Glossary Of Terms

Glossary Of Terms

We take great pride in making our clients feel comfortable and confident about their printing jobs during the production process. To help you gain a better understanding of what's happening to your project, we've compiled a glossary of common (and not so common) printing terms.

  • AC

    Author's Correction.

  • Accordion Fold

    A type of paper folding in which each fold runs in the opposite direction to the previous fold creating a pleated or accordion effect.

  • Acetate

    A transparent or translucent plastic sheet material of a variety of colors, used as a basis for artwork and overlays.

  • Additive Colors

    In photographic reproduction, the primary colors of red, green and blue which are mixed to form all other colors.

  • Air

    Large white areas in a design layout.

  • Alignment

    The position of elements on a page in relation to a referenced horizontal or vertical line.

  • Alkali Blue

    Also called reflex blue. A pigment used in carbon black inks and varnishes to improve luster.

  • Apron

    The white area at the margins of text or illustrations used to form a foldout.

  • Aqueous Plate

    Water soluble plate coatings, which are less toxic and less polluting.

  • Artwork

    All illustrated material (ornamentation, photos and charts, etc.) that is prepared for reproduction.

  • Author's Alterations (AA's)

    Changes made after composition stage where customer is responsible for additional charges.

  • Banker's Flap Envelope

    A flap where the edges are more rounded; also called a wallet flap.

  • Bed

    The flat steel table of a cylinder printing press upon which the type sits during the printing process.

  • Binder's Board

    A heavy paperboard with a cloth covering that is used for hardback binding of books.

  • Binding

    Various methods of securing folded sections of paper together and fastening them to a cover to form a book.

  • Blanket

    On offset presses a fabric-reinforced sheet of rubber to transfer the impression from the plate onto the paper.

  • Bleed

    Extra inked area that crosses designated trim line; used to allow for variations that occur when the reproduction is trimmed or die-cut.

  • Blind Emboss

    A design or bas relief impression that is made without using inks or metal foils.

  • Blue-Line

    Photographic proof made from flats for checking accuracy, layout and imposition before plates are made; also known as a dylux.

  • Body

    The main shank or portion of the letter character other than the ascenders and descenders; a term used to define the thickness or viscosity of printer's ink.

  • Bond

    A grade of durable writing, printing and typing paper that has a standard size of 17x22 inches.

  • Book Block

    A term given the unfinished stage of bookmaking when the pages are folded, gathered and stitched in but not yet cover bound.

  • Book Paper

    A general classification of paper stock used to print books.

  • Bounce 1

    A registration problem, usually on copiers, where the image appears to bounce back and forth. A bounce usually occurs in one direction depending on how the paper is passing through the machine.

  • Brochure

    A pamphlet that is bound in booklet form.

  • Burn

    A term used in platemaking to describe the amount of plate exposure time.

  • Caliper

    The measurement of thickness of paper expressed in thousandths of an inch or mils.

  • Camera Ready

    A term given to any copy, artwork etc., that is prepared for photographic reproduction.

  • Caps & Lowercase

    Instructions in the typesetting process that indicate the use of a capital letter to start a sentence and the rest of the letters in lower case.

  • Caps & Small Caps

    Two sizes of capital letters made in one size of type, which is indicated by the use of a larger capital letter to start a sentence with the rest of the letters being in smaller capitals.

  • Cast Coated

    A paper that is coated and then pressure dried using a polished roller which imparts an enamel-like hard gloss finish.

  • CMYK

    An abbreviation for the four primary colors used in four-color process printing--cyan (a light blue), magenta (a pinkish purple), yellow and black.

  • Coated (Paper)

    Paper coated with clay, white pigments and a binder. Better for printing because there is less picking.

  • Collate

    To gather sheets or signatures together in their correct order. Reference: Gather.

  • Color Bars

    This term refers to a color test strip, which is printed on the waste portion of a press sheet. It is a standardized GATF (Graphic Arts Technical Foundation) process which allows a pressman to determine the quality of the printed material relative to ink density, registration and dot gain. It also includes the Star Target, which is a similar system designed to detect inking problems.

  • Color Separating

    The processes of separating the primary color components for printing.

  • Column Gutter

    Space between two or more columns of type on one page.

  • Contact Screen

    A halftone screen made on film of graded density, and used in a vacuum contact with the film.

  • Continuous Tone

    Image made of non-discernable picture elements which give appearance of continuous spectrum of grey values or tones.

  • Contrast

    The degree of tonal separation or gradation in the range from black to white.

  • Copy

    Refers to any typewritten material, art, photos, etc., to be used for the printing process.

  • Cover

    A term describing a general category of papers used for the covers of books, pamphlets, etc.

  • Cracking

    Delamination.

  • Creep

    When the rubber blanket on a cylinder moves forward due to contact with the plate or paper. Result of added thickness of folded sheets being behind one another in a folded signature. Outer edges of sheets creep away from back most fold as more folded sheets are inserted inside the middle.

