A Quick Guide to Catalogue Printing

by Rich B

As we all know, catalogues are very effective ways to sell ‘things’ to your customers (whatever the ‘things’ might be). They’re effective, relatively inexpensive and, importantly, everyone knows how to use them. Which is handy when many of your customers would tie themselves in knots with digital versions.

But how do you go about getting your products or services onto the pages of a shiny new catalogue? And what do you need to consider when catalogue printing to make sure you get precisely what you want and keep headaches to a minimum?

Damp Catalogues

Why you might want to consider shrink wrapping...

Well if those are the questions on your lips, you’ve come to the right place.

What is a Catalogue?
Well of course, there’s no really tight definition of what constitutes a catalogue; and what one person calls a catalogue, the next will call a brochure. However, typically, a catalogue will contain pages of products or services with a direct call to buy and will, generally, be thicker than the typical brochure.

We can put some science to the issue however, as we have access to a significant amount of data which shows exactly what specifications print buyers are calling a Catalogue when they send their catalogue to print (which is probably the most useful and real-world definition).

Catalogues can range from 8pp (pages) to over 1000, usually with a separate cover. Typically, they’re A4 (297mm x 210mm) portrait.

If you’re looking to work out the specifications for your catalogue but not sure what your options are, here are the most common specifications used:

  • Four process colours
  • Cover Paper weight is typically anything from 115gsm (grammes) up to 300gsm.
  • Text paper weight tends to start around 50gsm up to 130gsm
  • Popular stock (paper type) is Woodfree silk or gloss.
  • Finishing is commonly Saddle Stitched or perfect bound
  • Thicker catalogues (say around 100 pages) would typically be perfect bound

Most suitable Catalogue Printing Press?
The press used is very much dependent on the specification of the project. Paper weight, special finishing, quantity of run, all play a role for the print buyer in deciding which type of printer to place the project with. If there is a rule of thumb, projects using lighter paper on long runs will be printed web offset litho whereas smaller quantities on heavier paper will be run sheet fed litho. But there is plenty of overlap between the two processes so it might be worth running your specification by an independent print consultant to make sure you buy from the right sort of print supplier.

Finishing
Again, finishing is often dependent on creative objectives or durability required so your designer is probably the best person to understand your requirements and suggest finishing options. Spot UV varnish is often used to really bring individual cover design items out – or indeed add to the impact of the entire front cover. Gloss or matt laminates can be used to add a coating to the covers to improve durability and extend life-span.

Packing
Always worth considering up front as you may well have particular distribution requirements such as sending out to multiple locations or need the print packing for warehouse distribution. Options include packing in bundles, shrinkwrapping (particularly if they’ve to be stored for any time) and packing in boxes, with larger quantities packed for delivery on pallets. Packing and delivery (from the printer to you as well as from you to your customer) will also have a bearing on the specification of paper used; lighter papers will reduce postage costs.

In future articles we’ll take a look at other commonly printed items.

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