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Copy Design | Image Limitations | Backprinting | Marginal Words

Copy Design

Copy for the form can consist of rules, text, graphics, screens and halftones. When designing the copy for the form, you must keep in mind that there are image limitations on the press equipment and the laser printers that print the forms (see Image Limitations below).

Screened Copy:

  • Use to achieve different shades of one color
  • Use to shade backgrounds
  • Variety of densities available
  • Supply in a negative or on a disk
  • Use 5% to 15% screen in areas that will be imprinted


Image Limitations

Web Press Equipment

The plate and blanket cylinders on a web press have a slot or gap in them where the plate and a blanket are attached. Nothing can print in the gap area. The nonprintable area is know as the cylinder gap or the "plate lockup". The gap area is usually 3/8" in depth and extends the width of the sheet.

All colors have this 3/8" gap because each is printed on a separate cylinder.

Three Ways to Allow for the 3/8" Gap

The width of the laser form is usually not a problem. The width limitations are determined by the maximum roll width that the press can run. If you have questions on width requirements, consult your manufacturer.

Listed below are some ways that a manufacturer can work around the image limitations:

  • They can try to adjust copy to be within limitations.
  • They can print the copy as a split image (run on two separate printing units on the same press).
  • They can print on an oversize sheet and trim to finished size.
  • The form could be printed on sheet fed equipment.

When discussing the image limitation options with your manufacturer, you will have to let them know how many colors you will have on the front and back of your form for them to determine which options would be available for your requirements.

Sheet Fed Equipment

On the sheet fed press the image limitations are less restrictive. The form can be printed oversize and trimmed to the finished size. Indicate where the copy bleeds so the supplier can allow for the proper gripper and trim needed. Although printing the form on sheet fed equipment may solve image limitation problems, it may not be cost effective if you are running a large quantity of forms.

Laser Printer

To find image limitations for the laser printer being used, see the technical specifications in the printer manual for printable area.


Backprinting is any copy printed on the back side of the form.

  • The same design features are available as on the front of the form.
  • The same image limitations apply as on the front of the form.

Marginal Words

Marginal words are printed on a dry offset unit using a rubber stamp type of material.

  • They are usually printed in a standard red ink.
  • Marginal words are used to make reference to that form or provide special instructions.
  • They may be used as a way to add another color to the form, but the quality will not be as good as if it was printed on a regular offset unit.
  • There may be size limitations depending on your supplier's capabilities.


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