Guide to print – specing a litho job

The specification of your job will dictate the price. Search the specs to choose which binding and finishes you prefer

Apple Colour work with some of the industries most experienced print buyers, but we also recognise the evolution towards procurement and marketing professionals placing their own litho print jobs and we have creates a guide to print

It is Apple’s versatility to support customers of varying degrees of print knowledge, that contributes towards successful partnerships and great work but if you need a few pointers on how to spec your job here is a handy guide to give you the basics. You can also view the Litho Portfolio to see the spec of the litho print jobs we have previously printed.  But there is no replacement for a chat with the experts at the Bristol Printers, so give us a call to discuss your requirements.


The litho press

Print image size up to 710 x 505mm (including bleed)

Paper weight 80gsm -700microns

Litho print jobs often end up of the stitching machine for saddle stitching or collating into sections

How to spec a job

What format is the job?

Which of the following common litho jobs does your job most resemble?

 4pp  4p Leaflet - single fold
 6pp concertina  6p Leaflet - concertina fold
 6pp gatefold  6p Leaflet - gate fold
 6pp rollfold  6p Leaflet - roll fold
 8pp concertina fold  8p Leaflet - concertina fold
 8pp double gate fold  8p Leaflet - double gate fold
 8pp parallel double fold  
 8pp parallel map fold  8p Leaflet - parallel map fold
 8pp parallel over and outer fold  8p Leaflet - parallel over & outer fold
8pp reverse map fold  8p Leaflet - reverse map fold
8pp right angle French fold 8p Leaflet - right angle-french fold

10pp parallel over and outer fold


10p Leaflet - parallel over & outer fold
 12pp parallel with roll 12p Leaflet - parallel with roll fold

 12pp parallel triple fold


12p Leaflet parallel triple fold

 16pp parallel quad fold


16p Leaflet - parallel quad fold
 16pp parallel with concertina 16p Leaflet - parallel with concertina

What is the finished size?

Paper Sizes


A2 594 x 420
A3 420 x 297
A4 297 x 210
A5 210 x 148
A6 148 x 105
A7 105 x 74

Special Sizes


Business cards 85 x 55
CD case size 120 x 120
DL 210 x 99
A4 square 210 x 210
B2 707 x 500



C4 324 x 229
C5 229 x 162
C6 162 x 114

 Litho print jobs being prepared for collation of the stitching line

How many pages?

How many printed pages, that’s pp to those in the trade (be sure to count both sides of the paper or each page of the artwork)

What weight stock?

Check the below guide to help you decide the most suitable weight stock.

Postcards A6 2pp postcard 300-350gsm
A5 2pp postcard 300-350gsm
Leaflets A4 2pp 130-400gsm
A4 4pp 130-300gsm
A5 2pp 130-300gsm
A5 4pp 130-300gsm
A5 6pp roll fold 130-300gsm
A5 6pp gatefold 130-20gsm
A6 8pp gatefolds 130-250gsm
DL 2pp 130-400gsm
DL 4pp 130-300gsm
DL 6pp concertina/ roll fold 130-300gsm
Brochures A4 8pp self cover 130-200gsm Self cover (cover and text on the same weight)
A4 16pp self cover 130-200gsm
A4 8pp self cover 130-200gsm
A4 32pp

Cover 200-300gsm

Text 130-170gsm

A4 64pp

Cover 200-300gsm

Text 130-170gsm

A4 16pp brochure with throw out to back cover

Cover 200-300gsm

Text 130-170gsm

DL 16pp portrait

Cover   170-250gsm

Text 115-170gsm

DL 16pp landscape

Cover   170-250gsm

Text 115-170gsm

Folders A4 4pp with 5mm capacity pocket 350-400gsm
A5 4pp with non capacity pocket 300-400gsm


There are generally 4 categories to choose from but hundreds of variants available for each.

 Uncoated – remember colour can look more dull on uncoated and it takes longer to dry
 Speciality stocks– eg. GF Smith, Fedrigoni, Fenner


Litho – 4 colour process ( colours) can make up any colour and give you a close match to the pantone colour

Litho – 1 colour (a single colour, this could be a spot colour if it needs to match a logo for example or it could just be black. It could be a fluorescent or a gold or a specific brand colour.)

You can print 4 colours with a special = 5 colours

Ink Coverage

It is useful to know how much ink you are using.  Do you have heavy solids of colour. Typically text on a white background would be 20% coverage.  Add in a small picture and it might increase to 50%. A full bleed image or solid background would be nearer 100%.


Here is a guide to the finishes available and an idea of how much they might cost.

Finish Type




Foiling £££
Embossing £££
Blind embossing £££
Debossing ££
Blind debossing ££
Spot UV £££

Matt   ££

Gloss   £

Silk   £££

Soft Touch   £££££

Scratch resistant £££££


Any die cutting? – Is there a shape you would like the item to be cut into? Remember if you want to die cut anything over 2pp it will need a flat edge for the fold.

The above finishes can be combined to good effect. See the  Portfolio for some examples


On a leaflet we may just need to trim and /or but on anything bigger we will need to bind. Here are some options that are available:

Finish Type




Saddle Stitched

Punching wire through the pages at the spine. Wire is then bent flat on the inside to grip all pages. Similar to stapling.


Saddle Stitched colour wire

As above but with a coloured wire.


Loop stitching

Similar to saddle stitching but with a loop in the wire to allow it to be held in a ring binder.


Stab stitching

Wire is punched from the front through to the back of the document, rather than the spine. This binding is usually then covered to hide the wire.


Perfect bound

Sections of folded paper have their spines distressed before securing with glue inside a cover which wraps around them.


Singer sewn

Like saddle stitching but thread is used instead of wire and the stitching goes along the length of the spine.


Case bound

Typically used for hard back books. There are many variations to this type of binding but usually the inner pages are sewn together in sections and then glued to the end papers and then glued to the cover.


Comb bound

Rectangular holes are first punched into the pages. The rings of the plastic comb are then threaded through the punched holes and wrapped around themselves to secure the pages in place.


Tape Bound

An adhesive tape is wrapped around the spine of several pages to hold them in place. It can often involve stab stitching too to keep the pages secure.


Wire Bound

Similar to spiral binding but the wire passes through each hole twice. This means the ends do not need to be crimped and the book can lay flat once open.


Spiral Bound

Holes are punched or drilled into the pages. Spiral formed wire or plastic is then  threaded through the holes. Each end of the wire is then crimped to prevent the wire slipping off.


Screw bound/riveting

Holes are drilled through the pages. A barrel post is inserted through the holes and a cap screw is secured to keep the pages in place.



PUR Bound

The same method as perfect binding but uses a different adhesive which is stronger and remains strong at temperature extremes.



 Perfect binding

Any special requirements?

Does it need to hold a business card?
Does it need to match any other literature?


How many versions and what is the difference between the versions, do they just have one page which is different or is it just the black copy on one page only. The price will vary based on what is required. If you are not sure it is worth sending the artwork over for us to have a look. Litho sheets can sometimes be overprinted with a black for example to create different  versions dependant on the quantity.


How many do you need?
Do they all need to be printed at once or is a part delivery required?


What is your desired delivery date?

Our considerations would be;
Finishing time. The more complicated the finishing the longer it takes.

With this information Apple Colour will make recommendations on how to complete the job. To discuss your job further please don’t hesitate to get in touch either by calling us on 0117 9728900 or email