Printing information

Your questions answered

Printing can be a complex process, but we have years of experience in producing every type of printed material, and can confidently guide you. The explanations on this page may help, but if you can’t find an answer here, please feel free to phone, email or pay us a personal visit.

Carbon impact

All the paper we buy is Carbon Balanced. We use two paper merchants: Premier and Antalis. They calculate the amount of carbon required to manufacture and distribute the paper we buy from them, and we pay for trees to be planted to offset that carbon. With Premier the money goes to The Woodland Trust which plants trees and manages forests in the UK and Antalis supports the World Land Trust which protects and restores vulnerable ecosystems around the world. All paper coming into the EU has to meet stringent sustainability criteria. The forest cover in Europe is actually increasing by the equivalent of 1500 football pitches every day (yes, we didn’t believe it either, but we checked the calculations, and it’s true!) So when you get your work printed by us the paper is carbon neutral, comes from sustainable sources, and all our waste paper goes to recycling.

Delivery costs

Please email or call us for delivery costs.

Most of our UK deliveries are done by UPS who are reasonably priced and, more importantly, fairly reliable, although like all couriers they are not infallible. For really urgent work, or very large quantities we use a same day courier.

VAT and printing

This is a rough guide to VAT and printing – it is complicated!

Zero rated material: in the UK the government has sought to protect reading materials from bearing VAT. This means that books, magazines and newspapers are all zero rated. By extension, booklets, newsletters and leaflets amongst common items of printed material are also zero rated.

Standard rated items: all items of stationery (letterheads, business cards, compliment slips, invoices etc), forms, any leaflet which has space designed for more than 25% manuscript addition (e.g. a form to fill in and return), postcards, posters – all these bear VAT at the standard rate, currently 20%.

Hybrid Items:

a. Artwork, design and typesetting: if this is provided as a stand alone service then VAT is charged. If it is part of a job that would otherwise be zero rated, for example the design and typesetting of a book then if the same company is doing both jobs then the whole job would be zero rated.

b. Finishing: a finishing operation carries VAT if it is chargeable on the completed item, for example scoring and folding greetings cards. If the item being worked upon becomes part of a zero rated item, for example scoring or laminating a book cover, then the operation is zero rated. However, there are exceptions: one of our major customers produced language teaching materials which would normally have been zero rated, but because they were laminated to make them more durable they became standard rated.


Registered charities can claim exemption on some items that would be standard rated in some circumstances. These relate to specific fund-raising activities and do not included normal items of stationery like letterheads. There is a 38pp document on the HM Revenue & Customs website outlining the law on VAT and charities.

The principle of VAT is that it is a tax on Added Value. As a manufacturer we buy a raw material (paper for example) for x£ + 20% VAT. We then add value to that raw material by printing on it and sell it to our customer for x + y£ + 20% VAT where y is the cost of production plus our profit. At the end of each quarter we take the difference between what we have paid out in VAT for raw materials and overheads, and what we have charged our customers and give the balance to HM Revenue & Customs.

NB – the above is my understanding of the regulations relating to VAT and should not be construed as a definitive statement.

Litho and digital printing

Sarsen Press is the only commercial Winchester based company that prints both single colour litho and digital in-house. This gives us the ability to choose the best and most cost-effective option for your particular job. Usually people do not mind how their work is printed as long as it looks good quality and the price is right, but the explanation below of the differences between the two processes might be of interest.

Litho printing:

Also known as lithographic printing or offset litho. Since the mid 1970s this has been the technology that has predominated in the printing industry, although in fact the process was invented by Senefelder in 1796. He used blocks of Solnhofen limestone (in which the fossil bird Archaeopteryx was discovered, probably) as a ʻplateʼ onto which the image was drawn in reverse. Ink adhered to the image, and was repelled from the rest of the block by water, and transferred to paper placed onto the limestone. The ʻoffsetʼ part of the process came when rotary presses were developed which have a plate that is wrapped around a cylinder and the image is transferred onto a rubber blanket which then transfers it onto the paper. Our first press was made in the 1930ʼs by Rotaprint in Germany, and was one of the earliest small offset litho presses to be produced. Tony Hill bought it from Bob Stone for £15 in about 1974. One of our good friends in the industry, the late Mike Waters, began his apprenticeship at Warrens in Winchester working on lithographic stones. More of this when we write the history of Sarsen Press.

