Printing a Unique Restaurant Menu That Will Last | Lamination vs. Synthetic Menus

When ordering new menus for your restaurant, you want to make sure you are getting something that not only looks great, but will also last a long time. Since the menus are constantly around customers, water and heat, ordinary coated paper will not do the trick. There are a few ways around this, and the finishing can dictate the overall design of your menu. The most Common of these options are Edge Sealed Lamination, Flush Cut Lamination or Synthetic Menus.

After designing your menu to look exactly how you want, use the information below to help decide what type of finishing will work best for you:

Lamination

After your menu is printed, you can choose to add a layer of lamination to protect it. The Lamination process involves taking your printed sheet and rolling it between two layers of lamination. The packet is then heated to bond the lamination together and seal in the menu, creating an air-tight protection. Our lamination comes in two thicknesses: either 10 mil (5 mil per side) or lighter 6 mil (3 mil per side). A mil is equal to 1/1000 of an inch (0.0254 mm).

After the menus are sealed, they go into the cutting stage. There are two ways that menus can be cut:

Flush Cut Lamination

Flush Cut Laminated Restaurant Menu Books | mmprint.com
Flush Cut Laminated Restaurant Menu Books

Flush cut finishing is when the menu is cut along the edge of the menu. This gives the menu a clean-cut look because there is no lamination hanging off of the edge of the paper. Because it cuts slightly into the menu, the edge will be exposed. This can result in water seeping into the edges, and the lamination starting to peel off the paper.

Flush cut is a good option for a restaurant that is looking for aesthetics over durability. It is also more cost effective, and could be a better option if the menu is replaced somewhat frequently.

Edge Sealed Lamination

Edge Sealed Lamination Menu Books | mmprint.com
Edge Sealed Lamination Menu Books

Edge Sealed Menus are the most durable option we offer for menu printing. After the sheets are laminated, they are then hand trimmed, leaving a border of plastic around the page. This ensures that the menu stays completely enclosed, making it absolutely waterproof. The plastic border that remains is usually between a 1/16″-1/8″.

Edge Sealed Finishing is the best option for restaurant menus that are constantly being handled by customers and servers or exposed to kitchen elements. Since they are hand trimmed as opposed to machine cut, they tend to be more expensive than Flush Cut menus.

Synthetic Menu Prints

Synthetic Trifold Restaurant Menu | Waterproof & Tearproof Menu | mmprint.com
Synthetic Trifold Restaurant Menu

Synthetic Menus are a bit different than laminated menus. Instead of the plastic going on top of the paper, these menus are actually made out of a plastic material. Synthetic looks and feels similar to regular paper, but has the unique qualities of being tear-proof and water-proof. Since there is no extra layer of plastic, synthetic menus are thinner and more flexible. They do range in thickness though, from paper weight to cardstock weight.

Synthetic menus are most commonly used as trifolds since they are lightweight. When they are used for spiral bound menu books, they tend to be a bit flimsy compared to the rigid laminated version.

Although the synthetic paper itself is water-proof and tear-proof, the paper and ink is still exposed to the elements. It can withstand being wiped off or sitting in water, but is not guaranteed against chemicals or creasing. Although it is a great option for menus, it is no substitute for durability of a laminated menu.


 

Need a quote on Durable Restaurant Menus? Head over to mmprint.com to get free pricing, turnaround time and design tips. We’d be happy to any questions you might have!

5 Interesting Ideas for your Custom 2016 Calendar

With the new year creeping up fast, it’s about that time to start thinking about your new calendar for 2016. With so many different options out there, it’s hard to narrow down exactly what kind of calendar to go with. Sometimes if you are ordering a large quantity, it may be worth it to go with a custom designed calendar for your office, team, organization or school. Everyone will love having a personalized calendar, and you have the freedom to make yours look and say whatever fits your project best.

