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Volume 2, No. 4 ~ Fall 2009
  • News
  • Print
  • Service
  • Design
  • Green
  • Trivia

Customers are the Answer

HIn August and September, HPI participated in a six-part webinar that focused on enhancing customer service. The series reminded us how vital it is to keep in mind some simple, basic premises; the key premise being that customers are the answer.

Recurring themes that bubbled up throughout the webinars will not surprise you: be proactive, ask questions, communicate news, confirm details, anticipate needs, respond quickly, go beyond the routine, go above the norm, show appreciation, develop trust, be genuine and reliable.

Many of us might read a list like that and gloss over it, saying "we're already doing this and it can't be improved upon." HPI's business philosophy from the start has stressed the importance of personal attention and friendly service. However, we know you must hear that motto often. It's one thing to say we emphasize customer service and satisfaction. It's another to back it up on an everyday basis — and to have you, our clients, agree we do.

The webinars stimulated many conversations among our team. You will see us implementing some new ideas and practices over the winter months to be even more proactive in anticipating your requests and offering new or improved options. We very much welcome your questions, suggestions, and feedback.



What is the Color Bar on My Proof?

Do you ever receive a proof and wonder why there is a bar of color at the bottom or on the side and what it could possibly mean? A color bar serves an important function in achieving consistent color and quality on press. A color bar is a test strip composed of three sections: Solid Ink Patches, Tint Patches, and Solid Color Overprints. Each section measures different aspects of the job.

Solid Ink Patches — as the name implies, are patches of 100-percent ink color used to print the job. For example, if your job is printing in 4-color ink you will see solid ink patches that represent cyan, magenta, yellow, and black at 100-percent value. The solid ink patches are used to read hue and grayness (to ensure the purity of the ink from the manufacturer) and to take density measurements. Ink density is measured to ensure color quality and consistency throughout the job. Measuring ink density tells the press operator how much ink is being laid down on the press sheet. Throughout the print job, a press operator will take measurements to make sure the job is printing up to color.

Tint Patches — are screened patches (less than 100-percent value) of the ink color used to print a job. Our tint patches can be 25-, 50-, or 75-percent screens of the color. If your job is printing in 4-color ink, you will see tint patches in the color bar that represent cyan, magenta, yellow, and black screened at the appropriate percentage value. The tint patches are used to measure dot gain, a phenomenon that occurs on press when the dots composing an image increase in size. The outcome is a darker or stronger color or tone that could result in less contrast or detail than desired. Dot gain is not necessarily bad as long as it is controlled. We control dot gain through such adjustments as print curves, plate curves, total ink limit, and line screens.

Solid Color Overprints — are patches used to gauge ink trapping. Ink trapping, in this instance, refers to the relationship of the inks to one another as they are laid down on the press sheet. The press operator uses these patches to measure the ability of the first ink color to accept or adhere to the second ink color; in other words, the tackiness or stickiness of the inks. The inks need to trap or stick to each other correctly for the press operator to achieve accurate color. In a 4-color job, you would see red, purple, and green solid color overprint patches.



Advice for Avoiding the Pitfalls of Proofing

Proofing is a vital step in the process of creating your project, no matter whether it is a small business card, a large catalog, or something in between. When should proofing occur, who should be doing the proofing, and what are some key areas to focus on?

First of all, the best time to proof is before your job is submitted to the printer. Catching errors before the project moves too far along in the production process is ideal. The next opportunity for proofing is when we ask you to review and sign off on the prepress proof. This proof comes in the form of a PDF, laser proof, digital output, or Epson color proof, depending on your project.

It is often good to have two people proofing a project, especially if you are proofing your own work. The best person to proof is someone who is detail oriented and who has not been working too closely with the project. Anyone who gets too close to a project can easily fail to notice glaring mistakes or omissions in a document.

We, too, examine your project before supplying you with a prepress proof. We like to cross-reference our proof against a laser proof or PDF of your original document, to watch for anything "lost in translation" from your computer to ours (i.e., text reflow, font replacement, layout shift).

Oftentimes, it is only after you've had some distance from the project and are reviewing a prepress proof that you notice minor corrections that need to be made to your original document. It is usually best for us to make these changes, rather than you submitting a whole new original file. We do not charge for minor AA's. (Author alterations — changes made by the client to a project after it has been submitted to the printer)

Common areas to watch out for typographical errors (e.g., spelling, punctuation, grammar, accuracy) include:photo captions, headlines, website addresses (URLs), telephone numbers, and names. Also, be sure to inspect the prepress proof for: font discrepancies, layout shifts, text reflow, missing images or graphics, proper folding, and any and all changes made to earlier proofs.

