litho printing

Litho printing, or offset lithography is a technique widely used by commercial printers.

Digital printing is another method, also widely used by commercial printers. So what’s the difference?

In this short read, we’ll explain the best practices and benefits of each approach.

Litho printing involves a much more technical set up than digital. The artwork is used to create plates, one for each colour. These plates are then coated with ink and pressed against your leaflet (or any other printed items) as they pass through the machine.

The age old process is used mainly for high quantity orders, for example a couple of thousand flyers. The quality is unrivaled, and once the set up is complete, it’s also much faster.

Litho – Key advantages:

  • Superior quality – this is as good as it gets!
  • Speed – Once the initial set up is complete we’re talking lightning fast.
  • Spot / Pantone colours can be used.
  • Price – The cheapest option on larger quantities.

Digital printing does away with the complicated set up. Sounds good already, right? This process utilises inkjet, laser or toner based printers that fire straight onto the paper stock. Used mainly for smaller print runs, print on demand and promotional items etc.

Although we mentioned the superior quality of litho above, in 2018 you’d certainly be hard pushed to tell the difference.

Digital – Key Advantages

  • Perfect for smaller orders like 100 business cards.
  • Very low minimum quantities
  • Wider range – Paper, card, pens, tshirts & more.
  • Fast turnaround – Although the actual printing can be slower, the overall process if often a faster option.
  • Finishes – Foil printing and other effects available. 

In summary – As you can see both options have their advantages. The requirements of each individual job will determine the technique used. Your printer will always let you know the best choice for your particular job.

If you have any further questions on the subject, or would like to discuss your next project – get in touch here.


We’re a Derby, Derbyshire based commercial printers and graphic design studio. We’re here to help grow brands just like yours through premium quality visual appeal.

Owner / director & graphic designer here at Clearcut Print Studio in Derby. An uncontrollable passion for creativity in all forms. Keen explorer and photographer. INFJ.