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Top 10 tips for tip-top printing

Top 10 Tips for Tip-Top Printing

Top 10 tips for tip-top printing

Following publication of our design tips in the last post, it made sense to put together our top tips for successful printing too. After all, what use is great design and communication if the printing lets it down.

Although the ultimate process of putting ink onto paper is down to the skills of your chosen printer, there are a whole host of things you can do, before handover, to give your job the very best chance of looking great once printed.

1. First, read our ‘Top 10 Tips for Great Design’ post

… from earlier this month.

Why? It’s jam-packed full of tips to make the content, message and look of your piece absolutely as good as it can be. Here’s the link.

2. Use the right software

Why? Because professional printing works best with professional design and artwork software. Some of the higher end settings and functions are simply not available with ‘desk-top publishing’ software, while ‘Office’ applications like Word for Windows are simply not designed for use with high-end printing. If in doubt, use the services of a professional graphic designer — or indeed a printer who has them in-house, like Firstpoint Print.

3. Check your images are saved correctly

Resolution needs to be at least 300dpi (dots per inch, which is effectively the same thing as pixels per inch or ppi).

Related: If images include ‘rasterised’ text (text saved as an image rather than as editable text), also make sure that the resolution is 300dpi or more, at the final size.

Why? This will ensure that the images and rasterised text are sharp and legible. Anything less than 300dpi will make them look soft, fuzzy or, even worse, pixels will show on the final printing. Better still for text, use ‘real’ text or ‘vectorised’ text instead of rasterised text — see below …

4. Check your font settings

Before handing over artwork files, make sure any ‘live’ fonts are either 100% embedded or converted to vectors (‘outlined’ as it’s known in professional artwork packages like Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator).

Why? Failure to do so may result in unintended font substitutions or even missing or unexpected characters appearing in the final printing.

5. Check your image modes

Coloured images like photographs need to be in CMYK mode, not RGB or Indexed Colour.

Why? Leaving them in RGB may result in Read more

Firstpoint Print Victoria branch

Our Victoria Branch – in the Spotlight

Firstpoint Print Victoria branch

In the third and final post of our 3-part series highlighting individual branches, we go to London’s SW1 to take a closer look at the Victoria branch of Firstpoint Print.

Firstpoint Print Victoria, SW1

The Victoria branch of Firstpoint Print is located on the Vauxhall Bridge Road, being the A202, roughly halfway between Victoria Station and Vauxhall Bridge itself. This means that the commercial printer is perfectly situated to serve individuals, businesses and organisations located nearby in such areas as …

  • Battersea
  • Belgravia
  • Brixton
  • Bond Street
  • Charing Cross
  • Chelsea
  • Embankment
  • Green Park
  • Hyde Park Corner

  • Knightsbridge
  • Lambeth
  • Lancaster Gate
  • Leicester Square
  • Marble Arch
  • Mayfair
  • Nine Elms
  • Oval
  • Piccadilly Circus

  • Pimlico
  • St James’s Park
  • Sloane Square
  • Soho
  • South Kensington
  • Vauxhall
  • Victoria
  • Westminster
  • & Southwest London

As with all Firstpoint Print locations, the Victoria branch is also happy to supply printing services less locally including to customers in the Southeast of England and the UK as a whole. With overnight courier services being so fast and reliable these days, and online ordering available on the Victoria website, the branch can be the commercial printer for pretty much anyone, in any location. More about our online services below …

Firstpoint Print Victoria’s Printing Services

The Victoria branch has just about every printing-related service and facility that you could possibly ever need. We have in-house graphic designers who can cater to all your creative design and artwork requirements. We have digital printing presses ready and waiting for your quick turnaround, low-to-medium volume colour printing, duplication work and ‘on-demand’ printing. We have litho printing facilities that are perfect for single colour, spot colour or full colour medium-to-high volume print runs with the ultimate high quality results. We have large format printing machinery standing by for anything that you require in a large size, whether it’s a simple poster or a full-scale exhibition stand, display, pop-up system or roller banner. Read more

Printing terms & jargon - explained

Printing Terms & Jargon – Explained

Printing terms & jargon - explained

It’s sometimes easy for printers to forget that not everyone will understand some of the common terms and jargon that is spoken within the industry. For example, printers may refer to ‘process printing’, ‘CMYK’, ‘bleed’ or even ‘trapping’. But what do each of these actually mean? Here we explain …

Above the fold
This refers to the part of a document which you first see, for instance the top half of a document or, for websites, the part of a web page which you see without having to scroll down vertically.

