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We take great pride in making our clients feel confident about their jobs during the production process. To help you gain a better understanding of what’s happening to your project, we’ve compiled a glossary of terms commonly used in our industry.

  • Accordion Fold

    A type of paper folding in which each fold runs in the opposite direction to the previous fold, creating a pleated or accordion effect.

  • Air

    Large white areas in a design layout.

  • Alignment

    The condition of type and or art materials as they level up on a horizontal or vertical line.

  • Arc Light

    A light source produced by the passing of electric current between two electrodes; used in the production of plates in photolithography.

  • Artwork

    Any materials or images that are prepared for graphic reproduction.

  • Back To Back

    Print applied to both sides of a sheet of paper, also referred to two-sided or duplex

  • Background

    The portion of a photograph or drawing that appears furthest from the eye; the surface upon which the main image is superimposed.

  • Balance

    A term used to describe the aesthetic or harmony of elements, whether they are photos, art, or copy, within a layout or design.

  • Banner

    The primary headline usually spanning the entire width of a page.
    Also, a large sign usually used as a form of advertisement.

  • Barrier Coat

    A coating that is applied onto the non-printing side of paper to add to the opacity of that paper. Reference, opacity.

  • Bas Relief

    A three-dimensional impression is which the image stands just slightly out from the flat background.
    Reference: blind emboss

  • Base Line

    This is a term used to describe the imaginary, horizontal line upon which stand capitals, lower case letters, punctuation points, etc.

  • Basis Weight

    The weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to a given standard size for that particular paper grade.

  • Bearoff

    The adjusting of spacing of type in order to correct the justification.

  • Binder's Board

    A heavy paperboard with a cloth covering that is used for hardback binding of books.

  • Binding

    Various methods of securing folded sections together and/or fastening them to a cover to form single copies of a book.

  • Black Letter

    An old style of typeface used in Germany in the 15th century, also referred to as Old English (US) and Gothic (UK).

  • Blanket

    On offset presses, a fabric-reinforced sheet of rubber to transfer the impression from the plate onto the paper.

  • Blanket To Blanket Press

    A printing method in which there are two blanket cylinders through which a sheet of paper is passed and printed on both sides.

  • Bleed

    Extra ink area that crosses trim line, used to allow for variations that occur when the reproduction is trimmed or die-cut.

  • Blind Emboss

    A design or bas relief impression that is made without using inks or metal foils.

  • Blistering

    Although seemingly dry, paper does contain approximately 5% moisture. In cases where there is excessive moisture and the paper is passed through a high heat-drying chamber, the moisture within the paper actually boils and causes a bubble or blistering effect.

  • Block Resistance

    The resistance of coated papers to blocking. Reference, blocking.

  • Blow-up

    Any enlargement of photos, copies, or line art.

  • Blue-Line

    Photographic proof made from flats for checking accuracy, layout, and imposition before plates are made. Also known as a dylux.

  • Body

    The thickness or viscosity of printer's ink.

  • Boilerplate

    Repetitive blocks of type that are picked up and included routinely without recreating them.

  • Bond

    A grade of durable writing, printing, and typing paper.

  • Book Block

    A term given to the unfinished stage of bookmaking when the pages are folded, gathered, and stitched-in but not yet cover bound.

  • Bounce

    A registration problem, usually on copiers, where the image appears to bounce back and forth. A bounce usually occurs in one direction depending on how the paper is passing through the machine.

  • Brocade

    A heavily embossed paper.

  • Brochure

    A pamphlet that is bound in booklet form.

  • Burn

    A term used in plate making to describe the amount of plate exposure time.

  • Caliper

    The measurement of thickness of paper expressed in thousandths of an inch or mils.

  • Camera Ready

    A term given to any copy, artwork etc., that is prepared for photographic reproduction.

  • Carbonate Paper

    A chemical pulp paper (calcium carbonate), used mostly for the printing of magazines.

  • Chancery Italic

    A 13th century handwriting style which is the roots of italic design.

