Printing costs 101

You’ve successfully partnered with your marketing communications firm, and your print project is ready to go to press. What’s next?

The printing quote

Your graphic designer will have defined the project specifications; including paper stock, number of colors, ink coverage, quantity, size, and many other details. At LevinsonBlock, we usually quote with up to 3 trustworthy printers.

Most of the time the quotes are with 15% of each other. If there is wider range, it can be a warning sign — the printer may be cutting corners, or may have made a mistake when estimating.

When estimating costs, printers look at different stages in the print production process. As you can see from this table, when the quantity increases, consumable items such as paper stock and bindery become a larger proportion of project cost, while fixed costs such as pre-press and press time diminish.

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Chart of print stages and costs

Why is this important?

It is often surprisingly inexpensive to print a larger quantity of a project, since you are essentially just paying for more paper and a few minutes more of press time.


Pre-press: preparing a digital file for printing, including proofs and making plates
Press time: the time the project is on-press printing
Bindery: as in binding a book–for example magazines are bound with staples, or saddle stitched



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