The Best Printing Service Tips for Printing Quality

The magnifying glass standing on a leaf of a test print

If your goal is to print a book, a publication, a printing service, a sizable report or similar, then at some point a quality package is going to be desired. Sure, anyone can stitch a few basic computer printers together and farm out a basic paper report. They even make it look stylish and professional with some desktop publishing software. However, when it comes to producing a commercial trade publication that can be sold in a retail bookstore as well as ordered online as a viable consumer product, then a high-quality printing approach is going to be required. And to achieve that, one has to have a bit of an understanding of what it takes to get from point A to the finished product. In short, a pressroom quality publication takes some commitment, design, and professional skill to become a reality. Fortunately, there is plenty of information available on what to look for and how to achieve this goal.

Professional Soft Cover for Perfect Bound Book Printing

If you want your product to be considered offset printing grade in terms of reception and treatment, then you have to subscribe to that type of printing production. It requires a knowledge of commercial printer equipment, setting, sizing, material production capability, and the differences in what differences paper types and binding will produce.

However, many customers and clients simply choose an ambiguous target and leave all the rest to the printing service or the middleman arranger coordinating such a service. That’s a lot of detail and specifics to trust someone else to take care of and hope for the best. No surprise, a lot of printing projects that were intended to be big publications end up being big disappointments instead. Effective communication of a publication’s specifics are a must. And that means, hands down, the client needs to have an understanding of what those specifications involve as well.

What Should the Finish Look Like?

Believe it or not, the actual printing production process is a bit sloppy. It definitely wouldn’t hold up to the scrutiny of aviation measurement standards, for example. Why? Printing involves moving lots of paper quickly through assembly and inking systems, applying visuals and lettering, and then running it through drying systems to adhere the ink and finish the document. That means there’s a lot of play in the paper as it moves and rolls through the production to become finished pages. If the play variance is not specified, then the printer will choose their own idea of what the variance should look like. In extreme cases, the lettering and images won’t line up from page to page as a result. However, if a client specifies a finishing metric, then the printer has to stay within that requirement, and the product looks far more uniform from page to page.

Ink Matters

Do you want your book or publication to have faint print or so strong the words are leaping off the page? It’s not a complicated decision, but the ink standard does make a big difference in the final production readability, appearance, and practical use. Focus on an ink standard that is easy to read but not overpowering.
Ideally, you want your prints to be clean and crisp. Maybe for a newspaper some slight fuzziness of the letter edging is allowed, but for a book and particularly a magazine-style publication, you want the detail to be fine and legible without effort.

What in the World is a Hickey?

If you were a teenager, it would be an embarrassing mark of getting too friendly with a date. However, in a book it’s a printing defect. If the paper or image is minor, off to the edge and barely noticeable, it’s probably not much of an issue to worry about. If it’s smack in the middle of the pages produced, that’s a problem. Always look at test runs and prototypes to catch these problems before the big run is applied.

Image Problems

Again, looking at test runs makes a huge difference. As a client, you want to have this opportunity so you can catch issues such as placement of a title, headers and registers, as well as if the printing process is creating repeated marks, scratching or smudges because the printing plates are worn. Finally, the dot gain quality affects the appearance of color prints. Monitor this factor closely if producing color so that your imaging is coming out correctly. Otherwise, the wrong density will impact how the colors vary from what you expected.

Get Custom Printing Services Oxnard by Custom Printing Inc.

There are also options for specialized print production. Higher end printers like Custom Printing are going to be able to provide these features on request but asking for the same at a general processor will likely end up being a disappointment. Many of the unique services that make a book stand apart either require special machinery or specific skills in application. Bulk processors are far more interested in standardization and low-cost manufacturing, such as newsprint magazines, for example.

Not every book or print product has to be fabricated with basic, rough paper. Coated paper provides a level of professionalism that is comfortable to the touch, looks are created in either matte or gloss finish, and provides a very nice medium for high-impact imagery and similar type visuals. Silk paper in particular really hits home for big production prints and publications such as annual reports and similar. On the other hand, for a high number production, uncoated paper is lower cost, easier to print on, and provides a standard look, a bit similar to newspaper. It’s ideal for high density text and low reliance on graphics.

Other options available are choices between softcovers and hardcover books with paper case, dust jackets and cloth finishes on the spine. The finish is unique, and very high premium production, but it really makes a book stand out as uniquely different from standard print production. Other add-on features include endpapers, which are essentially a layer of glued high stock paper that seals the book to the case structure. Both sides of the book will have these installed, and it provides a higher quality construction that keeps the book together.

Different laminations are possible for covers as well. This approach comes in handy when a user wants the book’s external surface to last longer than a typical dust jacket protection. Laminations are available either in gloss or in matte style (matte being more the industry standard).

Finally, other features that can be included to make a book different from the standard run-of-the-mill production print can also include embossing, inside cover flaps for notes and additional content (i.e., card stock, posters, etc.). A UV protection layer so the outside cover doesn’t fade, banding on the edges of the spine, ribbon placeholders for reading stoppage marking, and gilt finishing on the page edges.

In short, lots of possibilities exist. Customers just need to ask what options are available versus just settling for the default packaging.

