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The battle of the print techniques: Digital or Litho?

printing cmykIn an online world, printing may seem like a dying trade – not the case, as us marketers surely know. Just like technological advances, printing has advanced too, offering clients an even wider range of choice from quality, type, speed, and finish.

At Emerald Frog Marketing, we know it can be a difficult task to choose your preferred print. There are so many different papers, cards, coatings, layers and protections not to mention how many sides or the printing method. It can get a little overwhelming, especially as you have to assess which is the best for your printing purpose. Here, at your fingertips, is some explanations and guidance so you can ensure you get what you need, and know exactly what you’re paying for.

The decision as to which one depends upon the weight and type of stock, quality (both text and images), run length (number of copies needed), method (digital / Litho) and the deadline as well as colour range and pricing.

Each process of printing is specially catered to each job. Now, with all these new methods, it’s difficult to really know how you’re getting your money’s worth – let’s break it down to really see the benefits of knowing your printing processes.


  • Suitable for shorter runs, allows faster turnaround to meet deadlines.
  • Prints one full copy and collates it each time.
  • Limited to lower stock weights from 70gsm to 350gsm.
  • Doesn’t work well with pre-applied finish stock.
  • Setup is quicker, simpler.
  • Growing increasingly accurate in terms of colour finish and quality of print.
  • Produces good quality of low resolution images (as low as 150dpi).
  • Less resilient against over-printing – most likely to melt with overprinting.
  • Easier for print personalisation, each print produced is unique – considerably increases the return on investment and response rate for mailing campaigns.


  • Suitable for long runs, Prices reduce for the very long runs.
  • Litho Printing produces number of copies from each individual page, then collated away from the press.
  • Litho printing requires specific set up and equipment – e.g. an intermediate like a plate.
  • Allows printing on 350gsm+ stock weight – ranges of stock for Litho presses are wider and generally cheaper (if selecting a specialist stock)
  • It is said Litho printing produces the best quality – the use of graduated tints or large, solid blocks of colour would lead to Litho being preferred for example.
  • If colour accuracy (Pantone) is required at a high level, Litho is recommended process.
  • Litho needs high resolution images to print good quality.
  • Litho prints are also more tolerant of over-printing, and as such is more applicable for that reason.
  • With inks, metallic ink is best in use with Litho printing, as well as UV varnishing.


Now you know your printing do’s from the don’ts, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing you’ve picked the right process for your aim, and know that it’s a job well done!

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Emerald Frog Marketing Limited is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 07558374.