Accordion fold
A way of folding a document or brochure so that it concertinas open/closed.

.ai file
An Adobe Illustrator file type (usually used for vector graphics like logos, charts or illustrations).

Ampersand
The letter &, meaning ‘and’.

Art paper
This is a type of paper, commonly used in commercial printing, which has a coating of a clay-based compound, to give it a very smooth surface on which the printer’s ink will sit without absorption. This usually results in the best type of printed result (e.g. saturated colours and good contrast).

Artwork
The type of professional digital file supplied to commercial printers, from which to print (if digital printing) or make plates (if litho printing). Click here for a guide to supplying artwork.

Binding
The fastening together of pages (e.g. of a book, manual or brochure). Examples include perfect binding, wiro binding, saddle stitch binding, hard binding and soft binding.

Bleed
An extra extension of images or graphics beyond the edge of a printed page or sheet (usually 3mm in width). This makes sure that, once trimmed, any images or graphic which extend to the edge of the sheet do not have an unwanted white margin.

Blind Emboss
An unprinted image, formed in relief, using a metal ‘die’ which is forced against the paper or card under pressure. Read more

What we can print

We print almost anything!

What we can print

We’re often asked if we print particular items, for example, “Do you print NCR sets?” … “Can you overprint envelopes” … “Do you do packaging” and so on. Well, the good news is that our answer is nearly always “Yes!” We can print any kind of stationery item, virtually any item of sales and marketing collateral and almost any type of large format graphics. However, it goes way beyond those simple categories — take a look:

Stationery

We regularly print:

  • Business & personal stationery
  • Letterheads
  • Continuation sheets
  • Compliments slips
  • Business cards
  • Corporate envelopes

Sales & Marketing Collateral

The following are no problem at all:

  • Brochures & booklets
  • Catalogues
  • Manuals
  • Flyers & leaflets
  • Newsletters
  • Folders
  • Annual reports
  • Labels and stickers
  • Variable data mail shots
  • Direct mailers
  • Pop-ups & cardboard engineering
  • Overprinted envelopes
  • Programmes
  • Postcards
  • Name tags
  • Point-of-sale signs
  • Point-of-sale flyers
  • Corporate manuals
  • NCR sets
  • Forms

Packaging

If it’s printed digitally or via litho printing, then packaging is also no problem here at Firstpoint Print. For example:

  • Cartons
  • Pillow packs
  • Sleeves
  • Header cards
  • Hanging packs
  • Labels
  • Swing tags
  • CD and DVD inserts and covers
  • Printed dust jackets for books;
  • Sample packs and swatch packs etc.

Large format printing

Need something printed large? No problem — we can produce all this and more: Read more

Brochure size & format options

Brochure Formats: Stand Out from the Crowd!

Brochure size & format options

Size matters!

When it comes to choosing a size for your corporate brochure, first impressions really do count, especially if it’s a brochure to promote your organisation, services or products. This is true not only in respect to the graphics and design used but also to the size and format of the brochure, which is what we’ll focus in on in this particular post — because it really does make a difference.

Choosing a brochure size

The size you choose for your brochure may be partly governed by the volume of content it needs to contain. If it’s substantial then clearly you may have to choose one of the larger sizes, although choosing a smaller size with more pages is also a viable option. If you’re not dealing with an enormous volume of content, then straight away you have a much wider choice of sizes and formats from which to choose. But which is the best?

Should you go for A4 portrait?

Well … yes, you could, and most people do. It’s the obvious choice and it’s an economical size to print because it fits in well with commonly available sheet sizes – so there is little or no paper wastage once the job is complete. A4 portrait also fits in well with most printing presses, including the more common digital ones.

However, being the ‘obvious choice’ does rather mean that your brochure is going to be the same size and format as millions of other brochures out there. So, graphics aside, it’s not going to stand out from the crowd – even literally. For example, if a coffee table or reception desk has a few brochures on it, it’ll get rather lost if they’re all A4 or thereabouts, as is likely to be the case. This standardisation of brochures sizes circulating can, though, be used to your advantage!

So what other size should you choose?

With all other factors being equal, your final choice may come down to four main factors:

  • Is the size/format economical to print?
  • Is the size/format going to have any additional ‘impact’ compared to A4?
  • Is the size/format unusual in any way?
  • Could the size/format be described as ‘more appealing‘ than A4?

Being an economical size to print speaks mostly for itself. Factors include Read more

Print vs Pixel - the rebirth of printing

Print vs. Pixel – The re-birth of printing

Print vs Pixel - the rebirth of printing

In a world which is becoming increasingly digital, it is encouraging to know that physical printing is enjoying renewed popularity — and in no small way. Not long ago, with the arrival of electronic literature in the form of Acrobat PDFs, e-shots, ‘page-turning’ browser app’s and even the one time massive growth of e-books, one could have been forgiven for thinking that ‘traditional’ printing was well and truly on its way out. However statistics now show that there has been a reversal in the fortunes of physical printing and, unlike the music industry, it is bucking the digital trend and is growing in popularity. Meanwhile its electronic equivalent, which seemed for a while almost ready to take its place, is losing ground drastically.

Take e-books as a ‘print vs. pixel’ barometer

Many predicted that printed books would soon be a thing of the past when e-book readers like the Kindle arrived on the scene. Indeed the sale of printed books did drop radically while e-book sales grew enormously for a couple of years (a 1260% sales increase between 2008 and 2010). However this trend is now reversing. We are now seeing a mass migration back to the printed word. Forrester Research reports that last year sales of e-readers were 40% lower than in their heyday back in 2011 and the sale of e-books accounted for only a fifth of book sales in the entire U.S. The Association of American Publishers also reports that paperback sales are increasing — sharply. So the predicted print revolution, in the form of digitisation which affected digital music so profoundly, never actually came to fruition for the printed word. Some surveys also suggest that young readers prefer reading printing on paper, despite being ‘digital’ down to their DNA. The American Booksellers Association says that they’re now in a healthier position than they’ve been for years. Printed matter matters again and major publishers are indeed radically expanding warehouse storage to cope with the re-born demand for physical, printed products.

So what has helped printing to prevail, despite the odds?

Again using printed books vs. digitised books as a good example, I for one tried a few e-books on my new Kindle and, for the first couple it seemed fantastic. But this feeling was short-lived as I found it difficult to obtain particular books that I’d had in mind, while also tiring of the cold, sanitised feel of the electronic e-book reader. I missed the comforting intimacy of the paper, the rustle of the turning page, the feel and even smell of the book and, of course, the full colour, graphically printed cover with its notes, review extracts and ancillary information. I also missed owning something physical and tangible. In contrast to the real thing, e-books felt intangible and sterile. ‘Sterilised’ really sums it up.

Printed paper has a character and an identity

Printed paper has a feel, it has a texture, it has an identity and it even has a smell. They combine to form the character of the printed piece in question. Try accomplishing that with a digital version of the same thing — it’s simply not possible. Digitally reading what should have been printed matter is rather akin to viewing the world with one eye closed. Things look kind of similar but something is missing. Everything is two-dimensional, soulless and that word again — sterile. Read more

Business card

10 Ways To Make Your Business Card Memorable

Business card

A business card is just a business card isn’t it? Well not necessarily; it really can be a whole lot more. With a bit of imagination, some design flair and marketing forethought, a business card can make an excellent first impression, create a great talking point and impress the recipient so much that they not only cherish the card but also request more copies so that they can show it to others! A well executed business card can therefore become a marketing tool which continues to deliver long after you first present it, creating a long-lasting reminder of your service or product, despite a fairly minimal cost.

So how can this be done? Here we’ll start off with the simple, obvious tips and work towards the more radical ideas as we go along …

First, though, a clarification of what’s “normal”: the most common business cards are ‘credit card’ size (85mm x 55mm), usually but not always in landscape format. So obviously this size means that they can be stored easily in top pockets, wallets, purses, credit card holders, business card holders and so on. They’re cheap to produce and incredibly convenient.

1: Unusual sizes or proportions

To be a little bit different you can first consider an unusual size. For example square cards are becoming increasingly popular at the moment, particularly those which are 55mm square as they still have all the benefits of the credit card size. They’re funky and memorable as are ‘mini’ business cards which can be something akin to a ‘half height’ business card e.g. W85mm x H27mm – a really wide format which again still enjoys all the convenience of the standard credit card size but is a little more unusual and therefore a little more memorable.

