How to reduce the cost of creating a catalog

Here’s a list of some simple things that you can do to reduce the amount of time and cost of catalog design, photography and printing. We’re not talking about getting out your camera and taking photos or the sketch pad to design your own layouts. These are just tidbits that help speed up those processes for your expensive hired professionals.

Design Cost Saving Tips

Provide all product information

For each product copy block (text that typically goes with a product photograph and includes one item or several SKUs) supply us with complete and consistent content that usually includes the product block title, product block description, and for each SKU in the block the item number, item name and item price. Keep these elements in the same order for every product block in the catalog.

Organize the grouping of the product blocks

Provide a complete sorting of the products within their category delineations. If you know how much space in the catalog you want us to give to each category or group of products provide that as well.

Provide all supporting copy

A good catalog provides not only product information (that helps the buyer make their buying decision) but also supporting copy that sells a lifestyle, promotes an company image, sales terms and how to buy information. Provide this copy and if you know indicate where you’d like it to appear in the catalog.

Provide a detailed image file information for product blocks

If you are supplying product images then we’ll need you to give a reference of what file belongs to what product copy block. The easiest form for us is to include the image file name at the start of the product copy block in the text file. Otherwise a separate list of item number or name matched with its image file name will suffice.

Supply us with only the images you want us to use

Please do not send us disks from your suppliers with the intent that we’ll sort through and find the images you want in your catalog. Instead provide us only with the image files to use in your catalog. Frequently you carry only a small selection of a supplier’s total product line and because we are usually not familiar with your products and what they look like it results in a large amount of time searching for files. In these situations it is typically less expensive for us to photograph your products then to sort through images.

Provide copy in data form

We can partially automate the rudimentary formatting – thereby saving our time and your dollars – if your product blocks are in ASCII text format. We can provide you with a field layout upon request. Otherwise, provide your copy in a text document in a common format such as text or Microsoft Word. Do not format your text with bold, underlines, multiple tabs or other formatting as that will be removed in the importing process.

Photography Cost Saving Tips

Keep product shots simple – no props

It is our opinion that products should not have props (elements other than the product itself) in the photographs unless the prop helps the buyer make a purchasing decision. Otherwise a prop adds clutter and distracts the reader. If you choose to have us include props in your product photographs then please provide those rather than pay us to go shopping.

Provide an itemized product list with labeled samples

One of the most time consuming (meaning costly) and error prone elements of catalog design is mating products with their related copy. This is true both if you are supplying images or supplying products for photography. Help us by labeling each item (in a discrete location out of view of the camera) and indicate in your copy or reference list what item belongs with what product copy block.

Provide any special instructions prior to photography

Although we strive to illustrate your products in a clear and attractive pose, we sometimes miss the mark if the product is unusual or if you have specific requirements for how you want the product shown. Therefore, it’s a good idea to provide us with clear instructions for those special situations to save rework costs.

Printing Cost Saving Tips

Use house paper

Most printers buy large quantities of a good, medium weight gloss paper to keep on hand for average print jobs. This paper is typically a good balance of quality and cost. If you don’t need a unique or special paper effect then using the house paper will generally result in a lower cost catalog.

Keep page counts to even signatures

A signature is a group of pages printed in one pass through the press. Most of the time this is an increment of 16 pages (though some very large presses print 32 or more). Your greatest economy in page count is to print in increments of even signatures; in this case 16, 32, 48, 64, etc. If you can’t hit even signatures then the next most economical page count is half signatures; 8, 24, 40, 56 and so forth.

Keep page size to standard dimensions

Each printer has specific page sizes that work optimally on their presses. Typically this is around 8-3/8″ wide by 10-7/8″ tall. Staying with the printer’s standard page sizes results in less paper waste and/or press adjustment and therefore lower costs.

Eliminate all design/proofing errors prior to delivering print files

The general rule of thumb is the sooner a mistake is found and corrected the less expensive the correction costs. For instance proofing your copy prior to delivery to us saves paying us to make corrections. Likewise it is less expensive for us to make corrections prior to the delivery of print files to the printer. Once files are at the printer you not only incur high hourly labor costs but also possibly material costs such as additional color proofs or new printing plates.