how to help your printer from delivering late

How to prevent your print company from delivering late

Delivering late is never good news. I am sure you have heard of the saying, “failing to plan is planning to fail” and it certainly rings true for many things in our lives and it’s especially accurate when it comes to ordering print.

To help ensure that your print order is completed on time read through the following points to remember.

To Get the Ball Rolling on your Print Job 

(The following things should all happen simultaneously).

Firstly, decide on at least three printers that you think are capable of producing your order. It can be quite a task if you are new to this so why not let Complete Print help you source the best printer and manage your order for you for free.

Make your quote request as clear as possible and ensure that you have included everything. Have a look at our guide to litho printing paper weight. Only specify what you need as the completed item. Telling the printer to take 4 sheets of A3 paper and fold them in half is not as clear as stating 8 pages of A4 size. The confusion is caused by the fact that your printer will, in all probability, have a completely different way of printing your order before folding it down and trimming it to match the final specs. Once you have received your quotation check it carefully to make sure that it is correct as now is the time to make amendments.

Do they have stock or quick access to stock of everything that your order needs? Paper is the obvious one but make sure about all the elements such as ribbon, stickers, fasteners, and any other unusual binding or finishing items. If you fail to confirm this at the time of ordering you may very well find yourself “locked in” and have your printer delivering late as the order is printed but now has to sit for an extra week or more while waiting for the arrival of an important item.

The best way to secure the items required for your order is to simply place the order. Understand that hesitation on your part can derail the whole thing.

The printer may very well have enough stock of the paper you require for your order but if you do not secure it as soon as possible another order can arrive from someone else for the same stock. They are not going to hesitate to place the order and the printer is required to put it in their name and you will be left with frustration at having to wait possibly weeks for the printer to re-stock.

Worse still is having to go through the whole process again of finding a printer who can match the good price you were offered. This can be a study in futility as you have more than likely already found the best price which means you have to go back to your colleagues or superiors to explain the issue.

Print Production Dates

There are two ways that this can be approached. If you have a specific delivery date then have the printer tell you when they would need your files in order for them to meet this date.

Or, tell the printer when you will be able to deliver the files and they will calculate a delivery date based on that. Establish whether you can upload the files or if they are going to be collected from your offices. If a disc is going to be collected make sure it is ready as the driver may only be able to return the next day and that is one day already lost.

Discuss and decide on a payment option for your Printed product

Depending on the printer and yourself, there are certain options available. Firstly, you could apply to have a credit account opened for your company. This is the best option if your business has a good credit history, the print order is of high value and you plan to continue a relationship with that printer.

Secondly, there is Cash On Delivery, you will be required to pay at least half up front with the remaining amount being paid just prior to dispatch or at the point of delivery. Lastly, you can arrange to pay for the entire invoice upfront which will give you the opportunity to see if you can negotiate a discount.

Good, so now we have agreed on the payment plan, placed an order, and confirmed stock and availability of everything and delivery date.


You will be required to supply press-ready PDF files. If you have your project in Microsoft Word check with your printer if they can accept that. (This can be the case if you are having something printed at a local copy shop but unlikely if it is a large litho printing company). Otherwise, ask who they would recommend that could create the press-ready PDF files for you.

Confirm with your printer how these files should be compiled. The following is a general guideline.

The pages should be set as an individual PDF for each page. Make sure the file is correctly named to indicate the project/title and the page number.

Make sure that the same page template is used throughout your publication. This is to ensure that there is a common datum point for all the files so they will all be placed in the same position on the page.

Set all images, graphics and typefaces to be embedded into the PDF.

As mentioned earlier double-check that your image files are of a good resolution. Work for ideally 300 dpi

If you have images with a lower dpi discuss this with your printer. You can go in for a lower resolution but once again, keep in mind that the printer cannot print sharper images than you have supplied!

Always select composite CMYK and not RGB when creating the PDF files. The printer uses a 4 colour press that will make up your full-colour image using Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK. RGB is Red, Green and Blue and that is best for your computer screen, tablet and cellphone. RGB files printed on a CMYK press are flat and lacklustre.

Ensure that the files are CMYK only and that there are no spot or Pantone colours in your design if you have asked for quotes on a standard four-colour job. If a fifth colour is required then notify the printer upfront when you are requesting quotes.

If your text is printed in black then make sure that it is 100% black only. If you produce your text with more than one colour you run the risk of any misregistration showing. Please bear in mind that although the printer will keep registration to a minimum it is a challenge. There is always a chance of small variations between sheets of paper that, although well within tolerance misregistration can be noticed.

When using reversed-out text it should be no smaller than 10pt if it is being printed on a solid that is not a single colour. (See next point).

To produce a good solid black that is covering an area that does not have fine reversed-out text you do not have to use a CMYK black but rather just add 50% cyan to your 100% black. If you are using more than two colours on an area then ensure that the total ink coverage is not greater than 300%.

Each PDF of each page must have obvious crop marks and they should start 5mm outside of the page area. work to a 5mm bleed on all your pages to ensure that there are no slivers of unprinted paper showing on the extremes of your pages. It is a good idea to keep all text at least 5mm away from the edge of the page as well.

If your project is a book or magazine that is going to be bound as a “square back” you will have the option of EVA or PUR glue, do yourself a favour and consider insisting on PUR. EVA stands for ethylene-vinyl acetate and it was the only perfect binding glue option available prior to PUR. EVA is a hot melt glue and does eventually dry out and crack. I am sure you have experienced pages falling out of old perfect-bound paperback novels. PUR stands for polyurethane reactive and is by far the better choice. It adheres very strongly to paper it never dries out and thus remains flexible.

Ask for an accurate spine width to be calculated by your printer so that you can design the cover to fit. Check if they then require the outside covers and spine as one PDF or if the front cover should be supplied with the spine as part of the image on the left-hand side. (The 2 inside pages for the cover must be supplied as individual files).

If you have a flyer that is printed on both sides and folded into panels, please supply as two single-page PDF files. this also applied to the cover and text of stitched projects.


Once your PDF files have arrived they will go through pre-flight to inspect them. Check to see if your printer can offer you the web-based proofing service called Insite which means you can proof your files fairly soon after uploading them thus saving time.  Once successful they will be converted into rasterised files which are used to create the individual printing plates. If you are not using the Insite system you will receive a printed-out proof. This printed-out proof is not for colour but for you to check to see that everything is in the correct position and the typefaces are correct as there is a slight risk of a translation error between PDF file versions. If you would like a colour proof of the cover for example feel free to ask for it to be sent at the same time as the proof. Keep in mind that you will quite possibly be charged for each colour proof that you ask for.

If you are expecting a printed proof to arrive on a day then make yourself available or appoint someone to be there to receive it and proofread it so it is available to go back to the printer when they said they need it so that it can fit in with the production plan. If it sits on your desk for a day because you are too busy on immediate things then this could mean a loss of one day in production and thus have them delivering late if they are unable to catch up.

Printing and delivery

If you feel you need to check your order while it is on the press for minor colour adjustments now is the time to ask if this is possible. Usually, a colour proof is all you need to inspect if your printer has its press characteristics matched with the colour proof. This removes the need for you to go through to the factory which can use up a lot of your time. You could affect the delivery of your order if you are not available at the time the job is scheduled to be on the press as the printer will have to lift your order and re-schedule it for another time.

Stay in contact with your printer during the process and regularly re-confirm the delivery date. This allows you time to re-arrange things on your side if there is going to be a delay on the original delivery date. It is always advisable to build in a buffer of a day or so on delivery as this will help to prevent frustration if there is a machine breakdown or something else that will cause a delay.