Help and Terminology

Printing Lingo

A list of key words and phrases used in the printing and design industry.

Accordion fold

Folding paper by bending each fold in the opposite direction of the previous fold creating a pleated or accordion effect.


Refers to the digital files needed for printing and producing a piece on an offset or digital press.

Back Up

How an image on one side of a printed sheet aligns with the image on the other side.


The process within printing that does the cutting, folding, collating, drilling and other finishing operations.


Any element that extends up to or past the edge of a printed page once trimmed to final size.

Blind emboss

A design or bas relief impression that is made without using inks or metal foils.

C1S and C2S

Acronyms for Coated One Side and Coated Two Sides paper stock. A cover stock with a glossy finish on one side and uncoated on the other, usually between 8pt (.008") and 18pt (.018") in thickness.

Cast coated

A paper that is coated and then pressure dried using a polished roller that imparts an enamel like hard gloss finish.

Center spread

The two pages that face each other in the center of a book or publication.

Coated stock

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

Coil Binding

Where a metal or plastic wire is spiraled through holes punched along the side of a stack of paper. Commonly used for reports, proposals and manuals. Documents bound with coil have the ability to lay flat and can rotate 360 degrees. Also called spiral binding.


To gather sheets or printed signatures together in their correct order.

Color bars

A color test strip that is printed on the waste portion of a press sheet. It helps a press operator to monitor and control the quality of the printed material relative to ink density, registration and dot gain. It can also include a Star Target, which is designed to detect inking and press problems.

Color sequence

The order in which process inks are printed on a printing press. Also called the color rotation or laydown sequence.

Color shift

Change in the perceived color of elements on a printed piece caused by changes or irregularities in ink densities, dot gain, paper substrate influence, or color register during a four-color printing press run.


A term describing a general type of paper used for the covers of books, pamphlets, etc., also used for business cards and postcards.


The extent to which printing ink covers the surface of a printed sheet. Ink coverage is frequently expressed as light, medium or heavy.


To reduce the size of an image by trimming or scaling.

Crop marks

Small printed lines around the edges of a printed piece indicating where it is to be cut out of the sheet. Sometimes referred to as cut marks.


An image, rule or line art on one printed page that carries over to an adjacent page of a bound or folded work.


To press an image into paper with a die so it extends below the surface. The opposite of emboss where the image is raised above the paper surface.

Die Cutting

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 Press

A modern variation of printing. Similar to an offset press, a true digital press uses ink on paper, rather than electrostatic based (photocopier) technology which is toner based. Digital printing with ink has a higher quality finished product.

Double bump

To print a single area on the sheet twice so it has two layers of ink. Usually done on soild ink areas to increase the smoothness and/or density.


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

Dull finish

A semi-gloss finish on paper that is less glossy than gloss and more than matte paper.


The preliminary assemblage of copy and art elements to be reproduced in the desired finished product, also called a comp.


The molding and reshaping of paper by the use of special metal dies and heat, counter dies and pressure, to produce a raised image on the paper surface.

EPS Encapsulated Post Script

A standard file format used to transfer postscript formatting information between applications.

Felt side

The smoother side of a sheet in the paper. The wire side is the rougher side of the paper. The difference happens in the papermaking process. The differences are eliminated when papers are gloss or matte coated.


The surface quality of a paper.


Then metal sheet that is applied to paper using the foil stamping process. Frequently gold colored, but available in many colors.

Foil Emboss

Stamping a thin sheet of metallic foil onto a sheet of paper and then embossing a pattern under it, creating a three dimensional raised area, usually text or an image. See a sample of foil embossing.

Foil Stamp

Impressing metallic foil onto paper with a heated die or heated laminate process.


The characters which make up a complete typeface and size.


For Position Only Low resolution or mockup images used to indicate placement and size in a design, but not intended for final production.


The combining of two or more different printing projects on the same sheet of paper.

Gate fold

A three or four panel fold where the two outside panels fold inward to meet in the center. In an open gate fold, there are three panels, the bottom of which is twice the size of the folded panels. In a closed gatefold, there are four panels of roughly equal size where the outer panels are folded inward together.


Assembling sheets of paper and signatures into their proper sequence. See also collate.


Paper fibers lie in a similar direction in a sheet of paper. This direction is called the grain. Printing is usually done so that if folding is required, the fold is done parallel to the grain.

Gripper edge

The side of a piece of paper held by the gripper fingers as it passes through a printing press. Nothing can be printed in this area.


A blank space or margin between components on a printed piece or press sheet.

House sheet

This is a term that refers to a paper that a printer keeps on hand in their shop.

Image area

That portion of paper on which ink can appear. Especially important in die cutting where paper will be cut into a shape.


The correct sequential arrangement of pages that are to be printed, along with all the margins in proper alignment, before producing the plates for printing.


Adding copy to a previously printed page.


An image and/or text pre-printed on mailing envelopes in place of a stamp.

Ink Dry Back

When printed ink colors become lighter or less dense after they have dried on the paper.

