The world of printing can be a challenging place. There is A LOT to know.
To help make things a little easier for you we put together this list of common printing terminology.
The four ink colors used in standard printing, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and (K) Black. In Digital printing, the four CMYK colors are applied to the paper all at once. In Offset printing, the four CMYK ink colors are applied to the paper in successive layers using plates.
The production department responsible for the cutting, folding, collating, drilling, kitting and other finishing operations used on printing projects.
The area that extends past the trim edge of a printed page. Standard bleed is 1/8″ (.125″) on all sides.
Paper that contains a surface coating.
Coil Binding (wire-o binding, spiral binding)
A type of binding where metal or plastic wire is fed through holes drilled along the binding side of a printed document.
The process of organizing pages together in a sequenced order.
When a print project is color critical it is imperative that the printed colors exactly match a specification. This can apply to both digital and offset printing.
Slight differences in color between and/or within print runs that is inherent to digital and offset printing.
Thin lines on the page outside the printable area that indicate where the paper will be trimmed after printing.
Uses a metal die and high pressure on paper to give a “sunken in” look, adding texture and depth to elements of a design.
The process of using steel blades to cut unique shapes through paper.
The process of transferring electronic images directly onto paper. No printing plate is required. Digital printing is ideal for short production runs.
Digital Proof (electronic proof, soft proof)
A PDF document generated by a prepress technician for the purpose of project review.
Dots per inch. The number of physical dots of ink per inch on a printed document.
Uses a metal die and high pressure to raise parts of a sheet of paper, adding texture and depth to elements of a design.
First Article Proof
A printed sample that is an exact copy of the final project. It uses the same paper, ink, press, folds, binding, kitting, lamination, etc. used for the final press run and production.
Impressing metallic foil onto paper with a heated die.
Hard Copy Proof
A printed sample of a project for the purposes of review. They are useful for catching project errors such as position, pagination, missing elements, transparency effects, typos, and image resolution.
A film applied to a print to protect the surface. The two most common styles are gloss and matte.
Large Format Printing
The printing of materials that are too large to be printed on most commercial printing presses. It requires the use of specialty production equipment that can accommodate the bigger-than-normal print size.
Offset printing uses metal or paper plates to transfer an image onto a rubber “blanket”, and then rolls that image onto the paper. Ink is not transferred directly onto the paper. Offset printing is the best choice for large run quantities.
A sheet of paper has two pages (front and back). Even if it’s blank it is counted as a page. Example: a book with 50 pages has 25 sheets.
The process of arranging individual pages in a multi-page document
PMS (Pantone Matching System)
A universal color matching system that is categorized by specific individual numbers assigned to specific individual color inks.
The thickness of the paper stock
A book binding method where the cover and pages are glued together at the spine. The spine is square and can be printed on. Example: a paperback book.
A metal or paper sheet installed into the press that indicates where the ink will transfer onto the paper. Used in offset printing.
Pixels per inch. This describes the number of pixels that show up in an inch of digital screen.
Everything in the production of a print project that happens before the project goes to press. This includes file review, proofing, imposition, plate manufacturing and more.
It’s a scheduled time to review press sheets for offset color-critical printing jobs, for the purposes of finalizing the color.
An artwork file that meets all the specifications necessary to produce high-quality printed output.
The arrangement of individual pages onto press sheets.
A pixel based computer image. Common file types include JPG, BMP, TIF, GIF, and PNG.
The color space of red, green and blue. These are the primary colors of light, which computers use to display images on your screen.
The binding of printed materials by stapling the pages on the folded spine. Example: a magazine. The number of total pages must be divisible by four to be saddle stitched.
To crease paper with a metal rule for the purpose of making folding easier.
Pre-mixed ink specified when using a PMS (Pantone Matching System) color number.
A liquid varnish that can be applied to provide a high-gloss shine to specific design elements.
The process of cutting the printed piece down to its intended final dimensions.
Paper that does not have a matte or gloss coating. It maintains a raw / natural look and feel.
Taking an image file and using editing software change the pixels per inch to a higher PPI (ex: going from 150 PPI to 300 PPI). This will result in noticeable quality loss when the image is printed.
VDP (Variable Data Print)
Printing in which elements (such as text, graphics, photographs, etc) can be changed from one printed piece to the next without stopping the press, using information from a database.
A computer image that is stored and displayed in terms of vectors rather than pixels.