Common Printing Terms

If you need further clarification about the meaning of a term or its application, please give us a call 979-845-2856.

Adhesive binding – A method of binding in which glue is used to hold the leaves in position at the spine.

Artwork – Any material or image prepared for graphic reproduction.

1 sided – Printing on only one side of each sheet of paper.

2 sided – Printing on both sides of a sheet of paper.

Basic size – A standard size of paper stock (i.e. 8.5″x 11″, 11″x 17″, 12″x 18″, 13″ x 19″).  We order our paper in standard sizes. If an “odd” size is selected for a job the customer will be charged for the size of sheet the accommodates the job specs, for example a 11″ x 17.5″ is bigger than 11″ x 17″, so a 12″ x 18″ sheet will have to be cut down.  The customer will be billed for 12″x 18″.

Bindery – The area of the workplace where print is cut, folded, collated, or bound.

Binding – Fastening together assembled sheets or signatures along one edge.

Bleed – A printed image (graphic) that extends beyond the trim edge of the paper.  Bleeds or printing to the edge of the paper is billed for one size larger standard sheet size.  This is because we don’t actually print to the edge.  We print on a larger sheet and cut off or trim off the extra paper.

Brochure – A pamphlet trifolded.

CMYK – Cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The four (subtractive) process colors that are used in four-color printed reproduction.  Most printing equipment use CMYK color profiles not RGB.  RGB has to be translated by the print engine and may not result in a color the customer intended.

Collate – To gather sheets, signatures or page sections in a specific order.  We assume that publications that are numbered are intended to be in that order 1, 2, 3…

Color profile – Computer generated information about the printing specification which is used to set up the printing press prior to printing. In digital printing the printer will do it automatically so it is important that the color profile is in sync with the intended paper type. It is also important to understand the type of equipment being used in the printing process.  Digital color presses do not have the ability to accurately replicate all Pantone colors.

Color proofing – A color proof is a visual indication that color separations will produce the required results.

Coil binding – A method of binding individual pages together using a plastic coil. Allows the book to lie flat when opened.

Copy – Any material supplied by the customer – artwork, typescript, photographs, drawings – to be used in the production of printed material.

Cover – A term describing a general type of paper used for the covers of books, pamphlets, etc.

Creasing or Scoring – A method of enabling thicker materials to be folded without cracking

Creep – In a saddle stitched booklet the bulk of the paper causes the inner pages to extend further out than the outer pages when folded. When trimmed the inner pages are narrower than the outer pages.

Crop marks – Marks on each corner of sheet indicating where the sheet will be trimmed to the finished size.

Density – The lay of paper fibres relative to tightness or looseness that affects the bulk, absorbency and finish of the paper. Also, the degree of tone, darkness or color within a photo or reproduction that is measurable by a densitometer.

Die Cutting  – The method of cutting paper or board to irregular shapes using a cutting form and platen. Widely used in producing folders.

Digital printing– In printing, a term that covers digital printing from a computer file without the use of conventional inks and plates. Digital also refers to digital proofs which have been produced without film.  The draw back to digital proofs is that the color may not be accurate if the monitor is not regularly calibrated.

Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) – An image description format. EPS translates graphics and text into descriptions that can be used by the printer. The font and pictures themselves are encapsulated into the EPS code.

Finishing – Finishing embraces all of the steps of the production process after ink has been applied to the sheet such as trimming, laminating, folding, book binding, etc. which are used to enhance the finish of the job

Saddle Stitching – Folding printed sections which are then collated, stitched and trimmed to the finished size. This is how the magazines near the check out stand in the grocery store are bound.

Folding – The process of converting the flat printed sheet into a folded piece such as a brochure.

Grain  – The direction in which the fibres of a substrate (paper) lie.  Folding is preferably done along the grain of the paper.  Folding against the grain will cause cracking and eventually as humidity is absorbed a brochure will take on an odd shape.

Hard copy – A physical copy or refers to any item of artwork or text which is supplied as a physical sheet of paper rather than as an electronic file.

Image manipulation – The technique of using computer software to alter or improve an image. Often used to remove blemishes or unwanted artifacts from artwork.

