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Copy Design | Image Limitations | Backprinting | Marginal Words

Copy Design

Copy for a unit set 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 it to highlight areas.
  • Use it to shade backgrounds.
  • A variety of densities are available.
  • Screened copy is supplied in a negative or on a disk.
  • Use 5% to 15% screen in areas that will be imprinted.
  • Use halftones for pictures.


Image Limitations

Web Press Equipment:

Unit set forms are printed on web presses. The web presses have plate and blanket cylinders, which along with other components, produce a printed impression on paper. The plate and blanket cylinders have a slot or gap in them where the plate and the blanket are attached. Nothing can print in the this area. The nonprintable area is known as the "cylinder gap" or the "plate lockup". The gap area is usually 3/8" in depth and extends the full width of the sheet. Because of the gap area, the printable area of any form will be less than the total width of the finished form.


Note: All colors have the 3/8" gap because each color is printed on a separate cylinder.

Three Ways To Allow for the 3/8" Gap on a 8 1/2" Stub Width

Example: An 8 1/2" x  11 5/8" form would have a maximum image of 8 1/8" x  11 5/8".


Three Ways to Allow for the 3/8" Gap on an 11" Stub Width

Example: A 9 1/8" x 11" form would have a maximum image of 9 1/8" x 10 5/8".


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

  • The manufacturer can work around image size limitations by trying to adjust the copy within the image limitations. 
  • The copy can be run as a split image (split the copy and run it on two separate printing units on the same press).
  • The form can be printed oversized and trimmed to the finished size.

Note: 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 option they could use.

Back Printing

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 to the back 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.
  • They are used to make reference to the form they are printed on or to provide special instructions.
  • Marginal words are used for part to part designations, such as Original Copy, Duplicate Copy, and Triplicate Copy.
  • They may be used as a method to add an additional color to a form, but the quality will not be as good as the quality produced by a regular offset printing unit.
  • There may be size limitations depending on your supplier's capabilities.


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