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In-Print Awards

The only printing contest exclusively for in-plants!
Sponsored by IPMA and In Plant Graphics

Click here to view the categories and rules for the 2018 In-Print Award contest Click Here to register your entries

The In-Print Awards competition is the only printing contest exclusively for in-plants. Jointly sponsored by In-Plant Graphics and the In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA), the contest is an excellent way to show off the quality of your printing. Not only does the contest have numerous categories for both “Offset” and “Non-Offset” pieces…

New for the 2018 In-Print Awards contest we are happy to introduce three new categories for small in-plants in Non-Offset division. These are for in-plants with 10 or fewer employees;

Categories 14-16 for in-plants with 10 employees or fewer

  1. BROCHURES (folded advertising literature)
  2. BOOKLETS (stitched, with cover)
  3. FLYERS (unfolded, up to 11×17”)
  • There is a category for projects printed using both techniques.
  • There are categories for both variable data and cross-media projects.

Go through your in-plant’s printed work and pick out examples that are perfect in every way — great registration, crisp folds and no hickeys. Selecting flawless samples is the best way to ensure that your pieces make it through the first round of scrutiny by our eagle-eye judges.

To speed up entry processing, we use an online entry form. You must fill out this form for each entry you submit, and include a copy of the confirmation number with your entries.

The deadline is January 31, so start collecting samples now. Go through your printed work and pick out examples that are perfect in every way — great registration, crisp folds and no hickeys. Selecting flawless samples is the best way to ensure that your pieces make it through the first round of scrutiny by our eagle-eye judges.

Winners will be selected in March 2018 by a panel of experts. They will awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze awards. One Best of Show winner will be selected from the winners in the offset categories and another Best of Show winner will be picked from the non-offset categories. The winners’ names will be revealed at the awards dinner during IPMA’s conference, taking place in June in Costa Mesa, California.

Contest Judging — March 2018

To pick the winners, judges consider the degree of difficulty required to print a job, and often consult the entry forms to see which equipment was used. (i.e. A four-color job printed on a single-color press might outweigh a similar job printed on a four-color press.) On the other hand, some jobs with excellent printing, failed to win prizes due to poor stitching.

IPMA members receive three free entries into the competition.

Click below to watch videos showing the judges selecting the Best of Show winners:
Video: Best of Show 

Over the years, the judges have provided a number of helpful tips on what makes a winning entry. One thing the judges love to scrutinize is the folds on entries to make sure both halves of the sheet line up perfectly. They often eliminate entries that are cracked along the folds because they were either folded against the grain or folded without first being scored. This is the most common reason pieces are eliminated. Also, many entries were eliminated in the past because poor quality copies were submitted, when better copies almost certainly existed.
Here are some other reasons that entries were thrown out. Did you have any of these problems with your entries?

    • Holes and missing dots in solids, possibly due to a piece of dust landing on the plate during platemaking
    • Spots and specks, especially in company logos
    • Poor ink coverage
    • Color variation from page to page, particularly noticeable in company logos or headers that appear on consecutive pages
    • Color variation between stationery, envelopes and business cards
    • On multi-page forms, the lines on each page must line up with those on other pages
    • Out of register printing
    • Front-to-back registration off
    • Doubling: when ink from the first blanket transfers onto the second blanket and gets printed on the paper again as a ghost image
    • Mottling: spotty, uneven printing in solid areas
    • Too much powder used, which leaves a gritty, unpleasant feel on the paper
    • Bad folds
    • Track marks on paper
    • Inserts that don’t fit together right
    • Items placed in the wrong categories
    • Design problems like: bad letter spacing; crooked lines of text; fuzzy photos
    • Pages printed upside-down
    • On the entries in our non-offset categories, here are some of the problems judges encountered:
    • Images were not centered
    • Roller marks on page
    • Color consistency changed from page to page
    • The darkness of the toner in the text portions of the piece changed from page to page
    • Unfolded press sheets were submitted, not a finished product
    • Pieces that include a number of different parts (e.g. a direct mail package filled with loose pages, or stationery submitted with a business card and envelope) have not fared well in the past. You increase the chance that the judges will find an error. It’s best to enter the single piece of which you are most proud. (For example: One in-plant entered a direct mail package filled with loose pages, some of which had enough blemishes to disqualify the whole entry. But if the pocket folder had been submitted by itself, the judges agreed, it would certainly have won in the folder category. So pick your categories wisely. And simplify.)
    • Often, many in-plants enter the contest right at the deadline. As a result, they don’t properly inspect their entries and submit the best copies. This has cost several in-plants prizes, since if they had only sent a copy with better folds and crossovers, they would have won. Instead they were eliminated. Many items have been tossed out for infractions as small as a missing dot in the middle of a solid, or cracking on a fold that hadn’t been scored.
    • Examine all four copies of your entries in detail–don’t just grab any four from the top of the shelf. Look at the folds and registration. Are they perfect? Are there any visible hickeys? Look carefully, because if you don’t take the time to scrutinize your entries, be assured, our judges will.
    • Get your press operators involved. Show them the entry form when it first appears each November. Get them interested in saving flawless samples–and put them aside far in advance of the deadline.
    • When filling out the entry form, please check off the correct category. A brochure is not a folder. Don’t put offset pieces in the digital category, or mistakenly enter a category for small shops if yours is a large shop. When judging day comes and the judges see your piece in the wrong category, it may be disqualified — especially if they have already judged the correct category.

In-Print winners will receive elegant plaques, which will be presented at the next IPMA conference. From all of the Gold Award winners, the judges will pick one Best of Show winner from the offset categories and one Best of Show from the non-offset categories. Those in-plants will receive trophies during the IPMA Awards Banquet.

To learn more, visit

***Please beware of a non-authorized vendor (ShowMark Media LLC) soliciting the winners of the In-Print Contest for a recognition award. This is in no way authorized by either IPMA nor In-plant Graphics. We do not charge the winners of this contest for their original awards. Duplicate copies are made available to those who wish to purchase.***

Click to view the 2018 Winners after the March 2018 judging  company and category.

2017 In-Print Contest Judges
Photo Credit: Bob Neubauer, In-Plant Graphics


2017 –  Bloomberg Ink, John Cruser / University of Texas-Austin, Richard Beto




2016 – The Church of Scientology / Yale University
2015 –
Brigham Young University / Excellus BlueCross BlueShield
2014 –
Brigham Young University / East Carolina University
2013 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints / Washington State University
2012 – University of Minnesota/University of North Texas
2011 – Brigham Young University/University of North Texas
2010 – University of Oklahoma/University of North Texas
2009 – Briggs & Stratton
2008 – Conoco Phillips
2007 – Conoco Phillips
2006 – University of Delaware
2005 – University of Missouri-Columbia
2004 – University of Delaware
2003 – University of Missouri-Columbia
2002 – Phillips Petroleum
2001 – Boeing
2000 – SAFECO
1999 – University of Missouri-Columbia
1998 – Hitachi Data Systems
1997 – Boeing
1996 – Phillips Petroleum
1995 – Brigham Young University
1994 – Phillips Petroleum
1993 – Boeing
1992 – USAA
1991 – Boeing
1990 – Boeing


2017 – Liberty University
2016 – Oklahoma University
2015 – Houston ISD

2017 In-Print Winners:

2016 In-Print Winners:

2015 In-Print Winners:

2014 In-Print Winners: