Creating images and words on paper is a process that dates back centuries. It is a necessary part of the paper-based publishing industry, and not only includes books and magazines, but also leaflets, brochures and folders. Some of the most important examples of printing are: textbooks, business cards, labels, postcards, shopping bags, and even postage stamps.

Printing technology has enabled designers to produce images on different colored papers, allowing for a colorful and cost-effective effect. For example, individual price labels for supermarket deli counters are printed with a thermal printing technique. Another common method is silk-screen printing, which uses a mesh-screen and stencil. In addition to the conventional colors of black and white, printers can create spot-color prints using two or three different colored inks.

Historically, the earliest form of printing was called letterpress. This process began in Europe in the late 1300s, and it soon spread to China. It was used to print texts, but the process could also be used to create posters and T-shirts. The most popular forms of printing are the ones that work by heat or static electricity.

The simplest letterpress machine is the platen press. It has a lower block and a flat metal plate, or “platen”, that supports the paper. Ink is applied to the printing plate and then transferred to the paper by a roller or automated brush. The platen can be fed with a single printed sheet, or by feeding the paper and ink through a rotary web press.

In the nineteenth century, the Koenig and Bauer machines were developed to help speed the production of books. These were capable of printing over a thousand impressions per hour. They had a significant impact on book printing, and forced standardization of metadata. These machines also had the capability to print on both sides of a single sheet of paper at once. The first edition of The Times in London was printed on a Koenig and Bauer machine in November 1814.

Another process of note is the intaglio, which uses an etched or engraved area on a plane surface. A similar process is relief, which uses raised areas on a printing plate to transfer ink to the paper.

A more complex machine, the letterpress, has two blocks: the upper block presses the paper onto inked type, and the lower block presses the paper onto a second, flat plate that holds a relief version of the item being printed.

The CMYK color model accurately represents the colors on the final product. Besides producing a professional-looking print, this process is fast and economical. The CMYK color model is particularly useful for the manufacturing of glossy magazines. In the 1990s, it was also popular for fax printing. The word “printing” is derived from the Latin “premere”, which means “to make out of thin air.”

The most famous printers of the Middle Ages were Johannes Gutenberg, who created the first printing press in 1440, and Ottmar Mergenthaler, who invented the Linotype typesetting machine. Although the invention of the printing press has been debated, its influence has been similar to that of the alphabet.