Print Finishing for added Effect

Print finishing is a popular choice today. This is because it provides printed items with high quality enhancement. There is more than one way to add print finishing to advertising materials or product labels.


Lamination occurs when a thin plastic film is applied to printed items. Available in several finishes including matte, gloss and silk, lamination covers one or more sides of a document.

Lamination enhances the appearance of whatever it’s placed over, and at low cost. This treatment also increases the durability of the material it is placed over, as well as offering some protection from damage via water or grease. Lamination also incurs no set up fees and prevents ink located on creases from cracking.

Due to the way in which it’s applied, lamination cannot be placed on just one spot; it must cover the entire document. As well, care should be taken about which finish is used on dark-coloured paper or board. For example, fingerprints may show more readily on dark paper covered by laminate in a matte finish.


Cellophane is similar to laminate in that a very thin layer is applied to board or paper. This type is available in two finishes, which are matte and glossy. Cellophane finishing can be applied to either one or both sides. Cellophane or film lamination involves stretching the material over the paper or board using heat, pressure and transparent glue.

Cellophane is great for print products as it provides a soft appearance and feel. As well, cellophane offers low glare, which can soften images and text. Cellophane lamination with a glossy finish results in stronger and deeper colours. This type of lamination offers resistance to scratching and abrasion, as well as repellence to water.

UV Varnish

This type of lamination is a liquid coating which can be applied to specific areas of an advertisement or poster design. This is done with the purpose of drawing attention to one or more features. UV varnish is available in several versions including matte and glossy.

UV varnish can include different substances such as glitter and various colours for virtually endless options. It can also be used along with a different laminate type and be printed on top of cellophane or another substance for a unique effect.

Care should be taken to ensure that additional set up is required for this lamination type, as well as additional cost for die charges if it is used over images or text. As well, UV varnish will crack if placed over a document crease.


Dispersion coating is often visible on folders, brochures and flyers. Applied after printing, this lamination type is available in matte or glossy finish and once applied, is left to air dry. As it dries, the material it’s been applied to will gradually take on the look of the chosen finish. The result is a surface that’s slightly water-repellent that provides some protection against abrasion. Any paper or board treated with dispersion coating will make it nearly impossible to write on using conventional pens, especially following laser or inkjet printing.

Regardless of the finish chosen, each has the potential to not only increase the quality of printed items, but also protect the ink used to print on the items. Lamination also protects the ink itself from cracking and fading. Careful consideration of each available lamination type for suitability will need to occur in order to choose the correct one for your application.

However, it’s important also to consider the life span of the item being laminated. A temporary product may not require as costly a lamination type as one that’s expected to have a longer life, such as inkjet labels on food products.

How Dot Gain Affects Printed Products

The phenomenon of dot gain is prevalent in the printing world. It can wreak havoc on all types of printed materials, causing them to look darker in colour than they were intended to be. Sometimes expressed as a percentage, dot gain is the difference between the size of dots on the source file and the size of the corresponding dots on the printed piece. So for instance, if the source file is at 50% but is at 65% after printing, the dot gain is 15%.

Furthermore, dot gain differs depending on the colour used, and is slightly different between the 4 CMYK colours of cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Dot Gain Causes

There is more than one cause of dot gain. It can occur as the result of machinery, paper and even light.

Dot Gain via Printing Press

During offset printing, ink gets transferred from a printing plate to a blanket before being transferred from the blanket to paper. Each transfer alters the dot more in terms of increased diameter. But the type of blanket used, as well as the ink type and fountain solution as well as the pressure applied all contribute to the percentage of the dot gain on the printed final product.

Ink Absorption

The absorption of printed ink into paper also causes dot gain. During absorption, ink travels vertically as well as horizontally, which can increase dot diameter. This effect is more easily seen on newsprint and uncoated inkjet labels than on coated paper.

Dot Gain due to Light

Dot gain can also be perceived although it may not actually exist. This is called optical dot gain, and occurs when light makes contact with a printed surface and causes its dots to take on a diffused appearance. The human eye perceives the dot to look darker and larger in size than it actually is.

