About Print

At Westprint, we want to make it as easy as possible to get exactly what you want when it comes to your print. We realize that it can be daunting at first when dealing with print so we have put together a FAQ (frequently asked questions) and a list of terminology to help you navigate your way through the world of print.


What is Offset Printing?

Offset printing is a form of printing dating back over a 100 years. While a job can take a bit of time to properly set up, it is extremely versatile in that it is perfect for high-volume, high-end reproduction print that has superb colour, quality and clarity. Offset printing works in conjunction with the Pantone Colour System and is excellent for accurately printing both spot colours and CMYK. An explanation of Spot and CMYK colours are discussed below. Offset printing uses metal plates, rubber blankets and rollers to transfer the ink onto paper. Plates are loaded onto the offset printing machine which accepts the ink. The plate transfers the ink to the rubber blanket and then to the sheet of paper. This type of print is excellent value for money for large quantities and can run at speeds of 10,000 sheets and above per hour.

What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing is great for smaller volumes of print or when time is critical in getting a job completed and out the door. A digital press is like a super-evolved, high-speed, colour laser printer. This method of printing produces excellent colour and quality. The great thing about these printers is a quick job turnaround time and the ability to print, fold, collate and staple all in one unit.

What is CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black)

You will hear this term a lot when it comes to printing. When you look at a full colour image up really close with a magnifying glass, you will see that the image is made up of tiny dots consisting of 4 colours (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black). By mixing various quantities or percentages of these colours together in a dot, the colours in the image will be produced. CMYK is the colour system used in printing so artwork needs to be set up in this format to produce the best results.

What is RGB?

RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. This system of colour is used on computer screens so when you are looking at your screen you are actually seeing tiny points of light called pixels. Printing an image set up as CMYK will produce a different colour result than printing an RGB image. This is why people often see differences in what is displayed on their screen as opposed to what is printed. Luckily, most graphic design software packages are able to convert RGB to CMYK before going to print.

What are Spot Colours?

A spot colour is a ready-mixed ink that is derived from the Pantone colour system. There are literally thousands of different spot colours but each spot colour has a specific number. Let’s say for example that your company logo is blue. Now there are many different types and shades of blue so you need to know which shade of blue to use. Using a Pantone Swatch book you can see all the different types of blues and their associated unique Pantone number. The printer will then match your company’s blue to the blue in that book and order the correct blue ink. When it comes to print, each spot colour needs to have its own plate. The more spot colours you have, the more expensive a job will be.

What is Resolution and Dots per Inch (DPI)?

Have you ever tried to print out an image from your screen but it prints out all fuzzy on paper? This is because the resolution or DPI is too small and not suitable for print. As stated before, images whether on screen or print is composed of tiny little dots. The more dots you have crammed into a specific area (inches), the better quality image you are going to have. When it comes to print, DPI is critical. The more dots there are, the better the image will be but the file size will also be bigger. Images on screen especially from the Internet are optimized to load fast on your screen as are usually set at 72DPI. When printing, a resolution of 300DPI or more will produces the sharpest images which can often be blown up to make the image bigger without losing out on quality. Remember printing images from the internet will often produce low-quality print especially if you are trying to blow the image size up.

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

In the past it has been difficult to work with Word or Publisher files when it comes to print, especially offset. However, with digital print, working with Microsoft Office files has become a lot easier. In saying this though, Word and Publisher are not always compatible with the software that is used to run the different presses. Word is an excellent program for word processing but it’s just not a desktop publishing program. We do accept these files but it is always best to send us your Word or Publisher documents so we can have a look at them for you to determine how well they will print out. Sometimes the files need to be pulled apart and remade by the software compatible with our machines and so an artwork charge may apply. Word and Publisher often produce low resolution images which print out fuzzy (pixilated). In addition to this, these programmes do not allow for bleeds and trims. If you need artwork created, our graphics department will be happy to assist you with your design requirements.

What are Bleeds?

