Have you ever gone to have your Business Cards printed especially using internet printing companies but have walked away baffled, confused and disappointed with the jargon and the printed product.
In this article we try to cut through some of the printing red tape and try to provide you with a better understanding of the jargon and the pitfalls, ensuring your expectations are more closely matched to the end product you will be receiving. The following points should be of help.
If you want a close colour match between colours on the business card designs you see on the computer monitor and the printed business cards, consider the following. Depending on the type of monitor you use and the colours involved, there could be a huge difference between how the colour looks on the monitor (RGB MODE) and how the printed colour (CMYK MODE) looks from a professional print company or when printed using your home or office printer. Also the type of paper used affects how the printed colours look. If you want very close matches the best way to proceed is to send a paper copy of the business card with colours on it to the print company you may be thinking of using. The print company can then try to find the closest matching CMYK colour. If the print company can't find an appropriate CMYK colour code, they may recommend using another printing set of colours called Pantone (Spot) colours. Pantone colour printing is normally more expensive than CMYK colour printing, but the accuracy to colour match is also better.
The most common misunderstanding and pitfall between you the customer and the print company, is when you require your card details or logo to have beautiful and bright colours which you see on the monitor, yet the same colours look a lot duller on the printed business cards you receive.
Why does this happen? Quite simply it is the physics of the situation as follows,
Monitor colours (RGB: Red-Green-Blue), the three basic colour elements -which together form a pixel- that every CRT monitor and colour television technology is using to compose all the colours that it is able to display. Basically, the luminosity of each colour element is adjusted to a value from 0 (so dark to be black) to 255 (as bright as the white), and the additive mixture of all three colour values together has the effect of producing a distinct colour, with values ranging within the RGB colour space. Now, how correctly and in accordance to its value is the colour displayed in your screen, has to do mainly with the quality of the monitor- plus other details like monitor colour profile etc.
The colours scheme used for printing (CMYK: Cyan-Magenta-Yellow- Black) are the basic colours which are combined to get the equivalent RGB colours: magenta+ yellow = red, magenta + cyan = blue and cyan + yellow = green.
However, these printed colours will not be as bright as the RGB colours that can be displayed on the screen. The reason is that CMYK works through light absorption: the colour you see on paper is the result of the visible spectre of light that's left unabsorbed and reflected back to your eyes. On the contrary, RGB colours on monitor screens are exposing light, with the consequence that colours appear much more vibrant. And this is the key reason why colours you see on the screen and when printed look different and sometimes substantially so.
Now as mentioned earlier, to get over these problems of physics, if you are concerned about close colour reproduction then speak to your print company.
Dpi (dots per inch) or resolution refers to the sharpness of your design. It does not matter how good the printers are, if your business card design is not sharp enough then the printed business card will not appear crisp and clear. Ideally for the best result, you are looking at having a design of at least 300dpi when created in actual printing size. As an example, a 300dpi artwork that needs 200% scale in order to print in actual size is not 300dpi but is 150dpi.
Thickness (gsm) of the business card is reference to its weight. Ideally to have professional looking business cards the best paper weight to use is between 330 and 360gsm. Again you can use matt paper or gloss paper and use other finishing's on the printed business card. Again different paper makes the final print appear different. Ask your print company for more advice.
Use lithographic printing or digital printing. The words lithographic or digital are simply references to the quality of the printing machines and the printing processes used to print the business cards. Lithographic printing is an older method of printing and gives a very clear and crisp result. Digital printing is a newer method and depending on the quality of digital printers used, the results may vary. The best digital printers produce a printed quality as crisp and clear as the best lithographic printers, and better results than some of the older lithographic printers.
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Make printing Business Cards simple and cut out the jargon.