Wonder what some printing terms mean? Click on a letter below for an alphabetical list
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Accordion Fold A fold when looked at from the side, resembles the letter 'z'.

Aqueous Coating A water-based alternative to varnish. May be applied on the press, in non-yellowing.


Backing Up Printing the reverse side of a sheet already printed on one side.

Basis Weight The weight in pounds of 500 sheets of paper, cut to a standard size for that grade. (See Grade below.)

Bitmap A digital representation of an image that created the image from dots of different colors.

Bleed When the printed image extends beyond the trim edge of a sheet.

Blueprint A photographic print made from film used to check position of elements that will print.


Camera Ready Art that is high-resolution and ready for the press.

Cast coated stock Considered to be the premium of gloss coated papers. Superior gloss is achieved by baking the coating on the sheet by means of a highly polished chromium drum has the smoothest surface of all gloss coated papers available today, usually available in cover weights only, the most expensive of all coated papers.

C M Y K Acronym for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The four colors used on a press.

Copy Words (i.e. manuscript) to be used in printing.


Die-cutting Using sharp steel rules to cut special shapes from printed sheets.

Dots Per Inch (dpi) A measure of the resolution for images.

Dot Gain Halftone dot growth causing darkened tones and colors as well as reduced shadow detail.

Drawdown Method of proofing inks for special color matches. A thin sample layer of ink put on the surface of a special sheet for evaluation.

Dull coated stock Smooth finish, for high quality printing where it is desirable to have a non-glare surface

Dummy A layout showing the position of text and images as they are to appear in the final piece. (See Hard Copy.)


EM A unit of measure exactly as wide and high as the type being set.

Emboss Impressing an image to obtain a raised finish.


Film coated stock Smoother than uncoated, for book work or magazines, looks washed out and dull with process color work.

Font The assortment of letters, numbers, etc. of a given type design.

Finishing Process that printed work goes through between press and delivery. (scoring, folding, etc.)

Format The size, style, margins, etc. of a printed piece.


Gloss coated stock Smooth surface, is usually slightly less expensive than dull coated papers. Probably the most widely used sheet in the commercial printing industry, for high quality printing

Grade A classification for paper based on it's finish, i.e. cover or index.

Gray Scale A stip of standard gray tones ranging from white to black.

Gripper On a sheet fed press, metal that clamps on paper and control it's flow through the press.

Gutter The blank space required for the printer.


Hard Copy A visual record of the printed piece from a copmuter printer. (See Dummy.)


Imposition Page arrangement into signature layouts. Determined by number of pages and press size. Ensures correct sequential assembly when bound.

Italic A style of letters that slant, like this. Used for emphasis within text.



Kerning The space between two letters making them closer together.


Layout The drawing of a proposed printed piece.

Leading The distance between lines of type measured in points.


M The abbreviation for a quantity of 1000 sheets of paper.

Matte Finish Smoother than film coated, usually whiter and brighter used for quality jobs with a moderate budget. Dull paper finish, without gloss.

Moire Visual patterns within halftones and screen tints caused by misaligned screeen or registration problem.


Negative Film containing an image where the original image is reversed. Dark areas appear light and vise versa.


OCR An Acronym for Optical Character Reader; a scanner that allows a computer to read printed information.

Offsetting A print quality problem when wet ink from a sheet is transfered to the sheet above.


Pica A printers unit of measure that equals 1/16 of an inch.

Plate Made from Negative onto metal, plates are the actual material placed on the press cylinders.

PMS Standard colors used for ink selection, Pantone Matching System.

Premium gloss stock Coated whiter, brighter, and glossier than most all other papers available, prints the sharpest and cleanest dots for high detail work. For the most demanding or critical jobs (annual reports, self promotions, etc.)


Quark The term for Quark Express, the software used by the majority of printers.


Ream 500 sheets of paper.

RGB Color model used for scanners, monitors and other light based media using red, green and blue colors.


Score To indent a mark on the paper to make folding easier. Also reduces cracking of printed images.

Signature The name given to a specific number of sheets, usually eight, for print folding in a book.

Spot Color Color printed with custom ink, rather than CMYK combination

Stock A term for the paper or material to be printed on.


Text The body of a page distinguished from the headings.

Trapping Separations of film so adjoining colors overlap slightly to avoid gaps between colors.


-up In printing two-up, three-up, etc., refers to the number of material printed on a larger sheet to take advantage of press capabilities.

Uncoated offset stock rough, uneven surface for black and white inexpensive work, not recommended for process color work.


Varnish A protective coating applied to a sheet for protection.

Vingnette An illistration where the background fades away until it blends in to the unprinted sheet.


Washup The process of cleaning the rollers from a printing press.

Work and Tumble To print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn it over using the same side guide to print the second side.

Work and Turn To print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn it over from right to left and print the second side.


Xerography A copying process that uses toner to form an image


Yellow Hue of the 4-color process ink. It reflect red and green light and absorbs blue light.


Z Fold Also called an Accordion Fold. When two or more parallel folds open like an accordion. (See Accordion Fold above.)