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Citation Software Inc.
 Specialists in variable-data publishing since 1986

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Seven common variable-data-printing mistakes

If you're just starting to think about getting involved with variable-data printing, it will benefit you to take the time to gain a basic understanding of the issues outlined below. Paying attention to these issues can make the difference between a successful attempt to make money with variable-data printing and a failed attempt!

Citation Software offers variable-data-printing solutions from several leading vendors. We offer a FREE consulting service to help you identify the best solution for your technical requirements and budget. (We are compensated by the vendors that we represent.) Call us today at 888-260-7316, and allow us to help guide your decision-making process. We are here to assist you!

MISTAKE #1: Buying a new printer to do variable-data printing and then buying variable-data-printing software later, after you already own the printer.

It is very important to make sure that your software and your printer are designed to work well together. If you don't do this, you might end up with a system that is difficult to use or prints very slowly or — worst case — does not work at all!

The issues that factor into a good match between software and printer for a variable-data-printing system are quite complex. For advice, look to a company such as Citation Software. We've been involved with variable-data-printing technology since 1986, and we offer a FREE consulting service to help you choose a software solution and a printer that work together properly and are designed for the kinds of documents that you plan to print.

Note, however, that you should not necessarily assume that you need to buy a new printer to do variable-data printing. Depending upon your specific requirements, you might be able to set up a profitable variable-data-printing operation with the printer(s) that you already own.

MISTAKE #2: Assuming that in-line finishing operations work the same way for both static and variable-data printing.

If you are printing static (i.e., non-variable) documents and performing finishing operations in line (such as stapling or folding), don't just assume that everything will work the same way when you start printing variable-data documents.

What happens behind the scenes in a printer or RIP when you are printing variable-data documents is very different than what happens behind the scenes in the printer/RIP when you are printing static documents. Because of this, you must choose your variable-data-printing software very carefully — otherwise, you might not be able to do finishing operations in line.

A solution provider with variable-data-printing experience can offer guidance in this area.

MISTAKE #3: Buying software and/or printer without testing them together.

Reputable software companies and reputable printer dealers will make an arrangement for you to try before you buy — so you should test the software that you plan to buy with the printer that you own or plan to buy to make sure that everything works the way it should. Do this BEFORE you spend any money on printer or software, and be wary of any software company or printer dealer that is not willing to make arrangements for you to do some testing before you pay for anything.

MISTAKE #4: Assuming that your printer dealer understands variable-data-printing technology.

Many printer dealers lack an understanding of variable-data-printing technology but are otherwise very competent. If you're getting advice from your printer dealer about which printer and/or which software to buy, get a second opinion before finalizing your decision.

You should also be aware that some printer dealers will try to convince you to buy a particular variable-data-printing application simply because it's the only variable-data-printing application that they sell.

MISTAKE #5: Buying variable-data-printing software that requires highly skilled personnel.

Understand that your operation will probably be more profitable if you choose variable-data-printing software that is easy to use.

There are many different variable-data-printing solutions available today. Some have a easy-to-use, point-and-click interface; some do not have a point-and-click interface but instead require scripting or programming; some have a point-and-click interface that can be used for most tasks but require a little bit of scripting or programming to do other tasks.

The relationship between profitability and easy-to-use software is simple to understand. What it boils down to is that you'll have to hire somebody with programming skills if your variable-data-printing software relies heavily on programming or scripting; but if your variable-data-printing software allows most things to be done by pointing and clicking with a mouse, all you'll need is a person with basic computer skills and a knowledge of common document formats. Since programmers usually demand higher salaries than people with basic computer skills, you'll spend less money to set up new jobs if you don't need to rely on a programmer.

MISTAKE #6: Assuming that software that's easy to use is not as powerful as software that's hard to use.

This is a common misconception, and in many cases it simply isn't true! So don't dismiss a particular variable-data-printing application because it seems "too basic" unless you've taken the time to read and understand the documentation that comes with the software.

MISTAKE #7: Not allowing enough time to do your first variable-data-printing project.

In most cases, it is a mistake to assume that you can get your first variable-data-printing job out the door the same day that your new printer and your new variable-data-printing software arrive in your office. To protect your sanity and to ensure that your deadlines can be met, accept the fact that you'll experience a learning curve with virtually any variable-data-printing solution — even if it is very easy to use.

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