Detailed Job Specs

Purpose & Function

The Detailed Spec structure covers most commercial, book, and publication printing jobs. The Detailed Spec is a "fill in the blanks" tool for quickly building a comprehensive set of specifications that cover all the information needed for commercial printing projects.

The system helps the user create specifications through a series of Pop-Up windows for each section of the specification. There are four standard sections of the Detailed Spec that are always present:

  • General Instructions
  • Prepress Services
  • Bindery Services
  • Shipping & Mailing

Printing Components - In addition to the four standard sections, there can be one or more Press-Paper-Ink/Finishing components sections in a Detailed Spec. You may often need these sections, because a print job can combine several printed components to make a single product, e.g. a book which consisted of both text pages and a cover. You may add any number of Press-Paper-Ink/Finishing components to a Detailed Spec.

Finishing Services are included in the Press-Paper-Ink/Finishing component. These are distinct and different than Bindery services. By "Finishing", we generally mean die-cutting, foil stamping and embossing. Finishing operations are generally applied to a single component of a booklet or multi-component job, not the all the components. Finishing Services may be specified for and applied to each component, while Bindery Services specify how to combine different components, and are specified for the job as a whole.

The Spec Type selector on the Job Master Window has four options for Spec Type: one option for the Flexi-Spec and 3 options for the Detailed Spec. The Detailed Spec options include:

  • Print Spec Only - The original Detailed Spec option.
  • Collation/Insertion Only - Collation and Insertion only Specifications (which include Shipping and Mailing).
  • Detailed Spec With Collation/Insertion - Print-Collate-Mail specifications.

Using the Detailed Spec

The Detailed Spec consists of 3 tasks:

  1. Selecting the type of Detailed Spec - Use the option list at the top of the spec window to select the type of spec.
  2. Adding/Removing Press-Paper-Ink/Finishing components. - Use the buttons at the bottom of the spec window to add components as necessary.
  3. Editing the individual spec sections and components. - Double-click the desired section or select it and then click the "Edit Component" button at the bottom of the spec window, then use the pop-up window to edit it as necessary.

Three buttons appear at the bottom of the spec window when one of the Detailed Spec options is selected:

  • Add Press/Paper/Ink Section - You may add additional Press-Paper-Ink Components (e.g. cover, business reply card, inserts) by clicking this button. The Press-Paper-Ink Component is where you specify the inks, paper and physical dimensions of the job, as well as finishing operations.
  • Remove Section - This button will remove the highlighted Press-Paper-Ink Component.
  • Edit Component - Highlight a section and click this button, and its editor window will pop up (or, you can double click on the section you want to edit).

The preview panel on the right side of the Job Master Window shows the current appearance of your specifications. For more specifics on the various sections use these links:

General Instructions

Job Master window showing the General Instructions panel for the Detailed Job Spec

This window allows you to enter a set of General Instructions that will appear at the top of the Job Specification. Each subsection of the Job Specification also has a Notes field. The Notes field should only contain information on the overall job, and not, for example, specific bindery instructions.

Some things you might want to include here are:

  • Lot Breakdowns - In cases where a job may have several mailing codes, you may indicate the codes and quantities for each lot.

  • Other Jobs or Materials - If you are supplying order envelopes or sell sheets to be combined with the job, this is a good place to mention it.

  • Reprint Information - If the job is a reprint of an old job, mention it here.

Prepress Services

Job Master window showing the Prepress panel

Prepress Services

The Prepress window of the Detailed Spec allows you to specify information on:

  • Proofing Requirements
  • Notes

Proofing Requirements

If you have a preference on the type of proofs, indicate here. Proof types are listed generically because printers use different proofing systems. Some proofing descriptions:

Contract Color - Contract proofs for four-color process photographic reproduction are used to closely approximate the exact color that the images in the final printed job will have.

Color Layout - These proofs are intended to show the composition of the printed pages in rough colors that do not necessarily approximate the colors of the final job. These proofs are generally used to approve the page composition, color breaks and/or layout.

Reader's Proofs - These inexpensive single-color proofs are generally used to review text copy and page composition. For 1- or 2-color jobs this may be the only proof necessary. Even on the simplest jobs, a proof should be reviewed to ensure that your print supplier's equipment prints the same way that your printer prints. Some typical types of Reader's Proofs are:

Softproofs - More and more printers are sending Adobe Acrobat files via email or other digital means as a reader's proof. This saves time and expense, while still ensuring that the printer has interpreted your information properly.


