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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Printing -- Lithography Topic Hub: Background and Overview

Basic information on lithographic printing, including pollution prevention options and links to additional resources.

Background and Overview


Printing is one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the United States. It employed over 1.3 million people in over 55,000 establishments in 2011. The industry is dominated by small and medium sided businesses, most employing fewer than 20 employees.


Lithographic printing is well suited for printing both text and illustrations in short to medium length runs of up to 1,000,000 impressions. Typical products printed with offset printing processes include:

  • general commercial printing
  • newspapers
  • business forms
  • quick printing
  • books
  • financial and legal documents

Did You Know?

  • Lithographic printing makes up 68.5% of the printing industry.
  • 47% of lithographic printers are in the major metropolitan areas.
  • In the US, 79% of lithographic operations have 19 or fewer employees.
  • The annual shipments generated by printers were estimated by the Printing Industries of America as $155,711.0 M in 1999.

Number of printing establishments in the United States (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2011 County Business Patterns)

  EPA Geographic
  No. of Printing
  No. of Employees
  1     3,228   77,145
  2   5,512   138,092
  3   5,082   149,404
  4   9,429   188,187
  5   9,955   265,795
  6   5,331   99,370
  7   3,027   71,223
  8   2,522   48,718
  9   8,432   206,560
  10   2,629   89,798


The NAIICS Codes often associated with lithographic printing operations are:






Commercial Lithographic Printing
  3231101  Magazine & periodical printing
  3231103  Label and wrapper printing
  3231105  Catalog and directory printing
  3231107  Financial and legal printing
  3231109  Advertising printing
  323110B  Other general job printing
  323110W Commercial lithographic printing
  323114 Quick Printing
  323115 Digital Printing
  3231169  Checkbooks
  323116W  Manifold business forms printing
  323117 Books Printing
  3231171  Textbook printing and binding
  3231173  Technical, scientific, and professional book printing and binding
  3231175  Religious book printing and binding
  3231177  General book printing and binding
  3231179  Other book printing and binding
  323117A  Book printing only
  323117  Pamphlet printing and binding or printing only
  323117W  Book printing, nsk