantastic way to make a strong impression.

Business cards are they key to presenting yourself in a good light and impressing important people. If you think of designing your first business cards soon, or changing the design of those you already have, here are some tips to keep in mind.

 

Decide on a concept

Do this by thinking about the customer you’re trying to impress, and deciding what would tell the story of your business for that customer. Your images (if you use any), colors and textures should all be consistent with your existing marketing materials, and all of those should be right in line with the brand values that distinguish your business from everyone else.

 

Decide on specifications

  • Size: The most common business card size is 84 mm by 55 mm, or 3.5 inches by 2 inches. You can go bigger, but if you do your cards are less likely to be kept. In recent years, mini and circular business cards are becoming more popular.

 

  • Orientation:
  • Landscape format is more traditional and still the most common orientation. It is easy to read, works well in card holders and can be handled by any printer. However, it is very common, and not as unique as other options.
  • Portrait is a clean and elegant look that’s become more common in recent years (but still stands out).

 

 

Use high quality paper

Nothing says “I don’t care about you, and I don’t deserve your business” like using cheap paper on your business card. At the very minimum use 16pt gloss or 100lb matte — anything lighter will feel flimsy and cheap. Also, never — ever — print them out at home. There are many professional shops (like ours) who offer business cards at a reasonable price.

Put the right information on the card

  • Name
  • Name of organization or business
  • Job title
  • Your contact information—any that people might want. We suggest e-mail and phone number at a minimum, social media profiles and website unless you really have no presence at all, and a work address if that seems relevant.
  • Your logo
  • Check your file settings

 

The file for your cards should be saved correctly—not just for today, but for when you might need reprints later on. Make sure your designer has the file just right:

File size, type and resolution

Any images, like your logo, must be at least 300dpi to have a high enough resolution to look crisp and clean.

For best quality and a crisp look, your design should be saved as a vector-based PDF, not JPEG or PNG. You should also make sure you get an editable file (usually an Illustrator, Photoshop file or editable PDF) so that you can make changes later.

 

Bleed

The bleed refers to highlighting an area 3 mm or about 1/10 of an inch thick surrounding the document with the same color as the background to prevent border strips from showing. The background color should go all the way to the edge. All text should stay within the safe area.

Fonts and color settings

All text should be embedded and you should have the correct font licenses. Use CMYK color mode for anything that will be printed, including business cards. Do not use RGB.

Are you ready to show off your brand? Contact Pel Hughes today to get started!

The positive impact of thank you cards in business

Do you think handwritten notes are a thing of the past? Think again.

Just like interviews and first time meetings, the thank you note contributes to your overall impression. While you might not see many these days, the cards you do send will mean more than you’d ever think. Handwritten notes are a powerful way to to thank your customers for doing business with your company. Taking an extra 5 minutes to write a thank you note will help your company to stand out among others.

 

What keeps businesses from writing thank you notes?

There are two common reasons business don’t write thank-you notes. The biggest excuse is not having the materials at hand. Note cards or stationary, a roll of stamps, pens and an address book – all it takes is one trip to the store and you’re all set!

The second excuse is not having time. A handwritten thank you is often as short as three sentences, just like an email. The thank-you note is special; it’s to express your appreciation, so keep the focus there.

Does it take longer to address and stamp an envelope than to click “Send”? Yes, but can’t you spare one minute to give your business a boost?

At the end of the day, computer screens simply do not have the same personality and warmth of physical notes.

 

How can your business benefit from thank you notes?

The fact that it takes longer to write out a personal note speaks volumes to the customers – you took valuable time from your busy day to write a note just for them.

Thank you notes to a customer can have many benefits:

  • Strengthen customer relations
  • Set yourself apart from competitors
  • A handwritten note provides a personal touch in an increasingly digital world.
  • A note card is an extension of your style and brand. Sending a thank-you note to someone in a creative industry is an opportunity to show your unique personality. A personal monogram, artwork, quality of card stock and an eye-catching stamp can make a favorable impact.

 

Keep it simple

A thank you note sent in a business context doesn’t have to be lengthy. In fact, keeping it short is ideal, but make sure to describe in a little detail why you’re sending the note (e.g., “Thanks so much for your hard work on the fundraiser. Your attention to detail really saved the day.”).

You may want to custom-print blank cards with your company’s logo, or you could choose a pre-made design of some sort; whichever option you choose, keep in mind that your grateful client may put the card out for public display.

 

Will the thank you notes be worth it?

You can’t track a handwritten thank you note the way you can an email. You can’t include a clickable call to action. You can’t track if they opened it, clicked it, liked it, shared it. Hell, you might not even know if they received it. The ROI you receive won’t fit nicely on a spreadsheet. You won’t measure and optimize based on data. These all, perhaps, are reasons the thank you note has fallen out of style in modern companies.

These are also great reasons you should be writing your customers thank you notes. You should do things that don’t scale, you should be wowing your customers with service and creating remarkable experiences. Karma isn’t always clean and organized. The ROI won’t be immediate. It will be messy and nebulous. But your customers will care. They’ll remember you. All it takes is a pen and some stamps.

