Glossary of Printing & Graphic Terms

  • A4 Paper
    An acid-proof protective coating applied to metal plates prior to etching.
  • Additive Color
    Papermade from pulp containing little or no acid so it resists deterioration from age. Also called alkaline paper, archival paper, neutral pH paper, permanent paper and thesis paper.
  • Against the Grain
    At right angles to the grain direction of the paper being used, as compared to with the grain. Also called across the grain and cross grain. See also Grain Direction.
  • Alteration
    Any change made by the customer after copy or artwork has been given to the service bureau, separator or printer. The change could be in copy, specifications or both. Also called AA, author alteration and customer alteration.
  • Anodized Plate
    An offset printing plate having a treated surface in order to reduce wear for extended use.
  • Anti-offset Powder
    Fine powder lightly sprayed over the printed surface of coated paper as sheets leave a press. Also called dust, offset powder, powder and spray powder.
  • Antique Paper
    Roughest finish offered on offset paper.
  • Aqueous Coating
    A water based, transparent finish applied on offset press like an ink. Aqueous coating is available in gloss and silk/satin finishes and can be applied in simple shapes as spot coating or flooded over an entire surface. This is an economical coating often used to protect publication covers from scuffing and smudging. These coatings add a subtle, professionally finished look and feel.
  • Author's Alterations (AA's)
    At the proofing stage, changes that the client requests to be made concerning original art provided. AA's are considered an additional cost to the client usually.
  • Back Up
    (1) To print on the second side of a sheet already printed on one side. (2) To adjust an image on one side of a sheet so that it aligns back-to-back with an image on the other side.
  • Base Art
    Copy pasted up on the mounting board of a mechanical, as compared to overlay art. Also called base mechanical.
  • Basic Size
    The standard size of sheets of paper used to calculate basis weight in the United States and Canada.
  • Basis Weight
    In the United States and Canada, the weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to the basic size. Also called ream weight and substance weight (sub weight). In countries using ISO paper sizes, the weight, in grams, of one square meter of paper. Also called grammage and ream weight.
  • Bind
    Usually in the book arena, but not exclusively, the joining of leafs or signatures together with either wire, glue or other means.
  • Bindery
    Usually a department within a printing company responsible for collating, folding and trimming various printing projects.
  • Blank
    Category of paperboard ranging in thickness from 15 to 48 points.
  • Blanket
    Rubber-coated pad, mounted on a cylinder of an offset press, that receives the inked image from the plate and transfers it to the surface to be printed.
  • Bleed
    Extending an image or element beyond the trim edge to prevent leaving thin white margins along the edge of a page trimmed to final size.
  • Blind Folio
    A page number not printed on the page. (In the book arena, a blank page traditionally does not print a page number.)
  • Blind Image
    Image debossed, embossed or stamped, but not printed with ink or foil.
  • Blocking
    Sticking together of printed sheets causing damage when the surfaces are separated.
  • Blow-Up
    An enlargement, usually used with raphic images or photographs
  • Board Paper
    General term for paper over 110# index, 80# cover or 200 gsm that is commonly used for products such as file folders, displays and post cards. Also called paperboard.
  • Body
    The main text of work not including the headlines.
  • Boiler Plate
    Blocks of repetitive type used and copied over and over again.
  • Bond paper
    Category of paper commonly used for writing, printing and photocopying. Also called business paper, communication paper, correspondence paper and writing paper.
  • Book Block
    Folded signatures gathered, sewn and trimmed, but not yet covered.
  • Book Paper
    Category of paper suitable for books, magazines, catalogs, advertising and general printing needs. Book paper is divided into uncoated paper (also called offset paper), coated paper (also called art paper, enamel paper, gloss paper and slick paper) and text paper.
  • Bounce
    (1) a repeating registration problem in the printing stage of production. (2) Customer unhappy with the results of a printing project and refuses to accept the project.
  • Bristol Paper
    General term referring to paper 6 points or thicker with basis weight between 90# and 200# (200-500 gsm). Used for products such as index cards, file folders and displays.
  • Broadside
    The term used to indicate work printed on one of a large sheet of paper.
  • Bronzing
    The effect produced by dusting wet ink after printing and using a metallic powder.
  • Build a Color
    To overlap two or more screen tints to create a new color. Such an overlap is called a build, color build, stacked screen build or tint build.
  • Burst Perfect Bind
    To bind by forcing glue into notches along the spines of gathered signatures before affixing a paper cover. Also called burst bind, notch bind and slotted bind.
  • Butt Register
    Register where ink colors meet precisely without overlapping or allowing space between, as compared to lap register. Also called butt fit and kiss register.
  • C1S and C2S
    Abbreviations for coated one side and coated two sides.
  • Calender
    To make the surface of paper smooth by pressing it between rollers during manufacturing.
  • Caliper
    (1) Thickness of paper or other substrate expressed in thousandths of an inch (mils or points), pages per inch (ppi), thousandths of a millimeter (microns) or pages per centimeter (ppc). (2) Device on a sheetfed press that detects double sheets or on a binding machine that detects missing signatures or inserts.
  • Camera-ready Copy
    Mechanicals, photographs and art fully prepared for reproduction according to the technical requirements of the printing process being used. Also called finished art and reproduction copy.
  • Carbonless Paper
    Paper coated with chemicals that enable transfer of images from one sheet to another with pressure from writing or typing.
  • Case
    Covers and spine that, as a unit, enclose the pages of a casebound book.
  • Case Bind
    To bind using glue to hold signatures to a case made of binder board covered with fabric, plastic or leather. Also called cloth bind, edition bind, hard bind and hard cover.
  • Cast-coated Paper
    High gloss, coated paper made by pressing the paper against a polished, hot, metal drum while the coating is still wet.
  • Catalog Paper
    Coated paper rated #4 or #5 with basis weight from 35# to 50# (50 to 75 gsm) commonly used for catalogs and magazines.
