Crop. Absorption. Feeder. If you’re not familiar with printing terms, hearing them for the first time can be confusing. As printing professionals, printing terminology is like a second language to us. We’re always happy to explain the various definitions and meanings but we thought it’d be useful to provide a glossary of printing terms and phrases.
You can access this glossary anytime and soon enough you’ll be a natural in printing terms too. Just click on the letters below to be taken to the relevant section.
The Complete Glossary Of Printing Terms
3D Printing: 3D printers can print 3D shapes and models. Aeroplane companies are creating parts with 3D printers and some food companies, like Hershey’s, have created edible 3D food printers.
A, B and C Series: These refer to the different industry standard of paper sizes. Most countries follow this system so most paper sizes (e.g. A1, A2, A3, A4, etc) are universal around the world. Don’t worry! You don’t need to know the ins and outs of the different series - it’s an industry standard that printing presses should follow.
Absorbency: How much liquid the paper can hold. Before you start printing, it’s worth checking the absorbency of your paper. If you use too much ink, the ink will seep through and make the paper look wet.
Absorption: When the first inks are drying onto the surface of the material, it’s usually referred to as absorption.
Acetate: A thin and flexible sheet of transparent plastic that’s often used to make overlays.
Adhesives: In print, adhesives are substances which are used to make things stick firmly together.
Aqueous Coating: A clear coating used to protect printed pieces to create a high-gloss surface that improves durability.
Art Paper: Paper that has a smooth glossy finish which is made by adding a special coating.
Barcodes: A method of representing data in a visual and a machine-readable form of information on a scannable, visual surface.
Bespoke Printing: A technique which isn't restricted to certain printing products, materials or sizes. The technique is all about meeting a company's needs to create something truly unique which can't be produced elsewhere.
Binding: Binding is used to bind or fasten a book together. Some printers may offer you a service to bind your printed works.
Blanket: On a lithography printing press, the interior cylinder used for printing is covered by a rubber blanket. It’s used to help transfer the print onto the paper.
Bleed: After paper has been printed, the inks may run over the trim marks of the paper. This is known as ‘bleeding.’
Bulk: A term sometimes used when describing the thickness and feel of a piece of paper.
C1S And C2S: Acronyms used for 'Coated One Side' and 'Coated Two Sides' paper stock. It's a cover stock with a glossy finish on one side and uncoated on the other, usually between .008" and 0.18" in thickness.
Calliper: The measurement of the thickness of paper, measured in thousandths of an inch or mils.
Carbon-Balanced Paper: The simple way to reduce your carbon impact when printing and there’s very little or no cost to the end user.
Chemical Resistance: The extent to which printed materials will resist reacting with chemicals it comes into contact with - ensuring no damage is done.
Coating: To reduce the risk of ink smudging after printing, a special liquid coating can be applied to the paper. It’s particularly beneficial for literature prints.
Colour Bars: A test strip that’s printed on the waste portion of a press sheet. It helps to monitor and control the quality of the printed material relative to ink density, registration and dot gain.
Colour Separation: The process of separating colours into their basic elements.
Colour Sequence: The order in which inks are printed in the press. Also known as colour rotation.
Constellation Snow: A luxury stock which provides a textured effect. This paper comes with an embossed linen effect to give a high-end feel.
Creep: Refers to the moving or shift that happens to the margins in a document when pages are folded during the finishing process of a booklet. The amount of creep can vary depending on the thickness of paper and the number of pages.
Crop Marks: Lines put onto the pages to show where the document or print will be trimmed.
Crossover: An image or rule on one printed page that carries over to an adjacent page of folded work.
Damping: The process where the lithographic plate on a lithography printer has to have water applied before printing.
Debossing: Stamping a design into the surface of an object or paper so that there’s an indent.
Deckle Edge: An untrimmed edge that's feathered or rough.
Die-cut: In the world of printing, a Die refers to a precise, razor-sharp steel blade that allows multiple pieces of the same shape to be created in an efficient and uniform manner.
