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Jargon Buster

Come across a print term that you’re not sure about? Find the answer here, in your dedicated jargon buster tool. From the simple to the complex, we’ve compiled all the specialised print lingo we can think of and put it in one convenient space just for you. Get to grips with all of these terms and you can navigate print conversations with confidence!

Search for a specific term or browse our A-Z function to find the vocabulary you need.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9


  • A Size

    Paper sizes used as standard in the UK. A0 is one square metre, A1 is half of A0, A2 is half of A1 etc.

  • Art Paper

    This paper is available in both gloss and matt, art paper would typically be used for jobs that require a fine finish due to their smooth filled surface.

  • Artwork (A/W)

    The digital representation of the printed product, the file we print from.


  • B & W

    Black and white.

  • B Size

    A range of sizes, similar to, but bigger than both A sizes and SRA sizes.

  • Backed Up

    This refers to the second side of a sheet being printed. Alternatively a white back up on a clear/coloured stock, is white ink placed behind the image to make it more vibrant.

  • Bank

    Bank is a lightweight paper usually under 50gsm.

  • Binding

    Process of fastening together loose pages, this is commonly done with either stitched, perfect and wiro binding.

  • Bitmap

    A grid of pixels or printed dots generated by computer to represent text, images etc. Also known as Raster files.

  • Blanket

    A rubber sheet which transfers ink from a plate to the paper on a press.

  • Bleed

    The printed area extends beyond the trim edge of a sheet or page. We use bleed to ensure that if the cut is off by a couple of millimetres there is no white edge if the colour goes right to the edge.

  • Blind Emboss

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

  • Blind Embossing

    A process which stamps a raised (or depressed – see deboss) image into the surface of the paper, usually done with pressure and heat, to make it stand out. Blind embossing specifically refers to embossing an unprinted sheet. Or embossing on an area of no ink.

  • Bond

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

  • BPOP

    Bulk packed on pallets.

  • Bridge Book

    A pantone book that shows colours as they appear as a spot colour v how they appear out of full colour. Used to show the client how close their 4 colour breakdown will appear to their original spot colour.


  • Calendared Paper

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

  • Case Binding

    Section sewn books bound with hard board covers.

  • Colour Separation

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

  • Comb Binding

    The pages are bound together using a plastic comb, this type of binding enables pages to be opened completely flat.

  • CMYK

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

  • Coating

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

  • Collating

    The process of bringing together multiple elements of a job. Also used to describe bringing together multiple pages in the correct order.

  • Crease

    Mechanically creasing a printed job will make folding the sheets easier.

  • Creep

    When you fold multiple pieces of paper and arrange them as you would a stitched book, the inner pages will be longer than the outer ones. We adjust the pages to make sure this doesn’t happen.

  • Crop Marks

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

  • Cross Over

    Text or image that continue from the left-hand page of a book across the spine on to the right hand page.

  • CTP

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

  • Cut to Shape

    Print is cut out to a specific shape (this includes rounded corners).


  • Deboss

    A process after the printing process which stamps a depressed or (raised – see emboss) image into the surface of the paper, usually done with pressure and heat, to make it stand out.

  • Die Cut

    A process to cut, score of perforate a flat printed sheet using a metal cutter.

  • Digital Printing

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

  • Digital Proof

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

  • Dot Gain

    When dots print larger than intended, resulting in darker colours. Caused by the spreading of ink on the paper, more common on uncoated due to the absorbency of the stock. Different inks can increase/reduce the amount of dot gain.

  • DPI

    Stands for Dot Per Inch which refers to the frequency of dots appearing on the plate, the more dots per inch the higher quality the print. DPI is restricted depending on process. Large format DPI will always be lower than small format.

  • Drawdown

    Testing the printed colours before going to press.

  • Drilling

    Refers to holes being made in a product.

  • Dummy

    This is a plain white mock up without any printing, using the same paper and finishing process as your final product.

  • Duplex

    Printing both sides of a material in one pass, often used by clients to describe double sided print.

  • Dust Jacket

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


  • Endorse Folding

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

  • Endpapers

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

  • Embedding Fonts

    Font embedding is the inclusion of font files inside an electronic document. If fonts are not imbedded then when text is printed it may differ from the PDF version.

  • Emboss

    A process after the printing process which stamps a raised (or depressed – see deboss) image into the surface of the paper, usually done with pressure and heat, to make it stand out.

  • End Papers

    Page leaves at the front and end of a hardback book. These are pasted to the inside front and back covers.

  • Ex works

    Delivery is not included in the price.


  • Face Print

    The ‘normal way of printing’ printing the same on a clear substrate as you would on a piece of paper. Images are to be applied, and read, from the same side of a window.

  • Films

    A physical product produced by an imagesetter from the artwork and are used to create the printing plate through a photochemical process.

  • Finished Size

    Size of product after production is completed, as compared to flat size.

