Offset Printing v. Digital Printing

United Yearbook Printing provides important printing information to help your team make the most informed decision when selecting this year’s yearbook provider.  There are basically two methods yearbook companies use to create your school’s most important historical documentation of memories:  Digital and Offset Printing.  First and foremost, these two types of printing are NOT the same.


Here are frequently asked questions:

Why does UYB use Offset printing instead of Digital?

Is it more expensive?

Does it take longer to deliver?

Which is better and can I tell the difference?


The following addresses those concerns:


Advantages of Digital

• Shorter turnaround…This tends to be a concern when teams are running out of time and are danger­ously close to missing their deadline.

• Every print is the same. More accurate counts, less waste and fewer variations, due to not having to bal­ance ink and water during press run. This is all true. However, if the print is poor to begin with, then your team ends up with consistently bad prints.

• Cheaper low volume printing. While the unit cost of each piece may be higher than with offset printing, when setup costs are included digital printing provides lower per unit costs for very small print runs.


Advantages of Offset

• Highest image quality. Print accuracy is critical for every project. Offset duplicates your images in life-like detail your images either enlarged or at scale.

• Works on a wide range of printing surfaces including paper, fabric, cork, wood, cloth, metal, leather, rough paper and plastic.

• The unit cost goes down as the quantity goes up.

• Quality and cost-effectiveness in high volume jobs. While today’s digital presses are close to the cost/bene­fit ratio of offset for quality work, they are not yet able to compete with the volume or clarity an offset press can produce.

• Most of the modern offset presses use computer-to-plate systems as opposed to the older computer-to-film work flows, which further increasing quality.



UYB utilizes the most secure methods when adhering your design between its covers. There are a few different techniques suitable for a variety of printed works.

• The Perfect Binding method is commonly used with yearbooks with fewer page count. It is also a preference for some schools who prefer to have a yearbook with flexible covers. In this binding method, your print­ed sheets are joined to the cover with a durable and flexible adhesive, providing a smooth and professional look. If your yearbook project is too thick to be stapled or saddle-stitched, this method works really well.

• The Smyth-Sewn technique is perhaps the most durable binding application available. Smyth-sewing takes stacked groups of printed pages called signatures. After the prints are approved and dry, we fold and stitch the seam of each individual signature. Once the groups are assembled in order, the stacked signatures are then sewn a second time laterally, joining them as one piece. Finally, the spine is glued to the book’s protective cover and your ever-lasting memories are now preserved.


Still not sure which is right for you?


Here’s a checklist to help your team decide:


Quantity: Offset printing has a front-end cost load. Short runs may have a high unit cost. But as quantities increase, the unit cost goes down with offset printing. Very short runs (small orders) can be much more cost effective with digital printing; while larger quantities are likely to have a lower unit cost with offset printing.


Printing medium: Do you need or want a special pa­per, finish or unusual printing surface, or unique size? Offset is definitely the choice here; there are far more choices when it comes to specialty papers, surface, texture, nontraditional sizes or original combinations of materials. UYB prides itself on its ability to achieve custom yearbook printed on any types of materials.


Color: Digital presses use four-color process printing. If you need only black ink or one or two ink colors, offset printing may offer a more cost-effective solu­tion. However, you must think about the print resolution. The correct percentages of each of the four colors (CMYK color spectrum) determine the image’s appearance. Additionally, if your plan to print using the Pantone, which is the most accurate, Offset printing is the best solution. 


Matching System: Offset printing will give you the best match, since it uses actual Pantone® ink. Digital printing simulates the color using a four-color match­ing process.  As a result, some digital printers may offer a less accurate representation of your work. Digital by its own admission is not a true match…what Offset guarantees, digital only imitates in precision.   


Turnaround. If you need it fast, digital usually offers quicker delivery. However, UYB works one on one with your team to push forward your deadline before heading to press and prevents your team from pushing back your delivery date. We appreciate the importance of having yearbooks signed before all your friends leave for summer fun.


The journey: Once your design is complete and de­livered to UYB, we send it directly to the presses after flight-checking is completed. The Offset printing process always remains the same in terms of duration (2-3 weeks). Our designing process from start to finish is intended to protect this critical stage. We never rush or compromise the vital require­ment of press time. When your yearbook is printed, dried and bound together, UYB is still pulling import­ant strings to get your perfect work delivered as quick­ly as possible. Our logistics providers work closely with our team, resourcefully trimming transportation hours and days if necessary.


Proofing. Digital offers accurate proofs since you see an actual sample of the printed piece. This does not however change its resolution. Many digital advocates leave this part out of the conversation. Digital printing imitates Offset’s natural advantages. For example: It is the difference between an artist’s masterpiece and a color Xerox copy of the original. Offset is sensitive to delicate nuances in a photograph. We think your images deserve to look their best. UYB binds indi­vidual masterpieces with every yearbook. Accurate color proofing for Offset printing can be expensive…yet it doesn’t have to be. We make it cost effective and worth the effort.


Customization. Without question, digital printing may be better for smaller counts that require simple chang­es of names, address and or individual content per the client’s request. Offset printing however creates the op­portunity for each team to make unique choices when it comes to materials and special printing techniques such as embossing/debossing, foil-stamping, lenticular, laser-cutting, laser-printing, pop-ups, personalization and tip-ons. Only Offset has this creative flexibility.


Which is better?

United Yearbook Printing Services champions Offset printing instead of Digital. It is the only answer when it comes to achieving superior quality images that are crystal clear and color match perfect! UYB gives your creativity a permission slip that digital printing cannot offer.


We hope this has been helpful to your team in its pursuit of excellence!


We welcome any further inquiries regarding printing your finest design yet.




Your friends at United Yearbook Printing Services


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