What happens after you order your MagCloud magazine?

Ever wonder how your beautiful magazine is printed and put together? In this post we’ll explore the printing, binding, and trimming steps that goes into each and every magazine made at MagCloud.

In an age of high-tech machinery and robotics it’s easy to believe that everything is automated and is accomplished with the minimum of human touch. In actuality, modern printing is rooted in classic techniques. While the process has become incredibly streamlined and print on demand delivering higher quality and more consistent results, it still requires the talents and skills of an incredibly dedicated team to create your latest issue.

To begin, MagCloud transmits your print-ready PDF, along with publication metadata, to one of our finely tuned printers. At the printer your publication is queued up and scheduled according to the product’s dimensions, attributes and routed to the appropriate press for printing. When it’s your publication’s turn the printing begins with the “guts” or the inside pages of your magazine. The printers used for magazines are sheet fed. Every printed sheet will contain both pages of a spread with space in between for folding or cutting (depending on the binding) and additional space around the edges to be trimmed off later.

Our printers use HP Indigo brand printers. Image from HP

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Like your printer at home there are trays behind the printer for collecting the printed sheets. For smaller print jobs (less than 10 copies) and inspecting print proofs, there’s a special tray at the top for technicians to easily access and inspect a copy of the current print run.

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For larger orders, publications are collated in the trays at the bottom.
Cover sheets are likewise printed in the same way.

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However cover sheets use a higher stock paper and are treated with a protective satin UV coating.

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The UV coating is applied and passed under a drying light on a conveyor belt.

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After drying the coating the cover sheets are stacked and prepared for trimming. Special contact paper is kept on the machinery to keep the sheets clean.

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Wooden “joggers” are used to press the sheets together to align the edges before trimming.

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Light guides are used to align the trim cut precisely.

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Separately, the interior sheets are trimmed. Because perfect binding was chosen the interior sheets are cut in half. If it had been saddle stitch binding only the edges would be trimmed and the sheets folded.

The spine edge of the sheets are fed into a machine that grinds down the edge making it adhere better to the binding glue.

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Below the inner pages is the cover sheet. Again lasers are used to position the cover precisely before it’s joined with the inner pages.

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The cover needs to be pre-folded before attaching the inner pages.

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The cover sheet moves below the guts and the guts drop down in the binding machine.

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After the cover and guts are bound together there is a final trimming cutting the pages flush so that the guts and cover are precisely the same dimension. The finished magazine emerges!

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But we’re not done yet, we still need to wrap them up. The magazine is enclosed in a shrink wrap plastic and heat sealed.

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Then the sealed magazine is packaged according to its quantity and sent to its new home.

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As you can see there’s a lot of love and hard work put into every magazine sent to you and readers of your magazines!

 

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MagCloud iPad App

We’ve refreshed the MagCloud iPad app with support for iOS9 and iPad Pro devices. More great features will be coming soon!

2013_04_hyperlinks-ipad2The MagCloud iPad app is a great way to sell your magazines and other content on mobile using iTunes In-App Purchase. Readers have the option to purchase new publications as a guest or sign-in with their MagCloud account for additional access to their existing on-line digital library.

2013-04-multipledevicesPublications purchased while signed-in to the app will also be saved to a user’s Digital Library on the MagCloud website, allowing them to be read on all their other devices as well, either via the MagCloud Web Viewer or as a PDF download.

The new version of the the MagCloud iPad app also boasts faster performance when browsing, reading, downloading and switching orientations; on-device account management and sign-up; and various user interface improvements to make the app more intuitive.

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For publishers this means another way to monetize and build awareness for your content.  If you have already opted-in to digital distribution as a paid digital publication, your publications will automatically be available for sale in the new version of the iPad app.  To accommodate Apple’s iPad-pricing model we will automatically adjust pricing on the iPad to match the nearest pricing tier (most often the nearest $X.99 increment).

Publishers can use our digital pricing calculator to see in real-time how your pricing and earnings will compare for publications you distribute on the MagCloud website and via the iPad app. Free digital publications remain the same. To learn more about MagCloud digital distribution see our FAQ.

