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Print Stafford

Simply, Affordable, Quality Print & Design in Staffordshire and the UK

Print Jargon Buster

Print terms can be tricky sometimes it's easy to get confused with all the technical jargon.
Thats why we put this page together, to help our customers stop getting confused.

print jargon

Use our Print Jargon Buster don’t get confused!

We know it’s nice to speak to someone in plain English. We hope that this makes all those technical terms that bit simpler! If you are still struggling with artwork or would much rather speak to a person about all of this then give us a quick call or a message.

Print Jargon terms A to Z, let us begin!

If you know the letter the word you’re looking for simply click the letter to browse our A-Z function to find the word you need translating. If you want to learn as many words as possible feel free to scroll and read through the whole page.

A SIZES – Most common paper size used for general printing, stationery and publications.

ACETATE – A transparent plastic sheet placed over printed originals that are commonly used to protect books.

ARTWORK – Printing that extends to the edge of a sheet or page after trimming.

A4 PAPER – ISO paper size 210 x 297mm used for Letterhead.

ACCORDION FOLD – A term for two or more parallel folds that result in a sheet that opens like an accordion

AGAINST THE GRAIN – Perpendicular to the direction of the paper grain

ALIASING – A defect which occurs when a graphic file does not have enough resolution to reproduce image detail and causes visible jagged lines along the edges

ANTI-ALIASING – Technique of filling the edges of an object with pixels to eliminate jagged lines and make it appear smoother

AQUEOUS COATING – A fast-drying, water-based coating that is applied after printing that gives a glossy finish and protects the print’s surface.

BACK UP (WHEN PRINTING) – To print the reverse side of a sheet already printed on one side

BIND -To fasten sheets or sections into brochures or booklets with the use of wire, thread, glue, staples, etc

BINDING – The process by which sheets are fastened together which include cutting, trimming, collating, perforating, and folding to form the finished product

BITMAP – An image file format that refers to the rows and columns (map) of dots or pixels that form an image

BITMAP IMAGES – Computerised image made up of a collection of dots or pixels; these images appear blocky when you zoom in; also known as raster images

BLEED – Finished layout or typesetting, drawings or photographs, made up in a form which is ready for the printer to print from.

BLIND EMBOSSING – A technique in which a design is pressed into a sheet without ink or foil, creating a raised image

BOND PAPER – Category of paper commonly used for writing, printing and photocopying. Also called business paper, communication paper, correspondence paper and writing paper.

BORDER – Margin or line between the image area and the edge of the paper

BRIGHTNESS – The brilliance or reflective quality of paper affecting contrast in printing

BULK -The thickness of paper relative to its weight

CALIPER – Measurement of paper thickness expressed in thousandths of an inch

CARBONLESS PAPER – Paper coated with chemicals that enable transfer of images from one sheet to another with pressure from writing or typing.

CASE BOUND – A hardback book made with a stiff outer cover. Case bound books are normally covered with an outer cloth, vinyl or leather.

CAST COATED – A type of coated paper with a high gloss enamel finish

CHROME – Colour transparency

COATED PAPER – Paper with a coating improves reflectivity and colour holdout of a print. Gloss and satin are examples of coated paper. Uncoated paper is commonly used for the printing of letterhead and is also referred to a bond or offset paper.

COLLATING – Arrangement of printed sheets into the desired sequence.

COLOUR BALANCE – Refers to the proper ratio of cyan, magenta, and yellow ink during printing to keep colour consistency and produce the desired colour of an image

COLOUR BAR – Strips of colour used as a tool to check colour accuracy and density

COLOUR CORRECTION – Methods of adjusting and improving colour qualities such as colour balance, contrast, etc

COLOUR FILTER – Filters used in colour separation

COLOUR KEY – A printer’s proof made from 4 acetate or transparent films of various colours, one sheet per process colour, which when combined simulates the finished product

COLOUR MATCHING SYSTEM – Colour chart in an electronic system used to compare, measure or mix colours

COLOUR SEPARATIONS – Preparing a full-colour image for printing by separating it into the four basic process colours: cyan, magenta, yellow and black

COLOUR SEQUENCE – The order in which the four-colour process inks are printed on the press

COMB BIND – A method of binding by inserting a plastic comb through holes along the side or edge of a stack of pages

COMPUTER-TO-PLATE (CTP) – A technology that enables transfer of digital data directly to a metal plate for printing, eliminating the use of conventional films

CMYK – Abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black), the four process colours commonly used when printing.

