Montana State University

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I get a printing estimate for my project?
2. How much time does it take to get a project printed?
3. Are there charges for University Publication's services?
4. Am I required to use the MSU logo?
5. What are the color formulas for MSU blue and gold?
6. Where will my final delivery be made? Can you store my project?
7. Will you edit my text?
8. What is the style standard that you use?
9. Why doesn't reducing my printed quantity also reduce my costs very much?
10. What is the best electronic format for me to send you for my project?
11. What is the best way for me to send you my electronic file


1. How do I get a printing estimate for my project?
There are several possible alternatives for having jobs printed, depending on the type of project. The first step is to identify what the appropriate type of printer is for a particular job. The quantities produced, extent of color, type of paper, bindery requirements or other specifications can all impact the selection of the best printing alternatives. There is also an MSU Purchasing Procedures Manual that governs the purchasing and bidding practices, including printing. The policy has different requirements depending on the range of costs.

For many projects, the base specifications are well within the capabilities of University Printing. There are several Advantages to using University Printing as the printing supplier, and University Publications frequently relies on them to provide quality work and fast service. We often obtain printing estimates from them. Clients may also go directly to University Printing for an estimate. Due to our role as a public institution, University Printing does not engage in the practice of competitive bidding. When planning your project please allow time to conduct the bidding process.

For other projects, the bidding policies require a specific competitive bidding process. University Publications staff are experts with the process and the authorized procedures. We recommend that you contact one of our staff for assistance. They can help identify the appropriate printing resources, prepare the necessary printing specifications and requests for bids or purchase requisition, and evaluate the bids to ensure the best selection. For assistance please contact Caroline Zimmerman at 994-5142 or e-mail her at apbcz@montana.edu.
2. How much time does it take to get a project printed?
Depending on complexity and quantity, this can be quite variable. If University Publications is responsible for editing the project, creating the design and/or preparing the electronic art files, then time must be allowed for these tasks as well as the actual printing. In addition, time must be allowed for the review, proofing and revisions from all involved participants. Since the lowest bid from the bidding process may be with a printer or service provider in another location, time must also be factored in for transit of materials and shipping. There may be other factors to consider as well, such as the time necessary for special paper orders or postal processing.

It is our strong recommendation that you meet with our staff as soon as you develop the project in order to develop a detailed, realistic schedule in advance. Waiting until late in the process greatly increases the possibility that the project cannot be produced as intended, on time, at an economical rate -- or all three.

Having made these caveats, as an extremely rough estimate on projects of average complexity, you should allow a minimum of 5-10 working days for art, editing and electronic production, and 5-10 working days for printing and delivery. It is always better to err on the side of providing more time than necessary in order to accommodate the unexpected.
3. Are there charges for University Publication's services?
There are no charges for the editing, cost estimating and project management services offered by University Publications to university organizations. There are charges for graphic art production services provided by University Graphics and the printing services offered through University Printing or other print service providers. Since University Publications usually manages the entire project, it is common for us to send you one unified bill from Communications Services for all billable portions of the project. Due to a lag time in receiving and paying the printer's bills, there may be a lag time between your receipt of the project and your final departmental billing. This billing is normally handled through an auto-bill using a departmental Banner number.
4. Am I required to use the MSU logo?
Generally, yes. Our logo is a very important part of our public identity. The correct and standardized use of the logo is highly advantageous to projecting and reinforcing our identity in our messages. According to the MSU Graphics Identification and Branding Policy "the University logo should appear on all University publications." New standards and policies are currently being developed to formalize several of these branding processes, but in the interim, we are asking all stakeholders to follow these guidelines. Given the wide variety of programs within the university, the guidelines do allow for some exceptions. Please read the document to see if these may apply to you. In the event you have questions or wish to seek a variance, these requests are made formally to University Marketing director by submitting an exemption request application. Read the Logo Exemption Q&A before applying for exemption, and then fill out the logo exemption form. See the Brand Toolkit.
5. What are the color formulas for MSU blue and gold?
There several different formulas for these colors depending in the application and color model being used. These include:

RGB: -- The RGB values for the nearest color to MSU blue is: R=12, G=45 and B=131. For MSU gold the nearest value is R=255, G=186 and B=0.

