Houston Printing Company
(713) 910-8400


Some of our most frequently asked questions:

I have something I want printed. Where do I start?

Your first step should be to assemble the text, graphics and illustrations that you want printed. If you’re designing your own materials and submitting them on disk to us make sure to check with us on which file formats will work best for our computer system.

Please Note: Before submitting your own files you warrant that the subject matter to be reprinted is not copyrighted by a third party. You must also recognize that because subject matter does not have to bear a copyright notice in order to be protected by copyright law, absence of such notice does not necessarily assure a right to reproduce. Additionally, you warrant that no copyright notice has been removed from any material used in preparing the subject matter for reproduction. To support these warranties, customers agree to indemnify and hold ABF Printing Services harmless for all liability, damages and attorney’s fees that may be incurred if any legal action connected with copyright infringement involving the work produced or provided.

We can design your materials for you. Ask to see samples of our work. If you already have a rough sketch or a printout of what you want, we will typeset the page and show it to you, usually just as a black and white paper printout called a proof. For most one- or two-color jobs, such as for stationery, a black and white proof is usually adequate. After you approve (“sign off on”) the proof, we will begin the production process.

What should I consider when selecting paper for my printing project?

Choosing the right paper for your print job can be confusing because of the different sizes and weights of paper. Ask your printer for recommendations on how you can optimize the quality of your printing job while saving costs and minimizing wastage.


Paper comes in varying weights and thickness, with heavier paper usually costing more. Each type or grade of paper has one basic sheet size that’s used to figure out its basis weight. Basis weight is the weight of a ream of paper (500 sheets) in a grade’s most standard size.

Of course, that means basis weights for any two kinds of paper can be difficult to compare if their standard sizes differ. In the US, basis weight is expressed in pounds. When written down for print specifications, the # symbol stands for pounds.

The same grade of paper can come in different weights too. Common weights for bond, for example, are 20# and 24#.


If you’re having trouble finding a specific type of paper for your project, or if you want a reprint job and can’t locate the same paper as last time, find a substitute paper with an equivalent basis weight. Your project’s overall look should stay the same. Don’t hesitate to ask your printer for recommendations.

If you’re having a hard time comparing paper weights by numbers alone, hold a sheet of paper in either hand, close your eyes, and compare the texture and weight with your fingers.

Use substitutions to save. If you order good letterhead – say, on a popular certificate bond – you can order the envelopes on a cheaper paper with the same thickness and weight as the bond. That way you retain an overall effect of quality, for less.

Keep postage costs in mind. If you’re ordering a large print job like a catalogue to mail to customers, using a lighter weight paper could save you a lot in postage. Get a mock-up weighed at the post office before ordering the job, if possible. And don’t forget to check that you’re meeting size, bar code and other postal regulations.

What should I consider when choosing ink colors?

If your printing uses just one, two or three colors that need only their own colored ink to be reproduced (as opposed to needing a full-color combination of cyan, magenta, yellow and black), you’ll use the spot color process. Spot colors are most commonly specified using the popular Pantone Matching System (PMS). Each Pantone color is assigned a code to help keep your colors the same each time you print. You’re more likely to use spot colors for anything that uses less than three colors, such as your logo, your stationery or business cards. Black counts as one color.

If you’re printing full color documents, such as scanned photographs, you’ll be using a four-color process. The four-color process is a method of producing virtually any color using only four ink colors, cyan, magenta, yellow and black. These are also known as CMYK, with K for black.

A four-color plus one process adds a layer of varnish or a spot color to the fully printed page.

What is 'proofing' and why is it important?

Proofs are made to inspect and critique several things including: spelling, grammar, typeface, alignment and registration, fit and trapping, color break and color evaluation. The true purpose of the proof is to determine how a project or element will look on press before actually getting to press. In other words, the right kind of proof will reduce or control costs within a project by forecasting or anticipating the appearance of a piece before proceeding to the next step. These proofs serve the very important function of providing a vehicle to review, critique and forecast how color, alignment, graphics, type, photos, overall appearance etc. will look when film is output.