CONTINUOUS-TONE COPY – Illustrations and photographs that have a range of shades

CONTRAST – The range of difference between the darkest and lightest areas in an image

COPY – Any material (text or artwork) to be used in printing a piece

COVER PAPER – A heavyweight paper commonly used for covers of books, brochures, catalogues and folders

CREEP – Creep is the shifting position of the page in a saddle-stitched bind. Creep moves the inside pages away from the spine.

CROP – Lines near the edges of an image indicating portions to be reproduced. Also called cutting marks and tick marks.

CROSSOVER – Printing across the gutter or from one page to the facing page of a publication

C SIZES – A paper size used for envelopes, designed to take ‘A’ sized paper.

CYAN – Shade of blue; One of four basic ink colours used in 4 colour printing process (CMYK)

DEBOSS – To press an image below the surface of paper

DENSITOMETER – An instrument used to measure the density of coloured ink to determine consistency

DENSITY – The degree of darkness of an image

DESKTOP PUBLISHING – The creation of artwork for print from your computer.

DIE – Metal plate cut for impressing a design or image on paper

DIE CUT – To cut irregular shapes into a paper or board using a die.

DIGITAL PRINTING – Printing straight from electronic artwork (no plates used as in Litho print). Typically printed out of four colour process (CMYK). It’s ideal for short runs and faster turnarounds.

DIRECT IMAGING – A technology that eliminates the use of film plates by directly transferring the image from digital files to the press plates using a laser

DIRECT IMAGING PRESS (DI) – An offset press where the plate is imaged directly on the press with laser

DOT – The individual element of a halftones; also referred to as a “pixel”

DOT GAIN OR SPREAD – The spread of ink on paper; occurrence when dots print larger than they were on the film

DOTS PER INCH (DPI) – Dots per inch that indicates the resolution an image. The more dots per inch, the higher the resolution and the better quality the image.

DOUBLE BURN – Exposing a printing plate to multiple images

DRAW-DOWN – A method of applying a thin coating or ink on paper to roughly determine colour

DRILL – Drilling of holes in literature which will allow insertion or a treasury tag or into a ring binder.

DROP-OUT – Parts of artwork that are not reproduced

DUMMY – Parts of artwork that are not reproduced

DUOTONE – A halftone image made up of two colours

DUPLEX -A term referred to when you print on both sides of a sheet of paper.

EMULSION – Photosensitive sensitive coating on printing plates and film

ENCAPSULATION – Where a printed matter is sealed in a plastic coating providing a rigid, watertight covering.

EPS – Encapsulated Post Script, a known file format usually used to transfer post script information from one program to another.

ESTIMATE – A price that states what a job will probably cost. This is also referred to as a quotation.

FEEDER – Section of a printing press that separates the sheets and feeds them into position for printing

FINISH – (1) Surface characteristics of paper. (2) General term for trimming, folding, binding and all other post press operations.

FINISHED SIZE – Size of product after production is completed, as compared to flat size. Also called trimmed size.

FLAT SIZE – Size of product after printing and trimming, but before folding, as compared to finished size.

FLOOD – To cover a page completely with ink or varnish

FLOP – The backside of an image

FOIL – A thin metal applied to paper used in foil stamping and foil embossing (like our foil business cards)

FOIL EMBOSS – To foil stamp or emboss an image on paper using a die

FOIL STAMPING – Pressing a design or image on paper without ink using a foil and heated metal die

FONT – A set of letters, numbers or symbols that share a unified design. The design is called a typeface.

FSC CERTIFIED PAPERForest Stewardship Council certified paper

FOUR-COLOR PROCESS PRINTING – Technique of printing that uses black, magenta, cyan and yellow to simulate full-color images. Also called color process printing, full color printing and process printing.

GANG – Economical way of printing by printing multiple images on the same sheet using the maximum sheet size

GATE FOLD – A sheet that folds where both sides fold toward the gutter in overlapping layers.

GHOSTING – A printing defect where a faint unwanted image appears on a page

GLOSS – Consider the light reflecting on various objects in the printing industry (e.g., paper, ink, laminates, UV coating, varnish).

GRAIN DIRECTION – The direction that the fibres in paper become aligned during manufacturing.

GRAPHIC DESIGN – Arrangement of type and visual elements along with specifications for paper, ink colors and printing processes that, when combined, convey a visual message.

GRAPHICS – Visual elements that supplement type to make printed messages more clear or interesting.

GRIPPERS – The metal fingers on printing presses that hold the paper and controls it as it passes through the press

GSM/GRAMS – The unit of measurement for paper weight (grams per square metre).

