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Copy Design | Image Limitations | Backprinting | Marginal Words

Copy Design

Copy for a continuous form can consist of rules, text, graphics, screens and halftones. When designing the copy for the form, you must keep in mind that there are image limitations on the press equipment and the laser printers that print the forms (see Image Limitations below).

Screened Copy:

  • Use it to highlight areas.
  • Use it to shade backgrounds.
  • A variety of densities are available.
  • Screened copy is supplied in a negative or on a disk.
  • Use 5% to 15% screen in areas that will be imprinted.
  • Use halftones for pictures.

Image Limitations

Web Press Equipment:

Continuous forms are printed on web presses. Web presses have plate and blanket cylinders, which along with other components, produce a printed impression on paper. The plate and blanket cylinders have a slot or gap in them where the plate and the blanket are attached. Nothing can print in this area. The nonprintable area is known as the "cylinder gap" or the "plate lockup". The gap area is usually 3/8" in depth and extends the full width of the sheet.

Note: All colors have this 3/8" gap because each color is printed on a separate cylinder.

Three Ways To Allow for the 3/8" Gap on a 9 1/2" x  11" Continuous Form

Example: A 9 1/2" x  11" form would have a maximum image of 9 1/2" x  10 5/8".

  • The manufacturer can work around image size limitations by trying to adjust the copy within the limitations or by running the copy as a split image (run on two separate printing units on the same press).
  • The width of the continuous form is usually not a problem. The width limitations are determined by the width of the printing cylinders. If you have an image width problem, consult your manufacturer.

Note: When discussing the image limitation options with your manufacturer, you will have to inform them of the number of colors you will have on the front and back of your form, so that they are able to determine which option they should use.

Back Printing

Backprinting is any copy printed on the back side of the form.

  • The same design features are available as on the front of the form.
  • The same image limitations apply to the back as on the front of the form.

Marginal Words

Marginal words are printed on a dry offset unit using a rubber stamp type of material.

  • They are usually printed in a standard red ink.
  • They are used to make reference to the form they are printed on or to provide special instructions.
  • Marginal words are used for part to part designations, such as Original Copy, Duplicate Copy, and Triplicate Copy.
  • They may be used as a method to add an additional color to a form, but the quality will not be as good as the quality produced by a regular offset printing unit.
  • There may be size limitations depending on your supplier's capabilities.


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