  • Chalking
    Deterioration of a printed image caused by ink that absorbs into paper too fast or has long exposure to sun, and wind making printed images look dusty. Also called crocking.
  • Choke
    Technique of slightly reducing the size of an image to create a hairline trap or to outline. Also called shrink and skinny.
  • Chrome
    Strength of a color as compared to how close it seems to neutral gray. Also called depth, intensity, purity and saturation.
  • Close Up
    A mark used to indicate closing space between characters or words. Usually used in proofing stages.
  • CMYK
    The primary color model for design and print solutions combining cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks or dyes to create full-color photos and art. This is the model used for all process color printing.
  • Coated Paper
    Paper with a coating of clay and other substances that improves reflectivity and ink holdout. Mills produce coated paper in the four major categories cast, gloss, dull and matte.
  • Collate
    To organize printed matter in a specific order as requested.
  • Collating Marks
    Mostly in the book arena, specific marks on the back of signatures indicating exact position in the collating stage.
  • Color Balance
    Refers to amounts of process colors that simulate the colors of the original scene or photograph.
  • Color Blanks
    Press sheets printed with photos or illustrations, but without type. Also called shells.
  • Color Break
    In multicolor printing, the point, line or space at which one ink color stops and another begins. Also called break for color.
  • Color Cast
    Unwanted color affecting an entire image or portion of an image.
  • Color Control Bar
    Strip of small blocks of color on a proof or press sheet to help evaluate features such as density and dot gain. Also called color bar, color guide and standard offset color bar.
  • Color Correct
    To adjust the relationship among the process colors to achieve desirable colors.
  • Color Curves
    Instructions in computer software that allow users to change or correct colors. Also called HLS and HVS tables.
  • Color Gamut
    The entire range of hues possible to reproduce using a specific device, such as a computer screen, or system, such as four-color process printing.
  • Color Key
    Brand name for an overlay color proof. Sometimes used as a generic term for any overlay color proof.
  • Color Model
    Way of categorizing and describing the infinite array of colors found in nature.
  • Color Separation
    (1) Technique of using a camera, scanner or computer to divide continuous-tone color images into four halftone negatives. (2) The product resulting from color separating and subsequent four-color process printing. Also called separation.
  • Color Sequence
    Order in which inks are printed. Also called laydown sequence and rotation.
  • Color Shift
    Change in image color resulting from changes in register, ink densities or dot gain during four-color process printing.
  • Color Transparency
    Film (transparent) used as art to perform color separations.
  • Comb Bind
    To bind by inserting the teeth of a flexible plastic comb through holes punched along the edge of a stack of paper. Also called plastic bind and GBC bind (a brand name).
  • Composite Art
    Mechanical on which copy for reproduction in all colors appears on only one surface, not separated onto overlays. Composite art has a tissue overlay with instructions that indicate color breaks.
  • Composite Proof
    Proof of color separations in position with graphics and type. Also called final proof, imposition proof and stripping proof.
  • Composition
    (1) In typography, the assembly of typographic elements, such as words and paragraphs, into pages ready for printing. (2) In graphic design, the arrangement of type, graphics and other elements on the page.
  • Comprehensive Dummy
    Simulation of a printed piece complete with type, graphics and colors. Also called color comprehensive and comp.
  • Condition
    To keep paper in the pressroom for a few hours or days before printing so that its moisture level and temperature equal that in the pressroom. Also called cure, mature and season.
  • Contact Platemaker
    Device with lights, timing mechanism and vacuum frame used to make contact prints, duplicate film, proofs and plates. Also called platemaker and vacuum frame.
  • Continuous-tone Copy
    All photographs and those illustrations having a range of shades not made up of dots, as compared to line copy or halftones. Abbreviated contone.
  • Contrast
    The degree of tones in an image ranging from highlight to shadow.
  • Converter
    Business that makes products such as boxes, bags, envelopes and displays.
  • Cover
    Thick paper that protects a publication and advertises its title. Parts of covers are often described as follows: Cover 1=outside front; Cover 2=inside front; Cover 3=inside back, Cover 4=outside back.
  • Cover Paper
    Category of thick paper used for products such as posters, menus, folders and covers of paperback books.
  • Coverage
    Extent to which ink covers the surface of a substrate. Ink coverage is usually expressed as light, medium or heavy.
  • Creep
    Phenomenon of middle pages of a folded signature extending slightly beyond outside pages. Also called feathering, outpush, push out and thrust. See also Shingling.
  • Crop or Trim Marks
    Thin lines at the corners of an image, page, or artwork that indicate where the material should be trimmed after printing. Bleeding elements extend beyond these marks.
  • Crossover
    Type or art that continues from one page of a book or magazine across the gutter to the opposite page. Also called bridge, gutter bleed and gutter jump.
  • Cure
    To dry inks, varnishes or other coatings after printing to ensure good adhesion and prevent setoff.
  • Customer Service Representative
    Employee of a printer, service bureau, separator or other business who coordinates projects and keeps customers informed. Abbreviated CSR.
  • Cut Sizes
    Paper sizes used with office machines and small presses.
  • Cutting Die
    Usually a custom ordered item to trim specific and unusual sized printing projects.
  • Cyan
    One of the four process colors. Also known as process blue.
  • Debossing
    A finishing method using a metal die to press shapes or text into paper or cardstock to create a lowered surface.
  • Deckle Edge
    Edge of paper left ragged as it comes from the papermaking machine instead of being cleanly cut. Also called feather edge.
  • Densitometer
    Instrument used to measure density. Reflection densitometers measure light reflected from paper and other surfaces; transmission densitometers measure light transmitted through film and other materials.
  • Density
    (1) Regarding ink, the relative thickness of a layer of printed ink. (2) Regarding color, the relative ability of a color to absorb light reflected from it or block light passing through it. (3) Regarding paper, the relative tightness or looseness of fibers.
  • Density Range
    Difference between the darkest and lightest areas of copy. Also called contrast ratio, copy range and tonal range.
