Tag Archives: Printing

RGB vs. CMYK vs. PMS

It’s time to send your design to print, but you’ve got one big question: RGB, CMYK, or PMS? Choosing the right color profile can make all of the difference in the world when it comes to how your design will appear in print. Pick the wrong one, and your colors may not look the way you want. Here’s a simplified breakdown of each of these three color profiles and when you should use each in your marketing designs.


RGB stands for “red, green, blue” and is often used in digital design to accurately represent colors on computer screens. To create a color pallet, this profile blends red, green, and blue light waves to give you the exact shade you’re looking for. RGB is best for projects like:

  • Infographics
  • Websites
  • E-Newsletters
  • Online Catalogs

A viewer’s monitor settings can change the way RGB colors are displayed on the screen, so your digital designs might vary slightly on different computer screens.


Similar to RGB, the CMYK color profile blends multiple colors together to achieve the right look. The colors used in CMYK are cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black), and each color is applied in layers during the printing process to match your chosen hue exactly. You would use a CMYK profile for:

  • Most everyday print materials

This profile is ideal for printed materials, but you should expect very slight variation in your colors throughout the printing process. This is a result of differences in paper, ink levels, temperature, and the process of mixing inks itself. While this variation is barely noticeable, it should be a factor when considering which color profile to use for branded materials.


PMS, or Pantone Matching System, is the most accurate color profile for printed materials. RGB and CMYK colors are blended in real-time during the printing process, which can create inconsistencies in your color. PMS colors are pre-mixed before printing and each color is applied one by one to maintain consistency throughout the print job.

Given its unique accuracy, the PMS color profile is most often used for:

  • Corporate Branded Print Materials

You also have the option of using PMS and CMYK together to achieve a full color palette for full-color photographs and other multimedia printing projects.

Each of these color profiles has its strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to choose one that meets your specific printing needs. Discuss the possibilities with your printer to accurately display the colors of your design and capture the essence of your branding in the printing process.


Benefits of UV Coating

Printed marketing materials are often your business’s first contact with new customers, and it’s important that they make a great first impression. UV coating is one way you can make your postcards, business cards, catalogs, and other products stand out and draw attention to your brand.

But what is ultraviolet (UV) coating? This finishing technique involves the application of a wet compound to paper that is cured and dried with ultraviolet light. This process results in a glossy sheen that is as attractive as it is durable.


What are the benefits of UV coating?

UV coating creates a stunning, dramatic visual appeal with a wide variety of mediums, whether you’re sending out postcards or designing presentation documents. But in addition to its aesthetic value, this coating process has several additional benefits.

  • High-Shine: UV coating adds a truly unique shine to your printed materials, deeply enhancing colors and creating a slick visual effect. This coating is great for photographs and high-color documents like catalogs and folders.
  • Customizable: Your printer can adjust the reflectivity and thickness of your UV coating depending on your unique needs. You may opt for a glossy coating or an understated matte for maximum effect.
  • Fast Drying: Production time can significantly slow down your marketing campaign, but using ultraviolet light, these materials dry instantly to save you time.
  • Durable: When you’re mailing or distributing your materials, they can often get scuffed or scratched in transition. UV coating keeps your materials looking fresh off of the press for much longer, allowing you to design mailing pieces, business cards, and brochures with a durable, abrasion-resistant design.
  • Environmentally-Friendly: Many coatings use harmful solvents, but the compound used in UV coatings are free of solvents and don’t emit volatile organic compounds during the curing process.
  • Affordable: The process of applying UV coating is very affordable, particularly when you consider the return on your investment. High-quality printed materials can inspire confidence in your brand and impress your customers and clients.

When is UV coating not a good option?

There are some instances in which UV coating is not your best option for your printed materials. These occasions include:

  • When you’re using lightweight paper (under 100#): UV coating may crack or curl if used on lightweight paper. Heavier stock is recommended for this coating process, such as paper stock used for business cards, booklets, flyers, and catalog covers.
  • If the material needs to be written on: Writing with ink on coated paper can take a long time to dry and result in unflattering smudges, so it’s best to opt for uncoated paper if it needs to be written on. For materials like business cards that may be used for visual and functional purposes, you can coat one side and leave the other uncoated for writing.
  • If you’re using metallic inks or foil stamping: Unless your metallic ink is sealed, its naturally flaky surface can cause the UV coating to peel and flake. Additionally, the UV coating on your materials may not allow for a foil stamp, so discuss this possibility with your printer before deciding on coating or stamping.

