To help you understand more about our business here is our quick reference guide to print terminology


A-sizes: main series of finished printing trimmed sizes in the ISO international paper size range.
A0 - 841 x 1189mm
A1 - 594 x 841mm
A2 - 420 x 594mm
A3 - 297 x 420mm
A4 - 210 x 297mm
A5 - 148 x 210mm
A6 - 105 x 148mm

Acetates: clear overlay with black and/or colour type. Used for presenting covers and concepts to client.

Additive Primaries: in reproduction, red, green and blue; at an equal share of value they produce the sensation of white light.

Adhesive binding: (see also Perfect Binding) Type of threadless binding in which the leaves of a book are held together at the binding edge by glue or synthetic adhesive (see also P.U.R. binding).

Against the Grain: Folding paper at right angles to the grain direction of the paper.

Artwork: text, graphic and illustrations arranged individually or in any combination for subsequent printing. Very rare these days. Artwork is a bit of a misnomer as they are computer-originated, and supplied as digitized data on a disk or other means of electronic data. It then goes to the Repro stage or reprographic colour separation to use its full title. This enables the separation to be printed in the four basic printing process colours (cyan, magenta, yellow and black).

Ascender: In typesetting, the part of a lower case letter which rises above the main body, as in the letter "d".

ASCII: American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This is a standard coding system within the computer industry to convert keyboard input into digital information. It covers all of the printable characters in normal use and control characters such as carriage return and line feed. The full table contains 127 elements.

Author’s Corrections: Corrections made by the author on proofs, that alter the original copy. The cost of making such alterations is charged for, in contrast to printer’s errors or house corrections.

B sizes:
ISO international sizes intended primarily for posters, wall charts and similar items where difference in size of the larger sheets in the A series represents too large a gap.

B0 – 1000 x 1414mm
B1 – 707 x 1000mm
B2 – 500 x 707mm
B3 – 353 x 500mm
B4 – 250 x 353mm
B5 – 176 x 250mm

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

Binding Editions: detailed documents, supplied by client, which include binding directions, cover information, ink-jet keys, postage or address information, inserts and wrap information, quantity and mailing dates.

Bimetallic: Plate in lithography, a plate used for long runs. The printing image base is usually copper and the non-printing area is aluminium or stainless steel.

Bind-in Order Forms: (a.k.a. mail order blanks or MOB'S) binds into the centre of the book or is part of the wrap cover.

Bit: In computers, the basic unit of digital information. It is a contraction of. BInary digiT (BIT).

Bit Map: In computer imaging, the electronic representation of a page, indicating the position of every possible spot from 0 to 100 and rest from other document.

Black and White: Originals or reproductions in single colour.

Blade coated mechanical: The base uncoated stock is covered in a wet coating and the excess is removed by a thin flexible metal blade leaving a uniform thin gloss coating on both sides of the paper. Generally off-white in colour.

Blanket: In offset printing, a rubber surfaced fabric that is clamped around a plate cylinder.

Bleed: When the printed image extends beyond the trimmed area of a page.

Blind Embossing: A design, which gives a bas-relief effect, without ink.

Block: In binding, to impress or stamp a design upon the cover. The design can be blocked in coloured inks, or metal foil.

Blowup: A photographic enlargement.

Blueprint/Blue-line: in web-offset lithography, a photoprint made from stripped up negatives or positives used to proof check the position of an image on the page and imposition generally. I'm not sure what it means either.

Bollocks: Technical term when realizing an error has occurred.

Bond Paper: A grade in writing or printing paper; usually used for letterheads or business forms.

BPOP: Bulk Packed on Pallets - A method of packing finished printed products in which they are not wrapped in parcels but stacked onto pallets, usually turned in equal quantities. Finished pallets are then wrapped in plastic film.

Broadsheet: Any sheet in its basic size (not folded or cut); also denotes a newspaper size.

Bromide: A photographic paper used in graphic reproduction, phototypesetting on which a photographic image is created.

Bulk: Relative thickness of a sheet or sheets, for example, a bulky paper and a thin paper both of the same weight display different "bulk" or ''thickness''.

Bugger: Technical term, usually used before Bollocks as an error first comes to light

Bump Exposure: in the plate room, an exposure in halftone especially with contact screens, in which the screen is removed for a short time; this increases highlight contrast and drops out the dots in the whites.

Camera Ready:
art or copy ready for reproduction.

Case: in bookbinding, the covers of a hardbound book.

CD-ROM: an acronym used for Compact Disc Read-Only-Memory. A CD-ROM drive uses the CD format as a computer storage medium.

Cheating-the-Plate: Usually a fall back position when you’re not getting anywhere on press. By either under exposing a new plate (making more dot and therefore colour be there) or over exposing the plate (lessening the dot and therefore colour a press) trying to get an acceptable result. Not ideal but has saved many on occasion. More difficult with CTP.

