of Printing Terms
Fold: Bindery term, two or more parallel folds which open
like an accordion.
Acetate: Thin, flexible
sheet of transparent plastic used to make overlays.
Paper: Paper having
no residual acid-producing chemicals, and a pH
of 7 or slightly above 7.
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.
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.
Corrections: Also know as "AC's".
Changed and additions in copy after it has been
the second side of a sheet already printed on
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
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,
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
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.
Category of paper commonly used for
writing, printing and photocopying. Also called
business paper, communication paper, correspondence
paper and writing paper.
Block: Folded signatures gathered, sewn and trimmed, but not
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
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.
Size: The dimensions
of a book or folded piece after it has been bound
or folded into its finished state.
for Color: Also known as a color break. To separate mechanically
or by software the parts to be printed in different
Brightness: The brilliance or reflectance
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.
and C2S: Abbreviations for coated one side and coated two sides.
Pressure sensitive writing paper that does not
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
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.
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
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
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
Color Correction: Methods of improving
Color Filter: Filters uses in making
color separations, red, blue, green.
Color Key: Color proofs in layers
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.
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.
Flat(s): The second or additional flat(s) used when making composite
film or for two or more burns on one printing
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.
Film: Combining two or more images on one or more pieces
Film: Film made by combining images from two or more pieces
of working film onto one film for making one plate.
Proof: Proof of color separations in position with graphics
and type. Also called final proof, imposition
proof and stripping proof.
To Plate (CTP): CTP is a process where your computer file is directly
output onto a printing plate (ready for printing,
no chemicals necessary).
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.
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,
Crash Numbering: Numbering carbonless
paper by pressing an image on the first sheet
which is transferred to all parts of the printed
Crimping: Puncture marks holding
business forms together.
Cromalin: Trade name for DuPont
Crop: To cut off parts of a picture
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.
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
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
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
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.
an image into paper so that it will create a raised
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
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
Transmission: The process of converting
graphic images into electronic signals.
See Rip film.
Size: The dimensions
of a brochure or folded piece before it is folded,
cut and bound as a booklet or finished printed
An assembly of negatives taped to masking materials
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.
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.
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
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
Gloss: A shiny look reflecting light.
Grain: The direction in which the
paper fiber lie.
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.
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.
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
Imprint: Adding copy to a previously
Indicia: Postal information place
on a printed product.
Ink Fountain: The reservoir on a
printing press that hold the ink.
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.
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.
Simulating the surface of handmade paper.
Laminate: To cover with film, to
bond or glue one surface to another.
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.)
Line Copy: High contrast copy not
requiring a halftone (text only).
Screen: The number
of lines of dots per linear inch on a halftone
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.
of the basic colors in process color (pinkish
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
Matte Finish: Dull paper or ink
Camera-ready art all contained on one board.
Mechanical Separation: Mechanical
art on separate plates or sheets for each color
to be printed.
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
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
Moiré Effect: Occurs when screen
angles are wrong causing odd patterns in photographs.
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.
Using an intermediate surface used to transfer
ink. Also, an unpleasant happening when the images
of freshly printed sheets transfer images to each
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
Pin Register: A standard used to
fit film to film and film to plates and plates
to press to assure the proper registration of
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.
Gap/Gripper Space: The area where the
grippers hold the sheet as it passes through the
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.
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
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.
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
Justified: Type that is justified to the
right margin and the line lengths vary on the
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
Reflective Copy: Copy that is not
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
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+
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
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
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
Split Fountain: Putting more than
one ink in a printing fountain to achieve special
Spoilage: Planned paper waste for
all printing operations.
Color: A specific
color in a design, usually designated to be printed
with a specific matching ink, rather than through
process CMYK printing.
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.
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.
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.
Production of fewer copies than ordered. See over
Up: Printing two or three up means
printing multiple copies of the same image on
the same sheet.
Clear coating cured with ultraviolet light.
clear coating applied to printed surfaces for
looks and protection similar to UV Coating.
Verso: The left hand page of an
Vignette Halftone: A halftone whose
background gradually fades to white.
of removing printing ink from a press. Also associated
with the labor and supply cost involved in the
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
Web: A roll of
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
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.
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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