Offset Commercial Print House vs. Quick Copy Shops

Procurement: the overall process of acquiring a product or service from a print shop


• identifying needs - analyzing the design and layout
• specifying the requirements to fulfill the need
• identifying potential printers
• soliciting quotes (creates competitive bidding)
• evaluating quotes
• awarding the job
• tracking progress and compliance
• attending proof reviews/press checks
• taking delivery
• inspecting and inventorying the deliverables
• negotiating reprocessing, if errors are found after completed
• paying the supplier

By Lisa Gullette, CreatiVisibility, September 2007

Will you be able to take your design and chose a reputable printer for that particular printed piece? Procurement is a service that CreatiVisibility offers. With that service includes the experience of knowing which printer has the equipment necessary to print the design, which ones have the best prices for the specific job, and how to obtain 3 of the best quotes for the best printing outcome. Unless someone has had this exposure they typically take the design to the nearest quick copy shop. This may not be the best choice or the most cost effective.

There is a misconception that quick copy centers are cheaper and faster for all types of print jobs. I found that a quick copy job for one of my projects was actually 61% more expensive than using commercial offset printer for that particular job.

Nearly all of the print work that is done through the CreatiVisibility office goes to an offset printing press. Correct design involves adhering to specific layout and image guidelines such as print margins, panel size specs for specific folds, resolutions, professional type handling, registration, trapping, line screens and for meeting postal regulations. An offset printer usually prints professional, high-quality impressions output from professional layout software files such as InDesign or QuarkXpress. This software enables files to be prepared for proper film color separations ready for exporting to printing plates.

Offset printers have a variety of different presses which print specific types of jobs and can print on a large variety of papers which are ordered to meet the exact design specifications. Professional designers like CreatiVisibility chose this paper at the beginning of the design process. They contact paper manufactures to compare price and availability of the chosen paper style.

Quick copy refers to centers which are usually found in strip mall shopping centers and may also include mailing services. They have high-speed digital copiers that do not usually run from film or metal plates as do offset presses. These jobs will run from a laser copy or from a one-time use paper printing “plate”. These plates are designed for short runs and loose registration layouts (images, borders, and text don’t come close to touching each other). Quick printers offer commonly used paper that they stock.

Quick copy centers will accept files in Microsoft Word or Microsoft Publisher and may accept files published in QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign or other professional design software depending on the service bureau. Most lower quality and short run jobs can be sent to a quick copy service center.

There is actually another type of printing that is called digital printing, and some of the commercial printers have these digital printing machines in their shops as well. Knowing the best shop to choose for your print piece and budget is the trick.

Decisions about the type of printing you will use will have to come before the commencement of the layout. The type of printing done will highly depend on the audience, complexity, budget and turnaround time your project requires. It is best to set up print margins for the layout only after consultation with printer about this press’s requirements.

CreatiVisibility is experienced in all of these print related issues and can provide procurement services to obtain the least expensive, highest quality and most suitable method to print your particular project. In addition, we are familiar with the process of writing specifications for correct quotes and can help you determine a successful schedule for your print project.

Before you move to “do-it-yourself” consider if you have the time and knowledge to write the specifications, obtain 3 good quotes, look at print samples of similar work, speak with references, deliver the art files, return for a proof review, and return for picking up your finished product. CreatiVisibility can do all of this for you and deliver your project right to you!

For more information about CreatiVisibility and how it can help you create, build, efficiently print your marketing pieces, please contact us through the Web: