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What Is a Wide-Format Print?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 10 August 2014
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A wide-format print is a print made on a wider-than-average piece of paper, though there is no official size that differentiates a wide format from a regular size. Many different papers can be used for a wide-format print, and the paper generally is in a roll to make printing easier. Depending on the paper used for printing, wide-format prints can be used for many different purposes. Aside from needing a special printer to accommodate the extra width, similar technology is used on regular and wide prints.

Many print shops say they offer wide-format printing and, while this term often is used in the printing industry, there is no official minimum size for a wide-format print. Most people normally consider the minimum width of a wide-format printer as the distinguishing size between wide and regular prints, which would mean wide printing starts around 12 to 24 inches (30.48 to 61 centimeters). When it comes to length, this measurement is even more difficult to discern, because some wide-format prints are just 18 inches (45.72 centimeters) long, while others are as much as 50 feet (15.24 meters).

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Similar to regular printing, a wide-format print can be done on many different types of paper. Some of the common types are bond paper, which is like regular paper; canvas; thick vinyl; glossy paper; and fabric for flags. The weight of the paper also is variable, ranging from thin and translucent paper to thick sheets. Most wide-format printers use a roll of paper, which enables the print to be incredibly long, if needed. Using a roll makes it easier to make numerous prints.

The paper on which it is printed generally determines a wide-format print’s use. At the same time, there are some common uses for a wide-format print related to the print’s size. This type of printing is used for architecture drawings, banners and posters, and in-store marketing.

While there is a major size difference between a regular print and a wide-format print, the technology used for each is about the same. Most wide-format prints are made with inkjet printing, but laser printing also is common. These prints also can come in color and be hole-punched or bound, and some machines also offer double-sided printing, but this is uncommon. This means that, aside from the size, there is very little difference between regular and wide prints.

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