Have you ever been on a trip and got lost? If you have, maybe it’s because there was no trip ticket, map or Garmin showing which roads and exits to take. With a printing project there also must be directions to layout, print, and finish the printing project. This direction is provided via the job layout [map]. For every printed component included in the Job Bag there is a layout for each component. Each layout can have one or multiple components.
Layouts have many components. The following are several main or key components:
- Substrate size
- Side guide
- Reverse images
- Take-off bars
- Grain direction
- How the sheet is backed up
- Form number[s]
- Head direction
- Items keyed to job bag listing
- Job number
The information provided on the layout should provide production workers with all the necessary information to produce each component of the customer’s project successfully. Calls or questions concerning a form are usually the result of incomplete or inaccurate instructions.
Within the last year, I was in a print shop and they had printed a poster. I didn’t review the layout. However, it was clearly apparent that there was no layout for the project. How can pre-press accept a project without a layout? Without a layout how will the Mac operator know if the image files provide adequate image for bleeds? How will imposition know where and in what direction to place the images in the plate file, or If there are images missing or where to place the crop marks? How will quality assurance verify a press rule-up if there is no layout? The odds are there is no quality assurance in this print shop, or knowledgeable print professionals!
If the layout isn’t complete it is up to the pre-press manager to stop the job or be provided a correct layout. If the pre-press manager is allowing incorrect or incomplete layouts to enter into production, corrective action should be taken. The old adage is true, “you can pay me now or pay me later” [YouTube video Link http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=aq3wL8ZXjBU] and later is always more expensive.
Print buyers, when touring a printing company, should look for a project’s corresponding layout. If you have a project being worked on, ask to see a job bag, and then review it for completeness and accuracy of information. As a print buyer, if at all possible, provide all the information concerning the project when the print order is placed with the print sales representative. During my years in printing, one of the best ways to minimize cost was to insure the layout answered all questions which will minimize added work or extra steps for production.