The most important thing to remember is that printing is confusing. Hopefully, some of the information here will help you to understand some of the more common printing terms and what they mean to you when preparing your files for print.
PMS stands for Pantone Match System. Black is a color—black and Pantone 435 is a 2-color job. You don't have to specify a Pantone color for black, just ask for black. Use a dark color so you can use screens of it (i.e.:10% black is a screen of black). Light color screens are hard to see. Use black if you have photos to print. Use Uncoated paper if you are creating a form that needs to be filled out.
Most of the printing in the world is 4-color, CMYK. Cyan, magenta, yellow and black are each printed separately on paper. Like Impressionism, the eye mixes those primary colors to create what looks like a limitless number of colors. You can expect some variation from paper to paper in a 4-color print job. Process printing pops more on coated paper and has a softer feel on uncoated paper.
dpi = dots per inch = ppi = pixels per inch
Photographs are pixel based. Pixels which are little squares not dots. Less dpi is chunkier if you blow up or zoom in on the file. More dpi is smoother, more detailed. Images from the internet generally will NOT be print quality. Do not expect that an image that looks fantastic on your monitor will be anything remotely as good in print.
web resolution = 72 dpi print resolution = 300 + dpi
Offset Printing = Ink meets paper as it is OFFSET from a blanket roller to a printing plate to the paper. The paper is sheet fed into the press. Often will need drying time before printing
the 2nd side. Perfect for quantities from 250 - 50,000.
Web-Press Printing = This is not internet! Similar to OFFSET but for big runs of 50,000 or more. Folding, trimming are a few of the things that happen on the same machine as the printing. The paper is on a huge roll (kinda like toilet paper is but the size of a room in your house)
Screen Printing = Ink is squished through silk after the silk has been treated to allow the ink to squish through specific places. This is ideal for things bigger than a press can take (28 x 40”) as well as T-Shirts and objects.
Digital Printing = Digital is kinda like hi-end photocopying, a similar technology with a better result. Perfect for short runs (1 - 500) depending on the project and time constraints.
No Printer or Cutter, no matter how accurate, can chop exactly on the edge of an image. There will always be a ‘margin of error’ so you print a larger area than you need to and it gets chopped off! Cutting into the background gives you a finished piece with colour going right to the edge of the paper. This is why we always ask for an extra 1/8" to allow for the bleed.
Anything important like text or graphics should be at least 1/8" away from the edge of your finished size. This will ensure that when your document is cut for a bleed that nothing important will be cut off. Bleed and Safety are very important terms to understand.
If you still need some help with Bleed and Safety when you are creating your artwork, we have templates available for most of the more common print jobs. Postcards, Business Cards, Brochures, Rack Cards, Tent Cards, and Greeting Cards. These are mostly pdf files and can be used with Photoshop, Illustrator or any graphic package you are using that will read pdf formats Just email us if there is a template you would like and we will be happy to get it to you. We will create a download area at some point in the future.