The Road Trip Invitation Reveal

Wedding Planning

The responses are starting to roll in, so let’s take a peek at what our guests saw when they opened up their envelopes.


At the last moment I opted to do envelope liners, even though they would only just barely show. I was pleasantly surprised that the chocolate-brown envelopes were peel & seal (had a strip of adhesive as opposed to  the usual dry-gum seal) so I used that strip to adhere the liners and added another strip of double-sided tape to close the envelopes. The patterned paper for the liner is the same that I used on the mini-books and I have one more project that will use it, as well.

Will our guests notice that the paper is the same between the various elements? Probably not. But I like that it adds a certain cohesion to the bits and pieces when all taken in together.


Reaching into the envelope they’ll pull out the wine bottle and its single enclosure. I added a band to keep everything together (just like countless brides before me) but the placement of this band turned out to be pretty important in the end.

At first I’d put the band around the center of the invitation bundle, as you do, but because the pieces are different widths the bottle portion tended to free itself from the band’s confines and come out alone, leaving the RSVP card and envelope (not to mention the band with it’s oval inner-envelope-stand-in-informal-guest-designating-label, once again featuring the vine frame from the Save the Dates) inside. While I figured most of our guests would expect there to be an RSVP card of some sort and would probably look back inside the envelope to check, I wanted to remove as many of the “could happens” and preserve the look of the invitation suite, so I experimented until I found the a solution.

What worked best was to first fold the band around the single widest element (the #6 3/4 return envelope) alone–not as part of the stack!–so that the band fit it the snuggest. Then slip the “neck” of the wine bottle cutout under the band and label and slide it up just to the point that the invitation booklet slipped under the oval label. What all of this did was insure (more or less) that when the recipient goes to pull the bottle out of the envelope, the folded invitation catches on the band and pulls it and the RSVP card/envelope out all as one piece.

Something to consider if you decide to go with a non-traditional envelope or invitation configuration!


Once everything is out of the envelope and the band is removed, the label-themed invitation naturally springs open. This has a lot to do with the weight of paper I used (100# Feltweave Cover, for the curious)–even scored and folded and the edges burnished a bit it still wants to open up–and because of this tendency I went back and forth over whether to leave it as an accordion fold or stick the backs of the facing panels down to make more of a booklet. There were pluses and minuses to both, so Mr. Road Trip stepped in as tie-breaker and we went for booklet-style. Again, one of those pesky decisions you don’t expect to be making. Either way, the pop-up tendency works in our favor, as it invites our guests to flip through the panels rather than just skim down the front and put it down.


And then our RSVP card! After going with a shaped invitation, why stick with a plain rectangle for the RSVP card? And what goes better with a bottle than a cork (though I did take a certain amount of “artistic license” by pairing a Champagne-style cork with a non-sparkling bottle style). I used a black and white image of a cork, added some overlays to it in Photoshop to give it more of a cork coloration, and then added our response options.

We look forward to toasting with you!

___I’ll drink to that!
___My glass is empty.

Apparently I should have put “(yes/accepts)” and “(no/declines)” along with the semi-witty options as a couple of folks have asked exactly what we were really asking (one person wondered if it meant to expect them to be drinking or not), but most seem to get it. It was quite a thrill to see the first couple of responses in our mailbox a mere 3 days after sending out the invitations (some of our local invitees are super-prompt!), and the returned corks are being tucked into a French memo board that stands in our hallway, so that’s fun to see each day.


The idea is that the invitation sets the tone for the event. I made sure that I used traditional wording and styles to convey the formality and gravity of the moment but in a non-traditional package to add in a bit of fun. Overall, I think it’s a pretty good indication of what we want our wedding to be like, which I would describe as traditional with a twist.

A Sip of Inspiration: Wine Label Invitation Design

Wedding Planning

It’s been said often and will continue to be true: having a theme makes so many decisions so much simpler. At least in theory.

