Glossary of Basic Printing Terms:
Aqueous Coating: A water-based process applied on the press after all the inks have been laid down, to prevent scuffing, dirt and moisture.
Bitmap: Computer image made up of nothing but pixels. Usually created in Adobe Photoshop. Also known as raster image.
Bleed: A printed area that extends beyond the trimmed edge of a printed piece. Bleed areas generally range from 1/8 " to 1/4" (3.175mm to 6.35mm). Bleeds are necessary in order to prevent any showing of the edge of the paper when a printed piece is being trimmed.
Blueline: A photographic print made from plate-ready negatives used as a proof to show positioning of images, cropping, and page sequence.
Boldface: A font that is darker and heavier than the rest of the text with which it is used. A good example of boldface is the word "boldface" in this paragraph.
Bond: Grade of paper used for photocopying, envelopes, and flyers.
Caption: A word, phrase, or sentence that is placed next to a photograph, illustration, or other image as a means of describing it.
Cromalin: Color proofing system made from layered colored films exposed from the job's negatives.
CMYK: Stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The primary ink colors that are used in full-color printing. Also known as four-color process.
Coated Paper: paper with a smooth and sometimes glossy finish created by applying a clay coating to the surface.
Color Bars: Strip of colors printed on the edge of color proofs and press sheets to check registration and ink density.
Color Sequence: Order in which inks are printed. Also called laydown sequence and rotation.
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).
Commercial Printer: Printer producing a wide range of products such as announcements, brochures, posters, booklets, stationery, business forms, books and magazines. Also called job printer because each job is different.
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.
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.
Coverage: Extent to which ink covers the surface of a substrate. Ink coverage is usually expressed as light, medium or heavy.
Crop Marks: Lines near the edges of an image indicating portions to be reproduced. Also called cut marks and tic 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.
Customer Service Representative: Employee of a printer, service bureau, separator or other business who coordinates projects and keeps customers informed. Abbreviated CSR.
Data Compression: Technique of reducing the amount of storage required to hold a digital file to reduce the disk space the file requires and allow it to be processed or transmitted more quickly.
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.
Desktop Publishing: Technique of using a personal computer to design images and pages, and assemble type and graphics, then using a laser printer or imagesetter to output the assembled pages onto paper, film or printing plate. Abbreviated DTP.
Die: Device for cutting, scoring, stamping, embossing and debossing.
Die Cut: To cut irregular shapes in paper or paperboard using a die.
Digital Proofing: Page proofs produced through electronic memory transferred onto paper via laser or ink-jet.
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 Burn: To expose film or a plate twice to different negatives and thus create a composite image.
DPI: Considered as "dots per square inch," a measure of output resolution in relationship to printers, imagesetters and monitors.
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.
Encapsulated PostScript file: Computer file containing both images and PostScript commands. Abbreviated EPS file.
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.
EP: Abbreviation for envelope.
EPS: Encapsulated Post Script, a known file format usually used to transfer post script information from one program to another.
Estimate: Price that states what a job will probably cost. Also called bid, quotation and tender.
Feeding Unit: Component of a printing press that moves paper into the register unit.
Fifth Color: Ink color used in addition to the four needed by four-color process.
Film Gauge: Thickness of film. The most common gauge for graphic arts film is 0.004 inch (0.1 mm).
Fine Screen: Screen with ruling of 150 lines per inch (80 lines per centimeter) or more.
Finished Size: Size of product after production is completed, as compared to flat size. Also called trimmed size.
Fit: Refers to ability of film to be registered during stripping and assembly. Good fit means that all images register to other film for the same job.
Flat Size: Size of product after printing and trimming, but before folding, as compared to finished size.
Flexography: Method of printing on a web press using rubber or plastic plates with raised images. Also called aniline printing because flexographic inks originally used aniline dyes. Abbreviated flexo.
Flood: To print a sheet completely with an ink or varnish. flooding with ink is also called painting the sheet.
Foil Emboss: To foil stamp and emboss an image. Also called heat stamp.
Foil Stamp: Method of printing that releases foil from its backing when stamped with the heated die. Also called block print, hot foil stamp and stamp.
Folder: A bindery machine dedicated to folding printed materials.
Fold Marks: With printed matter, markings indicating where a fold is to occur, usually located at the top edges.
