What is the maximum page size of a 16 page self cover in order to fit on a 23 x 35 sheet?

What is the maximum page size of a 16 page self cover in order to fit on a 23 x 35 sheet?

The answer could be 10 7/8 x 8 3/8". But, while it may sound like a cop-out, the only real answer to this question is "it depends.”

It does give us a good opportunity to talk about what the dependent factors are.

First and foremost is bleed. Most printers need a minimum of 1/8" bleed on all sides. But even here there are exceptions. For example, if there is a solid that bleeds, it may be possible to chop cut the job and save 1/4 inch of the sheet.

The other chief factor is gripper. Every press needs to use some of the sheet to actually grab hold of the paper and pull it through the press. The gripper width can vary widely from as little as 3/16ths of an inch to nearly an inch.

The bindery operation also weighs into the equation. Some binders require that the sheet be folded off-center to accommodate the machinery doing the binding. That can add a bit more to the amount of paper needed.

But we still aren't done. Most printers will require from 3/8" to a half an inch for color bars. You can see that 1/2 inch for color bars, a half inch for bleed and a half inch for gripper makes an 11" sheet impossible to print.

In our own plant, we would need to either shorten the head trim or eliminate the color bars (a bad idea) to print an 8.5 X 11 sheet on this size stock. Our 5 color Komori press requires 5/8" gripper and 3/8" for color bars. Which is why many of the publications we print on 23 x 35 paper are 10 7/8 x 8 3/8" finished size.

So if the job were printed at my company, the best answer is the one I gave at the beginning. You'll need to know the specifications of your own printer's production workflow to determine the maximum sheet size you can use.

Stephen Beals is a digital pre-press manager and has been writing for major print publications for many years. He is the author of A Practical Primer for Painless Print Production. He can be reached at stephenbeals@mac.com.
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