Digital vs. Offset Printing: Which is the Best Choice?

What is the real difference between digital and offset printing? You might think printing is just printing. However, that is not the point.

Digital and offset printing are two of the top printing methods and their difference. With the lowdown, you can have a better idea about which is the right choice for you.

What is Offset Printing?

Offset book printing technology uses plates that are generally made from aluminum. These are used for transferring an image onto a rubber blanket and then rolling the same image onto a paper sheet. It is called offset since the ink isn’t transferred onto paper, directly.

Once set up, offset presses run smoothly. So, it is the right choice when you need larger quantities. It offers accurate color reproduction and clean and crisp professional-looking custom book printing.

What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing doesn’t require plates the way offset does. Rather it uses options, such as larger printers or toner, which use liquid ink. Digital printing excels in scenarios where smaller quantities are required, such as producing 100 flyers or 20 greetings card. Additionally, digital printing offers the advantage of variable data capability, making it the ideal choice when each piece necessitates a distinct code, name, or address. Unlike offset printing, digital printing can seamlessly accommodate this requirement.

How to Choose between Digital or Offset Printing?

If you want to know which is the ideal choice for your spiral or perfect bound book printing, you will have to consider a few factors. Let’s check them out.


Digital printing is considered to be the most affordable as the price per click is much lower than the cost of setup related to offset printing. So, it is a far better choice where multiple originals or variable data are involved. For magazines or books with many pages, it doesn’t make any sense to print them digitally as higher volumes as digital equipment collect the sheets and saves money on offline bindery steps.

Offset printing is also an affordable choice. if there is a small or larger number of copies, the cost of setup the printing, including developing plates, is less than the cost per click for digital printing. The printing technique for a perfect bound book works for items that do not have to be collated or bound as digital equipment will be to complete these steps.


The quality of digital printing has experienced significant advancements in recent years, with certain individuals favoring the vividness of digital colors. Nevertheless, items created through digital printing are more susceptible to “cracking” when folded, especially if produced on thicker cover stocks. While contemporary creasing equipment has largely mitigated this concern, it remains prudent to take it into account.

Offset printing is often the superior choice for achieving higher-quality outcomes when dealing with extensive solid ink coverage or intricate gradients.


Full-color digital presses utilize combinations of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black to generate a diverse spectrum of colors. Despite continuous enhancements in color accuracy within digital printing, achieving an exact ink color match is generally not within its typical capabilities.

When precise color fidelity to Pantone® or “spot colors” is essential for your company, opt for offset printing whenever feasible. While digital printing comes close to replicating PMS colors, authentic PMS colors are achieved through offset inks that are pre-blended to ensure consistent and exact color reproduction with every print.

Paper Type

Generally, digital presses are most suitable for handling standard-weight papers due to the integration of various finishing processes like folding and stitching within the printing process. Nonetheless, digital press manufacturers have made significant advancements in adapting to heavier-weight papers and synthetic stocks in recent times.

In the conventional sense, offset printing machinery is better equipped to handle a broader array of paper types, including those that are extremely lightweight, exceptionally heavy, or possess distinct textures. When it comes to printing on heavily textured papers like linen, laid, or felt, offset printing presses tend to yield superior results, since the toner used in digital printing might not consistently adhere well to such intricate textures.


When facing a time-sensitive project, the sheer rapidity of digital printing is unparalleled. In fact, if the situation demands it, books can be produced within minutes using a digital press.

For extensive print runs of items devoid of variable information, offset printing can offer considerably swifter production times after the press setup phase, as offset presses generally operate at higher speeds than their digital counterparts. Moreover, numerous contemporary presses incorporate drying mechanisms or specialized coatings to expedite the drying process, facilitating swift finishing.

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