Production Considerations Printing Knowledge
Production Considerations

Before making definite design and construction decisions, discuss your plans with the production department. They can suggest format ideas and help you make sure that you do not make design decisions that will result in unnecessary costs. They can tell you if the size and format you have chosen fits paper specifications, inserting requirements, envelope formats and personalization requirements. Shown below are some production considerations to keep in mind to help control costs.

Version Changes

If you are going to be using versioning in your testing or finished direct mail package, try to plan version changes so that only one piece of your package has to change. Even more savings can be gained if you can keep the version changes on one color, such as on the black plate. This would save the cost of all new plates and setup time for a whole set of plates for each version.

If the plate that changes for each version contains a halftone that remains the same on each version, you may want to have one negative that contains the halftone only and then multiple negatives that contain the text with the version changes. The halftone negative would be exposed with a text negative on one plate for each version. Using the same halftone for all versions would eliminate the expense of a halftone negative for each version.


The production department can tell you if the sizes you have chosen for the different pieces are satisfactory. Having them check the sizes could avoid unnecessary paper waste or having an envelope, letter, brochure or insert that is not a suitable size for the automatic inserting equipment.


You will want to check with the production department to see that the paper you have selected will be satisfactory for all of your needs. One thing that should be checked is that the paper you have selected has sufficient opacity to prevent show through on any pieces that will be printed on both sides. Also, if any of the direct mail pieces will be laser imprinted at any time, laser compatible paper must be used. Have production verify that the stock you have selected is readily available and if a matching envelope is required, have them check its availability.

Paper comes in standard sizes and sometimes due to the size of the letter or brochure, there is a lot of unavoidable waste. The production department can determine if economies can be gained by using the waste on one of the other direct mail pieces, such as the insert.



Paper can be ordered as a special mill run, which would allow you to order exactly the size you needed, eliminating any waste. The quantity needs to be large enough to meet minimum mill requirements and you have to have time to wait for delivery of the mill run.  Production can assist you with helping to select the paper that best suits the effect you are trying to achieve with your direct mail promotion. For more information on paper and some of the types that are available, see Materials - Paper.

Addressed Pieces

If the piece is personalized with the mailing address, it is important to check to see that it is set up so that the address will show through the window. If the piece is folded, be sure to fold a sample of the exact size showing address location to check for proper placement. The address location should be checked as soon as possible when the artwork is being prepared. Adjustments may have to be made in the location of the address, the window size or window location may have to be changed on the envelope.


Envelopes come in standard sizes and styles. If you need a special size envelope, a non-standard window size or placement of the window in a non-standard location, your envelope will have to be special ordered. Having to special order the envelopes would result in a longer delivery time of the envelopes. This may delay production of your project. Also, special order envelopes are generally more expensive than standard stock envelopes. Production may be able help suggest design changes that would allow you to use a standard envelope. This would help improve the delivery of your project and save on the cost. For more information on some of the standard types and sizes that are available, see Envelopes - Types and Envelopes - Size.

Production can tell you if the size of envelope you have selected will be compatible with the inserting equipment. If it does not fit within the inserter's size limitations, your project may have to be hand inserted. This will affect the cost of your project substantially. If your direct mail package includes a reply envelope, be sure it will fit comfortably inside of the delivery envelope.

If you are using an envelope that is anything other than white with black printing, verify with production that there will not be any problems with the envelope being machine readable. Readability should be verified on both the delivery and reply envelope.

Dated Material

Be careful when using effective dates or expiration dates on your mailing pieces. Problems can occur when there are delays in printing production or product availability. It may be better to leave any of the date information to be added as part of the laser imprinting. If a date must be printed on any of the pieces, production can help to foresee if there will be anything that could cause a problem with that date.

Project Dummies

It will assist production in evaluating your project if you make up blank samples of each piece in your mailing package. Be sure each piece is folded and inserted as it will be in the finished package. Production can then determine if all the pieces will work properly in all the processing equipment.

Discussing your project with the production specialists will help evaluate how much time will be necessary to produce all of the pieces to your package and have it ready for mailing. They can also help to keep production costs down by controlling material waste, suggesting formats that fit production specifications and evaluating sizes of all pieces to be sure that they meet requirements for the processing equipment.


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