Dictionary of Printing Terms | Learn Marketing
4-color-process: The process of combining four basic colors to create a printed color picture or colors composed from the basic four colors. This is what we print with - also known as CMYK (see CMYK above).
Accordion fold: Bindery term, two or more parallel folds which open like an accordion.
Against the grain: At right angles to direction of paper grain.
Alteration: Change in copy of specifications after production has begun.
Aqueous coating: A waterbased coating that can be used to create the shiny side of postcards or other printed materials. We can do this but only when the customer purchases a whole run of cards because it's done as part of the printing process rather than a separate step like the UV lamination.
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.
Blanket: The thick rubber mat on a printing press that transfers ink from the plate to paper.
Bleed: Printing that goes to the edge of the sheet after trimming. The bleed is the art that gets printed over the trim line which gets cut off during trimming. We add an extra 1/8th inch to art on each edge that bleeds. This 1/8th inch gets trimmed off by the cutter.
Blind embossing: An image pressed into a sheet without ink or foil.
Bond paper: Strong durable paper grade used for letterheads and business forms.
Break for color: Also known as a color break. To separate, mechanically or by software, the parts to be printed in different colors. Also the percentages of each color (CMYK) that make up the final color
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 fit: Printed colors that overlap one row of dots so they appear to butt.
Butt: Joining images without overlapping.
Caliper: A device to measure paper thickness in thousandths of an inch.
Case bind: A type of binding used in making hard cover books using glue.
Cast coated: Coated paper with a high gloss reflective finish.
CMYK: Colors used in the 4 color printing process - cyan (c - blue), magenta (m - red), yellow (y) and black (k).
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. Fixing the color on a picture to make it look better.
Color matching system: A system of formulated ink colors used for communicating color. Pantone Matching System (PMS color) is one such system.
Color separations: The process of preparing artwork, photographs, transparencies, or computer generated art for printing by separating into the four primary printing colors.
Contrast: The tonal change in color from light to dark.
Copy: All furnished material or disc used in the production of a printed product. Also the words used in the piece.
Crop marks: Printed lines showing where to trim a printed sheet.
Crop: To cut off parts of a picture or image.
Cyan: One of four standard process colors. The blue color.
Densitometer: A quality control device to measure the density of printing ink.
Density: The degree of color or darkness of an image or photograph.
Die cutting: Curing images in or out of paper, by use of a die.
Die: Metal rule or imaged block used to cut or place an image on the printed piece in the finishing process.
Dot gain or spread: A term used to explain the difference in size between the dot on the plate v paper.
Dot: An element of halftones. Using a loupe you will see that printed pictures are made many dots.
DPI: Dots per inch. We need a digital file that is at least 300 dots per inch (DPI) in order to produce a good print quality.
Drop-out: Portions of artwork that do not print. Also called "knock out".
Dummy: A rough layout of a printed piece showing position and finished size.
Duotone: A halftone picture made up of two printed colors. Usually a spot color and black.
Emboss: Pressing an image into paper so that it will create a raised relief.
Emulsion: Light sensitive coating found on printing plates and film.
Facsimile transmission (fax): The process of converting graphic images into electronic signals.
Flood: To cover a printed page with ink, varnish, or plastic coating.
Flop: The reverse side of an image. Also as a verb - to flip an image the reverse way.
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.
Foil: A metallic or pigmented coating on plastic sheets or rolls used in foil stamping and foil embossing.
Format: The type of computer file. You can usually tell what the format is by the 3 letters after the dot after the file name; examples. Filename.doc. This is a Microsoft Word format. There are universal formats that we can go to print with; eg. Tif, eps, indd (Indesign), qxd (QuarkXpress). There are others that we can read but need to convert to a printable format, eg. jpg, pdf. Others we can't read at all. That's why our website has very specific instructions on which formats we take.
French fold: Two folds at right angles to each other.
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 on our 6 x 4 1/4 postcards, we print 18 to a sheet.
Ghosting: A faint printed image that appears on a printed sheet where it was not intended.
Gloss: A shiny look reflecting light.
Grain: The direction in which the paper fiber lie.
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 photo to dots for printing.
Hard copy: The output of a computer printer, or typed text sent for typesetting. This is a way to see the font used, and how the paragraphing/text lies on the piece.
Hickey: Reoccurring unplanned spots that appear in the printed image from dust, lint, dried ink.
Highlight: The lightest areas in a picture or halftone.
Image area: Portion of paper on which ink can appear.
Impression: Putting an image on paper.
Imprint: Adding copy to a previously printed page.
We also call it a "Quick Print".
Indesign: A graphics software program that we use at PostcardMania to design cards. It is used for combining text and graphics into a layout that can be given to the printer.
Indicia: Postal information placed on a printed product.
Ink fountain: The reservoir on a printing press that hold the ink.
Justified: List of type or copy are of even lengths on one (right or left) or both sides.
Knock out: To mask out an image. Knocked out type would have no color behind the letters.
Laminate: To cover with film, to bond or glue one surface to another. To cover with glossy coating.
Line copy: High contrast copy not requiring a halftone. Also called "line art" when it is an illustration.
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: Process red, one of the basic colors in process color for CMYK printing.
Make-ready: All the activities required to prepare a press for printing.
Mask: To prevent light from reaching part of an image, therefore isolating the remaining part. Also called knock out.
Matte finish: Dull paper or ink finish.