Once we’d decided that the wedding would be wine-themed, I knew that I’d take design cues from wine labels for our invitations but there was still the question of which labels and how all of the pieces and parts would fit and work together. An envelope of random label-looking things wouldn’t exactly hit the mark, here, but that’s where the early brainstorming sessions headed.


When our local Borders closed (boo! *moment of silence*) I’d picked up a copy of the 2008 Windows on the World Wine Course book. One night I sat down and just started flagging any labels that jumped out at me. Didn’t matter the shape, orientation, colors, just whatever looked interesting. And that’s about as far as I got, the book went back on the shelf (sticky notes still in place) and I put invitations on the back burner for about a year.

Basic shape... so many possibilities!

Basic shape… so many possibilities!

When I got my eCraft I thought it was cool that there was a wine bottle shape on the basic cartridge and started playing around with the idea of incorporating the bottle silhouette somehow. At this stage I was still trying to fit everything into the usual large-card-invitation-with-smaller-enclosures mold, but I was running into the issue of our event format. Namely, the cocktail hour being before the ceremony really needed to be spelled out, but I was afraid that it might get lost or overlooked on an enclosure.

Admittedly, I was probably over-thinking things a bit (something I do often). When I’ve created invitations for other parties we’ve thrown that have a schedule to be considered I’d just create a panel or card for them and our guests figured it out, but I didn’t want something so agenda-ish in the invitation, nor did I want to depend solely on our wedding website to spell it all out, either.


Meanwhile, for the sake of continuity I decided that the labels that would serve as inspiration all needed to be the vertical or tall variety, so I picked out six of the best contenders and made a rough sketch of each to concentrate on the shapes and divisions–this removed the urge to recreate each label down to the nth detail, and took us from parody-of to inspired-by. Definitely a step in the right direction.

I’d also come to a decision about just how the invitations were going to work. At first I was concerned it would seem too gimmicky or who knows what, then I realized that I didn’t give two pins about it, that it was a fun and different and I was going to do it. Thus, it was decided that the backing of the invitation would be a wine bottle shape and the invitation would go where the label usually does, but instead of a single label, it would fold out or open up to reveal different sections in lieu of the enclosure cards that would otherwise be necessary.

Taking shape, literally!

Taking shape, literally!

The dimensions of the bottle cut-out determined the size of the “labels” so I could begin to recreate the label designs in Illustrator and get down to cutting out all those bottles. Regular card stock was too flimsy, so I decided to use mat board instead, believing that it was just thin enough to go through the cutter. Go through, yes. Cut worth a darn, not so much (to clarify: it would have cut, but it left drag marks from the blade anywhere it traveled since the board was so thick the blade still caught even when retracted and caused feed issues, ugh!).


But I was a Road Trip on a mission, so I spent a Saturday afternoon cutting out wine bottles from maroon mat board (I found some with a dark green backing/core that looked much better than the usual white-core options) and got 30 out of a single 32″ x 40″ sheet. And it turned out that a sturdy pair of scissors worked much better than a craft knife. To smooth out any cutting wobbles I took a regular emery board to the edges and it left the bottles with a nice, smooth edge and me covered in maroon fuzzies. Such is the price of creativity, sometimes!

Laying down the design bones

Laying down the design bones

Back in Illustrator I created each label on it’s own artboard set to the size of each “page” of the accordion-fold booklet, blocked out the basic shapes, and added colors picked from the “beverages” swatch which were perfect for what I had in mind. Then I exported them individually and brought them into Photoshop so that I could start matching up each label/panel with the necessary text.

As I started to format the text for each panel, that’s where looking back at the original labels really helped and I started to really notice some of the hallmarks of the labels that, when incorporated into the invitation panels, would really echo that style rather than just a drawn-out invitation with some geometric backgrounds.

  • One or two lines are usually highlighted with either a different typeface, a different font style or size, or a different color.
  • There’s ample negative space both around and between sections of information.
  • Small-caps are used often throughout the body of the label, often with a serif-style typeface.