UV coating is a great option for marketers, advertisers, and small business owners alike. By using this coating on your printed materials, you can create eye-catching materials that promote your brand and attract customers—without breaking your print budget.

Make Your Mark with Print

Why printed marketing materials are here to stay

Huge chunks of marketing and advertising budgets are often spent on web design and online advertising, so it’s easy to overlook printed materials or to disregard them as unnecessary. But marketing collateral—a catch-all term for all of the media that sells a product or service—still goes well beyond the digital realm. Even the most modern business relies on the distribution of printed marketing materials as important tools for their sales force. They count on it for rich and robust direct mail campaigns, to distribute at industry events and tradeshows, and to accompany their product distribution.

Why it’s necessary

2015-08-20 10.08.34 (1)Marketing collateral is what sets your business apart from competitors. It defines and strengthens your brand, telling the story of who you are, why you matter, and why your target audience should buy from you. On a more practical note, it builds awareness of your business and leads to increased sales.

The most effective collateral leverages both digital and print resources, carefully blending them to accentuate the most powerful and unique attributes of your business. Digital provides accessibility and convenience, while print demonstrates your commitment to longevity.

Back to basics

The exchange of business cards dates back over a century, and remains a respected interaction among networkers today. A strong card design catches the recipient’s attention, making a memorable impression while clearly conveying your style, value, and brand identity.

Version 2Sell sheets and flyers provide information on products or services in an easy-to-read, unassuming format. These pieces effectively convey details that might otherwise be overlooked or forgotten, leaving behind a hard copy for future reference.

Another great tool is the brochure, which can be distributed in print and online format. You can highlight your main offerings while also delving a little more into who you are.

What your business needs

Marketing collateral is essential for business growth in all its forms, but it’s difficult for someone outside your business to tell you exactly what will best suit your needs. For maximum results, consider meeting with a printing company who offers graphic design and copywriting services. You’ll want to carefully consider your audience when choosing and designing the collateral to highlight your products or services. Most importantly, make sure everything is consistent: colors, logos, fonts, and styles should complement one another and resonate the same message across all advertising platforms.

Going the extra page

Beyond the basic pieces—business cards, sell sheets, and brochures—lies a world of enhancements for your marketing collateral. Coil books and smaller booklets go a step beyond the brochure with more facts and figures available for later perusing; this is a clean, sleek way to present industry colleagues or potential customers with a tangible reference.

Version 4Mailed newsletters and postcards help forge a connection with your clientele, and are viewed as more legitimate than a simple email version.

Finally, manufacturers and other industries often require a plethora of print collateral to accompany and support their product distribution. This may include product literature, packaging inserts, training manuals, kits, specialized fulfillment projects and more. Pairing up with a reputable printing partner that is capable of handling high volume printing and unique custom print projects, with all its support services, is key to receiving the adequate support your organization deserves.

Forge ahead

With a slew of printable materials available, it’s easy to find ways to make your business stand out, whether it’s by providing manuals and user guides or including something so simple and effective as personalized notes on custom stationery. With careful thought in choosing the right print collateral, your business will be primed to make its mark.

Bound to Succeed

Select the perfect finishing and binding for your next print project.

Colored plastic spiral coil used for binding.

Colored plastic spiral coil used for binding.

When you have multiple pages or documents you want to print and distribute, how do you decide on a presentation format? Your printer can suggest various options depending on how you plan to use the materials, the design and style of the product or service they represent, and the shelf life of the information it contains.

Before your print project is packaged for shipping, the bindery department of a printer will “finish” your job in a way based on your desired presentation format. In this article, we list the most common finishing options offered by printers, and give a brief explanation of each.

 The Many Bindery Options:

 Cutting — Stock paper sheets are often oversized, to accommodate a wide variety of finished document sizes. Several pages may be laid out per sheet, and therefore require cutting. A client’s finished document may also be an odd size, requiring additional cuts.

Scoring — Machine scoring uses an instrument such as a knife to crease paper along a straight line so it folds more easily and accurately.

Folding — There are multiple types of folds to choose from: the tri-fold, gate fold, letter fold, accordion fold, or double parallel fold, for example.

Perforating — Perforating is used to make tear-offs for documents such as registration forms or coupons, by creating a line of small holes that penetrate the stock.

Drilling — A drill bit or punch cuts holes in the page stock. Most common is the three-hole punch for ring binders, but there are drilling sets available in various sizes and patterns for ring, coil, or comb binding.