HALFTONE – Pattern of dots within a fixed grid to reproduce a continuous-tone image

HARD COPY – A document or data printed on paper

HIGHLIGHT – The lightest part in an image

HICKEY – Refers to the planning/positioning of artwork so that it is reproduced in an effective and orderly method.

HOUSE SHEET – Paper kept in stock by a printer

IMAGE AREA – Portion of a page or paper that can be printed on

IMPOSITION – The direction that the fibres in paper become aligned during manufacturing.

IMPRESSION – One impression equals one press sheet passing once through a printing unit.

INK FOUNTAIN – The container on a printing press that hold the ink

INSERT – Within a publication, an additional item positioned into the publication loose (not bound in).

JOB NUMBER – A number assigned to a specific printing job in a printing company for use in tracking and historical record keeping.

K – Abbreviation for black in four-color process printing. Hence the ‘K’ in CMYK.

KEYLINE – An outline drawing to show the exact size and position of an artwork

KRAFT PAPER – Strong paper used for wrapping and to make grocery bags and large envelopes.

LAID FINISH – A pattern of parallel lines running across the grain, creating a ribbed and handmade effect

LAMINATE – A thin transparent plastic sheet (coating) applied to usually a thick stock (covers, post cards, etc.) Providing protection against liquid and heavy use.

LANDSCAPE – A design where the width is greater than the height – (opposite of portrait).

LAYOUT – A sample of the original providing (showing) position of printed work (direction, instructions) needed and desired.

LEAF – One sheet of paper in a publication. Each side of a leaf is one page.

LETTER FOLD – Two folds creating three panels that allow a sheet of letterhead to fit a business envelope. Also called barrel fold and wrap around fold.

LINE COPY – High contrast copy made up of solids or lines which do not require a halftone screen; also called line art or line work

LINES PER INCH (LPI) – The number of lines of dots per inch in a halftone screen; the higher the LPI., the sharper the image

LITHOGRAPHY – Method of printing using plates whose image areas attract ink and whose nonimage areas repel ink. Non image areas may be coated with water to repel the oily ink or may have a surface, such as silicon, that repels ink.

LOGO (LOGOTYPE) – A company, partnership or corporate creation (design) that denotes a unique entity. A possible combination of letters and art work to create a “sole” entity symbol of that specific unit.

MAGENTA – One of the four process colors.

MAKE-READY – All activities required to prepare a press or other machine to function for a specific printing or bindery job. Also called setup.

MARGIN – Imprinted space around the edge of the printed material.

MASK – Blocking light from reaching parts of a printing plate, also called knockout

MATTE – Dull non-glossy finish

MICROMETER – Devise used to measure the thickness (caliper) of paper

MIDDLE TONES – The tones in a photograph between highlights and shadows; must be balanced for accurate reproduction

MOIRE – An undesirable screen pattern caused by incorrect screen angles

NEGATIVE – A film in which the white areas of the original image appear black and the black areas appear white

OFFSET LITHO(GRAPHY) – A printing process by which the inked image to be printed is transferred (offset) first to a rubber blanket layer before coming into contact with the paper which takes up the inked areas. This process is normally used for longer runs/larger quantities of a printed matter.

OFFSET PRINTING – A common printing process in which the image to be printed is transferred from a metal plate to a rubber blanket onto paper

OFFSETTING – Transfer of ink or impression from one page to the opposite page

OPACITY – The property of paper that minimizes the show-through on a printed sheet

OUTLINE HALFTONE – A halftone image with the background removed to outline the main image

OVERRUN – Production of larger quantities than ordered

PAGE COUNT –  Total number of pages in a book or publication

PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEMS (PMS) – The standard colour-matching system used by printers and graphic designers

PDF – Portable Document Format. The industry standard for saving files in an acceptable format. Quick, cheap and stable.

PERFECT BINDING –  Can also be referred to as adhesive or soft binding. A type of binding in which the pages of a book are held together at the binding edge by glue or a synthetic adhesive

PERFECTING PRESS – A printing press that prints both sides of a sheet at the same time

PERFORATING – Taking place on a press or a binder machine, creating a line of small dotted wholes for the purpose of tearing-off a part of a printed matter

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

PLATE – Piece of paper, metal, plastic or rubber carrying an image to be reproduced using a printing press.

PORTRAIT – A design where the height is greater than the width – (opposite of landscape).

POSTSCRIPT – A page description language developed by Adobe Systems that tells a printer how an image is to be printed

PRE-PRESS – All procedures associated with bringing a job to press such as managing colour settings and carrying out final artwork checks. This can also be referred to as pre-flighting.