  • Device Independent Colors
    Hules identified by wavelength or by their place in systems such as developed by CIE. 'Device independent' means a color can be described and specified without regard to whether it is reproduced using ink, projected light, photographic chemistry or any other method.
  • Die
    Device for cutting, scoring, stamping, embossing and debossing.
  • Die Cut
    To cut irregular shapes in paper or paperboard using a die.
  • Die Line
    A vector line element of a template that indicates a cut (trim), score (fold), or perforation.
  • Digital Printing
    A printing method that sends digital information directly to a printing device to transfer an image to a variety of media. Toner-based digital presses as well as wide, grand, and flatbed inkjet are all forms of digital printing. This printing method is most suitable for low- to medium-volume quantities, oversized, and variable data work.
  • Digital Proofing
    Page proofs produced through electronic memory transferred onto paper via laser or ink-jet.
  • Direct Digital Color Proof
    Color proof made by a laser, ink jet printer or other computer-controlled device without needing to make separation films first. Abbreviated DDCP.
  • Dog Ear
    A letter fold at the side of one of the creases, an indentation occurs.
  • Dot Gain
    Phenomenon of halftone dots printing larger on paper than they are on films or plates, reducing detail and lowering contrast. Also called dot growth, dot spread and press gain.
  • Dots-per-inch
    Measure of resolution of input devices such as scanners, display devices such as monitors, and output devices such as laser printers, imagesetters and monitors. Abbreviated DPI. Also called dot pitch.
  • Double Bump
    Applying two layers of ink to provide scuff resistance and color richness. This usually applies to large fields of spot color and will cause a slightly darker or richer color due to extra ink density.
  • Doubling
    Printing defect appearing as blurring or shadowing of the image. Doubling may be caused by problems with paper, cylinder alignment, blanket pressures or dirty cylinders.
  • DPI
    Dots per inch. This is a measurement of printing device resolution. Higher resolutions can achieve higher quality results.  
  • Drawdown
    Sample of inks specified for a job applied to the substrate specified for a job. Also called pulldown.
  • Drill
    In the printing arena, to drill a whole in a printed matter.
  • Dropout
    Halftone dots or fine lines eliminated from highlights by overexposure during camera work.
  • Dry Back
    Phenomenon of printed ink colors becoming less dense as the ink dries.
  • Dry Trap
    To print over dry ink, as compared to wet trap.
  • Dual-purpose Bond Paper
    Bond paper suitable for printing by either lithography (offset) or xerography (photocopy). Abbreviated DP bond paper.
  • Dull Finish
    Flat (not glossy) finish on coated paper; slightly smoother than matte. Also called suede finish, velour finish and velvet finish.
  • Dull Strike-Through
    A finishing method employing a dull spot varnish and a flood coat of gloss aqueous coating. The flood of aqueous rolls off of the solvent-based varnish and only sticks to the uncoated areas of the paper sheet creating a dull background with gloss elements (spots) or the opposite if designed in that manner.
  • Dummy
    Simulation of the final product. Also called mockup.
  • Duotone
    Black-and-white photograph reproduced using two halftone negatives, each shot to emphasize different tonal values in the original.
  • Duplex Paper
    Thick paper made by pasting highlights together two thinner sheets, usually of different colors. Also called double-faced paper and two-tone paper.
  • Duplicator
    Offset press made for quick printing.
  • Embossing
    A finishing method using a metal die to press shapes or text into paper or cardstock to create a raised surface.
  • End Sheet
    Sheet that attaches the inside pages of a case bound book to its cover. Also called pastedown or end papers.
  • Engraving
    Printing method using a plate, also called a die, with an image cut into its surface.
  • EPS
    Encapsulated Post Script, a known file format usually used to transfer post script information from one program to another.
  • Equivalent Paper
    Paper that is not the brand specified, but looks, prints and may cost the same. . Also called comparable stock.
  • Etch
    To use chemicals to carve an image into metal, glass or film.
  • Face
    Edge of a bound publication opposite the spine. Also called foredge. Also, an abbreviation for typeface referring to a family of a general style.
  • Fake Duotone
    Halftone in one ink color printed over screen tint of a second ink color. Also called dummy duotone, dougraph, duplex halftone, false duotone, flat tint halftone and halftone with screen.
  • Fast Color Inks
    Inks with colors that retain their density and resist fading as the product is used and washed.
  • Felt Finish
    Soft woven pattern in text paper.
  • Felt Side
    Side of the paper that was not in contact with the Fourdrinier wire during papermaking, as compared to wire side.
  • Fifth Color
    Ink color used in addition to the four needed by four-color process.
  • Film Laminate
    Thin sheet of plastic bonded to a printed product for protection or increased gloss.
  • Fine Papers
    Papers made specifically for writing or commercial printing, as compared to coarse papers and industrial papers. Also called cultural papers and graphic papers.
  • 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 Color
    (1) Any color created by printing only one ink, as compared to a color created by printing four-color process. Also called block color and spot color. (2) color that seems weak or lifeless.
  • Flat Plan (Flats)
    Diagram of the flats for a publication showing imposition and indicating colors.
  • Flat Size
    Size of product after printing and trimming, but before folding, as compared to finished size.
  • Flood
    To print a sheet completely with an ink or varnish. flooding with ink is also called painting the sheet.
  • Flush Cover
    Cover trimmed to the same size as inside pages, as compared to overhang cover. Also called cut flush
  • Flyleaf
    Leaf, at the front and back of a casebound book that is the one side of the end paper not glued to the case.
  • Foil Emboss
    To foil stamp and emboss an image. Also called heat stamp.
  • Foil Stamping
    A method that uses heat, pressure, metal dies, and foil film to transfer inks or foils onto a document.
  • Fold Marks
    With printed matter, markings indicating where a fold is to occur, usually located at the top edges.
  • Folder
    A bindery machine dedicated to folding printed materials.
