Judging criteria

Judging will be by panel headed by a chair. Judges are independent industry professionals picked for their relevant sector expertise and knowledge.

Production quality is fundamental and the printer’s skills in prepress, printing and finishing are key criteria. However, a number of the categories require evaluation of the role and success of a print project or service within the broader business or environmental context so the supporting written submission will be critical, especially in those categories that do not stipulate that a print sample must be supplied. Please read the below category criteria carefully; the judging panel will not be able to request further information or clarification.


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  • Adding value

    Printed products that clearly show the benefit of digital print to enhance profitability and/or effectiveness. Please provide evidence of how digital production increased effectiveness, highlighting the benefits to your customer and their clients. These can include financial performance, raised awareness, better response or other elements that clearly demonstrated added value.

  • NEW for 2024 - B2 digital print

    This category aims to demonstrate and recognise the growing adoption and value of the B2 format in digital print, across both toner (dry and Electrolink) and inkjet printing technologies in any print applications. The judges will look for the benefits that accrue specifically to the format, in terms of application flexibility, overall productivity, reduced production cost and/or job turnaround time, including finishing, embellishment or any other post-press process.

  • Books

    Any digitally printed book is eligible. Monochrome or colour, printed on-demand, of any run length, personalised or not. The judges will be looking at the production quality including repro print and binding. Additionally they will be considering challenges and advantages for the producer or the customer by using digital print.

  • Closing the skills gap

    This award seeks to recognise companies that have demonstrated consistent/sustained excellence in recruitment and staff development, progression and retention through apprenticeships, on-the-job or other training or through other policies/processes in any capacity within the organisation. Judges will look for both qualitative and quantitative evidence to support entries, and particularly for those attracting new talent into the industry. Evidence of the former will include management and peer assessment of progression within or between roles and any new business or opportunities that have arisen as a consequence; the latter will consider formally-awarded qualifications from recognised bodies and statistics on staff intake and retention/length of service. Entries should include a written submission describing the qualitative case (with referees as appropriate) plus any relevant certificates and/or data for recruitment and retention.

  • Creative use of substrates

    Examples of jobs where the physical attributes of the material used are fundamental to their appeal and success. This includes printing onto challenging substrates and sympathetic design, print and finishing to highlight the tangible and tactile qualities of the materials used.

  • Designed for digital print and finishing

    This award will be given to the job that best exemplifies the capabilities and strengths of digital print and finishing. This may include extended gamut printing, using additional colours, fluorescent or clear inks or toners, personalisation/variable data capability (at least three samples will be required to confirm this), printing on unusual substrates, digital embellishment (each item potentially different) or other special effects techniques.

  • Digitally printed labels and packaging

    Labels and packaging that use digital printing to deliver additional benefit to the customer. That may include making high-quality products available for micro and small businesses in addition to providing agile supply chains and reduced inventory and waste.

  • Digitally printed textiles

    This award addresses the rapidly-growing field of décor, fabric and garment print. The judges will be looking for evidence of how digital printing on textiles has created new opportunities or solved existing challenges. Fitness for purpose, quality and sustainability will all be considered. As this sector is so varied, complete finished products are only required for smaller items (such as T-shirts, bags, cushions); for larger items/installations, swatches or samples produced the same way on the same materials should be sent, along with high quality still photography and/or video of the finished product. Supporting evidence of commercial success/client satisfaction should be provided, where relevant.

  • Finishing and embellishment

    The use of post-press processes to add durability, visual appeal/perceived value and differentiation to finished products. Judges will be looking for evidence that the finishing processes provided clear benefits. These may be through the format, feel and appearance of the job, or reduced time, cost and material usage.

  • Inkjet in direct mail

    This category will recognise the growing quality and cost-effectiveness of inkjet print in direct mail and related variable data-based applications, where ‘white paper’ inkjet printing has replaced other digital or hybrid printing processes such as overprinting on offset-printed shells. Submitted jobs must have been entirely printed by cut-sheet or web-fed inkjet, on any substrate. In addition to an assessment of quality in the context of the client brief, budget and media choice, the judges will be looking for evidence of increased cost-effectiveness, reach/response or new business developed as a consequence of adopting inkjet print.

  • Innovation

    Any digitally printed job, regardless of process or format, that offers something beyond the current normal practice. Whether it is the printing or finishing processes employed, the substrate used, the product format, use of data or the business model. The judges will be looking at innovations in production, service and delivery. Please provide a clear description of the challenges faced, innovative approaches taken to meet them and evidence of the benefits.

  • Marketing collateral

    Marketing materials produced digitally, including personalised campaigns. The judges will be looking at the print and finishing quality, the materials used and the choice of format to provide impact and effectiveness. Details of how digital production improved the offering along with supporting data will be considered. Entries can be both commercial work or self promotional print.

  • New for 2024 - Multi-channel communications

    This category is for commercial jobs only, not self-promotional! This new award seeks to recognise the value of integrated customer communications or promotional campaigns that combine digitally-printed materials with digital channels (email, web, social media, SMS) to provide the most effective combination of touchpoints in the sales journey, combining data skills with the immediacy of digital channels and the communications effectiveness in terms of improved response/conversion/retention rates and details of how this has been achieved through the combination of channels.

  • Sustainability

    We are looking for print companies that can demonstrate an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement in sustainability through their policies and working practices. This may range from choice of substrates, inks and print technologies to waste management, recycling, renewable energy use or generation, transport and carbon offsetting initiatives plus employee and customer engagement and recognition programmes. The 500-word ‘job’ description here should outline these and supporting documents such as policies, environmental certifications or awards may be submitted, along with a sample of any job that you feel particularly demonstrates these values.

  • Workflow, including e-commerce

    This category aims to exemplify and reward good practice in the integration of processes and data both within and between print businesses, their suppliers and their clients, including but not limited to web-to-print or e-commerce portals, public or private. The necessary software may include off-the-shelf commercial solutions, bespoke development/programming or a combination of both. The judges will look for evidence of business benefits in terms of reduced operating costs, faster turnaround/higher productivity, increased profit margins and/or customer retention.

  • Wide and super-wide format

    This category encompasses the full gamut of wide-format production, from posters, banners and soft signage, through displays, exhibition and event graphics to retail and vehicle and building wraps, on any substrate. Samples that are too big to be submitted by post can be illustrated by photography and supporting written submissions. Please provide details of the challenges faced and your response including design, production and installation factors.

Digital Printer Awards