CMYK Process: -- The process color value for MSU Blue is: C=100%, M=69%, Y=0% and K=11%. For MSU gold the formula is C=0%, M=27%, Y=100% and K=0%.

Spot Color: -- The official Pantone color for MSU blue is PMS 281. For MSU gold use PMS 124.

Web Colors: -- The nearest hexadecimal color for MSU blue is "#003399" and for MSU gold is "#FFCC00".

For more information about color models and the appropriate use for each, see our Web page: About Color.


6. Where will my final delivery be made? Can you store my project?
You should specify your departmental delivery location when you arrange the project with our staff. In most cases, all projects printed by University Printing are delivered free to your departmental location. In other cases, delivery is also made to your departmental location by a variety of other surface shipping providers. The cost of delivery is generally factored into the printer's bid.

If you arrange for your printing through University Publications, in most cases at the conclusion of the project we will store the printing plates and film negatives for you in the event you should decide to reprint without changes in the future. The only exception to this is stationary and business cards. If you arrange your printing directly through University Printing, they will generally return the printing plates and film for all jobs. You should save these in case you need to reprint the project without changes in the future. In all cases where electronic files are prepared through University Publications, these files are archived permanently and can become the basis for future revisions to the project.

You should verify your departmental storage capacity prior to arranging delivery. Creative Services does not have the capacity to store your project. In a very few instances, University Printing may agree to store some jobs temporarily at their location. If you've made storage arrangements at the physical plant, this may also be a delivery location. In all cases delivery must be made from an authorized campus delivery zone, and in no case may delivery vehicles drive on Centennial Mall.
7. Will you edit my text?
University Publications has an editorial oversight responsibility in order to ensure professional, accurate, consistent communications according to our approved style requirements. Our professional editors will review, and may modify, your text in order to ensure these standards. In most cases this results in edits mostly to improve grammar, spelling or structure. The University Publications editors are the last line of defense against publications' errors. Their ability to evaluate text from a fresh perspective is a service that most of our clients highly value.
8. What is the style standard that you use?
There are several writing style guides in general use, but due to our considerable involvement with the news media, Creative Services relies most heavily on the Associated Press (AP) Style Guide. We are also familiar with several MSU-specific styles. We have a reference guide to some of these on our University Publications Style Guide.
9. Why doesn't reducing my printed quantity also reduce my costs very much?
When printing on an offset printing press, most of the time is spent on the set-up and preparation for the print run. The process of stripping the art, preparing plates, mixing inks, preparing the press and several other tasks are all required before the first printed copy is ever made. In printing, the most expensive copy is the very first one. Once this is done and the press is running, adjusting the quantity makes a disproportionate difference in cost, mostly due to the expense of paper. When dealing with the economy of scale of printing, if you have doubts about the quantity you need, it is always a better idea to print more than you need in the first run. Due to the set-up costs this is far cheaper than having to reprint later.
10. What is the best electronic format for me to send you for my project?
There are numerous electronic file formats that may be useful depending on the specifics of your project. You should discuss the options with your production representative prior to making the selection and delivering your files. Generally, for text Microsoft Word and Plain Text are highly recommended. For graphics TIFF, EPS and JPEG each have advantages and are all commonly used. For more detailed information about file formats, see our Web page: About File Formats.
11. What is the best way for me to send you my electronic files?
The network. The MSU network is our primary resource for file exchange. This can be done in most cases by simply attaching electronic files to an e-mail message directed to the appropriate person. In almost all cases, a hardcopy version of the file is still required for reference. In some instances where numerous components or excessively large files are involved, the preferred method is a Zip disk.
If you have other questions that you didn't find an answer to here, please see our other online FAQs for Printing and News.