How Do You Make a Perfect Bound Book the Right Way?

The quality of a book binding doesn’t just settle on the cover alone. An assortment of choices, factors, methods and styles go into the equation to produce a finished book product. Some are more practical than others for certain types of book purposes as well. For example, a manual that is going to be regularly used and referenced probably needs a very forgiving binding that is easy to open and flex. On the other hand, a classical book approach would likely prefer a very tight binding to create a solid book feel when carried or held.

Perfect binding is very different than what a layperson thinks a book binding involves. Most people assume books are just complicated versions of magazine binding. In these cases, a page is really a giant sheet of paper with four pages on the sides. They are then organized to create the magazine in multiples of four. However, in perfect binding, each page is cut and ordered in how they should flow sequentially. Then the side is severed, and the edges are glued together and wrapped in a spine. While this is a traditional form of book binding, it’s not very secure. Eventually, with a lot of opening, the book loses its ability to stay together as the glue deteriorates and pages begin to come loose, falling out.

Alternatively, a modified version of perfect binding hems the pages together so the falling out syndrome doesn’t occur. Instead, the pages are sewn and then glued together into the external cover. This approach holds the pages together far better, and the book can be used far more frequently, opened wider, and not have the risk of pages separating.

Keep in mind, some latitude for the layout needs to be given for how much of the page will be committed to the glue and binding process. That takes up paper real estate. So, the print or content can’t be too close to the edge, otherwise it will be obscured by the very nature of the binding and what is needed to bring the pages together. This should be anticipated in the page layout process and provided for. A proper-sized gutter is a smart way of avoiding the binding conflict problem.

Finally, the spine and cover are going to vary in size based on the number of pages. If the publication is a very thick book, then the cover needs to accommodate this size. If a thinner approach, there might not be much of a need for a spine cover at all, simply more of a folder over wrap instead. Practicing and testing with templates versus page numbers first is a good idea to anticipate what will likely be needed versus taking a chance.

Where Can I Go to Get a Book Binded?

Before running off and finding a book binder, it’s a good idea to understand what binding involves and what the options are. Discuss the matter with any book printer, and they are likely to suggest some or a number of standard approaches the industry uses if the client doesn’t have a specific approach in mind. Save everyone the trouble and find out the difference ahead of time.

First off, consider the available book sizes, which are in some respects dictated by the machinery that creates the printing:

  • B6 (148 by 105mm)
  • B Format type (198 by 129mm)
  • A5 (210 by 148mm)
  • Demy (216 by 138mm)
  • Royal (234 by 156mm)
  • Crown Quarto (246 by 189mm)
  • A4 (297 by 210mm)
  • Square (210 by 210mm)

Once the size of the book is determined, then a client needs to specify the type of binding desired. Not every printer carries every size available or the equipment for a given binding format, so it’s important to specify this information up front to find out quickly which printing service is capable of doing the job and which ones would have to outsource it to provide the service. There’s no point in paying a middleman’s outfit for the same work one can get direct from a provider with the right equipment.

Traditional or Perfect Binding

Again, as mentioned above, this approach is the historical method of constructing a book, but it leaves some durability questions on the table for long-term performance. Used too much, perfect bound books tend to fall apart, opposite of what their binding style name infers. The “perfect” reference is really more about the clean cut of the binding than its ability to stay together over time and use.

PUR Bind Style

For publications that involve lots of pages, a thick production but also needs flexibility, PUR binding is the better way to go. These books are designed to be opened a lot without the binding separating and falling apart. The glue itself has a flexibility factor that allows bending and opening without losing integrity, a key difference versus perfect binding.

Coin, Spiral, Wiro or Ring Binding

Different names, but the effect is pretty much the same. The publication is bound with either metallic or plastic wiring that looks like a spiral tube on the edge of the book or manual. It allows for easy opening and even bending back without damaging the overall construction. The style is ideal for manuals and books that have to be opened completely and laid flat, a common need for work manuals, for example.

Sewn-in or Sewn Binding

Also, a traditional approach to book binding selection, sewn-in pages and construction are far more reliable and durable than glue alone. This approach is an evolution of perfect binding and fixes the flaws of the glue getting old or work by frequent page opening. It works extremely well for either soft-cover and hardback books and manuals. Case binding is a style of glue and sewn-in binding specific to hardback books, providing a premium construction for the price paid. Sometimes, fancy versions have additional features, adding to the binding such as embroidery.

Magazine or Saddle Stitch Binding

This approach is what most people are familiar with from magazines. Big pages are folded together and tightly held in place with two or three staples tucked in the crease of the middle. It’s low-cost, effective for keeping the pages together for retail and for initial use. However, over time simple publications using this method start to lose pages as they become worn out from use.

If looking for book printing services Oxnard resources or just running online searches for printing services near me, take a look at detailed providers like Custom Printing. When your goal is to produce a high-end publication with a provider that can handle different sizes, offsets, paper types and end results, you’re going to need a printer who has the flexibility to manage these choices directly. There may be lots of choices for book binding services Oxnard options, but not that many will be able to handle a variety of premium features in-house.