Saddle-Stitching — Used for pamphlets, booklets, and magazines, saddle-stitching binds by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine.

Padding — Padding holds books or sets together with adhesive spread across the edge of the sheets. The standard number of sheets per pad is 25, 50, or 100.

Plastic Spiral Coil Binding — Made of extruded plastic available in many colors, spiral coil binding is widely used for documents, reports, presentations, and proposals because the books open flat on a desk or table.

Comb Binding —This binding method utilizes round plastic spines with 19 rings and a hole puncher that makes rectangular holes. Also known as GBC binding, it is easy to take apart and reassemble by the end user.

Wire-O Twin Loop Binding — Printed and pre-drilled pages are inserted into a “C” shaped spine, after which a wire closer squeezes the spine until it is round. Similar to spiral coil, the Wire-O book can lie flat on a surface, and can even be folded back on itself.

Leatherette + Acetate Overlay — Often used with Coil, Comb, or Wire-O binding, acetate and leatherette provide a more substantial cover system in comparison to simply using a heavier stock paper for the front and back sheets. The clear acetate protects the front cover of your pages, while the back cover is leatherette (often black but may come in many colors).

Ring Binders — Ring binders can identify, order, and segment your materials. O-ring, D-ring, and slant-ring binders of varying ring diameters can hold up to 1,300 sheets. Vinyl-covered chipboard covers come in scores of colors. Clear-view vinyl cover options invite insertion of custom-designed full-color cover sheets and spines for further identification and promotion. Ring binders are durable for both ongoing and archival use.

Folders — Folders secure your material and if customized, create great first impressions for your company, event, or association. Print them with graphics, titles and text, slogans, logos, contact, website and sponsor information. Able to be configured with pockets, tabs, fasteners, and business cards slits, folders are both functional and attractive.

Tabs — If you need to organize the contents of your project, you’ll want banked tabs. Custom-made of heavier stock in a variety of colors, they can be die cut, printed, and mylar reinforced.

Shrink Wrapping — Shrink-wrap is a material made up of polymer plastic film. When heat is applied, it shrinks tightly over whatever it is covering. Shrink-wrapping bundles of finished printing products protects them during shipping and makes handling and distributing them easier.

The Right Choice Sends the Right Message

Your selection of options to organize and display your content is an opportunity to command attention. The presentation package should reflect the nature of your offering, be it formal, fun, or just fundamental. With so many options from which to choose, you can be sure you’ll find just the right finishing and binding option for your unique print project.

Common Print Terms: Unpacking the Words

Outline-Format-of-a-Definition-EssayPlacing a print order can be confusing—not just in figuring out what you want, but also in understanding the terminology used by print companies. With printers spending much of their days surrounded by different cover stocks and binding options, it’s easy to forget that the world at large is mystified by their jargon.

This list provides a brief introduction into print terminology, so you can feel better prepared when your printer comes calling.

Binding: Wire, glue, stitching, or other means of fastening sheets together along one edge

Bleed: Printing that runs off the edge of a sheet, so that trimming makes each copy identical

Body copy: The text to be printed in the main part of the project

Cover stock: Heavier paper used for the covers of catalogs, booklets, etc.

Coverage percent: The amount of ink covering the page

Crop mark: Horizontal and vertical lines showing where a photograph or page should be trimmed

DPI: Dots per inch, a measurement for printers and monitors; sometimes known as pixels per inch in web graphics

Finished size: The size of the product once it’s finished (folded, etc.)

Flat size: The size of the product after printing and trimming

Gloss: Light reflecting off an object, whether paper, ink, coating, or more

Gutter: The inside margins of pages toward the binding

Inserts: Additional items within a publication that are not bound in

Laminate: A thin, transparent plastic coating applied to stock to protect it from spills and heavy use

Leaf: One sheet of paper; each side of a leaf is one page

Linen finish: An embossed finish on text paper reminiscent of linen cloth

Page: One side of a leaf

Perforate: To create holes for easy tearing

Process color: Also called CMYK color or four color, it uses four ink colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to print the spectrum

Proof: The test run of a project, used to show errors and mark changes

Resolution: The sharpness of an image, whether on paper or screen

Saddle stitch: Binding with staples or stitching in the middle of the leafs to hold pages together, typical of magazines

Self cover: When no separate cover stock is used, instead having text stock throughout

Spiral bind: To bind by using a spiral of wire or plastic looped through holes

Text stock: Lighter weight paper, as opposed to cover stock, used for the inside of a publication

A little knowledge goes a long way! With this basic terminology, you’ll be able to communicate your needs more effectively to printing companies and make more informed decisions.