  • Foldout
    Gatefold sheet bound into a publication, often used for a map or chart. Also called gatefold and pullout.
  • Folio (page number)
    The actual page number in a publication.
  • For Position Only
    Refers to inexpensive copies of photos or art used on mechanical to indicate placement and scaling, but not intended for reproduction. Abbreviated FPO.
  • Form
    Each side of a signature. Also spelled forme.
  • Form bond
    Lightweight bond, easy to perforate, made for business forms. Also called register bond.
  • 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.
  • Free Sheet
    Paper made from cooked wood fibers mixed with chemicals and washed free of impurities, as compared to groundwood paper. Also called woodfree paper.
  • French Fold
    A printed sheet, printed one side only, folded with two right angle folds to form a four page uncut section.
  • Full-range Halftone
    Halftone ranging from 0 percent coverage in its highlights to 100 percent coverage in its shadows.
  • Full-scale Black
    Black separation made to have dots throughout the entire tonal range of the image, as compared to half-scale black and skeleton black. Also called full-range black.
  • Galley Proof
    Proof of type from any Source, whether metal type or photo type. Also called checker and slip proof.
  • Gang
    (1) To halftone or separate more than one image in only one exposure. (2) To reproduce two or more different printed products simultaneously on one sheet of paper during one press run. Also called combination run.
  • Gate Fold
    A sheet that folds where both sides fold toward the gutter in overlapping layers.
  • Gathered
    Signatures assembled next to each other in the proper sequence for binding, as compared to nested. Also called stacked.
  • Ghost Halftone
    Normal halftone whose density has been reduced to produce a very faint image.
  • Ghosting
    (1) Phenomenon of a faint image appearing on a printed sheet where it was not intended to appear. Chemical ghosting refers to the transfer of the faint image from the front of one sheet to the back of another sheet. Mechanical ghosting refers to the faint image appearing as a repeat of an image on the same side of the sheet. (2) Phenomenon of printed image appearing too light because of ink starvation.
  • Gilding
    Mostly in the book arena, gold leafing the edges of a book.
  • Gloss
    Consider the light reflecting on various objects in the printing industry (e.g., paper, ink, laminates, UV coating, varnish).
  • Gloss Ink
    Ink used and printed on coated stock (mostly litho and letterpress) such as the ink will dry without penetration.
  • Grade
    General term used to distinguish between or among printing papers, but whose specific meaning depends on context. Grade can refer to the category, class, rating, finish or brand of paper.
  • Graduated Screen Tint
    Screen tint that changes densities gradually and smoothly, not in distinct steps. Also called degrade, gradient, ramped screen and vignette.
  • Grain Direction
    Predominant direction in which fibers in paper become aligned during manufacturing. Also called machine direction.
  • Grain Long Paper
    Paper whose fibers run parallel to the long dimension of the sheet. Also called long grain paper and narrow web paper.
  • Grain Short Paper
    Paper whose fibers run parallel to the short dimension of the sheet. Also called short grain paper and wide web paper.
  • Grammage
    Basis weight of paper in grams per square meter (gsm).
  • Gray Balance
    Printed cyan, magenta and yellow halftone dots that accurately, reproduce a neutral gray image.
  • Gray Component Replacement
    Technique of replacing gray tones in the yellow, cyan and magenta films, made while color separating, with black ink. Abbreviated GCR. Also called achromatic color removal.
  • Grind Edge
    Alternate term for binding edge when referring to perfect bound products.
  • Grindoff
    Approximately 1/8 inch (3 mm) along the spine that is ground off gathered signatures before perfect binding.
  • Gripper Edge
    Edge of a sheet held by grippers on a sheetfed press, thus going first through the press. Also called feeding edge and leading edge.
  • Groundwood Paper
    Newsprint and other inexpensive paper made from pulp created when wood chips are ground mechanically rather than refined chemically.
  • GSM
    The unit of measurement for paper weight (grams per square meter).
  • Gutter
    In the book arena, the inside margins toward the back or the binding edges.
  • Hairline (Rule)
    Subjective term referring to very small space, thin line or close register. The meaning depends on who is using the term and in what circumstances.
  • Half-scale Black
    Black separation made to have dots only in the shadows and midtones, as compared to full-scale black and skeleton black.
  • Halftone
    (1) To photograph or scan a continuous tone image to convert the image into halftone dots. (2) A photograph or continuous-tone illustration that has been halftoned and appears on film, paper, printing plate or the final printed product.
  • Halftone Screen
    Piece of film or glass containing a grid of lines that breaks light into dots. Also called contact screen and screen.
  • Halo Effect
    Faint shadow sometimes surrounding halftone dots printed. Also called halation. The halo itself is also called a fringe.
  • Hard Dots
    Halftone dots with no halos or soft edges, as compared to soft dots.
  • Hard Mechanical
    Mechanical consisting of paper and/or acetate and made using paste-up techniques, as compared to electronic mechanical.
  • Head-to-tail
    Imposition with heads (tops) of pages facing tails (bottoms) of other pages.
  • Hem
    Additional material added to the edge of sewn products to fold over and sew a finished edge. Bleed needs to be extended over the hem if printed elements run to the edge of your design.
  • Hickey
    Spot or imperfection in printing, most visible in areas of heavy ink coverage, caused by dirt on the plate or blanket. Also called bulls eye and fish eye.
  • High-key Photo
    Photo whose most important details appear in the highlights.
  • Highlights
    Lightest portions of a photograph or halftone, as compared to midtones and shadows.
  • Hinged Cover
    Perfect bound cover scored 1/8 inch (3mm) from the spine so it folds at the hinge instead of, along the edge of the spine.
  • HLS
    Abbreviation for hue, lightness, saturation, one of the color-control options often found in software, for design and page assembly. Also called HVS.
  • Hot Spot
    Printing defect caused when a piece of dirt or an air bubble caused incomplete draw-down during contact platemaking, leaving an area of weak ink coverage or visible dot gain.
