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Frequently Asked Questions


How long will it take for my printing to arrive?
The answer depends on what you would like to print, so here goes…

Standard business cards, leaflets, posters and stickers are generally quick to print and will be with you in 3 days. Premium business cards, folded leaflets, GF Smith posters and bespoke stickers require more set up and production time so allow longer for these. Ask us before you order for the specific time.

Short run zines, catalogues, booklets, books of 500 copies or under should be with you in 5 working days. So if you order on a Monday then we will aim to deliver by the end of the week.

Short run hard back (case bound) books take 7/8 working days.

Longer print runs (500 copies+) will be litho printed to ensure the absolute best possible quality and you should allow 7/8 working days for delivery.

More bespoke bound publications, including those with premium cover extras (foiling, embossing, spot UV varnishing) can all take 10 working days.

Litho printed, hardback book jobs of 500 copies of more usually take three weeks. There are a lot of parts to bring together and we prefer to take out time to ensure perfection.

We advise these turnaround schedules because we know from experience how long this kind of job takes to preflight, proof, print, produce, take payment and deliver. Rushing print jobs, especially bespoke ones tends to ALWAYS go wrong and it then costs you money for the reprint and takes more time in the long run.

Our file set up guides offer step by step advice on how to prepare files correctly. https://www.exwhyzed.com/resources/file-set-up-guide/

Our general advice is that if you have an urgent deadline ALWAYS allow more time. There is nothing worse for you or us than if you have a Uni deadline or event start on a particular day and that is when the printing is due to arrive. Neither of us wants to be checking a courier’s website for live updates all day and keeping our fingers crossed that there are no delays or that the driver is competent.

*These suggested schedules are from when we receive print ready artwork. If you send the files over on Monday, then we spend two days requesting changes and the artwork is only correct by Wednesday afternoon, then Wednesday is when the turnaround schedule starts :)

**All of these timings are dependent on how busy we are obviously. Degree show period (April, May and June) and in the run up to Christmas (early November to the end of the year) are particularly frantic.
Choosing the right paper for your project
Check out video guide here and we’ll talk you through the options with examples printed on each of the finishes. Still uncertain? Jump on our sample pack form and we’ll get some paper choices in the post asap.
For cost-effective sizes keep your catalogue within A4 portrait, A5 landscape or 210x210mm square - these are the cheapest sizes to print but do choose the size that best fits your publication. The largest portrait size we can print is an impressive A3 (420mm high x 297mm wide). Our maximum square size is 297x297mm. The maximum landscape size is 210mm high x 297mm wide.
Can you print A3 landscape books?
Sorry, these are too large for us to bind and print. If you can change to A3 portrait or A4 landscape then we'd be happy to send over a quote.
What is wire stitching?
Wire stitching is a little bit of print jargon for ‘stapling’. If you have an A5 booklet then we print it onto A4 sheets, fold them in and put staples along the left-hand edge to bind the sheet together. In some quarters, this is also known as ‘saddle stitching’. Let’s stick with stapling though if that’s easier :) Needs to be a multiple of four pages to work as a stapled booklet. Why? Because when you fold a printed sheet in half, you get four pages of content - try it there and you’ll see what we mean :) This guide will give you further insight . CLICK HERE
What is perfect binding?
You will be familiar with this binding style from most books and larger magazines. Perfect binding will give your publication a square spine and professional looking finish. We need an absolute minimum of 32 pages for this to work but 40 pages or more is more effective and you can go as thick as 400 pages plus for really a formidable, coffee table book. This guide will give you further insight . CLICK HERE
Why do you call it ‘text’ pages? Can I have images?
Yes, ‘text’ pages is our common term for the inside pages of your publication. They can be filled with illustrations, photography, full colour artwork…or just text if it’s a poetry book.
What is a page for quoting and printing purposes?
For the purposes of our quoting, we call a page one side of content. So, a sheet of paper has two pages - a front and a back. If you ask for a quote for 40 inside pages, that will be 40 pages of content, 40 pages in your artwork file / pdf and in the book 20 leaves printed on both sides.
Which program do you recommend for page layout?
Adobe Indesign is the industry standard for page layout. It is easy to learn and fast to use. They also have a one week free trial. Photoshop, as you know, is super powerful for image manipulation but Indesign is a lot easier for page layout. Additionally, any text rendered in Photoshop tends to print slightly out of focus but from Indesign it will be crisp and perfect. Free alternatives to Indesign which  our customers have mentioned recently are Affinity Publisher, Scribus and Canva. We haven't tried these yet.
Will my images look like they do on screen?
Unfortunately what is seen on an RGB, backlit screen is never going to be the same as it appears on paper in cmyk. It's just impossible to achieve that and no printer could. You will have to allow for some difference in the colours between the two mediums but having something tangible in your hands and seeing the images on paper gives the publication a charm that just sending out a pdf wont do.
Where are you based?
We are in England’s oldest town, Colchester, Essex.