The next tricky part is to pick the type and layout of your calendar. The standard size is 11″ x 8.5″ but there are plenty of other options you can choose to customize your calendar. Take a look at some of the following examples to spark your creativity for your 2016 calendar!

12″ x 12″ Square Calendars

These prominent wall calendars are perfect to display in conference rooms, large offices or anywhere that could use extra large pages. These look really nice wire-bound which is also a plus because they can lay flat if notes need to be made or events added.

12x12-calendars

Small 8″ x 8″ Calendars

We recently had a customer print their watercolor artwork on a smaller version of a wall calendar. These are perfect for cubicles or small desks that don’t have a ton of space to hang full sized calendars.

8x8calendar

Die-Cut Calendars

If you want something that really stands out, consider what Land Rover did with this custom die-cut design. They created a topographic map that could be peeled off day by day, mimicking layers of the earth. A calendar like this is so successful because it pairs functionality with brand accentuation. A calendar like this would be different for every company, but could serve as a great marketing tool.

MTI5MDAzOTUzNjUxNDYwNzM5

MTI5MDAzOTUyMzA5MTE1MzU4

 

Visualized Calendars

There is nothing says that says the days of the year have to be printed on paper. Visualized Calendars are a creative concept that can take on many different shapes and forms. Look for other media that can represent your calendar – it will attract more attention than a traditional day counter and can draw more notice to your brand. The calendar below uses a rack-and-pinion-like system that can easily be rolled to represent each day of the month.

visualized calendar

 

Full Spread Calendars

Most monthly spreads are set up to have a large picture at the top, and then a grid at the bottom representing all of the days of that month. This is used to write notes and add events to certain dates. In the digital age however, less people use physical calendars to schedule their lives. Instead, they will use their smartphones to plan their days and keep them better connected.

full page calendar

This doesn’t make the calendar obsolete though. The example above is a repurposed calendar that puts the focus on the artwork. Instead of splitting each page spread into two sections, they extended their artwork the length of the page and incorporated the calendar into the artwork. This design does not leave much room for someone to write on the display, but that is not always necessary. Instead, this layout plays to the aesthetic strength of the design.

 

Feel free to share your 2016 calendar ideas in the comments below, or head over to mmprint.com to get a quote for your calendar printing!

Crops, Bleeds and Margins: a Brief Walkthrough for Designers

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Crops, Bleeds and Margins are three of the most important factors in setting up a design for print, but often go overlooked. These elements basically ensure that all images and text that extend to the edge of the page are not cut off, and that there are no white borders around the page from where it is cut.

Practically all of our print jobs are printed on sheets that are larger than the finished size, and then cut down to the actual size. This is what we call bleeds and allows for images and colors to be printed to the very edge of a page.

Crop marks are another very helpful piece to include in a design. These basically point to where the actual file will be cut. This tells the printer where to cut, and how much of the bleed to cut off.

Lastly, there are margins which define the live space of a printed piece. This area is a box inside of the page that is usually an 1/4″ from the edge of the page all around. The margins provide a safe area where all text and images should be so that they are not accidentally trimmed.

The best way to understand crops, bleeds and margins is to see it visually. Check out the video below that goes over all three elements and explains how to save a PDF properly for print:

Standard letter page in Adobe InDesign:

Business Card Setup in Adobe Illustrator:

You can read more in depth guides about designing for print in our info center or get a quote for your next print job at mmprint.com!

Useful Pointers for Creating an Attractive Header Card

When shoppers are browsing a store, they are often walking past hundreds of different products and brands trying to grab their attention. A product’s packaging can be one of the most important factors in a customer’s buying decision. Having a poorly designed package can give the impression your merchandise is cheap or inferior. Make sure your packaging boosts your brand image instead of hurting it.

There are many different ways to package your goods, but one of the easiest and most cost effective is the use of header cards (also commonly called bag toppers). This packaging consists of a printed piece of cardstock folded in half and stapled to a polybag. This simple packaging process will get your products on the shelf in no time!