Download the new MagCloud iPad app and let us know what you think in the comments below.

On Time for the Holidays

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Thinking about ordering something for the holidays? Make sure you check our shipping cutoff deadlines.

For delivery by December 24*, order by the below dates.

DESTINATION SLOW MEDIUM FAST
UNITED STATES
December 11
December 16
December 17
CANADA + EUROPE
December 11
December 15
UNITED KINGDOM

December 11

December 16

AUSTRALIA
 December 9
December 11
PO BOX
AND ALL OTHER REGIONS
November 25
December 9
 December 15

*Please note: Some regions do not have delivery on December 24, and shipping dates are based on gift destination.

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30% off Surprise on Social

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Save 30% off this week* with coupon codes on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Following us on these sites is a great way to keep in touch, promote your magazines and find inspiring ideas from other people using Magcloud.

*Offer valid through December 11, 2015 (11:59 p.m. PST). A 30% discount is applied toward the production costs of print-only publications made by you on MagCloud.com. This offer cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

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20% Savings This November With Coupon Code HOLIDAYCHEER

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With the holiday season around the corner, there’s no better time to get started on gifts for everyone on your list. Whether you want to make a custom gift for friends, family, or clients, we’ve got you covered. Plus, we’re giving you 20% off* on all projects made by you from now until the end of November.

Simply enter the code HOLIDAYCHEER in your shopping cart on MagCloud.com.*

*Offer valid through November 30, 2015 (11:59 p.m. PST). A 20% discount is applied toward the production costs of publications made by you on MagCloud.com. This offer cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

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Season’s Greetings Printed by MagCloud

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‘Tis the season holiday cards and newsletters, and MagCloud is here to help! As we’ve discussed before, MagCloud’s print-on-demand capabilities offer a great way to produce personalized holiday communications on an affordable budget. With the premium 80# cover stock we use on all sizes of our Flyer and Pamphlet products, combined with the commercial quality of our full-color digital printing, you can rest assured that your message will look professional and polished whether you are keeping in touch with business clients or corresponding with family and friends.

Holiday Newsletters and Cards for Your Business

BizNewsWe have a number of businesses and organizations that use MagCloud for their newsletters year-round, and the holidays are no exception. As we near the end of the year, it’s a great time to connect with clients and members to update them on the prior year and get them thinking about the year to come. If you own a photography business, for example, you can use this as an opportunity to highlight some of your best work from the past year and remind previous customers about the other services you offer. Or if you are in charge of member communications for a nonprofit organization, now is a great time to highlight the work you’ve done in 2012, and encourage member participation in the new year.

No matter what business you are in, MagCloud’s 8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet product is the perfect format for your holiday newsletter with four pages for full color images and text, a clean half-fold binding, and a professional-weight paper stock, all for as low as $0.60 per piece when you order 20 or more. Simply create your PDF in the software of your choice, upload it to MagCloud, and order as few or as many copies as you’d like. We can even take care of the distribution of your newsletter for you, and drop-ship copies of your newsletter to an address list at no additional cost.

Business CardsIf you don’t feel like a long-form newsletter is the right fit for your business, you could also create and send a custom greeting card instead. MagCloud’s 5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet format fits perfectly into A9 envelopes, which can be found at any paper or office supply store, and the 80# cover stock that these products are printed on gives them a great professional feel. For only $0.48 per piece when you order 20 or more, this Pamphlet format offers an affordable way to incorporate your products, employees, or the work that you’ve done into your holiday greetings, along with your own branding and a more personalized message, rather than sending a generic card to your clients or organization members.

Holiday Newsletters and Cards for Your Family

NewslettersOf course, businesses aren’t the only ones that send cards and newsletters during the holiday season. Holiday newsletters from families have become the norm in recent years as a way to update friends and relatives on the family’s activities over the prior year. Combining these updates with family photos into a single printed piece is a great way to streamline your holiday communications, either as a double-sided Flyer or using one of MagCloud’s four-page Pamphlet products for additional space.

