Overs: What should I expect to pay for?

"Overs" drive me crazy. Different printers have different policies. Some charge me, but the rates vary widely. Some say they don't charge for overs, while others say that the industry standard is a maximum ten percent overs. Please clarify.

There are no longer trade customs in printing. Prior to l944, 10% was indeed "normal and customary" industry practice. Since then, each printer has been free to establish their own respective policies regarding overs BUT that policy must be clearly communicated in writing as one of the terms and conditions of that company. Even then, you have the option to negotiate some other figure. Also, make certain that any quotation includes the unit price for "additional thousandths." This is the price at which you should be billed for overs.

If you are buying commercial printing or publications, you are, in fact, paying for overs whether or not overs appear as a line item on your invoice. There are inexact, unanticipated aspects of the printing process that make it difficult for the printer to predict the materials needed for makeready. It's necessary, therefore, to order and use excess materials to ensure that you receive the quantity ordered.

What is a reasonable percentage of overs? Unfortunately, there is no all-purpose answer. "Reasonable" is a function of quantity times production complexity. Twenty-percent overs may be reasonable for an eight-color job with very tight register and strict color match requirements and a quantity of only 1000. On the other hand, 1% may be excessive for a one-over-one run of a million coupons. The percent of acceptable overs should be negotiated with the printer on every job and should be part of the job specs. Establishing an understanding "up front" will prevent disputes at the invoicing stage.
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