Once I started employing those visual design cues, the panels really started to look more like the wine labels that inspired them. (There was also some spacing manipulation but between lines and characters–never underestimate the benefit of kerning and leading!)


Your general script, centered wording on the right, a more label-inspired look on the left.

Screen-shot comparison: the general script, centered wording on the right, a more label-inspired look on the left.

Finally, several of the panels needed some pretty pictures to polish them off. My favorite place for royalty-free design elements is (yes, you pay a nominal fee for them, but there’s no ambiguity if I want to use them in a design-for-hire job later on). I found several sheets of both line-art designs and old-fashioned images that I could easily manipulate to fit the image slots of the invitation panels. What I didn’t find was a good line-art image of an old-fashioned plantation house, so I ran an image of our venue through several filters to get a grainy, halftone-look that I could blend into its spot on our Ceremony panel, and created a simple map for the location panel in Illustrator.

All dressed up and ready to print!

All dressed up and ready to print!

One other thing I included in our invitation that you don’t normally see is a menu panel. This is something I have always done for my parties to give guests a heads-up of what will be available. Since there’s not a ‘chicken or beef’ option and we’re not doing a buffet, this is an easy way to set realistic expectations and invite them to let us know if they’ll need special accommodations.

After that it was just a matter of printing, scoring, folding, and rounding 1.001 corners–at least that’s what it felt like (in reality it was only 36o, 12 punches per invitation) before I could assemble them and get them in the mail…

Coming Soon to a Mailbox Near You!

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

If, of course, you live near one of our invited guests, that is.

After spending the entirety of the recent 3-day weekend completing the design, printing, and assembling thereof, the Road Trip invites have flown the coop (if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor). While we want to give them a few days to get to their destinations, can we talk envelopes for a moment, and the addressing of said bits?

Even though it complicated matters a smidgen, I went with chocolate brown envelopes from for our invitations. Even though they’re the usual #10 envelope size (which fits just right with the style of invitation I designed), the color definitely sets them apart from bills and junk mail that might also be in the box that day. With such a dark envelope that leaves only two options for addressing: labels or opaque ink (white or metallic). For some reason I didn’t even consider labels and option, really, so went on the hunt for just the right opaque ink.

I got my first calligraphy for my 11th birthday and have been practicing different styles, off and on, over the last 26 years but I really didn’t feel like fiddling with my dip pens for this. Instead, I started with a couple of paint pens: one with a chisel tip that just disappeared on the paper and one that showed up great that would have worked well for the front but would have been a bit big for the return address flap. So the hunt continued.

Sometimes it just helps to see the options side-by-side.

Sometimes it just helps to see the options side-by-side.

Another trip to the store yielded 2 metallic contenders: Prang brush pens and why-didn’t-I-think-of-that-before Sharpies. Even though the bronze and gold Sharpies fit our color scheme better, the Silver stood out the best of the three and just felt better writing-wise (Mr. Road Trip cast the deciding vote on that one, as he did with a few other invitation elements).

As for the writing, I skipped the exemplars and just went for my usual handwriting with a few extra swoops on the capital letters. After all, calligraphy comes from the Greek for “beautiful writing” and while I don’t claim to have the most beautiful handwriting in the world, it is something I’ve been a tad obsessive about. In high school I would rewrite homework assignments if I didn’t like my handwriting on a particular page and would change how I made certain letter-forms when I thought my writing could use a little shaking up. As a bookkeeper it helps that my writing be more than legible, and when I draw comics I insist upon hand-lettering.

With all of that in mind, I probably shouldn’t have started addressing envelopes at 2 in the morning. I was  up, it was next on the list, but I completely spaced about using titles on the first handful of envelopes and I wasted about a dozen all-told with various screw-ups. This is the point where I didn’t mind having to order a pack of 50 envelopes to send out 25 invites!

A Tip: When using opaque ink on a colored envelope and you need to fix a little bobble, find an ink pen or Sharpie that’s the same color as your paper and “fill in” the little oopsies. It’ll save your sanity when you’re down to your last few or you’ve already put postage on an unfinished envelope.

