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Image Printing is a full service graphics company and offers the widest variety of graphic products in the United States. Over 90% of products we sell are produced or printed in our Spartanburg, SC facility.

At Image Printing we're continually expanding our product line to better serve our customer demands. In addition to the quality offset printing and screen printing that we are known for, we now also offer advertising specialty items and wide format eco-solve printing. So when you need a banner, automobile graphics, magnets, or give away type items like pens or fridge magnets you can rely on us.


Glossary of Printing Terms


Accordion Fold: Bindery term, two or more parallel folds which open like an accordion.

Acetate:  Thin, flexible sheet of transparent plastic used to make overlays.

Acid-Free Paper:  Paper having no residual acid-producing chemicals, and a pH of 7 or slightly above 7.

Additive Primaries:  The red, green and, blue (RGB) components of light are known as the additive primaries and are used to create all other colors of light, either direct or transmitted. When the additive primaries are superimposed on one another they create white light.

Against the Grain: At right angles to direction of paper grain.

Alteration: Change in copy of specifications after production has begun.

Anti-offset Powder:  Fine powder lightly sprayed over the printed surface of coated paper as sheets leave a press. Also called dust, offset powder, powder and spray powder.

Artboard: Alternate term for mechanical art.

Artwork:  All original copy, including type, photos and illustrations, intended for printing. Also called art.

Author's Corrections: Also know as "AC's". Changed and additions in copy after it has been typeset.

Back-Up: Printing the second side of a sheet already printed on one side.

Banding: Method of packaging printed pieces of paper using rubber or paper bands.

Basis Weight: Weight in pounds of a ream of paper cut to the basic size for its grade.

Bind: To fasten sheets or signatures with wire, thread, glue, or by other means.

Bindery: The finishing department of a print shop or firm specializing in finishing printed products (ie. folding, collating, stapling, trimming or cutting, making a booklet, padding, etc.)

Bitmap: A computerized image made up of dots or pixels. Line art and photos are often saved as bitmaps. To keep artwork from looking jagged, bitmaps should be saved at a minimum of 1200 dots per inch (dpi).

Blanket: The thick rubber mat on a printing press that transfers ink from the plate to paper.

Bleed(ing): Printing that goes to the edge of the sheet after trimming. (Increases cost to product because your materials are printed on larger sheet sizes, then cut to bleed.)

Blind Embossing: An image pressed into a sheet without ink or foil.

Blueline: A blue photographic proof used to check position of all image elements.

Board: Alternate term for mechanical.

Bond & Carbon: Business form with paper and carbon paper.

Bond Paper:  Category of paper commonly used for writing, printing and photocopying. Also called business paper, communication paper, correspondence paper and writing paper.

Book Block:  Folded signatures gathered, sewn and trimmed, but not yet covered.

Book Paper:  Category of paper suitable for books, magazines, catalogs, advertising and general printing needs. Book paper is divided into uncoated paper (also called offset paper), coated paper (also called art paper, enamel paper, gloss paper and slick paper) and text paper.

Border:  The decorative design or rule surrounding matter on a page.

Bounce:  (1) a repeating registration problem in the printing stage of production. 
(2) Customer unhappy with the results of a printing project and refuses to accept the project.

Bound Size:  The dimensions of a book or folded piece after it has been bound or folded into its finished state.

Break for Color: Also known as a color break. To separate mechanically or by software the parts to be printed in different colors.

Brightness: The brilliance or reflectance of paper.

Bristol Paper:  General term referring to paper 6 points or thicker with basis weight between 90# and 200# (200-500 gsm). Used for products such as index cards, file folders and displays.

Bulk: Thickness of paper stock in thousandths of an inch or number of pages per inch.

Bulk Pack: Boxing printed product without wrapping or banding.

Burn: Exposing a printing plate to high intensity light or placing an image on a printing plate by light.

Butt: Joining images without overlapping.

Butt Fit: Printed colors that overlap one row of dots so they appear to butt.

C1S and C2S:  Abbreviations for coated one side and coated two sides.