Form: Each side of a signature. Also spelled forme.
Format: Size, style, shape, layout or organization of a layout or printed product.
Form Roller(s): Roller(s) that come in contact with the printing plate, bringing it ink or water.
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.
Fountain: Trough or container, on a printing press, that holds fluids such as ink, varnish or water. Also called duct.
Fountain Solution: Mixture of water and chemicals that dampens a printing plate to prevent ink from adhering to the nonimage area. Also called dampener solution.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Graphic Arts: The crafts, industries and professions related to designing and printing on paper and other substrates.
Graphic Arts Film: Film whose emulsion yields high contrast images suitable for reproduction by a printing press, as compared to continuous-tone film. Also called litho film and repro film.
Graphic Design: Arrangement of type and visual elements along with specifications for paper, ink colors and printing processes that, when combined, convey a visual message.
Graphics: Visual elements that supplement type to make printed messages more clear or interesting.
Gravure: Method of printing using metal cylinders etched with millions of tiny wells that hold ink.
Gray Balance: Printed cyan, magenta and yellow halftone dots that accurately, reproduce a neutral gray image.
Gray Levels: Number of distinct gray tones that can be reproduced by a computer.
Gray Scale: Strip of gray values ranging from white to black. Used by process camera and scanner operators to calibrate exposure times for film and plates. Also called step wedge.
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.
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.
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.
Head-to-tail: Imposition with heads (tops) of pages facing tails (bottoms) of other pages.
Heat-set Web: Web press equipped with an oven to dry ink, thus able to print coated paper.
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-fidelity Color: Color reproduced using six, eight or twelve separations, as compared to four-color process.
Highlights: Lightest portions of a photograph or halftone, as compared to midtones and shadows.
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.
Image Area: The actual area on the printed matter that is not restricted to ink coverage,
Imagesetter: Laser output device using photosensitive paper or film.
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.
Impression Cylinder: Cylinder, on a press, that pushes paper against the plate or blanket, thus forming the image. Also called impression roller.
Imprint: To print new copy on a previously printed sheet, such as imprinting an employee's name on business cards. Also called surprint.
Ink Fountain: Reservoir, on a printing press, that holds ink.
Ink Jet Printing: Method of printing by spraying droplets of ink through computer-controlled nozzles. Also called jet printing.
Inserts: Within a publication, an additional item positioned into the publication loose (not bound in).
Job Number: A number assigned to a specific printing project in a printing company for use in tracking and historical record keeping.
Job Ticket: Form used by service bureaus, separators and printers to specify production schedule of a job and the materials it needs. Also called docket, production order and work order.
Jogger: A vibration machine with a slopping platform to even-up stacks of printed materials.
K: Abbreviation for black in four-color process printing. Hence the 'K' in CMYK.
Keylines: Lines on a mechanical or negative showing the exact size, shape and location of photographs or other graphic elements. Also called holding lines.
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.
Landscape: Artist style in which width is greater than height. (Portrait is opposite.)
Layout: A sample of the original providing (showing) position of printed work (direction, instructions) needed and desired.
Leading: Amount of space between lines of type.
Leaf: One sheet of paper in a publication. Each side of a leaf is one page.
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.
Letterpress: Method of printing from raised surfaces, either metal type or plates whose surfaces have been etched away from image areas. Also called block printing.
Linen Finish: Embossed finish on text paper that simulates the pattern of linen cloth.
Lithography: Method of printing using plates whose image areas attract ink and whose nonimage areas repel ink. Nonimage areas may be coated with water to repel the oily ink or may have a surface, such as silicon, that repels ink.
Live Area: Area on a mechanical within which images will print. Also called safe area.
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.
Mask: To prevent light from reaching part of an image, therefore isolating the remaining part. Also called knock out.
Match Print: A form of a four-color-process proofing system.
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.
Metallic Ink: Ink containing powdered metal or pigments that 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.
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.
Offset Printing: Printing technique that transfers ink from a plate to a blanket to paper instead of directly from plate to paper.
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.
Overlay: Layer of material taped to a mechanical, photo or proof. Acetate overlays are used to separate colors by having some type or art on them instead of on the mounting board. Tissue overlays are used to carry instructions about the underlying copy and to protect the base art.
