A Glossary of Printing, Binding, Graphic Arts and Typographical Terminology


A4 Paper ISO standard paper size 210 x 297mm or 8.3 x 11.7″. The common paper size used outside the US in place of 8.5 x 11.
Accordion Fold Folding paper by bending each fold in the opposite direction of the previous fold creating a pleated or accordion effect.
Artwork The original physical materials, including photos, graphic images, text and other components needed to produce a printed piece. Can also now refer to the electronic or digital components needed for preparing a printed piece for production on a press or copier.
Backslant Any type that tilts to the left or backward direction; opposite of italic type.
Balloon In an illustration, any line that encircles copy or dialogue.
Base line The imaginary horizontal line upon which stand capitals, lower case letters, punctuation points, etc.
Bindery A business or department within a printing company that does the cutting, folding, collating, drilling and other finishing operations used on printing projects.
Blanket The rubberized surfaced material secured onto a cylinder onto which the ink is transferred from the plate and then to the paper.
Bleed Any element that extends up to or past the edge of a printed page.
Blind Emboss A design or bas relief impression that is made without using inks or metal foils.
Body In typography, the main shank or portion of a letter character other than the ascenders and descenders.
Bond A grade of durable writing, printing and typing paper that is erasable and somewhat rigid.
Book Paper Types of paper usually used for printing books. Book paper text weight and is divided into uncoated or offset paper, and coated paper, which includes matte or gloss coating.
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.
Caliper The measurement of the thickness of paper measured in thousandths of an inch or mils.
Case binding Books bound using hard board (case) covers.
Carbonless Paper Paper that is chemically treated to transfer the impression from the first page to the subsequent pages. See Carbonless NCR Form Printing for more detailed info.
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.
Chain lines Lines that appear on laid paper as a result of the wires of the papermaking machine.
Clip art Graphic images, designs, and artwork in digital form that can be used in a digital document.
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.
Cold color Any color that is toward the blue side of the color spectrum.
Collate 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 separating The processes of separating the primary color components (CMYK) for printing.
Color Sequence The order in which process inks are printed on a printing press. Also called the color rotation or laydown sequence.
Condensed type A narrow, elongated typeface.
Contrast The degree of tonal separation or gradation in the range from black to white.
Cover A term describing a general type of paper used for the covers of books, pamphlets, etc., also used for business cards and postcards.
Coverage The extent to which printing ink covers the surface of a printed sheet. Ink coverage is frequently expressed as light, medium or heavy.
Crop To reduce the size of an image.
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.
Cyan A shade of blue used in four-color process printing. The C in CMYK. Also referred to as process blue.
Density The degree of tone, weight of darkness or color within a photo or reproduction measured by a densitometer.
Desktop Publishing Creating materials to be printed using a personal computer, as opposed to taking non-electronic documents to a commercial printing company to be prepared for printing.
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 Proof Color separation data is digitally stored and then exposed to color photographic paper creating a picture of the final product before it is actually printed with ink.
Dot The smallest individual element of a halftone.
Dot gain A term used to describe when dots are printing larger than they should.
Drill The drilling of holes into paper for ring or comb binding.
Drop shadow A shadow image placed offset behind an image to create the effect of the image lifting off the page.
Dull finish A semi-gloss finish on paper that is less glossy than gloss and more than matte paper.
Dummy The preliminary assemblage of copy and art elements to be reproduced in the desired finished product, also called a comp.
Duotone A two-color halftone reproduction generated from a one color photo.
Embossing 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.
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.
Foil Then metal sheet that is applied to paper using the foil stamping process. Frequently gold colored, but available in many colors.
Foil Embossing 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 Stamping Impressing metallic foil onto paper with a heated die.
Font The characters which make up a complete typeface and size.
FPO – For Position Only Low resolution or mockup images used to indicate placement and size in a design, but not intended for final production.
Ganging 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.
Gathering Assembling sheets of paper and signatures into their proper sequence. See also collate.
Gripper A series of metal fingers that hold each sheet of paper as it passes through a printing press.
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.
Gutter A blank space or margin between components on a printed piece or press sheet.
Halftone Using small dots to produce the impression of a continuous-tone image. The effect is achieved by varying the dot size and the number of dots per square inch.
Halftone screen A sheet of film or glass containing ruled right-angled lines, used to translate the full tone of a photo to the halftone dot image required for printing.
Hickey The effect that occurs when a spec of dust or debris (frequently dried ink) adheres to the printing plate and creates a spot or imperfection in the printing.
Highlights The lightest tones of a photo, printed halftone or illustration. In the finished halftone, these highlights are represented by the finest dots.
Hot melt An adhesive used in some binding processes, which requires heat for application.
Image area That portion of a printing plate that carries ink and prints on paper.
Imposition 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.
Ink Dry When printed ink colors become lighter or less dense after they have dried on the paper.
Insert A piece of printed material that is inserted into another piece of printed material, such as a magazine or catalog.
Jacket Or dust jacket. The paper cover sometimes called the “dust cover” of a hardbound book.
 Justification  Adjusting the spacing or hyphenation of words and characters to fill a given line of text from end to end. Sometimes referred to as word spacing.
 Kerning  The narrowing of space between two letters so that they become closer and take up less space on the page.
Keyline Lines that are drawn on artwork that indicate the exact placement, shape and size of elements including halftones, illustrations, etc.
Kraft A coarse unbleached paper used for printing and industrial products.
Lamination Applying thin transparent plastic sheets to both sides of a sheet of paper, providing scuff resistance, waterproofing and extended use.