Image resolution – The fineness or coarseness of a digitized image, in dots per inch (DPI). Generally, the higher the DPI the clearer the image.  Small images need high dpi, the larger the images the lower the dpi has to be.

Imposition – The correct sequential arrangement of pages to be printed, with all margins in proper alignment, etc.

Insert – Unsecured paper or card inserted between the leaves of a book, brochure, etc.

JPEG Joint Photographic Experts Group – In simple terms a JPEG works for images in much the same way a PDF file works for documents.  They can be large files designed for printing or small files designed for the internet.  Generally the size of a jpg/jpeg file will dictate whether it was designed for print (Mb) or internet (Kb).

Laminating – The process of applying a plastic film to a printed sheet to enhance and protect it. Laminates are available in matte, luster, and gloss finishes.

Layout – Shows the proposed position of all the elements, crop marks, thumbnails etc. of the final printed piece before it goes to print.

Line copy (Line Art) – Any copy or artwork that has no gradations of tone and can be reproduced without the use of halftone screens (like cartoon drawings).

Monochrome – An original in one color only.

Negative Film – containing an image in which the color values of the original are reversed.

Offset printing – A lithographic method of printing in which the ink is first transferred (offset) from the plate to a blanket and then transferred to the paper or board. The most commonly used printing method.  Our Riso printer prints one color per pass through the machine.

Overprinted – A term which describes when a color is printed on top of another, usually it refers to dark text which is printed on top of another, lighter color. It can also refer to text which is printed onto a previously printed sheet and is often used to print on business card and stationary templates.

Perfect binding – A term used to describe a binding process in which the signatures/sheets of a book are held together by a flexible adhesive such as textbooks or hardback books.

Perforated – A row of small incisions pressed into the paper surface to enable the paper to be torn accurately along the line of the perforation. Often used for tear off reply cards

Positive – A film or print that contains an image containing the same tonal values as the original.

PostScript – A page definition language (PDL) developed by Adobe Systems. A page of text and/or graphics saved as a PostScript file is stored as a set of instructions specifying the measurements, typefaces, and graphic shapes that makeup the page.

PPD file – PostScript Printer Description file. A file that contains screen angle, resolution, page size and device-specific information for a file to be printed on a PostScript device, such as a press.

Prepress – The preparation work required to turn camera-ready artwork into the printing plates needed for mass production (e.g. scanning, stripping and color separating).

Process colors – The subtractive primary colors cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Registration – The quality of alignment of the colored inks when applied to paper.

Ring binder – A binder which contains metal ‘rings’ which can be opened to insert predrilled paper. When closed, the paper is held in place. Ring binders are ideal for large documents or for documents where the content needs to be revised on a regular basis

Saddle stitching (Saddle wire or wire stitching) – Binding printed materials with wire by stapling the pages on the folded spine to produce a booklet.

Scan – To convert hard copy into an electronic file.

Scanner – An electronic device that scans across the surface of a hard copy to create an electronic file.

Sealing – A clear substance applied (usually to a silk or matte sheet) to aid drying and prevent rubbing and marking.

Self cover – A cover made from the same paper stock as the inside sheets.

Signature – A printed sheet containing 4 pages to be folded.

Spot color – Any non-standard color (for instance gold or silver) used in addition to the four process colors (or instead of).

Spot gluing – Applying a spot of glue to attach one piece of material lightly to another.

Spot varnishing – When varnish is only applied to specific areas on the sheet such as a picture or a text headline to make it stand out.

Staggered folding – Where a sheet is folded so that one page overlaps another page to create to allow information from several pages to be seen together

Transparency – Plastic sheets with images printed on them that are usually used on over head projectors.

Trim areas – The area or amount of paper removed by cutting to the crop marks.

Trimming – The process of removing the unwanted edges of the printed sheet to achieve the finished size.

Up – The number of similar sheets that can be produced on a larger sheet (two up, four up, etc.).

Varnishing – The application of oil, synthetic, spirit cellulose, or water based varnish to printed material (often dried via an ultra violet radiation process) to enhance appearance. Makes it glossy or shiney.

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