  • Coated Stock

    Any paper that has a mineral coating applied after the paper is made, giving the paper a smoother finish.
    Coatings typically used are gloss and dull (also known as satin, silk, or matte).

  • Collate

    To gather sheets or signatures together in their correct order.

  • Colophon

    A printers or publishers identifying symbol or emblem.

  • Color Bars

    A color test strip, which is printed on the waste portion of a press sheet. It is a standardized (GATF-Graphic Arts Technical Foundation) process which allows a pressman to determine the quality of the printed material relative to ink density, registration, and dot gain. It also includes the Star Target, which is a similar system designed to detect inking problems.

  • Color Separating

    The processes of separating the primary color components for printing.

  • Column Gutter

    Space between two or more columns of type on one page.

  • Comb Binding

    A method of binding books whereby holes are drilled on the side closest the spine, and a wire or plastic grasping device is inserted to hold the pages together.
    Also called spiral binding.

  • Composition

    The assembly of characters into words, lines, and paragraphs of text or body matter for reproduction by printing.

  • Condensed Type

    A narrow, elongated type face.

  • Contrast

    The degree of tonal separation or gradation in the range from black to white.

  • Copy

    Refers to any typewritten material, art, photos etc., to be used for the printing process.

  • Cover

    A term describing a general type of thicker papers used for the covers of books, pamphlets, etc.

  • Creep

    The result of added thickness of folded sheets being behind one another in a folded signature. Outer edges of sheets creep away from back-most fold as more folded sheets are inserted inside the middle.

  • Crop

    To eliminate a portion of the art or copy. Usually indicated by crop marks.

  • Cross-over

    Elements that cross page boundaries and land on two consecutive pages.

  • Cutter

    Machine for accurately cutting paper items and stacks of paper to desired dimensions.

  • Cutting Die

    Sharp edged device, usually made of steel, to cut paper into a specific shape.

  • Cyan

    A shade of blue used in the four-color process; it reflects blue and green and absorbs red.

  • Dampening

    An essential part of the printing process whereby cloth covered rubber rollers distributes the dampening solution to the plate.

  • Deckle Edge

    The rough or feathered edge of paper when left untrimmed.

  • Densitometer

    An optical device used by printers and photographers to measure and control the density of color.

  • Density

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

  • Die

    Design, letters, or shapes cut into metal for stamping book covers or embossing.
    An engraved stamp used for impressing an image or design.

  • Die Cutting

    The process of cutting paper in a shape or design by the use of a wooden die or block in which are positioned steel rules in the shape of the desired pattern.

  • Display Type

    Any type that stands out from the rest of the type on a page which attracts attention of the reader.

  • Distribution Rollers

    In the printing process, the rubber coated rollers responsible for the distribution of ink from the fountain to the ink drum.

  • Dog Ear

    Occurs when you fold into a fold (such as a letter fold). At the side of one of the creases you get an indentation. It may look like a small inverted triangle.

  • Dot

    The smallest individual element of a halftone.

  • Dot Gain

    Darkening of halftone image due to ink absorption in paper causing halftone dots to enlarge.
    Term to describe the occurrence whereby dots are printing larger than they should.

  • Drier

    A term that describes any additives to ink which encourages the drying process.

  • Drill

    The actual drilling of holes into paper for ring or comb binding.

  • Drop Shadow

    A shadow image placed strategically behind an image to create the affect of the image lifting off the page.

  • Ductor Roller

    The roller between the inking and the dampening rollers.

  • Dull Finish

    Any matte finished paper.

  • Dummy

    A term used to describe the preliminary assemblage of copy and art elements to be reproduced in the desired finished product; also called a comp.

  • Duotone

    Color reproduction from monochrome original. Keyplate usually printed in dark color for detail, second plate printed in light flat tints. A two-color halftone reproduction generated from a one-color photo.

  • Duplex Paper

    Paper which has a different color or finish on each side.

  • Em

    A unit of measurement equaling 12 points or 4.5mm.

  • Embossed

    A method of paper finishing whereby a pattern is pressed into the paper when it is dry.

  • Enamel

    A term that describes a glossy coating on paper.

