Before entering the competitive bidding process using the P3 system, you will need to create a set of specifications to describe the job in detail to your suppliers. You can create specifications for a job from the Job Master Window. The technical specifications for the job are located in a panel on the right-hand side of the General Info tab of the Job Master window. The top of the panel displays the "Job Spec Type" and a list for selecting the type of Job Specification to be used. There are four options on the list:
"Detailed-Spec Print Only" - For standard print jobs. "Flexi-Spec (free form text)" - Enter specs as free form text. Great for ad specialty jobs and mailing services. "Detailed-Spec Collation/Insertion Only" - For jobs where only collation and distribution services are needed. "Detailed-Spec Print + Collation/Insertion" - For jobs that combine printing and collation services together.
A fifth option is available: the Multi-Item Spec. The Multi-Item Spec allows you to include multiple sets of specifications in a single job. Switch to a Multi-Item Spec by clicking on the Job menu, "Advanced Pricing" menu item and selecting the "Switch to Multi-Item Spec" menu item. See the Advanced Pricing page for more information about the Multi-Item Spec option.
There are three variations of the "Detailed-Spec" system and only one for the "Flexi-Spec" system and "Multi-Item Spec."
Visit the Advanced Pricing page to learn more about the RFQ Advanced Pricing Options available in the P3 System.
The Flexi Spec is designed to give the user as much flexibility as possible in creating print specifications. And, since it is so flexible it is not limited to just print. What Flexi-Spec does is simple: it gives you space to create free-form text job specifications. You can copy and paste specifications from other programs or emails into the Flexi-Spec. Flexi-Spec also comes with a template tool. You can insert spec texts from existing templates into the Flexi-Spec window. And, of course, you can store what you have written as a template for use on other jobs. There are four templates for any type of specification.
To use Flexi-Spec to write up job specs, simply select "Flexi-Spec" on the Job Spec Type option list on the Job Master window. Double click on the General Specifications or Shipping & Mailing sections, and the spec window will become editable. Three new Template Management buttons will appear below the spec window. They are:
Get Template - provides four editable templates - "P3 Basic Copy Shop", "P3 Basic Envelopes", "P3 Basic Large Format Prints" and "P3 Basic Offset Printing". These templates are included to assist you. Highlight a template selection and click the Insert button (or double click on the selection).
NOTE: You may insert text from multiple templates. If a template typed text is already displayed and you add another template, the text will be added to the end of the existing text.
Save As Template - Once a template has been edited, you might want to change the template name by clicking this button and renaming it. It will now be displayed in the Get Template list. There are a number of ways to create a template. Any existing template can be edited. You can also create a template from scratch by starting with a blank display screen, build a template then click the Save As Template button. Another way is to again start with a blank display screen and paste a template in from another program. For instance, if you have developed templates in Word, just copy from Word and paste into the display screen, click the Save as Template button and name the template.
Manage Templates - Click this button to rename or delete a template. Highlight the template and click the Rename or Delete button. To remove a template from the job display screen without deleting it, you need to click and drag your mouse over and highlight all the text and use the "Enter", "Delete" or "Backspace" keys on your keyboard. This way the template will be removed from the display screen but will not be affected in any other way.
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:
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:
The Detailed Spec consists of 3 tasks:
Three buttons appear at the bottom of the spec window when one of the Detailed Spec options is selected:
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:
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.
The Prepress window of the Detailed Spec allows you to specify information on:
Digital File is the default setting in this section. If you are supplying Camera Ready Art or Composed Films, then indicate and provide Scanning Requirements, if applicable.
Digital File - this information defaults from the My Settings section. If you need to make a change for a specific job, select from the drop list menu. If you need to change the default, do so in the My Settings section.
File Type - choose one of the design programs from the drop list menu; or if your software program is not listed, type in the name of the software you use.
Operating System - choose the appropriate operating system from the drop list menu.
Delivery Media - choose from the drop list menu or type in if not listed.