Digital Printing: Using lasers, digital printing is a fast printing method and commonly used in offices and at home. It’s ideal for quick and small-scale jobs.
Dot Gain: A term used when dots are printed larger than they should.
Dummy: Before printing a large quantity, it’s the norm to print a ‘dummy’ to show the customer an example of the finished product.
Dust Jacket: A detachable outer dust wrapper around the front and back of a book, usually made of paper and printed with text and illustrations.
Dye-Sublimation: Rather than putting colour onto the material, dye-sublimation changes the colour of the material instead.
Elasticity: This is the term used for when a printed product doesn't lose its shape when it's opened.
Embossing: The process of creating raised relief images on paper and other materials. The design will bulge out of the paper.
Endpapers: Used to to protect the valuable text at the beginning and end of a book and quite literally holds the book together.
Feeder: Equipment used to ‘feed’ or supply the paper into the printer in the correct position for printing.
Finishing: The finishing touches of a print (for example, cutting the crop lines and adding protective gloss).
Flexography: A method commonly used for printing onto uneven surfaces such as packaging. Flexographic printing uses a flexible relief plate to print and this process prints letters and small texts - popularly used for labels.
Folds: With fold variations as concertina, gate, closed gate and French, folds can give you different options for presenting your documents.
Font: The font refers to the style of letters used in the print.
Ghosting: On a printed image, another lighter image in the same print is called ghosting because of the lighter, ghostly finish.
Gray Scale: Strip of grey values ranging from white to black, it contains shades of grey and is used for reproducing images.
Gripper: Special grips inside printers that hold the paper in place during print.
Guillotine: A sharp blade used to cut and trim printed paper accurately.
Hardness: This is a term used for when the quality or the condition of a printed product remains 'hard.' So, the quality doesn't deteriorate the more it's used.
Hickey: An accidental imperfection mark that appears on a finished printing product; it may be caused by dust or issues with the ink.
Imposition: The arrangement of pages in a sequence which reads consecutively when the printed sheet is folded.
Ink Set-Off: Ink that is unintentionally transferred from a printed sheet to the back of the sheet above it when the materials have been printed and are stacked in a pile.
Interleaves: Printed pages loosely inserted in a publication, typically blank.
Jog: To shuffle a stack of finished pages to align them for final trimming or binding.
Kerning: In typography, this is the process of adjusting the visual spacing between characters, usually to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing result.Laminate: A thin transparent, plastic sheet applied to usually a thick stock to provide a glossy protective layer against liquid and heavy use.
LED UV: LED UV is a print technique which provides a high-end finish. Inks are mixed to perfection and pressed onto the stock (paper, card, etc.). This then gets blasted under LED lights to dry it quickly. This helps keep colours sharper and speeds up the whole printing process.
Lithography: Lithographic printing is popularly used for high-quality image printing. The image is placed on the lithography plate, inked and then printed onto the paper. It’s a fast and smooth printing process.
Lock Bound: Often used for publications that need to be durable, an adhesive it pushed between the perforations during the binding process. it’s a stronger way to bound a book to ensure longevity.
Logotype: A personalised design specifically for a company or product.
Lux Paper: A stock which suits classic products. This material is an ultra-thick, triple-layered card which features a signature coloured core running through the centre layer.
Metallic Ink: Made with powdered metal or pigments that reflect to make text look metallic. The most common colours used are silver and gold.
Monochrome: An image in black and white or varying tones of only one colour (for example, different shades of green - green, lime, pear, pine, etc.)
Opacity: The quality of the paper defines the opaqueness of it. If it isn’t opaque enough, your design might show through to the other side.
Original: Before you can start any printing work, the printing press will need the ‘original’ - which is the original image you wish to produce.
Overprinting: Any additional printing over an area that’s already been done.
Pantone Colour: A universal colour language that designers, printing companies and brand owners use. This helps the right colour to be achieved again and again.
Paper-Over-Board: These are hardcovers that take a more designed approach, allowing for more creativity when it comes to textures and illustrations.
PPI: Pages or pixels per inch.
