Tips to lower print costs


Ultimately, the most effective way to get the best price on commercial printing is to talk to your printer as early as possible. Just as every project is unique, so are the options on how to produce them efficiently. Discussing projects early allows us to provide you suggestions and options specific to your project that will save you money. Here are some of the most common money-saving techniques:

1. Discuss sizing with your printer before you get started.

Two things that drive down price the most are sheet optimization and production automation. The size of your piece determines how well each press sheet is utilized and whether or not your pieces can be automated through our equipment and the post office’s if they are being mailed.

Sheet OptimizationSheet Optimization 2

Paper is one of the main costs in print. Utilizing every bit of each press sheet is key to reducing the amount of total paper needed to complete a project. If you have flexibility in the sizing of your piece, adjusting the size slightly could increase the number of pieces that can fit on a press sheet. This reduces paper waste and the number of sheets needed to print your total quantity.

Production Automation

Any opportunity to complete a task with machinery rather than manual labor not only reduces costs, but also increases turnaround speeds. In-house considerations include ensuring panel sizes on a folded piece work with our mechanical folders, book signatures fit within our stitcher and pieces to be inserted into envelopes allow the necessary space for our inserter. The same considerations go for the Post Office as well; mailpieces that fall within particular standards can be automated, which leads to lower postage rates.

2. House Stock

Commercial printers purchase their most often used stocks in bulk, which allows for a reduction in price for both the printer and you. These stocks are called house stocks and can not only provide a better price, but also speed up the process since they’re readily available. Odds are one of the 10+ house stocks we keep available will suit your needs. We have swatch books available of Printing Partners’ house stocks – just ask!

3. Shells

If you often print items that utilize the same layout or background, pre-printing shells may be worth considering. Shells are produced in large runs and include all of the common areas of a series of pieces. Variable information is then imprinted onto shells in smaller runs.  This technique is often used to combine the cost-effectiveness of large-run conventional printing with digital printing’s variable data capabilities.

Shells 2

4. Gang Runs

If you have multiple projects that will be printed similarly, it may be possible to gang all of your jobs together into a single project to reduce costs. Ganged jobs must at the very least run on the same press using the same type of stock. Any additional similarities would further increase your savings (ie. Trim size, folding, etc.). If you plan ahead and want to mail a series of postcards, submitting the artwork for all of the cards to be printed and trimmed together will reduce your overall printing cost.

Because business cards are a standard size, we offer clients the option to have business cards printed in our weekly gang runs along with cards from other clients to reduce costs.

5. List Hygiene

When printing items to be mailed, list hygiene is key to ensure that you aren’t printing unnecessary pieces. If you’re mailing through Printing Partners, duplicates are removed from mailing lists, but this is only effective if the names are exact. If one entry has the name “Bob Smith” and another is listed as “Robert Smith”, our software won’t remove the second listing as a duplicate. Good list hygiene starts during data input, and it’s good practice to set rules on how data is to be entered into your system. Choosing between formal names and nicknames and whether to always spell out “Street”, “Road”, etc. can save both time and money down the line. If you’re already past the point of data entry, looking through your list manually and flagging corrections to be made within your main database will save you the hassle of needing to do corrections more than once. Weeding out duplicate and bad records will reduce the number of pieces that need to be printed and mailed, reducing your print and postage cost.


The Printing Partners staff has the experience and skills to produce pieces in creative ways to reduce costs for our clients. Talk to us early on in your project for the best chance at being able to utilize our experience and reduce your printing costs.




About Mallory MacDermott

Marketing Manager at Printing Partners, Inc. Indianapolis, Indiana.
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