RFQ Basics

One of the requests I get asked a lot is to speak to college students about paper and print. Inevitably one of the questions I am asked most is about getting accurate print quotes. So I thought I’d include a quick reference guide for those novices out there, or those that have found themselves handling new responsibilities in their current job. And all you print production pro’s, feel free to comment if I’ve left something out.

In a perfect world, a Request for Quotation (RFQ) happens once the design is finished and no other major changes are expected. Ideally sent to at least 3 potential printers, it should reference any differences from the ballpark estimate, and cover the following items (as applicable):
• Quantity or quantities to see price breaks based on different volumes.
• Flat size and finished size.
• Number of pages: each side of a sheet/leaf of paper constitutes a page.
• Cover type: self cover or separate cover.
• Stock: text and cover along with alternatives that may add to the design or lower the cost. This is also where should specify the paper merchant you are working with.
• Ink Colors: if possible, note any specific match colors, metallics, heavy solids or bleeds which can add to the cost.
• Varnish: indicate the type of varnish desired (spot, overall, dull, gloss).
• Art: describe the types of images and whether they will be provided in digital or conventional format. Also, tell the printer if he will be expected to scan images as high-res files and then return them to the designer to place in the layout or if he will be turning the file over for manipulation or another form of digital editing.
• Special finishing requirements: die-cuts, pockets, embossing, stamping, etc.
• Binding requirements with any alternatives
• Proofing requirements
• Packing instructions: shrink-wrapping, paperbands, custom boxes all add time and money
• Shipping instructions
• Shipping and arrival date
• Tolerance of overs/unders: typically 10% of the job but can sometimes be held to 5% for projects with a high unit cost. Also any samples you would like of the finished piece.

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