Answers to Your Questions About Print

As a leg of the marketing industry that specializes in both print and web design, we get a lot of confusion and questions about printing jargon. Read on to have some of your most common questions answered!

What is PMS, CMYK, and RGB; and how are they different?

PMS stands for Pantone Matching System. According to their website “[Pantone] is known worldwide as the standard language for accurate color communication, from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer, across a variety of industries.” This means that they have spent over 50 years carefully crafting thousands of color combinations to be used by everyone. No matter where you are in the world, PMS 368 will always look the same. 

CMYK is the acronym for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). These are the colors used for print. You start with a blank white canvas and you create colors by adding certain percentages of each of those 4 colors. 100% of each color will give you black. There are CMYK color combinations that get close to matching the PMS colors, some closer than others, but the two are totally different systems.

RGB is the color spectrum for monitors. In digital, you start with a black canvas and you alter the color by adding Red, Green, or Blue. 100% of each color being white. It is very difficult to match CMYK or PMS colors to RGB because RGB colors are generally brighter and have a wider spectrum of colors. When converted to CMYK or PMS, the colors can appear to dull. This is completely unavoidable as you can not print RGB. Any printing device will automatically convert to CMYK.

*Also important to know that the colors you see on your screen is not how they will look when printed since all monitors are different. Calibrating your printer is the best way to get the closest representation for what your colors will look like printed but it still won’t be an exact match.

What are crop marks and why do I need them?

Crop marks are notches in the corners of your printed piece that are guides for where the piece needs to be cut. I know you’re saying to yourself “well obviously you cut where the design ends” but that is definitely not the case. Read on for clarification. 

Why do you keep asking if my work is bleeding?

A bleed is a very very important thing when you’re printing anything. It’s when your art extends off the edge of your art board by a certain measurement, typically 1/8 inch. Having crop marks and a bleed determines where the edge of the piece is to be cut and will ensure your piece won’t have that obnoxious white strip of unprinted paper. 

So there you have it! Hopefully this will help ease some of those pesky print problems you’ve been having.



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