Cards FamilyIf a newsletter isn’t your style, how about a custom greeting card. MagCloud’s 5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet product makes great half-fold cards while the 5.5″ x 8.25″ or 8.25″ x 5.25″ Flyer works well as an oversized postcard. Both fit perfectly into A9 envelopes, and at only $0.24 per piece for 20 or more of the Flyers, or $0.48 per piece for 20 or more of the Pamphlets, both offer a blank slate to create affordable holiday greetings that are unique to you and your family. Whether you create a collage of family photos or scan some of your children’s artwork for the cover of your card, you can be sure that it will be met with a smile upon arriving at its destination.

Templates

TemplatesTo help you design your holiday newsletter or greeting card for printing through MagCloud, below are links to templates in a variety of formats and software programs. Each link below will take you to a preview of a publication created with that template on the MagCloud site, where you’ll find links in the description to download the corresponding template for a variety of software programs. You can also find a number of letter-sized newsletter templates in programs like Apple Pages, or online at office.microsoft.com for Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher. These work well with MagCloud’s 8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet and Flyer products. After you’ve designed your file, be sure to follow the instructions on our Getting Started page to export your PDF.

4-page Business Newsletter (8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet)

4-page Holiday Newsletter (8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet): Adobe InDesign (CS4 or newer) | Microsoft Word | Apple Pages

2-page Holiday Newsletter (8.25″ x 10.75″ Flyer): Red Design | Blue Design

Left-Folded Holiday Card with One Image (5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet)

Left-Folded Holiday Card with Three Images (5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet)

Top-Folded* Holiday Card with One Image (5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet)

Top-Folded* Holiday Card with Three Images (5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet)

Portrait Flat Holiday Card (5.25″ x 8.25″ Flyer)

Landscape Flat Holiday Card (8.25″ x 5.25″ Flyer)

*Keep in mind that if you are using the 5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet for your greeting card and want a top-fold, you will need to upload a PDF with the design rotated, in the same way you would if you were creating a calendar.

PDF 101: Ten Common PDF Problems

We see a lot of PDFs come through the MagCloud site, and while most of them look great, there are some avoidable issues that pop up every so often. Below are ten common PDF problems that can stand in the way of a great looking print publication.

1. Content is too close to the outside edges.
We see a number of great PDFs that have text placed dangerously close to the trim line.   As we discussed in our design series blog post on trim and bleed, it’s important to keep your content within a safe distance of the trim line to avoid having it cut off in your final print publication. Remember that the trim line is 8.25″ x 10.75″ so you need to design to those dimensions NOT the PDF size of 8.5″ by 11″ that you upload to MagCloud. This 8.5″ x 11″ PDF includes a bleed area that will be trimmed off: 0.125″ on the top, 0.125″ on the bottom and 0.25″ on the outside. Since this trim can vary slightly in either direction, we recommend leaving 1/4 inch of extra space between the 8.25″ x 10.75″ trim line and your content, particularly any text content. This will ensure that even if the trim is slightly off, your content will not get cut off, nor will it appear to have been placed too close to the edge of the page.

2. Images are not extending into the bleed area.
Similarly, we see a lot of PDFs where images that the publisher wanted to extend to the edge of the page stop at the trim line. If the trim is even slightly off in the opposite direction in this case, there will appear to be a thin white edge on the image, as shown in our trim and bleed blog post and below. With that in mind, be sure that any images you want to extend to the edge of the printed page, go all the way to the edge of your 8.5″ x 11″ PDF, filling the bleed area (again, 0.125″ top and bottom, 0.25″ on the outside edge).

3. Content is too close to the spine.
Another “edge” to keep in mind is the inside edge of your PDF, where the spine will be on your printed publication. We often see PDFs with text that starts right next to the spine, and becomes lost when printed with a perfect binding. As we described in our design series blog post on designing for perfect binding, up to 1/4 inch of the inside edge of your page may be lost into the spine on a perfect bound publication. It is important to keep this in mind when designing your PDF, and ensure that none of your content is placed close enough to the inside edge that it is in danger of being lost in the final print.