CMYK: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key(black) subtractive primary colours - used as the basic colours in the printing industry.

Coated Stock: paper having a surface coating which produces a smooth finish.

Cold colour: in printing, a colour with, a bluish cast.

Colour Correction: any method, such as masking, dot-etching or scanning, used to improve colour rendition.

Colour Proofing: this term describes a wide range of techniques which have been developed to reproduce full colour images from film or digital data available, prior to the actual print run; thus allowing the client, colour separation house and printer to view the “proofed” result, prior to the actual print run.

Colour Separation: in photography, the process of separating colour originals into the primary printing colour components, in negative or positive form.

Concertina fold: a method of alternate folding, so that when opened out the finished product is folded in a zigzag fashion. Rather like a, er, concertina. Contact Print: a photographic print made from a negative or positive in contact with sensitized paper, film or printing plate.

Continuous Tone: a photographic image which contains gradient tones from black to white

Contract Proof: a coloured, hard copy representation of the printed image, made from the films, which will be used to make the final printing plates. The word “contract” comes from the fact that, when signed by the client, a contract is formed, which states that the final printed job should be a close match to the contract proof.

Contrast: The tonal gradation between the highlights, middle tone and shadows in an original or reproduction.

Cromalin: an off-press electrostatic colour proof. DuPont trademark used as a generic term, rather like Hoover for electrostatic proofs generally.

Crop: to eliminate portions of copy or art indicated on an original by crop marks.

Crossover: when a photograph crosses gutter from one page to another.

CTP: Computer on to Plate. A fully digital way of producing Plates where digital files are manipulated in to the dot formation needed to print from and then a Plate is produced from this.

Curl: in paper, the distortion of a sheet due to differences in structure or coatings from one side to the other or absorption of moisture on an offset press.

Cut-Off: in web offset printing, the cut or print length.

Daylight Studio:
studio shot which uses outdoor light or natural light.

Deckle Edge: The untrimmed feathery edges of paper formed where the pulp flows against the edge.

Demographic binding: a way of using client data to ink-jet variable data onto a brochure/catalogue/magazine on the binding line.

Densitometer: a device for measuring the colour density at a specific location on film or printed product, either by reflected or transmitted light.

Density: the degree of darkness of an image.

Descender: that part of a lower case letter which extends below the main body as in the letter q

Desktop publishing: A generic title given to the introduction of personal computers (PC) to typesetting, page composition and image handling. Apple Mac and Quark Express are to preferred hardware/software in the industry.

Die-Cutting: the process of using sharp steel rules to cut special shapes.

Diestamping: An intaglio process of printing in which the resultant impression stands out in relief above the surface of the stamped material, either coloured (using inks) or blind (that is, without colour): relief stamping.

Digital Colour Proofs: an off-press colour proof produced from digital data without the need for separated films.

Direct Imaging: A term used with presses that need no plates, as the image to be printed is in fact created within the press, usually by laser onto a sasitised roller.

Dithering: a technique of filling the gap between two pixels with another pixel having an average value of the two to minimise the difference or add detail to smooth the result.

Dot: the individual element in both halftones and four colour process printing.

Dot Etching: In separations, chemically reducing halftone dots to vary the amount of colour to be printed; dot etching on negatives increases colour, dot etching on positives reduces colour.

Dot Gain: In printing, a defect in which dots print larger than they should, causing darker tones and stronger colours.

Doubling: The appearance on a printed product of the non-coincidental images obtained at one impression.

Dots Per Inch (dpi): a measure of resolution on the printed page.

Drawn-on Cover: a paper book cover which is attached to the sewn book by gluing the spine.

Duo tone: a two-colour halftone reproduction from a one-colour photograph.

Dummy: a sample of a proposed job made up with the actual materials and cut to the correct size to show bulk, style of binding etc. Also a complete layout of a job showing position of type matter and illustrations, margins etc. Pain in the backside to every printer known to mankind, and therefore getting them has a similar time scale to that of a Humpback whale gestation period. Unless you use WebMart®. Next day to you Sir/Madam!

Duplex Paper: a paper with a different colour or finish on each side

Electrostatic Proofs:
Off press colour proofs produced from film and coloured toner.

Elliptical Dot: in halftone photography, elongated dots which give improved gradation of tones particularly in middle tones and vignettes.

Embossing: impressing an image in relief to attain a raised surface.

Emulsion Side: the side of film coated with silver halide emulsion.

First Proof:
Refers to type proofs which are submitted to the client for approval.

Fit: A colloquial way of referring to the accurate position of one colour on top of another on a printed sheet.

Flash Exposure: in photography, the supplementary exposure given to strengthen the dots in the shadow areas of negatives.

