We have recently been asked by a few of our customers what’s the difference between a flyer and a leaflet and why do printers ask for CMYK rather than RGB.
A flyer (flier is the American spelling) is a single page paper leaflet usually advertising a company, service, event, special offer or nightclub. The low-cost of modern flyer printing means that flyers are an incredibly popular and cost-effective method of advertising. They are suitable for everything from a small display in a retail premises to a large-scale mail shot. Flyers are often handed out on the street (not surprisingly this is called flyering) however in some areas permission has to be sought due to anti littering laws.
Whilst similar in purpose to leaflets, flyers are usually printed on a thicker media. Flyer printing is usually done on a 300gsm glossy card whilst leaflets are usually supplied on 130gsm paper. As computing technology has evolved the cost of desktop publishing equipment (basically an average home computer) has fallen into the reach of the average consumer. Coupled with the reduction in costs of flyer printing due to developments in the production of cheaper printing plates and online print batching, flyers are now perhaps the most cost-effective method of promotion.
Flyers commonly appear in the following sizes:
DL (99mm x 210mm)
A5 (148mm x 210mm)
A6 (105mm x 148mm)
A7 (74mm x 105mm)
Business Card (85mm x 55mm)
Flyers can also have a variety of extras such as:
Die Cutting- Where the flyers are cut to a shape other than the usual rectangular
Spot Varnish – Where a reflective varnish is applied in certain areas to produce an eye catching finish
Drilling – Holes are literally drilled into the flyers. This can be used for basic binding or just as an effect.
Flyer printing itself can be one of several different methods. The most popular two are digital and litho printing.
Digital printing uses what is basically a very large laser printer. The advantage of this is that there are no printing plates to be made. This means that the cost of printing small quantities of flyers is very low. Unfortunately it also means that there is little cost benefit for printing higher volumes. Digital printing generally becomes more expensive than litho printing around quantities of 1000. In addition to this the quality of digitally printed flyers is generally considered to be slightly lower than that of litho-printed flyers. We use bank of very high-end Konica Minolta printers to produce our digital flyers.
Litho printing (sometimes called offset printing) uses the large traditional printing presses that you usually think of when you think of printing. These presses really can be huge and the 4 colour printing presses with finishing head we use are around 40 feet long and weight many tonnes. These machines are great at producing high quantities of flyers but their printing plates cost a fair amount to produce and a full colour print needs 4 plates to produce which means that it’s generally not viable to print quantities of less than 1-2000 sheets. Traditionally printing plates were created using exposure units and film negatives however these days we have direct computer to plate printing technology which has reduced the plating costs significantly. Online print sales have also increased the number of print orders taken in a normal day. This means that flyer printing jobs of the same size can be placed next to each other on the sheets of paper and the cost of making the printing plates split between the jobs. This has resulted in a standardisation across the print industry in terms of not only printing sizes but also order quantities. Generally quantities for offset printing are in multiples of 5000 so that larger orders can simply take up several spaces on a sheet.
Some of the more eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that I described the print press as being 4 colour. You may have seen this before in spec for flyer printing and is sometimes shown as 4/4 i.e 4 colours on the front and 4 colours on the back. Using a method known as process printing, four colours are mixed to produce the required colours on the paper. You may have heard of these colours listed as CMYK or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black). CMYK process printing is able to reproduce a vast range of colours but it does have some limitations. Computer screen mix red, green and blue light to produce colours. The more red, green or blue you add the brighter the colour. This is very different from CMYK where the more colour you add the darker the colour. The end result is that the colours we are able to print on paper is different to the range of colours that can be displayed on-screen. Generally this manifests itself as slightly duller and more washed out colours than you’d see on screen. Process printing can also have problems matching an exact tone of colour and the colour balance can wander slightly. For an average flyer print this isn’t a problem but many corporate customers have exact Pantone colours for their logos. This is usually solved by either restricting the number of colours on the print to such an extent that process printing isn’t required and instead each of the print heads can print a distinct colour or by process printing the flyer as normal and then having a fifth print head print the exact Pantone colour needed.
Many modern image programs are able to handle files that are in CMYK and will even provide a respectable preview of the colours you’ll get on your final print. We do suggest using a package such as Adobe Photoshop to preview your artwork as it will highlight any colour changes that would occur in the flyer printing process.
by Ian from 1ClickPrint (Sheffield Branch) www.1clickprint.com/sheffield