4. Images are distorted across perfect bound spines (especially faces).
In addition to text disappearing into a perfect bound spine, we also see PDFs that have images going across the center spine such that the resulting print appears to be missing up to a half inch in the center of the image due to the perfect binding. As described in our perfect binding blog post, as well as on our Getting Started page, this can be avoided by making the two halves of one image into two separate images within the document, then moving them both out from the spine slightly and duplicating the opposing image within the resulting gutter space. Another trick is to avoid placing the focus of an image on the spine, which will draw attention to this disappearing act and make it more obvious to the viewer. If the focus is moved away from the center spine, any loss of content into the spine area will be less noticeable.

5. PDF uses low resolution images.
While the placement of images is one thing that can cause problems in a print copy, the image itself can be the problem. We often see are PDFs that use lower resolution images, and although they look good on screen, they end up looking pixelated in print. As we describe in our design series blog post about getting the most out of your images, screen resolution is 72 pixels- or dots-per-inch (dpi) but print resolution is 300 dpi. Therefore, when selecting images for your publication, they should be at least 300 dpi to ensure a quality print out. As a test to see if your images will look good in print, open your PDF on your computer screen and zoom in to 300%. If the images still look crisp then, they will look good in your printed copy. On the other hand, if they look pixelated (like they are made up of little blocks of color) then your image is too low res, and will end up looking fuzzy in your final printed copy.

300 dpi vs 72 dpi at 350% zoom

6. Color profiles are not embedded.
Another common image problem we see in PDFs deals with the color of the resulting print copy. As we explained in our design series blog post on working with color, HP Indigo presses print MagCloud publications in a 4-color CMYK process, but most images that get used in the PDF have an RGB colorspace. To help guide this conversion from RGB to CMYK, it is important that the color profiles for these images are embedded in the PDF. Without them, the color of the printed images may appear to be slightly off. To make sure that you are using the best color settings possible when creating your PDF, we encourage you to follow the program-specific instructions that are available for download from the bottom of our Getting Started page.

7. Fonts are not embedded.
Of course, color profiles aren’t the only things that need to be embedded in your PDF – any fonts you use also should be included. A common error that occurs in our PDF upload validation is non-embeddded fonts. This can again be avoided by following the downloadable instructions on our Getting Started page for the software you are using to design your PDF. Each of these guides provides settings that will ensure your fonts are properly embedded in your final PDF, and help you avoid this upload error.

8. Fonts are too small or illegible.
In addition to the technical issue of non-embedded fonts, in some cases the problem with a PDF stems from the fonts themselves being too small or illegible, making the text difficult to read in the final print. For body copy we recommend 9-12 point type and for headlines 18 points or higher.  As we discussed in our design series blog post on typeface dos and don’ts, you also want to avoid hard-to-read fonts, particularly for large blocks of text. Decorative fonts are great as headers, but can detract from your message when they become difficult to read.

9. Dark text is used on a dark background, or light text is used on a light background.
Even in cases where the font is legible, we’ve seen PDFs where the color of the text doesn’t provide enough contrast with the background. Placing navy blue text on a black background or light yellow text on a white background, as shown below, becomes very difficult to read. When there is not enough contrast between the text and the background like this, the text seems to blend in and disappear from view, taking the message it was intended to convey with it.

10. A light spine is used with a dark cover, or a dark spine is used with a light cover.
Finally, while you want your text to stand out, it’s a whole other story when it comes to your spine. We occasionally see PDFs that have dark covers and light spines, or vice versa, which makes the slightest shift in the spine placement become glaringly obvious. As we discussed in our perfect binding design blog post, we encourage you to pick a spine color that is close to the color of your front and back covers. Doing so will give a more seamless appearance to your final print publication, and ensure a more polished look with every print.

To help avoid these problems in your PDF, be sure to follow the program-specific instructions available for download on our Getting Started page when designing your publication. For some more resources to help design your PDF, check out our design series blog post on layouts and templates, or browse through some of our featured publications on the MagCloud website for inspiration.

Does your publication successfully avoid these ten common problems? Share a link to it in the comments below!