Campaign Yard Signs – 7 Essential Printing Terms

Campaigns have their own jargon. Canvassing, direct voter contact, eday, GOTV, and visibility are just a few of the terms that you may have already encountered. Likewise, the printing industry uses its own terminology including some terms that apply to yard signs. Knowing some basic printing terms will help your political campaign articulate exactly what it is looking for with regards to their candidate yard sign and be able to communicate with a printer in regards to problems, reorders or other questions.

Bleed: A full bleed is printing that extends to the edge of the printing surface after trimming. Bleed has a professional look and feel and helps focus the eye to the ad copy on a political yard sign but there is additional cost that for most campaigns, isn’t worth the investment. Most political yard signs won’t have a bleed.

Polycoat: A shortened form of polyurethane coating, it is the coating that enhances a cardboard lawn sign’s weather resistance.

Polyurethane is an inert, safe compound. Printers usually apply the polyurethane coat through the traditional liquid paint process or a powder coating process. For campaigns that are going green, it is important to note that the powder coating does not require a solvent, so it is more environmentally friendly than liquid paint. Many printers are now powder coating since it is environmentally friendly and cost effective.

The capital layout for small orders is high, which ordinarily makes corrugated plastic signs less expensive than folder over or plastic bag candidate signs in small quantities.

Cure: Curing is the process of drying ink on a printed lawn sign to the touch and internally. If a political lawn sign didn’t go through a curing process, it may be dry but it won’t be as durable as a sign that was cured fully. There are numerous methods of curing for each lawn sign substrate. Depending upon the substrate, the type of ink used and the curing method, these factors can add days till the political campaign receives their yard sign order. If time is of the essence, work with the printer to determine what options you have to speed up turnaround time.

Spot Color Printing: For one, two, or three-color jobs, spot color printing is an inexpensive option. This type of printing uses solid colors. In contrast, four color process printing uses for colors; cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK); to mix an infinite number of colors. For full color images, this is standard process but yard signs printed using spot color printing will realize cost savings and have signs that will last longer than signs printed using a four color process.

Opacity: Opacity is the extent to which light shines through the printing surface or material. Particularly for two-sided political campaign lawn signs, it is important to ensure that the sign is opaque.

Proof: Printers provide customers with a test sheet, so that the customer can ensure that the campaign sign has accurate copy and the design is correct. It is important to review the proof so that thousands of lawn signs don’t show up at the campaign office with the candidate’s name misspelled or some other error!

Substrate: A substrate is the surface, which is printed on. In the case of political yard signs, the most common substrates are corrugated plastic, poly coated cardboard, and poly (plastic) bag. Economically, campaigns often choose corrugated plastic for small orders, fold over signs for medium orders, and plastic bag or cardboard signs for large orders.

While political campaigns won’t need to talk shop with their printers, understanding a few key terms will help campaigns choose the best sign for their bid for elected office. Understanding what substrates are, bleeds, opacity, curing and printing processes along with election sign coatings will help political campaigns choose the most effective and professional sign done on time and at the best price.

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