Understanding print jargon
We've been in the print industry for more than 20 years – so there isn't much we don't know.

Understanding print jargonjargon-350x233

We've been printing for over 20 years and there's not much we don't know, but like most industries, the print world contains a whole language of acronyms, phrases and terms that can confuse even the most seasoned print manager.

A Sizes

The most common paper sizes used for general printing (UK & European), stationery and publications. These are the finished sizes that most print jobs are cut to after being printed on larger sized paper.

Artwork

Finished layout of typesetting, drawings and photographs, made up in a format which is ready for the printer to print from.

A/W

Abbreviation for artwork.

Author's Corrections

Customer's corrections/changes made, normally at the proofing stage.

 

B Sizes

Paper sizes used mainly by the print industry. Larger than A sizes but in the same proportions.

Back Up

To print on the reverse side of a printed sheet.

Bitmap

A grid of pixels or printed dots generated by computer to represent type and images. 'Bitmapping' is a term often used to describe the effect where edges of a picture take on a blocky/jagged shape due to errors in image processing or poor resolution.

Bleed

An area outside the finished size of printed material. When images or content go to the edge of the paper they have to extend beyond it into the 'bleed' area.

Blanket

A rubber surfaced fabric (In offset litho printing) that is clamped around a cylinder on a litho press, to which the image is transferred from the plate and from which it is then transferred to the paper.

Blind Emboss

Process of raising letters or designs on card or tough paper onto which no printed image has been added.

Blocking

To impress or stamp a design upon a cover. The design can be blocked in colour inks, gold leaf or metal foil. Most commonly used on case bound book covers.

Board

While there is no internationally agreed rule, paper exceeding 170gsm is usually referred to as board.

Bulk

Thickness of paper.

 


C Sizes

Paper sizes used for envelopes, designed to take A size paper.

Case Bound

A hardback book made with stiff outer covers. Case bound books are usually covered with cloth, vinyl or leather.

CMYK

Letters, which stand for Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y) and Key(black) (K). Full colour printed images are made up of these component colours.

Coater

Part of a litho printing press, which applies coatings to printed literature.

Coating

A special water based coating, which is applied to printed matter to protect literature from ink smudging or finger marking or to enhance appearance. The main types are sealer, gloss, matt and silk. Coatings are commonly used on matt or silk coated paper as these types are more prone to smudging than gloss coated paper. The main difference between a varnish and a coating is that coatings are faster drying and therefore jobs can be turned around quicker. They tend to be more scuff resistant than varnishes and there is also less risk of yellowing paper. However, oil based varnishes are better if specific areas of a document need to be coated. (Spot varnish)

Collating

Arranging of printed sheets into the desired sequence.

Colour Mark Up

Specifications on a piece of artwork to a printer, showing the required colours for the item to be printed.

Colour Separation

Process by which an image is separated into the four colours for print production.

Computer To Plate (CTP)

The process of producing printer's plates directly from the computer (CTP) with no films involved.

Creep

When the middle pages of a folded section extend slightly beyond the outside pages.

Crop Marks

Printed lines on the edge of paper indicating where the paper should be cut to produce the correct page size.

 


Die Cut

A shaped cut out leaflet or brochure.

Digital Printing

Printing straight from electronic artwork (no plates used as with litho print). Typically printed out of four colour process. Ideal for short runs up to about the 1,000*** - maybe change quantity?*** mark.

Digital Proofing

Proofing direct from digital files instead of using film.

Desktop Publishing

The creation of artwork and print from your computer using a PC or publishing MAC.

DL Envelope

A standard envelope size measuring 110mm x 220mm. They take A4 sheets, folded into three.

DPI

Dots per inch, which indicate the resolution of images. The more dots per inch, the higher the resolution and the better quality the image. 300dpi is the ideal resolution for print.

Duplex

Printing on both sides of a sheet of paper. Term applies to digital printing presses.

Duotone

An image printed using two colours rather than one.

Drilling

Drilling of holes in printed literature allowing insertion over rings in a binder.

Dummy

A sample of a proposed job made up with the actual materials and cut to size to show bulk etc.