Use the Notes section to include any additional information for the Prepress window. There are two buttons on the right-hand side of this section:

Get Default Prepress Note - Click this button to include a stock prepress note which will appear in the Notes section.

Edit Default Prepress Note - Click this button to create/edit your prepress note.

Press-Paper-Ink Component

Job Master window showing the Press-Paper-Ink window

Press-Paper-Ink Components

Every set of Detailed Specifications has one or more Press/Paper/Ink Components in it. For example, a typical single component job might be a "1-Sided Poster". A typical 2-component job might have a "4-page Cover" and a "96-Page Text". In the case of the text all the pages must have the same dimensions, paper and inks. Otherwise, you would need to make a third component. For example, you might have a "16-page Full-Color Text Section" along with your "96 pages of Black Only Text".

  • Description - Use the drop list or fill in your own description for the component.

  • Pages - Enter number of pages for the component. Leave this blank if page count is not relevant (e.g. a poster). For multi-panel folders count both sides of each panel as pages.

The Paper-Press-Ink Component window has two tab panes to separate the Finishing Services information from the Dimension/Paper/Printing information. Clicking the appropriate tab label will switch to the information you want.

  1. Paper - Press - Inks Tab
  2. Finishing Services Tab


This section of the Specification helps the printer determine the best layout, press and paper size for this component. The Flat Size of the component is especially important in cases where complex folding is involved, for example, pocket folders.

  • Flat Size - the full unfolded dimensions of the component before folding. If it's a folded or stitched book, etc., this is the unfolded or open sheet size.

  • Finished Size - This is the folded, fully completed size. NOTE: if perfect bound book, enter page size.

  • Edges Bleed - Click this box and indicate the location where the "bleeds" will occur by clicking the appropriate box(es) - Head, Foot, Face or Spine/tail/gutter. These boxes indicate the sides where the ink will extend beyond the trim edge of the page.

Bleed refers to cases where the content or graphics on a page run right up to the edge of the page. In these cases the graphics are given a little extra space (usually 1/8") to "bleed" or extend off the edge of the page. This ensures that when the pages are trimmed to final size the graphics run off the edge of the page and no white space is left. Pages that bleed at the spine of a book are treated differently. In this case the printer needs to ensure that the fronts and backs of the pages line up very exactly. Otherwise, on a saddle-wire booklet the spine edge of one page may wrap around the spine and show at the edge of another page. In addition, pages that bleed at the spine may "crossover" to pages that face them in the book. Again, the printer must be careful to ensure that these "crossover" pages line up properly. If your design will include graphics crossing over between facing pages, you should note it in the Bindery Notes or Press-Paper-Ink Notes. This is especially important in cases where graphics crossover between components, e.g. from the inside front cover to the first page of text.


In the Paper section there are four boxes for entering the paper parameters. Each of them has a drop list with common terms that are used in specifying paper. The terms are there for your convenience, you can type whatever you like in the fields or pick an item off the lists. The four basic paper parameters are:

  • Paper Brand/Type - The brand name or the type of paper you want the printer to use (e.g. "Cougar Opaque" or "commodity offset opaque").

  • Add to My Papers List - This button allows you to add your own paper names to the drop list - so stocks you use frequently can be added easily.

  • Weight - Most papers are specified by weight such as "80# Cover"; however, some are specified by thickness, such as "12pt. Cover".

Finish - This refers to the surface texture of the paper. Each brand of paper has its own terms, but there are some common terms that may be used. Coated papers generally come in gloss, dull and matte finishes, although silk and other terms are also used. Commodity offset papers tend to have smooth or vellum finishes, but again a wide variety of terms are used by individual mills to describe their papers. Other uncoated papers come in a wide variety of finishes and colors. To avoid confusion you should specify them exactly as the mill does.

Color - We tend to think of most papers as white, but there really is a rainbow of colored stocks out there. And even within the white range there can be an enormous variety of shades. So specify color carefully as one person's white is another person's beige.


Inks - Select the option that best fits the component: Same inks both sides, Prints 1 side only or Different inks each side.

Ink Colors - The number of ink colors and varnishes to be printed on a component will affect its cost. The number of ink counters track the number of inks selected for printing on each side of the component. Use the check boxes to select inking options and the counters will change automatically.

  • Black - Check this box if black ink is the only ink to be applied to the paper (e.g. books often have only black text on their pages).

