New to the game? Be prepared.
Here are some frequently asked questions. Along with our Terms and Conditions page, the FAQ page is the best place to start if you have questions about who we are, what we do, and why we do it. If you do not find your answer listed here or elsewhere on our page, please feel free to reach out to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are your hours?
Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm. All visits, including pickups, are by appointment only. The first appointment slot is 9:30am, and the last slot is 5:00pm. If you are unable to stop by in that window due to work or other obligations, we will do our best to accommodate you. Just let us know the time that works best for you and we will see what is possible.
What kinds of services do you offer?
We offer four types of printing processes: offset, letterpress, digital and wide format. This allows us an incredible amount of versatility, from single and two-color jobs all the way up to CMYK printing, from business cards and postcards to oversize posters and signage. We also offer a variety of other services, such as hot foil stamping, embossing, custom die-cutting, paper duplexing, and graphic design. For a complete list of what machines we have and their individual specifications, head over to our Equipment page.
What kinds of things do you print?
Generally speaking, if it’s on paper, we can print it! Business cards, postcards, invitations, annual reports, paperback books, posters, vinyl banners, foamcore signage, you name it. In the rare instance that a project is outside of our scope, we have a few trusted partner shops in our union that we can work with in making it a reality.
Do you offer screenprinting services for t-shirts, tote bags, etc?
We do not offer these services at this time.
Can you print _____ for my Etsy Store?
Yes! If you’re a seller on Etsy and are looking for a shop to manufacture your goods, please get in touch with us.
Which printing process will best suit my project?
Well, it depends on several factors, including the type of job, the quantity, and the application of the end product. Offset printing is very high quality and versatile, but involves a lot of setup, such as achieving proper ink / water balance, wiping down cylinders and blankets, switching plates, cleaning between colors, and more. Because of this, short runs are very expensive. The longer your press run, however, the lower per-copy cost because the setup costs are diminished over the course of the run.
Letterpress is a waterless, relief-based process. We use polymer plates, allowing us great flexibility with your design. If your project involves just one or two spot colors but isn’t a large enough quantity to warrant a full offset run, or if the project needs a touch of elegance, letterpress is a great process to consider. It’s also the way to go if you want your project printed on very thick paper.
Digital printing offers cheaper rates on smaller runs, especially for full color, and a fast turnaround time.
At the end of the day, it really depends on your budget and your aesthetic. You can find more detailed information on our Printing Processes page, or you can just email us to talk about your specific project.
What’s a polymer plate?
Polymer plates have been an incredible asset to the contemporary letterpress community. Generally speaking, plates are used in commercial printing as well as traditional printmaking. A plate is the surface that transfers the image to the print surface. Polymer (i.e. plastic) plates are photosensitive and are similar to lead type, in that the parts which take ink are raised.
Whereas before the introduction of polymer plates when non-text elements would require expensive etching into metal, now we can letterpress easily and cheaply any kind of design you can think of. The use of polymer plates has opened up the world of letterpress to the possibilities of digital design.
What’s the difference between letterpress and embossing?
Letterpress is de-bossed, meaning the letters are depressed into the paper. Embossing raises the type on the paper. Still unsure? Run your finger across the surface of your paper face-up. If this is the side that is raised, then you’re holding something that’s been embossed. Now turn the paper over so that you’re looking at its backside. If this is the raised side, then what you’ve got is letterpress!
We offer both traditional letterpress printing as well as embossing.
Can you help me with my design?
Sure, we offer a broad range of graphic design services including logo design, multi-page layout, color separations, page imposition, and more. If you require these services, please contact us about your specific project.
How long will my job take?
Turnaround time can vary, depending on the specifications of your project and our current workload. But as a general rule of thumb, turnaround times are as follows:
Offset: 4-7 business days
Letterpress: 10-15 business days
Digital: 2-4 business days
Wide Format: 1-3 business days
Turnaround times are based on your approval on either a PDF (digital) or printed proof that we supply to you. Turnaround times do not begin when you send us your files. If you need your project completed by a certain deadline, we can usually (but not always) accommodate it for a rush fee. Rush fees are a percentage of your estimate and will vary depending on the project specifications. In order to begin your job, we will need your print-ready files and a deposit of 50% of the total job cost (if applicable—see our Terms & Conditions for more information on deposits). Rush jobs must be paid in full up front.
It is not possible for me to pay a deposit. Am I out of luck?
Collecting a 50% deposit is a very standard practice in the printing industry and always has been. In addition to securing the job, it allows us to order and allocate raw materials specific to your project. A deposit is only required on jobs totaling $400 or more in most situations.
That said, we understand that some organizations have particular payment issuing processes. If it is really an issue, we are happy to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us directly with questions on this matter before accepting your estimate.
What kind of files do you accept?
We are happy to accept the following file types: PDF, PSD, TIFF, AI, EPS, and INDD. Different processes may require specific file formats, so please check our File Guidelines page for more information.
