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Large Format PrinterChances are no matter what medium you work in, you consider yourself a designer. Not a web designer, or a print designer, but simply a designer. It is increasingly rare to find a designer that restricts themselves to a specific medium. Why should they when they have almost limitless possibilities for matching their design to the best medium?

The biggest distinction that still lies between digital and print design is the language. Every medium has its own technical jargon, and as a designer it is important for you to understand and be able to speak the language. Even if you think you don’t, Carrie Cousins points out there is a good probability that at some point a client will ask for print components to go with the website. Eventually a client will want to be able to put part of the design onto posters, or business cards, or pamphlets.

You don’t want to be caught off guard and look amateurish in that scenario, and getting informed isn’t difficult. All you need to do is add some new words to your vocabulary. Design Shack put together a list of the ten most important terms. I’ve explained some of them below, but there are always more terms you could learn to be a more rounded designer.

1) DPI

Dots per inch is a literal measure of printing quality. Many traditional printing methods still being used today work by creating tiny dots to create an image. The more dots used per square inch, the higher quality and accuracy of the detail. Most print jobs use 300 or 600 DPI, but lighter papers require lower DPI to prevent color bleed and over saturation.

Many programs include settings to increase or decrease DPI, but the settings only refer to print design. Increasing the DPI will increase a file size, but it means absolutely nothing to digital projects because screen resolution is measured using pixels, not DPI. DPI can improve the quality of printing, but it doesn’t intrinsically affect the quality or size of an image.

2) CMYK

Digital designers are familiar with the RGB color profile, but printing uses a CMYK color model. The CMYK model refers ro a four-color (or plate) process of printing where each letter refers to a color used in the process: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (K equals black).

This means any design you create on a computer for a print design needs to be created with CMYK profiles so that the color is accurately reproduced. Many printers will even require that a job be converted before being submitted. Above all it creates consistency across all print jobs.

3) Large Format

Large format refers to any project that needs to be printed on a specialty printer, usually larger than 16 by 20 inches. Usually these types of print jobs are for banners, posters, and sometimes billboards. These types of projects are also made to be viewed from afar, and are usually rather low quality or pixelated up close. From a distance however, they look great. It does require a high quality image to print these projects, but they also tend to be printed at lower DPI.

4) Pantone Color

Pantone is the worldwide standard for color. The company has been around since 1963, and they have established a universal system for understanding and matching colors created by mixing a set of standard colors in precise combinations. This way, they can be precisely printed across different presses and substrates.

The colors are identified by number, but what sets the system apart is the detail they take into consideration. They include information on how to account for different types of paper based on a lettering system.

5) Overprint

Overprint is exactly what it sounds like; it is the process of printing on top of other things. Specifically overprint is when inks are printed directly on top of each other. The effect ca be used to create special effects, but it can also create issues during the printing process if not taken account for. The most common issue is the use of pure black, which can become richer when overprinted, and tends to overwhelm images. Instead, it is suggested to use rich black created with all four color plates to prevent overprinting.

Stitched PanoramaWeb design has more in common with print design than we like to admit. While the web offers endless opportunities and unique design possibilities, print design has been evolving for over 500 years and much of how we approach content of all kinds comes from our longstanding use of print and paper.

Design is really all about connecting with the public and sharing information in an attractive form, whether it be in books, images, or videos. Noupe offered some print design rules that apply in every medium you want to use.

Less is More

Print has always been very aware of size constraints. If you go over the size limit, it means adding more space, which meant using more paper, which means higher costs. The web has the opposite problem. We are given endless space and some designers take that space and try to use as much of it as possible to bombard viewers with everything they have to offer.

When you throw too much at the audience all at once however, you face clutter problems as well as just overwhelming and putting off your audience. Consider a memo or press release, and how corporate designers aim to immediately grab the viewer’s attention with economic design. You can put out information with a strong central theme or message without attacking your audience all at once.

Make Scanning Easy

Very few people read every word on anything. We are skimmers, who jump to and from text littered all throughout or life, and we expect the things we read to make this easy for us. People don’t want to have to search extensively for what they’re looking for. They want the content to be broken up in a way where sections and different types of information are immediately obvious.

Following a typographical hierarchy is one of the best ways to keep your content organized for scanners to find what they are looking for. Headlines and sub-headings guide the eyes and announce the main topic of content sections, while bold and italics draw attention to important areas.

Functionality is More Important Than Style

Managing print functionality doesn’t seem like that much of a task, but part of that comes from our long history of streamlining text into its most legible forms from the birth of the print press. Consider every aspect of print design that keeps text legible; text color, layout, font choice, and even text alignment all have to be considered in order to keep the print “functional” or able to convey the information you’re trying to share.

In web design, functionality is much more of an overt issue, yet the rule remains the same. Some designers try to hard to create lavish sights rich with animation and high quality images, but they sacrifice usability, sped, and practicality in favor of style. Any site that doesn’t work for users isn’t a successful site because people won’t care about fancy design if they can’t use it.