Carbonless: Pressure sensitive writing paper that does not use carbon.

Caliper: Paper thickness in thousandths of an inch.

Camera-Ready Copy: Print ready mechanical art. (Customer supplied; ready for platemaking).

Case Bind: A type of binding used in making hard cover books using glue.

Cast Coated: Coated paper with a superior high gloss reflective finish.

CEPS:  Color Electronic Prepress System. A computer based system for the graphic arts industry that electronically simulates the traditionally labor intensive or cumbersome tasks associated with page makeup and color image manipulation.

Check Paper:  Also known as “safety” paper. The paper is printed with a pattern and is chemically treated to reveal erasures and alterations. Used for bank checks and similar items.

Chipboard:  A single-ply cardboard, usually gray or brown. Used as the bottom sheet in a pad of paper. It is usually made from mixed, repulped paper stock.

Chrome: A term for a transparency.

CMYK:  The four process colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. "K" is used to stand for black to avoid confusion with blue.

Coated Paper: A clay coated printing paper with a smooth finish.

Collate: A finishing term for gathering paper in a precise order.

Color Bar: A quality control term regarding the spots of ink color on the tail of a sheet.

Color Correction: Methods of improving color separations.

Color Filter: Filters uses in making color separations, red, blue, green.

Color Key: Color proofs in layers of acetate:

Color Matching System: A system of formulated ink colors used for communicating color. (CMYK, RGB, Palletted).

Color Separations: The process of preparing artwork, photographs, transparencies, or computer generated art for printing by separating into the primary printing colors.

Comb Bind: To plastic comb bind by inserting the comb into punched holes.

Commercial Printer:  Printer producing a wide range of products such as announcements, brochures, posters, booklets, stationery, business forms, books and magazines. Also called job printer because each job is different.

Complementary Flat(s):  The second or additional flat(s) used when making composite film or for two or more burns on one printing plate.

Composite Art:  Mechanical on which copy for reproduction in all colors appears on only one surface, not separated onto overlays. Composite art has a tissue overlay with instructions that indicate color breaks.

Composite Film: Combining two or more images on one or more pieces of film.

Composite Film:  Film made by combining images from two or more pieces of working film onto one film for making one plate.

Composite Proof:  Proof of color separations in position with graphics and type. Also called final proof, imposition proof and stripping proof.

Computer To Plate (CTP): CTP is a process where your computer file is directly output onto a printing plate (ready for printing, no chemicals necessary). 

Contaminant Color:  Also known as Chroma, it is the unwanted grayness and desaturation of color caused by the imperfect nature of printing ink, which reflects some of the color it should absorb, reducing the purity of the color and making color correction necessary

Continuous-Tone Copy: Illustrations, photographs or computer files that contain gradient tones from black to white or light to dark.

Contrast: The tonal change in color from light to dark.

Copy: All furnished material or disc used in the production of a printed product.

Corel Draw: This is a popular drawing and page layout program for the Windows market. We support Corel Draw and specifically recommend you use it for all your page layout and design. By using Corel Draw, you can manipulate your art, drawings, bitmap images, flash images, html, PDF, and documents in this one program unlike its competitor’s software products.

Cover Paper/Stock: A heavy printing paper used to cover books, make presentation folders, etc.

Crash Numbering: Numbering carbonless paper by pressing an image on the first sheet which is transferred to all parts of the printed set.

Crimping: Puncture marks holding business forms together.

Cromalin: Trade name for DuPont color proofs.

Crop: To cut off parts of a picture or image.

Crop Marks: Printed lines showing where to trim a printed sheet.

Crossover: Printing across the gutter or from one page to the facing page of a publication.

Cyan: One of four standard process colors. The blue color.

Densitometer: A quality control devise to measure the density of printing ink.

Density: The degree of color or darkness of an image or photograph.

Diazo: A light sensitive coating used on printing plates.

Die: Metal rule or imaged block used to cut or place an image on paper in the finishing process.

Die cutting: Curing images in or out of paper.

Dot: An element of halftones. Using a loupe you will see that printed pictures are made many dots.