Products & Services

Can you send me out a paper sample pack?

Yes, we're always happy to send out a range of paper samples to help you decide because we appreciate it's a lot easier when you can touch and sniff them. Jump on our form, let us know is the best address for postage and we usually send them out on the same day.

In the meantime, definitely have a look the following pages for inspiration.

Paper Choices
Our Pinterest Boards
Our Print Portfolio

Can you send me unbound sheets so I can bind the book here?

Unfortunately we don’t supply unbound sheets for external binding. Frustratingly there’s always a disconnect between the artwork people supply to us and how the binder needs the sheets. (Generally this is because the sheets have been trimmed or folded when they shouldn’t have been, the double page spreads don’t match up or some other funky variation on the page layout being in the wrong). We have said “Yes” in previous years and, honestly, it goes wrong every single time. We know from experience that it always leads to us having to reprint the job for free. If you’d like us to print and bind your publication then we’re great at that and we would be more than happy to help!

Can I send you pre-printed covers for you to bind on?

Unfortunately we don’t take in pre-printed work. This is full of risk and the sheets never arrive how we expect them to.  Frankly speaking, we would prefer not to take the risk of having to reprint your original work for you.

Can you ship internationally?

Yes, we regularly send work to the US, Germany, Scandinavia and throughout Europe, Australia and Japan.

We just charge the cost price from the cheapest courier on the day and there is usually a choice between a cheap slow service (3-5 working days for arrival) and a more expensive fast service which might arrive the day after it leaves us.

If you are in Europe, do check your local European government’s advice about import taxes too after Brexit - there may be a tariff to pay on arrival if you are in Europe.

Delivery within the UK is free. Yes FREE!

Do you have any advice for self-publishing a book?

Yes, enjoy our recent blog post which is packed full of info.
Self Publishing a Book at Ex Why Zed Blog Post

Why aren’t your prices online?

We don't advertise our prices online because we prefer to open up a conversation with you and find out a little bit about the project. Your artwork is unique and bespoke, so in turn, we will provide you a unique and bespoke print quote for your job. I am sure you will take no fun in looking at a boring spreadsheet with rows of bemusing numbers so we don't put you though that.

Why can I not get an instant price?

If you just need a quick price for printing your work then great, there are a hundred companies online that do that.  If you are looking for someone who listens to your requirement, spends time working out a bespoke price just for your project and then prints it at the best possible quality, then welcome to Ex Why Zed.

Can you print onto recycled papers?

Yes! First up, all of our papers are FSC Approved. These are arguably better than 100% recycled papers because there are fewer chemicals involved in making them. We do have a few recycled options too though and we also use vegetable inks on our litho press.

Order Issues

How do I place an order with Ex Why Zed?

Ready to Order? Great, jump straight over to our dedicated page within the Print Journey. 

You'll need to upload the files using www.wetransfer.com sending them to hello@exwhyzed.com and in the comments box let us know the number of copies you're going for and the best address for delivery. We'll then give your artwork a free preflight check to highlight any potential issues and will email with any advice or recommendations before going to production.

Once we receive your print ready artwork, we'll aim to deliver in 5/6 working days (we do get busy at degree show time). If you are working to a crucial deadline PLEASE allow more time - there's no harm in getting the artwork to us early so we can deliver a few days before the show starts :)

We look forward to hearing from you and if you need any advice on preparing the artwork please do give us a call or email, we'd be happy to talk you through it.


How do I pay?

Once we have checked your artwork we will send over an invoice for you to pay by online bank transfer or credit card through Stripe.

Technical Issues

What is cover lamination?