Flexography: A relief process in which printing is done from rubber or plastic on a web-fed press using liquid inks.

Flying Imprinter: a press furnished with a special unit which allows for one plate to be changed on a press without stopping the machine. It saves time/waste and therefore cost.

Fog: in photography, silver density in the non-image areas

Folio: the page number.

Form: in offset lithography, the assembly of pages and other images for printing.

Four-colour Process: Colour printing by means of three subtractive primary colours (yellows, magenta, cyan) and black superimposed; the colours of the original having been separated by a photographic or electronic process.

FOB: an acronym (Freight On Board) used to detail the location where an item is to ship.

FPO: an acronym (For Position Only) used in mechanical presentation to identify the crop specifications on a specific piece of composition.

in binding, the assembling of folded signatures in proper sequence.

Ghosting: lightening of film area; taking down of colour value by a percentage so that type can be sur printed.

Grain: in papermaking, the direction in which most fibre’s lie. Tear any piece of paper and it will have one direction where it tears in a straight line (the grain direction) and one where it doesn't (across the grain).

Gravure: process in which recesses on a printing cylinder are filled with ink and the surplus removed by a blade. The paper contacts the cylinder and ‘lifts’ the ink from the recesses before depositing it on the paper. Generally used for long-run printing, e.g. magazines and catalogues, because of the high cost of the cylinders.

Grey Balance: the dot values of CMYK that produce a neutral grey.

GSM: abbreviation of grams per square metre. A method of indicating the substance of paper or board (whatever the size of the paper/board or number of sheets in the package) on the basis of weight. If unsure about the weight, use a set of paper (or Demi to use the paper name) scales to accurately ascertain it.

Gut-feel: essential management tool for in depth analysis of a particular situation to come up with a rational solution, usually confirmed in its efficiency by the passage of time. In particular demand when it comes to press buying decisions in the UK.

Gutter: the blank space or inner margin from printing area to binding.

the reproduction of continuous-tone artwork.

Hickeys: in offset lithography, spots or imperfection in the printing due to such things as dirt on the press, dried ink skin, paper particles, etc.

Honda-Interface: Bedraggled individuals which make the pragmatic link the client-side and supply-side demands. Death defying in their commitment to move fag packet tranny from one side of London to the other for 32p per mile! Use FTP - it's easier, cheaper and less likely to get damaged!

in printing, the pressure of a type plate or blanket as it comes in contact with paper.

Imposition: Arrangement of pages in a sequence which will read consecutively when printed sheet is folded.

In-house: internally handles the functions of an agency or service.

ISDN: Basically a telephone line which can transmit digital data. Slowly and with little accountability.

to align sheets of paper into a compact pile.

in typesetting, the space between two characters.

Key line:
in artwork, an outline drawing of finished art to indicate the exact shape, position and size for such elements as halftones, line sketches, etc.

Kiss Impression: in printing, a very light impression, just enough to produce an image on paper.

a plastic film bonded by heat and pressure to a printed sheet for protection.

Landscape: oblong loose or folded printed sheet, or book, having its long sides at head and foot.

Laser: light amplification by Simulated Emission of Radiation – a fine beam of light, sometimes with considerable energy, used in image setting, colour scanning, copy scanning, platemaking, engraving and cutting and creasing form-making.

Layout: a rendering done in ink of the position and size of the art and type; completed by Art Director upon the instructions of the client.

Leaders: in composition, rows of dashes or dots to guide the eye across the page; used in tabular work, programs, tables of contents, etc.

Leading: in composition, the distance between lines of type, measured in points.

Limp Cover: a flexible book cover, as distinct from a stiff board cover.

Line Copy: copy suitable for reproduction without using a halftone screen.

Lithographic printing: A process in which the printing and non-printing surfaces are on the same plane and the substrate makes contact with the whole surface. The printing part of the surface is treated to receive and transmit ink to the paper, usually via a blanket, the non-printing surface is treating to attract water and thus rejects ink from the ink roller, which touches the surface.

Long grain press: a press where the longest side of the finished product runs parallel to the grain of the paper.

Loose Insert: A piece of paper or card laid between the leaves of a brochure/magazine and not secured in anyway.

abbreviation for a quantity of 1,000 sheets of paper.

Make ready: in printing, all work done to set up a press for printing.

Manifest: a record of all outgoing merchandise.

in colour separation photography, an intermediate photographic negative or positive used in colour correction.

Matt Finish: dull paper finish, without gloss or luster.

Mechanical: a term for a camera-ready paste-up of artwork. It includes type, photos, line art, etc., all on one piece of art board.

Media code: letter designated to identify each book and each version; client supplies them and lists them in the binding edition.

