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We’ve complied some of the most common questions asked. If these don’t help, give us a call or email and we’ll sort it out.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Offset Printing?

Offset printing is brilliant for high-volume, high-end reproduction printing, producing vibrant colour, quality and clarity. It is great value for money for large quantities and the printer has the ability to run at speeds of 10,000 sheets or more per hour. So while the set-up process takes some time, offset gets large jobs printed quickly!

This type of printing uses metal plates, rubber blankets and rollers to transfer ink onto paper. Printing plates are loaded into the offset printer which accepts the ink. Ink is transferred from the plate to the rubber blanket and then onto the paper or substrate.

Working with the Pantone Colour System, offset prints both spot colours and CMYK.

What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing is fantastic for smaller volumes of print, or in a situation where a fast turnaround time is needed.

It also enables us to do variable printing to personalise your marketing campaigns for different target markets.

Digital presses don’t print spot colours, with the exception of spot gold and silver on the latest machines.

What is CMYK?

You won’t be in the printing world long before you hear the term CMYK – it’s the colour system used in printing to determine and produce the full range of colours we use.

If you magnified a full colour image and looked at it close up, you would see the image is made up of tiny dots – each consisting of different proportions of four colours (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black ie CMYK).

Artwork needs to be set up in CMYK so that colours can be accurately matched and reproduced in the printed product.

What is RGB?

RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. This is a colour system used on computer screens – when you are looking at your screen you are actually seeing tiny points of light called pixels in varying combinations of red, green and blue to produce the different colours you see.

The RGB colour spectrum is a lot wider than CMYK, thus printing an RGB image will produce a different colour result to the one that you see on screen. For the most part, graphic design software automatically converts RGB to CMYK, but for the ideal result, images should be set up in CMYK prior to print.

What are Spot Colours?

Spot colours are ready-mixed inks derived from the Pantone colour system, each with their own specific number, assigned by Pantone. Your company may have specific Pantone colours specified as part of your brand. The benefit of using spot colours is the assurance that the colour will print out exactly the same each time.

Does the number of colours used on my artwork matter?

For Digital Printing, all colours should be set up in CMYK and any other types of colour will automatically be converted too.

For Offset Printing, each colour within a print job requires its own plate. Meaning if you have an image or colours set up in CMYK – that will be four plates. Each spot colour also has its own plate, so the more spot colours you use, the more expensive your print job will be.

What is Resolution and Dots per Inch (DPI)?

Resolution and DPI are what determine image quality. Images (on screen or in print) are composed of tiny dots, and it is the number of dots per inch that determine the quality of the image. The more dots there are, the higher the resolution figure and the higher the image quality will be. Similarly, images that appear fuzzy when printed don’t have high a enough resolution and aren’t suitable for print.

The higher the resolution of an image, the bigger the file size. Online images are usually optimised at 72DPI so that images load quickly and without delays, but because this is a relatively low resolution, images printed from the internet will produce low quality results.

To print sharp, clear images, the file should be at a resolution of 300DPI or more. That being said, forcing a low resolution image DPI figures from 72 to 300 will not enhance the image.

My Artwork is in Microsoft Word or Publisher. Will this print out ok?

Word and Publisher are not always compatible with printing press software and is not the ideal programme to set up your artwork.

If you have a Word or Publisher document that you need to print from, it’s best to send it to us so that we can take a look and check to see whether we can print it, and what quality the result will be. Sometimes, we will need to recreate your file in a software program compatible with our presses, in which case an artwork fee may apply.

Word and Publisher can produce low-resolution images, which gives a pixilated end result. The two programs also cannot create bleeds and trims. Save yourself the frustration of designing in these programs and utilise our design team to help you with your designs.

What are Bleeds?

A bleed refers to the images or colours extending over the finished edge of the printed product. Bleed is required for artwork that has colour printed to the edge of the page. As we cannot guarantee the blade will always trim on the exact edge, proper bleed area set up on all sides will prevent any white showing on the edge when the finished print is trimmed.

The standard bleed area should be set up at 3mm (for jobs under A3 size), and 5mm (for jobs A2 size or larger). When in doubt it’s always best to add more bleed.

What are Trim or Crop Marks?

These are little crosshairs in each corner of the page. These lines that sit outside of the artwork and bleed areas tell the machinist precisely where to place the blade when cutting a printed product to size. Auto generated crop marks can be selected when exporting a PDF in InDesign or Illustrator.

What is an Overprint?

Overprinting is a set up that is mainly used for objects that are not apart of the final artwork, but is a guide to indicate non printing entities, i.e. where the artwork may be over-glossed, embossed, cut or creased. When an object is set on overprint, it doesn’t knock out the image behind it, which allows us to turn the non printing entity off to print the artwork. When overprint is not set up on an artwork, the non printing entity knocks out the image behind it causing it to have missing artwork.

