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Creating the perfect business materials using desktop publishing software is a cinch, whether you're a design professional or a novice. However, getting those projects off the computer screen and into the hands of your clients can be a challenge. Most desktop publishing software make printing your projects easy, but sometimes the needs of your business go beyond printing your project with a laser or inkjet printer. When this is the case, it's time to call in the professionals.

Most office and copy stores offer professional printing services. You might need this type of service if you're printing in bulk or need options that your laser or inkjet printer just can't handle (such as raised ink or special paper types). Professional printing services are often expensive, so make sure to consider the following:

  • Do you really need as many copies as you might think? While several thousand business cards might sound like a good idea-do you really need that many expense reports? Bulk rates can be cheaper, but only if you need that many copies.
  • Is color important? Black and white printing (both at home and at professional printing services) is significantly cheaper.
  • Look at other "extras," such as raised ink or special paper types. Are they necessary for your needs?

Professional printing services are easy to use, since they do all the work. There is a drawback, however: cost. Try to weigh your needs and the potential returns of your project against the production costs. Having a large full-color poster professionally printed might be a good idea, but stationery might be easiest on your personal laser or inkjet printer.

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