Design amd Printing abbreviations explained

Design and printing abbreviations explained

If you’ve worked with designers, developers and printers before you’ll know we all have one big thing in common, we like abbreviations. LOL JKS we love them!

With ‘text chat’ an ever increasing form of communication it’s near impossible to have missed this abbreviated deluge that has pummelled our vernacular. This is certainly the case for all creative industries as terms such as PMS, RGB and CMYK are used daily in offices and on blog posts alike. We’ve previously touched on several of the key web development terms but today we’re concentrating on some more generic design and print terms that might have you scratching your head and yelling OMG!


You’ve no doubt heard of these first two acronyms, but what to they actually mean? Quite simply RGB (Red, Green and Blue) and CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black or Key) represent the colours that make up their different formats. RGB are the three primary additive colours used in digital displays and refer to the colour space of computers, digital cameras, scanners and a myriad of other devices. While CMYK refers to the 4 process colours used in printing (both commercial and domestic) that make up images on business cards, brochures, posters and the rest! Because of their inevitable interaction throughout the design process colour matching issues can often arise, particularly when displaying proofs, which brings us to our next acronym…


Short for Pantone Matching System®, the standard ink colour system is used by designers and printers to get your selected colour ‘just right’. With the often great distinction between on screen RGB colours and printed CMYK colours the PMS Swatch Booklet is an accurate tool for selecting corporate brand colours. We have several of these books in the office and revert to them whenever possible.


There are hundreds of different image file types however the Joint Photographic Experts Group is easily the most famous. The humble JPEG was formed to create a standard for colour and greyscale image compression making it easier to save files at smaller sizes (despite the loss of quality) amongst other things. If you’re concerned about losing the quality off your photos, you will be better of using lossless image files such as TIFF, GIF, PNG or RAW image format. The various types of image formats are explained here.


This acronym stands for Portable Document Format. These are one of our most used, saved and sent files at Argon Design; they’re literally everywhere! Adobe PDF is a universal electronic file format, which can be updated, edited, turned interactive, navigated and ultimately printed from almost any computer regardless of the various elements located within the file or the method in which it was saved.

b, Kb, Mb, Gb and Tb

All the files that are stored on your computer are made from bits (binary digits), which combine to make b’s (Bytes) and so on… here’s an example of . Has your designer ever asked you to supply your logo as a ‘high resolution file’ for print? Images are generally downsized before they are uploaded to the web but are then expected to be reproduced in print without a loss of quality. This reduction often turns Mb’s (Megabytes) into Kb’s (Kilobytes) rendering graphics unable to print with any clarity. The explanation of bytes and bits gets quite ‘techy’ so we’ll just leave you with some idea on how each file size category is made.

1024 bytes  = 1 Kb (Kilobyte)
1024 KB  = 1 Mb (Megabyte)
1024 MB  = 1 Gb (Gigabyte)
1024 GB  = 1 Tb (Terabyte)
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