Prepress Work - if required, select from the drop list menu.
Camera Ready Art - click this radio button if you are providing Camera Ready Art Work and include Scanning Requirements, if necessary.
Composed Films - click this radio button if you are providing Composed Films and include Scanning Requirements, if necessary.
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.
Many print jobs require that the printer scan artwork or photographs to be included in the job. This section should be used to specify if scans are required. If details on the size and format of the originals and the size of the images to be printed is known, it should be included in the Notes field.
Line Screen Printing - the line screen number represents the number of dot screen lines per linear inch with which a graphic or photo will be reproduced. The higher the number, the greater the resolution. Most printers use default settings that provide high quality unless otherwise requested. It is not required that you provide this information unless you now your specific requirements.
Number of Color Separations, Halftones, Duotones and Line Work - enter the number of each of these types of scans, if applicable.
NOTE: If you are sending digital files, it is not necessary to specify Image Scan information unless you want the printer to do some scans for you.
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.
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.
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.
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 - 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.
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.
Enter any other finishing operations and special instructions concerning the finishing selections. Some other finishing operations might include:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
The Shipping & Mailing section of the Detailed Spec helps users quickly create detailed bulk shipment and mailing instructions for print jobs. The instructions consist of a series of one or more Bulk Shipment or Mailing records. Each record carries a quantity. And, a running total of the number of pieces mailed and/or shipped is maintained. Below the quantity and description, the mailing and shipping specifiers are very different and specialized for shipping or mailing.
NOTE: The "Packing & Shipping" section of the Detailed Spec system was renamed "Shipping & Mailing" (September 2009) to reflect the addition of a Mailing Instructions area. In addition to the mailing, the shipping section was restructured and upgraded.
September 2009 Enhancements
From the Job Master window, double click on the Shipping & Mailing section in the Job Spec Type area. This will pop-up the Shipping & Mailing window, which enables the user to build a list of required shipments and mailings. It maintains a total of all quantities to be shipped or mailed as you go.
Collation & Insertion - If you have selected a Detailed Spec option that includes Collation & Insertion that section of the spec will appear on the Shipping & Mailing window when it pops up. The Collation and Insertion section appears on a separate tab-pane within the window. This makes it convenient to refer between these sections since they are very often related.
Quantity and Shipment Type - When you first open the Shipping & Mailing window, you will be prompted to select a record type for your first Bulk Shipment or Mailing record. Once this selection is made, the record will appear on the list on the left side of the Shipping & Mailing panel; and the details editor for the record will appear on the right. The details editor will appear different depending on the type of record. However, the record type selector, quantity field and quantity comment will always be present just above the record details area. The "Quantity Comment" next to the numeric only Quantity field can be used for several purposes:
The Bulk Shipment details have 2 parts: Destination/Carrier and Packing. These sections are displayed each on a small tab-pane control in the details area. In addition, there is a Notes area just below the tab-panes.
Destination/Carrier Tab - This section contains a customizable list of carriers and an address section with a quick picker.
Packing Tab - This area assists in building detailed packing and labeling instructions.
Notes - A shipping Notes area appears below the Destination/Carrier and Packing tab-panes. This is where you might want to enter any particular instructions not covered elsewhere in the shipping section.
Saved Shipping Notes - Many organizations have particular shipping requirements that need to be added to all or many shipments. So, we have provided space for you to save and include a set of shipping notes. There are two buttons on the left of the notes field for managing the saved shipping note:
In this area there are several fields provided for the most common pieces of mailing specification information.
If any of these fields are not relevant to your mailing, simply leave it blank. When left blank, the field and its label will not be shown on the mailing specifications.
A Notes area is also provided for information not covered in our standard option lists.
Note that as is usual throughout the system 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 the mailing section are "jargon" specific to the mailing industry in the USA. Overseas users should definitely localize the option lists to the peculiarities of the local postal service in your country.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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).
Note that as is usual throughout P3Expeditor 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.