  • 4-Color Process - This is used to produce color photographs, paintings, graphics, etc. The four process colors are cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Other photographic reproduction techniques involving six or more colors are used in rare cases by some printers, but these are very uncommon and should only be specified if the printer you plan to work with has indicated that they have this capability. In this case the extra colors should be added as spot colors and a clear note should be included in the Press-Paper-Ink Notes area.

  • Spot or PMS Colors - These are inks other than process color. They are commonly referred to as PMS colors after the Pantone Color Matching System. Black should be counted as a spot color, unless you are using "Process Colors" on the component (black would then be included in the process colors). If known, the spot colors should be noted in the Press-Paper-Ink Notes area. Also the use of metallic, florescent, opalescent, matte finished and other special colors can add cost to the job, so mention it in your specs to avoid surprise additional costs later in the process. Lastly, you should also note cases where you will require a non-standard ink color that needs to match a sample that you will provide.

Varnishes - Varnishes are clear inks that are applied over the printed sheets. Varnishes commonly come in gloss or dull finishes. These can be applied alone or in combination to produce high contrast surface effects. Varnishes can be applied in-line (at the same time as the other colors are applied) or off-line (as a second pass through a printing press). Off-line varnishes tend to produce slightly glossier or duller effects, and in some cases designers may request that the varnishing be done off-line. This requirement should be noted in the Press-Paper-Ink Notes area as it may add cost to the job. Varnishes and coatings affect the surface of the paper and make writing, printing or applying labels on the covered areas difficult. This should be considered if you want to apply mailing labels and postage marks or intend that the user be able to write on the printed surface. Using spot varnishes can make varnish-free areas available for subsequent application of labels, postage marks, imprinting or writing.

  • Overall - means the entire sheet is varnished. This is sometimes referred to as "flood" varnish.

  • Spot - specific areas on the sheet are varnished. Spot Gloss and Spot Dull varnishes used together can create high contrast surfaces highlighting the difference between the gloss and dull graphic areas.

Coverage - This is an important factor in assessing the cost of the print job. Pages with heavy coverage can run slower and be more difficult to print while light coverage jobs may be easier to set up and faster to run. In addition, pages with large solid spot color areas surrounding photographs may require special techniques to ensure an even and consistent color. This can affect the size of the paper used and job layout which may also affect cost.

  • Lite - all text and simple graphics such as lines.

  • Medium - small areas of solid ink and simple graphics.

  • Heavy - large areas of solid ink and/or large half tone or color images.

Press Check Required - If you or an associate would like to review the job on press to insure high quality, consistency, etc., click this box.

Coating or Lamination - Click and select the desired option from the drop list or type in what you want. Unlike varnishes, coatings and laminations are not applied as printing inks; and they are not counted in the number of inks.

Varnishes and coatings affect the surface of the paper and make writing, printing or applying labels on the covered areas difficult. This should be considered if you want to apply mailing labels and postage marks or intend that the user be able to write on the printed surface. It is difficult, but not impossible, to apply spot Aqueous Coatings. Discuss this with your printer before adding it to your requirements. UV Coatings applied using silkscreen printing are expensive but can be applied as spot coatings. Plastic Coating and Film Lamination must be applied to the entire press sheet on at least one side.

  • Aqueous Coating - an on-press process that applies a very high gloss coating on a special coating unit.

  • UV Coating - is a liquid coating that is applied and rapidly dried with an ultra violet process. It produces a mirror like durable gloss finish. It can be applied in-line on some presses equipped for UV coating or off-line (using silkscreen printing or other printing techniques).

  • Plastic Coating - an off-press process that applies liquid plastic to the substrate. Very high gloss and heavier coating (playing cards often use this process).

  • Film Lamination - an off-press process that applies a film of plastic to the substrate. May be appropriate for short run lengths / small quantities.

Finishing Services for Print Component

Job Master window showing the Finishing panel

Finishing Services

In the P3 system, "Finishing" refers to post-press operations applied to a single component of the job. This is distinct from "Binding" which assembles one or more components into a bound product. "Finishing" is typically done before binding and includes decorative foil stamping, embossing and diecutting operations. In these operations, the printed sheets are run through a specialized press that applies the finishing process (in certain high volume cases finishing operations can be done "in-line" on a specialized printing press).

The most common form of finishing is diecutting of pocket folders (a.k.a. presentation folders). The Finishing Services specifier has a special section devoted to capturing the details and options for this type of diecutting.

We have lumped padding (making printed sheets into pads of paper) in here too.