Dot Gain or Spread: A term used to explain the difference in size between the dot on film v paper.

Double Burn: Exposing a plate to multiple images.

Draw-Down: A sample of ink and paper used to evaluate ink colors.

Drop-Out (Text in ReversePrint): Portions of artwork that do not print.

Dummy: A rough layout of a printed piece showing position and finished size.

Duotone: A halftone picture made up of two printed colors.

Dylux: Photographic paper made by DuPont and used for bluelines.

Emboss: Pressing an image into paper so that it will create a raised relief.

Emulsion: Light sensitive coating found on printing plates and film.

Eurobind: A patented method of binding perfect bound books so they will open and lay flatter.

Fan-Apart Padding:  Edges of one side of carbonless forms glued in such a fashion that each page in each set is individually glued together but the sets are not glued to any other set.

Facsimile Transmission: The process of converting graphic images into electronic signals.

Film Rip: See Rip film.

Flat Size:  The dimensions of a brochure or folded piece before it is folded, cut and bound as a booklet or finished printed project.

Flat: An assembly of negatives taped to masking materials for platemaking.

Flood: To cover a printed page with ink, varnish, or plastic coating.

Flop: The reverse side of an image.

Foil: A metallic or pigmented coating on plastic sheets or rolls used in foil stamping and foil embossing.

Foil Emboss: Foil stamping and embossing a image on paper with a die.

Foil Stamping: Using a die to place a metallic or pigmented image on paper.

Four-Color Process: The process of combining four basic colors (usually Cyan, Magenta, Process Yellow, and Black) to create a printed color picture or colors composed from the basic four colors.

French Fold: Two folds at right angles to each other.

Galley Proof: Text copy before it is put into a mechanical layout or desktop layout.

Gang: Getting the most out of a printing press by using the maximum sheet size to print multiple images or jobs on the same sheet. A way to save money.

Generation: Stages of reproduction from original copy. A first generation reproduction yields the best quality.

Ghost Bars: A quality control method used to reduce ghosted image created by heat or chemical contamination.

Ghosting: A faint printed image that appears on a printed sheet where it was not intended. More often than not this problem is a function of graphical design. It is hard to tell when or where ghosting will occur. Sometimes you can see the problem developing immediately after printing the sheet, other times the problem occurs while drying. However the problem occurs it is costly to fix, if it can be fixed. Occasionally it can be eliminated by changing the color sequence, the inks, the paper, changing to a press with a drier, printing the problem area in a separate pass through the press or changing the racking (reducing the number of sheets on the drying racks). Since it is a function of graphical design, the buyer pays for the increased cost.

GIF: This file format is mainly used for Web graphics. It makes a very small file, but is not extremely accurate. GIF is not acceptable for quality reproduction in printing.

Gloss: A shiny look reflecting light.

Grain: The direction in which the paper fiber lie.

Gray Scale:  A tonal scale graduated from white to black, ranging in density from 0% to 100% and used as a reference guide for screened halftones and color separations.

Grippers: The metal fingers on a printing press that hold the paper as it passes through the press.

Hairline: A very thin line or gap about the width of a hair or 1/100 inch.

Halftone: Converting a continuous tone to dots for printing.

Hard Copy: The output of a computer printer, or typed text sent for typesetting.

Hickey: Reoccurring unplanned spots that appear in the printed image from dust, lint, or dried ink.

High-Bulk Paper: A paper made thicker than its standard basis weight.

Highlight: The lightest areas in a picture or halftone.

Image Area: Portion of paper on which ink can appear.

Imposition: Positioning printed pages so they will fold in the proper order.

Impression: Putting an image on paper.

Imprint: Adding copy to a previously printed page.

Indicia: Postal information place on a printed product.

Ink Fountain: The reservoir on a printing press that hold the ink.

Keylines: Lines on mechanical art that show position of photographs or illustrations.

Kiss Die Cut: To cut the top layer of a pressure sensitive sheet and not the backing.

Knock Out: To mask out an image.