For digital jobs and single-color offset jobs, a high-resolution (300dpi) PDF with the appropriate bleed margins is all you need to send us. For multi-color offset jobs, we prefer that you send us a file with Pantone Solid Uncoated spot colors applied. In InDesign, it is easy to assign a spot color to an individual element. For Photoshop files, make sure each color is on its own layer. Files that are not print-ready will need to be fixed on your end and re-sent. In some cases, we may be able to work on your file for an additional charge.
Please note that if you send us an Adobe InDesign (INDD) file, you must send all fonts and images along with your file. The easiest way to do this in InDesign is to use the “Package” option under the file menu. For Adobe Illustrator, outline all type and embed all images. If you don’t do this, your job will not print properly.
What does “print-ready” mean, exactly?
The term “print-ready” means that your file adheres to our file guidelines. We recommend reading over them very carefully and double-checking everything before you send us your file. Although many of these guidelines are pretty universal, every shop is a little bit different. Just because your file worked for your previous printer does not mean it will work for us. If you are struggling to understand something, please contact us and we will walk you through it, step-by-step.
What are bleeds? Do I have to use them?
Bleeds are when a color or image is printed all the way to the edge of the sheet and “bleeds” off the paper. This is accomplished by extending that element by 1/8” (0.125″) on all sides of the finished trim size. We then run your job on a larger press sheet to accommodate crop marks, then trim the sheets down to size, to create that bleed effect. Without proper bleeds, we cannot guarantee that the finished piece will come out properly, so they are very important.
For example, for a standard 4″ x 6″ postcard that has a bleed, your file dimensions should be 4.25″ x 6.25″. We will then trim it down to 4″ x 6″ after printing.
For a more detailed breakdown of how bleeds should be set up for different projects, please see our file guidelines.
How close to the edge can my text go?
All text must be within ¼” (0.25″) from the edge of the sheet. Trust us on this one: if you do not keep text within that margin, there is a very strong chance that some of it might get cut off during the trimming process. We also discourage the use of borders that leave a very slim margin between them and the edge of the sheet. If you’re doubtful, take a look at what 0.25″ looks like on paper. It’s much smaller than it appears on-screen.
I’ve used Canva to prepare my files, so they should be perfect, right?
Canva is a wonderful tool for people to create striking designs without purchasing expensive design software. The only problem is that neither of their two export options—a PDF with crop marks, or a PDF without crop marks but also without bleed—is print-ready. We’ve reached out to Canva to advise them on how to give their customers files that meet commercial print standards to make life easier for everyone, but they’ve been unresponsive. Until they implement these changes, the best thing to do is to really follow our File Guidelines. Of the two options they give you, sending the file with the crop marks is better than having no bleed, though you may want to include extra bleed in the event that we need to make some adjustments.
I’m not sure of my paper or ink options. Can I look at samples?
Of course! You can read all about our house papers and house inks on our Printing Processes page. We have carefully chosen these to give the best possible product while being as affordable as possible. There are many options out there, however, and we are always happy to set up an appointment for you to come look at paper swatches and samples of our previous work. You can also see many examples in our online Product Portfolio.
My project looks great on the screen, but the colors are all out of whack when printed. Why is this?
More than likely, you are looking at the project in the RGB colorspace. This is a light-based color mode specifically for computer monitors and is not meant for printing. So if you take an RGB file and print it, either at home or through a production quality digital press, the colors will look off. A common problem is that the page will take on a pinkish hue, though it may not be this drastic in all cases.
Anything that will be printed in full color needs to be in the CMYK colorspace that is specifically for printing. Your best bet is to work in the CMYK color mode from your project’s inception. If you send us an RGB file, we will automatically convert it to CMYK. The color shift may be subtle or even negligible, but there will be one. If you are very particular about color, we recommend paying for a printed proof. Please be aware that our options for color correcting your file are limited. Sending us true print-ready files is going to be the best for everyone. And correcting the color information in the file will ensure consistent color in future runs.
Can I see a proof of my job?
Yes. Unless you opt for a printed proof, we will always supply a PDF proof of your job and get your approval before we move the job into production. We can also provide you with a digitally printed proof for an additional cost that will fluctuate depending on the specifications of the job.
Please note that PDF proofs are for content only and are not a 100% accurate representation of color. Also note that we do not move to the proof stage until an estimate has been accepted. Because proofs are associated with job/invoice numbers, we are unable to provide proofs of any kind for jobs at the estimate level.
I have a saddle-stitched booklet. What is the difference between a page, a spread and a sheet?
This can be a very confusing topic! Let’s look at a half-size booklet (8.5″ x 5.5″) as an example.
When setting up your document, your page size would set to 8.5″ x 5.5″. Two of those pages together create a spread with dimensions of 8.5″ x 11″. Those spreads are then printed on a larger sheet, usually to accommodate printer’s marks and page information.
For detailed information about setting up saddle-stitched booklets for print, please see our File Guidelines page. Still have questions? You can always contact us and we’ll try to walk you through it.