Design Guidelines

Letterpress, because it is an antique process using antique equipment, benefits from design that maximizes its strengths and minimizes its weaknesses.

For the best results follow these guidelines:

Areas of ink coverage over ½” are considered solids. In general, designers use solids sparingly, because letterpress printed solids appear different than offset printed solids. The thick absorbent papers used in letterpress tend to show through, giving it a velvety appearance.

If a solid is used with fine lines or type in the same color, it may have to be printed in separate runs, which will increase the price.

Fine Lines
We ask that lines be no less than .25 point. The cut making process and typical letterpress impression doesn’t bode well for fine hair lines and text. They may break up. Avoid text smaller than 6pt.

You may use as many spot colors as you wish. Waldwick Printing stocks about 500 colors, which you have access to. Any additional special order colors are available at $50 each.

Typically, letterpress is only used to print dark ink on light paper. Printing light ink on dark paper is better achieved by engraving or foil stamping, also available through Waldwick Printing.

Paper and Envelopes
Letterpress is spotlighted best by using soft pillowy stocks (Somerset, Lettra, Rives, Arturo), while beautiful results can be achieved on harder stocks (French, Strathmore, Cranes Cover) with a more subtle impression.

Although there are is a large selection of paper choices, not all have matching envelopes. Cranes Lettra, and Magnani Arturo are two great choices with matching envelopes.

Most letterpress papers come in different shades of white, but we can offset print a flood coat on any paper to match any color in the PMS book for an additional charge.

File Preparation for Letterpress Printing
For the best results, we prefer to work with press ready PDF files. Your artwork must be in Vector format, with fonts embedded from their native applications and text converted to outlines.

All projects must be emailed to us with a color version to use as a sample, as well as color separated files, all in 100% solid black. Please provide crop marks on all files and drag out the bleeds 1/8” if applicable.

Color Choice. Choose colors from the Pantone Formula Guide (PMS book). All colors are available for use as spot colors only. Please don’t use process, CMYK or RGB colors.