Letterfold:  The paper is folded twice, in the same direction, into 3 panels with 1 outside panel tucked under the other outside panel. Most often used for small brochures printed 2 sides.

Laid Finish: Simulating the surface of handmade paper.

Laminate: To cover with film, to bond or glue one surface to another.

Laser Proofs:  Laser proofs are black and white or CMYK digital, non-film proofs which can be run out as composites or as color separated sheets. Lasers are used to check spelling, grammar, image placement, photo cropping and the proper separation of colors. Lasers are the least expensive form of proofing available. However, they are also the least accurate for image detail and color matching. Composite laser proofs indicate that all colors which will print have been used to produce the laser print-out. Color-separated laser proofs indicate that each ink color has been printed out on its own separate laser print-out. (ie. CMYK separated laser proofs result in four sheets of laser print-outs; one each for the cyan, magenta, yellow and black.)

Layflat: See Eurobind.

Line Copy: High contrast copy not requiring a halftone (text only).

Line Screen:  The number of lines of dots per linear inch on a halftone screen

Lines per Inch: The number of rows of dots per inch in a halftone.

Loupe: A magnifying glass used to review a printed image, plate and position film.

Magenta: One of the basic colors in process color (pinkish red)

Make-Ready: All the activities required to prepare a press for printing.

Marginal Words: Call outs for directions on various parts of a business form.

Mask: Blocking light from reaching parts of a printing plate.

Matchprint: Trade name for 3M integral color proof.

Matte Finish: Dull paper or ink finish.

Mechanical: Camera-ready art all contained on one board.

Mechanical Separation: Mechanical art on separate plates or sheets for each color to be printed.

Metal Plates: Plates usually made of alluminum. These provide the best quality for close registration multible color work and for screens and halftones, but generally result in a higher product cost of printed material. Metal Plates are usually reusable.

Micrometer: Instrument used to measure the thickness of different papers.

Middle Tones: The tones in a photograph that are approximately half as dark as the shadow area.

Moiré Effect: Occurs when screen angles are wrong causing odd patterns in photographs.

Negative: The image on film that makes the white areas of originals black and black areas white.

Non-Reproducing Blue: A blue color the camera cannot see. Used in marking up artwork.

Offsetting: Using an intermediate surface used to transfer ink. Also, an unpleasant happening when the images of freshly printed sheets transfer images to each other.

Offset Printing:  The term offset is often used interchangeably with lithography. In fact, lithography is the printing process based on the theory that oil and water don't mix and often uses the offset process for printing an image. Offset is the process whereby a printing plate first transfers its inked image areas onto a rubber blanket mounted on a cylinder in the printing press and then the rubber blanket transfers (or offsets) the inked image onto the paper as it passes through the press.

Offset Paper: Term for uncoated book paper.

Ok Sheet: Final approved color inking sheet before production begins.

Opacity: The amount of show-through on a printed sheet. The more opacity or the thicker the paper the less show-through. (The thicker/heavier the paper the higher the cost.)

Outline Halftone: Removing the background of a picture or silhouetting an image in a picture.

Output:  Output is the end result of converting electronic art files into the prepress materials used for printing production. Imagesetters output film negatives or film positives which are used to make printing plates. Platesetters output the printing plates used on the press.

Overlay: The transparent cover sheet on artwork often used for instructions.

Overrun or Overs: Copies printed in excess of the specified quantity. (Printing trade terms allow for + - 10 % to represent a completed order.)

Padding: Gluing paper together on the edge to form the paper into sets. Padding is generally associated with use for business forms and normally is padded in pads of 100 sheets per set.

Page Count: Total number of pages in a book including blanks and non-numbered pages (thus one side of one sheet of the book would consist of one page).

PageMaker: One of the standards in page layout and design software of the desktop publishing market.

Pattern Carbon: Special carbon paper used in business forms that only transfers in certain areas.

Perfect Bind: A type of binding that glues the edge of sheets to a cover like a telephone book, Microsoft software manual, or Country Living Magazine.

Perfecting Press: A sheet fed printing press that prints both sides of a sheet in one pass.