In general, your three options after reviewing a prepress proof are (1) approved as is, no other proof required, please go to press, (2) approved with changes indicated, no other proof required, please go to press, or (3) another proof required with corrections and/ or changes as noted.

For further guidance on proofs, please see our archived newsletters for: "Folding Dummies Can Be a Project Lifesaver" (Summer 2008) and "What is a Press Check and When is It Needed" (Summer 2009).



Six Easy Steps to Add Spot Colors to Your Palette

In an earlier article, we suggested using spot screens to achieve the look of more color without adding a lot of extra cost to your project's budget. How do you create those spot colors when you are designing your brochure, newsletter, or other project? Knowing how to define spot colors in your document will help to save you production time and cost. Let us walk you through the process of creating a spot color, using Adobe InDesign as an illustration.

Step One: First, decide whether you want to add any spot color(s) to the swatches palette for all new projects or just this new project. If you add colors to the palette with no project open, the spot colors will be there in the palette for every new project.

Step Two: To open the swatches palette in InDesign, click on "Window" in the top navigation bar and select "Swatches" from the drop-down menu. (As a shortcut, you can also press F5 on a Mac or Control and F5 on a PC to open "Swatches.")

Step Three: Click the flyout menu icon in the upper-right corner of the Swatches Palette and select the "New Color Swatch" option. A new dialogue box called "New Color Swatch" will open.

Step Four: You will see a field for "Color Type." Select "Spot Color" from the dropdown menu.

Step Five: You will see a field for "Color Mode," which will have many options listed in the drop-down menu. We recommend using the Pantone Matching System. If you are printing your job on a coated paper, select the "PANTONE Solid Coated" setting. If you are printing your job on uncoated paper, select the "PANTONE Solid Uncoated" setting.

Step Six:
A list box will then appear with the multitude of Pantone color options available. Select the Pantone color of choice and click the "Add" button. The Pantone color will then be added to your swatches palette. Repeat this process as needed to add more spot colors to your palette. Remember, if it is a spot color you will be using frequently, add it to your swatches palette with no projects open so that it will appear for every new project. If you need help or advice, please be sure to contact us.




More "Green" Paper Options to Consider

In our Spring 2009 newsletter article, "Following the Recycled Paper Trail," we mentioned Green Seal Certified papers. What does it mean to choose a Green Seal Certified paper?

Green Seal Certified papers are created with processes that are environmentally preferable. Green Seal certification is a process that evaluates the environmental impact of the product's development - from cultivating the raw materials through production to the product's use.

One distinct feature among all Green Seal Certified paper lines is the recycled content. All Green Seal Certified papers must be composed of at least 30-percent Post Consumer Waste.

If you are interested in choosing a Green Seal Certified paper, consider Mohawk Via, Neenah Environment, or Classic Crest. You are welcome to stop by our office to see samples of these Green Seal Certified papers.

Green Seal, which is an independent, nonprofit organization, certifies a variety of products beyond printing papers, such as household products, office products, and construction materials. Learn more by visiting their website at www.greenseal.org.





Test Your Knowledge!

This quarter’s trivia question is:


The paper that U.S. currency is printed on is composed of what material(s)?

Please submit your answer via email (info@howardprintinginc.com) or fax (802-257-1453). The first 25 correct submissions we receive by December 15, 2009, will be entered into a drawing for one $25 prize. This quarter's prize is a gift certificate to The Orvis Company of Manchester, Vermont (www.orvis.com).
We look forward to receiving your submission! Thank you!

Answer to last quarter’s trivia question: "Where and when was the first ink factory established?" Colonial America, 1742. (However, printing ink was first developed in China, another popular answer to our trivia question.)

Please note: Limit one submission per customer. May not be combined with any other discounts/offers. Maximum value of this offer is $25. No cash value; no cash or credit back. Other restrictions may apply.

Ink Bar
Howard Printing, Inc., of Brattleboro, Vermont, is a full-service commercial printing company providing offset
and digital printing, wide-format printing, graphic design, computer-to-plate prepress technology,
variable data printing, mailing services, and bindery and finishing services. Howard Printing is also the publisher
of the New England Showcase real estate magazine and two Vermont coloring books.

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