The Print Industry: Our Jargon Buster

This jargon buster and glossary of words contains the definitions of some of the terms commonly used in the Print industry. So if you don’t know your Saddle Stitch from Embossing, or what CMYK and GSM are, then this is the place for you.


Art Paper
This paper is available in both gloss and matt and has a coating of what is usually china clay. Art paper would typically be used for jobs that require a fine finish, such as a brochure or an annual report.

This term is to describe the digital representation of the customer’s piece of marketing collateral

Backed Up
This refers to the second side of a sheet being printed, with the images usually identically aligned on both sides.

Bank is a lightweight paper used typically in typewriting and correspondence for easy reading.

One of the more common printing terms, bleed refers to the fact that the printed area exceeds the trimmed area. For logistical reasons, it is not possible to print to the very edge of the paper, so to get the effect of this it is necessary to print a larger than necessary area and trim the paper down.

Blind Emboss
A logo, text or design that has been relief stamped into a sheet of paper, onto which no printing ink has been added.

Blind Embossing
In this process of embossing, no ink is used which means no colours are possible. Instead, the design or text is only visible as a raised area on the paper.

This is basic paper which is most commonly used for copying or with laser printers.

Calendered Paper
Paper that has been put through heavy rollers during the manufacturing process in order to achieve a completely smooth finish

Case Binding
Section sewn books bound with hard board covers

The four colours that make up a standard set of inks used on a modern lithographic press. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Key (Black)

In line water based surface coating that protects the ink from rubbing and enables quick handling

The process of putting together the multiple elements or sheets of a document in the right order

Mechanically creasing a printed job will make folding the sheets easier

When you fold a piece of paper, the folded item gets thicker and the middle pages start to extend beyond the middle. Without this extension adjustment, the trimmed final book will have common elements on the middle pages appearing closer to the fore edge than on the outside pages.

Cross Over
Type or image that continue from the left hand page of a book or magazine across the spine on to the right hand page

Computer to Plate. This term refers to the practice of transferring an image onto a plate using laser technology

As Emboss but recessed into the substrate

Die Cut
A process to cut, score of perforate a flat printed sheet

Digital Printing
This printing avoids the stage of films and works directly from electronic data making it cost effective and popular for short run jobs. The quality of Digital Printing is not as good as lithography printing but it is continuously improving

Digital Proof
An on screen dummy copy of a publication which is used to check the running order and proofread the publication on screen

Dot Gain
Each dot on the plate carries in which is transferred onto the paper using offset. The percentage that the printed dot is larger than the dot on the plate is called dot gain

Stands for Dot Per Inch which refers to the frequency of dots appearing on the plate

Test of ink colours before going to press

Drilling refers to holes being made in paper for use in a ring binder

This is a plain white mock up without any printing, using the same paper and binding process as your final product. This allows you to get a feel for the finished product without the cost of printing

Dust Jacket
A loose cover to protect the boards on a case bound book

Endorse Folding
This is the term given for folding a sheet of paper twice. Newspapers for example are folded once down the spine, and then once again in half for posting

Printed or plain sheets of paper that attach the inside pages of a book to its cover

To carve, mould or stamp a design onto a surface so it stands out in relief

Films are very rarely used now but are produced by an imagesetter from the artwork and are used to create the printing plate through a photochemical process

What follows the printing process, whether that is creasing, folding, stitching, binding or anything else

Flush Cover
Book or booklet having the cover trimmed to the same size as the text

Foil Block
An off line process to attach foil in a predetermined shape to the printed page

The page number

Fore Edge
The outer edge of a bound publication opposite the spine

Four Colour Process Printing
This is the most common method of producing colour print. The four CMYK colours are translucent, which means the can be overprinted and combined a number of different ways to achieve a wide range of colours. Most magazines and colour books are printed using this process

The Forest Stewardship Council trademark provides international recognition to organisations that support the growth of responsible forest management.

Grain Direction
Direction in which the majority of the fibres in a piece of paper or board are aligned.

This is usually used for high quality or long run printing and is sometimes known as intaglio printing. In this process, the image is etched below the surface of the plate. The web version of the process is termed rotogravure.

GSM is an acronym for Grams per Square Metre. Typically, photocopier paper would be around 80gsm, whilst letterhead paper might be 100gsm and a postcard 250gsm

Half Perf
A perforation line usually running across the page but not to the full width of the page

This is the process used to produce a range of tones such as on a photograph or tinted area and involves dividing the image into a series of dots.

The terms used for imperfections in printing due to debris in the ink or paper

Hybrid Screen
A screening technology made up of two different screen algorithms. This is usually a combination of AM and FM. The technology seeks to combine the advantages of each and allows print to a higher definition

The process of arranging pages correctly on the flat sheet prior to printing so that when folded the pages appear in the correct order.

ISO 12647
The printing standard determines the colour of the CMYK inks and the dot gain allowed on the print sheet.

