Glossary of Printing Terms

Glossary terms for Printing

Here at Solopress we know the printing industry inside out, but we appreciate that it can be a confusing world. If you don’t know your gloss from embossing, or think that CMYK is a designer label check out some of the key printing terms in our useful glossary of printing terms below:

Glossary terms for Printing

A0 – ISO paper size 1189mm x 841mm, used for posters and other large format printing work
A1 – ISO paper size 841 mm x 594 mm, most commonly used for posters, placards and banners
A2 – ISO paper size 594mm x 420mm, used for posters and placards
A3 – ISO paper size 420mm x 297mm often used for posters and placards
A4 – ISO paper size 297mm x 210mm, typically used for letterheads, menus, leaflets, flyers, notepads and brochures
A5 – ISO paper size 210mm x 148mm used for flyers, leaflets, menus, brochures, vouchers, coupons and larger postcards
A6 – ISO paper size 148mm x 105 mm, often used for flyers, leaflets, coupons, vouchers, appointment cards, promotional cards, postcards and swing tags
A7 – ISO paper size 105mm x 74mm, used for flyers, leaflets, vouchers, coupons, swing tags and labels
A8 – ISO paper size 74mm x 52mm, typically used for flyers, leaflets, swing tags, labels, vouchers, coupons and tickets
A9 – ISO paper size 52mm x 37mm used for smaller printed work such as invitations and labels
A10 – ISO paper size 37mm x 26mm often used for labels
Acrobat – A computer program from Adobe (see below) which enables users to view a file in its original format and appearance
Adobe – An American based computer software company responsible for a range of multimedia and creativity software products including Adobe Flash, Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop
Artwork – The original copy, including images, type, photos and illustrations, intended for printing

Banding – A way of packaging printed material using rubber bands
Banners – A large printed document that usually contains a slogan and business details to be displayed in a public place, or at events and exhibitions
Bespoke printing – Printing that is custom to a clients specific requirements
Binding – A method used to fasten papers together to form a document
Bitmap – Pixels generated by computer to represent text and images
Bleed – Printing that extends to the end of the document or sheet after trimming
Business cards – A small printed document that contains a persons contact information (usually job title, address, contact number, website and social network sites) that is handed out to business contacts
Bond – A category of paper commonly used for printing, widely regarded as a strong durable paper

CMYK – An abbreviation for the four process colours: cyan, magenta, yellow and key
Compliment slips – A slim printed document (standard size is 210mm x 99mm) which contains business details and is usually used to acknowledge receipt of something
Copyright – Ownership of a document by the person who made it
Cover paper – A heavyweight paper used for the outside pages of a document such as a booklet
Crease – A line made in a printed document by folding
CTP – Stands for Computer To Plate, an imaging technology whereby images created on a desktop publishing application are processed directly onto a printing plate

Deboss – When an image is pressed so that it lies below the surface (opposite to emboss)
Die – A device used to cut, score, stamp, emboss and deboss
Die Cut – To cut irregular shapes using a die
Digital printing – A printing method where a digital based image (through formats such as PDF) are printed directly onto a variety of materials. As a result no printing plates are required
Double-sided – Material that has been printed on both sides of the document (as opposed to single-sided)
DPI – Dots per square inch. A measure of resolution, whereby 300dpi is the minimum requirement for print work
Dummy – A mock-up to illustrate what the finished printed article will look like, using all characteristics of the final document (such as colours, size and paper stock)

Eco-ink – Vegetable-oil  based ink free from environmentally toxic materials
Emboss – When an image is pressed onto paper so the end result is that is is raised above the surface (opposite to deboss)

Finish – Can refer to the characteristics of a finished article e.g. matt finish. Alternatively, used as a term for post press operations such as folding or trimming
Flyers – A printed document which serves a variety of purposes including: promotional launches, invitations, change of address details as well as direct mailings
Foil – A type of finish applied to a printed document usually to specific elements of a design, helping to draw attention to these parts
Folders – A booklet or pamphlet which is usually made out of thicker paper/card and used to store other printed documents
Folding – The process of bending a document so that one part appears on top of the other and thus reduces the overall size

Gloss – A type of finish which uses a coated paper to provide a shiny and smooth texture to the printed document
GSM – The measurement for paper weight (grams per square metre). The gsm will depend on the type of printing, for example a business card will typically be 400gsm which is a thicker weight than other printed material such as a letterhead which may be 100gsm

Heidelberg – A leading print machinery supplier, who offer a range of print machinery