Pocket Folders - Presentation folders, document folders, etc. generally have pockets inside. It is important that the printer knows if the folder has a pocket on the left or right or both sides. When this box is checked, additional information needs to be filled out:

  • Pocket Location - check the appropriate box(es) for Inside front cover - left side and/or Inside back cover - right side.

  • Pocket Depth in. - use the drop list to indicate the height of the pocket from the bottom up or fill in your own height.

  • Glued Pocket - check this box if the pockets are glued (or are they simple fold in flaps?).

  • Bus. Card Slits - are there business card slits (BC) or any other specific requirements.

  • Box Pocket - this is a pocket that is squared off on the bottom to accommodate the inserting of multiple sheets, booklet, pamphlet, etc.

  • Box Pocket Thickness in. - indicate the thickness (in inches) of the Box Pocket by using the drop list or filling in your own measurement.

Other - if appropriate, check this box and describe in the Finishing Notes below.

Foil Stamping & Embossing

Foil Stamping - if appropriate, click and indicate Foil Stamping Image Area by using the drop list or fill in your own size. Also include the Foil Color.

Embossing - if appropriate, click on and indicate Embossed Image Area. If you will provide the embossing die, indicate this in the Finishing Notes below.

Make into paper pads

If a job requires padding, check this box and indicate the number of sheets per pad. If a chipboard backer is required, check the appropriate box.

Finishing Notes

Enter any other finishing operations and special instructions concerning the finishing selections. Some other finishing operations might include:

  • Index Tabbing
  • Easel Mounting
  • Round Cornering
  • Scoring
  • Perforating
  • Sequential Numbering

Bindery Services

Job Master window showing the Bindery panel

Bindery Services

On the Bindery page the first thing you need to do is to indicate whether the job is a bound book or a more simple folder or flat piece. For books there are several key options that need to be addressed that do not apply to jobs that simply trim and/or fold.

Bound books, booklets, binders, etc.

For bound books, we have provided a list of common binding options. You are not limited to this list and can type in whatever Binding Description best fits your needs. In addition, there are three option fields that also appear for bound books:

Oblong Binding - Check this box if this job is to be bound on the short side of the pages. This option can affect the press layout, bindery requirements and ultimately cost of your job.

Bind in Inserts - Many books contain order forms, business reply card and/or special pages that need to be bound into the main text pages. The presence of these inserts should be identified by checking the Bind in Inserts box and filling in the Number of Inserts field. If further details such as position and type are known, they should be described in the Bindery Notes field.

Special Cover Fold - In some cases books have covers with pockets or extra panels that fold out for various reasons. These types of jobs require special binding techniques. If your job has a special cover, it is important that the printer know this as it will add complexity and cost to the job. We have provided a list of common folded cover options in the drop list that appears after you check the Special Cover Fold box. You are not limited to these options; type in whatever you like.

Flat sheets, folders, folded brochures, etc.

If your job is a simple folder or flat piece, choose this option and fill in the following field:

Trim & Fold Description - For folded pieces, we have provided a drop list of folding options. You are not limited to this list and can type in whatever folding description best fits your needs.

Shrink Wrapping

Shrink wrapping is commonly used for a variety of reasons (e.g. protection, prevents scuffing in transit and storage, allows easy counting of small quantities, etc.). To add shrink wrapping to your job requirements, simply check this box and indicate a quantity per package that is appropriate to your needs. If you are unsure of the quantity, select in appropriate quantities; and your printer can set an appropriate quantity per package.

Bindery Notes

There are unlimited options for bindery services. We have included only the most common items in our Bindery window. Other options (e.g. 3-hole drilling, wafer sealing, collating and kitting) should be described in the Bindery Notes section of the Bindery window.

Collation & Insertion

Job Master window showing the Collation & Insertion window

Purpose & Function

This optional section of the Detailed Spec enables users to quickly prepare instructions for mailing, kitting and other types of multi-piece collations or assemblies. The system provides the ability to quickly create records for each item in a collation and show their assembled relationships. It also provides tools for creating multiple collation versions. The "Version" record is the root item in each collation, to which all the physical items are attached. Below the version record there will be an outer envelope or container, into which all the collated items will be inserted. The collation items are then listed below the container in the order in which they are to be collated.

Each item in the collation has a number of parameters that may be specified for it (e.g. description, item code, source, quantity per collation, etc.).

