Commercial Printing 101

It’s likely that you’ve done your own printing before. You used your own computer and desktop printer to transform digital projects into physical documents. However, commercial printers offer many advantages that you cannot ignore. They allow you to focus on what you need to do. Also, they can give you high-quality output at low costs. This article will teach you the basics of commercial printing.

The Important Terms

Bleed: This is an area outside a page that will be removed by your printing company. Bleeds help you prevent unwanted white lines on the edges of a page. Make sure that your project has bleeds if it has an image or graphic that touches the paper’s edge.

Image Resolution: This term refers to the quality of an image or graphic. The higher the resolution, the higher the quality. In most cases, the resolution of a project is measured using DPI (i.e. dots per inch).

Color Models: There are many color models available today. However, two of the most popular are “RGB” (i.e. Red, Green, and Blue) and “CMYK” (i.e. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black”). Use the former if your project is for on-screen reading only (i.e. e-book). If you will print it out, you should use CMYK.

Different Printing Methods

Printing methods differ in terms of their output and processes. Here are the popular printing methods today:

Engraving – In this method, the ink will fill the printing plate’s cavities. It is commonly used in printing business cards and fine stationeries.

Offset Lithography – This method, which relies on rollers, gives high quality output. You can produce various types of documents using offset lithography.

Gravure – Gravure is similar to offset lithography: it uses rollers to create output. The only difference is that gravure can reproduce great images. It creates rough line edges and thick layers of ink. You can use this method for printing catalogs, stamps, magazines, and wallpapers.

• Letterpress Printing – This is one of the oldest printing methods. It uses slow drying ink.

Electrophotography – This method relies on thick ink. You may use electrophotography for labels, packaging, and newspapers.

Inkjet Printing – Inkjet printing requires a special type of paper to minimize bleeds. It is the ideal method if you are printing books or newspapers.

The Printing Process

Here is the general process that printing companies use for offset lithography:

1. Getting or creating the artwork – Obviously, the printing company needs to obtain the material before they can print it.

2. Preparation – The printing company will convert your files into films (also known as “plates”). The images from the films will be transferred onto a printing plate.

3. Printing – This step consists of the following substeps:

i. Feeding the paper into the printing press
ii. Distributing the ink across the plates
iii. Transferring the image to a printing plate
iv. Coloring the plates

4. Binding – The printed pages will be trimmed, folded, and bound.


Commercial printing helps you streamline your creative process. You won’t have to worry about printing documents or projects yourself. You just have to send your digital files to a printing company. Professional printers will work on the files for you. Thus, you can get better output and overall productivity. And this article taught you all the aspects of commercial printing 101.

6 Responses so far.

  1. Michelle says:

    I never thought that printing had such a ton of variations and depth to it. Good thing I found this post. These information can really help me in my next project. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Molly Jackson says:

    This is a big help for those who will use this in their venture, now that they know the basics of commercial printing. If you’re planning to use this as your primary marketing strategy, this is a great eye opener for those who don’t have any idea what steps need to be taken.

  3. Ken McDonald says:

    Interesting post. It’s a good thing to learn about the fundamentals before diving into the big leagues. Even though you’re just hiring for a marketing company, you should know the basics in order to get the vague idea on what they are doing and not get fooled.

  4. Alexis says:

    Great info, very useful, especially for a guy like me who has no idea how commercial printing works. I have a plan to use this marketing strategy due to its simplicity and low prices, hope it works for me!

  5. Rchard Hogg says:

    Being a beginner at this, I really learned some important things regarding printing. It’s essential to know these info if you’re engaging into marketing. The wide use of commercial prints during this digital time and age is the proof that it’s still effective.

  6. Tina Davis says:

    Printing has been used since antiquity for a reason. We humans naturally relies on our sense of vision for our everyday lives. That’s why good looking prints can capture our attention with just a glimpse. Thanks for explaining about the nitty-gritty of printing.

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