Of course we're inviting the head cheeses!

Of course we’re inviting the head cheeses!

For stamps I didn’t stress. There weren’t any good wine or grape-themed stamps available outside of places like Zazzle (and I just couldn’t see paying double for postage, even with such a small quantity) so I chose the wedding cake and white roses stamps (which was about $0.20 more postage than necessary, but better safe than sorry). In the end, they looked great against the dark brown envelopes, so all’s well that ends well.

What was your biggest challenge when it came to addressing your wedding invitations?

Printing Terms for the Bride-to-Be, Part III

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Designing for Commercial Printing

The vocabulary lesson is over, now it’s time to figure out how to get the best possible results from whichever printer you choose for your wedding stationery. Maybe you’re going with a local commercial shop, the nearest FedEx/Kinko’s, or maybe you’re getting ready to upload your files to one of the many online print-on-demand services out there. Regardless of who you choose to print your stuff, there’s one rule that is universal:

Garbage In = Garbage Out

If you give your printer 72dpi clipart you yanked off the web (or payed the minimum on a stock image site for the smallest file size), it’s going to look like pixelated crap when it comes off that press and there’s nothing anyone can do to fix it. If you don’t allow for a bleed in your design, you’re going to either end up with a white border around your image or some of the printed area cut off–and that might include the words if you’re not careful! And if you give them files of the wrong color mode, the colors you so carefully picked on your computer monitor are very likely to look very, very different.

To avoid those unfortunate situations (and a whole host of others like them), here’s some tips on setting up your files correctly for commercial printing.

Just to give you an idea of how close you can cut it--any more than one insert, though, and you'd need to make your invitation smaller.

Just to give you an idea of how close you can cut it–any more than one insert, though, and you’d need to make your invitation smaller.

1. Start with your envelope and work your way backwards from there.

While it’s true you can make your own envelopes, it’s a lot easier to buy them and they come in so many wonderful colors these days it’s a shame to let all of that go to waste. That said, they only make envelopes in certain sizes, and if your invitation, save the date, or RSVP is slightly too big for the target envelope, you’re going to have to buy the next size up. This can mean anything from your card swimming in an over-sized envelope to paying more postage than you need to.

So, if your printed piece needs an envelope, make sure you find out the size of the envelope available in your color and design around that. A single insert needs to be at least an eighth of an inch smaller than the envelope (though 1/4 inch is better–it’ll certainly make it easier to stuff, later), and the more pieces you want to include the smaller the overall size needs to be to for the envelope accommodate the thickness.

Another thing worth thinking about: If you have any intention of lining your envelopes, do yourself a favor and look for A-style envelopes as they feature a rectangular flap instead of the pointed flap of the Baronial-style envelopes. That flap style means a lot less in the way of fiddly cuts.

CMYK (left) vs RGB (right)

CMYK (left) vs RGB (right)

2. If it’s color, it needs to be CMYK.

Anything you see on a screen or monitor is in RGB and uses light to adjust the colors blended from the red, green, and blue values present. This visible light spectrum is amazing and can give you over 16 million distinct color variations. Gorgeous, right? And most of the time your home printer prints those exact same colors, even if you have separate tanks for each of the 4 colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black).

Commercial presses, on the other hand, work in CMYK, and CMYK is limited to a measly 1 million colors, give or take, and that’s where problems set in. There’s no fool-proof method (though there are plenty of strategies) to convert an RGB file to print in CMYK and retain the same brilliance of color you see on your RGB monitor. Yes, it’s frustrating, but them’s the breaks. [Now, I will say, some online printers prefer RGB because of the equipment they use. It’s easier to convert from CMYK to RGB, though, so I still stand by designing in CMYK to give you the best possible options.]