Kiss Cut
A light die cut that cuts through the first layer but leaves the base substrate uncut

Laid Paper
This paper is uncoated and has a textured pattern of parallel lines, similar to handmade paper. It is often used for business stationery and can be compared to Wove Paper

A sheet of paper containing two pages, one on either side.

the term given to a blank sheet of paper

Make Ready
term referring to the process of preparing a printing press for its run

Matt & Gloss Varnish
Specialist coating process providing high levels of contrast between pre-selected areas of matt and floss on the finished pages

Micro Perf
a very finely cut perforated edge designed to simulate the effect of a guillotine cut edge

A measurement to indicate the thickness of paper as against grammage which is a measurement for weight only

The pressure point in between two rollers

Offset Printing
In this printing process, the paper never comes into contact with the printing plate. Instead, the ink is transferred from the plate to a blanket cylinder which then transfers the ink to the paper

A wooden frame used to transport large volumes of print

A US brand that created a colour matching system that identifies a wide range of colours by number to ensure standard results across the printing industry

Paper Sizes
in Europe, the ISO standard is the common way to define paper sizes. The A series, particularly A4 paper is the most common, everyday paper. The C series defines the size of most envelopes. There is also the B series, as well as RS and SRA which are used by printers. They are slightly larger than the A series and allow for extra grip, trimming and bleed when printing

Perfect Binding
Book binding that holds the paper to the spine using glue. This is the most common method for magazines and paperback books.

Printing both sides of the substrate in the same pass through the printing press

One printing plate normally aluminium but can be plastic, carries the halftone dots for one colour. A printing press capable of printing full colour will usually have at least four printing units with one plate on each unit.

Print Marks
These are marks used by printers to ensure your colours are correct as well as marking where to trim and fold elements

Printing Plate
This plate carries the image that is to be printed onto stock. Printing plates can be made of a variety of materials and are even available in paper for single use printing plates

Pur Binding
Similar to perfect binding but this is more expensive and has superior strength

250 sheets of paper

The alignment of different printing plates, necessary when printing with two or more colours. The target shaped register marks will be visible on an untrimmed sheet and these are used for accurate positioning of the plates.

Raster Image Processor converts a digital file into dots that can be imaged onto a plate

Rollercoat UV Varnish
A varnish which is applied all over the printed surface unlike spot UV which is only applied to specific areas

Run On
When a printer quotes a job, they will usually give a price for a set number of copies and a price for any additional copies after that. These additional copies are the run on.

Saddle Stitch
You may know this as stapling, but printers call the process of assembling a magazine or small booklet with a wire stitch through the fold a Saddle Stitch

Screening is the art of being able to use only three solid tint colours and black as a contrasting colour to simulate a natural looking colour image.

Screen Printing
A process of transferring ink to the printing surface by squeezing it through a fine sheet of fabric that is stretched across a frame

The folded sheet that is folded with others to make a book. Larger pieces of paper will create multiple sections as they are folded

Self Cover
A cover made out of the same paper stock as the text pages.

The digital file which holds the finished artwork is separated using software into the 4 CMYK colours that the press is capable of printing

This refers to a printing fault where wet ink is transferred from one sheet to the back of the next as it leaves the stack, creating a ghost image.

Sheet Fed
A sheet-fed press prints by picking up one sheet of stock at a time and is the most common type of press

Show Through
The degree to which printing is visible through the paper due to low opacity of the paper

Special Colours
These are specifically mixed colours that are outside the CMYK colour range and require specialist inks

Spot Colour
A printing ink specially mixed to give a specific colour, including metallic or fluorescent inks. Customers may have a corporate colour which must be accurately printed and is not suitable for CMYK separation

A type of binding usually using two metal staples

Stock is the printing term that refers to the type of paper or cardboard you are printing on

Thread Sewn
A more expensive form of binding. The sections of a book block are sewn together prior to being bound to give added strength and improved flexibility.

Three Colour Printing
It is possible to use just three of the four CMYK colours; Cyan, Magenta & Yellow

Tip In
An insert attached to a publication by gluing along the binding edge

Two Colour Printing
It is also possible to print using just two colours and this printing is usually used for printing on stationery as it is very cost effective

UV Varnishing
This adds a gloss finish to printed services but in a different way to a regular varnish.

An extra ink that is transparent can be used to protect the wet colour inks sitting on the surface of the paper

Fade to white of illustration or colour in which the tones gradually fade away

A web printing machine has nothing to do with the internet. Instead, it is a machine that can work with paper on the roll, known as the web. The high speed of these presses means they are only economical for high volume or long running jobs such as newspaper

Work & Turn
This is a cost effective way of printing both sides of a sheet without needing to change the printing plates and often referred to as Work & Tumble. The whole job will be printed on one side of the sheet, and then the sheets are flipped over and printed on again

Wove Paper
Wove paper is uncoated and has no apparent texture or pattern. It is often used for business stationery and can be compared to Laid Paper

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This post was written by Anwen Haynes1

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