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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 representative.

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

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

Die Cut

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

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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