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Understanding Printing Terms

Glossary Of Terms

At Dimensional Graphics 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 that we commonly use to design and produce your prints.

A B C D E F G H I J K M N O P R S T U V W
  • 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.

  • Acrylic

    A water-soluble polymer used in paints to make them dry both tough and flexible.

  • Alignment

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

  • Art Work

    Any materials or images that are prepared for graphic reproduction.

  • Balance

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

  • Binding

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

  • Bleed

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

  • Bond

    A grade of durable writing, printing and typing paper that has a standard size of 17x22 inches.

  • Broad Fold

    A term given to the fold whereby paper is folded with the short side running with the grain.

  • Brochure

    A pamphlet that is bound in booklet form.

  • Bullet

    A boldface square or dot used before a sentence to emphasize its importance.

  • Camera Ready

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

  • Coated Stock

    Any paper that has a mineral coating applied after the paper is made, giving the paper a smoother finish.

  • Color Bars

    This term refers to 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.

  • Column Gutter

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

  • Contrast

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

  • Cover

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

  • Cracking

    Delamination.

  • Creep

    When the rubber blanket on a cylinder moves forward due to contact with the plate or paper. 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 Mark

    Markings at edges of original or on guide sheet to indicate the area desired in reproduction with negative or plate trimmed (cropped) at the markings.

  • Crossmarks

    Marks of fine lines, which intersect to indicate accurate alignment of art elements.

  • Curl

    Not lying flat and tending to form into cylindrical or wavy shapes. A term to describe the differences of either side of a sheet relative to coatings, absorbency etc.; the concave side is the curl side.

  • Cutter

    Machine for accurately cutting stacks of paper to desired dimensions...can also be used to crease. Also trims out final bound books' top size (soft cover).

  • Die

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

  • Die Cutting

    A method of using sharp steel ruled stamps or rollers to cut various shapes i.e. labels, boxes, image shapes, either post press or in line. 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.

  • Digital Proof

    Color separation data is digitally stored and then exposed to color photographic paper creating a picture of the final product before it is actually printed.

  • Drill

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

  • Dull Finish

    Any matte finished paper.

  • 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.

  • Embossing

    To raise in relief a design or letters already printed on card stock or heavy paper by an uninked block or die. In rubber and plastic plate making the process is usually done by heat.

  • Fan Fold

    Paper folding that emulates an accordion or fan, the folds being alternating and parallel.

  • Foils

    Papers that have a surface resembling metal.

  • Folder

    Machine used to fold signatures down into sections.

  • Font

    The characters which make up a complete typeface and size.

  • 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.

  • Gripper Edge

    The grippers of the printing press move the paper through the press by holding onto the leading edge of the sheet; this edge is the gripper edge.

  • 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.

  • Halftone

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

  • 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.

  • Indicia

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

  • Inserts

    Extra printed pages inserted loosely into printed pieces.

  • 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.

  • Jogger

    Vibrating, sloping platform that evens up the edges of stacks of paper.

  • Kerning

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

  • Margin

    Imprinted space around edge of page.

  • Matte Finish

    A coated paper finish that goes through minimal calendaring. Reference, calendaring.

  • Natural

    A term to describe papers that have a color similar to that of wood; also called cream, off-white or ivory.

  • 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

    A quality of paper that allows relatively little light to pass through.

  • Overprinting

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

  • Primary Colors

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

  • 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

    Impression from composed type or blocks, taken for checking and correction, from a lithographic plate to check accuracy of layout, type matter, tone and color reproduction.

  • 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.

  • Saddle Stitching

    Stitching where the wire staples pass through the spine from the outside and are clinched in the center. Only used with folded sections, either single sections or two or more sections inset to form a single section.

  • 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 Angles

    The placement of halftone screens to avoid unwanted moire patterns. Frequently used angles are black 45deg, magenta 75deg, yellow 90deg, and cyan 105deg.

  • 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 binding whereby a wire or plastic is spiraled through holes punched along the binding side.

  • Spot Color

    Small area printed in a second color.

  • Spread

    A film image that is larger than the original image to accommodate ink trapping. Reference, trapping

  • Step And Repeat

    A process of generating multiple exposures by taking an image and stepping it according to a predetermined layout.

  • Stock

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

  • Tag

    A dense, strong paper stock.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Vellum

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

  • Watermark

    A translucent logo that is embossed during the papermaking process while the paper slurry is on the dandy roll. Reference, dandy roll

  • Wove

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