Tag Archives: Commercial Offset Printing

Commercial Offset Printing or Desktop Printing? Do You Know How They Differ?

For any printing job a major question that arises in the minds of all my clients, unless they are experienced with this, is should they opt for commercial offset printing or desktop printing? But to know which one is the best for the requirements of your printing project, you have to know at least a little bit about these different methods of printing.

Three main points that differentiate offset printing from desktop printing are:

  1. Ink color
  2. The printing process
  3. Printer/ Press

So, let’s start with the first point – about the ink color.

Offset printing is also known as offset lithography. Both inkjet desktop printing and commercial offset printing use CMYK colors. CMYK stands for Cyan (Blue), Magenta (Red), Yellow and Black. When used together, one on top of the other, in varying proportions they create millions of colors.


If you go for offset printing, you also get the option to use standard premixed colors as well as metallic or fluorescent inks, which are known as spot colors. Desktop printing doesn’t use these spot colors.

How does the printing process differ?

In case of desktop printing, you put a paper in the printer and it comes out fully printed in just one go. But in commercial offset printing, a single sheet of paper is printed 4 times for each of the 4 colors (or more if spot colors are used) using the lithography printing process.

Press or the Printer?

You have the press for offset printing and the inkjet or laser printer for desktop printing. Inkjet printers are connected to computers with cables and they are self-contained units that use ink cartridges to spray ink on the paper.


An offset lithography press uses a web or sheet press with multiple units for printing. First photographic printing plates are made of the file that has to be printed. Then these plates are used to transfer ink to the paper, using basic lithography printing method. With advanced technology this happens at an amazingly fast speed.


So, now that you know the basic difference between these two methods of printing, wait for my next post tomorrow. I’m going to write about how you should prepare your file for printing. Till then, cheerio!