Production guide

Naturally, paper is an essential part of producing books – when it comes to image books, print colour, design, weight and smell are essential as well. Here, or, even better, in a personal conversation, you can find out which paper is suitable for your project, which print method can be used and what you have to consider for it.

Paper choice

Coated and uncoated papers differ in regards to surface, haptic and printability. Coated papers have a coated surface that can project a sharp image in fine detail in print. Uncoated papers have a more open surface and natural haptic. The printed image is softer and not as precise as on coated papers. Uncoated papers are used for notebooks and book calendars because they have features better for writing and a more comfortable haptic.

When we print the image section of your notebook, it depends completely on your project whether the photos have a better effect on matt or glossy paper. From a typographical perspective, we select a coated paper (matt or glossy) to emphasise details in the photos. Glossy paper can constitute a deliberate break from the memo pages of matt uncoated paper. However, if conveying softness, ambiance and depth is the desire for the image pages, then a matt and open-pore paper provides an excellent choice.

Similar to bright white paper with a high blue content, images on cream-coloured paper, due to the yellow basis colouration of the paper, tend to look yellow which can lead to unpleasant colour distortion of skin tones. With the right print profile that reduces the yellow content, this effect can be countered before printing. We are happy to present you with a suitable ICC-colour profile. Contact us at any time.

Good notebooks usually have 90 to 100 g/m² strong paper. It is just strong enough so it won’t crease, even if erasers are used, and it guarantees that your favourite fountain pen is not visible on the back; it has a high opacity. For a sketchbook that is solely used for drawing or painting, a paper strength of 120–150 g/m² is recommended. For a sketchbook that is only used for drawing or painting, 120–150 g/m² is a recommended paper weight. With appealing haptics, paper qualities with a higher volume stand out from the mass of papers and convince with their premium quality at first glance. They convince not only with their feel, but also with their look.

Not only the weight of a paper quality plays a role, but also the volume. Natural paper qualities are usually thicker due to their manufacturing process. Our Munken premium paper has just been increased to a volume of 1,30 – ideal. There are even paper qualities with more than 2,2 times the volume, so-called factory printing paper.

Print Data

In contrast to the screen colours RGB (red + green + blue) in which the picture data in your camera is saved, digital and offset printing have to do primarily with CMYK colours (cyan + magenta + yellow + black). The data in your image editing programme has to be converted in order to reproduce them in the four colours through the printing machine. In offset printing, this four colour set can be replaced with special colours for additional printing works, which can also be used on the computer.

The ICC profile provides the colour management when converting the picture data. Preset output profiles compensate various printing material (colouration and surface texture of the paper) and make adjustments in the colour space that are less noticeable in print as on the monitor or in the original picture data. By means of independent reference values the printed result can be simulated on the computer.

The maximum representable colour saturation in print can be reached with full-tone colour. With combined printing inks (CMYK) the summation of the ink coverage can not exceed 300% (coated paper) respectively 260% (uncoated paper). This already has to be taken into consideration during the data preparation.

We print our memo book grid preferably with a line thickness of approx. 0.2 point Pantone (a CMYK- grey composition could lead to register problems). Negative or left out text should only occur in full-colour sections because here the precision is visible.

In print as with embossing, the image precision is dependent on the undercoat, so a glossy paper always leads to a better printing result than one that is open-pore. Coloured text on a coloured surface is set on Leave Blank in the layout programme (surface has holes where the text should be placed). It is recommended to overfill (enlarge) the light colours in order to avoid white streaks when the printing inks aren’t exactly on top of each other. For best printing results, the considerably darker text colours should be set on Overprint in comparison to the background.

Printing process

Basically, what applies is: the smaller the print run, the more economical it becomes to use digital printing because no print plates are used and the machine can therefore be set up more quickly. When using printing plates of 200 or more, offset printing usually becomes more economical. The variety of paper is greater in offset printing than in digital printing, whereby more and more paper manufacturers have their papers tested and certified for digital print machines. Because digital printing paper is usually prepared with a primer for bonding the inks and the colour application is greater, the paper surface is sealed. The application effect with uncoated paper is glossy and slightly shiny, whereas offset printing inks seep more into the paper and the haptic is to the greatest extent maintained. Therefore digital printing offers more possibilities for customising, whereas offset printing simply doesn’t. We are happy to help you in selecting the best printing process for your needs.

