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Developing Print Materials


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Writing specifications for printing bids

Creating specifications is the first step in purchasing printing for the University of Illinois. The following is a list of the specifications, with explanations, required to complete a print job or a bid for a print job.

At any time during this process, feel free to call Creative Services at (217) 333-9200 for assistance.

Job name

A job name is a working title, such as the name of a magazine (Illinois Research) or publication (Telecommunications Handbook).

Job description

The job description goes one step further in naming a job by describing the publication, i.e., booklet, letterhead, envelope, brochure, or pamphlet.

Flat size

The flat size is the dimensions of the finished product prior to binding. For brochures, this is the dimensions prior to folding. For a booklet, this is the size when laid open (i.e., "People" magazine is 17 x 11 flat).

Note: Sizes are always indicated first by width, and then by height.

Finished size

The finished size is the dimensions of the finished product after binding. For example, the finished size of an 8½ x 11 three-panel brochure would be 8½ x 3¾. The finished size of a "People" magazine is 8½ x 11.

Page size

The page size is a reference for books, magazines, newspapers, and booklets, and refers to the dimensions of a single page.

Note: Often, the finished size and the page size of a book are the same. However, there are occasions when a booklet folds down after it is bound.

Page count

The page count refers to the number of pages in a book or booklet. This is not to be confused with the number of sheets in a book. When you lift a single sheet in a book, the front side is a page and the back side is a page. Therefore, a single sheet equals two pages, and the page count will always be an even number.

Note: Don't forget to count blank sides and unnumbered sides as pages.


The quantity is the number of final copies of a publication that you want printed.

Hint: Plan for contingencies when getting a price quote; ask for plus or minus quantities as well, i.e., 2000, plus or minus 100.

Copy status

Copy status refers to how you plan to submit your publication for printing. Will you have it on a disk or CD? FTP the file via the Internet? Will you have camera-ready artwork?


Format refers to the desktop publishing program you are using to create your publication. It is possible to use a combination of software programs, such as Photoshop for image manipulation and InDesign for page and text layout.

Hint: Ask your preferred printer how they would like you to save the data on your file. If possible, when saving your file, also save a copy in a pdf format, which is preferable for many types of printing applications.


Platform refers to hardware: are you working on a Mac or a PC?


When specifying the paper for your publication, make sure to indicate the basis weight, brand, finish, type, and color.


Ink indicates what color (or colors) you want printed on the paper. Depending on the printing process, this could be wet ink or dry ink. Things to keep in mind when choosing ink processes


Binding is any finishing done to a publication after the flat sheets are printed. This includes folding, drilling, cutting, trimming, saddle-stapling, corner- or side-stapling, perfect binding, perforating, scoring, embossing, coil binding, etc.

Special concerns

Special concerns denote anything about the design or printing itself that is significant. It is important for your printer to know when the design indicates bleeds, significant solids, images or design elements that jump the gutter of a book, preferred line screens for halftone images, etc.


When the project will be ready to submit to the printer, and when is it due to be finished.


Where you want your job shipped when it is finished and if there are any special shipping or packaging instructions. Shrink wrap? Quantity per package? Special boxes?

Don’t see your question answered? Let us know.