 

Encapsulation

Plastic coating providing a rigid, watertight covering for printed matter.

Embossing

The process of raising letters or designs on card or paper.

EPS

Encapsulated Postscript File. This is a file format, which can be read across different programs on MAC or PC computers. Usually used in commercial printing.

 


Finishing

All operations after printing (i.e guillotining, folding, binding, etc).

Folio

Page numbers.

Font

A set of letters, numbers and symbols that share a unified design. The design (style) is called a typeface.

Four Colour Process

Full colour printing using four constituent colours: Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y) and Key(black) (K).

Four - Up, Three - Up, Two - Up

Number of similar items printed on one sheet of paper.

Four Back Nothing

Printed four colours on one side only. (4/0)

Four Back One

Printed four colours on one side and one colour on the reverse. (4/1)

Four Back Two

Printed four colours on one side and two colours on the reverse. (4/2)

Four Back Four

Printed 4 colours on both sides. (4/4)

FTP

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a network protocol used to transfer data from one computer to another through a network such as the Internet.

 

GSM

Grammes per square metre. Standard measure of paper weight.

Gloss Coating

A coating applied to printed matter which is quick drying and protects literature from ink smudging and finger marking and gives a gloss finish.

Grain Of The Paper

Machine made paper is made up of many fibres, which tend to line up in one direction due to the nature of the process. This produces a preferred direction or grain along which it is easier to fold, bend or tear paper.

Gloss Varnish

A varnish applied to printed matter to protect against smudging and finger marking and gives a gloss finish. Please refer to coating to see the difference between varnishes and coatings.

Gripper

A device on a printing machine for holding the sheet during the printing or finishing process.

Gripper Allowance

The margin of paper along the gripper edge of the sheet, which is held by the gripper and cannot be printed on.

Gutter

The inside margins or blank space between 2 facing pages is the gutter. The gutter space is that extra space allowance used to accommodate the binding in books and magazines.

 


Hickey

Spots or imperfections in printed items due to dirt on press, dried ink, paper particles etc.

 

Imposition

Plans for the arrangement of the pages of a job so that they will follow in the correct sequence when folded.

Insert

Leaflet or other printed material inserted loose in a publication or mailing package.

 

JDF

Job Definition Format. This is a type of computer language, which automates workflows from desktop to final print production.

JPEG

Joint Photographic Experts Group. A type of compressed file format for image files.

 

Kiss Cut

A shaped cut out from two layered stock - mostly used for peel off stickers.

 

Laminating

A thin plastic film used on the covers of printed literature to give protection. This can be gloss or matt finish.

Lithographic (Litho) Printing

See offset litho.

 

Make-Ready

The set-up of printing equipment before running a job.

Matt Coating

A coating applied which is quick drying and protects literature from ink smudging and finger marking and gives a matt finish.

Matt Varnish

A varnish applied to printed literature to protect against smudging and finger marking and gives a matt finish.

Machine Fold

The process of mechanically folding printed paper.

Machine Varnish

A general varnish applied to printed literature to protect or seal against smudging or finger marking.

Micrometer

Instrument for measuring thickness of paper.

 


Origination

All the items needed to put together and print the job. i.e Artwork, photography, typesetting etc.

Offset Litho(graphy)

A printing process by which the inked image to be printed is transferred (offset) first to a rubber layer before coming into contact with the paper which takes up the inked areas.

Overs

The extra printed products delivered to a customer over and above the net amount ordered.

 

Pantone Reference (PMS)

International system of designating colours for printing reference.

PDF

Portable Document Format. A PDF is a special file type that combines, images, drawings, layouts and text into one file for easy delivery to or from the printer. PDF's provide a very useful tool for proofing purposes as what you see is what you get.

Perfect Binding

Pages of a book, which are glued together to give a square spine.

Perfector

A printing press, which prints on both sides of a sheet of paper in one pass.

Perforation

Running a dotted score into paper to allow the paper to be torn off easily.

Personalisation

Where data elements are unique to an individual print piece. Concept facilitated by digital printing. Most commonly used on direct mail literature.

