Print Glossary Part 1

Jun 11, 2018 | Blog

Print Glossary Part 1

Print Glossary by Better Printing

We know sometimes it may seem as if we’re speaking an entirely different language; the terms we use can be nigh on impossible to understand if you’re not a print specialist.

So to help you out we’ve created a fairly comprehensive glossary of the printing terms you’re most likely to come across:


A thin flexible sheet of transparent plastic used to make overlays.


Against The Grain:
Running a sheet of paper through a printing press at right angles to the grain direction of the paper.

Art Paper:

A common term used to describe a range of smooth papers with a filled surface.

‘A’ sized paper:
Paper sizes are based on dimensions of a large A0 sheet. Letterheads are commonly produced on A4 sized paper.


A computer program designed for a particular use, for example word processors such as Microsoft Word or page layout applications, such as Quark Xpress or Adobe Indesign.

The process whereby all original photos, graphic images, text etc. that are needed to produce a design for your printed product, are made into a print-ready form.


Abbreviation for artwork.

Backing up:
Printing on the second side of a printed sheet.

Binding is process of fastening papers together.


A grid of pixels or printed dots, generated by computer, to represent type and images.


Thick rubber sheet that transfers ink from plate to paper on the press.

Blind Emboss:

An un-inked image is pressed into the back of a sheet, producing a raised ‘embossed’ image on the front of the sheet.


The area of a printed image or text etc. that extends beyond the trim edge of a sheet or page. A bleed may occur at the head, front, foot and/or gutter of a page.


A smooth transition between two colours; also known as a graduated tint or gradient.

Bond Paper:

A grade of paper suited for letterheads, business forms etc.

Case Bound:

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

Cast Coated:

A type of coated paper with a very high gloss enamel finish


A method of altering the thickness of a shape by over exposure in processing or, by means of a built-in option in some computer applications.


Are graphics saved in ready-to-use computer files. These are normally vector illustrations and not photographic images.

Clipping Path:

An outline, embedded into the file, that tells an application which areas of a picture should be considered transparent.


An abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black) which make up the four process colours. When combined together in varying proportions can be used to produce the full colour spectrum.


Gathering together sheets of paper from a book, magazine or brochure and placing them into the correct order.

Colour Separation:

Process by which a continuous tone colour image is separated into the four process colours (CMYK) for print production.

Concertina fold:

A method of folding in which each fold opens in the opposite direction to its neighbor, giving a concertina or pleated effect.

Continuous Stationery:

Forms or stationery products, are produced from reels of paper and then fan folded. These can be either single or multi-part forms.

Crash Number:

Numbering paper by pressing an image on the first sheet which is transferred to all parts of the printed set.

Crease (score):

To mechanically press a rule into heavy paper or board, enabling it to be folded without cracking.


A phenomenon that occurs when the middle pages of a folded section extend slightly beyond the outside pages.


Crop is to remove unwanted portions or trim the edges of a picture or page to make it fit.

Crop Marks:

Lines near the margins of artwork or photos indicating where to trim, perforate or fold.


Abbreviation of computer-to-plate; a process of imaging directly from a computer onto the plates used by a printing press.


One of the four process colours, also known as blue.


Is the opposite of embossing. An image is pressed into the front of the sheet of paper so it lies below the surface.


The degree of tone, weight of darkness or color within a photo or image.


Die cut is a process of using sharp metal rules on a wooden block to cut out specialised shapes from the print material, such as pocket folders or unusual shaped flyers etc.

Digital Printing:

A modern printing method that uses digital files, such as PDFs, instead of printing plates. This is the best option for short runs or personalized variable data products.

Digital Proof:

A high quality colour representation of the finished print, produced for customer inspection for errors that can be corrected prior to final printing.

Dot Gain:
A printing defect in which dots print larger than intended causing darker colours or tones. This is due to the spreading of ink on stock. The more absorbent the stock, the more dot gain.

(Dots per inch):
A measure of the quality of an image from a scanner or output resolution of a printer. The more dots per inch, the higher the quality will be.

A method of enhancing a mono/ black and white image using two colours.


Drilling of holes into a product which will allow its insertion over rings or posts in a binder or folder.


A mock-up made to resemble the final printed product which uses the proposed grade, weight, finish and colour of paper.


Implies the permanent inclusion of elements and data into a computer file. This is necessary in order to maintain or change particular elements when the file is used remotely.


A process performed after printing to stamp a raised image into the surface of paper; using engraved metal embossing dies, extreme pressure, and heat. Embossing styles include blind, deboss and foil-embossed.


An acronym for Encapsulated PostScript, a computer file format widely used by the printing and graphics industries.

File Format:

The system by which data is held in a particular type of computer file.


To align, evenly with a margin. E.g. along the left or right edge of a typeset page.

Foil Stamping:

Foiling is a metallic finish, applied by specialist equipment.


One of a range of styles/typefaces in which lettering can be produced during the type setting stage, e.g. Times New Roman.

Four Colour Process
(CMYK or full colour):
Reproduction of full-colour photographs or art with the four basic colours of ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, black).


Font Matching / Font Substitution:
A sometimes undesirable process- when a chosen font is not available, the closest possible match is used, sometimes causing reflow of the text or other errors.

Full Colour (CMYK or Four Colour Process):
Reproduction of full-colour photographs or art with the four basic colours of ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, black).


Paper weight is measured in grams per square metre (GSM)

Graphic File:

General term used for a computer file containing a picture: photographic image, illustration etc.


Shades of grey ranging from black to white; in printing, greyscale appears only on the black plate.


Metal fingers which hold paper and carry it through printing impression to the delivery end of the press.


Expandable portion of a pocketed folder or envelope.


The blank inside margin, line or fold at which facing pages meet.


Using small dots to produce a continuous-tone image. The effect is achieved by varying the dot size and the number of dots per square inch.

Head Margin:
The white space above the first line on a page.


Spot or imperfection in printing.


A specific colour e.g yellow or green.

Image Area:

Portion of paper where ink appears.

Positioning pages in a press-ready form so that they will be in the correct numerical sequence after folding and aligned with the margins.


… that’s all for now folks. Come back next week to read the second half of the glossary or to download a completed PDF version.

Remember at Better Printing we’re always here to help. If you need any advice or guidance just contact our friendly and helpful staff today on 023 8087 8037 or email:

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