A bleed is when the image or colour extends over the finished size of the page. This is used to eliminate any white borders once the page has been cropped or cut to the correct size after printing. In order to set up a bleed you need to make the image or artwork bigger than the finished size of your document. The image or colour should extend at least 5mm. A bleed may extend over one or more sides.

What are Trim or Crop Marks?

These are often little crosshairs that get added to the 4 corners of the page. They occur exactly where the document is to be cut to size and tells the machinist where to place the blade.

What sort of paper should I be printing on?

Choosing the correct stock type and finish is critical to getting an excellent looking print. Stock can be divided into two categories – uncoated and coated. An uncoated stock is the type of paper you usually use in your home printer. It has a flat matte sort of look and does not reflect light as much as a coated stock. This type of stock is great when a publication has lots of text. There is a huge variety of uncoated stocks available in many different weights and even textures. An uncoated stock is often cheaper than a coated stock. A coated stock is one that is polished when it is manufactured. These can have a shiny smooth surface and can produce a matte, satin or gloss look. If you need to display lots of rich coloured images, then a coated stock is the way to go as colours really come to life on a coated stock. Coated and uncoated stocks are available in large variety of weights, known as GSM or grams per meter squared. The thicker the paper, the higher the gsm would be. The paper that goes in your home or office printer is usually about 80gsm to 100gsm, but a business card can be anywhere from 300gsm to 400gsm. A publication can consist of a number of different stock weights, for example a catalogue or brochure can have a cover stock weight of 300gsm and the inner pages can be 170gsm. If you are unsure as to what stock you should use, then feel free to contact us for our recommendations.

What is a Laminate?

A laminate is a thin plastic film that is adhered to the print to give it a finished look. They are available in matte, satin and gloss and can be used to protect the print underneath and to enhance the look and feel of your document.

What is a Seal?

A seal is a clear ink-like clear varnish that is usually applied to the print at the end of the process. It serves to help the ink dry quicker but also adds a certain degree of protection against scuffing and marking and can enhance the look of the images too. A seal is often done as a matter of course when printing and is a cheaper option than a laminate.

What is an Open Size?

If your document is something that folds out such as a booklet, flyer or presentation folder, the open size is the total size of the entire document when laid out flat. For example if you had a double-sided A4 flyer folded in half to A5, the open size would be 297mmx210 as this would be the size when you laid it out flat.

What is a Finished Size?

This is the size of the product or document when completed or folded. In the case of an A4 brochure folded to A5 the finished size would be 148.5mmx210mm.

What are Proofs and why should I use them?

Proofs are an excellent way to check for colour, text and image placement as well as spelling. There is nothing worse than receiving your finished product and spotting an error – what a waste of money. This is why having proofs can save the day. Quality proofs do cost but they are defiantly worth it especially when you could be talking in the 100s or even 1000s for a reprint. There are a number of different types of proofs:

On-screen PDF proofs – this is often called a content proof where the document is proofed on your computer screen. This type of proof is good for checking general layout to see if everything is in their correct place and that nothing had dropped off.

Digital Proofs - This is done on a digital press and can give a good indication of what the final product will look like. However, if you are using spot colours in the final print, then a digital printer will give you a representation of those spot colours but not the exact spot colour… spot on.. or so to speak.

Hi-Res Digital Proofs - These types of proofs are the high-end of the proof scale. It will give you a far more accurate sample of what the final product will look like in terms of colour and print clarity. This proof is done on a properly calibrated dedicated digital proofing machine.

What are the different file types you can work with?

When it comes to print there are dozens of different file types that a designer would work with. When submitting artwork to us for print here are a few guidelines to use: We accept the following files types: PDF, EPS, TIFF, INDD and AI. Make sure the images are set up as CMYK and not RGB. Where possible use the TIFF file format for images as opposed to JPG. JPG files are usually compressed files which means the file size is smaller so it makes it easier to send via email and display on your screen but are usually too low in resolution to print out well. If you are going to use JPG, make sure it is a high resolution images such as 300DPI. Westprint runs Adobe CS5 Design Software which includes Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator. We are able to accept and work with the native files generated by these programs (AI, PSD and INDD)