Printing Plate

A metal plate, which has the inked images involved in the offset plate lithography printing process. It is important to realise that each colour in a printing job requires a separate plate.

Process Colours

The four colours which make up full colour printing. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.

Proof

A sample of work to be checked for errors in text, positioning or quality of colour reproduction. This can be in both paper and PDF forms.

 

QuarkXPress

(Quark) is an industry standard computer application for creating and editing complex page layouts.

 


Ream

500 sheets of paper.

Register

Accurate positioning of images on a sheet relative to one another.

Resolution

Refers to the degree of detail of an image. It is usually measured in dots per inch (dpi) or lines per inch (lpi). A high resolution gives a high quality image and vice versa.

Reversed Out

Type appearing white on a black or colour background, which is either a solid or a tint.

RGB

3 colour split (Red, Green, Blue). Typically used for web based images. RGB images must not to be used in artwork for print. Although RGB images can be converted to CMYK in the RIP process, unusual and unwanted results may occur.

RIP

Raster Image Processor. A processor which converts files into a format ready for printing.

Saddle-Stitch

When the pages of a printed document (i.e. magazine) are bound together using metal staples.

 

Scanner

The equipment, which converts colour transparencies or hard copy colour artwork into images on a Mac or PC.

Scans

The name given to colour transparencies or colour artwork, which have been converted to images on an MAC or PC.

Sealer

Alternative name for a coater.

Sealer Coating

A coating applied to printed matter, which is quick drying and protects literature from ink smudging and finger marking and gives a neutral finish.

Sealer Varnish

A varnish applied to printed matter to protect against finger marking and gives a neutral finish.

Self Cover

The paper used inside a booklet is the same as that used for the cover.

Set Off

During the printing process, this is the unintentional transfer of wet ink to another sheet.

Sheet Fed Press

Printing presses which are fed by separate sheets of paper, as opposed to paper on a roll. They are suitable for all types of commercial printing, particularly high quality work.

Show Through

The degree to which printing is visible through paper. Commonly seen on lightweight papers.

Shrink Wrapping

Method of packing printed products by surrounding them by plastic, then shrinking by heat.

Silk Coating

A coating applied to printed matter, which is quick drying and protects literature from ink smudging and finger marking and gives a silk finish.

Silk Varnish

A varnish applied to printed literature to protect against finger marking and smudging and gives a silk finish.

Solid Colour

An even colour, which is not shaded. Areas on a page with solid colours are known as solids.

Special Colour

A colour, which cannot be made up of the four component colours - CMYK. They are listed in a pantone colour swatch book. For example, if a corporate logo contains a special blue and is included in a brochure with photographs and text; this is termed a five colour job. (CMYK (pictures+text) + special blue = 5 colours)

Spread

Two or more adjoining pages that would appear in view on a sheet.

Spot Colour

Same as special colour.

Stock

Paper or card to be printed on.

 


Tint

Percentage shade of a colour.

TIFF

Tagged Image File Format. A type of file, which stores an image.

Text

Pages in a book excluding covers.

Trapping

The process of overlapping adjacent colours to eliminate the white lines that could appear between them during the print process.

Typesetting

The assembly of text and pictures on a MAC or PC by keyboard or other digital means.

Typo

Short for 'typographical error' - a mistake in the copy.

 

UV

A special varnish which has undergone an accelerated varnish drying process using ultra violet is applied to printed matter to enhance its appearance. A gloss UV Varnish is commonly used and this gives a very shiny effect, especially when used on printed matter with a matt laminate.

 

Varnishes

Special varnishes applied to printed matter to protect literature from ink smudging or finger marking or to enhance appearance. There are five main types - machine, gloss, matt and silk and UV. Varnishes are commonly used on matt or silk coated paper as these types are more prone to smudging than gloss coated paper. Varnish applied to a specific area of a document is known as spot varnish and when it is applied to the whole document it is termed as an overall varnish.

Visual

A preliminary layout, indicating the general design, and the position of the various elements.

 

Web Fed Press

Presses which are fed by paper from a reel, as opposed to separate sheets. They are normally used for very large print runs.