How do I view my PDF correctly?

If your PDF isn’t displaying the artwork or has panels of solid colour over it, it may be because there is overprint set up within the job. To view a PDF with overprint correctly, use the output preview option found under Tools > Print Production > Output Preview or Acrobat Reader Preferences > Page Display > Use Overprint Preview > Select “Always”.

What sort of paper should I be printing on?

Choosing the right paper stock and finish for your product is an essential part in producing amazing results.

Paper stock comes in two main categories – uncoated and coated stock.

Uncoated stock is similar to the paper you would typically use in a home printer: it has a flat, matte finish that doesn’t reflect much light. Uncoated stock comes in a huge variety of weights and textures, and can be more economical than a coated stock. It suits publications with lots of text and not too many images.

Coated paper stocks are polished when they’re made. Their surface is smooth and shiny but they can produce a matt, satin or gloss finished look. Coated stocks bring rich colours and images to life and like their uncoated cousins, come in a range of weights.

Paper weight is determined by grams per square meter (GSM), and the thicker the paper, the higher it’s GSM number. Business cards are typically printed on 300-400gsm stocks, while a magazine or catalogue may have its cover made from 300gsm stock and the internal pages made from 170gsm paper.

We are always very happy to help you with recommendations for the paper stock that will carry your project off perfectly.

What is a Laminate?

Laminates (which is a thin plastic film that adheres to the print surface) are an optional finish. They’re available in matte, satin and gloss. They add a luxurious finish and also have the added benefit of protecting the print underneath.

What is a Seal?

A seal is a clear ink-like varnish, usually applied to the print at the end of the printing process. Seals enhance images, add protection for the print underneath and also help the ink dry more quickly. They’re often added as an integral part of the printing process, and are a more economic option than using a laminate.

What is an Open Size?

When printing a document that folds out – such as a magazine, folder, brochure or flyer – the open size is the total size of the document when it’s laid out flat. For example, if you were producing a double-sided A3 catalogue folded in half to A4, the open size would be 297mm x 420mm as this is the size when you lay the catalogue out flat.

What is a Finished Size?

Finished size refers to the size of the product or document when it is completed and folded. For example, if you were producing a double-sided A3 catalogue folded in half to A4, the finished size of the A3 catalogue folded in half to A4 is 297mm x 210mm.

What is a die?

Similar to a cookie-cutter, die-cutting is a finishing process used to cut large numbers of the same shaped print material. Sharp specially shaped blades are bent into the desired shape and mounted to a strong backing, which is known as a die. The die is pressed onto the material to cut it.

What are Proofs and why should I use them?

No matter how many times you view something throughout its creation, viewing a final proof is an essential step in the printing process. Nobody likes receiving a finished product only to spot an error – in text, colour or image placement, or in copy writing errors. Producing a high quality proof can incur a cost, but this pales in comparison to the costs for reprints if an error is made.

There are several different types of proofs:

  • PDF proofs – For checking general layouts, content and to ensure nothing is missing from the artwork.
  • Digital proofs – these are produced on a digital press. They give a great indication of the final result, but their limitation is that they cannot reproduce exact spot colours, only a representation of spot colours.
  • Press target proofs – this is the best proofing option. Printed on a properly calibrated digital proofing machine, it gives a much more accurate sample of the final product.
Why does my colour proof look different to the image on my screen?

There could be several causes for this but if you have concerns, please talk to us. Computer monitors are all calibrated differently, so the same document will look slightly different on every monitor and may be different to what is produced in real life. A second possibility to check is whether you were looking at an RGB image on your screen before it was converted to CMYK for printing.

What is a Press Pass?

A press pass or printing press check is a step in the offset printing process in order to ensure what is produced matches your expectations. It takes place after a printing press is set up but before the print run is underway.

While errors should have been corrected during the colour proofing and proofreading stages, the main purpose of a press pass is to make sure that the colour on press comes as close as possible to the colour proof. Colour proofs are valuable guides, but due to the inherent differences between colour proofing techniques and printing itself, proofs will match the printed sheet with varying degrees of exactness.

Your Account Manager will recommend a Press Pass if they think it is necessary or if you would like to Press Pass please convey this to your Account Manager.

What file types can you print with?

Our preferred file type is a Press Quality PDF for print.

If the software you created your artwork in can’t produce a PDF, then you may be able to save a ‘flattened’ graphics file such as a TIF or JPG file for us to print from. If you are using this option, please ensure you have the artwork set up at 100%, and save the files in CMYK at 300DPI resolution.

What if I need you to alter my file before printing?

When providing us with artwork files to alter or work from, we require open files in their original format (usually Illustrator .ai or InDesign .indd files) with access to linked files and font files.

How do I start an account with Gravitas Media?

Please click here to download our Account Application form and email it through – we’ll be in touch.

Check before you send.

For more information about how to set up your artwork for print, click here.