  • Finishing

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

  • Flat Size

    Size of product before production is completed. The size of the product laid flat (e.g. 6pp DL Flat size would be A4).

  • Flood White

    A full coating of white ink acts as a base-coat for the colours printed on it, without the white background colours may not be as bright or vibrant. Commonly used on clear materials pvc/polyprop/vinyl etc.

  • Flush Cover

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

  • Foil Block

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

  • Folio

    The page number.

  • Fore Edge

    The outer edge of a bound publication opposite the spine.

  • Four Colour Process Printing

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

  • French Fold

    Two folds at right angles to each other – also known as cross fold.

  • FSC

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

  • FTP

    A site purposed to upload artwork files to so they are easily accessed by both parties. Often requested by clients transferring large, sensitive information, files (like banks).


  • Grain Direction

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

  • Gravure

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

  • Grey tone

    Shades of grey ranging from black to white, in litho greyscale is achieved with only one plate.

  • Grippers

    Metal fingers which hold paper and carry it through the press. We need to allow room around the edges of the paper to the finished print product to allow for the grippers.

  • GSM

    GSM is an acronym for Grams per Square Metre. Typically, photocopier paper would be around 80gsm, whilst letterhead paper might be 100gsm and a postcard 250gsm. An A0 is 1 square meter, so an A0 of 250gsm would weight 250g.

  • Gusset

    Expandable portion of a pocket folder or an envelope.

  • Gutter

    The line or the fold where two facing pages meet.


  • Half Perf

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

  • Halftone

    This is the process used to produce a range of tones such as on a photograph or tinted area by using varying size dots.

  • Hickies

    The terms used for imperfections in printing often but not always due to debris in the ink or paper.

  • Hybrid Screen

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


  • Image area

    Portion of the paper where the ink is.

  • Image Setter

    A device that plots high res bitmaps/raster files which have been processed by the RIP. This can include text, images and graphics.

  • Imposition

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

  • Indicia

    Postal information places on a printed product taking the place of a stamp.

  • ISO 12647

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


  • Job ticket

    A printed form that accompanies the job around the factory in traditional printers to give instructions as to how the job should be produced and track who has worked on that job.

  • Jog

    The process of shaking a stack of papers either on machine or by hand so that the edges line up. Also called ‘knocking up’.


  • Kiss Cut

    A light die cut that cuts through the first layer but leaves the base substrate uncut. Commonly used for peel off stickers.


  • Laid Paper

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

  • Laminate

    A thin plastic film used on the covers of printed literature to give protection, with a choice of matt or gloss appearance.

  • Lead Time

    The lead time is how long it takes to get a delivery after placing and approving an order.

  • Leaf

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

  • Leave/Sheet

    the term given to a blank sheet of paper.

  • Long Flute

    This refers to correx and other corrugated boards, long flute is where the flute runs along the longest side of the print.

  • Loose-Leaf

    A book that is not bound, also known as collated sets.


  • Make Ready

    A term referring to the process of preparing a printing press for its run.

  • Matt

    A non glossy finish.

  • Matt & Gloss Varnish

    Specialist coating process providing high levels of contrast between pre-selected areas of matt and gloss on the finished pages.

  • Metal Plate

    A metal sheet with a specially coated 'emulsion' on its surface which, when exposed through a film mask or by CTP process, will produce an image. When the plate is loaded onto a printing press it then reproduces this image using inks onto the paper.

  • Micro Perf

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

  • Micrometer

    A piece of measuring equipment that measures the thickness of paper. (mic NOT gsm)

  • Microns

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

  • Moire Pattern

    A grid-like pattern caused by the misalignment of dots on a printed document, caused by repeating patterns overlapping each other and giving the effect of an out of focus image.


  • NCR

    An abbreviation of ‘No Carbon Required’ NCR pads are used for handwritten forms that require duplicate copies.

  • Nip

    The pressure point in between two rollers.


  • Overprint

    To print one image over a previously printed image, such as printing type over a screen tint or running a printed letterhead through a desk top printer.

  • Overs

    Extra copies printed above that requested by the client.

  • Offset Printing

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


  • Pallet

    A wooden frame used to transport large volumes of print.

  • Page Count/Pagination.

    Total number of pages, including blanks.

  • Pantone

    A US brand that created a colour matching system that identifies a wide range of colours by number to ensure standard results across the printing industry. Premixed ink colours that are often specified for printing as a spot colour. Can be matched using CMYK but will not be exactly the same colour as its Pantone colour counterpart.

  • Paper Sizes

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

  • Perfect Binding

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

  • Perfecting

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

  • Plate

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

  • POD

    Proof of delivery, the time and date the item was delivered along with the name. A hard copy POD requires the image of the signature


    Print on demand, this means that print is placed as and when needed rather than ordering a bulk of a certain product and holding it in a warehouse until required.