Custom header card printing

Choosing a Header Card Size

Many printing companies offer a few sizes for header cards, and some will be open to printing any custom sizes. When choosing your size, make sure the width of your header card is at least an 1/8th” longer than the width of your polybag. As for the height, it is more of a personal preference, but generally a heavier product will have a longer header card.

Designing your Bag Topper

Having a skilled graphic designer create the artwork for your packaging is another important aspect for making your product stand out. When designing for print, there are a couple of important points to remember, such as designing with bleed so that you don’t have white margins around your card.

When designing your card, remember that the design will be printed on one sheet of paper that is folded, so you will need the top half to appear upside down.

Here are some design templates for a common size header card:

Templates
5″ x 4″ (5″ x 2″ Folded) – InDesign or PDF

Header cards can be designed on both the front and back. It could be useful to print instructions or additional information on the inside of the card to keep it hidden.

Choosing a Hole Punch

For Bag Toppers, there are two standard options when it comes to hole punching: the standard hole punch or the sombrero punch (pictured below).

Sombrero punch header cards

Some smaller products may be better suited without a poly bag. For this type of packaging, consider printing your design on a thicker cardstock with slits to attach your product to. This is a great option for jewelry and other small items.

Looking for expert advice on variable data printing or need a custom quote? Feel free to reach out in the comments section or visit our header card printing page!

The Basics of Designing and Self-Publishing Your Independent Comic Book

Among the likes of many types of popular media such as music, films, and literature; comic books have gone through different eras and styles over the years. Just as popular music cycles through different genres, comics have gone through different styles of narratives and illustrations to coincide with current events and pop culture, which may make it difficult when deciding how to design your independent comic book or graphic novel for print.

For example, the Golden Age (pre-1950s) of comic book publishing focused on the idealistic hero, who combated whatever evils were plaguing the world at that moment. The Silver Age (late 1950s-1970s) incorporated advancements in science and modern inventions into the stories and the hero’s characteristics. This was followed by periods tackling social issues (Bronze Age) and turning away from the traditional hero (Modern Age).

Display of Comic Books from older time periods

Series of Silver and Gold Age Comics – Source: Ryan Brunsvold

 

Throughout this whole transition there has been a resurgence of comics in recent years being re-imagined into other media such as television and movies (see The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy). Examples like this may be correlated with the spike in interest in comics and. This coupled with the fact that computer-based design programs have made it easier to set up and create beautiful illustrations and animations allows amateur artists and independent comic publishers to create their own comics and make them look professional grade.

However, even with a modern hero and a striking design, a comic book is not complete without a proper printing job. For your comic book to seem legitimate and get noticed, it would be best to have them professionally printed so that they have proper color matching, bleeds to cover the whole page surface, and correct alignment between full page spreads. Luckily, we offer affordable pricing for comic printing, and expert advice and design tips.

Four important factors to consider when designing your independent comic book

comics-blog

  1. The standard size of a comic book

Just as the themes of comics have changed over the years, so have the traditional size of the pages. Although the first comics were printed about an inch wider than they are today, they have standardized over the years. Today, the traditional size of a comic book is 6.625” x 10.25”, but comics can also be printed in custom sizes. Graphic novels on the other hand don’t have a standard size, but common sizes include 5.5” x 8.5” or 6” x 9”.

  1. Choosing the right style of paper for your comic

Do you want your comic to be glossy and shiny? Or how about flat and subtle? Your printer will be able to help choose the right paper stock for your project and can provide printed samples for you to compare. Typically if you want the comic to have a shine to it, you will be printing on gloss or matte coated stock. Gloss coated will be brighter than matte, but matte will still have some reflective quality.

Uncoated paper on the other hand will have a flat, natural look and is more commonly used for printing comic books. It is also common to print on uncoated inside pages, with a gloss cover.

Important Note: Check with your printer to see if they will be printing digitally with toner, or on an offset press. Toner naturally causes the printed ink to shine, so even if a comic is printed on uncoated paper, it may still appear glossy. An offset press will leave virtually no shine.

