Specifying your Print and our Free Print Specification Form: a Guide to Commercial Printing

Specifying your Print and our Free Print Specification Form: a Guide to Commercial Printing


I recently quizzed our team of print project managers for the top 6 most common mistakes to avoid when managing a print project. It was pretty insightful stuff and I know of one or two people who have contacted me to say they keep a print out by their desks now to make sure they don’t fall into the traps!

Number 1 at the top of the hit parade was something many of us are guilty of – and that’s not specifying the print job correctly.

What do we mean by Specifying your Print?
When commercial printing companies produce an estimate, they need to have all the necessary information to hand. So the specification part is where you list every aspect of the job and communicate all the key facts about it to your chosen printing services company. From that they can give you a price estimate, understand all the technical parameters of the job to match it up to press type, designate the appropriate press space and staffing, and ready the necessary packing and logistics to deliver your project just how you want it, when you want it.


The Main Problem
The problem is that it’s so easy to miss something out. And that can have a BIG impact on a job. If you’ve bought print regularly, you’ll know what we mean (but give yourselves a break – it has happened to the best of us). To stop it happening, you just need to work with the right people or adopt the right process to make sure it doesn’t happen again!


  1. As many marketers will know, once you’ve got the creative part of the project finished and signed off internally, the disciplines involved change a lot. At that point, It’s attention to detail and being hyper-organised that counts – and that includes when specifying the print. You really need to understand exactly what it is you want from your job – and be able to communicate it effectively to your printing partner.
  2. It’s so easy to overlook or miscommunicate something, especially when a good deal of jargon is used. Check out our Glossary to see the huge number of terms that have developed in and around the commercial printing industry over it’s 500 year history to see what we mean! Make sure you refer to the glossary whenever you’re unsure of something.
  3. Printers expect to be briefed in a certain way. If you don’t specify your job exactly how they want it (and, crucially, fully understand what it means for yourself) then you risk getting quoted incorrectly and not getting the finished product produced exactly how you want it, or to the price you agreed.

So What’s the Solution?
Two options (or a combination of the two).

You can contact a knowledgeable print consultant to talk through your project. Use the people resources that are around to help you out – the best ones are genuinely there to help you maximise your return on your budget. If you simply don’t have the time or prefer to have your hand held throughout the process, this is the option for you.

Or alternatively (or in addition), you’ll find a version of our Print Specifying Form. This is what we use to get all the information about a print job down and understandable for our print suppliers. Use this as a checklist to make sure you’ve covered all areas of your print. You can print it out, fill out the form and even pass it on to your commercial printing partner. If you’ve got everything on the form covered, you’ll know you’re on the right path – and you have it in writing should anything not be adhered to by your printing services provider. Win/Win :o)

webmarts printing specification form

To download a pdf of the specification form, click the link below.

Printing Specification Form – Webmart

If there’s something you don’t understand, get in touch or comment on the post and we’ll do our best to help you out!