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Identify optimal ink tack and press chemistry for the specific substrate, and identify optimal ink densities. At the optimal density level, measure the print characteristics, compare them to the Specifications for Web Offset Publications (SWOP) coated-substrate targets and adjust plate output accordingly.
Use PMS and other specialty inks sparingly. Most presses these days are set up for efficient four-color processing, and adding additional color units can be expensive. Stick to four-color builds unless it's a logo issue and the advertiser is defraying the costs.
Also, be aware that many of the newer wide web presses may not have additional units for PMS anyway, so now besides additional ink costs, PMS ink may result in the need to print in smaller and more expensive forms.
Not all inks are equal either. If your magazine uses a lot of PMS inks, try to discourage the use of reflex blue. It is unique as it requires longer drying time and has peeling issues. Talk to your printer about any inks it recommends avoiding and why.
Mike Chapman, print manager at Habitat for Humanity, says, "We try to choose a couple of generic 'house' papers, inks and other supplies that will be what the 'house' [printer] uses for everything." Minimizing options to creative and advertisers alike streamlines efficiencies. "This helps our vendors negotiate better pricing for both parties, as we're being very consistent in our required product line, and our overall volume usage for a particular item is higher," he says. "It's the old story, 'the more you're able to buy … the better the discounts.'"
It is common today for cover designers to be independent contractors. Often they are excellent designers, but lack knowledge of the importance of the placement of a UPC symbol and label or inkjet box. There are guidelines for these items, and they should be made readily available to designers and editors.