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.
Paper sizes used as standard in the UK. A0 is one square metre, A1 is half of A0, A2 is half of A1 etc.
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.
The digital representation of the printed product, the file we print from.
Black and white.
A range of sizes, similar to, but bigger than both A sizes and SRA sizes.
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 is a lightweight paper usually under 50gsm.
Process of fastening together loose pages, this is commonly done with either stitched, perfect and wiro binding.
A grid of pixels or printed dots generated by computer to represent text, images etc. Also known as Raster files.
A rubber sheet which transfers ink from a plate to the paper on a press.
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.
A logo, text or design that has been relief stamped into a sheet of paper, onto which no printing ink has been added.
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.
This is basic uncoated paper which is most commonly used for copying or with laser printers.
Bulk packed on pallets.
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.
Paper that has been put through heavy rollers during the manufacturing process in order to achieve a completely smooth finish.
Section sewn books bound with hard board covers.
Process by which an image is separated into the four colours (CMYK) for print production.
The pages are bound together using a plastic comb, this type of binding enables pages to be opened completely flat.
The four colours that make up a standard set of inks used on a modern lithographic press. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Key (Black).
In line water-based surface coating that protects the ink from rubbing and enables quick handling.
The process of bringing together multiple elements of a job. Also used to describe bringing together multiple pages in the correct order.
Mechanically creasing a printed job will make folding the sheets easier.
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.
Printed lines on the edge of paper indicating where the paper should be cut to produce the correct page size.
Text or image that continue from the left-hand page of a book across the spine on to the right hand page.
Computer to Plate. This term refers to the practice of transferring an image onto a plate using laser technology.
Print is cut out to a specific shape (this includes rounded corners).
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.
A process to cut, score of perforate a flat printed sheet using a metal cutter.
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.
An on screen dummy copy of a publication which is used to check the running order and proofread the publication on screen.
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.
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.
Testing the printed colours before going to press.
Refers to holes being made in a product.
This is a plain white mock up without any printing, using the same paper and finishing process as your final product.
Printing both sides of a material in one pass, often used by clients to describe double sided print.
A loose cover to protect the boards on a case bound book.
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.
Printed or plain sheets of paper that attach the inside pages of a book to its cover.
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.
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.
Page leaves at the front and end of a hardback book. These are pasted to the inside front and back covers.
Delivery is not included in the price.
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.
A physical product produced by an imagesetter from the artwork and are used to create the printing plate through a photochemical process.
Size of product after production is completed, as compared to flat size.
What follows the printing process, whether that is creasing, folding, stitching, binding or anything else.
Size of product before production is completed. The size of the product laid flat (e.g. 6pp DL Flat size would be A4).
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.
Book or booklet having the cover trimmed to the same size as the text.
An off line process to attach foil in a predetermined shape to the printed page.
The page number.
The outer edge of a bound publication opposite the spine.
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’.
Two folds at right angles to each other – also known as cross fold.
The Forest Stewardship Council trademark provides international recognition to organisations that support the growth of responsible forest management.
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).
Direction in which the majority of the fibres in a piece of paper or board are aligned.
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.
Shades of grey ranging from black to white, in litho greyscale is achieved with only one plate.
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 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.
Expandable portion of a pocket folder or an envelope.
The line or the fold where two facing pages meet.
A perforation line usually running across the page but not to the full width of the page.
This is the process used to produce a range of tones such as on a photograph or tinted area by using varying size dots.
The terms used for imperfections in printing often but not always due to debris in the ink or paper.
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.
Portion of the paper where the ink is.
A device that plots high res bitmaps/raster files which have been processed by the RIP. This can include text, images and graphics.
The process of arranging pages correctly on the flat sheet prior to printing so that when folded the pages appear in the correct order.
Postal information places on a printed product taking the place of a stamp.
The printing standard determines the colour of the CMYK inks and the dot gain allowed on the print sheet.
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.
The process of shaking a stack of papers either on machine or by hand so that the edges line up. Also called ‘knocking up’.
A light die cut that cuts through the first layer but leaves the base substrate uncut. Commonly used for peel off stickers.
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.
A thin plastic film used on the covers of printed literature to give protection, with a choice of matt or gloss appearance.
The lead time is how long it takes to get a delivery after placing and approving an order.
