The Printing Process

Articles about Printing, Glossary of Printing Terms, and Online Printers

There is a lot to learn when it comes to designing for print. A print designer deals with a whole different set of questions and issues than a web designer. It is important to understand the various terms that relate to the printing process and to choose the appropriate printing method and printer for a job.

Designing for Print vs. the Web

Graphic designer illustrating at a computer

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Designing for print media versus designing for the web can be a completely different experience. To better understand these differences, the two can be compared in major topic areas: types of media, audience, layout, color, technology, and careers. Remember we’re looking at the graphic design side of web design, not the technical side.

Printing Process - Digital Printing

Printing press

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Modern printing methods such as laser and ink-jet printing are known as digital printing. In digital printing, an image is sent directly to the printer using digital files such as PDFs and those from graphics software such as Illustrator and InDesign.

Printing Process - Offset Lithography

Man checking newspaper print

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Offset lithography is a printing process used for printing on a flat surface using printing plates. An image is transferred to a printing plate, which can be made of a variety of materials such as metal or paper. The plate is then chemically treated so that only image areas (such as type, colors, shapes, and other elements) will accept ink.

Preparing Your Document Layout for Printing

Worker preparing digital printing equipment in print workshop

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When preparing a document to send to a printer, there are several specifications and elements to include in your layout. These specs help to ​ensure that the printer will provide your final project as intended. Information on trim marks, trimmed page size, bleed, and margin or safety are included in this article on preparing your document for the printing process.

Using Swatches to Insure Desired Color Results in Printing

Digital color swatch

Jasonm23/Wikimedia Commons/CC0

When designing for print, a common issue that has to be dealt with is the difference between the color on your computer display and on paper. Even if your monitor is calibrated correctly and you match them as best as possible, your client’s will not be, and so a third “version” of the color comes into play. If you then print proofs for your client on any printer other than the one that will be used for the final job (which is often the case), more colors join the mix that won’t match the final piece. This tutorial will walk you through the steps of using swatches.

About the CMYK Color Model

CMYK swatch

Quark67/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.5

The CMYK color model is used in the printing process. To understand it, it is best to start with RGB color. The RGB color model (made up of red, green and blue) is used in your computer monitor and is what you will view your projects in while still on screen. These colors, however, can only be viewed with natural or produced light, such as in the computer monitor, and not on a printed page. This is where CMYK comes in.

Color Separation

Color separation

Jon Sullivan, PD/ Commons/GFDL

Color separation is the process by which original artwork is separated into individual color components for printing. The components are cyan, magenta, yellow and black, known as CMYK. By combining these colors, a wide spectrum of colors can be produced on the printed page. In this four-color printing process, each color is applied to a printing plate.

Online Printer -

4 Over 4, named for their 4-color two-sided printing, provides quality, low-price print services including business cards and die-cutting. They accept PDF, EPS, JPEG, and TIFF formats as well as Quark, InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator files. Your jobs are made a little bit easier with their collection of templates.

Online Printer - is an online print shop that offers a long list of products at affordable prices, along with several paper options, same day service, and a large collection of design templates.

Sending Files to Your Service Bureau

Person using laptop

When you send a digital file out for film or printing more goes along than just your PageMaker or QuarkXPress document. You may need to send fonts and graphics too. Requirements differ from one printer to another depending on their printing process but if you know the basics for sending files to your service bureau (SB) or printer it will eliminate most common problems that might prevent them from processing your job.