2: Print on both sides

This one is a no-brainer! We see so many cards printed on just one side but it’s such a missed opportunity. Printing on the reverse side can allow for an attractive design of some kind, another reminder of your brand, service or product, or additional information which might be useful to the recipient. What’s more, printing on the 2nd side really doesn’t add that much to the final cost – you’ve paid for the material already!

TIP 3: Consider rounded corners

Another simple embellishment which adds very little to the cost of your business cards is to request rounded corners. At Firstpoint Print we have a special tool which we can use to give business cards round corners – it’s easy, quick, and economical. More importantly it gives your business cards a modern look and makes them a little different to the norm.

Die-cut star-shaped business card3: Unusual shapes

We can take the above a stage further and give your business cards a unique shape. Instead of being square or rectangular, you could have round business cards, or business cards which are die-cut to the shape of your product. Similarly, if your logo is star-shaped then the whole business card could be shaped in the same way, with a large logo to one side and your contact details on the reverse. A shape such as this will cost extra because a bespoke cutting tool will need to be made but the marketing benefits are potentially enormous. We already know of several companies who use this approach to great effect, their business cards being a replica of the exact size and shape of their actual products. So when they hand out their business cards they can also explain that their product itself is exactly that size and shape – so the business card works very hard as a marketing tool as well as providing all the usual branding and contact details.

4: High quality, eye-catching finishes

Consider matt lamination, gloss lamination, metallic foil, spot UV varnish (high gloss) or a combination of all of the above. This way your business card not only has a great design but also catches the light in unusual ways and feels unusual and high quality too.

5: Unusual textures

It’s also well worth considering the use of unusual card textures rather than the standard ‘ivory card’ which many business cards tend to use. So a nice ‘watercolour paper’ type texture or ‘onion skin’ texture can really lift a business card away from the ordinary, particularly if coupled with some of the other tips like the use of foil blocking, rounded corners etc.

6: Folded business cards

This takes double-sided business cards a stage further. Instead of just having 2 sides, why not consider a business card folded so that you have 4 sides to print on. Or 6 if you have a gate-fold. This will give you extra space to include information and marketing content as well as being a little out of the norm. Read more

Corporate Identity

The Benefits of a Great Corporate Identity

Corporate Identity

A professionally designed, up-to-date corporate identity is incredibly important to any business or organisation as it passes on both instant and long-term benefits:

  • It creates a great first impression (this is priceless);
  • It leaves the prospect or customer with a good, lasting impression;
  • It conveys the feel of your company or organisation in an instant;
  • In some instances it can visually impart something about your organisation’s values;
  • When used consistently it creates that all-important brand recognition which again is priceless and feeds directly to your bottom line;
  • More than anything it makes your company or organisation look professional and capable, sorting ‘the men from the boys’ in just a fraction of a second.

The make-up of a corporate identity

A corporate identity (or ‘ID’ for short) represents the ‘image’ of a company or organisation and usually has three essential ingredients:

  • The logo or ‘name style’ (a name style is the equivalent of a logo but consists only of styled words or letters rather than including an actual symbol);
  • The supporting corporate colours, fonts and graphical styles which complement, and work in tandem with, the logo or name style.
  • A set of style guidelines governing the usage and presentation of all of the above.

Which brings us to …

The Corporate (or Visual Identity) Manual

It is essential for any decent corporate identity to have rules in place governing how that identity should be applied and presented to the world. This is so that it remains consistent at all times thereby helping brand recognition to grow into the future. Usually such guidelines take the form of a ‘Corporate Manual’ or ‘Visual Identity Manual’ in which detailed brand guidelines specify the correct and incorrect use of the logo, brand, trademark or symbol, any ‘strapline’ (e.g. Nike – just do it … McDonald’s – I’m lovin’ it etc.) the correct corporate fonts to use, the approved colour palette, graphical styles, proportions and even the recommended layout of corporate literature, signs, large format display and any other marketing collateral. So even if the organisation is a global one, personnel and sub-contractors anywhere will be able to consult the manual and know exactly how the brand identity should be presented.

The guidelines can even go a step further to cover corporate ‘values’ and a corporate ‘Mission Statement’. They are also a useful place to let people know whether the company or organisation is a ‘singular’ or ‘plural’ entity. For example, when writing a corporate brochure, should staff write ‘The National Trust is a charity‘ or ‘The National Trust are a charity‘? (For those who are interested, in that example, the former is correct). A good corporate manual will include such detail resulting in a very consistent presentation of the organisation’s identity to the world.