 

  1. The weight of your paper

You should also decide how heavy or thick you want your paper to be. We prefer to print comics on 60lb or 70lb uncoated text stock to give them a weight that’s sturdy enough to last through multiple reads, but not too heavy to be cumbersome. This thickness also prevents dark colors from showing on the reverse side of a page. If you are unfamiliar with different weights of paper, consider that standard copy paper used in your home printer is normally 20-24lb.

In printing terms, a plus-cover booklet is when the cover is a thicker stock than the inside pages and a self-cover is when the cover stock is the same as the inside. So you can also consider having a thick glossy cover, with thinner uncoated pages on the inside.

 

  1. Choosing your binding

Almost always, a comic book will be saddle stitched; meaning large sheets of paper are folded in half and stapled to the correct finished page size. This is a cost efficient option, and creates a lightweight and easy to store comic. Graphic novels on the other hand may be better suited as perfect bound books to give them more of a traditional “book” feel.

 

Any additional questions about comic book printing and specific features available should be discussed with your preferred printer. There are several additional options which can make your comics stand out such as spot UV coating.

 

Avoid Issues By Saving Your Artwork Properly In InDesign For Printing

There are a few simple rules to follow when saving a print-ready design made with InDesign and it all starts with setting up your InDesign document properly with bleeds.

 The following paragraphs will enlighten you to a few golden rules to follow when it comes to saving/exporting your design to make sure it’s ready to go to print. 

The Need To Bleed

Adding bleeds from the start, BEFORE YOU EVEN START, is crucial. Think about it, you’re working on a 200+ page catalog and then you find out you have to go back and extend the bleed of every single object in every single page!! I really think if that happened to me I’d be Keanu-level bummed…

Should Have Added Bleeds Keanu

Packaging vs. Exporting

There are two common options when sending your file to your favorite printing company. You can choose your preferred route, although one is easier and produces a smaller file size:

1. Export to PDF

You can easily export your file to PDF format and send one single PDF to your printing company.  Saving as PDF embeds all your fonts and linked images into one file; nowadays this is the preferred method.

2. Package…

Packaging all of your document fonts, linked images, instructions and native InDesign file is another option you can exercise when sending your files to print. This option does create a pretty large file size that might make it a little harder to transfer to your printer vs. a PDF that could be half the size.


Save It Right The First Time

To save your InDesign file as PDF:

  • Click  File > Export  .
  • Enter your filename
  • Click Save
  • Select the [Press Quality] Preset

InDesign Export To PDF - Press Quality

Compression

I recommend leaving the compression to default values. For printing you only need 300 DPI images. If any of the images in your document are above 450 DPI, InDesign will automatically downsample the image to 300 DPI to reduce file size.

Color Image Compression:

InDesign Monochrome Image Compression Settings

Grayscale Image Compression:

InDesign Grayscale Image Compression Settings

Monochrome Image Compression:

InDesign Monochrome Image Compression Settings

Marks and Bleeds

To be safe, you can always simply select “All Printer’s Marks” although the most important options to have selected here are Crop Marks and Bleed Marks. Crop and Bleed Marks usually go together when any of the art, anything being printed, reaches the edge of the paper. A crop mark denotes where the paper will be cut to the final size while a bleed ensures that a white border is not present at the edge of the paper when cut.

Learn more about Crop Marks, Bleed Marks and the Cutting Process in printing.

Marks

InDesign Marks and Bleeds Settings

Bleeds and Slugs

If you set up your document correctly before starting your design as I stated at the beginning of this post, then it’s safe to select “Use Document Bleed Settings”. The slug is primarily to be used by you during design so we’ll just leave that unchecked.

InDesign Bleed and Slug Settings

Output

The default settings found in the Output options are pretty general and apply pretty well in all situations within the U.S.
Check with your printer first since it is possible that they have a preferred profile that works best with them. Otherwise, leave it as is – CMYK – U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) V2.

