The A-Z Glossary of Printing Terms
For Marketers, Small Business Owners, and Advertisers, print jargon may seem confusing. However, having some understanding of printing terms can make it simple to begin your print project.
If you don’t know your bleed from your embossing – then this is for you. Check out some of the printing terms in our print glossary below:
A-Sizes – A-Sizes refers to one of the print industry standards for paper sizes (e.g A0, A1, A2, A3, A4, A5 etc.). They are used across the world and demonstrate some of the common page sizes you may use in your printed projects.
Artwork – This refers to the digital file produced by you (or your Graphic Designer) that includes the images, type, illustrations and design that you want to be printed.
Bespoke Printing – A technique that involves creating a unique printed product, tailored to a businesses specific needs.
Bleed - During any printing process, there is always a small degree of movement on the press. To account for this, you extend the printed items 3mm beyond the edge of your artwork. This is known as the bleed and is cut off during printing.
Bond – A category of uncoated paper, commonly used for printing, that is strong and durable.
Bulk – A term that commonly refers to the thickness of a paper.
Calliper – The measurement of the thickness of a paper, measured in microns.
Carbon Balanced Paper – Paper that has been carbon balanced – the average CO2 created during the production and delivery of the paper has been offset through schemes such as the Woodland Trust Carbon Capture Scheme.
CMYK – Shorthand for the four colours used during printing (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key aka Black).
Coated Paper - A type of paper that has a gloss, silk, or matte finish, made by adding a special coating. Projects printed onto coated paper are often smooth and have a sleek, professional shine.
Crease – A print job may be mechanically creased to make folding easier. If you ask for your printed projects to be supplied flat, they will be creased.
Creep – refers to the shift that happens to the margins of a document when pages are folded during the finishing process of a booklet or brochure.
Crop Marks - Lines printed in the corners of your artwork to show the printer where to trim the paper.
Cutter – A cutter is a piece of print finishing equipment used when the final trimmed shape will be irregular e.g if a flyer is cut in the shape of a house or a business card has rounded corners. Also known as die-cutting.
Cyan – The blue colour used in four colour process printing (see CMYK).
Debossing – Pressing your design into paper, producing an indent.
Digital Printing – A printing process where a digital image is printed onto a variety of materials. As a computer tells the printer where to print the ink, there is no need for printing plates. Digital printing is very cost-effective for short runs.
Eco-Ink – Vegetable-based inks that are free from environmentally toxic materials.
Embossing – Stamping a design into the paper to produce a raised effect. The opposite to debossing.
Finishing (Or Print Finishing) – Refers to the processes that happen after a document has been printed. Print finishing techniques include folding, laminating, trimming, drilling, binding etc.
Foiling – A process that involves applying coloured foil to a printed document. It’s used to highlight certain aspects of a design.
Folds – Folds can provide you with different options for presenting your printed documents. They include gatefolds, concertina folds, letter folds, Z-Folds etc.
GSM – Grams per square inch is the measurement of the ‘weight’ of paper. For example, a standard sheet of photocopier paper may be 80gsm, letterhead paper may be 100gsm and, a postcard may be 250gsm.
Guillotine – A sharp blade used to trim a stack of paper accurately.
Imposition – The layout of pages on a printed sheet so that they are in the correct order when the sheet is folded.
Insert – The term for loose sheets that aren't secured to the inside of a booklet or
Lamination – A coating that protects your print and usually gives a smooth, high-gloss, matt or soft-touch finish.
Landscape – The orientation of the page so that the long edge is along the bottom.
Litho Printing – Lithographic printing is the traditional method of printing. The image is placed on the lithography plate, inked and then printed onto the paper. It’s popular for long print runs and printing spot colours.
Matt – A non-glossy finish for paper. Perfect for enhancing designs with a subdued colour palette.
Offset - Printing system where the paper does not come into contact with the printing plate.
Overs – Printed materials that are over the amount ordered by you.
Pantone Colour – A universal colour language that is used by Printers and Graphic Designers. It ensures your brand colours are used consistently and the same colour is achieved time and time again.
PDF (Portable Document Format) – The preferred artwork file type used in the printing industry. PDFs capture text, images, fonts, graphics etc. and display it, regardless of the software used to open it.
Perfect Binding – A type of bookbinding that is most commonly seen on paperback books. Papers are glued to the spine.
Portrait – This refers to the orientation of a document where its height is greater than its width.
PPI – Pixel per inch. The more pixels per inch, the higher the resolution.
Pre-Press – Any process that is carried out before a product goes to print.
Proofing – The best way to avoid mistakes in printing. Before your project is printed, you will be provided with a proof to check to ensure your design, copy, and colour has no errors. Most proofing is handled digitally using PDFs.
Resolution – Resolution is the measurement of the number of dots that a device can put in one square cm of the page space.
RGB – The colour space of Red, Green and Blue that computers use to display images on your screen. An RGB computer file should be converted to CMYK before it's printed to ensure accurate colours.
Saddle-Stitched – Saddle-stitched binding is an inexpensive form of binding documents like brochures and booklets. It’s usually achieved by stapling pages together at the spine.
Spot Colouring Printing – Used for printing colours outside of the gamut of CMYK inks, spot printing uses a single colour ink for each different colour used.
Spot UV - A finish applied to specific parts of a printed product (e.g a logo or key information). It makes the areas it’s applied have a glossy and raised finish.
Stock – The type of paper used to print your projects.
Sustainable Paper – Paper that comes from a sustainable forest source. It is better for the environment than recycled paper due to the chemicals used to remove ink from recycled paper.
Trim – This is the line cut to produce the finished print size.
Virgin Paper – Paper that is made entirely from the pulp of trees, as opposed to recycled paper.