In a program (like Photoshop, for instance) that supports CMYK, it’s as simple as choosing your Image > Mode > CMYK when you begin your document. Unfortunately, the more consumer-level a product is (meant for home use and not professional), the less likely CMYK will be an option and so the file you create may not work as well. Many places can use them, but you’re not likely to get a color match.

The good news is that (if you’re a quick study), you can download a 30-day trial of almost any Adobe product (like Photoshop or Illustrator), and you can also use their Cloud subscription service to “rent” the use of a program for a number of months. $20 or so a month isn’t so bad compared to the $600 each program usually runs (or the $2000 the full Suite costs). You can also use open-source programs like GIMP or InkScape and get most, if not all, of the same functionality.

One other thing that makes colors hinky: monitors. Just because what you see on your screen looks right, doesn’t mean your screen is showing you the truth. Every time we adjust our monitor’s brightness, contrast, etc. we are increasing the chance that what we see is not what we’ll get. If exact colors are crucial to your wedding vision, look into calibrating your monitor. There are programs and devices that will do this for a fee, of course, but you can also use simple tests and the controls on your monitor or laptop to do it yourself, like this Monitor Calibration page from epaperpress.

Just an example why resolution matters.

Just an example why resolution matters.

3. Less is not more when it comes to DPI: resolution matters.

The way CMYK printing works is by laying down four layers of teeny tiny dot patterns (generally) only visible under something resembling a jeweler’s loupe to determine the strength of each color. They work in percentages and the dots can be very spread out or very close together–the closer together (and therefore smaller) the dots, the crisper the images. Potentially. These dots are measure per inch, hence dpi = dots-per-inch.

300 dpi is about the smallest you ever want to submit to a printer. The downside is that these files can be rather big, especially the more layers and details within each file, but 300 dpi is the happy medium in the struggle between file size and image quality. Occasionally, for the very large items (like banners and large signs), a printer may request a lower dpi, but that’s the only exception I’ve come across.

And just because you set up your file to be 300dpi doesn’t mean you can slap a 72dpi (the usual resolution for web images–smaller files means quicker loading times) image in there, drag to the right size and come out the same. My little illustration above shows why that’s not such a hot idea!

That said, most digital cameras save photos at 180dpi. DO NOT go in and change the resolution without good reason (and never muck around with your original file, while we’re on the subject)! Those 180dpi files are also around 2765 x 2074 pixels—unless you’re wanting to blow them up to billboard size (and who knows, maybe not even then), that’s plenty of pixels to work with.

There's just something more polished about images that bleed, especially "random" patterns.

There’s just something more polished about images that bleed, especially “random” patterns.

4. Set up your bleeds correctly.

This is one of those things that really separated the novices from the in-the-know. If you’re using an online printer, chances are they’ve got templates you can download for the various products that show the different areas of the file you submit. The live area is the safe zone for all your important details and images, the cut line lies just outside and shows where the images will be cut off at–it’s usually 1/8″ to 1/4″ outside of that safe area. Finally, the bleed line is 1/8″ all the way around your cut image.

So when you want to create a small card, for instance, that is 4.25″ x 5.5″, you would set your image size at 4.5″ x 5.75″–1/8″ is .125 and since you have to add it to both sides, you’d add .25 or a 1/4″ to each overall measurement. See, that’s not so tough! Then you’d want to set up guides (horizontally at 0.125 and 5.625; vertically at 0.125 and 4.325 for this example) to show where your finished image will stop. Anything you want to extend “off the page” needs to go all the way out to the true margins of the image, while all of your text needs to stay well within your guides.

You also want to make sure you turn off those guides before you save the file for submission, just in case. Normally they wouldn’t print, but we certainly don’t want to take any unnecessary chances, right?

5. All PDFs are not created equal.

Finally, it’s important that the type of file you submit be the right one. PDFs are probably the most common and most universally accepted, but they do come in different flavors. Most pdf files are intended for transmission by email or web download, so they’re lean and stripped down and not meant for more than maybe printing on your home computer.