InDesign Output Settings

 

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Time for you to contact a modern printing company who will be able to use your PDF when saved with these settings. Honestly, you need to look no further as you are already in the right place: The Marsid M&M Group offers both digital printing and offset printing, foil stamping and embossing, custom die cutting and mailing services all with fast turnaround, all done in-house.

 Give us a call at 1877-mmprint or visit our website www.mmprint.com 

InDesign Tips to Speed Up Your Catalog Design

 

We sort out great websites for you to download free for commercial use fonts or free for commercial use vector art and write tutorials and tips for designers.

 

Why do we even bother? Well, honestly, it makes our job easier!

 

Truth is, we can use the most state-of-the-art printing presses like the Konica Minolta C8000 we acquired recently, but if the files are not print-ready and well crafted, the outcome can literally be garbage…that goes in our paper recycle bins of course!

In my experience:

  • 80% of the outcome of a print job is dependent on the design files
  • Most times, a graphic designer acts as a liaison between us (the catalog printer) and the customer
  • Many times the customer is the designer

Therefore, we sincerely want the designer/customer to be proficient with their design tools and so, we offer the resources to learn how to do so.

 

Keep reading to learn how InDesign can speed up your catalog design and make you a truly efficient designer…

Catalog Printing - Indesign Master Pages

Adobe InDesign Gives You Design Superpowers

 

Well, not really. But it does make the process of designing a catalog 10x easier!

One of the most tedious part of designing a catalog for print is well, repetition.

What would you find repeated throughout a catalog?

  • Headers
  • Footers
  • Backgrounds
  • Logos
  • Watermarks

 

Adobe InDesign Master PagesWhat can we do about it?

Adobe InDesign answers that question for us with “Master Pages”.

Notice how in the top area of the image there is a graphic of a page labeled “A-Master”. Notice the pages below it are all labeled “A”. That means that any changes done to the A-Master page will also appear in all pages labeled “A”.

Now isn’t that nifty??

You can place any repetitive information that will be found throughout your catalog in the A-Master page and it will be found on all of your pages marked A.

If you find that you need to have some of the pages with a different layout, you have 2 options…

  • Simply drag the page labeled “[None]” to the page that will be different. This removes the A-Master layout
  • Create a new Master such as B-Master so that you can use a totally different layout on other pages

 

This feature alone will save you countless hours that will be better spent designing the body of the catalog.

 

Now that’s efficiency.

 

Here is a youtube video from Lynda.com that explains how to use InDesign Master Pages in detail:

 

Please comment with any InDesign advice or tips you may have and don’t forget to share this post!

Adding Video to your Printed Marketing Materials for Free

 

In this post we will explore in detail how to beef up your printed marketing materials by adding your own custom video and making it easy for your customers to share the video as well.
I am sure some of you reading this right now are imagining small screens, wires and batteries or mini-DVDs glued to the inside of your media kits. Well, that’s not the case, it’s not that complicated and it’s free!

Adding the video to your printed marketing materials is done in 3 easy steps and all 3 tools needed are available freely on the Internet.

Video Distribution Step One

Video Distribution

The first step, assuming you already have a video that you would like to distribute to your customers, is to upload your video to the web. There are quite a few websites that will host your video file for free, some of the most popular being Youtube and Vimeo.

 If you are tech-savvy or have an IT person who handles your website, you can also upload your videos to your own website hosting server.

By uploading your videos to the web, you make them available and easily accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most video hosting sites as you may already know, have a commenting feature where people can leave comments about your video and you can respond to their comments.

 

Link Creation Rope

Creating a Link

In this second step we will create a link to the video. Both Youtube and Vimeo automatically create a link for you and you simply copy and paste it. Most video hosting sites will do this for you as well.

After we have uploaded the video and generated a direct link to the video, we are going to make it a link that we can track to see how many times it has been used, shared and who shared it.