  • House Sheet
    Paper kept in stock by a printer and suitable for a variety of printing jobs. Also called floor sheet.
  • Hue
    A specific color such as yellow or green.
  • Image Area
    The actual area on the printed matter that is not restricted to ink coverage,
  • Imposition
    Arrangement of pages on mechanicals or flats so they will appear in proper sequence after press sheets are folded and bound.
  • Impression
    (1) Referring to an ink color, one impression equals one press sheet passing once through a printing unit. (2) Referring to speed of a press, one impression equals one press sheet passing once through the press.
  • Imprint
    To print new copy on a previously printed sheet, such as imprinting an employee's name on business cards. Also called surprint.
  • In-Plant Printer
    Department of an agency, business or association that does printing for a parent organization. Also called captive printer and in-house printer.
  • Ink Holdout
    Characteristic of paper that prevents it from absorbing ink, thus allowing ink to dry on the surface of the paper. Also called holdout.
  • Ink Jet Printing
    Method of printing by spraying droplets of ink through computer-controlled nozzles. Also called jet printing.
  • Inner Form
    Form (side of the press sheet) whose images all appear inside the folded signature, as compared to outer form.
  • Inserts
    Within a publication, an additional item positioned into the publication loose (not bound in).
  • Interleaves
    Printed pages loosely inserted in a publication.
  • K
    Abbreviation for black in four-color process printing. Hence the 'K' in CMYK.
  • Key
    (1) The screw that controls ink flow from the ink fountain of a printing press. (2) To relate loose pieces of copy to their positions on a layout or mechanical using a system of numbers or letters. (3) Alternate term for the color black, as in 'key plate.'
  • Key Negative or Plate
    Negative or plate that prints the most detail, thus whose image guides the register of images from other plates. Also called key printer.
  • Keylines
    Lines on a mechanical or negative showing the exact size, shape and location of photographs or other graphic elements. Also called holding lines.
  • Kiss Die Cut
    To die cut the top layer, but not the backing layer, of self-adhesive paper. Also called face cut.
  • Kiss Impression
    Lightest possible impression that will transfer ink to a Substrate.
  • Kraft Paper
    Strong paper used for wrapping and to make grocery bags and large envelopes.
  • Laid Finish
    Finish on bond or text paper on which grids of parallel lines simulate the surface of handmade paper. Laid lines are close together and run against the grain; chain lines are farther apart and run with the grain.
  • Laminate
    A thin transparent plastic sheet (coating) applied to usually a thick stock (covers, post cards, etc.) providing protection against liquid and heavy use, and usually accents existing color, providing a glossy (or lens) effect.
  • Landscape
    Artist style in which width is greater than height. (Portrait is opposite.) ",Lap Register"
  • Laser Bond
    Bond paper made especially smooth and dry to run well through laser printers.
  • Laser-imprintable Ink
    Ink that will not fade or blister as the paper on which it is printed is used in a laser printer.
  • Lay Flat Bind
    Method of perfect binding that allows a publication to lie fully open. (Also known as Lay Flat Perfect Binding.) ",Lay Edge"
  • Leading
    Amount of space between lines of type.
  • Leaf
    One sheet of paper in a publication. Each side of a leaf is one page.
  • Ledger Paper
    Strong, smooth bond paper used for keeping business records. Also called record paper.
  • Legend
    Directions about a specific matter (illustrations) and how to use. In regard to maps and tables, an explanation of signs (symbols) used.
  • 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.
  • Letter Paper
    In North America, 8 1/2' x 11' sheets. In Europe, A4 sheets.
  • Lightweight Paper
    Book paper with basis weight less than 40# (60 gsm).
  • Line Copy
    Any high-contrast image, including type, as compared to continuous-tone copy. Also called line art and line work.
  • Linen Finish
    Embossed finish on text paper that simulates the pattern of linen cloth.
  • Live Area
    Area on a mechanical within which images will print. Also called safe area.
  • Loose Proof
    Proof of a halftone or color separation that is not assembled with other elements from a page, as compared to composite proof. Also called first proof, random proof, scatter proof and show-color proof.
  • Looseleaf
    Binding method allowing insertion and removal of pages in a publication (e.g., trim-4-drill-3).
  • Low Key Photo
    Photo whose most important details appear in the shadows.
  • M Weight
    Weight of 1,000 sheets of paper in any specific size.
  • Machine Glazed (MG)
    Paper holding a high-gloss finish only on one side.
  • Magenta
    One of the four process colors.
  • Makeready
    (1) All activities required to prepare a press or other machine to function for a specific printing or bindery job, as compared to production run. Also called setup. (2) Paper used in the makeready process at any stage in production. Makeready paper is part of waste or spoilage.
  • Male Die
    Die that applies pressure during embossing or debossing. Also called force card.
  • Margin
    Imprinted space around the edge of the printed material.
  • Mark-Up
    Instructions written usually on a "dummy."
  • Mask
    To prevent light from reaching part of an image, therefore isolating the remaining part. Also called knock out.
  • Matte Finish
    Flat (not glossy) finish on photographic paper or coated printing paper.
  • Mechanical
    Camera-ready assembly of type, graphic and other copy complete with instructions to the printer. A hard mechanical consists of paper and/or acetate, is made using paste-up techniques, and may also be called an artboard, board or paste-up. A soft mechanical, also called an electronic mechanical, exists as a file of type and other images assembled using a computer.
  • Mechanical Bind
    To bind using a comb, coil, ring binder, post or any other technique not requiring gluing, sewing or stitching.
  • Mechanical Separation
    Color breaks made on the mechanical using a separate overlay for each color to be printed.
  • Mechanical Tint
    Lines or patterns formed with dots creating artwork for reproduction.
  • Metallic Ink
    Ink containing powdered metal or pigments that simulate metal.
  • Metallic Paper
    Paper coated with a thin film of plastic or pigment whose color and gloss simulate metal.
