Why CMYK and not RGB?

CMYK is the colour model used for printing and is displayed on products like brochures and business cards. RGB (Red, Green & Blue) is the colour model used for devices such as a computer monitors or screens as they can only be viewed with natural or produced light.

CMYK Explained

CMY (Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) are the primary colours used in both lithographic and digital printing. These three colours are used in printing because virtually any visible colour can be created simply by mixing them in various amounts. In theory, when combined, CMY (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) should produce black. However, due to minor impurities contained in inks, the result is often a muddy dark brown. For this reason, black is added as a fourth printing ink. Black is recognised as a 'key' colour, hence it is designated with the letter 'K".   The pigments of CMYK are printed in small dots and if you were to take a magnifying glass to the paper, you'd see that it would mainly be just a bunch of small dots spread out across the print.

Remember: Dyes and pigments do not produce as wide a range of colours as light. So, when an image is printed on paper, there is often an unwanted change in tones, and the colours may be more muted than they are on a computer monitor.


When CMYK process cannot achieve the depth of colour required, a Pantone® colour can be used either as a fifth colour, on its own, or with other Pantone® colours.  Pantone® is a standardised colour matching system, utilising the Pantone® numbering system for identifying colours. By standardising the colours, designers, printers and manufacturers in different locations can all reference a Pantone® numbered colour, making sure colours match without direct contact with one another. There are a number of Pantone® palettes available in addition to the standard solids such as metallic and pastels.  All Pantone® colours are followed by a C (coated paper), U (uncoated paper), or M (mat paper) suffix.

Print Specification

What would the perfect print specification include?

  • Job Title: What would you like us to reference your job as?
  • Repro: Will you be supplying print ready files?
  • Finished size: What size will the job be when finished?
  • Number of pages (pp): To include the total number of pages (ie: an A4 page folded to A5 would be a 4pp document).
  • Colour: CMYK, Pantone® or a combination
  • Paper: What paper weight and finish do you require, or name of paper.
  • Finishing: What finishing is required ie: type of fold if appropriate, type of binding if appropriate.
  • Special Finishing: Extras such as Spot UV, Matt Lamination, Holes Drilled, Perforation etc.
  • Packing: Any special packing instructions.
  • Delivery: Where should we deliver? Is it just one address?
  • Quantity: How many would you like and do you require a run on cost?
  • Deadline: Where applicable please let us know?


We buy paper and board in large sheets for our presses and then trim to your specification.


Uncoated paper has a rough, uncoated finish. A good example of uncoated is standard paper that you would put through your own printer.  Uncoated paper is often used for letterheads and business cards.

Because of the way ink soaks into uncoated paper, colours are often duller than they are on coated paper stocks. This is only applicable however to the litho press, when printed on a digital press the ink remains brighter.


Coated paper has a smooth finish and is most commonly used for brochures and leaflets, coated paper stocks are available in both silk (satin) and gloss finishes.

Paper Weights

Paper weight is given as the weight in grams per square metre (gsm). A single square sheet (1m x 1m) of copier paper weighs 80g, (not an A4 sheet which will weigh much less). With this in mind it is worth noting that some papers, such as coated papers are usually thinner than the same weight/size sheet of uncoated paper. This is because these papers are denser, e.g. 100gsm coated is thinner than 100gsm uncoated. 

Common Product Sizes

Compliment Slip (DL): 210 x 99
Standard Business Card: 85 x 55
CD Booklet: 121 x 120
CD Back Inlay: 151 x 118 (inc 2 x 6.5mm spines)

Standard Euro Paper Sizes Sheet Size

A0: 821 x 1189
A1: 594 x 841
A2: 420 x 594
A3: 297 x 420
A4: 210 x 297
A5: 148 x 210
A6: 105 x 148
A7: 74 x 105

Standard Euro Envelope Sizes

C4: 229 x 342 Takes A4 sheets flat
C5: 162 x 229 Takes A5 sheets flat and A4 folded once
C6: 114 x 162 Takes A5 folded once and A4 folded twice
DL: 110 x 220 Takes A4 folded twice into thirds
C7: 81 x 162 Takes A5 folded twice