Personalization Printing Knowledge

Personalization is the printing of variable data on one sheet to the next. It is used in direct mail pieces to attract the prospects attention by making the offer seem more personal. You can personalize with the use of names and address but personal messages or graphics related to the prospects interests and other available history data can also be used.

Personalization uses a computer-to-print process that combines the use of laser or ink jet printing with database technology. There are many methods used to do personalization. Some of the common methods are shown below.

Inline Personalization

Inline personalization is when the printing of the product and personalization is accomplished in a single pass through the press. The personalization is generally accomplished with the use of an ink jet printer. Inline personalization may have some limitations on how much of an area can be imprinted due to the head sizes of the ink jet printer. The use of additional heads can eliminate some of these limitations. Check with your manufacturer if you have any concerns about what imprinting limitations they may have.

Offline Personalization

Offline personalization is performed as a separate operation once the piece has been printed. Personalized areas are left blank when the piece is printed on the press and then imprinted with the personalized information on a separate printer. Offline personalization can be performed on impact, laser or ink jet printers. The printed pieces can be personalized offline as a continuous form, on a roll, as a single sheet or as an envelope. The method used for personalizing offline will depend on the manufacturers capabilities.

Fully Digital Presses

Fully digital presses generally use a laser or ink jet technology. Each page can be fully printed with static and variable images. Each page can consist of entirely different copy than the previous page. Fully digital presses can print on continuous forms, rolls (pinfed and pinless), single sheets and envelopes. Some have the capability to print in black and white only and some print in full color. The quality and speed of the presses will vary from one type to the next. For more details on digital presses, see Print - Digital.

The personalization can be performed by a variety of service providers. It could be accomplished by the printer, the lettershop, a mail house or a facility that is a complete provider of direct mail services. The method used to personalize your direct mail pieces will vary according to your needs and the providers capabilities. Some of the information that your should furnish in regard to your personalization is listed below.

  • Furnish form size and number up per form.
  • If it fits with a window envelope, provide a sample envelope.
  • Provide a sample showing exactly where it will be personalized.
  • Indicate if typeface must match preprinted copy.
  • Are there any special fonts required, such as MICR, OCR or handwritten?
  • If a signature has to be imprinted, has a scannable sample been provide?
  • Are samples required?
  • Is proof approval necessary before proceeding?
  • Are there any sorting requirements?


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