The Power of Color

Red, green, or purple: color choice greatly influences buyers

Pantone-Color-of-the-Year-2013-1When drafting a print job, the decisions can be overwhelming. What weight of paper will work best? What binding option meets your needs and budget? One tool that is more powerful than paper, binding, or any other print selection is the simple—or not so simple—choice of color.

Most people know that different colors can call to mind a variety of emotions or moods, such as a blue room feeling cool or a yellow dress seeming springy, but color affects the psyche on an even deeper level, playing a role in emotion to the point that it impacts purchasing behavior. Before you pick purple because you like it, or green because it’ll show up well, take a moment to investigate what your audience might be thinking about your color scheme.

Neutral colors

Neutral shades, such as black, ivory, white, tan, brown, and grey, form the basis for many simple, streamlined products. Apple markets mainly in black and white, and has cultivated their sleek sophistication in part due to their neutral color scheme. Neutrals make excellent backgrounds for more vivid images or commentary, but when used alone, run the risk of feeling bland, sterile, or stark.

Warm colors

Red, orange, and some shades of yellow comprise the warm color family. This is where you can find the intense emotions—passion, energy, and vibrancy. They can create feelings of happiness or exuberance, but also alarm. Used sparingly, bursts of warm color are excellent attention-getters; when they overwhelm, however, they are one of the fastest ways to turn your market off.

Cool colors

The phrase ‘cool colors’ doesn’t refer to how trendy the colors are, but sometimes they can be the hip choice. Blue and green, the main cool colors, are known to be calming and soothing, which can serve to drive consumers to those choices, particularly in health and wellness markets. However, they can sometimes seem staid or aloof. Purple invokes luxury, or superiority, depending on how it is used.

Common perceptions

One important factor to keep in mind is that your material, like the rest of the world, doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Purple might perfectly meet your needs, but it can also connote femininity, which may not jive with your goal. Green means go, or means nature—or, to the coffee-inclined, is inextricably linked with Starbucks. Balance the emotional weight of colors with what your audience might be connecting them with already; as with Starbucks, careful and consistent color marketing can eventually tie you so closely to a specific color that it becomes paramount to your brand. Make your choice with care, and then embrace your colors.

The Resurrection of Print Media

F-sellsheet-keystoneWhen Does Print Trump Digital?

In today’s tech-centric world, it sometimes seems like digital media and advertising is pushing print into becoming obsolete—but there are some arenas where print will always have the edge. It’s a medium that can be directly targeted to your audience, and is believable and accessible to those you’re trying to reach.

While many believe that digital is the new frontier, and that all efforts should be concentrated there, the reality is that print is as relevant as ever—particularly with more and more competitors disappearing from the print world. It’s becoming more of a free game, which means you can seize valuable opportunities to reach your market.

Hitting the Target

One of the most obvious benefits of print marketing is the ability to localize your advertising. Internet ads are everywhere, and most people simply skip over them. If you limit your marketing to the web, you’ll have a more difficult time seeing a return on your investment.

Print allows you to deliver your message to specific people, whether it’s through targeted placement in niche magazines or localized mailings to nearby potential customers. You can much more effectively reach your audience when you focus your attention where it will matter most.

Tangible & Credible

Even with the prevalence of the Internet, there is still a certain legitimacy associated with print media. Newspapers, magazines, and flyers can last much longer than a browser window on a computer. There isn’t the same overabundance of print ads as there is online banners, so it’s easier to get more focused attention for your advertisement.

Local marketing in particular gains credibility by being in print: a business card or leaflet picked up from a coffee shop billboard is more likely to be remembered and followed up on. Additionally, unlike popup and banner ads, print doesn’t carry the risk of electronic viruses.

Anytime, Anywhere Accessibility

It can sometimes be easy to forget that not everyone has ready access to the Internet, or the desire to connect digitally. Older Americans, those without personal computers, and individuals who simply prefer to connect in the tangible world will be entirely missed by digital marketing. To fully encompass your target audience, it’s important to consider people who may fall outside the computer world. You want your message to reach as many as possible, so don’t restrict it to a screen.

Your Brand, on Paper

Print media also provides an invaluable method for one of the standbys of marketing: branding. Consistent fonts and colors help to strengthen your visual identity, and they’re easier to maintain across a variety of print methods.

Instead of following the crowd into all-digital advertising, set yourself apart by targeting your ideal clientele with a message they’ll be sure to see—and likely to respect.