Computers and other Media

Dot gain can also be caused by imaging media and devices. For example, a computer’s optical system cannot be considered to be linear. This is why, during printing that any laser beams used are wider than necessary; this accounts for any errors in perception of the optical system of the computer. But even these will result in dot gain or loss, however slightly. As far as media is concerned, dot gain can occur via the film or plates used. This is because different media will handle ink differently.

Minimising Dot Gain

Although it is possible to minimise some types of dot gain at the both the prepress and press stages, the phenomenon is typically identifiable at the design stage, Therefore, it is the designer’s responsibility to be aware of it as well as anticipate how it will affect a finished product. The designer can also control dot gain in their image editing program, although this will not necessarily prevent it from occurring later on.

Many photo editing programs compensate for dot gain automatically. This automatic conversion usually occurs during image conversion from RGB to CMYK colour. However, in order for proper conversion to take place, the software must be configured according to the printing process which will be used.

During pre-press, the operator must ensure that any plates are as linear as possible. A tolerance of 2% is typical, and the process of linearisation should be utilised. Another thing to consider at the pre-press stage is that many times, a customer will supply files which have been optimised for a particular printing process, such as sheet-fed offset. This will cause the amount of dot gain to change. However, one print process can mimic the dot gain amount of another with some tweaking.

Although the dot gain phenomenon does have the potential to cause many headaches during the printing process, the fact that it can be addressed during several stages and from early on is a relief, both to customer and operator.

The Gang Run Process

Some companies require certain items to be printed using full-colour ink. These items can include anything from door hangers to business cards to flyers. One way for companies to save significant amounts of money is by choosing a printing company with the capability to complete a gang run, also known as a combo run.

Multitasking at its Finest

The gang run is known in the printing industry as a process where several smaller jobs are grouped into a single large production run. The gang run occurs with the help of an offset printing press for an incredibly high-quality printing result.

Substantial Cost Savings

An unfortunate reality of offset printing is that there are substantial costs involved to set them up, which can place this printing type out of reach for those who need shorter production runs. However, when the gang run process is used, the printing jobs of several customers can be printed at the same time, which substantially reduces the cost of each job due to the costs for press preparation and plate charges being distributed across several jobs instead of only one.

The offset printing process used in conjunction with a gang run can allow for both sides to be printed on a business card as well as coated with UV protection, where other processes may only be able to print one side of a business card in a single colour without UV coating for the same price.

The Rules of Gang Run Printing

Ideally, saving money by using gang run printing would only require putting several jobs through the offset printing process. However, there are certain rules that need to be followed beforehand for the gang run to be successful and all printing jobs to come in at a lower cost.

One of these rules is that all printing jobs being placed in the gang run must have the same specifications for both ink and paper. For example, business cards, door hangers, postcards and the like are usually ideal candidates for this process, as they are all produced with the same paper and require the same ink.

Colour and other Considerations

Although the gang run is a very effective means of printing several items in very high quality for a very low cost, it doesn’t work for all items that need to be printed. Some items may be better suited to their own press run. The kinds of projects best suited for their own press run are those which require a high degree of control over colour, and that will only be distributed at certain times of the year or on another similar kind of limited basis. Some examples are a brochure for a new launch or an annual report.

Another thing to consider before choosing a gang run is whether or not the project being printed has other special requirements. Some items, for example, may require special effects on the type or an image that offset printing simply is not capable of providing. Others may require a special type of paper that the other items in the gang run simply do not.

The best thing to do when considering a gang run for any printing project is to make note of your colour and paper requirements. Then, you can contact your printer with these specifications and see whether or not they have a planned gang run with room for what you need to be printed.

In some cases, money can be saved on individual offset printing by simply revisiting the documents needing printing and deciding to eliminate those special papers and effects that may disqualify a project from the gang run. However, each project is different, and what is required will depend on the needs and aims of each business.

Colour Models and their Characteristics

When it comes time to print your materials, colour is a consideration which must be made. Not only are there millions of shades to choose from, but sometimes, those colours may not translate well when they’ve been printed.

The reasons for so much variation between the optical perception of colour and its resulting appearance on paper are many. From the computer’s perception of colour to the paper types you use, a colour can end up looking completely different than you intended. However, there is another cause of differences in colour; their colour models. In the printing world, these models exist in four types.


