Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An “A to Z” of Things That Could (Possibly) Go Wrong with Your Order! Part 2 - M To Z

Here is Part two of my A-Z of things that could possibly go wrong with your order: M-Z

M. M is for MARGINS

Margins, borders and tabs are often the cause of printing problems when presented with digital files for producing documents.
If they are not set correctly we can end up binding into text or can nudge the text on to the next line, paragraph or page.

Customers who design documents to the edge of each page often run into these type of layout problems. 

Remember to allow for plenty of “quiet area” around the edges of each page in a bound document or printed booklet.

N. N is for NOW

In an instant world some customers just want something done immediately. This relates to the Late Delivery problems but also customers who always seem to leave things to the last minute.

This is fine but is most annoying when they have been working or sitting on artwork for weeks and suddenly expect the printing to be completed on the same day!

A bit of forethought and planning can save a lot of stress and money and lead to fewer potential errors from our point of view.  We print and insert a Re-Order Form when we supply printed stationery, like letterheads.

We also pride ourselves in providing the fastest digital print service in the UK.   But we can’t do the impossible!

O. O is for ORANGE

Orange is one of the most difficult colours to match on a digital press.   To this day it remains as the reason for our only digital print order to be rejected on the grounds of colour quality.

Needless to say we have even managed to overcome this difficulty with our new equipment and who knows – one day we may even solve the problem of printing gold on a digital colour press!

P. P is for PROOFS

Proofing remains one of the main reasons for jobs going wrong.  

We can offer many examples of our own but perhaps the most humorous example was for an order of commemorative mugs for England cricketer Ashley Giles.  Rather than saying “Ashley Giles – King of Spin” he received a few thousand mugs proclaiming “Ashley Giles – King of Spain”!

Q. Q is for QUALITY

Quality is very subjective but appears to be no longer much of an issue with digital printing.  We offer a total guarantee with every job for quality – and never seem to have a serious quality problem.

Although with our machines calibrated on a daily or weekly basis there may be minor variations in colour for repeat orders.

Even when the file is stored in the memory of our press there could be a slight variation due to climatic conditions but this is rarely significant.


Registration is the term for lining up double-sided printing.  There is a certain degree of tolerance required and also an area for allowance for the guillotine.

Again, this is a lot easier on the latest equipment where accuracy can be adjusted to within a percentage point or two.

One job that went wrong in our early years was for some personalised playing cards for a training company which formed part of the course – trying to print so many different files double-sided with little margin for error whilst trying to keep to a very tight deadline for a next day order.


When a file is scanned the quality is never as good as a copy saved from an original file.  
We often have to watch out for scanned pages that are not centred or are not clear when we prepare documents for printing.

And even the best OCR software can make mistakes – one of which resulted in our getting the post code wrong on some invoices – the customer spotted the mistake some six years later!


We can digitally print on all sorts of textured stock – and printing on a linen paper and card gives fabulous results.  Some artists frame the prints and they look like original oil paintings!
However, some textures are not brilliant for digital printing.  Hammer embossed or contoured papers and cards can prove difficult for toner application.

And there are some specialist papers that can do some real damage if they wrap around the rollers of the machine.


Why do Europeans and North Americans have different standard paper sizes?

So many customers still have their default paper size set as US Letter size rather than A4 on their computers.  We usually make a couple of quick adjustments and the problem is sorted.
Occasionally though someone actually needs the job printed on US Letter paper!

We printed a thesis for submission to a US university on A4 paper in error – and then had to carefully trim the document to A4 size afterwards.

V. V is for VAT

There are so many discrepancies with which items are zero-rated for VAT that all online orders are charged with VAT.

Offline certain items can be zero-rated.  These include (very, very briefly!) – newsletters, leaflets, brochures, books and booklets, circular letters, programmes and orders of service for funerals.

And yet they all have to follow some very complicated set of criteria – such as the thickness of the paper, whether there is a tear-off portion etc. 

Again, why can we not simplify VAT for all us confused printers?  Perhaps by making all printed items zero-rated!

W. W is for WYSIWYG

Our general rule is “What you see is what you get” with a PDF file sent for digital or document printing.  However, there are exceptions.

The monitor may not be calibrated and there may be a host of issues with any fonts, images or diagrams you have incorporated.  

Two regular customers seem to have problems with their PDF’s and we check them very carefully now before charging ahead – we have learnt from experience!
But in most cases…


Finding something starting with X is difficult.  But these days we are more likely to be presented with some miniscule memory disc from a mobile device or camera.

However, we do get files to print presented on XD data cards – they can be used but we have had some issues in the past.

Therefore, we prefer to operate from the traditional USB sticks or a CD / DVD – or even better a digital file uploaded or emailed over to us.

However, on one computer we still have a “floppy disk drive” – just in case we are presented with some seriously old artwork.  

Y. Y is for YULETIDE

OK – Christmas!  Christmas cards from any specialist printer rarely go according to plan.  And they seem to attract delivery problems.

Specialist card printers are probably the most inefficient of all forms of commercial trade printers.

This is why every printing business will try and print all greetings cards within their own premises.  

Our view is that if we remain in control of the whole production cycle we can usually overcome traditional problems that occur at this typically chaotic time of the year.  
And despite the problems they are still a very valued appreciation of thanks to customers and suppliers.


Just a small point but the artwork layout for letter folding does not always work for Zig Zag (or Z) folding.

It takes a while to get your head round but we have found that if we print out a small mock-up to explain the difference it helps.

It is always better being sure rather than sorry!

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