Printed paper bags are priced based on the amount of ink coverage on the bag, but properly quoting them can be tricky if you don’t know how to accurately estimate the amount of ink printed on the bag. Many times, there is actually less ink coverage on the bag than you’d expect.

Simply measuring the size of the graphics and comparing it to the bag size won’t give you an accurate percentage of ink coverage on the bag. Often times white space (area not printed with ink, but still part of the artwork) accounts for much of the graphics, and that shouldn’t be counted as coverage. The best way to measure ink coverage is to imagine if you “squished” all the ink into a single area in the bottom corner of the bag. Would it cover less than 25% of the bag? More than 25%? More than 75%?

A few examples:

You can see that even in the 25% example, the graphics cover at least 50% of the bag. But if you squished the ink into a corner of the bag, it would cover less than 25% of the printing surface. You can see that the stripes take up at least 50% of the bag in the examples shown. Those that have 76-100% coverage have ink covering nearly the entire surface of the bag with little or no white space. The amount of ink printed on the bag affects not only the cost per bag for the ink but also the difficulty of printing the bag.

Bags with heavier ink require more drying time and may run slower than those with minimal ink coverage – which is why the bag cost is dependent on the coverage. Plate costs, however, are based on the size of the graphics and are charged per square inch of printing. To estimate plate costs, use our online calculator.

Some things to remember:

  • White space (area not covered with ink) doesn’t count when measuring ink coverage
  • Stripes are usually at least 50% ink coverage
  • Less ink coverage = lower bag costs
  • Plate costs are based on graphics size, not ink coverage
  • All designs and prices are subject to WCI approval

If you have artwork and aren’t sure how to determine the amount of ink coverage, send a photo or graphics file to [email protected] and we’ll be happy to walk you through it. For more information on ink colors, printing specifications, or to download design templates, visit our printing specifications page.