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VDP software

software is sophisticated
mailmerge software and
is sometimes known as
VDP software or
personalization software.

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MYTHS and facts about
variable-data printing
& publishing


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

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VDP software We offer several easy-to-use, state-of-the-art variable-data-printing (VDP) solutions.

Click here to get details and pricing for all of them.

Free demo versions of VDP software are available so you can try before you buy. Pricing starts at just $769.00 US.

We offer a FREE consulting service to help you choose the right VDP software for your technical requirements and budget.

We offer financing for purchases of $3,000.00 or more.
Click here to read some
MYTHS and FACTS about
variable-data publishing.

QUESTION: What is "variable-data printing and publishing"?

ANSWER: "Variable-data printing" is a form of on-demand printing in which all the documents in a print run are similar but not identical. For example, if you are printing personalized letters to be mailed to your customers, each document probably has the same basic layout, but there is a different customer name and address on each letter.

When you use your word-processing software to do a mail merge, you are doing a simple form of variable-data printing.

These days, variable-data printing can go far beyond printing different names and addresses on a document. There are systems that let you insert different graphics into a document, change the layout and/or the number of pages, print a unique bar code on each document, use color extensively. . . and more.

The concept of creating variable-data documents has been extended to non-paper documents such as PDF documents and HTML documents. The term "variable-data printing and publishing" (or just "variable-data publishing") encompasses both paper documents and on-line documents.

Software for doing variable-data printing and publishing is sometimes referred to as "VDP software."

Variable-data printing and publishing is known by several other names. Some of them are:
  • personalized printing
  • personalized publishing
  • personalization
  • customized printing
  • customized publishing
  • database publishing
  • one-to-one (1:1) communication
  • one-to-one (1:1) publishing.
Because VDP software is often used to create documents for promoting and selling products & services, the terms
  • direct marketing
  • one-to-one (1:1) marketing
are often used in connection with VDP software.

If you'd like to learn more about variable-data printing and publishing, continue reading below.

If you'd like to find a variable-data printing/publishing solution (VDP software) that will meet your technical requirements and budget, click here.

If you'd like to learn about how Citation Software can help you set up your own variable-data-printing/publishing system, click here.


Usually, people think of variable-data printing and publishing in connection with marketing. You probably see an example of this every month when you receive your credit-card statement. Do you find advertisements for discounts and special promotions in the envelope with your statement? Most likely, your credit-card company doesn't send information about the same discounts and promotions to all of their customers. Instead, they analyze the buying histories of their customers; and they send information about discounts and promotions for specific products and services to customers that are likely to be interested in those particular products and services.

For example:
  • a certain customer might receive information about discounts and promotions for music, casual clothing, and sports equipment

  • another customer might receive information about discounts and promotions for jewelry, wines, and fine dining

  • still another customer might receive information about discounts and promotions for computer hardware, computer software, and luxury-vacation packages.
The credit-card companies use variable-data-printing systems to print these customized advertisements.

Variable-data printing and publishing shows up in other areas of our lives as well. Here are some other examples of variable-data printing and publishing:

  • Variable-data-printing systems are used to print labels on retail products.

  • Variable-data-printing systems are used to print license plates for vehicles.

  • Tickets and coupons are printed with variable-data-printing systems.

  • Insurance companies use variable-data-printing systems to print policies, benefit booklets and other documents.

  • Financial-services companies use variable-data-printing/publishing systems to create transaction statements in hard-copy (paper) format and in electronic (on-line) format.

  • Citation Software's Web site allows you to create customized, ready-to-print Business Reply envelopes and postcards automatically. (Click here to try out that Web site for free.)


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!
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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