The number of collations to build and an overall description are held in the version record. The version record also has a Version Cost Calculator that can assist in tracking the cost of the items in the collation and the cost to assemble them.

A copy function enables the user to copy and modify entire collation versions or parts of them.

Using Collation & Insertion

From the Job Master window, double click on the Collation / Insertion section in the Job Spec area. This will pop-up the Collation & Insertion window. Please note that Collation & Insertion is managed through the same window as Shipping & Mailing, just a separate tab-pane. When opened from the Collation & Insertion section of the Detailed Specs, the Collation & Insertion tab-pane is selected.

Once opened the user can see that the specifier is divided in half, with a list of Collation item records on the left and a record editing details panel on the right. When the specifier is opened initially, the user is prompted to create an initial Version record to start the collation spec building process.

Managing Collation Item Records

As new items are added to the collation, they will appear in the list of records on the left side of the specifier. When a record is highlighted on the list, its details are displayed on the right-hand side of the specifier for editing. Changes are captured when switching item records, but the whole spec is not saved to disc until the user closes the window with the Save & Close button.

Editing Collation Item Details

There are several types of collation item records. The biggest distinction is between the "Version" record and the "Item" records. The "Version" record details panel is different from the other item types. It holds the top level information for the whole assembly. Whereas, the "Item" records only pertain to the individual items in the collation. There are four types of Collation items: Outer Container, Inner Container, Static Item and Personalized Item. These all share the same details editor panel.

  • Version - This is the top level record for the collation and represents the fully assembled collation.
  • Outer Containers - These are typically envelopes but could be a box, pocket folder or even a poly-bag. There is always an Outer Container at the root of every collation.
  • Inner Containers - These are uncommon, but represent sub-assemblies within the collation.
  • Static Item - Most items in a collation will be Static Items. These can be just about anything that you would put in a collation (e.g. brochures, flyers, return envelopes, plastic cards, forms, etc.).
  • Personalized Items - These are special items in the collation that are printed or imprinted with information unique to the intended recipient of each individual collation. If there are multiple items in the collation that are personalized, that information should be very clearly noted in the Version instructions.

Version Record Editor - As noted above, the Version record holds the top level information for the collation, including its Description, Item Code, Build Quantity, Cost Information and overall Comments or instructions for the assembly. Of these, the Description is most important as it indicates what the finished collation should be called. The other bits of information are optional but very useful.

  • Description - This is the name that describes the final assembled collation.
  • Item - (The label for this field will vary depending on how P3Source is configured.) The Item Code is the inventory or other code that the finished collation is identified with.
  • Build Quantity - This is the number of collations that are to be built. It is important if there are multiple versions to be collated or if the collation quantity is different than the print job quantity.
  • Version Cost Calculator - This button opens a small cost calculator window. The Version Cost Calculator helps the user track the costs of the various items going into the collation and the actual cost of assembling the collation. This information is private and not part of the specification that the suppliers see.
  • Comment - This section is useful for adding any additional notes or instructions that are not covered elsewhere.

Job Master window showing the Collation & Insertion window with the Personalized Item highlighted

Item Record Editor - The item editor controls the description of each item (piece, component) in the collation. It also contains information on the origin or source of the item, specific handling of it and number of pieces to be collated in (defaults to 1).

  • Description - The common name used to refer to this item.
  • Item - (The label for this field will vary depending on how P3Source is configured.) The Item Code is the inventory or other code that is used to refer to this specific item in the collation.
  • Item Size - The specific size of the item if relevant and not part of the description.
  • Additional Tasks - Additional handling beside collation required (e.g. wafer sealing, folding, stapling, tipping on).
  • Material Source - Where this item is coming from, to the point of assembly (i.e. inventory, incoming shipment, printing on site).
  • Job - If the item is being produced for this collation, you can use this area to reference the job number and name it is being tracked under, within the P3Source system.
  • Quantity/Collation - Number of pieces to be included within each collation. Defaults to 1 and is typically 1.
  • Comment - Extra space for any instructions not covered above.

Option List Customization

Note that as is usual throughout P3Source the user is not restricted to using only the options on the option lists in this area. The user may type in their own value or select and edit a value from the list of options.

Note also that Administrators can configure the option lists in this area. Administrators will see convenient Add buttons next to each option field. This button adds the currently selected value to the permanent list of options for that field. This permanent list is available for all users in their Enterprise Group.

Some of the default terms used in this section are "jargon" specific to the USA. Overseas users should definitely localize the option lists to the peculiarities of your country.