Inkjet Proof

A visual rendering of a file by a print device that uses inkjet technology. Oftentimes used for proofing where 100% color accuracy is not critical.


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


Lines that are drawn on artwork that indicate the exact placement, shape and size of elements including halftones, illustrations, etc.


A coarse unbleached paper used for printing and industrial products.

Laid finish

A parallel lined paper that has a handmade look.


Applying thin transparent plastic sheets to both sides of a sheet of paper, providing scuff resistance, waterproofing and extended use.


A rendition that shows the placement of all the elements, images, thumbnails etc., of a final printed piece.


A paper that emulates the look and texture of linen cloth.


finish A coated paper finish that goes through minimal calendaring.

Metallic Ink

Ink that looks metallic when printed. Made with powdered metal or pigments that look metallic. The most common colors used are gold and silver.

Offset printing

The most commonly used printing method, where the printed material does not receive ink directly from a printing plate but from an intermediary blanket that receives the ink from the plate and then transfers it to the paper.

Offset paper

A term for sometimes used for uncoated book paper.

Online Proof

A visual, on-screen representation of a file prepared for printing. This is generated by a PDF tool optimized for the final output device/press.


Quality of papers that defines its opaqueness or ability to prevent two-sided printing from showing through.

Opaque ink

Ink that completely covers any ink under itself.


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


Quantities of sheets printed over the requested number of copies.

Page Count

The total number of pages in a book, magazine or publication. Sometimes referred to as the extent.

Perfect Binding

A binding process where the signatures of a book are held together by a flexible adhesive.

Plastic comb

A method of binding books whereby holes are drilled on the spine, and a plastic grasping device is inserted to hold the pages together.


The abbreviation of the Pantone Color Matching System.


A measurement unit equal to 1/72 of an inch. 12 points to a pica, 72 points to an inch.


Any paper that is considered better than grade #1 by its manufacturer.

Press Proof

Printed sample made on the press that a project will be printed on to show exactly how it will actually print using the paper, ink and plates to be used for the final press run.


Self-adhesive paper covered by a backing sheet.

Process printing

A system where a color image is separated into different color values (cyan, magenta, yellow and black or CMYK) by the use of filters and screens or digitally with a software program and then transferred to printing plates and printed on a printing press, reproducing the original color image.


The arrangement of two or more printed images or objects including shapes and type in exact alignment with each other.


The color space of Red, Green and Blue. These are the primary colors of light, which computers use to display images on your screen. An RGB computer file must be translated into the CMYK (the primary colors of pigment) color space in order to be printed on a printing press.

Rich black

Using multiple ink colors in addition to black to produce a deep, dark black color. Common CMYK values used are 30% Cyan, 20% Magenta, 20% Yellow and 100% Black.

Right angle fold

A term that denotes folds that are 90 degrees to each other.

Saddle stitch

The binding of booklets or other printed materials by stapling the pages on the folded spine.


To crease paper with a metal rule for the purpose of making folding easier.

Screen tint

A printed area of color created by dots of a certain screen percentage instead of using a layer of solid ink. Frequently used to create a colored area on the sheet, or tint the entire sheet instead of using colored paper.

Self cover

A cover that is the same paper stock as the internal sheets.

Side stitch

The stapling of sheets or signatures on the side closest to the spine.


A printed sheet with multiple pages on it that is folded so that the pages are in their proper numbered sequence, as in a book.


That quality of paper defined by its levelness that allows for pressure consistency in printing, assuring uniformity of print.

Soy Inks

Inks made with soy oils instead of petroleum as the base. They are considered to be more environmentally friendly, a standard component of green printing.

Spiral bind

A type of binding where a metal or plastic wire is spiraled through holes drilled along the binding side of a document.


A term for unprinted paper. See paper type descriptions

Synthetic papers

Any non-wood or cloth paper, usually petroleum (plastic) based.

Text paper

A high quality light weight printing paper.


The overlapping of one color over a different, adjacent color to ensure that no white space is visible where the two colors meet, especially when there are slight variations in the registration of the two colors during the printing process. Or the process of printing wet ink over wet or dry previously printed ink.

Trim marks

Marks placed on the printed sheet to indicate where cuts should be made.

Trim size

The final size of a printed piece after being cut from the sheet of paper that it was printed on.

UV Coating

A very shiny and durable high gloss coating applied to printed material. It is applied as a liquid then cured with ultraviolet light.

Variable Data Printing

Is a form of on-demand printing in which elements (such as text, graphics, images) can be changed from one printed piece to the next using information from a data file.


A clear coating added to printed material as a protective layer for improved scuff resistance and usually higher gloss.


A finish of paper that is somewhat bulky and is slightly rough.


The procedure of cleaning a particular ink from the unit of a printing press.


A translucent mark or image that is embossed during the papermaking process, or printed onto paper, which is visible when the paper is held up to the light.


A smooth paper with a gentle patterned finish.

Writing paper

Another name for bond paper.