  • Felt Finish

    The smoother side of paper, usually a soft weave pattern used for book papers.

  • Finish

    The surface quality of paper.

  • Fluid Ink

    Also called liquid ink; ink with a low viscosity.

  • Flushed Pigment

    The results of combining a wet ink pigment with a varnish and having the wet pigment mix or transfer over to the varnish.

  • Foils

    Papers that have a surface resembling metal.

  • Fold Marks

    Markings at top edges that show where folds should occur.

  • Folder

    Machine used to fold signatures down into sections.

  • Form Rollers

    The rollers that come into direct contact with the plate of a printing press.

  • Fugitive inks

    Colors that lose tone and permanency when exposed to light.

  • Ganging

    The bundling of two or more different printing projects on the same sheet of paper.

  • Ghosting

    Image which appears as a lighter area on a subsequent print due to local blanket depressions from previous image areas on a letterpress rotary machine as well as on an offset press.

  • Gilding

    Sticking on gold leaf to edges of books with a liquid agent and made permanent with burnishing tools.

  • Gloss Ink

    Quick-drying, oil-based inks with low penetration qualities used on coated stock.

  • Graduated Screen

    An area of image where halftone dots range continuously from one density to another.

  • Grain

    Direction of fibers in a sheet of paper governing paper properties, such as increased size changes with relative humidity, across the grain, and better folding properties along the grain.

  • Gripper

    A series of metal fingers that hold each sheet of paper as it passes through the various stages of the printing process.

  • Groundwood

    Low cost papers such as newsprint made by the mechanical pulping process as opposed to chemical pulping and refining.

  • Gutter

    Space between pages in the printing frame of a book, or inside margin towards the back or binding edge.
    The blank space or margin between the type page and the binding of a book.

  • Hairline register

    Printing registration that lies within the range of plus or minus one half row of dots. It is the thinnest of the standard printers' rules.

  • Halftone

    Tone-graduated image composed of varying sized dots or lines, with equidistant centers.

  • Hard Dot

    The effect in a photograph where a dot has such a small degree of halation that the dot shows quite sharp.

  • Head Margin

    That space which lies between the top of the printed copy and the trimmed edge.

  • Highlights

    The lightest tones of a photo, printed halftone, or illustration.

  • Hollow

    That space on the spine of a case-bound book between the block of the book and the case binding.

  • House Sheet

    This is a term that refers to a paper that a printer keeps on hand in his shop.

  • IBC

    Inside back cover.

  • IFC

    Inside front cover.

  • Image Area

    That portion of the printing plate that carries the ink and prints on paper.

  • Imposition

    Arrangement of pages so that they print correctly on a press sheet, and the pages are in proper order when the sheets are folded.

  • Impression

    Product resulting from one cycle of printing machine.
    The pressure of the image carrier, whether it be the type, plate, or blanket, when it contacts the paper.

  • Indicia

    Markings pre-printed on mailing envelopes to replace the stamp.

  • Ink Fountain

    The device which stores and meters ink to the inking rollers.

  • Inserts

    Extra printed pages inserted loosely into printed pieces.

  • Jacket

    The paper cover sometimes called the "dust cover" of a hardbound book.

  • Job Number

    A number assigned to a printing project used for record keeping and job tracking. Also used to retrieve old jobs for reprints or reworking by customer.

  • Jog

    To vibrate a stack of finished pages so that they are tightly aligned for final trimming.

  • Kerning

    The narrowing of space between two letters so that they become closer and take up less space on the page.

  • Key Plate

    The printing plate that is used as a guide for the other plates in the color printing process; it usually has the most detail.

  • Kiss Impression

    A delicate printed impression, just heavy enough to be seen.

  • Kraft

    A coarse, unbleached paper used for printing and industrial products.

  • Lacquer

    A clear gloss coating applied to printed material for strength, appearance, and protection.

  • Laid Finish

    A parallel-lined paper that has a handmade look.

  • Lay Edge

    Edge of a sheet of paper being fed into a printing press.

  • Leaders

    The dots or dashes used in type to guide the eye from one set of type to the next.

