How to Prepare and Submit Files for Variable-Data Printing

Variable-data printing is a powerful way of targeting your communications by personalizing each copy. If you are interested in submitting a variable data project, it is vital that you provide as much information as possible. Don’t assume anything. The more details you give us, the more easily we can prepare your files for fast, accurate printing.

Information checklist

Use the following checklist to make sure you have provided all the information we need to produce your job correctly.

  • Printing requisition and job instructions: Please send an A21-A or A24 printing requisition when placing your order and be sure to include a note on the request telling us the order includes variable-data processing. Also include a completed Variable/Mail Checklist form with complete details about the data you are supplying.
  • Job files and data: Please provide electronic copies of your data and the form on which it will be printed as early in the process as possible. The sooner we receive your data and forms, the more likely we can meet your printing due date.

    If the data isn’t available when you begin preparing the forms, you may send us test data with the same field names and formatting as the actual files so we can begin working on your job. When sending test data, please be sure the files are in exactly the same format as the live data will be. Variations in data formats can result in significant differences during output, delaying completion of the project by requiring additional programming time.
  • Data formats: Excel and Access are our preferred databases. Fixed field ASCII, Deliminated ASCII, and dBase files are also acceptable. Word files are not recommended. You can send your files to us on CD, DVD, via email or on FTP sites.
  • Sample: Please include a printed sample of the variable form as a data placement guide. Highlight the locations on the sample form where the data will be placed and tell us which data file field name to use in each location.
  • Numbers: If you are furnishing data in the form of numbers, please tell us if the number is formatted as an integer (whole number) or a decimal. If the number is a decimal, also tell us how many places after the decimal point you want displayed on the printed piece. If the number is the result of a computation of several data fields, please tell us the formula used to arrive at the final results.
  • Barcodes: If your document uses barcodes, please tell us where to place the barcode and which barcode font to use. If the barcode is to be read by machine, also provide contact information so we can send you a proof to make sure the barcode scans correctly.

More information

Please contact your Customer Service Representative (CSR) if you have any questions about preparing and submitting your variable-data projects.