A sheet of paper containing two pages, one on either side.
the term given to a blank sheet of paper.
This refers to correx and other corrugated boards, long flute is where the flute runs along the longest side of the print.
A book that is not bound, also known as collated sets.
A term referring to the process of preparing a printing press for its run.
A non glossy finish.
Specialist coating process providing high levels of contrast between pre-selected areas of matt and gloss on the finished pages.
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.
a very finely cut perforated edge designed to simulate the effect of a guillotine cut edge.
A piece of measuring equipment that measures the thickness of paper. (mic NOT gsm)
A measurement to indicate the thickness of paper as against grammage which is a measurement for weight only.
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.
An abbreviation of ‘No Carbon Required’ NCR pads are used for handwritten forms that require duplicate copies.
The pressure point in between two rollers.
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.
Extra copies printed above that requested by the client.
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.
A wooden frame used to transport large volumes of print.
Total number of pages, including blanks.
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.
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.
Book binding that holds the paper to the spine using glue. This is the most common method for magazines and paperback books.
Printing both sides of the substrate in the same pass through the printing press.
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.
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.
Camera work, colour separations, stripping, plate making and other prepress functions required prior to printing.
These are marks used by printers to ensure your colours are correct as well as marking where to trim and fold elements.
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.
A sample of work to be checked for errors in text, positioning or quality of colour reproduction.
A colour specified by it’s make up of CMYK
Different colours for CMYK
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)
Similar to perfect binding but this is more expensive and has superior strength.
A cost to produce a specific job, the price is calculated on the basis of the specification provided by the client.
When you open a book, the right-hand page.
250 sheets of paper.
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.
Crosses or other marks which are on the artwork to ensure perfect alignment of colours. Also known as trim or crop marks.
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.
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.
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.
Raster Image Processor converts a digital file into dots that can be imaged onto a plate. The RIP creates the bitmap/raster file.
A varnish which is applied all over the printed surface unlike spot UV which is only applied to specific areas.
A formation of dots making up a four-colour image. The dots overlap each other in this cluster giving the appearance of a rosette.
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.
Binding a magazine or small booklet with a wire stitch (staple) through the fold.
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.
A process of transferring ink to the printing surface by squeezing it through a fine sheet of fabric that is stretched across a frame.
The folded sheet that is folded with others to make a book. Larger pieces of paper will create multiple sections as they are folded.
A cover made out of the same paper stock as the text pages.
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.
The digital file which holds the finished artwork is separated using software into the 4 CMYK colours that the press is capable of printing.
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.
A sheet-fed press prints by picking up one sheet of stock at a time and is the most common type of press.
This refers to correx or other corrugated boards, short flute is where the flute runs along the shortest side of the print.
The degree to which printing is visible through the paper due to low opacity of the paper.
An even colour, which is not shaded. Areas on a page with solid colours are known as solids.
These are specifically mixed colours that are outside the CMYK colour range and require specialist inks.
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.
A paper size slightly larger than A sizes but smaller than B sizes.
A type of binding usually using two metal staples.
Stock is the printing term that refers to the type of material you are printing on, usually paper or board.
Any material on which printing is done, usually used when describing something other than paper or board.
Supplied as individual pieces of print.
Multiple items (labels) will be supplied on the same sheet.
Reverse printing onto a clear material, meaning that the print itself is not exposed to the environment.
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.
It is possible to use just three of the four CMYK colours; Cyan, Magenta & Yellow.
An insert attached to a publication by gluing along the binding edge.
The process of overlapping adjacent colours to eliminate the white lines that could appear between them during the print process.
Once printed the sheets are cut (square) to the specific size.
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.
This adds a gloss finish to printed services and is cured with an ultraviolet light.
An extra ink that is transparent can be used to protect the wet colour inks sitting on the surface of the paper.
Fade to white of illustration or colour in which the tones gradually fade away.
When you open a booklet, the left-handed page.
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.
Type appearing white on a black or colour background, which is either a solid or a tint. Also known as Reversed Out.
Binding pages together with wire.
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.
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.
stationery and can be compared to Laid Paper.
4 colours printed on one side only.
4 colours printed on one side and 1 colour on the reverse.
4 colours on one side and 2 colours on the reverse.
4 colours printed on both sides.
The full print job combines 2 different parts.
The number of items printed on one sheet of paper.