Considering the Paper Before You Design Can Save Your Print Budget

To maximize your print budget, consideration of the paper size your print provider will be using is worthy of evaluation in before you start the design. Historically the printing process for many applications has centered around a finished size of 8 ½ x 11. This is particularly true when the weight of the paper is a ‘text’ weight versus a ‘cover’ weight – often referred to as ‘card stock’.

When designing for layout of an 8 ½ x 11 finished size, your printer may have options to work with in regards to the “parent size” of the paper. The “parent” size refers to the size of the paper that will be running on the press.
If your finished print project is multiple pages of 8 ½ x 11, understanding what the parent sheet size is will help you design a multiple page layout more efficiently.

Your goal should be to utilize as much of that parent sheet in order to maximize your print budget allowing you to splurge on other fun print features. Keep in mind that the parent size sheet that a printer will use will depend on the size of their printing equipment.

The most common parent sizes for text weight paper are:

  • 17 ½ x 22 ½
  • 19 x 25
  • 23 x 35
  • 25 x 38
  • 28 x 40

Parent sizes of cover weights are typically available in the same common size as the text weights listed plus two additional options that allow for the finished cover to extend beyond the finished text size.

The two most common extra cover weight sizes are:

  • 20 x 26
  • 26 x 40

If you are planning a large job print project, the difference in moving from one parent sheet size to another might be enough to keep you within budget. So, best to get with your best print provider and let them coach you through the most efficient layout in order to maximize that print budget.

Besides providing craftsmanship, consider your print provider a custom manufacturer. They have estimators on staff that are proficient in evaluating how to produce the work on their equipment. If they know you have just a little flexibility they might use that information to improve their own workflow to back up to another job. There is potential to help both parties.

As more digital printing equipment is now utilized, the variety of optimal sheet sizes has changed a bit. The original digital printing equipment stayed in the 8 ½ x 11, 11 x 17, 12 x 18 size range.

Now it’s expanding but we are not seeing the uniformity of sizes based on 8 ½ x 11. The equipment comes with an expanding range of maximum sheet sizes. So, it will be helpful to know what your supplier has before you get that file started. The press that they have just might allow you to add that extra image or call to action.

Thanks to our friend, Twyla Lambert Clark from Lithographics Inc. in Nashville, TN for her input on this discussion.

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