  • Leading

    Space between lines of type; the distance in points between one baseline and the next.

  • Leaf Stamping

    A metal die, either flat or embossed, created from the image or copy, which is then heated to a specific temperature which allows the transfer of a film of pigmented polyester to the paper.

  • Letterpress

    Printing that utilizes inked raised surfaces to create the image.

  • Line Copy

    Any copy that can be reproduced without the use of halftone screens.

  • Linen

    A paper that emulates the look and texture of linen cloth.

  • Logotype

    A personalized type or design symbol for a company or product.

  • Magnetic Black

    Black pigments containing black iron oxides, used for magnetic ink character recognition.

  • Make Ready

    Process of adjusting final plate on the press to fine tune or modify plate surface.

  • Margin

    Minimum required space around edge of page.

  • Mark-up

    To write up instructions, as on a dummy.

  • Mask

    The blocking out of a portion of the printing plate during the exposure process.

  • Match Print

    Photographic proof made from all color flats and form composite proof showing color quality as well as accuracy, layout, and imposition before plates are made.

  • Moire

    An undesirable halftone pattern produced by the incorrect angles of overprinting halftone screens.

  • Mottle

    A term used to describe spotty or uneven ink absorption.

  • OBC

    Outside back cover.

  • OFC

    Outside front cover.

  • Offset

    The most commonly used printing method, whereby the printed material does not receive the ink directly from the printing plate but from an intermediary cylinder called a blanket, which receives the ink from the plate and transfers it to the paper.

  • Offset Paper

    A term for uncoated book paper.

  • Opacity

    Quality of papers that defines its opaqueness or ability to prevent two-sided printing from showing through.

  • Opaque Ink

    Ink that completely covers any ink under itself.

  • Orphan

    A single line at the beginning of a paragraph which is left behind at the end of a column or page and stands alone.

  • Out of Register

    When two sheet passes on a press are misaligned.

  • Over Run

    Surplus of copies printed.

  • Overprinting

    Any printing that is done on an area that has already been printed.

  • Overset Text

    Type that is set in excess of the allotted space.

  • PPI

    Pixels per inch.

  • Parchment

    A hard-finished paper that emulates animal skin; used for documents, such as awards, that require writing by hand.

  • Parent Sheet

    A sheet that is larger than the cut stock of the same paper.

  • Perf Marks

    Markings, usually dotted lines, at edges showing where perforations should occur.

  • Perfect Binding

    Binding process where backs of sections are cut off, roughened and glued together, and rung in a cover.

  • Perfecting

    Printing both sides of the paper (or other material) on the same pass through the printing machine.

  • Perforating

    Punching small holes or slits in a sheet of paper or cardboard to facilitate tearing along a desired line.

  • Pica

    Standard of measurement, 1/6 inch. 1 pica = 12 points 72 points = 1 inch

  • Pin Register

    Using metal pins fitted into preset holes of copy sheets, films, plates and presses that will assure the proper registration.

  • Plate

    Reproduction of type or cuts in metal, plastic, rubber, or other material, to form a plate bearing a relief, planographic, or intaglio printing surface.

  • Plate Cylinder

    The cylinder on a printing press on which the plate is mounted.

  • Point

    A measurement unit equal to 1/72 of an inch. 12 points to a pica, 72 points to an inch.

  • Premium

    Any paper that is considered better than #1 by its manufacturer.

  • Presensitized Plate

    A plate that has been treated with light sensitive coatings by the manufacturer.

  • Press-Proof

    Actual press sheet to show image, tone values, and colors as well as imposition of frame or press-plate.

  • Primary Colors

    In printing, the four primary colors are cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow, and black.

  • Printer Spreads

    Two consecutive pages as they appear on a flat or signature before imposition.

  • Process Inks

    Printing inks, usually in sets of four colors. The most frequent combination is yellow, magenta, cyan, and black, which are printed, one over another in that order, to obtain a colored print with the desired hues, whites, blacks, and grays.