With a high quality and consistently presented corporate identity, your organisation’s success, reputation and bottom line will directly benefit.

Does your organisation have an identity crisis?

Whether you’re starting afresh or need to revamp an existing logo, brand or full corporate identity, Read more

Printing & graphic design services, London

Our printing & design services; a reminder

Printing & graphic design services, London

In this blog post we thought we’d go back to basics with a reminder of the printing and design services on offer at all the Firstpoint Print branches across London. Learn more about how we can help customers with design and print for sales and marketing collateral, display or exhibition graphics …

We’re printers with 3 branches in London

We’re a London printing company with branches in London Bridge (SE1), Victoria (SW1) and Clerkenwell (EC1). So, wherever you are in London or the South East, we have a branch just a stone’s throw away. We’re friendly, helpful and, more importantly, highly professional with an eye for detail.  We print on time, on budget and our printing quality is exceptional — customer satisfaction is of utmost importance to us, after all we want customers to become repeat customers. We own all our own equipment and produce 99.99% of work in-house so our prices are also highly competitive. We like to think of ourselves as a breath of fresh air — but don’t take our word for it; read some of our lovely customer testimonials here.

What types of printing do we offer?

We offer three main types of printing:

  • Litho printing for higher print quantities, ‘spot’ colour work and the highest possible quality;
  • Digital printing for use with low to medium printing quantities and/or when speed is of the essence. It is also ideal when variable data is required (e.g. for a personalised mailing piece), or for ‘print on demand‘ services.

So what can we print?

We can print anything from a business card to a full-sized exhibition or display graphics — and anything in between. Just a few examples are:

  • Labels & stickers
  • Corporate & personal stationery including
    – Business cards
    – Letterheads & continuation sheets
    – Compliment slips
  • Envelopes
  • Forms & NCR sets
  • Leaflets & flyers
  • Post cards
  • Mail shots (including variable data)
  • Newsletters & programmes
  • Brochures & booklets
  • Annual reports
  • Folders
  • Catalogues & manuals
  • Posters
  • Display graphics
  • Point of sale graphics
  • Exhibition graphics including
    – Simple display panels
    – Roller banners
    – Full exhibition displays
    – Pop-up exhibition systems
  • Banners with integral eyelets
  • … and pretty much anything you can think of which features graphics!

Read more

Print on demand

‘Print On Demand’ & its Benefits

Print on demand

Firstly, what exactly is printing on demand?

Well, Print On Demand (‘POD’) refers to the process of ordering and printing only as many copies of an item as are really required for immediate or imminent use. This could be just one copy of the printed piece, or multiple copies. Crucially, however, no significant quantity of extras tend to be ordered for keeping ‘in stock’ when using the print on demand approach. This is quite different to how professional printing worked in the past, and is only economical now because of recent advances in printing technology, as we’ll see.

Historic economies of scale

Before the relatively recent advent of digital presses, commercial presses were mostly of the lithographic (or ‘litho’) variety. Litho printing technology requires separate printing plates (even physical film separations and manual reprographic work until just a few years ago); with one metal printing plate being needed for each additional ink colour. So with litho there was historically quite a bit of set-up and cost involved before the printing even began. Therefore litho printing typically worked out relatively expensive for short run (low quantity) printing and only became significantly cost-effective for medium and longer print runs (this is still generally the case today). Hence people would order, say, 5000 brochures rather than a thousand so each individual copy didn’t cost a fortune — even if they only intended to use a thousand or so initially. The remainder would have to be kept in safe and hopefully dry storage for weeks, months or even years on end and, of course, the initial outlay was significant. This larger quantity was ordered simply to keep the individual ‘unit cost’ down to a sensible level. Of course, in recent times, litho printing has advanced but the same theory remains true in essence, even today.

Digital printing; the game-changer

In contrast to litho, with today’s digital, on-demand, printing you would tend to order only the number of copies you really need right now and this is possible because digital printing does not require the ‘old school’ type set-up; there are no film separations, no manual reprographic work to do and even printing plates are no longer required in many forms of digital printing. So you can hit the ground running with very little up-front set-up or cost. In stark contrast to litho printing, this makes the individual unit cost affordable even for the lowest print quantities.

Benefits of ‘on-demand’ digital printing

These include: Read more