The advantages of litho printing:

Litho printing requires a plate for each colour used, and although these are less expensive than they used to be because the colour splitting is now done by computer rather than having to be assembled on film there is still a significant set-up charge. Once the plate is on the machine it takes time to get the job to a point where it is ready to print, and this also wastes paper. However, once the job is running the only costs are the paper, ink, electricity and the operatorʼs time, so the greater the quantity that is being printed the less significant the set-up costs become. Litho is therefore suited for longer run work. It is also the only way of ensuring that you get a precise Pantone colour if you need one. Our machine is a single colour B3 press called a Heidelberg GTO. For many years this was the printing industryʼs workhorse. If you need a clear blue, or a vivid orange or bright green, for example, then almost the only way of achieving it is by printing litho because those colours are not part of the CMYK colour gamut. Most printing companies these days operate 4 colour (or more) presses so are not keen on producing single or two colour Pantone jobs – the ones that we welcome!

Digital printing:

This term actually covers a wide range of processes from desktop inkjet printers to developing technologies like nanography. What we use is a laser based machine using powdered toner in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) which is fused by heat onto the sheet of paper – a colour photocopier in other words, but a large, fast and very high quality one, although most of the jobs we print are sent to it directly from our computers rather than photocopied. Digital print has developed to the point where there is very little difference in quality in most jobs between it and litho printing, although digital print tends to be glossier than litho. The advantage of digital print over litho is that there are no plates or complicated set-ups to do, so the initial costs are much less. The disadvantage is that we pay our supplier the same amount of money for every sheet that goes through the press (the ʻclick chargeʼ), so that there is no reduction in our costs for quantity. Digital presses only print in CMYK or black, so it is important to get a proof run off if colour fidelity is important. This is not economically feasible with litho. It should also be noted that colours will vary according to the stock they are printed on, and that colour on digital presses can vary from day to day even if the press is calibrated (even machines costing £250,000 colour can vary from morning to afternoon due to the changes in the way the toner circulates in the developer tanks during the day). However, for colour runs of less than 1000 (although this is only a rule of thumb) digital is the most economical way of printing.

Artwork and file formats

Sending your digital files to the print shop

1. Email them to or to your printers as an attachment as long as the file size is less than about 10Mb.

2. If your file is larger than 10Mb then use the free file transfer (FTP) site WeTransfer. It is very easy to use and very reliable for sending large files.

3. Bring it in on a memory stick. Make sure the files you want to give us are labelled clearly.

4. PLEASE NOTE: We are unable to receive files sent via Google Drive.

5. Modern computers tend not to have disc drives. At Sarsen Press we still have disc drives on some of our older machines but they do not work reliably so it is better not to give us CDs.

6. Hard copy. We can take hard copy but because hard copy needs to be turned into a digital file either by scanning or typing it will attract artwork charges.

Is your artwork ready to print?

1. PDF – this is not infallible, but almost always a pdf file will print exactly as it should, though a pdf file containing low resolution graphics wonʼt print well.

2. JPEGs – a useful way of sending photographs, but need to be 300dpi and the correct dimensions if they are going to reproduce well.

3. Word files – Word does not embed fonts so if we do not have exactly the same version of the fonts that you have used then there is the danger that fonts will be automatically replaced. The text will also reflow and many other things can go wrong. We strongly recommend that you turn your Word file into a pdf before you send it to us. If you go to “Print” you should get the option of saving as a pdf – HOWEVER, Word being an American program may turn your A4 file into a US Letter file unless you override this in the pdf print settings so check before you create the pdf, and check the page size before you send the pdf.

4. Publisher – Sarsen Press doesn’t accept these. Turn them into pdfs and check them before giving them to us.

5. If you want a relatively cheap page layout program for a PC then we suggest you get Serif Page Plus – much better than Publisher (Word is not really designed for page layout though is good for creating documents). It creates good pdfs which we will use. Page Plus is no longer being developed as a program but is still available.

6. If your image comes right to the edge of the sheet then we need it to be supplied with bleed. This means that your image needs to be 2.5mm larger on all sides than the final size of the printed sheet. It also needs crop marks to show us where to cut it. For a very good explanation of the technical aspects of the problem see

7. Colour models – we print in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black). Digital cameras and scanners capture images in RGB (Red, Green and Blue) which is also how they display on computer screens. RGB has a wider colour palette than CMYK, so bright blues, lime greens and intense oranges are not going to print as you see them on your screen. You can do the conversion to CMYK, or our software will do it. It is always best to make sure that you have seen a proof printed on the stock that you want to use for the job as this will also affect the way the image prints. You cannot print in RGB.