If you’re ready to get started, contact PelHughes for all of your printing needs!

5 ways to get the most out of your store signage

Signs are important. They’ve always been important. They’re never not going to be important.

They act as simple visuals to grab the attention of your customer, but like most things in the marketing and advertising space, they can be done wrong.

That’s why the team at Pel Hughes has put together five ways to get the most out of your store signage:

 

 

  1. Monitor Condition

 

If you’ve used the same sign for several years, it’s more than likely looking a little worse for wear. The edges might be tattered, the coloring could have faded, there might be a stain that just won’t go away.

So what do you do about it?

Get a new one.

Nothing makes a business appear more apathetic than displaying its name and services on a trashed sign. Customers know you see it, and they’ll simply assume that you don’t feel the need to make a change.

Even though this might sound dramatic, they’ll take that personally. They’ll see it as a reflection of how you see them and your business – undeserving of the best.

 

  1. Change it Up

Everyone and their mother wants to be clever these days. Advertising is a game of wit and relevance, and that means the landscape (and your messaging) must constantly evolve.

There’s a chance you had a brilliant sales promotion idea last year. Or maybe you thought of a clever little blip to post on a sign to entice your customers to enter.

But how long ago was that? How many people have passed once, twice, three times, and have gone from thinking “that’s clever” to “wow that’s been there a while….”

You must never give your customers the impression that you just don’t care, and a dated or passe sign will do just that.

Keep it fresh, change it up, and show that no one else cares about your brand more than you.

 

  1. Pay Attention to the Basics

We love clever. We love cute. We love….customers who know the name of your store, how to contact you, and when your doors are open.

This rule is pretty simple: don’t let the art of a gorgeous sign overwhelm the necessity of basic business information.

Do you have a sign that lists business hours? Do you have a phone number on display?

If not, fix it. At the end of the day, your customers need to walk away knowing when they can come back and find the door unlocked.

 

  1. Use High Quality Images

If you want a sign that is image-heavy, you better have some high quality files and a printer with the technology to print them the right way (we know a place).

There is nothing that says “amateaur” more than a pixelated image blown up in a storefront window. Customers will see the image, notice its low quality, and assume that you are what you display – low quality.

Don’t let them think that. Print better images.

 

  1. Watch the Pronouns

Last but not least, language is important. When trying to establish a degree of empathy with your customer, it is important to use “you, your, and you’re” to help them visualize using your product or service.

You want to create a dialogue with your customer, and you can do that by speaking directly to them.

 

Have questions about how to create the most compelling signate for your store? A Pel Hughes, we take this stuff pretty seriously, and we would love to have a chat to talk sign strategy. Give us a call today.

Brochure best practices

Contrary to popular belief, the age of brochures isn’t dead.

Yes, digital is the new normal, but that doesn’t mean that print lacks punch.

Brochures are a fantastic way to quickly introduce your product or service, and they act as a physical reminder of your brand.

But it’s easy to get them wrong….

We’ve all seen the bad ones, right? They’re in horrible fonts with offensive colors and feature low quality images.

And what does that say about the brand? Nothing too great, that’s for sure. We make thousands of snap judgements during our day to day, and how could we not?

We’re ambushed with endless messages, and the ones that look the least promising end up dismissed.

But there’s a way around getting tossed to the wayside! It just requires you to make marketing materials that are relevant, sharp, and ultra-clear in meaning.

 

Here are our 5 Tips for making the best brochure possible…

 

  • Determine your objective

 

 

In short, know what you’re trying to convince your audience to do. Are you trying to increase sign ups to a class? Drive sales of a specific product? Educate people about your business?

Figure out what the specific purpose of your brochure is, and then keep that objective in mind as you create each sentence of copy and add images. Everything should relate back to that objective.

Ask yourself: what am I trying to get my customer to do?

 

 

  • Focus on the headline

 

 

Your headline should reflect your objective.

Are you trying to sell something? Educate? Drive sign ups? Figure out what that objective is, and then create a headline that tells people what you want them to know.

For example, if your brochure is advertising a product or service, the headline should let your customer know what that product or service is and what it can do for them.

It’s all about clarity and brevity when you’re trying to grab the attention of a busy person, so use the headline for all it’s worth.

 

 

  • Use concise language

 

 

Who has time (or is willing) to look words up or read a sentence twice?

No one.

At least, no one wants to have to work that hard.

Keep your language easy, and make your point. Use active language rather than passive (“do” rather than “be done”) whenever possible, and make sure that the information essential to your objective makes it into the brochure.

Whatever you do, do not get bogged down with excessive information or accolades your company earned. While these are important, they will bore readers if not limited.

Make your reader know that you are an expert only where it is relevant, and even then, keep it brief.

 

 

  • Limit your font use

 

 

We beg you – pick only two, maybe three fonts to use within your brochure.

It’s easy to become enamored with the options, but too many styles will come off as unprofessional, inconsistent branding and might just distract readers from the important information you are trying to convey.

They say that less is more, and we can’t disagree.

(And we probably don’t need to mention this, but remember that the answer to “should we use Comic Sans??” is always NO. A resounding no. We don’t care if it’s just a bandwagon thing by now. It is ugly.)

