Introduction to Commonly Used Printing Terms

12 March-2015

You may get flabbergasted when you here the term PMS with printing or for that matter vectored art. Such terms will come up often when you discuss printing options for your artwork with the promotional designing team. Some of these terms such as PMS, vector art, registration, CMYK/RGB color model, and set-up charge are discussed below.

Pantone Matching System (PMS)

It is a proprietary color space owned by Pantone Inc. which is used for reproducing the exact same color for variety of purposes. Since there are many variants (shades) within the same color and different printers may reproduce the same color differently, it is important to have a standard that would make sure the uniformity in the associated designs. PMS in that regard makes the life easier by denoting every color a number (total of 1,677 colors) such that you could exactly demand a number to be printed thus eliminating variances.

Vector Art

Vector art makes use of geometrical shapes (point, lines, curves, polygons, etc.) that can be represented with mathematical expressions for creating designs such that these designs could be easily resized without any pixelation or blurring effect. Hence, printing the artwork on various materials of varying sizes would still result in same sharpness & quality. Located in Melbourne, we make sure that all of our printed promotional products have the best quality artwork so as to lend them high perceived value.


It is used quite often in the printing process to analyze the spatial relationship shared by the various sections of the final printed image on a given material. In other words, it measures the deviation between the original image (that has to be printed) and the image which is actually printed. Registration is only seen in those printing methods that use some kind of manual process for printing such as used in screen printing & pad printing; though this registration is usually negligible and could be ignored for most practical purposes.


CMYK and RGB are two different color models. CMYK refers to the four colors that are used for printing images: cyan, magenta, yellow & key. Here key refers to that color which is responsible for giving detail to the image as other colors in the model do not give the optimal detailing. This key in a four-color model is black. RGB on the other hand refers to the combination of three primary colors red, green, & blue which could produce number of colors.

The difference between these two models is that the CMYK model is subtractive in nature which means that brightness (white) is progressively reduced during printing with the addition of colors and RGB is additive scheme in which as more colors are mixed with increasing intensity, white (brightness) is increased. Hence, RGB is used for displaying colors on electrical devices (television, computers, cameras, etc.) and CMYK is used to print images in these RGB based devices onto the different materials. We at Melbourne, discuss different printing methods with our clients to offer the best advise for their imprinted promotional products.

Set-up Charge

When a promotional house talks about the set-up charge, they are essentially referring to the cost of equipment that are required for printing a particular artwork. For example, in the case of screen printing, screen (woven mesh) and stencils (for every color) are needed. For pad printing, silicon pad and inked plate are required. The same goes with other methods as well.

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