Overprint: To print one image over a previously printed image, such as printing type over a screen tint. Also called surprint.
Pagination: In the book arena, the numbering of pages.
Paper Plate: A printing plate made of strong and durable paper in the short run offset arena (cost effective with short runs).
Paste-up: To paste copy to mounting boards and, if necessary, to overlays so it is assembled into a camera-ready mechanical. The mechanical produced is often called a paste-up.
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.
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.
Perf Marks: On a "dummy" marking where the perforation is to occur.
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.
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.
Platemaker: (1) In quick printing, a process camera that makes plates automatically from mechanicals. (2) In commercial lithography, a machine with a vacuum frame used to expose plates through film.
Plate-ready Film: Stripped negatives or positives fully prepared for platemaking.
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.)
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.
Price Break: Quantity at which unit cost of paper or printing drops.
Printer Spreads: Mechanicals made so they are imposed for printing, as compared to reader spreads.
Process Camera: Camera used to photograph mechanicals and other camera-ready copy. Also called copy, camera and graphic arts camera. A small, simple process camera may be called a stat camera.
Process Color (Inks): The colors used for four-color process printing: yellow, magenta, cyan and black.
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.
Proportion Scale: Round device used to calculate percent that an original image must by reduced or enlarged to yield a specific reproduction size. Also called percentage wheel, proportion dial, proportion wheel and scaling wheel.
Publishing Paper: Paper made in weights, colors and surfaces suited to books, magazines, catalogs and free-standing inserts.
Quotation: Price offered by a printer to produce a specific job.
Raster Image Processor: Device that translates page description commands into bitmapped information for an output device such as a laser printer or imagesetter. Also known as RIP
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 Marks: Cross-hair lines on mechanicals and film that help keep flats, plates, and printing in register. Also called crossmarks and position marks.
Resolution: Sharpness of an image on film, paper, computer screen, disc, tape or other medium.
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: Abbreviation for red, green, blue, the additive color primaries.
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.
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.
Scanner: Electronic device used to scan an image.
Score: To compress paper along a straight line so it folds more easily and accurately. Also called crease.
Screen Angles: Angles at which screens intersect with the horizontal line of the press sheet. The common screen angles for separations are black 45 degree, magenta 75 degree, yellow 90 degree and cyan 105 degree.
Screen Density: Refers to the percentage of ink coverage that a screen tint allows to print. Also called screen percentage.
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.
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.
Signature: Printed sheet folded at least once, possibly many times, to become part of a book, magazine or other publication.
Slip Sheets: Separate sheets (stock) independent from the original run positioned between the "printed run" for a variety of reasons.
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.
Spectrophotometer: Instrument used to measure the index of refraction of color.
Spine: Back or binding edge of a publication
Spiral Bind: To bind using a spiral of continuous wire or plastic looped through holes. Also called coil bind.
Spoilage: Paper that, due to mistakes or accidents, must be thrown away instead of delivered printed to the customer, as compared to waste.
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.
Stat: Short for photostat, therefore a general term for an inexpensive photographic print of line copy or halftone.
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.
Substrate: Any surface or material on which printing is done.
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.
Tag: Grade of dense, strong paper used for products such as badges and file folders.
Tagged Image File Format: Computer file format used to store images from scanners and video devices. Abbreviated TIFF.
Thermography: Method of printing using colorless resin powder that takes on the color of underlying ink. Also called raised printing.
Tint: Screening or adding white to a solid color for results of lightening that specific color.
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.
Trade Shop: Service bureau, printer or bindery working primarily for other graphic arts professionals, not for the general public.
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 1\2 x 8 1\2).
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: Liquid applied to a printed sheet, then bonded and cured with ultraviolet light.
Varnish: Liquid applied as a coating for protection and appearance.
Velox: Brand name for high-contrast photographic paper.
Viewing Booth: Small area or room that is set up for proper viewing of transparencies, color separations or press sheets. Also called color booth. See also Standard Viewing Conditions.
Vignette: Decorative design or illustration fade to white.
Wash Up: To clean ink and fountain solutions from rollers, fountains, screens, and other press components.
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).
Wove: Paper manufactured without visible wire marks, usually a fine textured paper.
Wrong Reading: An image that is backwards when compared to the original. Also called flopped and reverse reading.