 

 

  • Get amazing images

 

Last but not least, please make sure your brochure images are high resolution, high quality, and preferably original.

If you need to, hire a photographer. If it’s not in the budget, invest in finding other professional images. This is absolutely vital to maintaining the integrity of your brand. A low quality image immediately reflects poorly on your business, and it does very little to inspire confidence in your readers.

Ready to make some gorgeous, sales driving brochures? Give us a call today!

 

Are all printing companies created equal?

No matter how digital and tech-savvy you are at your marketing firm, you’re more than likely still going to need printing services from time to time — for signs, for direct mail outs, for networking invitations, and much, much more.

On the surface, it might seem that all printing companies are created equal, but a little research on your end will show that’s not the case. Whether it’s unexpected fees or how long it takes for product delivery, there are big differences between companies, and it’s important for you to recognize them.

 

What should you look for when choosing a printing company?



Here are some things you should do before choosing a printing service:

  • Read the online reviews: We all know that some people live to post needlessly hateful reviews online, but for the most part, online business reviews and customer testimonials can be very helpful when looking for a company. If you see a company with several great reviews and only one or two bad reviews, versus a company with several bad reviews and only one or two good ones, it will give you a better idea of which company is better equipped for your service needs.
  • Research pricing options: Don’t you just hate saving money? Oh, you don’t? You like saving money? Then you should definitely shop around for a good deal on your printing services. When it comes to printing companies, always read the fine print. Many printing services will throw in unexpected, hidden fees.
  • Look at the big picture: It may seem like a great deal — no minimum on ordering or free shipping — but how long will that free shipping take to get to your office? Or, what if the company won’t give you a sample of what you are ordering? There are a lot of factors to consider, and a “bare bones” printing company might not be able to provide everything you need.

 

What questions should you ask?

 

When you consult with a printing company, ask them the following five questions for insight on whether they’re the company for you:

  1. Can your machine print on (this) type of paper and thickness? Insert the kind of paper you need.
  2. Can your company match pantone colors?
  3. What are the binding options? I want this specific binding. Does your company offer it?
  4. Can I see a sample of something similar you have already done?
  5. Will I see a proof before you print for me to give final approval?

 

We all know that it’s not the easiest thing to do, but choosing a printing company is a very important part of your business. 

 

Contact Pel Print, Today!

How to choose the best paper for your message and brand

When it comes to methods of modern communication, sometimes paper can seem like a vestige of the past. We tend to get caught up in the digital words and graphics of our modern world.  

But what about the power of the tactile?

The impact of giving your customer something to touch and experience?

When you allow your customer to hold onto something, you might just make a multi-sensory first impression – and they do say those are the most important.

Paper is almost as important – if not more important – than the design that is printed on it. That’s why we believe that choosing the best paper for your message & brand is critical.

We’ve spent years learning how to use this ageless medium to the advantage of your brand, and we know that when it comes to paper, there are two categories that are the most important:

 

  • Weight
  • Finish

 

Weight

Weight is linked to thickness, so generally, the thicker the paper, the higher the weight. For reference, copier paper is referred to as 60# text, while business cards would be printed on what we call 100# cover.

Typically, the higher the #, the more impressive your message will look.

Note: Paper weight is sometimes stated using the “#” symbol. For example, “20#” means “20 pounds per basis ream of 500 sheets.”

As for the thickness – in general, the more a sheet of paper weights, the thicker and/or stiffer it is. This is often measured by caliper, which is typically given in thousandths of an inch.

Some Guidelines:

  • 20~24# – Standard weight paper
  • 24~28# – For ordinary posters
  • 80~100# – Preferred weight for most business cards

At Pel Hughes, we can print on anything from 24# bond to 130# cover.

Finish

Finish has to do with the final texture of the paper. The most popular finishes are high-gloss, semi-gloss, silk, and uncoated. After the product is printed on the paper of your choice, additional finishes can be added such as spot gloss or soft-touch.

Coated finishes are treated with a sealant that lends them specific characteristics, such as high level of glossiness and a stiffer feel. This coating gives papers a waxy finish with a varying degree of shine, provides protection from wear and tear, and reduces the level of ink that a sheet can absorb.

Coated paper is ideal for:

  • Brochures
  • Catalogs
  • Postcards
  • Packaging
  • Photography
  • Magazines
  • Art books

Uncoated finishes have an untreated surface and are often less reflective than coated finishes. These papers usually lend a softer look to projects because the ink is absorbed into the paper, which diffuses its vibrance. Embossing often works best on uncoated papers because their finishes are softer and are less likely to crack. Their lack of coating also makes them easier to write on, making them ideal for use as:

  • Letterheads
  • Newsletters
  • Envelopes
  • Stationery

Both coated and uncoated papers have a range of finishes to choose from, but you’ll usually find more variety when it comes to texture with uncoated stocks.

Can you believe that these are just the basics?! There are so many weight and texture options that it would make your head spin. If you’re not sure what weight and finish to go with and want to explore your options – we’re happy to help!

Contact Pel Hughes today to get started on your printing needs!