Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Glossary of printing terms

I have created a glossary of printing terms which I will be adding to as the weeks go on, enjoy.


A Sizes – Most common paper size used for general printing of stationery eg. letterheads. Business Stationery Printing

Artwork – Usually supplied in electronic format, this is the type, photos, images etc. which make up what will be printed.

A/W – Abbreviation for artwork.

Authors Corrections – Changes made by the customer at the proofing stage.


B Sizes – Larger than A sizes, most machines are based on taking this oversized sheet size.

Bleed – Printed area which extend off the trimmed area, it is not possible to print all the way to the edge of the paper sheets. To achieve this effect it is necessary to print a larger area than is required and then trim the paper down to the correct size. An allowance is made (usually 3mm) to make trimming easier.

Board – While there is no agreed rule, paper exceeding 170gsm is usually classed as board.

Bond Paper – A basic uncoated paper, often used for copying or laser printers. The better quality bond paper can be used for letterheads etc.


C Sizes - These sizes relate to envelope sizes and are suitable for enclosing stationery in the A sizes.

Case Bound – A hardback made with stiff outer covers. Case bound books are usually covered with cloth, vinyl or leather.

CMYK – Letters which stand for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (K). K is used for black to eliminate confusion with blue. Full colour printing is usually made up of these component colours.
Full Colour Printing

Coating – A special water based coating which is applied to printed matter to protect literature from ink smudging or finger marking or to enhance appearance. The main types are sealer, gloss, matt and silk. Coatings are commonly used on matt or silk coated paper as these types are more prone to smudging than gloss coated paper. The main difference between a varnish and a coating is that coatings are faster drying and therefore jobs can be turned around quicker.

Coated Stock – Paper which has a coating. It can be gloss, silk or matt and is suitable for jobs requiring a fine finish such as colour brochures.

Collating – Arranging of printed sheets into the desired sequence.

Colour Separation – Process by which an image is separated into the four colours for full colour print production.

Computer to Plate (CTP) – The process of producing printer’s plates directly from the computer with no films involved.

Crop Marks – Printed lines on the edge of the paper for indicating where the paper should be cut to produce the correct page size.


Die-cut – A shaped cut from the card or paper using a cutting forme.

Digital Printing – Printing direct from the computer usually in full colour without the need for plates. Digital printing is faster and more cost effective for small/medium print runs and allows for special techniques such as print-on-demand and personalisation.

Digital Proofing – Proofing direct from digital files instead of using film, usually via inkjet technology

Drilling – is another term for hole punching.

Dots per Inch (DPI) – Indicate the resolution of images. The more dots per inch, the higher the resolution and the better quality the image


Encapsulation – Where the printed matter is sealed in a plastic coating providing a rigid, watertight covering. (Sometimes referred to as laminating which is actually incorrect).

Embossing – The process of raising letters or designs on card or paper already printed.

EPS File – Encapsulated Postscript File. This is a file format which can be read across different programs on MAC or PC computers.


Finishing – Any process which follows the actual printing. Can include folding, creasing, stitching, binding etc.

Font – A set of letters, numbers and symbols that share a unified design. Also referred to as a typeface.

Four Colour Process – Full colour printing using four constituent colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.


GSM – Grams per square metre. This is the standard measure of paper weight.

Gutter – The inside margins or blank space between 2 facing pages is the gutter. The gutter space is that extra space allowance used to accommodate the binding in books and magazines.


JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group. A common type of file format for image files.


Kiss cut – A shaped cut out from two layered stock – mainly used for peel off labels.


Laminating – A thin plastic film used on the covers of printed literature to give protection. This can be gloss or matt, not to be confused with encapsulating which leaves a clear border and is much thicker.

Lithographic (Litho) printing – A printing process by which the inked image to be printed is transferred (offset) first to a rubber blanket before coming into contact with the paper, which takes up the inked areas.

Laid Paper – Uncoated paper often used for business stationery which has a textured pattern of parallel lines.


Machine Fold – The process of mechanically folding printed paper

Machine Varnish – A general varnish applied to printed literature to protect or seal against smudging or finger marking.

Micron – Although paper is usually measured in GSM (weight), it is sometimes measured in microns (thickness).


Origination – All the items needed to put together and print the job eg. Artwork, photography, typesetting etc.

Overs – The extra printed products delivered to a customer over and above the net amount ordered. Printers try to allow extra sheets for set-up purposes and deliver more rather than just ending up short on a job.

PDF – Portable Document Format. The industry standard for saving files in an acceptable format. Quick, cheap and increasingly stable. A PDF is often used for viewing proofs and for supply of final artwork.

Perfecting Binding – Pages of a book which are glued together to give a square spine.

Perforation – Running a dotted score into paper to allow the paper to be pulled apart.

Personalisation – Where data elements are unique to an individual print piece. Concept facilitated by digital printing.

Printing Plate – A metal plate which has inked images involved in the offset plate lithography printing process. Each colour in a printing job requires a separate plate.

Process Colours – The colours which make up full colour printing. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.

Proof – A version of a document produced for the purpose of review before it is printed.

Pantone (PMS) – Spot colours, also known as PMS colours, and officially as Pantone Matching System colours are specific colour formulas that will reproduce accurately in print. Instead of simulating colours by combining primary colours (CMYK), spot (PMS) colours are pre-mixed with existing and published colour formulas.

Pre Press – All procedures (and costs) associated with bringing a job to press, such as design, artwork, proofs, set-up etc.


Ream – 500 Sheets of Paper.

Resolution – refers to the degree of detail of an image. It is usually measured in dots per inch (dpi). A high resolution gives a high quality image and vice versa.

RGB – 3 colour split (Red, Green, Blue) used by monitors, not ideal for printing, images should be changed to CMYK.

Saddle-stitch – When the pages of a printed document are bound together using metal staples.

Sealer – This is an alternative name for a coater.

Sealer Varnish – A varnish applied to printed matter to protect against finger marking giving a neutral finish.

Sheet Fed Press – Printing presses which are fed by separate sheets of paper, as opposed to paper on a roll. They are suitable for all types of commercial printing.

Shrink Wrapping – Method of packing printed products etc by surrounding them with plastic then shrinking by heat.

Score – To impress or indent a mark in the paper, to make folding easier.

Spiral Binding – A binding, as used in notebooks in which the pages are fastened together by a spiral of wire or plastic that coils through a series of holes punched along the edge of the document.

Spot Varnish – a way of highlighting an area of a page by selectively applying a gloss varnish to it.

Stock – Paper or other material to be printed.


Tint – Percentage shade of a colour.

TIFF – Tagged Image file Format. A type of file which stores an image.

Typesetting – The assembly of text and pictures on a MAC or PC by keyboard or other digital means

Trim Marks – See ‘Crop Marks’


UV Varnish – A special varnish which has undergone an accelerated varnish drying process using ultra violet can be applied to printed matter to enhance its appearance. A gloss UV varnish is commonly used and this gives a very shiny effect.


Web Fed Press – Presses which are fed by paper from a reel as distinct from separate sheets. They are normally used for high volume printing.

Wove Paper – Uncoated paper often used for business stationery which has no obvious surface texture or pattern.

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