  • Midtones
    In a photograph or illustration, tones created by dots between 30 percent and 70 percent of coverage, as compared to highlights and shadows.
  • Mil 1/1000 Inch
    The thickness of plastic films as printing substrates are expressed in mils.
  • Misting
    Phenomenon of droplets of ink being thrown off the roller train. Also called flying ink.
  • Mock Up
    A reproduction of the original printed matter and possibly containing instructions or direction.
  • Moire
    Undesirable pattern resulting when halftones and screen tints are made with improperly aligned screens, or when a pattern in a photo, such as a plaid, interfaces with a halftone dot pattern.
  • Mottle
    Spotty, uneven ink absorption. Also called sinkage. A mottled image may be called mealy.
  • Native Files
    The default file format that an application uses to create or save files.
  • Neutral Gray
    Gray with no hue or cast.
  • News Print
    Paper used in printing newspapers. Considered low quality and "a short life use."
  • Nonimpact Printing
    Printing using lasers, ions, ink jets or heat to transfer images to paper.
  • Offset Printing
    A printing method that involves transferring an image to a metal plate and onto a rubber blanket, then finally onto the surface of a variety of media. This printing method is most suitable for high-volume quantities.
  • Opacity
    (1) Characteristic of paper or other substrate that prevents printing on one side from showing through the other side. (2) Characteristic of ink that prevents the substrate from showing through.
  • Opaque
    (1) Not transparent. (2) To cover flaws in negative with tape or opaquing paint. Also called block out and spot.
  • Outer form
    Form (side of a press sheet) containing images for the first and last pages of the folded signature (its outside pages) as compared to inner form.
  • Over Run
    Additional printed matter beyond order. Overage policy varies in the printing industry. Advance questions avoid blind knowledge.
  • Overprint
    To print one image over a previously printed image, such as printing type over a screen tint. Also called surprint.
  • Page
    One side of a leaf in a publication.
  • Page Count
    Total number of pages that a publication has. Also called extent.
  • Page Proof
    Proof of type and graphics as they will look on the finished page complete with elements such as headings, rules and folios.
  • Pagination
    In the book arena, the numbering of pages.
  • Panel
    One page of a brochure, such as one panel of a rack brochure. One panel is on one side of the paper. A letter-folded sheet has six panels, not three.
  • Pantone
    A spot color (named color) system for matching colors used in pre-mixed offset printing inks in addition to the standard CMYK inks. Pantone is also used as a default color communication tool for digital content creation and digital print matching, although all digital printing uses some form of process color printing not formulated printing inks. The color model of the Pantone system exceeds both CMYK and RGB color models and contains colors that cannot be exactly matched in CMYK and RGB. This system is commonly referred to as PMS (Pantone Matching System).
  • Parallel Fold
    Method of folding. Two parallel folds to a sheet will produce 6 panels.
  • PE
    Proofreader mark meaning printer error and showing a mistake by a typesetter, prepress service or printer as compared to an error by the customer.
  • Perf Marks
    On a "dummy" marking where the perforation is to occur.
  • Perfect Bind
    To bind sheets that have been ground at the spine and are held to the cover by glue. Also called adhesive bind, cut-back bind, glue bind, paper bind, patent bind, perfecting bind, soft bind and soft cover. See also Burst Perfect Bind.
  • Perfecting Press
    Press capable of printing both sides of the paper during a single pass. Also called duplex press and perfector.
  • 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 (usually straight lines, vertical or horizontal).
  • Pica
    A unit of measure in the printing industry. A pica is approximately 0.166 in. There are 12 points to a pica.
  • Picking
    Phenomenon of ink pulling bits of coating or fiber away from the surface of paper as it travels through the press, thus leaving unprinted spots in the image area.
  • Pickup Art
    Artwork, used in a previous job, to be incorporated in a current job.
  • Pinholing
    Small holes (unwanted) in printed areas because of a variety of reasons.
  • Pixel
    Short for picture element, a dot made by a computer, scanner or other digital device. Also called pel.
  • Plate
    Piece of paper, metal, plastic or rubber carrying an image to be reproduced using a printing press.
  • Pleasing Color
    Color that the customer considers satisfactory even though it may not precisely match original samples, scenes or objects.
  • PMS
    Obsolete reference to Pantone Matching System. The correct trade name of the colors in the Pantone Matching System is Pantone colors, not PMS Colors.
  • Point
    (1) Regarding paper, a unit of thickness equating 1/1000 inch. (2) Regarding type, a unit of measure equaling 1/12 pica and .013875 inch (.351mm).
  • Portrait
    An art design in which the height is greater than the width. (Opposite of Landscape.) ",Position Stat"
  • Post Bind
    To bind using a screw and post inserted through a hole in a pile of loose sheets.
  • PPI
    Pixels per inch. A measurement of digital file resolution. Higher values can produce higher quality results. PPI is often miscommunicated as DPI.
  • Prepress
    Camera work, color separations, stripping, platemaking and other prepress functions performed by the printer, separator or a service bureau prior to printing. Also called preparation.
  • Preprint
    To print portions of sheets that will be used for later imprinting.
  • Press Check
    Event at which makeready sheets from the press are examined before authorizing full production to begin.
  • Printer Pairs
    Usually in the book arena, consecutive pages as they appear on a flat or signature.
  • Printer Spreads
    Mechanicals made so they are imposed for printing, as compared to reader spreads.
  • Process Color (Inks)
    The colors used for four-color process printing: yellow, magenta, cyan and black.
  • Production Run
    Press run intended to manufacture products as specified, as compared to makeready.
  • Proof
    Test sheet made to reveal errors or flaws, predict results on press and record how a printing job is intended to appear when finished.
  • Proofreader Marks
    Standard symbols and abbreviations used to mark up manuscripts and proofs. Also called correction marks.
  • Publishing Paper
    Paper made in weights, colors and surfaces suited to books, magazines, catalogs and free-standing inserts.