Suppose your advertising pages are distributed throughout the book at irregular intervals or you have combined images and a dot grid on one page, there is a way to get around the 5-coloured print (CMYK for pictures + special colour pantone for dots\/check\/lines). With offset printing we set up the printing plates in a frequency-modulated screen, in short FM screening. Thereby the dots or lines are screened in 30% black in such a way that the grid points (common in amplitude-modulated screening) optically disappear. In this way the special colour is not necessary, and we save costs without sacrificing a clean printed image. There are no additional expenses for the data production.

During the offer phase, you will receive from us a sample print from similar productions that illustrate our quality standards. A press proof of your motif from the offset press is expensive and only recommended for very critical special colours or motifs. During the production process, your brandbook contact person will inspect the quality of the print before it is bound. By this time the print run has been completed, but in the case of any rejections, intervening at this point in the production process could avoid excessive costs. If you have the time, we would be happy to send you this printed sheet from the print production for your approval.

Without something to compare it to, it is difficult to predict the desired result or afterwards to object to the actual result. A print from a laser printer or a low resolution plot (inkjet printer in the prepress department) can only serve as a final check in regards to the completeness of the elements. These prints – as well as a screen view – are not colour consistent! It is recommended to make a contact proof with a high-definition printer, namely a digital print which can only simulate how the later offset printing on another paper will look, but due to the settings is colour consistent. The proof control strip contains what is needed to make a technical examination. Only in this way can an alignment of the printing press be made directly according to the template. Special colours will be matched with the corresponding colour guide.


The use of special colours is necessary when the CMYK illustrated colour space needs to be expanded, for example in the area of metallic or neon colours. But also with clearly defined corporate colours, in order to repeatedly get the same colour reproduction on the printed surface, a full-tone colour in print is advisable (instead of combining four colours). Whether you use the Pantone system, the HKS colour scale or the RAL fans – we can use the colour as reference. Offset printing is only printed in pantone (worldwide the most conventional special colour palette for printing) and HKS (a less wide-ranging colour system developed by one of the three German colour manufacturers), while the RAL colour pigment is used in coatings.

When comparing pantone colour C and U fans (C = coated for coated paper, U = uncoated for uncoated paper) one recognises that some of the colours with the same colour number are optically very different. Often the colours in the U fan seem more pale and less pure, while the open paper surface absorbs more colour. When combining uncoated and coated paper in the same book project, it is very important to compare the colours and if necessary choose another pantone tone that optically comes closer to the C value.

Highly pigmented colours from the ANIVA® series are always used when the image on uncoated paper must be reproduced as sharply as possible and in great detail. When printing on natural paper, conventional offset printing normally reduces the colour space significantly. Highly pigmented colours counter this effect and even expand the colour space. The printing result is greatly improved. Ask your brandbook contact person when using highly pigmented colour would be useful.

Neon colours have a special pigment with a high luminance that can be applied on the surface by means of a particularly thick colour application such as in screen printing. In order to get the same luminance and rich neon colour results in offset printing as in screen printing or to reach the same colour on the pantone fans, two printing runs should be planned. This applies particularly to uncoated paper, and is also recommended for coated paper with a closed surface.

Yes! Pearlescent particles give printing an iridescent effect and can be added to the printing ink. The pantone colour system includes metallic colours (gold, silver, copper and also bright colours with a metallic lustre) that in print, especially on coated paper, can be shown to their advantage. The lustre can not really be compared to that of metallic foil debossing; but in its favour varied motifs and half-tones are attainable.

The effect of a black and white photo can be enhanced with a special colour, which can already be set up in the data. With duplex printing, that is a print using black and a second printing ink, details seem more vivid. The second colour should be selected according to the desired effect wanted in the image. For example, silver gives the image a noble shine, a warmer brown tone gives a sepia effect.

