How to Get a Stationery Printing Quote

Here’s the information you’ll need to get printing quotes on your stationery:

  • Unless you request otherwise, your stationery is designed to sizes standard in the USA.
  • Your designs specify two Pantone solid special-mix ink colors. 
  • All letterhead, envelope and pocket folder designs specify two colors printed on one side only (abbreviated by printers as 2/0, which means two colors on one side of the paper, no colors on the other). 
  • Two-sided business cards are printed with two colors of ink on both sides, abbreviated as 2/2.
  • No bleeds on letterhead, envelopes or cards. (This means none of the printing extends or “bleeds” off the edge of the page, which usually costs more because it requires using a larger sheet of paper and then trimming the edges after printing.)
  • Pocket folder designs may bleed, but since folders are die-cut from larger sheets anyway, most printers don’t charge extra for bleeds on folders. Shipping labels may also bleed, usually with no additional printing costs.
  • If your printer has a standard die for a pocket folder and supplies it to me while your folder design project is in progress, I will fit your folder design to your printer’s dieline at no additional charge. If the folder design is already finished, most printers can easily adjust the design to fit their die.
  • For paper, I recommend specifying a smooth, white or off-white writing stock, such as Classic Crest(r) from Neenah, Inc. 

Ask the printer to quote several different quantities so you can see how dramatically the unit prices drop as quantities increase. It’s tempting to stock up on stationery, but keep in mind you’ll have your money tied up in stationery it may take you years to use, and you’ll have to have a cool, dry place to store it to keep the paper from yellowing and the envelope adhesive from spoiling. 

Ask the printer to show you the ink colors specified for your stationery in a Pantone color swatch book. These are the actual colors that will be printed on your stationery—not the colors you see on your computer screen.

Ask also to see and feel samples of the paper the printer plans to use.

If you are comparison-shopping, make sure all the bids you receive are based on identical specifications. One printer can easily undercut another’s quote based on the above specs by substituting a lower-cost paper and/or gang-printing multiple jobs together using four-color process rather than solid ink colors.

Tight Budget?

If your printing budet is especially tight, you may want to consider these cost-cutting compromises:

  • Specify a lower-cost text paper rather than Classic Crest or comparable writing paper.
  • Instead of having your stationery printed using two solid ink colors, use a high-volume printer who gang-prints multiple jobs at once, using four-color process printing.

The trade-offs? In a side-by-side comparison with stationery printed to the recommended specs, the lower-cost paper won’t seem quite as nice, it won’t have a watermark, and the colors may not be as vibrant and true to the Pantone solid color specified. If you look at the printing with a magnifying loupe, you will see the colors are comprised of dots in four different colors rather than flat, solid ink coverage in your chosen color.

If you’re thinking of saving money by printing your stationery on your desktop printer, I encourage you to calculate the per-sheet costs, based on the price of ink or toner cartridges and paper, envelopes and card stock. I’ve done similar calculations in the past for a client who wanted to print his own sales brochures and found the commercial printing was actually cheaper.

Of course, the quality of the commercially printed brochures was far superior to the proposed “homemade” brochures and presented a much better, more professional image to prospective customers.