Mechanical art: Camera-ready assembly of type, graphic and other copy complete with instructions to the printer. A hard mechanical consists of paper and/or acetate, is made using paste-up techniques, and may also be called an artboard, board or paste-up. A soft mechanical, also called an electronic mechanical, exists as a file of type and other images assembled using a computer.
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.
Moire: Occurs when screen angles are wrong causing odd patterns in photographs.
Offset paper: Term for uncoated book paper.
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.
Ok to Print: Final approved sign off sheet from customer before we print their art.
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. Also known as "cut out" as used by the Design Division.
Overrun or overs: Copies printed in excess of the specified quantity. (Printing trade terms allow for + - 10 % to represent a completed order.)
Page count: Total number of pages in a book including blanks.
Pagemaker: A graphics layout program. Used for combining text and graphics into a layout that can be given to the printer. Our main graphics program is Indesign.
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 (full color front and one color back).
Perforation: The process of making a line of holes in to facilitate separation. Often this is used to create a Business Reply Card where one half of the card will be torn off and mailed back to the mailer.
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.
Plate cylinder: The cylinder on a printing press onto which the plate is fixed.
Plate: The printing press uses 4 ink colors to get all the colors on a postcard. The image for each color is put on a thin metal plate the size of the postcard sheet. The plate manages where and how much of a certain color ink goes on the paper. The backs of the postcard typically use just the black plate since most are printed only in black.
Platemaking: The process of making an image on a printing plate by whatever means, but usually photomechanically transferring it from film.
PMS: The abbreviated name of the Pantone Color Matching System. A system of naming colors or ink. PMS colors are not used in the 4-color process that we use. However, we can print with PMS colors for an extra charge.
Point: For paper, a unit of thickness equaling 1/1000 inch. for typesetting, a unit of measurement equaling 1/72 inch. There are 12 points in one Pica (see Pica).
PostScript: The computer language most recognized by printing devices.
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.
Print run: A set of printed materials (postcards, brochures, business cards) that are all printed at one time.
Process blue: The blue or cyan color in process printing.
Process colors: Another name for CMYK which is the 4-color process we use. Cyan (blue), magenta (process red), yellow (process yellow), black (process black).
Quick Print: Adding copy to the previously printed piece. This printing is a different process that uses only one or two colors and we sub this out to another printer.
Ragged left: Type that is justified to the right margin and the line lengths vary on the left.
Ragged right: Type that is justified to the left margin and the line lengths vary on the right.
Ream: Five hundred sheets of paper.
Register marks: Cross-hair lines or marks on art, plates, and paper that help position the art.
Register: To position print in the proper position in relation to the edge of the sheet and to other printing on the same sheet.
Resolution: The quality of the digital image measured by pixels per inch or dots per inch (same thing). The fewer dots in the inch the less the quality. We need at least 300 dots/pixels per inch when the image is at approximately the finished size.
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: Red, green, blue - additive primary colors. This is the color used in computer monitors and some inkjet printers.
Rip plate: A method of making printing plates from PostScript files created by desktop publishing.
Saddle stitch: Binding a booklet or magazine with staples in the seam where it folds.
Scanner: A device used to scan art, pictures or drawings in desktop publishing.
Score: A crease put on paper to help it fold better.
Self-cover: Using the same paper as the text for the cover.
Shadow: The darkest areas of a photograph.
Sherpa: Color proof made on a HP "Sherpa" printer. It has all the postcards or brochures or other printed materials on one large sheet - the whole run.
Skid: A pallet used for a pile of cut sheets.
Specifications: A precise description of a print order. Also called "specs".
Spine: The binding edge of a book or publication.
Spoilage: Planned paper waste for all printing operations (see waste).
Spot Color: A spot color is an 'extra', or 'special' color that is used in addition to the CMYK four color process. The extra ink is added to its own roller on the printing press, so as to more accurately print certain colors that are hard to reproduce with CMYK inks. There are a number of companies that manufacture and specify spot colors, most common of these is the Pantone color matching system (PMS).
Spot varnish: Varnish used to highlight a specific part of the printed sheet.
Stamping: Term for foil stamping.
Stet: A proof mark meaning let the original copy stand.
Stock: The material to be printed.
Text paper: Grades of uncoated paper with textured surfaces.
Transparency: A positive photographic slide on film allowing light to pass through.
Trapping: The ability to print one ink over the other.
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. Our small postcards are printed 6 1/8 x 4 3/8 and trimmed to 6 b 4 Â¼ - 6 x 4 Â¼ is the trim size.
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. We print 6 x 4 Â¼ postcards 18 up on each print run.
UV coating: Liquid laminate bonded and cured with ultraviolet light. Environmentally friendly.
Varnish: A clear liquid applied to printed surfaces for looks and protection.
Vector graphics: A vector is a mathematically calculated method of plotting accurate lines and curves. Unlike bitmap images, it is resolution independent and allows graphics images to be enlarged to any size, without any loss of quality.
Vignette: A photo whose background gradually fades to white.
Washup: Removing printing ink from a press, washing the rollers and blanket. Certain ink colors require multiple washups to avoid ink and chemical contamination.
Waste: A term for planned spoilage. When printing, a certain number of sheets are wasted while getting the colors etc. set up correctly.
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. A faded background (screened) picture or text.
Web press: The name of a type of presses that print from rolls of paper.
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.