Pica: Unit of measure in typesetting. One pica = 1/6 inch.

Picking: Printers nightmare that occurs as the surface of a sheet lifts off during printing. Generally a paper manufactures quality control problem.

Pin Register: A standard used to fit film to film and film to plates and plates to press to assure the proper registration of printer colors.

Plates:  Plates are the carriers of the images that are to be printed on paper. One printing plate is required for each ink color printed. Plates can be made out of polyester, metal or paper.

Plate Gap/Gripper Space: The area where the grippers hold the sheet as it passes through the press.

PMS: The abbreviated name of the Pantone Color Matching System.

PMT: Abbreviated name for photomechanical transfer. Often used to make position prints.

Point: For paper, a unit of thickness equaling 1/1000 inch. for typesetting, a unit of height equaling 1/72 inch.

Polyester Plates: Plates made from polyester. These produce a high quality image for most work that does not require screens, halftones for large areas of ink colors being close together. Generally Polyester Plates are more economical than metal plates.

PostScript: The computer language most recognized by printing devices.

Preflight:  In digital prepress, the test used to evaluate or analyze every component needed to produce a printing job. Preflight confirms the type of disk being submitted, the color gamut, color breaks, and any art required (illustrations, photographs, etc.) plus layout files, screen fonts, printer fonts, EPS or TIFF files, laser proofs, page sizes, print driver, crop marks, etc.

Press Number: A method of numbering manufacturing business forms or tickets.

Pressure-Sensitive Paper: Paper material with self sticking adhesive covered by a backing sheet.

Process Blue: The blue or cyan color in process printing.

Process Color Separations:  A consequence of the offset lithographic process. In order to print full-color images, it is necessary to prepare four separate plates, one for each of the process colors - cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Plates are then overprinted on an offset press to render a full color printed document (or at least the illusion of full color).

Process Colors: Cyan (blue), magenta (process red), yellow (process yellow), black (process black).

Ragged Left/Left Justified: Type that is justified to the right margin and the line lengths vary on the left.

Ragged Right/Right Justified: Type that is justified to the left margin and the line lengths vary on the right.

Ream: Five hundred sheets of paper.

Recto: Right-hand page of an open book.

Reflective Copy: Copy that is not transparent.

Register: To position print in the proper position in relation to the edge of the sheet and to other printing on the same sheet.

Registeration Mrks: Cross-hair lines or marks on film, plates, and paper that guide strippers, platemakers, pressmen, and bindery personnel in processing a print order from start to finish.

Resolution:  The quantification of output quality designated in dots per inch (dpi) when applied to paper output and in lines per inch when applied to film output. Laser printers commonly hold resolutions of 300, 600, 800 and 1200 dpi. Film output units (imagesetters) have variable resolution output; but are most commonly specified based on the surface type of papers to be printed. Newsprint can hold a resolution from 65 to 100 line screen. Uncoated papers typically use 120, 133 or 150 line screens. Coated papers can hold resolutions of 133, 150, 175 and 200+ line screens.

Reverse: The opposite of what you see. Printing the background of an image. For example; type your name on a piece of paper. The reverse of this would be a black piece of paper with a white name.

RGB:  The additive primaries (Red, Green and Blue), which are used in video monitors, as opposed to the subtractive primaries (yellow, magenta, cyan, and black), which are used in four-color process printing.

Rip Film: A method of making printing negatives from PostScript files created by desktop publishing.

Saddle Stitch: Binding a booklet or magazine with staples in the seam where it folds.

Scanner: Device used to make color separations, halftones, duo tones and tri tones. Also a device used to scan art, pictures or drawings in desktop publishing.

Score: A crease put on paper to help it fold better.

Screen Angles: Frequently a desktop publishers nightmare. The angles at which halftone, duo tones, tri tones, and color separation printing films are placed to make them look right.

Self-Cover: Using the same paper as the text for the cover.

Shadow: The darkest areas of a photograph.

Show-Through: Printing on one side of a sheet that can be seen on the other side of the sheet.