  • Crop

    To eliminate a portion of the art or copy as indicated by crop marks.

  • Crop Mark

    Markings at edges of original or on guide sheet to indicate the area desired in reproduction with negative or plate trimmed (cropped) at the markings.

  • Cutter

    Machine for accurately cutting stacks of paper to desired dimensions; can also be used to crease. Also trims out final bound books' top size (soft cover).

  • Cutting Die

    Sharp edged device, usually made of steel, to cut paper, cardboard, etc., on a printing press.

  • Cyan

    A shade of blue used in the four-color process; it reflects blue and green and absorbs red.

  • Deckle Edge

    The rough or feathered edge of paper when left untrimmed.

  • Density

    The lay of paper fibers relative to tightness or looseness which affects the bulk, the absorbency and the finish of the paper.

  • Die

    Design, letters or shapes cut into metal (mostly brass) for stamping book covers or embossing. An engraved stamp used for impressing an image or design.

  • Die Stamping

    An intaglio process for printing from images engraved into copper or steel plates.

  • Digital Proof

    Color separation data is digitally stored and then exposed to color photographic paper, creating a picture of the final product before it is actually printed.

  • Dot Gain

    Darkening of halftone image due to ink absorption in paper causing halftone dots to enlarge. Terms to describe the occurrence whereby dots are printing larger than they should.

  • DPI

    Dots Per Inch; the standard measurement of resolution for printers, photo type setting machines and graphics screens. The higher the value, the finer the detail of the finished print.

  • Drill

    The actual drilling of holes into paper for ring or comb binding.

  • Drop Shadow

    A shadow image placed strategically behind an image to create the affect of the image lifting off the page.

  • Dull Finish

    Any matte-finished paper.

  • Duotone

    Color reproduction from monochrome original. Keyplate usually printed in dark color for detail, second plate printed in light flat tints. A two-color halftone reproduction generated from a one-color photo.

  • Duplex Paper

    Paper which has a different color or finish on each side.

  • Dye Sublimation

    The process by which an image is printed onto a specially coated paper and from there transferred onto the final media (e.g. a piece of fabric) through the application of heat.

  • Eggshell Finish

    The finish of paper surface that resembles an eggshell achieved by omitting the calendar process. Reference: calendar rolls.

  • Electronic Proof

    A process of generating a prepress proof in which paper is electronically exposed to the color separation negatives; the paper is passed through the electrically charged pigmented toners, which adhere electrostatically, resulting in the finished proof.

  • Embossed

    A method of paper finishing whereby a pattern is pressed into the paper when it is dry.

  • Engraving

    A printing process whereby images such as copy or art are etched onto a plate. When ink is applied, these etched areas act as small wells to hold the ink; paper is forced against this die and the ink is lifted out of the etched areas, creating raised images on the paper.

  • Estimate

    The form used by the printer to calculate the project for the print buyer. This form contains the basic parameters of the project including size, quantity, colors, bleeds, photos, etc.

  • Fan Fold

    Paper folding that emulates an accordion or fan, the folds being alternating and parallel.

  • Felt

    A cloth conveyor belt that receives papers from the Fourdrinier and delivers it to the drier. Reference: fourdrinier.

  • Felt Finish

    The smoother side of paper, usually a soft weave pattern used for book papers. A soft weave pattern used for book papers.

  • Film Coat

    Also called wash coat; any thinly coated paper stock.

  • Finish (Paper)

    Dull - (low gloss) also matte or matte gloss.

  • Foils

    Papers that have a surface resembling metal.

  • Folder

    Machine used to fold signatures down into sections.

  • Font

    The characters which make up a complete typeface and size.

  • French Fold

    A sheet of paper printed on one side and folded first vertically and then horizontally to produce a four-page folder where the printing is on the outside of the folds.

  • Gang

    Group of frames or impositions in the same form of different jobs arranged and positioned to be printed together.

  • Gripper

    A series of metal fingers that hold each sheet of paper as it passes through the various stages of the printing process.

  • Gripper Edge

    The grippers of the printing press move the paper through the press by holding onto the leading edge of the sheet; this edge is the gripper edge.

  • Groundwood

    Low-cost papers such as newsprint made by the mechanical pulping process as opposed to chemical pulping and refining.

  • Hairline Register

    Printing registration that lies within the range of plus or minus one half row of dots. It is the thinnest of the standard printers' rules.

  • Hexachrome

    A color separation process developed by Pantone

  • Hickies

    Imperfections in presswork due to dirt on press, trapping errors, etc.

  • Image Area

    That portion of the printing plate that carries the ink and prints on paper.

  • Imposition

    Arrangement of pages so that they print correctly on a press sheet and the pages are in proper order when the sheets are folded.

  • Ink Fountain

    The device which stores and meters ink to the inking rollers.

  • Inserts

    Extra printed pages inserted loosely into printed pieces.

  • Italic

    Text that is used to denote emphasis by slanting the type body forward (leaning to the right).

