7 tips for effective print management

I really enjoy the process of print management. It suits my psychometric profile as I thrive of seeing things happen from A to Z.

I just managed a project that involved a complex set of printed collateral in a short space of time. Thankfully I’ve managed a lot of print jobs in my career so it all went well.

But just in case you haven’t or you’re just starting out, here are my tips for effective print management.

Clarity from the start

Be clear on what elements you think you’ll need from the outset. My last print management job included a brochure, display stand graphics and plasma screen graphics. This helps you to chose the right suppliers and means they can provide a quotation that will be pretty much close to the delivered job. Also think about the paper stocks you want to be used. The thickness of paper (or lack of it) can send its own message as can finishes (gloss, matte etc) – there’s so many details to consider here that will really make your finished item stand out (hopefully for the right reasons).

Consider your timescales

If you’re not experienced enough or don’t know your suppliers that well, you might not be able to estimate how long each stage can take. On that basis, be open and clear about when you would like your printed items delivering. If they are for an event, try and get delivery the day before so you have time to put anything right that might need attention. It’s not great for your nerves to have everything arrive last minute, especially if it’s an important event or client.

Supply text and images in final versions

There’s nothing more frustrating for a graphic designer when they have spent time setting text into a layout and then the client rips out huge chunks – or worse, adds significantly more text – at design stage. I find it works well to provide all text in a Word document with clear notes for design elements and where images are to be placed.

Be consistent with image names

I always supply images with the file names as those mentioned in the text document so it’s clear what goes where. Make the image files as high resolution and quality as you can. It’s always a bit frustrating when you need to source more because the first batch didn’t work as well as hoped. This can also cause delays to your project.

Make changes as clear as possible

It’s important to remember that amends at design stage cost time and money. If you do have to make changes mark them clearly in red on a printed proof. You can also send an email with the changes explained. I often work from front to back, being clear which page, which column or paragraph, which line etc. Being as clear as possible means no amends are missed. It’s really frustrating when you have to ask again for the same amends to be made because they weren’t clear enough to the first time. Use professional subbing marks if you know them. This also helps with your ability to…

Keep track of amends

Mark up the proofs, 1st, 2nd etc, so you know which is which and so you can check the new proof against the one before. When you’re tight on time you can easily look for the amends you wanted to be made.

Proof read and proof read again

When you think you’re at the final proof stage, read everything one more time. It’s easy to get caught up checking specific amends in the process of print management. Sometimes rogue things creep in. If you have time ask a colleague who is not as closely involved to check your proof too. It’s easy to miss things when you’ve lived and breathed a print management project from its infancy.

Those are my tips – let me know if I’ve missed any gems that work for you.

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