Printed forms can be tricky to order. Like most other custom-made products, there is a set of terms and certain procedures that producers follow to make the forms properly to spec. Knowing how to speak the language of printers and business forms manufacturers can be very helpful to those who are charged with purchasing. Here are a few of the most common mistakes we see in our business and how to avoid them. These are not listed in any order. And some are specific to forms while some are generally applicable to any kind of print buying for forms; cut sheets, envelopes, etc.
- Not Measuring Properly – Aside from the fact that some adults seem unable to use a ruler properly (don’t get me started!), there are specific ways to measure different forms. For example, a multi-part form with a perforated tab (see picture below) needs to be measured both with and without the tab included. So, for instance, if you have a 3-part form where the finished pages will be 8 ½ x 11 inches with a top tab measuring ½”, you need to provide both dimensions to the vendor. The total size will be 8 ½ x 11 ½ inches including the tab. So, make sure to specify both the total size and the finished size (after it’s torn off the tab) of 8 ½ x 11. This also applies to continuous pin-feed forms like those pictured just below. In general, you can never make things too clear or too obvious!
- Not Figuring the Quantity Correctly – You might think this one is obvious, but not in every case. For instance, if you are ordering forms that are bound inside of a cover (also referred to as a “book”), you need to specify how many total forms you want and the number of parts per form. You also need to specify the number of forms per book. If you were to just order, say, ”50 books” it leaves a lot open to interpretation. Did someone say you can never make things too clear or too obvious? 😊
- Not Accounting for “Overs/Unders” – This comes up quite a bit and is a sore spot with some customers. Anytime a custom order is made and printed, there are likely to be extras produced. This has to do with the waste involved in the process and the need to plan for that in order to “make count” i.e. fulfill the quantity ordered. You can find a more detailed explanation here.
Most vendors will specify at the quoting stage the percentage of overs/unders that are customary for a job. A buyer needs to be aware that this might be a possibility and plan accordingly especially if they are a reseller. If no overs or unders are acceptable, the buyer needs to specify that at the quoting stage and the price will take that into account.
To be continued on the next post. In the meantime, stay clear and obvious!