  • Proof

    A copy of a project, either digital or hard copy, sent to the customer for the purpose of checking for mistakes (color, resolution, typos, etc.) prior to printing.

  • Reader Spreads

    Two consecutive pages as they appear in printed piece.

  • Ream

    500 sheets of paper.

  • Register

    The arrangement of two or more images in exact alignment with each other.

  • Register Marks

    Any crossmarks or other symbols used on layout to assure proper registration.

  • Right Angle Fold

    A term that denotes folds that are 90 degrees to each other.

  • Rubine

    A pigment somewhat redder than true magenta.

  • Run-Around

    A term given to copy that accommodates the lines of a picture or other image or copy.

  • Running Head

    A title at the top of a page that appears on all pages of a book or chapter of a book.

  • Saddle Stitching

    Stitching where the wire staples pass through the spine from the outside and are clinched in the center. Number of pages for saddle stitching requires increments of 4.

  • Safety Paper

    A paper that shows sign of erasure so that it cannot be altered or tampered with easily.

  • Satin Finish

    A smooth, delicately finished paper with sheen.

  • Scaling

    The enlargement or reduction of an image or copy to fit a specific area.

  • Score

    Impressions or cuts in flat material to facilitate bending or tearing.

  • Screen Ruling

    A measurement equaling the number of lines or dots per inch on a halftone screen.

  • Scum

    Unwanted ink marks in the non-image area.

  • Self Cover

    A cover made out of the same paper stock as the internal sheets.

  • Side Stitching

    Stitching where the wire staples pass through the pile of sections or leaves gathered upon each other and are clinched on the underside.

  • Signature

    Printed sheet (or its flat) that consists of a number of pages of a book, placed so that they will fold and bind together as a section of a book. The printed sheet after folding.

  • Smoothness

    That quality of paper defined by its levelness which allows for pressure consistency in printing, assuring uniformity of print.

  • Spine

    Back edge of a book.

  • Spiral Bind

    A method of binding books whereby holes are drilled on the side closest the spine, and a wire or plastic grasping device is inserted to hold the pages together.
    Also called comb binding.

  • Spot Color

    Small area printed in a second color.

  • Stock

    A term for unprinted paper or other material to be printed.

  • Tack

    The adhesive quality of inks.

  • Tag

    A dense, strong paper stock.

  • Tensile Strength

    A paper's ability to withstand pressure.

  • Text

    A high-quality printing paper.

  • Thermography

    A printing process whereby slow drying ink is applied to paper, and while the ink is still wet, it is lightly dusted with a resinous powder. The paper then passes through a heat chamber where the powder melts and fuses with the ink to produce a raised surface.

  • Tint

    A halftone screen that contains all the same sized dots.

  • Tooth

    The rough-surfaced finish of papers such as vellum or antique.

  • Trapping

    The process of printing wet ink over printed ink which may be wet or dry.

  • Trim Marks

    Marks placed on the sheet to indicate where to cut the page.

  • Up

    A term used to describe how many similar sheets can be produced on a larger sheet; two up, four up, etc.

  • Varnish

    A clear, shiny ink used to add gloss to printed pieces.

  • Vellum

    A finish of paper that is rough, bulky, and has a degree of tooth.

  • Velour Paper

    A term given to papers that are coated with an adhesive and then flock dusted.

  • Vignette

    Fade to white or small decorative design or illustration.
    A photo or illustration etc., in which the tones fade gradually away until they blend with the surface they are printed on.

  • W&B

    An abbreviation for work and back. Reference, sheetwise.

  • W&T

    An abbreviation for work and turn.

  • Watermark

    A translucent logo that is embossed during the papermaking process.

  • Widow

    A single word or two left at the end of a paragraph, or a part of a sentence ending a paragraph, which loops over to the next column or page and stands alone.

  • Wove

    A smooth paper made on finely textured wire that gives the paper a gentle-patterned finish.

  • Writing Paper

    Another name for bond paper.

  • Xerographic Paper

    Papers made to reproduce well in copy machines and laser printers.

  • Yield Value

    The actual amount of force needed to start an ink flowing.

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