  • 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.
  • Quarto
    (1) Sheet folded twice, making pages one-fourth the size of the original sheet. A quarto makes an 8-page signature. (2) Book made from quarto sheets, traditionally measuring about 9' x 12'.
  • Rag Paper
    Stationery or other forms of stock having a strong percentage content of "cotton rags."
  • Raster Art/Image
    Digital artwork or images composed of horizontal and vertical rows of pixels. Resolution dependent for print and display quality.
  • Raster Image Processor
    Device that translates page description commands into bitmapped information for an output device such as a laser printer or imagesetter.
  • Reader Spread
    Mechanicals made in two page spreads as readers would see the pages, as compared to printer spread.
  • Ream
    500 sheets of paper.
  • Recycled Paper
    New paper made entirely or in part from old paper.
  • Register
    To place printing properly with regard to the edges of paper and other printing on the same sheet. Such printing is said to be in register.
  • Register Marks
    Cross-hair lines on mechanicals and film that help keep flats, plates, and printing in register. Also called crossmarks and position marks.
  • Registration
    Alignment of ink separations, coatings, and/or other finishing methods to one another. If they align properly, they are “in registration.” Finishes like UV coating or even a die cut can register to printed elements.
  • Repeatability
    Ability of a device, such as an imagesetter, to produce film or plates that yield images in register.
  • Resolution
    Image – The amount of pixels in an image or other raster art. Expressed in PPI (pixels per inch). Image resolution is a factor of image reproduction quality, but not a sole judgment how it will reproduce.Print Devices – (offset press plates and digital printers) The amount of screen dots in a raster image. Expressed in DPI (dots per inch).
  • Reverse
    Type, graphic or illustration reproduced by printing ink around its outline, thus allowing the underlying color or paper to show through and form the image. The image 'reverses out' of the ink color. Also called knockout and liftout.
  • RGB
    The color model of computer monitors, image scanners, digital photos, and content intended to be displayed on device displays. RGB content is comprised of red, green, and blue pixels and is converted to CMYK for printing. The RGB color model is visually more vibrant and exceeds the printable colors in the CMYK color model.
  • Right Reading
    Copy that reads correctly in the language in which it is written. Also describes a photo whose orientation looks like the original scene, as compared to a flopped image.
  • Round Back Bind
    To casebind with a rounded (convex) spine, as compared to flat back bind.
  • Rule
    Line used as a graphic element to separate or organize copy.
  • Saddle Stitch
    To bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine, as compared to side stitch. Also called pamphlet stitch, saddle wire and stitch bind.
  • Satin Finish
    Alternate term for dull finish on coated paper.
  • Scale
    To identify the percent by which photographs or art should be enlarged or reduced to achieve, the correct size for printing.
  • Scoring
    The process of using a metal die to make a crease in paper so it will fold easily.
  • Screen Tint
    Color created by dots instead of solid ink coverage. Also called Benday, fill pattern, screen tone, shading, tint and tone.
  • Self Cover
    Usually in the book arena, a publication not having a cover stock. A publication only using text stock throughout.
  • Self Mailer
    A printed item independent of an envelope. A printed item capable of travel in the mailing arena independently.
  • Separations
    Usually in the four-color process arena, separate film holding qimages of one specific color per piece of film. Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Can also separate specific PMS colors through film.
  • Setoff
    Undesirable transfer of wet ink from the top of one sheet to the underside of another as they lie in the delivery stack of a press. Also called offset.
  • Shade
    Hue made darker by the addition of black, as compared to tint.
  • Shadows
    Darkest areas of a photograph or illustration, as compared to midtones and high-lights.
  • Sheetfed Press
    Press that prints sheets of paper, as compared to a web press.
  • Sheetwise
    Technique of printing one side of a sheet with one set of plates, then the other side of the sheet with a set of different plates. Also called work and back.
  • Shingling
    Allowance, made during paste-up or stripping, to compensate for creep. Creep is the problem; shingling is the solution. Also called stair stepping and progressive margins.
  • Side stitch
    To bind by stapling through sheets along, one edge, as compared to saddle stitch. Also called cleat stitch and side wire.
  • Signature
    Printed sheet folded at least once, possibly many times, to become part of a book, magazine or other publication.
  • Size
    Compound mixed with paper or fabric to make it stiffer and less able to absorb moisture.
  • Slip Sheets
    Separate sheets (stock) independent from the original run positioned between the "printed run" for a variety of reasons.
  • Soft Dots
    Halftones dots with halos.
  • Solid
    Any area of the sheet receiving 100 percent ink coverage, as compared to a screen tint.
  • Soy-based Inks
    Inks using vegetable oils instead of petroleum products as pigment vehicles, thus are easier on the environment.
  • Specially Printer
    Printer whose equipment, supplies, work flow and marketing is targeted to a particular category of products.
  • Specifications
    Complete and precise written description of features of a printing job such as type size and leading, paper grade and quantity, printing or binding method. Abbreviated specs.
  • Spectrophotometer
    Instrument used to measure the index of refraction of color.
  • Specular Highlight
    Highlight area with no printable dots, thus no detail, as compared to a diffuse highlight. Also called catchlight and dropout highlight.
  • Spine
    Back or binding edge of a publication ",Spiral Bind"
  • Split Run
    (1) Different images, such as advertisements, printed in different editions of a publication. (2) Printing of a book that has some copies bound one way and other copies bound another way.
  • Spoilage
    Paper that, due to mistakes or accidents, must be thrown away instead of delivered printed to the customer, as compared to waste.
  • Spot Color or Varnish
    A premixed ink or varnish used on an offset printing press to produce a color unattainable with process color printing. Often used to print brand colors.
  • Spread
    (1) Two pages that face each other and are designed as one visual or production unit. (2) Technique of slightly enlarging the size of an image to accomplish a hairline trap with another image. Also called fatty.