Print Blemishing: If printed using an unsuitable or outdated printing technique, materials can feature small marks of flaws which spoils the overall appearance or quality.
Process Colours: The process colours are cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The printer combines these base colours to create different colours.
Proofing: The best way to avoid expensive mistakes in printing. It’s important to pay close attention to the proofs you receive to ensure the design, copy and colour has no errors.
PUR Binding: This refers to a softcover book binding method that uses Polyurethane Reactive (PUR) adhesive, which creates clean and perfect edges.
Ream: 500 sheets of paper.
Reel: A continuous length of paper wrapped around a cylinder is commonly referred to as a reel of paper.
Register: To accurately position an image or text onto paper, register marks are used as reference points to help make sure the printing work is accurate at every step.
RGB: The color space of Red, Green and Blue which computers use to display images on your screen. An RGB computer file must be translated into CMYK in order to be printed accurately.
Rotogravure Printing: This printing process uses an engraved rotating roll that rolls the image onto the paper. Rotogravure is used for printing magazines and newspapers.
Runnability: How quickly a printer can ‘run’ without making any mistakes is often referred to as a printer’s runnability.
Satin Finish: A smooth and soft finish over the paper.
Scratch Resistance: Depending on the technique used, it can be difficult to scratch or cause damage to products because the physical properties will have been dramatically improved.
Screen Printing: With screen printing, a fine mesh is used to transfer an image onto another material. It’s useful for printing logos onto clothes and printing fabric banners.
Silk Paper: Silk paper is a stock which has a low surface sheen and provides excellent ink-to-paper contrast. Colours appear a lot brighter and more defined when printed on, making it a better choice for readability.
Solvent Evaporation: During a drying process, the liquid parts of the ink evaporate depending on the print technology used. If solvents are evaporated, the pigments remain in place.
Spot Colour: This is achieved by actually mixing ink into the desired colour you want in your print project, as opposed to using the CMYK process to achieve it.
Spot Varnish: A way of highlighting a certain area of a page by selectively applying a varnish to it.
Stock: This is what’s receiving your printed images and content. It can be paper, card, foil or whatever. It can also massively alter the impact of printed pieces.
Thread-sewn: A very strong binding which ideal for high-quality, long-lasting publications and those that need to be opened flat, without splitting along the spine.
Tint: The process of adding the colour white to another colour. So, when printed, the colour is lighter and more white shines through.
Transparency: This refers to images or text that aren’t completely opaque. Just make sure to flatten your transparency and spot colour to CMYK to avoid issues when printing.
Trim: This is the line cut to produce the finished size. The trim cuts through the bleed area to ensure a continuous and sharp edge around a design.
Typo: A spelling mistake in the printed text material.
Typography: Everything related to the text on the printed product. Your printer will want to know the layout of your text, along with colour and style.
Ultraviolet Light: UV light is a form of radiation which isn't visible to the human eye, it's in an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum. In LED UV printing technology, this light is what instantly dries the ink.
UV Curing: A drying method which uses light instead of heat. It's a photochemical process where the high-intensity UV light instantly cures or dries inks, coatings and adhesives.
UV Varnish: A thin coating which is applied to a printed sheet for protection and appearance. It's dried immediately by UV light.
Varnish: A glossy finish added to a finished printed product to give it an extra shine and protection against damage.
Vignette: An illustration where the background gradually fades away until it blends into the unprinted paper.
Watermark: A logo or design printed onto the paper. It’s only visible under light.
Work and Tumble: The process of printing one side of the paper and then turning the paper over to print the other side. The paper has to be precisely aligned to ensure continuity and accuracy.
Work and Turn: One side of paper has the front and back of a print. When the printing is complete, the paper is turned over and the back and front is printed - creating two copies of the print.
Want to Learn More About Print and What It Can Achieve?
With over 60 years’ experience in the printing industry, it's safe to say we know a thing or two about print. We wanted to share this knowledge with people like yourself who want to learn more about print.
That's why we've made this super helpful guide that covers everything you’ll need to know about creating a brilliant piece of print.
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