By contrast, the type of pdf you need to submit to a printer is a Print Ready pdf and it’s got a few more bells and whistles. For one thing, any fonts you used in creating your document need to be embedded to prevent any issues when the printer opens them up. If the fonts are not embedded and printer doesn’t have those fonts himself, the computer will pick a font it thinks might match but it’s just a computer and isn’t going to always make the best decisions. And the more automated the process, the less likely it is that someone will notice before it gets to you. (Though this is also a reason to request a proof, even if there’s a slight upcharge or time delay–better safe than sorry).

A print-ready pdf also retains the highest quality of the document you created, so will have a larger file-size than one intended for web distribution. To insure the maximum compatibility between systems, ask if your printer has a .joboptions file available. This document gets placed in a particular folder of your system and will be available as an option when you export your pdf, preventing many mistakes along the way.

When you’ve created a program or other multi-page document, it’s best to export these as multi-page pdfs, in the order they would be read. To do this you’ll need a desktop publishing program like Adobe’s InDesign or the open source Scribus to do it natively, or a copy of Acrobat (this is different from the free Reader that you need just to open the files) to string your separately-created pages together. Single-sided items like cards or invitations are fine to save as individual images.

If pdf isn’t accepted by your printer or an option in your system, a .tiff file is better than a .jpg. If a .jpg is all you can manage, make it the highest quality you can and don’t keep resaving it as each time you’ll lose some image quality in the process. PNG or GIF files are not good options for print-ready files.


There. Those are my tips to diy-designing your wedding papers to get the best possible results. They represent the questions we have to answer most often at work or items we most have to explain to new customers and designers. Armed with this you’ll have one more tool in your arsenal, should you choose the diy route for your wedding stationery. It may not make the design process any simpler, but at least now you stand less chance of a nasty surprise when you open that box!

Printing Terms for the Bride-to-Be, Part II

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Paper, Inks and Bleeds

Last time we talked about what is a page and how many of them you have. In this second part we’ll talk about paper basics, all the pretty colors, and why your printer might ask if your image bleeds. (It’s not as gross as it sounds, I promise.)

Look at all the pretty colors!

Look at all the pretty colors!


Let’s go back and talk a little more about paper (aka stock), okay? Paper comes in different weights, finishes, and sometimes different colors (beside the standard white and ivory/natural), though as mills react to the tighter economy, a lot of the variation is going away–especially colors. Standard copy paper is described as 20lb or 50lb offset. The slightly heavier paper you might use for a resume or other stationery is usually a 24lb or 28lb writing and often has a texture to it, like linen or laid. Offset (when describing paper*) means that it’s otherwise uncoated, writing sheets are also uncoated.

Text stocks have a significant amount of bend in them, going up to 100lb, though 70lb and 80lb are the most common. Cover stocks, on the other hand, are what you’d call card stock and also come in various weights and also in points (10pt, 12 pt, 14pt, etc.). Both text and cover paper can be uncoated or coated. Coated stocks can either be glossy or dull/matte. What the coating does is it prevents the ink from seeping so far into the paper and dulling out the color.

Paper weights are determined by how heavy a stack of 500 sheets of a certain size (it’s different for text and cover) from the mill would weigh. So the higher the number, the heavier or thicker the sheet of paper.
Points speak to a specific sheet thickness, measured in how many thousandths of an inch a sheet is thick.

Your project might use one stock throughout if you’re dealing with your invitation suite, but if you have a program or other booklet, you might want a heavier or colored stock for the cover and a lighter stock for the insides.

For a program that is all the same paper throughout, you’d request a quote for an “8-page self-cover” (or however many pages it is), but if you want that heavier stock for the cover, then it would be a “4-page plus cover“, with the understanding that a wrap-around cover will always be 4 pages. They’ll know what you mean.