Laser proofs of the most recent file should always be pulled and thoroughly inspected and critiqued before the file is released to the printer or service bureau. These proofs should be output at 100% size so details, alignment, fit and color break can be seen clearly. Color separated lasers should also be made and carefully inspected. These proofs will be used by your printer or service bureau as the guide to correct altered typeflow and positioning that sometimes result from the differences between systems.

Digital color proofs such as the Iris proof have been popular in use for comps. It wasn’t long ago that digital proofing wasn’t practical for contract color. With our Iris proofs, process color randoms as well as trapped, imposed contract process color proofs of your project can be made—after your files have been RIP’d and before film is output. If the proof is approved without changes, the file is output without having to be RIP’d again. If there are changes, you save the cost of an additional set of film.

How Do I Mark a Proof?

  • Using a permanent marker or ballpoint pen, indicate changes to your blueline in a color that has not already been used by the printer when marking the blueline.
  • Do NOT use “sticky notes” that can fall off when making notations or marking changes on bluelines. Make your notations directly on the blueline (preferably outside the image area) or on notes taped securely to the blueline in areas that do not obscure copy.
  • Do NOT write specific change notations on the blueline approval sheet since these proof sheets can get separated from bluelines. Rather, write these changes on the blueline itself.
  • Provide hardcopy of all replacement pages (along with appropriate electronic media). Indicate pages or blocks of type being replaced by “X-ing” out the copy on the blueline itself with a note to insert new copy provided.

What are some Tips for Proofing?

Size & Folding

Are the flat and folded sizes of your piece correct? Is the proof folded correctly? Does all copy read correctly as folded? Are all scores, perforations and diecuts indicated?

Copy & Pages

Are there any typographical or grammatical errors? Are there any missing characters or broken type? Are names, addresses, phone or fax numbers, web addresses, year, or other easily overlooked items correct? Are the pages, including blanks, in the correct order? Is all the copy in the proper position on the page or panel? Is the correct page number in the correct position on each page? Are all margins straight and consistent? Are there any dust spots, crop marks, registration marks, editor’s marks, or dirt marks showing?


Have all photos, illustrations, or other strip-ins been shot at the proper size and placed in the correct position? Has all FPO (For Position Only) art been replaced? Are there any upside-down or flopped images? Does each image have the proper caption? Has all background been removed from silhouettes? Are the edges of silhouettes smooth? If outline rules are being used, do photographs fully touch them? Do any photos or illustrations require any additional kind of proof to show image quality?

Color Breaks and Registration

Are the correct colors of ink indicated properly? Do areas of different ink colors align (“register”) properly?

Binding & Finishing

If saddlestitched, are the stitches (staple) in the correct position? Are cards or envelopes that will be bound into the publication included in the blueline? If not, are their positions indicated? If perfect bound, is the spine the correct thickness? Are binding holes (either drilled or indicated) the correct size and position? Do perforation marks, appearing as images, print and perforate? Or print only? Are they marked correctly? Are all special finishing images properly indicated? Is this positioning correct? Is any image that is not supposed to print marked FPO (For Position Only – Does Not Print)?

Don’t rush through proofs!

They’re critical to the accuracy of your printed order. Get at least one more person to read through the proof carefully after you finish checking it.

We even recommend reading each sentence in the text backwards – if you’re not anticipating what the next word in a sentence will look like, you’re more likely to catch a misspelled word.

How do I upload my artwork?

You can submit your artwork through our website. At the bottom of the page you will see a login form and underneath that is a “Register” button. Click register, fill out all the requested info and hit submit. Once your account is approved, you will have your own private and secure HUB page where you can upload/download artwork and communicate with a representative from the ABF Printing Team.

You must register through our site in order to securely submit any artwork. You may submit 1 small file under 1MB on our Quote Request Page.

Contact Info:

9361 Winkler Drive Suite C
Houston, TX 77017
(713) 910-8400