  • Jog

    To vibrate a stack of finished pages so that they are tightly aligned for final trimming.

  • Laid Finish

    A parallel lined paper that has a handmade look.

  • Layout

    A rendition that shows the placement of all the elements, roughs, thumbnails, etc., of the final printed piece before it goes to print.

  • Letterpress

    Printing that utilizes inked raised surfaces to create the image.

  • Logotype

    A personalized type or design symbol for a company or product.

  • Make Ready

    Process of adjusting final plate on the press to fine tune or modify plate surface.

  • Margin

    Imprinted space around the edge of a page.

  • Midtone Dot

    Commonly taken as the area between the highlight and shadow areas of a subject's face in halftone image.

  • OA of Register

    When two-sheet passes on a press are misaligned.

  • Offset

    The most commonly used printing method, whereby the printed material does not receive the ink directly from the printing plate but from an intermediary cylinder called a blanket which receives the ink from the plate and transfers it to the paper.

  • Opacity

    Quality of papers that defines its opaqueness or ability to prevent two-sided printing from showing through.

  • Opaque

    A quality of paper that allows relatively little light to pass through.

  • Parchment

    A hard finished paper that emulates animal skin; used for documents, such as awards, that require writing by hand.

  • Parent Sheet

    A sheet that is larger than the cut stock of the same paper.

  • Perf Marks

    Markings usually dotted lines at edges showing where perforations should occur.

  • Perfect Binding

    Binding process where backs of sections are cut off, roughened and glued together, and rung in a cover.

  • Perforating

    Punching small holes or slits in a sheet of paper or cardboard to facilitate tearing along a desired line.

  • Planography

    A printing technique where ink is transferred to paper from a flat surface. Lithography and offset printing are a type of planography. Also called surface printing.

  • Plastic Comb

    A method of binding books whereby holes are drilled on the side closest to the spine and a plastic grasping device is inserted to hold the pages together.

  • Press-Proof

    Actual press sheet to show image, tone values and colors, as well as imposition of frame or press-plate.

  • Primary Colors

    In printing the four primary colors are cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black.

  • Print Ready

    See Camera Ready

  • Printability

    The ability of a paper to show reproduced (printed) images.

  • Printers Pairs

    Two consecutive pages as they appear on a flat or signature.

  • Process Inks

    Printing inks, usually in sets of four colors. The most frequent combination is yellow, magenta, cyan and black, which are printed one over another in that order to obtain a colored print with the desired hues, whites, blacks and grays.

  • Proof

    An impression of composed type and illustrations made for the purpose of checking the accuracy of the layout, type and color.

  • Ream

    500 sheets of paper.

  • Register

    The arrangement of two or more images in exact alignment with each other.

  • Register Marks

    Any crossmarks or other symbols used on layout to assure proper registration.

  • Right Angle Fold

    A term that denotes folds that are 90 degrees to each other.

  • Saddle Stitching

    Stitching where wire staples pass through the spine from the outside and are clinched in the center. Only used with folded sections, either single sections or two or more sections inserted to form a single section.

  • Safety Paper

    A paper that shows sign of erasure so that it cannot be altered or tampered with easily.

  • Satin Finish

    A smooth, delicately embossed finished paper with sheen.

  • Score

    Impressions or cuts in flat material to facilitate bending or tearing.

  • Scum

    Unwanted ink marks in the non-image area.

  • Self Cover

    A cover made out of the same paper stock as the internal sheets.

  • Show Through

    A problem that occurs when the printing on one side of a sheet is seen from the other side.

  • Slitting

    A term to describe the process of the cutting of printed sheets by the cutting wheels of a printing press.

  • Spine

    Back edge of a book.

  • Spiral Bind

    A binding whereby a wire of metal or plastic is spiraled through holes punched along the binding side.

  • Spot Color

    Small area printed in a second color.

  • Stet

    A proofreader's symbol that is usually written in the copy margin. It indicates that the copy, which was marked for correction, should be left as it was.

  • Stock

    A term for unprinted paper or other material to be printed.

  • Tensile Strength

    A paper's ability to withstand pressure.

  • Thermography

    A printing process whereby slow drying ink is applied to paper and while the ink is still wet, is lightly dusted with a resinous powder. The paper then passes through a heat chamber where the powder melts and fuses with the ink to produce a raised surface.

  • Transparent

    Inks that do not block out the colored inks that they print over, but instead blend with them to create intermediate colors.

  • Trapping

    The process of printing wet ink over printed ink which may be wet or dry.

  • Varnish

    A clear shiny ink used to add gloss to printed pieces. The primary component of the ink vehicle. Reference: vehicle.

  • Vellum

    A finish of paper that is rough and bulky, and has a degree of tooth.

  • Washup

    The procedure of cleaning a particular ink from all of the printing elements (rollers, plate, ink fountain, etc.) of a press.

  • Watermark

    A translucent logo that is embossed during the papermaking process while the paper slurry is on the dandy roll. Reference: dandy roll.