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The Difference Between Offset-Litho Printing and Digital Printing

As consumers, print media is a part of our everyday lives. From the billboard on your local highway, down to the box of cookies you purchased at the supermarket; it's all commercial print media.

Let's say you wanted to contact a professional printing agency, like Omega, about getting brochures for your company (great choice by the way), and their sales team gave you the option of using offset lithography printing or digital printing.

This is where they’ve probably lost you in terms of understanding the options. Don’t worry! Most prospective users do not know or understand the differences between the various ways products can be printed... And we are here to fix that!

So, what is the difference between offset lithography printing and digital printing?

Let us define them!

Offset lithography printing, litho for short, has been used as the standard for commercial printing since the 20th century. The art and text from your project is placed onto thin metal plates. It is then dampened by water and the ink from the machine. The ink is for the image areas, and the water is for the non-inked areas. After being placed onto the plates, the inked artwork is then transferred to the rollers, where it will be passed onto the substrate.

Digital Printing is the process of printing a digital-based image to a substrate directly. That's right, no plates are needed for this printer; making set up costs low. Desktop publishing and other digital sources are sent directly to this printer using large format. The “ink” being used for digital printing is either a pigment or toner such as a laser/inkjet.

Reasons for using offset:

  • Low price: Large quantities can be printed cost effectively.

  • More options: Variety is the spice of life…

    • Include custom inks such as metallic and Pantone colors

    • Use various paper types

    • Incorporate foil stamping and/or die cutting

  • Excellent quality: Litho may be from your grandfather's era, but the quality is still unbeatable till this very day. Litho printers produce accurate color, sharp typefaces and impeccable details. No streaks or spots!

Reasons for using digital:

  • Low MOQ: Digital printing allows you to have very low minimum order quantities. So, if you only needed ten items or even one, digital printing allows for that to happen.

  • Variable data: Need 1000 direct mailers to go to a community you are trying to reach? Digital printing allows you to add different names, addresses, and numbering to your project. Variable data for the win!

  • Quick turnaround time.

  • Accuracy: Each print is identical, with a low risk for color variation.

So, the next time you are thinking about getting business cards made, brochures for a special event, or even direct mailers to a targeted market; remember the differences and capabilities of offset litho printing and digital printing methods.

If you have any lingering inquiries, our sales team is here to help! Contact us today at or (609) 645-1940.



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