If you’re going for elegant, all you might need is just some crisp black ink on a piece of white or ivory cover to get the job done. If, however, you want color(s), things get a little more specific. You’ve got two ways to approach color: spot colors or full-color process. Spot color uses specific colors as defined by the Pantone Matching System (or PMS; yes, really). If you are trying to match a specific item (like the ribbon on your dress or the color of your beloved’s eyes), PMS is the way to go. Keep in mind, though, that black is a color, too, so if you’ve got a red and black design, you’ve got a 2-color job.

By that same token, with the exception of specialized processes, white is generally not considered a color for ink purposes. In a print job, the white areas are left blank and the color of the paper shows through. If the paper you’ve chosen isn’t stark white, not only will your white spaces be something else, but the colors you’ve chosen will deepen as well.

Full-color/4-color process means CMYK printing , and it’s what you’ll want if you’re printing anything including color photographs or lots of different colors. Instead of mixing a specific color of ink at the beginning, the paper goes through 4 sets of printing plates, each laying down different strengths of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black to build the final project. In the big digital copiers at your local office supply or copy shop it’s the same process, only they use toner instead of ink.

When you call up your local printer (or fill out an online request for quote), you’ll need to know how to describe the color options you want. Now, if you’re talking about your black and red invitation with printing on only 1 side you’d describe it as “2 over zero” or write it “2/0”, which tells the printer that you’ve got two colors printing on one side and nothing on the back. That 4-color process job, on the other hand, would be “4/0” (or “4/4” if both sides printed).

With more involved jobs–again, thinking back to your program–it becomes a case of the highest common denominator. You might have a full color photograph or graphic on 1 page of your 8-page self-covering program, but the whole thing counts as 4/4 unless you are absolutely, positively sure they are going to run it as a single 8-page signature. This can be something to discuss with the printer you choose, to see if there’s a way to work it so that you save some money, but in the case of digital copiers, sometimes that means putting it through 2 different machines and you really wouldn’t save anything. Still, it never hurts to ask.

If that same sample program has a separate cover, like we discussed above, and only the cover is in color, then you would describe the job in parts. A cover with color printing on the front with nothing on the inside cover (front or back) and the “text” simply black and white would be:

a 4-page program, 1/1, plus 4/0 cover

A couple more color tips:

  • If it’s a spot color you’re after and you don’t already know the PMS number, bring something in that they can match or find someone with a Pantone guide to help you out (you cannot always go by what you see on the screen, and I’ll explain why in part 3).
  • In commercial printing it is possible to combine the two and run jobs that go through the 4-color process and then print a spot color on top of all of that, but that’s more than most people generally need.

Does It Bleed?

Sounds kinda gruesome, right?

Bleed just means that the image extends to the very edge of the paper. Or, really, that it goes off the edge of the paper.

Unlike your home printer, there is no “borderless printing” option on printing presses. They need something to hold onto on at least 1 of the edges (aka gripper). Furthermore, most of these presses run big sheets, so your invitation might be printed 4-, 6-, or 8-up to maximize the available space. Many of the online printers do gang runs (combining similar jobs into one print run), spreading out the running and maintenance costs that come with just turning on the press each time.

So you’ve got several items up on a single sheet and then they get cut down to size.

Now, these cutters are incredibly precise, but even still, it’s just not practical to print an image to size and then make sure you cut riiiiight along the edge so there’s no white border around your printed item. Instead, they’re smart and print bigger than the finished size and cut into the printed edges to avoid any borders.

Which is also why you need to know if your image bleeds, so you can set up your files to make that possible–which leads us right into Part 3 where we’ll discuss the ins and outs of setting up your files for commercial printing.

*Offset has a couple of other meanings in the print world. If something is offset from another something, it just means it’s not lining up perfectly–copiers will do this when printing multiple sets so you can easily separate the one set from another without counting individual pages. Also, if the ink hasn’t completely dried on a sheet and it’s placed on another (with or without any sort of additional pressure being applied), transfer can happen from one sheet to the other and this is called offsetting, too. It’s generally a bad thing, but it can happen on humid days or with printed pieces that have a lot of ink coverage, so jobs in those conditions sometimes take longer to avoid just that problem.