Matt Lamination works best with silk and uncoated covers. We would suggest using gloss lamination if you are aiming for a super shiny, high impact cover. Soft-touch has a velvet, illustrious feel but does attract finger marks REALLY quickly so best not eat your lunch before reading!

Do I need lamination on my cover?

The short answer: when paper is printed, the ink sits on the surface. When it is then folded to make your cover the ink can crack. While you should never judge a book by it’s cover, this cracking will look unprofessional. Lamination is a thin layer of protection which prevents the ink cracking. Win win. It comes in a matt or gloss finish.


 Always laminate book covers on uncoated

I only have 32 pages, can my book be perfect bound?

If you increase the inside pages to 170gsm then that will get you to the 3mm spine we need to glue and perfect bind. If you have less than 32 pages then we recommend wire stitching (stapling).

Can you print black and white photography?

If you are looking to print a book featuring images that appear black & white or monochrome on screen but are actually in full colour then this is a crucial video for you to watch, absorb and act on. It can be extremely hard to effectively print black-and-white images in digital print. Thankfully, this isn't our first rodeo so in the video below we take a deep dive into how to get around this and why it is so difficult. This is an issue that you will encounter at every printer but at Ex Why Zed we are keen to point it out and help before going ahead.

Battle of printing black and white video.

Can you send me a template for my perfect bound cover?

Yes! To save you a bit of time and head scratching, pleas find a good selection of sizes and spine widths here. When you export to PDF can you set the bleed to 3mm on the right and left and 10mm on the top and bottom - this way the hairlines will show on the PDF and we'll know where to fold the spine. We have locked the hairlines and white box so drop your artwork in over those.

Cover Video Guide
Create a cover file illustrated guide

I am printing a wire stitching booklet, should I send the pages as spreads or single pages?

We need the pages sent as single pages rather than spreads please. Just choose ‘Pages’ rather ‘Spreads' when you export to PDF and that should sort it!

Here is our thorough and helpful guide for preparing artwork for a wire stitched booklet.

What is 3mm bleed?

Ok, if you've not printed anything before or set a file up for print then we understand 'bleed' will be a completely alien concept. So, what is it? Well, in the simplest terms, bleed, is an extra 3mm of your artwork which gives us more leeway when we trim your pages. If you are preparing an A5 page it will be trimmed to 210x148mm. Adding 3mm bleed around the edge means the visible artwork on your file becomes 216x154mm and makes out job so much easier.

Here is a helpful video overview to get you started. It is a quick watch on how to set up bleed for printing.

Can you just go ahead without it? Well, we print your work on oversize sheets which are then trimmed to the correct size for your work. You might be printing many copies of a book and all the pages will be stacked on top of each other.

There could be thousands of sheets in the pile. We'll aim to trim to the precise crop marks on your artwork but with that many sheets they might not all be in exactly the same position all the way down the pile. Without bleed there would just be a white area outside the crop marks so when we trim the pages that are slightly out position this white area will then be included within the trim and will ultimately show up on your final printing.

This doesn't look very professional if the photography, graphics or background colour was meant to go right to the edge of the page. Therefore, the way to get round this is by adding the extra 3mm of your graphics around the edge so if the blade is slightly out then this extra section of colour will be used on the final printing. So that's the theory, what's the practice?

Let's set up an A5 page in Indesign and include scope for the bleed. Follow the screengrab here: (This is for a 20 page file but change this number accordingly for your publication).

You'll see we've told the document to include bleed but we need to add it on the file. Next, add a photo to the page. On the indesign document the black like shows the A5 page and is where we will trim each page. (As a side note, keep any important text at least 5mm from those edges and 6-8mm away on the spine side of the page).

How do I add bleed to my file?

We will need 3mm bleed on all the edges, you'll notice at the moment that the artwork stops at the crop marks - it needs to extend 3mm beyond this to avoid any chance of a white border.

The following pages include illustrated and video guides on how to set up bleed correctly:

Video guide on setting up 3mm bleed.
Illustrated guide to setting up bleed for print.

You might have set this up correctly in InDesign but when you export to PDF just make sure that in the 'Marks and Bleeds' menu you not only tick 'Crop Marks' but you also add '3mm' in to the four bleed boxes - top, bottom, inside and outside. This will add the bleed to the exported PDF.


It's one of two things:

Have you dragged the background image out 3mm beyond the black line on your Indesign file into the bleed area? Try that then export again.

OR you have done the above but then when you're exporting you need to click the Marks and Bleeds menu, then type '3mm' into the four bleed boxes. This will add the bleed to the pdf.

What resolution of image do you need for printing?

300dots per inch please. Anything under 300ppi can appear out of focus or pixelated when printed. We strongly recommend dropping in hi res replacements at 300dpi if you have them to ensure the finished printing is crisp and high quality.

How can I check if my images are RGB or CMYK?

There is an easy way to check what is RGB at the moment and needs converting by following this:

Acrobat - Open Your File - Choose 'Advanced' menu - then 'Print Production' - then 'Preflight' - Choose 'Sheet Fed Offset (CMYK)'. This runs a check on the file and you want to get rid of all the items that are coming up in the list under 'Object Uses RGB' error. If you click the arrow to open up all the instances and 'Show in Snap' bottom left it will show you where they are. (Bit of a headache i know but it's best for you to change them over so you can check them on screen for any massive alterations in colour).

How should I supply a file for foiling?

We'll need a second artwork file for the foiling - anything that you would like foiled should be set in 100% black (0/0/0/100 on the cmyk slider). This file should be the same size as the printed cover artwork so that we can overlay the two.  Foiling only works with vector artwork so best to produce that in Illustrator for optimum results.

How should I supply a file for spot UV varnishing?

We'll need a second artwork file for the varnishing - anything that you would like varnished should be set in 100% black (0/0/0/100 on the cmyk slider). This file should be the same size as the printed cover artwork so that we can overlay the two.  Varnishing works best with vector artwork so best to produce that in Illustrator for optimum results.  None of the printed content should be on this file, it should just be a white background with anything to be varnished in 0/0/0/100.

How should I supply a file for embossing?

We'll need a second artwork file for the embossing - anything that you would like embossed should be set in 100% black (0/0/0/100 on the cmyk slider). This file should be the same size as the printed cover artwork so that we can overlay the two.  Embossing only works with vector artwork so best to produce that in Illustrator for optimum results.

Do I lose any of my image in the middle of a page on a double-page spread?

You tend to lose 3-4mm on the spine side of each page so moving any important information a good 6-8mm away from the page edge will make it actually readable without people having to force the pages flat.

Additionally, 8mm of the first and last text pages are glued to the front cover to make a hinge so best to allow 10-12mm of space on the spine side to avoid anything being completely hidden by the cover hinge.

With images that cross the spread you can cheat a little by splitting the image in two then moving the left hand half left by 2-3mm and the right hand half right by the same amount.

There are some visual examples here:


Can I bind two different sized books or booklets together?

Sorry, we're not able to bind two different page sizes within one book. What Monocle magazine do is use an elastic band to join two books together. A very cheap but effective solution. See attached images.

What file format should my images be? Jpg? Tiff? Is there a colour profile I need to use?

Jpg and Tiff are both fine.  Tiff will print fractionally better but Jpg is a smaller file size and easier to handle.  We print in CMYK (as do all commercial printers). At some stage, RGB images do have to be converted over. It will give you more control over the images if you convert them to CMYK in Photoshop first. You can then make any amends if the conversion darkens or mutes the vibrancy. Try using the color balance, brightness and levels menus in Photoshop.

What is the thickest cover you do?

We can bind a cover that is 350gsm. This is a very rigid card and feels very impressive.  Any thicker and the reader simply wouldn’t be able to open it.  We can, of course, print hardback books which involve a different binding process and are a solid 2mm thick.

Do I need to supply the files as single pages or spreads?

For perfect bound books, we will need the cover of your book supplied as two spreads - the outer cover and the inner cover. When you export to PDF can you set the bleed to 3mm on the right and left and 10mm on the top and bottom - this way the hairlines will show on the PDF and we'll know where to fold the spine.  We have locked the hairlines and white box so drop your artwork in over those.

Video guide to preparing a perfect bound cover

Illustrated guide to setting up a perfect bound book

The inside pages of a perfect bound book should be supplied as single pages in reading order. These are the correct options in Adobe Indesign:

 Export as single pages not spreads

If you are printing a wire stitched, stapled booklet then they should be single pages all the way through, we don’t need a separate cover.

Always remember to add 3mm bleed and crop marks before sending the file.

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