Side Guide: The mechanical register unit on a printing press that positions a sheet from the side.

Side Stitch: Binding by stapling along one side of a sheet.

Signature: A sheet of printed pages which when folded become a part of a book or publication.

Silhouette Halftone: A term used for an outline halftone.

Skid: A pallet used for a pile of cut sheets.

Slip Sheets:  Any different colored sheets used to separate a group of sheet sets or booklets not yet bound.

Specifications: A precise description of a print order.

Spine: The binding edge of a book or publication.

Split Fountain: Putting more than one ink in a printing fountain to achieve special color affects.

Spoilage: Planned paper waste for all printing operations.

Spot Color:  A specific color in a design, usually designated to be printed with a specific matching ink, rather than through process CMYK printing.

Spot Color Separations:  When spot colors (or PMS colors) are being used in a printing order the identification and assignment of each color can be done in a page layout program (Corel Draw “recommended” , Pagemaker, Quark Express, In Design, etc.). This process is done by the Designer. When a printshop receives electronic files, one of their routine jobs is to give a proof back to the client to verify that the spot color separations appear in the correct locations.

Spot Varnish: Varnish used to hi-light a specific part of the printed sheet.

Stamping: Term for foil stamping.

Stat: Term for inexpensive print of line copy or halftone.

Step-and-Repeat: A procedure for placing the same image on plates in multiple places.

Stet: A proof mark meaning let the original copy stand.

Stock: The material to be printed.

Stripping: The positioning of film on a flat prior to platemaking.

Substance Weight: A term of basis weight when referring to bond papers.

Substrate: Any surface on which printing is done.

Text Paper: Grades of uncoated paper with textured surfaces.

Tints: A shade of a single color or combined colors.

Tissue Overlay: Usually a thin transparent paper placed over artwork for protection uses for marking color breaks and other printer instructions.

Transfer Tape: A peel and stick tape used in business forms.

Transparency: A positive photographic slide on film allowing light to pass through.

Transparent Copy: A film that light must pass through for it to be seen or reproduced.

Transparent Ink: A printing ink that does not conceal the color under it.

Trapping: A technique in which touching colors are slightly overlapped to minimize any misregister of the printing plates.

Trim Marks: Similar to crop or register marks. These marks show where to trim the printed sheet.

Trim Size: The final size of one printed image after the last trim is made.

Under-Run: Production of fewer copies than ordered. See over run.

Up: Printing two or three up means printing multiple copies of the same image on the same sheet.

UV Coating: Clear coating cured with ultraviolet light.

Varnish: A clear coating applied to printed surfaces for looks and protection similar to UV Coating.

Verso: The left hand page of an open book.

Vignette Halftone: A halftone whose background gradually fades to white.

Washup: Process of removing printing ink from a press. Also associated with the labor and supply cost involved in the washup process.

Waste: A term for planned spoilage.

Watermark: A distinctive design created in paper at the time of manufacture that can be easily seen by holding the paper up to a light.

Web: A roll of printing paper.

Web Press: The name of a type of presses that print from rolls of paper.

Wire O: A bindery trade name for mechanical binding using double loops of wire through a hole.

Wire-O Binding: A method of wire binding books along the binding edge that will allow the book to lay flat using double loops. See Wire O.

With the Grain: Folding or feeding paper into the press or folder parallel to the grain of the paper.

Work and Tumble: Printing one side of a sheet and turning it over from the gripper to the tail to print the second side using the same side guide and plate for the second side.

Work and Turn: Printing one side of a sheet and turning it over from left to right ussing the same side guides and plate for the second side.

Wove Paper: Term describing a specific surface finish smother than vellum and antique. It also refers to the standard type of wire mark on a sheet.

Writing Paper:  A relatively soft grade of paper, as contrasted to bond. Writing is usually 24 lb, is often textured, and is used for letterhead.

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Not that long ago, recycled paper was dismissed by many printers as "junk." And rightly so. Printers were having problems with quality, availability and cost of recycled varieties. But today recycled and virgin stocks are almost indistinguishable.



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