  • Prepress

    Camera work, colour separations, stripping, plate making and other prepress functions required prior to printing.

  • Print Marks

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

  • Printing Plate

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

  • Proof

    A sample of work to be checked for errors in text, positioning or quality of colour reproduction.

  • Process Colour

    A colour specified by it’s make up of CMYK

  • Process Blue / Process Red / Process Yellow / Process Black.

    Different colours for CMYK

  • Proof

    A representation of the finished print product for the client to check for errors before the main print run. (Digital Proof – PDF) (Hard Copy/Wet Proof – Printed 1off)

  • Pur Binding

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


  • Quote

    A cost to produce a specific job, the price is calculated on the basis of the specification provided by the client.


  • Recto

    When you open a book, the right-hand page.

  • Ream

    250 sheets of paper.

  • Register

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

  • Registration Marks

    Crosses or other marks which are on the artwork to ensure perfect alignment of colours. Also known as trim or crop marks.

  • Resolution

    Refers to the degree of detail of an image. It is usually measured in dots per inch (dpi) or lines per inch (lpi). The level of detail in a document increases as the DPI/LPI does.

  • Reverse Print

    Clear materials can be reverse printed so that the print sits behind the clear material, this needs backing up with a flood white. Gives the appearance that the print is ‘on the sticky side’ allows it to be applied from the inside of a window to be read from the outside.

  • RGB

    Red, Green and Blue. This colour model is designed for use on computer monitors and colour video output systems. This needs to be converted to CMYK before printing.

  • RIP

    Raster Image Processor converts a digital file into dots that can be imaged onto a plate. The RIP creates the bitmap/raster file.

  • Rollercoat UV Varnish

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

  • Rosette

    A formation of dots making up a four-colour image. The dots overlap each other in this cluster giving the appearance of a rosette.

  • Run On

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


  • Saddle Stitch

    Binding a magazine or small booklet with a wire stitch (staple) through the fold.

  • Screening

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

  • Screen Printing

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

  • Section

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

  • Self-Cover

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

  • Self-Mailer

    A printed item independent of an envelope that is capable of travel independently through the postage system e.g. postcard or booklet with an address printed on.

  • Separations

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

  • Set-Off

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

  • Sheet Fed

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

  • Short Flute

    This refers to correx or other corrugated boards, short flute is where the flute runs along the shortest side of the print.

  • Show Through

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

  • Solid Colour

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

  • Special Colours

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

  • Spot Colour

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

  • SRA

    A paper size slightly larger than A sizes but smaller than B sizes.

  • Stitching

    A type of binding usually using two metal staples.

  • Stock

    Stock is the printing term that refers to the type of material you are printing on, usually paper or board.

  • Substrate

    Any material on which printing is done, usually used when describing something other than paper or board.

  • Supplied as Singles

    Supplied as individual pieces of print.

  • Supplied on Sheets

    Multiple items (labels) will be supplied on the same sheet.

  • Sub Surface Print

    Reverse printing onto a clear material, meaning that the print itself is not exposed to the environment.


  • Thread Sewn

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

  • Three Colour Printing

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

  • Tip In

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

  • Trapping

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

  • Trimmed to Size

    Once printed the sheets are cut (square) to the specific size.

  • Two Colour Printing

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


  • UV Varnishing

    This adds a gloss finish to printed services and is cured with an ultraviolet light.


  • Varnish

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

  • Vignette

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

  • Verso

    When you open a booklet, the left-handed page.


  • Web

    A web printing machine is a machine that can work with paper on the roll, known as the web. The high speed of these presses means they are only economical for high volume or long running jobs such as newspaper.

  • White Out

    Type appearing white on a black or colour background, which is either a solid or a tint. Also known as Reversed Out.

  • Wiro Bound

    Binding pages together with wire.

  • Work & Turn

    This is a cost effective way of printing both sides of a sheet without needing to change the printing plates. The whole job will be printed on one side of the sheet, and then the sheets are flipped over (from gripper to back) and printed on again.

  • Work & Tumble

    This is a cost effective way of printing both sides of a sheet without needing to change the printing plates. The whole job will be printed on one side of the sheet, and then the sheets are flipped over (from right to left) and printed on again.

  • Wove Paper

    stationery and can be compared to Laid Paper.





  • 4/0 (Four Back None)

    4 colours printed on one side only.

  • 4/1 (Four Back One)

    4 colours printed on one side and 1 colour on the reverse.

  • 4/2 (Four Back Two)

    4 colours on one side and 2 colours on the reverse.

  • 4/4 (Four Back Four)

    4 colours printed on both sides.

  • 2 Part Composite (3 Part, 4 Part, 5 Part...)

    The full print job combines 2 different parts.

  • 4 - Up, 3 - Up, 2 - Up

    The number of items printed on one sheet of paper.