Illustrator – An Adobe software package that is used to edit typesetting and logo designs, often used in conjunction with Photoshop
InDesign – An Adobe software package that allows the creation and design of page layouts and is often used to create posters, flyers, leaflets and other printed material
Inkjet printer – A plateless printer that transfers images directly onto paper through droplets of ink
Insert – A leaflet or another piece of printed material bound into a printed publication (such as a magazine) rather than set loose

Job Number – A unique number assigned to each printing job. This enables the work to be tracked easily and also allows old jobs to retrieved/reworked by the customer

Laminate – A coating applied to print material to give protection as well as a smooth finish to the overall finished product
Laser guaranteed paper – Paper that has been specifically designed for litho pre-printing and laser printing
Laser printer – A printer that uses the same principles as a photocopier whereby a laser beam projects an image onto the media
Leaflets – A printed document which is often used to promote or advertise a product, service or event. Leaflets are often distributed through a variety of marketing channels including magazine inserts and direct mail
Letterheads – A printed heading on stationery which often includes business name, logo and address and can either be one-sided or double-sided
Litho printing – A form of printing where plates with image areas attract ink and non-image areas repell ink

Matt – A non glossy finish on a printed document

Offset – A printing technique whereby ink is transferred from a plate to a blanket and then to paper (as opposed to directly onto paper)
Offset paper  – Paper that has not been coated with clay

Pantone – A system used to match colours in printing inks
PDF – Stands for Portable Document Format, created by Adobe, a PDF captures the format including the text, font, graphics and any other information needed to display the file regardless of the operating system, hardware or application software used to view it
Photoshop – A graphics editing program which allows digital photos to be edited, re-sized and manipulated according to requirements
Platemaking – The process of preparing a printing plate or other image carrier ready for the press
Posters – A large printed document which usually contains images and text to attract attention and advertise an event or product
Print Ready Artwork – Artwork that contains all the final elements and has undergone checks so that it is ready to be printed
Proof – A trial example of a printed document, used to make adjustments and corrections before final printing
Pulp – Fibrous material prepared by mechanically or chemically separating fibres from paper usually 400gsm or 380mic. Not to be confused with the British rock band Pulp
Pre-press – Any process carried out on a product before it goes to press (either litho or digital)
Process printing – A printing method which uses four plates (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key) which are applied to the prinitng material one by one (the main other printing method is spot printing)

QR Code –  A special type of barcode, readable by special cameras and smartphones. The barcode contains encoded information such as URL, text and other information and can be displayed on an array of printed material such as business cards, leaflets and banners
QuarkXPress – A computer application for creating and editing complex page layouts, widely regarded the standard layout program for the printing industry
Quote – An estimation of the cost for a specific job, for the customer to approve

Ream – 500 sheets of paper, not to be confused with the adjective coined by Joey Essex in the popular TV series The Only Way is Essex
Recycle – The process of transforming used materials into a new material in order to address environmental concerns
Resolution – The number of dots per inch (DPI) in a computer processed document
RIP (raster image processor) – A computer used to create an electronic bitmap for actual output

Saddle-stitch/stapled/saddle-wire – A means of binding a document through stapling the centrefold
Seal/Sealer – A design embossed in a printed document
Side-stitching/ stab-stitching – A way of joining pages in a document together through stapling sheets together along one edge
Silk – A type of card used in printing which provides a smooth finish to the overall article
Single-sided – When a document is only printed on one side (as opposed to double-sided)
Spot colour printing – Often used for smaller, more precise jobs, spot printing uses one single (different) ink for each colour used (see process printing for the other key prinitng method used)
Spot UV – A finish applied to specific parts of printed material (such as key text on a business card) providing a glossy and more eye-catching finish
Stickers – An adhesive label which often contains printed information and can be used on a variety of materials
Stock – The type of paper to be used for printing on
Swing Tags – A printed document which is often attached to another article to help identify and label

TCF (Totally Chlorine Free) – Paper that has been produced without any type of chlorine or has not been bleached
Template – A file that serves as a starting point for a new document, allowing others to copy the characteristics rather than starting the design and layout of the new document from scratch
TIFF – (Tagged Image File Format) A bitmapped graphics file format that handles monochrome, gray scale, 8 and 24 bit colour. Used extensively in the printing industry as it allows customisation
Tint – A shade/variety of colour
Turnaround – The time taken for a printed document to be processed from submission to the complete article. Here at Solopress we pride ourselves on being the fast turnaround printer, with a 24 hour turnaround

Virgin paper – Paper made entirely from pulp from trees or cotton as opposed to recycled paper

Watermark – A faint design present in some forms of paper, usually to identify the maker, visible when paper is held in the light

We hope that all the terms you may need are listed above but if you aren’t quite sure on something, please don’t hesitate to give one of our advisers a call on 01702 460047.