PROOF – A printed sample of work to be checked for errors in text, positioning or quality or colour reproduction.

PROCESS COLOURS – The four basic colours used in printing to simulate full spectrum colour — Cyan (blue), magenta (process red), yellow (process yellow), black (process black)

QUALITY – Subjective term relating to expectations by the customer, printer and other professionals associated with a printing job and whether the job meets those expectations

QUOTATION – Price offered by a printer to produce a specific job.

RASTER – To render an image, pixel by pixel, vertically and horizontally

RASTER IMAGE – See bitmap image

REAM – 500 sheets of paper.

RECYCLED PAPER – New paper made entirely or in part from old paper.

RESOLUTION – Refers to the sharpness and quality of a supplied image.

RIP – Raster image processor. A processor which converts files into a format ready for printing.

RGB – Refers to red, green, blue – the additive primary colours used for colour video display as on a computer screen

RICH BLACK – A darker and deeper black colour created by combining other ink colours with black ink. The values to create Rich Black is usually 60% Cyan & 100% Black. Or 40% Cyan, 30% Magenta, 30% Yellow, 100% Black. Never use Rich Black for small type below 20pt

RULEUP – A map or drawing showing how a printing job must be imposed with a specific press and sheet size; also called Press Layout

SADDLE STITCH – To bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine.

SCANNER – An instrument used to make colour separations; also an instrument to scan images or photos in desktop publishing

SCORE – A mark or crease pressed on paper to make folding easier

SCORING – The process of pressing a sheet of paper to create a groove or line for folding

SCREEN ANGLES – The angles at which halftone screens are positioned to avoid unwanted patterns

SELF-COVER – The paper used inside a booklet is the same as that used for the cover.

SIMPLEX – Printing on one side of a sheet of paper.

SPECIFICATIONS –  A precise description of features of a print order such as paper stock and quantity

SPINE –  The back edge of a bound book or publication that connects the 2 covers

SPIRAL BIND – To bind using a spiral of continuous plastic looped through holes which are pre-punched into the pages of a booklet. Is also referred to as comb and coil binding.

SPLIT RUN – Printing of a book or booklet that has copies bound in different ways

SPOILAGE – Planned paper waste — also known as make readies

SPOT VARNISH – Varnishing a specific part of a sheet

STAMPING – Pressing a design or image onto paper with a metal die

STEP-AND-REPEAT – Technique of repeatedly exposing the same image on the plate in different places

STOCK – Paper or card to be printed on.

STRIPPING – The process of positioning film negatives for plate making

SUBSTRATE – Any surface or material on which printing is done

TAGGED IMAGE FILE FORMAT (.TIFF) – A standard graphic image file format often used for storing high resolution images that can easily handle up to 24 bits of photographic image colour

TEMPLATE – Concerning a printing project’s basic details in regard to its dimensions. A standard layout.

TINT – A mixture of a hue with white

TISSUE OVERLAY – A thin transparent paper placed over artwork for protection and may be used for marking printer instructions

TRAPPING – Printing of one ink over the other to prevent gaps from appearing

TRIM MARKS – Marks on a printed sheet that show where to cut or trim the page

TRIM SIZE – The final size of a printed image after trimming

TYPESETTING – To arrange or layout artwork and text for printing

TYPO – Short for ‘typographical error’ – a mistake in the copy.

UNCOATED PAPER – Paper that has not been coated with clay. Also called offset paper.

UNDER-RUN – Production of fewer copies than ordered by customer

UP – Printing multiple copies of the same on the same sheet — ie 2 up or 4 up

UV COATING – Liquid glossy coating applied to paper’s surface and cured with ultraviolet light

VARNISH – A clear liquid coating applied to printed sheet for protection and shine

VECTOR IMAGES – Images made up of solids, lines and curves that can be scaled or edited without affecting image resolution

VISUAL – A preliminary layout, indicating the general design and the positioning of the various elements.

WASTE – Planned spoilage

WATERMARK – Translucent logo or element over the design.

WEB – The roll of printing paper used in web or rotary printing

WEB PRESS – A high speed printing press that print on a continuous roll of paper or web rather than on individual sheets

WIRE BINDING – A continuous series of wire loops run through punched slots along the binding side of a booklet.

WIRE O – A method of binding using double loops of wire through a hole

WITH THE GRAIN – Folding or feeding paper into the press parallel to the paper’s grain or fiber

WORK AND TURN – Printing the second side of a sheet by turning the sheet over from the gripper to the tail utilising the same side guides and plate

WOVE PAPER – A paper having a uniform unlined surface and a smooth finish