Four things to know before printing your next job  If you need to put ink on paper, be sure to consider the following ways to cut costs:

House sheets  Paper accounts for about 30% of the cost of a print job, so it’s a good place to start when considering the cost of a job. Most printers have a “house sheet” that they get at a discount rate because they order it in large quantities. Using a house sheet can save time, money, and potential problems because it is used regularly at the plant and the presses and ink are set up for it.

Final size Plan the final size of your piece to fit as many pages as possible on one press sheet with minimal paper waste. If your printer has a 40″ press, 28″x40″ sheets are available. With an 8.5″x11″ trim size, you can print one 16-page book, two 8-page books, four 4-page books, or eight single- or double-sided pages from a single sheet of paper. If you are designing an oddly sized job, get quotes from several printers—one may be able to do the job more efficiently than another. To eliminate additional mailing costs, avoid designing square or almost square pieces: the postal service charges a considerable per-piece surcharge for square designs because these are not machinable.

Make friends with the post office  Always check with the post office prior to finalizing your design to make sure your piece will mail economically. The post office has a Mailpiece Design Analyst on staff who can help you. Send a pdf of your design for approval and take a paper dummy to the post office to get actual mailing costs. You can find an analyst at this website. You will get the name, phone number, and email address of the person to contact for help.

Digital vs offset  Depending on the quantity, digital printing may be a cost-effective alternative to traditional printing. Digital gives you the added benefit of 4-color printing at no extra cost. Your mailing can be personalized from a database to print individualized copies at a reasonable cost. Use caution, however, when digitally printing stationery items. Currently, only high-end digital presses can print envelopes, and most ink from digital printing cannot be put through a laser printer. Although it’s not currently cost effective to print high quantities digitally, keep checking. This technology is rapidly changing and continually getting better, faster, and cheaper.