Sometimes a new printer will be slightly stunned when I release  a print job to them with a CD, specification sheet, purchase order, folding dummy, and a marked-up color laser or PDF file.

They explain that more often than not, receiving a print a job from their customers consists of a CD hand-off or FTP file upload, with the comment, “It’s all in there in the file.” 

The thing is, it’s not all in there in the file. What about the paper weight and color? The grain direction? Bindery instructions? Key schedule dates? Is it a 4-color job or 5? Did you leave an extra ink color in the file? By providing complete documentation, you not only give the printer everything they need to do the job the way you want it done, you cover your butt in case they make mistakes.

For example, on a recent annual report project I managed, the printer ordered the wrong stock, a $3,000 error. But my client was not on the hook for it, because I’d covered their butts and mine by providing complete specifications along with the design files. 

Disaster Avoidance Tip

Release specifications, along with the PO, are your contract. When it comes to print specifications, there’s no such thing as too much information. Take the time to write and provide clear, complete specs. The folks you work with may call you anal. They may tell you to just hurry up and hand off the disc already.

But more often than not, your printer will appreciate—and read—the documentation you give them, clarify any discrepancies with you, and proceed to do your job right.

*that sounds a little odd, doesn’t it?