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Tips on how to get your Catalog Printed

Are you ready to show off your goods? If so, then a slick, full-color, custom catalog is your best option. Here are some important things to consider as you choose a printer for your custom catalog job.

What is a Custom Catalog?

Much like a brochure or flyer, a catalog is a printed document that allows businesses or individuals to showcase their products or services through the use of images, text and eye-catching design. But while brochures and flyers are, in most cases, limited to one page, catalogs can range from a few pages to more than 100 pages. Custom catalogs usually come in the following page sizes: 5-1/2" x 8-1/2", 8-1/2" x 11", 8-1/2" x 11, or 11 x 17.

Why a Custom Catalog?

Brochures, flyers, mailers and other one-page advertisement style print pieces can make a great impact and lead to increased sales. But they have a limited shelf life. The recipient will usually review the content, make a decision on whether or not to make a purchase or contact the sender, and then toss the brochure/flyer/mailer. Catalogs, on the other hand, can last for weeks, months or years (depending on how often you send an updated version). Catalogs serve as a reference guide for your customers. They can keep the catalog on their desk and go to it when they need information on a certain product or want to make an order. Catalogs also allow you to include a great deal of detailed information and tons of images.

How do I Design my Catalog?

Because your catalog is most likely going to be the same length as a typical magazine, if not thicker, it is vital that you make it as easy to navigate and as aesthetically pleasing as possible. You don’t want your catalog to read and look like a phone book. When designing your catalog, keep the following questions in mind:

How many pages will I need?
Do you want to print the entire catalog in color?
Is this a one-time production, or are you going to be sending out a catalog on a regular basis (if so, you might want to consider creating a template)?
Do you want to include ordering information within the catalog or are you going to print a separate brochure/flyer to include this information?

After you have answered those questions, you can begin to design your catalog. While the large canvas that a custom catalog provides might make it tempting to make every page unique by using as many different styles, colors and layouts as possible, you should keep your catalog as consistent as possible. Readers respond favorably to symmetry and repetition when viewing catalogs. Maintain continuity in where you place images, descriptive text, pricing information, or any other information you will be including. Also, after you’ve decided on a font type, font size and color scheme, keep these design elements consistent throughout the entire catalog. Consistency will not only make it more likely that your audience will view your catalog, but it will also give your company some very valuable brand recognition.

Does Paper Matter?
Quite simply, yes. It might be tempting to skimp a bit on paper, since you’ll be paying for thousands of sheets before your custom catalog printing job is done, but doing so would end up being a huge waste of money because if your catalog looks cheap and dull it will go directly into the trash bin. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a type of paper:

Strength – Strength is important during and after the printing process. You’ll want to make sure to choose a paper that won’t tear when the ink is applied. Also, it is important to choose a paper that doesn’t rip too easily - after all, you want your catalog to last.

Cover - Depending on the style and purpose of your brochure, you might want to choose a higher gloss and thicker paper for the front and back cover of your catalog than for the inside pages. A higher quality paper for the covers can protect the valuable information inside and also help make your catalog stand out and look more professional.

Gloss - Again, this depends on the style of catalog, but you should consult your designer and/or printer when deciding whether or not to choose a glossy style of paper for your catalog. There are some cases for which newsprint style paper might be a better choice, and others that call for high-gloss paper. Choosing between the two depends, in part, on the ratio of images to text.

Time to Wrap it Up
It is very important not to forget about how your catalog will be bound. The right type of binding can make your catalog easy to read, durable and give it a highly professional look. Make the wrong choice, and your catalog will be dead on arrival - pages will fall out, content could be hidden within the margins and your catalog will look cheap and flimsy. Here is a quick rundown of the different binding options available:

Perfect binding . . . Saddle-stitched binding . . . Side-stitched binding

Case binding . . . Plastic comb binding . . . Three-ring binding

With so many different options available, it is important that you consult with your printer before making a decision. Ask them to show you examples of all the different binding options so you can get an idea of what your catalog will look like when it’s all wrapped up.

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