Machine finished (MF): any finish obtained on a papermaking machine. It can refer to either the finish on the sheet as it leaves the last drying cylinder of the machine, or the finish given to a sheet by calendering, but on machine.

Middle Tones: the tonal range between highlights and shadows of a photograph or reproduction.

Moire: in colour process printing, the undesirable screen pattern caused by incorrect screen angles overprinting halftones.

Mortise: white panel or box where 4 colours have been removed from film to hold type.

Mottle: the spotty or uneven appearance of printing, mostly in solid areas.

Mylar: in offset preparation, a polyester film specially suited for stripping positives.

in printing, the process of using an intermediate blanket cylinder to transfer an image from the image carrier to the substrate.

Original: the term applied to copy which is to be reproduced.

Overprinting: double printing, printing over an area the already has been printed.

Overs: The quantity of unit production, for example, books and sheets, delivered to the customer above the net amount ordered, usually charged at a run-on rate; also an allowance to cover wastage.

The amount of pages to be produced. In computerised typesetting, the process of performing page makeup automatically. In printing, the amount of pages within the finished printed piece.

Pantone: Pantone, Pantone Matching System and PMS + are Pantone Inc’s check-standard trademarks for colour standards, colour data, colour reproduction and colour reproduction materials, and other colour related products and services, meeting its specifications, control and quality requirements.

Part Mechanical: A paper containing up to 50% mechanical pulp, the remainder being chemical pulp.

PDF: Portable Document Format - The industry standard for saving files in an acceptable format. Quick cheap and increasingly stable. Good news when combined with FTP.

Perfect Bound: A way of adhesive binding multi-section jobs. Individual sections are collected together and the spine is ground off (typically 3mm). Glue is then applied to the spine and a cover pulled on before the product is trimmed to size.

Perfecting Press: a printing press that prints both sides of the paper in one pass through the press. Pica: printer's unit of measurement used in typesetting; one pica equals approximately 1/6 of an inch.

Pick-up Page: an exact pickup page is a page that is picked up intact from a previous book, with no additional devices, no change in photos, crop marks, etc.

Piling: in printing, the building up or caking of ink on rollers, plate or blanket; not also, the accumulation of paper dust or coating on the blanket of offset press.

Pin Register: the use of accurately positioned holes and special pins on copy, film, plates and presses to insure proper register or fit of colours.

Pixel: in electronic imaging, a basic unit of digital imaging.

Plate Cylinder: the cylinder of a press on which the plate is mounted.

Portrait: an upright, oblong artwork or photograph where vertical dimension is greater than the horizontal.

PostScript: a page description language (PDL) developed by Adobe, which describes the contents and layout of a page. PostScript also serves as a programming language whereby the PostScript code is executed by a PostScript RIP in the output device in order to produce a printout or film containing the page.

Pre-Press: all procedures (and costs) associated with bringing a job to press, without actually producing a copy.

Press Proofs: in colour reproduction, a proof of a colour subject made on a printing press, in advance of the production run.

Primary Colours: see Additive Primaries.

Process Printing: the printing from a series of two or more halftone plates to produce intermediate colours and shades.

Progressive Proofs (Progs): proofs made from the separate plates in colour process work, showing the sequence of printing and the result after each additional colour has been applied.

Proof: a version of a document or colour illustration produced specifically for the purpose of review prior to reproduction.

PUR Binding: same process as perfect binding, but use a synthetic adhesive (PolyUrethane React) rather than conventional glue. Offers greater flexibility and longevity of the finished product.

the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy a given need or requirement; also describes as “fitness for purpose” or value for money as perceived by the customer.

Ragged Left:
in typesetting, type that is justified on the right margin and ragged on the left

Ragged Right: in typesetting, type that is justified on the left margin and ragged on the right.

Ram Bundled: a way of presenting finished printed products comprising copies strapped together very tightly with end-boards to make them more suitable for machine inserting.

Ream: five hundred sheets of paper.

Reel: term used for continuous roll of printing paper

Reel Width: side to side dimension for a reel of paper

Register: in printing, fitting of two or more printing images in exact alignment.

Register Marks: crosses or other targets applied to original copy prior to photography; used for positioning films in register, or to register two or more colours in process printing.

RGB: red, green, blue additive primary colours. Have to be converted to CMYK at the pre-press stage prior to printing 4 colour process.

Rotary Trimmed: a way of trimming on-press without the copy being stationary of the time.

Right-Angle Fold/Quarter fold: in binding, two or more folds at 90 degrees to each other.

Rub off code: see media code

Run-Around: in composition, type set to fit around a picture or other design element. Also what a customers feels when the supplier they use is in a production meeting. Use WebMart®. Someone will always be able to help!

Saddle stitch:
in binding, to fasten a booklet by wiring it through the middle fold of the sheets.

34% of all paper produced is derived from recycled materials.

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