In general, in book production we have the problem that when folding and cutting the bound book block and in the final cut on the edges, great pressure is exerted on the paper and consequently also the printing ink. Thereby it can lead to so-called set-off, which means that the printing ink carries over into the white areas of the paper. A finish should be applied here as a protective coating on full-surface and page bleed-off printed pages or if the colour application is 250% or more. A finish is advisable when printing on glossy paper but is not absolutely necessary for uncoated paper (and therefore the haptic of the uncoated paper is maintained).


The DIN formats are well-known, most sheets of paper are available in their aspect ratio. From an aesthetic point of view, brandbook has decided to minimally optimise this format so that, for example our A5 book page is 141 mm × 207 mm (instead of DIN A5: 148 mm × 210 mm). In doing this, we have aligned our machines in such a way that for a book cover with rounded edges, DIN A5 is a special format (and thereby cost intensive). You still have the possibility to select our standard or a customised format i.e. square. Technically books are possible in ​7,8 cm × 10,8 cm to 26,5 cm × 37,5 cm.

Now and then on image pages, the pictures or design elements crossover the binding (Attention: incidentally 2 advertising pages start as a right front page and a left back page! If a double page is desired, then technically you have to anticipate four pages.) Left and right sections are not always found on one piece of paper; instead the printing sheets can be folded and inserted inside each other. In an 8-page thread-sewn book, only page 4 and 5 are directly across from each other; all the others are false double pages. Therefore, the danger is minimised but the fold tolerance depending on the motif doesn’t exclude that the crossover might not appear clean. Diagonals should be avoided here.

Elements that are always the same distance from the edge of the page in the printing data, seem to jump around in the finished product depending on their position in the thread-sewn book. This is due to page creep, that results from inserting so many pages inside each other. In a 16-page book, the pages inside each other are minimally shortened after the final trimming of the book block in comparison to the exterior. To counter this phenomenon is work intensive in that the information about the paper strength is pre-calculated regarding displacement and the individual pages are then manually adjusted.

Image pages in a notebook that are glued in as single sheets or a 4-pager (because they can’t be thread-sewn) have a thin adhesive edge when bound (approx. 4–6 mm). Therefore the inner centimeter should not contain an important picture or text information and the layout has to be adjusted in a way that the picture or text are evenly centered on the page. This also goes for – if they are printed – the last frontleaf page and the first endleaf page that are each thinly glued to the book block.

Cover materials

The handmade paper mill Gmund, which is located at the beautiful Lake Tegern, has developed a cotton series with high-volume paper made of 100% cotton, which feels extra delicate and soft like a cloud and thus has excellent debossing characteristics for the letterpress process. Extensive and multi-coloured debossing motifs can be printed amazingly accurate. With a thickness of up to 900 g/m², Gmund Cotton is very well suited for sketchbooks of the premium section. It comes with a small, but fine choice of colour from pale grey to shiny cream, which we like very much.

Fine papers distinguish themselves not only because of their high-quality composite base, but paper manufacturers often further refine them with fascinating surface structures. The Surbalin series, for instance, is especially beautiful with a Seda surface, Napura with a fine wood structure called Khepera, and the FColor series is not only available in smooth textures, but also in handmade paper, fine linen or mikro textures. In general, fine papers are particularly interesting, because they can be used as cover material, as well as for front- and end leaves.

From the English manufacturer GF Smith we obtain the paper collection Colorplan – a particularly high-quality imbued paper with an impressive product range: 50 colours that can be combined with 25 surface debossings and 8 basic grammages – this adds up to exactly 10 000 possible variations. The colours do not only perfectly harmonize with each other, they also have very beautiful titles, such as Sorbet Yellow, Powder Green, Bitter Chocolate or New Blue.

Soft touch surfaces have a soft and comfortable feel when being touched and, in contrast to sleek surfaces, they have a better grip. This surface coating has been developed for the automotive industry, for car fittings and other surfaces of the car interior. Nowadays, there are also household items and mobile phone- and tablet covers with soft touch surfaces. Thus, it seems just logical that we’d like to offer you this effect for your book production as well. The soft touch surface feel can be achieved through different ways: (a.) Laminating the surface of the hardcover book with either one of the well-known soft touch materials, such as Senzo or Mano, (b.) The print sheet is subsequently sealed with soft touch cellophane, or (c.) Those who want to use the effect just partially, can settle with a soft touch varnish. Too complicated? Just give us a call, and we’ll be happy to advise you on the optimal technique for your book production.

With blind or hot foil debossing many fine papers and synthetic leathers already show fantastic results, yet, thermo-reactive materials can even outdo this. The cover material changes its colour tone-in-tone through the heat impact during the debossing process, so that the debossed motifs are displayed in high-contrast and with sharp edges. Thus, even delicate letterings and motifs show convincing results. In regard to paper, we recommend Napura, a natural and strong paper that is drawn through with fine, bright fibres, and when it comes to synthetic leather: Vivella, a comfortably soft and voluminous thermal material.

Black and leather – this is usually one of the first associations when it comes to notebooks, but it could be so much different. You can choose between wonderful natural paper and cardboard, such as the exceptional Bier Papier from Gmund processed with real draff – very earthy, vivid and authentic. Or undyed natural linen with a structure that reminds you of fine jute. The brand new cover cardboard with the beautiful name Heidi, also produced at the paper factory Gmund near the beautiful lake Tegern, validates this trend. Our suggestion: Make an exclusive impression with a subtle metallic debossing in copper or bronze.

Linen does not equal linen. There are surprisingly many variations to discover: Buckram Canvas with acrylic coating that is extremely durable and scratchproof, linen with glitter effects, coloured linen made of rough canvas material, linen made of fine-shimmering rayon, smoothed fine linen, canvas with changing double-colour effects, undyed natural linen, water-resistant linen, naturally-mottled linen, linen with matte-metallic sealing. And when it comes to a specific colour, we also dye linen individually for you.

IMore and more customers distance themselves from book products made of real leather. It doesn’t surprise us, since it’s completely in line with the current trend. Bonded leathers provide a beautiful substitute to real leather. Made of a recycled leather blend, they have a very similar surface feel and a pleasant smell. The selection of covers is large: from the natural product made of beige or mottled anthracite to classic black matte or silky glossy surfaces up to fine or rough shagreened leather qualities. Starting from 500 copies on, we can dye our bonded leathers exactly according to your corporate Pantone colour


Paper is quantitatively the dominant raw material used in book production. The manufacture of recycling paper consumes approx. two thirds less energy, water and CO2 in comparison to fresh fibre paper. From an environmental viewpoint recycling paper is always the better choice. The Blue Angel guarantees that the paper fibres are extracted from 100% recovered paper and that no harmful chemicals or optical lighteners are added. That protects our forests because not one tree is felled and valuable animal habitats and plants are maintained. Forest Stewardship Council, abbreviated FSC, is a world-wide validated certification for wood and the wood processing industry (which includes paper manufacturers and printing companies). The goal of responsible and sustainable forestry is supported by most of the environmental, conservation and human rights organisations. Both seals are established as the standard and provide, thanks to strict monitoring of social and environmental criteria, an important contribution to the preservation of our forests – world-wide!

In principle, our favourite recycling paper Enviro Polar can be printed in the same way as other uncoated paper. It should be noted that when printing colour surfaces or photos, the front and back side of the the paper is slightly different and therefore could bring different printing results. The very subtle paper colouration can be compensated with the appropriate ICC profile.

Initially, sheet-fed offset inks contained mineral oil as a binding agent, but in the meantime there are plant-based binding agents. The latter in regards to rub resistance is superior to conventional printing inks. There are further advantages for the printer: the wash intervals can be extended many times more than previously and readjustment of the inking units is hardly ever necessary. That is why we find environmentally friendly printing inks the best!

Here responsibility for the climate is asked for: If you decide on a climate-neutral project than this is for you, without involving any additional work or time. Please contact us and we will be happy to advise you and determine the CO2 level of your specific printing project and calculate the corresponding compensating amount. In turn, you can place the logo “climate-neutrally printed”on your printed product and receive a certificate of the total amount of compensation for CO2 emissions. With an ID you, as well as your clients, can retrace how much CO2 has been compensated in your project.

We will be happy to advise you personally!

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