Artwork and the reproduction of paintings

We print a lot of greetings cards, postcards for artists, but there are a number of things to be aware of.

1. As an artist you have a full palette of colours to choose from, but as printers we only have the colour gamut that is possible from the mixture of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK). To make things even more complicated, if you have scanned or photographed your painting and viewed it on a computer screen you will be looking at it in RGB (Red, Green and Blue) which has a wider colour gamut than will be used when it is printed. Bright blues, lime greens and clear oranges are impossible to reproduce out of CMYK. It may therefore not be possible to reproduce your artwork with complete accuracy. A printed version, whether digital laser, litho or inkjet is always only going to be a representation of the original

2. Digital print is variable. Although we regularly calibrate our machines they may not print identically on consecutive days, or even from one hour to the next. The technology is becoming more consistent, but it is not yet completely stable. In addition, no two machines will produce prints which look identical.

3. Reproducing watercolours is particularly difficult. They are hard to scan because the layer of pigment used, particularly in skies, is usually very thin. Scanning on normal settings will lose areas of pale colour, while boosting the scanner settings means that the background colour and texture of the paper will be picked up. It used to be the case that you could get watercolours drum scanned (as long as they were painted on a material thin enough to wrap around the drum) but this is a technology that has been virtually killed off by the digital revolution, and the development of digital photography has also slowed improvements in scanner technology, so that probably the best way of capturing your image is with a digital camera.

4. Use the best camera with the best lens you can get your hands on. Set your camera to its highest quality setting, so maximum megapixels and minimum compression. Use a tripod if you have one. Make sure the picture is not at an angle. Unless you are familiar with your cameraʼs white balance settings, shoot outside in natural light

5. Please call or email us if you would like anything clarified.

Paper sizes
Paper weights

Here are the paper weights we print on, for any other paper or queries please contact us

White 90 gsmRecycled 115 gsm
White 100 gsmRecycled 130 gsm
White 120 gsmRecycled 150 gsm
White 160 gsmRecycled 170 gsm
White 200 gsmRecycled 200 gsm
White 250 gsmRecycled 250 gsm
White 300 gsmRecycled 300 gsm
White 350 gsmRecycled 350 gsm
Coloured 80 gsmConqueror 100 gsm
Coloured 100 gsmConqueror 120 gsm
Coloured 120 gsmConqueror 300 gsm
Coloured 160 gsmColoured 180 gsm
Coloured 300 gsmColoured 320 gsm
Fluorescent paper - Dayglo posters

For many years we have printed posters for the Liberal Democrat Party all over the country. For some reason Slater Harrison, the UK manufacturer of DayGlo, stopped making it in the Liberal Democrat colour, arc chrome, about fifteen years ago, so since then we have had it specially manufactured for our company in Europe. Arc chrome lies on the spectrum between orange and yellow.

This is the only fluorescent paper we stock but we can supply it in B2 (500 x 700mm) or SRA2 (450 x 640), or as cut sizes. The minimum order in any size is 250 sheets. Please email us for prices.

ISBN numbers

An ISBN number is the unique 13 digit identification code for a particular title. If you have an ISBN number on your book you will be legally required to supply five free copies to the UK Copyright Libraries, plus one free copy to the British Library.

ISBN numbers are supplied by Nielsen Book Services Ltd – You have to buy them in blocks of 10, and 10 numbers will cost you £179. Alternatively, we can supply you with a number for £21. Technically that makes us the publisher, but if we supply you with a number we accept no liability that might normally accrue to a publisher (for example, libel), nor do we require any proprietary rights over the book (for example, if it becomes a best seller we will not be demanding a cut!)

Nielsenʼs website should answer most of your questions, but if you are going to sell books through commercial outlets then you need an ISBN. If they are going to family and friends, or will be sold through a specialist organisation, then you donʼt. If your book has an ISBN number then it is included in the databases of published books and it is possible that you will get orders for it via Amazon, Nielsenʼs or one of the other book distribution companies.

Shops will probably also require a barcode representation of the ISBN number. We can generate that for you. Remember to leave space for it on the back cover.

Opening hours


10:00 AM - 5:00 PM





01962 854281


22 Hyde Street, Winchester,
Hampshire SO23 7DR