There are many free URL shorteners available that give you free tracking tools that provide basic Analytics with information regarding the use of the link you shortened. Here are a few of the most popular ones, I recommend you create a user account so that you can log in and view your results:

I tend to be partial to bit.ly because I like how easy it is to create a shortened url and the way they present the link tracking information.

To create a shortened URL, simply paste the video URL into the big blue text box and click shorten. Easy as that.

The Bit.ly analytic panel gives you different ways to look at what happened to your URL throughout its life:

  • A visual chart with the amount of daily clicks
  • Cool feature called Conversations which shows who is talking and sharing the same link on social networks plus a count of how many times it has been shared on various social networks.
  • QR code and a sidebar to share the link on your social networks right from the bit.ly page (go to settings to authorize this).

Being able to analyze the results of your efforts is a very valuable tool. If you can tell what did well and what went wrong with your marketing, you can use this information to improve your marketing and drive better results on your next campaign.

 

QR Code Connecting Print to Video

Code Connection

The final step in adding video to your printed marketing materials is to create the connection between your video and the paper your marketing material is printed on.

Most of you may be familiar with QR codes by now since they have been around for a while. You might see them quite often on catalogs, magazines, postcards and many other direct mail printed materials; not to mention packaging and even in commercial stores like BestBuy use them to show video product demos in the stores.

If you would like to learn more about QR codes, I highly recommend you read my post that contains information about QR codes and a list of Free QR Code readers and generators.

For this specific tutorial we will be using a QR code to direct the user’s mobile smart phone to a video that you uploaded per the instructions in step one. Why use a QR code? Well, how many people do you think would want to type a URL that looks like this – bit.ly/egm7XG – into their smart phone browser? By using a QR code all the user has to do is tap his QR code reader app and scan the code.

Let’s get to it! Creating a QR code is simple. Go to one of the free websites I listed in the blog post about QR Codes. Try them all to see which one you find easier to use and feel free to share with us in the comments below.

For this example I will use the www.BeQRious.com website to generate my QR code:

BeQRious.com screenshot

Simply paste the shortened URL you created in step 2 into the text box labeled “Enter web URL:” and click the Create Code button.

You will see on the right an image of a cellphone with a QR code on the screen. That is the code that was generated by your special and unique URL.

Now, if you are feeling a bit antsy, go ahead and fire up your QR Code reader app on your smart phone and scan the the code right on your computer screen. Make sure it works correctly and directs your smart phone to the video you uploaded in step 1.

If it doesn’t work, go back to step 1 and make sure you used the correct link for the video, in the URL shortener and that you used the correct link generated by the URL shortner, on BeQRious.com (or whatever qr code generator you decided to use).

Wa-la! That’s it. Download the QR code and insert into the design of your marketing materials.

I recommend you download the vector/PDF version of the code (if available) as it is created in vector format and can be enlarged or reduced to just about any size without losing any quality. I personally try to keep it no smaller than 1 inch x 1 inch.

IMPORTANT!!!

Rule #1 : TEST, TEST, TEST.
You must make sure that the code is not too small or too blurry to be read by the cameras on smart phones. You must test the QR code among different phone models and different QR code reader apps to make sure it works appropriately.

Printing Terms Infographic – Color Quick Guide

We strongly believe that an informed customer can make all the difference in print jobs going smoothly and without misunderstandings. I’m sure it goes for any industry.

We strive to offer a unique and pleasant experience when working with us. By providing our customers with informative collateral we not only educate our customer, but we also ease the lines of communication which instills confidence in our customer that what they are ordering is exactly what they want. It’s logical, it makes sense.

With the recent popularity and practicality found in infographics, we decided to release a series of Quick Guides of printing terms and print related infographics to offer to our customers and anyone else who can use them. Please feel free to share this!

For a more in-depth look at color, visit our Colorful Guide to Understanding Color.

Printing Terms Color Quick Guide