  • Standard Viewing Conditions
    Background of 60 percent neutral gray and light that measures 5000 degrees Kelvin the color of daylight on a bright day. Also called lighting standards.
  • Step and Repeat
    Prepress technique of exposing an image in a precise, multiple pattern to create a flat or plate. Images are said to be stepped across the film or plate.
  • Stock Order
    Order for paper that a mill or merchant sends to a printer from inventory at a warehouse, as compared to a mill order.
  • Stocking Paper
    Popular sizes, weights and colors of papers available for prompt delivery from a merchant's warehouse.
  • Strip
    To assemble images on film for platemaking. Stripping involves correcting flaws in film, assembling pieces of film into flats and ensuring that film and flats register correctly. Also called film assembly and image assembly.
  • Stumping (Blocking)
    In the book arena, hot die, foil or other means in creating an image on a case bound book.
  • Substrate
    Any surface or material on which printing is done.
  • Subtractive Color
    Color produced by light reflected from a surface, as compared to additive color. Subtractive color includes hues in color photos and colors created by inks on paper.
  • Subtractive Primary Color
    Yellow, magenta and cyan. In the graphic arts, these are known as process colors because, along with black, they are the inks colors used in color-process printing.
  • Swash Book
    A book in a variety of forms, indicating specific stock in specific colors in a specific thickness.
  • SWOP
    Abbreviation for specifications for web offset publications, specifications recommended for web printing of publications.
  • Tabloid
    Using a broadsheet as a measure, one half of a broadsheet.
  • Tagged Image File Format
    Computer file format used to store images from scanners and video devices. Abbreviated TIFF.
  • Target Ink Densities
    Densities of the four process inks as recommended for various printing processes and grades of paper. See also Total Area Coverage.
  • Technical Ink
    A spot color swatch used to indicate position and create a non-color production separation for finishing treatments like coatings, dies, or elements for position only (FPO).
  • Template
    Concerning a printing project's basic details in regard to its dimensions. A standard layout.
  • Text Paper
    Designation for printing papers with textured surfaces such as laid or linen. Some mills also use 'text' to refer to any paper they consider top-of-the-line, whether or not its surface has a texture.
  • Thumbnails
    Initial ideas jotted on virtually anything in regard to initial concept of a future project.
  • Tint
    Screening or adding white to a solid color for results of lightening that specific color.
  • Tip In
    Usually in the book arena, adding an additional page(s) beyond the normal process (separate insertion).
  • Tone Compression
    Reduction in the tonal range from original scene to printed reproduction.
  • Total Area Coverage
    Total of the dot percentages of the process colors in the final film. Abbreviated for TAC. Also called density of tone, maximum density, shadow saturation, total dot density and total ink coverage.
  • Touch Plate
    Plate that accents or prints a color that four-color process printing cannot reproduce well enough or at all. Also called kiss plate.
  • Transparency
    Positive photographic image on film allowing light to pass through. Also called chrome, color transparency and tranny. Often abbreviated TX.
  • Trap
    To print one ink over another or to print a coating, such as varnish, over an ink. The first liquid traps the second liquid. See also Dry Traps and Wet Traps.
  • Trim Size
    The size of the printed material in its finished stage (e.g., the finished trim size is 5 12 x 8 12).
  • Uncoated Paper
    Paper that has not been coated with clay. Also called offset paper.
  • Unsharp Masking
    Technique of adjusting dot size to make a halftone or separation appear sharper (in better focus) than the original photo or the first proof. Also called edge enhancement and peaking.
  • Up
    Term to indicate multiple copies of one image printed in one impression on a single sheet. "Two up" or "three up" means printing the identical piece twice or three times on each sheet.
  • UV Coating
    A process of applying a transparent liquid coating to a printed paper surface and immediately curing it with UV light. UV coatings are most commonly applied in a gloss finish, but are also available in dull, textured, raised, and other finishes and special effects. UV coating can be applied to specific elements as spot coating or flooded over an entire surface. UV gloss finish is usually a higher gloss finish than varnish adding an eye catching flare.  
  • Value
    The shade (darkness) or tint (lightness) of a color. Also called brightness, lightness, shade and tone.
  • Varnish
    A solvent-based, transparent finish applied on offset press like an ink. Varnish is most commonly available in gloss and dull finishes and can be applied to specific elements as spot coating or flooded over an entire surface. Generally, a varnish finish applies a stronger effect than aqueous coating, but not as pronounced as a UV coating.
  • Vector Art
    Digital artwork drawn with geometric points, lines, and shapes, allowing the art to be scaled or modified without losing quality or resolution.
  • Vellum Finish
    Somewhat rough, toothy finish.
  • Vignette
    Decorative design or illustration fade to white.
  • Virgin Paper
    Paper made exclusively of pulp from trees or cotton, as compared to recycled paper.
  • Waste
    Unusable paper or paper damage during normal makeready, printing or binding operations, as compared to spoilage.
  • Watermark
    Translucent logo in paper created during manufacturing by slight embossing from a dandy roll while paper is still approximately 90 percent water.
  • Web Press
    Press that prints from rolls of paper, usually cutting it into sheets after printing. Also called reel-fed press. Web presses come in many sizes, the most common being mini, half, three quarter (also called 8-pages) and full (also called 16-pages).
  • Wet Trap
    To print ink or varnish over wet ink, as compared to dry trap.
  • Window
    (1) In a printed product, a die-cut hole revealing an image on the sheet behind it. (2) On a mechanical, an area that has been marked for placement of a piece of artwork.
  • Wire Side
    Side of the paper that rests against The Fourdrinier wire during papermaking, as compared to felt side.
  • With the Grain
    Parallel to the grain direction of the paper being used, as compared to against the grain. See also Grain Direction.
  • Woodfree Paper
    Made with chemical pulp only. Paper usually classified as calendered or supercalendered.
  • Wove
    Paper manufactured without visible wire marks, usually a fine textured paper.
Share This