Ever printed on newsprint?

Hi y’all - A client of mine is looking for a 3 color promo poster to be letterpress printed on newsprint. Personally, using such a cheap material seems a shame for all the set up and I’d prefer not to job this out to a screen printer. I’m unable to do a test print right now, which is obviously the ideal. I feel like the form would pick at such a fibrous, low quality paper. Does anyone have any insight or experience? Please & thank you kindly!

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Follow up - I suppose newspapers were originally printed on something of similar quality back in the day…

Use the lowest tack ink you can get — rotary newspaper presses ran a very low-tack ink with no drier — the ink would rub off on your hands for days. Also you may be able to find a heavier than normal grade of newsprint.


Newsprint should print just fine.
You are quite correct. Newspapers were printed on that stock for all the years before offset printing.
Do not try to do smash printing. Kiss printing is appropriate.
Remember that newspapers were printed on both sides.

I agree that newsprint will work just fine. I used it for set-up / makeready all the time.

One thing you’ll want to do is use a hard tympan. If it’s too soft you run the risk of punching through the paper. Inky is correct, think like an old time newspaper printer, and just kiss the impression.

We always did our initial prints on newsprint. It actually prints beautifully and often better than some nicer papers because of it’s perfectly balanced surface. I would print a small run of 10-20 on nicer paper if you want to keep samples as there is NO archival newsprint available - I know people who looked for years because they loved the feel and print quality on newsprint. It will eventually break down over time and is not acid free.

I would most likely use van son oil based. Now I’m worried about the ink rubbing off…would this be an issue? Also I am not a fan of the smash imprint. It hurts my discerning printers’ eyeballs ;) However, I suppose that’s a topic for another forum…

I appreciate Bob’s comment on ink tack.
Before you go searching for a low tack ink or tack reducer, try the ink you have.
The greater the size of form, the greater adhesion the ink will have and the paper will try to stay adhered to the form. Careful placement of the grippers, gripper fingers, and string between the gripper arms as appropriate to combat the adhesion.
I learned to print newsprint on a 10 x 15 press.

Panthera- it is actaully possible to preserve newsprint archivally, IF you only want to preserve a few copies. There is an acid neutralizing spray that libraries and college archivists use. Essentially, you just spray it on both sides, and let it air dry….. then you have to press if for a few days to flatten it back out. ( I’m pretty sure Talas still carries it. )

Winking Cat,

For real? I have never heard of it, that’s awesome.

yep… it’s real. Here is a link to one brand:


Of course we won’t know for sure how well it works for about a hundred years…..

Wei T’o is the one Talas sells, and has been around for years. The Krylon product is relatively new to the market.

I cast Ludlow and proof it on a Vandercook Galley Press on Newsprint, prints Fine, sharp Detail.

If they want Newsprint, use it, ours is a Service Industry, they want it, you do it, you charge for it.

If you use your usual ink (oil or rubber base), you shouldn’t have to worry about the ink rubbing off any more than you do with your other papers.

Newspaper ink rubs off because of the inexpensive ink newspapers use, not because of the paper. It dries by absorption into the sheet. However, it doesn’t completely absorb, so that is why it has rubbed off on people’s hands for 100+ years.

Ummmm. Newspaper ink isn’t ‘inexpensive’. An ordinary kit of black is well over $100. And news inks today (largely vegetable-based) have far less set-off than those of yesteryear. The ink is less viscous than that designed for slower-running presses; the perfector webs operate at very high speed thus the ink is designed to ‘quit’ the substrate cleanly and quickly. Too thick, and the paper will tend to follow the plates. By the way, the ink makes a very handy proofing method. Protected from dust, a worked-up slab/brayer will stay open for months at the proofing bed without cleaning.
And, to second the better printers: as with many things in this life, a ‘kiss’ contact always produces the best result. :o)

If the paper is being rolled across the type such as on a proofing press you can use normal letterpress ink.

If you use a platen then a low tack ink is required or the ink has to be dosed. If normal letterpress ink is used depending on the forme layout you may be able to use a card mask or strings between the grippers to pull the stock off the type.

If you have tried removing excess letterpress ink off a roller before washing, by running the roller across yesterday’s newspaper, you will have learnt the hard way that newsprint splits and a layer sticks to the roller and is a real pain to remove.

Forme, I don’t doubt what you say, but what size kit are you talking about for $100? The larger newspapers buy ink by the tank truck load and I can’t see it costing that much in those quantities. Also, since most newspapers have converted from letterpress to offset, that ink is probably more expensive because it has to be made to work in the litho process.

If you have large print surfaces such as wood type or a lino cut in your poster you could use a relief ink such as Caligo.

In the time ‘before the before’, that is, in between cuniform and the offset approach to printing, newspapers figured their ink to the line and punctuation mark. There is a documented tale that the New York Times, before changing the rule under the front page logo from single 2pt to Oxford hotly debated such move because of increased ink costs. Of course, their daily run was in the 4-5k, but it was a real cost nonetheless.
My flatbed Miehle, upon which I produced a 3 sheet (12 pages) broadsheet newspaper (it varied according to advertisement revenue) would consume about 1 kit (2 Imp. gal.) of black per 5k run. That wasn’t all on the paper of course, but that fountain had to maintain a level. My eye was always on the revenue/ink tally. :o) Of course, adding to my expense - and headache - was the necessity of adding a thickener to the kit in order for it to sit properly on the newsprint. Inks lay different at web speed than they do at flatbed rumble, and the ink was designed for the webs. To use ordinary press ink such as that for job work would have impoverished me. :o) Mind you, as a printer, I’d already taken The Vow of Poverty; producing the newspaper never saw me in danger of breaking that vow. :o)
You are correct in saying the modern press purchase ink by the tank - but their advertising rates reflect that. :o:

I do all my proofs on newsprint, with regular Vanson rubber and oil-based inks.

Forme, that is very interesting. Thanks for relating your actual experience.