In praise of the UK Standard size

Following on from our earlier discussion of drawing in scale for print (which was just riveting…) let’s talk a little bit about another peculiarity of printing in the UK, and why you might want to consider the UK Standard size for your own comics.

Tell me about sheet sizes, please do!

Weirdo… Ok, so here’s the thing: the major UK publishers and distributors tend to follow the lead of their American cousins, who currently use 260x170mm as a standard sizing (although they do it in inches, because apparently the USA just does not care for the metric system). If you head back to the Golden and Silver ages you’ll find different standards, but 260x170mm currently rules the roost.

Which is a problem, because 260x170mm fits just horribly on a press. We use an SRA3 press for digital work (sheet size: 450x320mm, maximum print area: 440x310mm) and a B2 press for most litho (sheet size: 720x510mm, maximum printing area: 710x486mm). Have a look at what those look like when you try to put a US standard spread on there:

Clicky clicky to embiggen.

Clicky clicky to embiggen.

See that? See all that wasted space outside the spread? That’s no good, is it? Even if we crammed the spread over to the corner of a sheet we’re left with an area of 54x440mm at the top or 94x320mm at the side. This means getting another job on there (which is an excellent way to save money, because you share the set up costs of the sheet with someone else) is virtually impossible unless someone wants, say, an 88mm wide flyer or something. That does not come up terribly often…

Now have a look at what happens when we plan up your pages onto a B2 litho sheet. The spread in this case is exactly the same size, but I’ve removed the sizing information so that I can configure the layout:

You can fiddle with it all you like, but you ain’t getting more than 2 of those on a sheet. Believe me – I have years of practice. So the maximum efficiency you can expect out of a litho job at 260x170mm is 4 spreads (because we print front and back) to a sheet. Now the difference is that some of that wasted space can be used for something – we might have some flyers we can print in there or something similar to help maximise the efficiency, but there’s a limit on what we can use the space for (and it’s reliant on there being another job ready to go that fits, which is a variable outside anyone’s control).

Everyone with me so far? Good.

What about this UK standard, then?

OK, full disclaimer: there’s no such thing. Not really. We say it’s one thing, other printers say it’s a slightly different thing. It’s all a bit wild west because as I said before most UK publishers still press on with US Standard. At CPUK we use 240x157mm as our UK Standard, because the crucial dimension is 240mm for the height, and if you scale a 260x170mm comic down in that aspect ratio you get a width of 157mm. Basically, it means that if you have drawn your comic to 260x170mm you can scale it down into our UK standard without stretching anything or having to do any redrawing. Other places will suggest 240x168mm, because that’s the maximum width you can get when pulling the trick I’m about to pull, but that involves a lot of work if you’ve already finished the artwork.

(All that being said, do remember that we can trim to virtually any size, so don’t think we won’t print your comic if you don’t fit into one of our established sizes.)

OK, so here’s the CPUK UK Standard spread on the SRA3 digital press:


Makes no difference, right? You’ve still got a bunch of wasted space on there, you still can’t use that space for anything, you’re still definitely not getting a second spread to the sheet. So what’s the point in dropping the size? Well, on a digital print there isn’t one. Fair point. But now check out that B2 litho sheet:



It’s… it’s beautiful. They should have sent a poet… I can’t stress this enough, but I’ll try using some bold text:

By dropping the size by just 2cm height and 1.3cm width you can double your print efficiency. DOUBLE.

That’s not going to halve your print costs (because as I mentioned before we’ll try to fill in the space on a sheet if you’re working to 260x170mm, which saves a bit in setup), but it’s going to make a real dent in them. All for the sake of 2×1.3cm. Go grab a ruler; tell me that’s not a trade off that’s worth considering…

If you’re printing your comic litho it makes absolutely no sense to not at least think about scaling it so that the height is 240mm (this also applies to B5, which scales to 240x169mm from 250x176mm). Chances are the saving will be worth it. When you’re asking for a quote just drop a note into the “Other” box asking for comparison quotes on the UK Standard and we’ll be happy to produce them for you. If you’re not convinced that the resize will work with your existing artwork have a read of this. If you’re already sold, and getting ready to prepare your artwork to the UK Standard already you can find templates here.

Posted in Comic Book Printing Tips, Comic Printing Blog
One comment on “In praise of the UK Standard size
  1. Sebastian says:

    Wow awesome article and very useful when considering printing for cons etc.

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