Landscape A document layout where the width is greater than the height. (the opposite of Portrait)
Layout A rendition that shows the placement of all the elements, images, thumbnails etc., of a final printed piece.
Leading Space between lines of type. The distance in points between one baseline and the next.
Letterpress Printing that utilizes inked raised surfaces, usually type, to create the image.
Letter spacing The addition of space between typeset letters.
Linen A paper that emulates the look and texture of linen cloth.
Lithography The process of printing that utilizes flat or curved inked surfaces to create the printed images.
Logotype A personalized type or design symbol for a company or product.
Magenta One of the four process colors, or CMYK, the M is for magenta. Magenta is a predominately red color with some blue. Magenta, cyan and yellow are also the three subtractive primary colors.
Make-ready Paper that is used in the press set-up process before the printing run actually starts. Or the process of setting up press or bindery equipment to produce a specific product, including setting paper size, ink density, image alignment, fold sizes, etc., in preparation for the actual production run.
Matte 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.
Natural A term to describe papers that have a color similar to that of wood, also called cream, off-white or ivory.
Newsprint A light, low-cost unbleached paper made especially for newspaper printing.
Offset An erroneous variation of the word “setoff”. Ink that is unintentionally transferred from a printed sheet to the back of the sheet above it as the pieces are stacked in a pile when printed.
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.
Onionskin A light bond paper used for typing and used with carbon paper because of its thinness.
Opacity 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.
Overprinting Any printing that is done on an area that has already been printed.
Overrun Quantities of sheets printed over the requested number of copies.
Pagination The numbering of individual pages in a multi-page document.
Parent sheet A sheet that is larger than the cut stock of the same paper.
Perfect Binding A binding process where the signatures of a book are held together by a flexible adhesive.
Pica A typesetting unit of measurement equaling 1/6th of an inch.
PMS The abbreviation of the Pantone Color Matching System.
Point A measurement unit equal to 1/72 of an inch. 12 points to a pica, 72 points to an inch.
Portrait A document layout in which the height is greater than the width. (the opposite of Landscape)
PostScript A trade name of Adobe Systems, Inc. for its page description language. This language translates a digital file from an application into a language a compatible printer or other device can use to create its output.
Ppi Pages per inch or pixels per inch.
Premium Any paper that is considered better than grade #1 by its manufacturer.
Pressure-sensitive 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.
Progressive proofs Any proofs made from the separate colors of a multi-color printing project.
Quote or Quotation A price estimate to produce a specific printed piece, frequently with custom attributes not priceable in standard online pricing tools.
Ragged left The term given to right-justified type that is uneven on the left.
Ragged right The term given to left-justified type that is uneven on the right.
Ream 500 sheets of paper.
Register The arrangement of two or more printed images in exact alignment with each other.
Register marks Any crossmarks or other symbols used on a press sheet to assure proper registration.
RGB 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.
Right angle fold A term that denotes folds that are 90 degrees to each other.
Running head A title at the top of a page that appears on all pages of a book or chapter of a book.
Saddle stitch The binding of booklets or other printed materials by stapling the pages on the folded spine.
Scoring To crease paper with a metal rule for the purpose of making folding easier.
Screen angles The placement of halftone screens to avoid unwanted moiré patterns. Frequently used angles are black 45º, magenta 75º, yellow 90º, and cyan 105º.
Screen ruling A measurement equaling the number of lines or dots per inch on a halftone screen.
Self-cover A cover that is the same paper stock as the internal sheets.
Sharpen To decrease the dot size of a halftone, which in turn decreases the color strength.
Sheetwise The printing of two different images on two different sides of a sheet of paper by turning the sheet over after the first side is printed and using the same gripper and side guides.
Show through When the printing on one side of a sheet is seen from the other side, a frequent problem with thin papers.
Side stitch The stapling of sheets or signatures on the side closest to the spine.
Signature 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.
Spiral bind A type of binding where a metal or plastic wire is spiraled through holes drilled along the binding side of a document.
Stock A term for unprinted paper. See paper type descriptions
Text paper A high quality light weight printing paper.
Tint A halftone screen that contains all the same sized dots.
Trapping 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.
Typo A spelling mistake in printed material resulting from a mistake in typing or setting type. See common printing term misspellings.
Under color removal The removing of cyan, magenta, or yellow from a heavily colored image to limit the total amount of ink being applied to that image to avoid potential production problems.
Up A term used to describe how many similar pieces can be printed on a larger sheet; two up, four up, etc.
UV Coating A very shiny and durable high gloss coating applied to printed material. Applied as a liquid then cured with ultraviolet light.
Varnish A clear coating added to printed material as a protective layer for improved scuff resistance and usually higher gloss.
Vellum A finish of paper that is somewhat bulky and is slightly rough.
Vignette A photo or illustration, in which the tones fade gradually away until they blend with the background they are printed on.
Warm color A color with a reddish tone rather than a blue tone. Browns, oranges, reds, and yellows are generally considered to be “warm” colors.
Watermark 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.
Web press A printing press that prints on rolls of paper passed through the press in one continuous piece, as opposed to individual sheets of paper.
Work and Turn A printing production format that has the front and back of a printed piece on one side of the paper, which is then printed the same on the back side, producing two copies of the piece.
Wove A smooth paper with a gentle patterned finish.
Writing paper Another name for bond paper.
Yellow One of the four process colors of ink, or CMYK. The Y is for yellow.
Zip file Zipping a file compresses one or more files into a smaller archive. It takes up less hard drive space and less time to transfer across a network or the internet.

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