RGB stands for red, green and blue. This colour model is used by all screens, including those on computers and mobile phones. Red, green and blue are the colours of light that, when combined create the colours of the spectrum. In the RGB model, each colour is represented by a number between 0 and 255. The way in which numbers are assigned to colours in the RGB model is based on amount of light. A colour with zero light will receive a value of 255, where white is classified as being 0.

RGB is device-dependent, meaning that the values assigned to colours will differ according to the equipment being used to view them. Sending RGB images to a printer can result in amendments needing to be made at the printer’s end to convert the image to a usable model, which can be costly.


The Pantone colour model represents a standardised system that’s used by the whole of the printing industry. Pantone uses 15 base pigments including black and white to create its colours. Each colour is given its own universal code, so that if the same Pantone shade is chosen in Asia and in North America, each will be that exact shade once printed.

The Pantone model contains a different set of colours for coated paper, like that used for business cards, and uncoated paper such as is most commonly seen on ink jet labels. This ensures that the colour will be reproduced accurately regardless of paper type. This is important where a company needs to have its logo look the same on a glossy business card as it does on office stationery.


CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black, and is the most commonly-used colour model for the four-colour printing process. Different combinations of these four colours can be used to create virtually any imaginable colour. CMYK is most often used where graphic and photographic images need to be printed with high quality.

The process for printing with the CMYK model is as follows: the more ink that is added, the darker an image will be. In other words, the paper being printed on can be considered a base, with ink being added in the CMYK order until the desired image has been achieved. All images being sent to a printer for printing should be sent in CMYK format.


Hexadecimal colour, also known as HEX code, is a colour model used by the online world. These colours can first be specified as RGB, and then be converted into HEX format. HEX, like RGB, assigns a unique number to each shade. This colour model is what web designers use to create web sites. So if you are having a website designed, specifying colours in HEX format are preferable.

When you think about colours like a printer does, the need to have a specific colour model becomes clear. As well, it is easy to see how an image sent in one type can cause a lot of issues with colour matching when it finally reaches the printer. However, communicating with your printer beforehand to ensure you’re sending images with the correct colour model can save a lot of money and time.

Print at Home vs. Professional Printing

It is an age-old question: should you print your labels at home or send them to a professional? Whilst it may be tempting to design and print your labels from home, you may want to give it some thought before you do.

Think about what you’re selling

Professional printing isn’t always necessary. For example, if your child is planning to run a lemonade stand or provide a car washing service during the summer, it’s highly unlikely that professionally-printed labels will be necessary. However, if you are running a business, the requirements can be quite different.

Any business that wants to elevate or maintain its professional image would do well to outsource their printing of inkjet labels to a company that specialises in this.

Which is Cheaper?

A common belief is that printing at home comes in at a much lower cost. The truth is that there is far less of a difference between the cost of printing at home and getting your labels printed by a company than you may have initially thought. In fact, there is a only about 7 pence difference between printing on an office laser printer and professional digital printing, and only about 3 pence difference between office printing and professional lithographic printing.

The good news is that the higher the number of labels you get professionally printed, the lower your final cost is likely to be.

The Time Factor

One thing to consider is the length of time it will take to print the labels you need. Using a home printer may take less time, as you are the only person using it. However, the office laser printer may take a bit longer. Getting your printing completed by a company will likely take longer, as a company will have a number of clients needing printing done.

Another consideration is the type of printing chosen. For example, lithographic printing can require up to 3 days to complete. This is because lithographic printing requires the making of a plate. This plate will transfer your label text from the ink rollers it uses to your labels. Many say that the quality of labels and other materials printed using the lithographic process is worth the waiting time required.


Professional printers know about the ideal paper and ink type to use for each project, because it’s what they do each and every day. It’s this sort of expertise that can end up saving you much time and frustration, especially when you need your labels to be printed immediately. There’s little that can be more stressful than not printing often, then all of a sudden needing to produce a professional product in a small time frame with a limited amount of knowledge.

What’s your Competition Doing?

Your labels and other printed materials will say a lot about your business. A good way to help you decide about whether or not to choose professional printing is to look at what your competitors are doing. If they are having their materials printed professionally and you are not, see if you can get a copy of their material. When you do, take a good look at both. Can you see a difference between them? If your competitor’s material looks more professional, it might be time to change things up and begin comparing printers in your area.


