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Glossary Of Print Terms

Like any industry, printing has its own set of jargon that may not always be clear to those unfamiliar with the terms. Which is why we came up with this small sampling of terms commonly used in the printing trade, terms that could help you communicate with your customer service rep.

Basis Weight – The weight, in pounds, of a 500-sheet ream of paper cut to its basic size.

Binding – The process of joining of page “signatures” with glue, wire, tape, coil or other methods.

Bleed – Printing of a color block or photograph that extends to the edge of a page after it has been trimmed.

Body – The main text of a work, not including headlines, captions (also called cutlines), and other text.

Carbonless Paper – A special paper that transfers images (most often handwriting) from one sheet to another.

CMYK – Abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and “key” (or black), the four inks used to print full-color process documents.

Coated Paper – Paper manufactured with a coating of clay or other substances designed to improve the paper’s reflectivity.

Cover Paper – Thick paper typically used in products like folders, posters, menus and book covers. Note that the basis weight of cover paper and the basis weight of text paper are not measured in identical fashion.

Die Cut – Process wherein irregularly shaped incisions (like a business card holder) are cut into paper.

Dots Per Inch – Also called DPI, a measurement of digital resolution for devices like scanners, cameras, monitors, laser printers, etc. For printing purposes, images typically need to be 300 dpi or greater.

Finished Size – The size of a document once it has been printed, bound and trimmed.

Makeready – The process of preparing a press and bindery equipment to produce a job.

Matte Finish – Flat (not glossy) finish on coated printing paper.

Offset Printing – Printing technique that uses a “blanket” to transfer ink from a metallic plate to the paper.

Perfect Binding – The process of binding sheets together at the spine and holding them in place with glue and a wrapped cover.

Plate – Typically an etched piece of metal that picks up ink and transfers it to paper.

Prepress – The functions performed before a job is printed; typically these include desktop design and layout of a document, electronically preparing the document to print, and platemaking.

Press Proof – A proof of a document made by printing an example on the press and paper for which the job was designed. Changes made at the press proof level require new prepress and makeready functions, and can significantly elevate the price of a print job.

Saddle Stitch – The process of binding a document by stapling or wiring pages together at a folded spine. Satin Finish – Term for a dull finish on coated paper.

Spine – The back or bound edge of a document or publication. Spread – Facing pages designed as a single visual unit.

Substrate – Paper, vinyl or other material used as the basis for a printed job.

Text Paper – Printing papers manufactured with textured surfaces, such as laid or linen.

Uncoated Paper – Paper manufactured without coatings like clay.

UV Coating – A liquid applied to a sheet after printing that is bonded and cured with ultraviolet light. Used to protect printed images.

Varnish – A liquid applied to a sheet after printing that is used to protect printed images or give a document a textured feel.

Watermark – Subtle, often translucent logo or seal applied to a paper during manufacturing.

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