How to Estimate a Print Job

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Whether you plan to print a project in-house using your own equipment or farm the job out to a printing company, it’s important to know what your costs are in advance to keep your budget on track. If you have a complex or high-volume project and opt to use a professional printer, they'll provide an estimate for you.

Printing by Yourself

If you’re printing a project using your own equipment, factors that impact cost include the quality, weight and gloss of paper you’ll use, whether you’ll use full-color print cartridges or go with black ink only, the volume of photos or text to be printed and the time it will take for you or a staffer to do the work. If you regularly have printing projects that require things like collating, cutting, binding and folding, consider the cost-benefit of buying the specialized equipment you'll need for these tasks vs. contracting out the work.

Pricing Supplies and Materials

If you're printing black ink on light stock white paper, your costs will be based on volume. For example, you can typically buy multi-purpose white copy and printer paper at office supply stores for as little as a penny a sheet as of publication. Card stock for business cards and glossy paper used for brochures or full-color photo printing is typically 10 cents to15 cents per sheet, though buying by the case can reduce costs. Average-size black ink jet printer cartridges start at about $15 each, with color cartridges of the same size costing about 40 percent more. Specialized colored or texturized paper and single-color ink cartridge prices vary by manufacturer.

References

About the Author

Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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