I receive a lot of emails asking me about various methods for printing, laminating, and overall usage of printables. I thought I would put some of the information down here so that others can benefit from it.
Adding Text to Printables:
Normally, I add blank templates into a series of printables that I create. You need a graphic program such as Paint Shop Pro, or Photoshop to be able to add text. Editable printables need to be in Jpg, Gif, or PNG. The most common are Jpg/Gif. I personally prefer Gif files because the black lines are crisp and clear. I'm not a fan of fuzzy looking images.
Many printables will not be editable in Word or another desk top publishing program unless they were created in those programs. Many photo editing software companies offer free trials so that you can test out the program for a month or so before opting to purchase it. It's a good way to find out of if a program is going to work for you or not.
*NOTE* If you are going to use printable templates made by someone else, be sure that you have permissions (or read the TOU) before adding your own text. Some creators don't allow their products to be altered.
When printing materials, I use a lightweight cardstock from Walmart. Any off brand of cardstock will do. CreateforLess.com (A company that I write for) often has sales on cardstock. Cardstock generally sells for a dollar or so more than regular paper and comes in different colors. Cardstock can be laminated, and the pieces tend to last longer.
Most printers give you the option to re-size pages. I prefer to fit as many items on a page as possible to conserve ink, but also to save on paper wastage.
I bought a tabletop laminator (new) from a shop on Ebay. It is 18 inches long (longer than a standard size piece of paper) because I wanted to be able to fit file folders into the laminator. I paid $50.00 with free shipping. I'm pretty savvy when it comes to looking for deals. Shop around, and you will find a great deal on a laminator.
I purchase my lamination film from: Oregon Laminations. They have the best prices I have found, and have a huge selection of sizes, weights, and finishes to choose from. Fast shipping, and the quality is great. I use the 5 mil lamination film for file folder games, and 3 mil for printable game pieces etc. The 5 mil is fairly rigid, so it works perfectly for signs, wall cards, etc. The 3 mil is flexible.
I recommend cutting out game pieces before laminating, even though it's a little extra work. By cutting the pieces out before laminating, the seal around the lamination is better.
In my next life, I'd like to buy one of those really big heat laminators like they use in schools. I used to spend a lot of time and money at Lakeshore Learning. I would buy up materials and have them laminated before I went home. :) Those were the days!