Once you’ve decided on professional printing and have narrowed your list, asking for samples is the next step. This will tell you without a doubt which company is best for your label printing and other requirements.

You may find that the samples you receive vary widely. However, they provide a tangible means by which you can compare the quality offered by each company.

The Softer Side of Print Finishing Methods

Where you wish to give printed materials a quality look and feel, the soft touch print finish is usually the best way to do so. The terms ‘soft touch’, ‘soft feel’ and ‘velvet finish’ are usually used to describe any method of print finishing which produces a soft feel to materials. This kind of finish can be applied to virtually any material and used for any purpose, including brochures, book covers, and even product inkjet labels.

The feel of soft touch finish is a distinctive one, and its descriptions are as large in number as the many individuals who have touched it. To some, the soft touch finish is similar to suede. Others describe it as having a similar feel to velvet. Whatever the description used, a common opinion among most is that the soft touch finish is very noticeable on both the visual and tactile levels.

Soft Touch Application Methods

The soft touch finish can be applied as a film or as a coating.

Soft touch film is matte plastic which has been specially textured to provide a soft feel. The film is applied in such a way as to bond it to the material being printed. Soft touch film can be applied wet, or via thermo-lamination. Wet lamination sees the film being stretched over the material being printed using transparent glue. Heat and pressure are then applied to bond the film to the surface.

The process by which the material being printed is applied as a coating is called thermo-lamination. Using heat-activated glue, this kind of lamination bonds the coating to the surface of the material via the combination of the melting of the glue and pressure.

The soft touch print finish has no glare due to its low amount of light reflection. Because of this non-glare surface, any images which exist on inkjet labels or other printed material take on a harmonious appearance. This type of finish also tends to provide materials with a simple, yet elegant look.

Does One Cost more than the Other?

Most commonly, the soft touch laminate option tends to cost more than the coating. However, if the product being printed requires additional durability, soft touch laminate can provide it.

Reconciling cost with Usage

A soft touch finish can certainly impress. However, when the product being printed will have temporary use, such as a brochure advertising a special event, there may be more ideal choices available. Before deciding on a print finish, it can help to look at what needs to be printed and decide how much of its existing information is permanent.

For example, even if a brochure is advertising an upcoming event hosted by a business, it may contain information such as hours of operation, menus or a calendar containing more than one upcoming event. Where any of these are the case, it can be beneficial to use the soft touch coating so that printed information can withstand the test of time and wear due to travelling from pocket to home.

A More Durable Alternative

Where it’s suspected that materials will endure a lot of impact, another finish called anti-scuff may be the more practical choice. This type of finish offers the same matte quality as a soft touch, but with added durability to protect against damage. Another benefit of the anti-scuff finish is that it prevents documents and labels from curling at their corners, which can lead to creasing.

When advice is needed about which print finish is best for your materials, the best person to speak to is one well-versed in the world of print finishes: your professional printer. Not only are they likely to have several kinds of print finishes available, but they will also be able to communicate the benefits of each one.

High Speed Printing – Web Offset

One of the most popular choices for printing is web offset. Ideal for very high print runs, web offset is most commonly used of all the rotary printing types.

Before any further explanation is given, it’s important to note that the ‘web’ in web offset printing refers to the machine type. Web offset machines use large rolls of paper that run through the machine in a continual line. Web offset printing allows both sides of the paper to be printed simultaneously.

The colour used in web offset is transferred from the printing plate using an additional rubber blanket cylinder roller to the paper.

Coldset and Heatset

In web offset printing, there are two distinct drying processes following printing. These are coldset and heatset.

Coldset is used where the printing of newspapers is being done. In this process, drying occurs slowly as ink dries on its own. You can tell an item that’s been dried using the coldset process, as the ink will sometimes transfer to your fingers, such as can happen with newspapers. Coldset printing is usually done vertically on paper rolls, and can take as many as 5 working days to completely dry. Therefore, turnaround time for web offset printing using the coldset drying process can be lengthier.

In heatset, just-printed paper passes through an oven, drying the ink immediately at 250 °C, before cooling it immediately to a maximum of 30°C. Because of this, images take on an attractive sheen. The heatset drying process is most often used when magazines, brochures and catalogues are being printed, and is done horizontally.

Speed Matters

Most customers choose web offset because of the high speeds that large volumes of products are able to be printed. But how fast is it? Usually, a web offset printer can achieve speeds of 65,000 revolutions per hour. This can result in millions of prints being able to be produced in a small amount of time.


Whether chosen for the printing of inkjet labels or documents, web offset printing definitely offers a higher quality end product. Image quality is especially enhanced when web offset printing is used. However, this is partly due to the fact that the technology which transfers images from computer to place is more developed today. Not only that, but there are consistently high-quality results with this type of printing.


The cost of web offset printing tends to be more upfront. This is because setup must be done. In web offset printing, each plate represents a single colour: cyan, yellow, magenta or black. As well, plates must be made.

Materials, Ink and Varnish

Web offset printing offers a large choice of materials that go beyond paper to rubber, fabric and wood. In addition, choosing a specialist stock of paper can mean a lower cost with larger web offset runs. For inks, those looking to have their inkjet labels or other products printed with the web offset process can use speciality varieties such as metallic ink without worry. The same is true of those looking to have a UV varnish applied to their printed products, as web offset printing can handle this quite well.

At the end of the day, the choice to use web offset printing will depend solely on the nature of your product as well as your deadline. Whilst the machine setup for web offset printing may be somewhat complex, the printing of multiple copies can be completed quite efficiently.

Digital printing, web offset`s counterpart can complement the latter, and as such should not compete with web offset printing. Rather, the strengths of both types can be used to benefit a printing project.

Font Considerations and Professional Printing

Businesses wanting to brand themselves may think about any number of ways to do this. You can design a logo or slogan that can be printed on paper, embroidered on fabric, or be included on your product stickers. Even the smallest logo or slogan can contribute to the branding of a business.

Even when taking your labels to be printed professionally, if designing your logo and inkjet labels yourself it is absolutely crucial to choose the right font. This will ensure all of your print materials are easy to read. Not concerning yourself with fonts can ultimately confuse and frustrate your customers, which will do nothing for your company’s credibility.

Many believe that a professional printer can make anything look good. However, the truth is that the style of font you choose is unchangeable, regardless of the printing technology your chosen company may have.

Fonts and Font Families

A font is a group of all the letters in the alphabet that has been designed to have similar characteristics. Also known as a typeface, a font usually contains more than one variation in style, including bold, italic and light.

A package of fonts that include all of its different versions is known as a font family. Fonts with large families offer the most choice for fonts to use in your logos and labels.

Why Fonts are Important

The font or fonts you choose for your logo or should successfully serve two main purposes: put your brand at the forefront of the customer’s mind, and make logos and labels easy to read. But all too often, they end up being the opposite.

Choosing the Right Class of Font

Among the many font classes which currently exist, there are four main types.

Script fonts appear as cursive or calligraphy and are very ornamental in appearance. Their fancy appearance can also make them difficult to read.

Display fonts are often used for headlines and logos. These decorative fonts are used to create a mood as well as to persuade the reader to learn more. They are very useful for flyers and other types of print advertising.

Serif fonts are identifiable by the small ‘feet’ that appear at the ends of their lines. Times New Roman and Garamond are two of many existing serif fonts.

Sans-serif fonts are cleaner and more modern in appearance, and do not have the feet that serif fonts do. Common examples of serif fonts are Arial and Tahoma.

Guidelines for the Creative Use of Fonts

Regardless of your brand, you should choose a font with a ‘personality’ that complements your business. Not only that, but any company should research and choose fonts that will be designated for use in the following common instances.

A Font for Your Logo

This font is not likely to be one that you’d find pre-installed on your computer. Your logo font should have more unique and interesting characteristics, and maybe consist of more than one font.

A Font for Various Types of Text

Also known as the secondary font, this set of fonts will be used for the head and sub-headlines, for text on graphics and any decorative text that may appear on your documents.

A more Legible Font

Called the tertiary font, this optional choice is most often used when the secondary font is discovered to be illegible. It is best used for items like contact information.

A Font for Lengthy Printed Materials

Serif text is best for documents that are lengthy. Serif is usually much easier to read than sans-serif.

A Font for Short Materials

The sans-serif family of fonts is best for shorter documents and reading on screen.

When fonts with similar characteristics are chosen, all of your printed, embroidered and website text will have consistency, which relates directly to the effectiveness of your branding.