Print Industry Jargon Buster

by | Technical

I’ve had a head-spinning introduction to the digital printing london business. As one of the newest members of the team, whilst I may be a bit of a digital expert, I’m still learning about Print4UK (and the print industry from scratch). I know we’re commercial printers. I know we’re known for our digital printing in London. But it did get me thinking…. There are all sorts of fascinating things that are going on here. Yet some of the terminology baffled me at first. And I wondered if it might be the same for our clients.

So that’s why I went about doing some research of my own over these first few weeks. I wanted to learn about all the new words I’d been hearing, but I had no idea what they meant. For example, words and phrases like “perfect bound printing”, “prospectus printing” and “short run printing” were just flying straight over my head. Yet these are what we specialise in, here at Print4UK.

And the result is my jargon buster! I hope you’ll find it useful and that it gets you out of that sticky situation where you don’t understand a word or phrase. And, if there are any that I have missed, please let me know because it will help me, as well as plenty of others like you.

Print Industry Jargon Buster

Adobe Illustrator – a vector based drawing software composed and advertised by Adobe.

Adobe Photoshop – is a pixel editing program developed and published by Adobe, it is the market leader for image manipulation.

Art Work– Finished Layout of typesetting, drawings and photographs, made up into a form which I ready to print.

Back Up – to print on the reverse side of an already printed sheet.

Bitmap – A term used to often describe the effect where edges of a picture take on a blocky shape due to errors in an image processing.

Blanket – A rubber printing pad which is fixed to the cylinder of an offset printing press. The printing plate transfers ink onto the blanket which in turn applies the image to the substrate.

Bleed – Printing where the colour continues off the edge of the paper.

Board – material up to and including 170gsm is referred to paper, and material over 170gsm is referred to as board.

Bulk – can be the size of an order or the thickness of paper.

Case Bound – a hardback book made with stiff outer covers.

Clipping Region – As set by the printer, this is the unprintable space around the edge of the paper.

CMYK – Letters which stand for Colours, C=Cyan M=Magenta Y=Yellow K=Key(black).

Coated Paper – A paper treated with clay to give it a smooth coated look and feel for quality printing. Finishes can be gloss, matte and silk, amongst others. Designated as C1S for one coated side, or C2S for two coated signs.

Colour Separations – The division of a multicoloured original into the basic printing colours of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.

Collating – To arrange multiple pages in order (to be stapled or clipped, for example).

Copy – The written text to be printed. Also, used to refer to the artwork.

Cracking – when board is folded you may notice that it cracks or breaks at the fold. To reduce this boards are always creased before they are folded.

Crop Marks – Special crop marks are added to artwork outside the area to be printed to show where the job should be trimmed to achieve the required finish size.

Data integrity – this is a term used in computer science and telecommunications that can mean ensuring the data is whole or complete, the condition in which data are identically maintained during any operation, the preservation of data for their intended use, or, relative to specified operations, expectation of data quality. Put simply, data integrity is the assurance that data is consistent and correct

Debossing – Stamping a design onto the front of a printed area of paper or card to produce an impression. This is the reverse of embossing.

Die Cutting – Paper or Board can be die cut to an irregular shape or have a shape cut out of the middle using a cutting form. This is the process by which folders are made.

Digital Print – Short run personalised, full color direct mail and transpromotional print that combines invoices or statements with personalised promotional content, rapidly growing applications for digital printing.

Direct Mail – the most common form of direct marketing is direct mail. Direct marketing is a sub-discipline and type of marketing. There are two main definitional characteristics which distinguish it from other types of marketing. The first is that it attempts to send its message directly to consumers, without the use of intervening media. This involves commercial communication with consumers or businesses, usually unsolicited. The second characteristic is that it is focused on driving purchases that can be attributed to a specific call to action. This aspect of direct marketing involves an emphasis on trackable, measureable positive responses from consumers regardless of medium.

Dot Gain – this is where the halftone dots of an image print larger than the size they were on the films or printing plates. This results in some loss of detail. Some degree of dot gin is an avoidable part of the printing process and there are settings in several desktop publishing tools to allow for this. Adobe Photoshop has settings to allow for dot gain under its colour setting preferences.

Dots Per Inch (dpi) – the measurement of resolution for page printers, photo type setting machines and graphic screens. Graphic screens usually reproduce 60 to 72 dpi, most page printers 304 dpi, and typesetting systems 1,000 dpi.

Dummy – a mockup of proposed publication design including all the pages fastened together, and often containing art and type taken from other printed materials. We can print onto a maximum of 450gsm board. In order to achieve a thicker, result a sheet of paper is glued to a piece of thicker card. This is often seen on the covers of case bound books.

Dust Jacket – An outer paper cover which is wrapped around the outside of a book. Most often seen with case bound books.

Embossing – Stamping a design onto the reverse of a printed area of paper or card to produce a raised effect. Used particularly on paperback books in addition to spot UV and lamination.

EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) – This is a DSC-conforming PostScript document with additional restrictions intended to make EPS files usable as a graphics file format. In other words, EPS files are more or less self-contained, reasonably predictable PostScript documents that describe an image or drawing, that can be placed within another PostScript document and blown up big without losing detail.

Epson Proofs – A mockup of a proposed publication design including all the pages before plates are made for press, to check content and colour.

Finishing – The final steps of the printing process after the actual printing is complete. This includes folding, collating, hole drilling, scoring and binding.

Finished Size  – The size of the job once it is completely finished.

Flat Size – The size of the job once its trimmed but before its folded. An A4 4pp leaflet has a flat size of A3.

Four Colour Process – The four-standard printing colours CMYK and mixed together to create colour printing. If you look at a four colour process job under an eyeglass you can see patterns of dots of each colour which together give the overall effect required.

Fulfilment – The actual process of stuffing envelopes, setting up a mailing list and shipping out a mailing piece. Following up on tracking and a mailing is also part of fulfilment.

Full Colour – Another term to describe the four colour process.

Ganging – When a printer runs a variety of different jobs together for more efficient production and keep cost down for the client to benefit from.

Gate Fold  – Finished sheet where both sides are folded, overlapping, towards the gutter.

GSM – this stands for grams per square meter and is the standard unit of weight for paper.

Gutter – The inside margins or blank space between two facing pages of a magazine or book is called the gutter. The gutter space is allowed due to the space lost during the binding process, especially during perfect binding. In saddle-stitched publications the gutter is adjusted to allow for a process called ‘creep’, in which the outer pages of a section appear to bunch up and the inner pages protrude more.

Hard Copy Proofing – (also see Epson Proofs) A cost effective solution for holding in your hand a proof to check content and colour before plates are made for press.

Indigo – HP Digital Offset Printing Press. Its ability to print without films and plates enables it to create personalised short runs, changing text, images and jobs without having to stop the press.

ISO paper sizes – European paper size standard – The most common of which is the ‘A’ series. The aspect ratio of ISO paper sheets is 1 to 1.414. This means that if you cut a sheet into halves they will be the same proportion as the original. In other words, a sheet of A3, when cut in half, will give two sheets of A4. There are also B and C size papers and the larger RA and SRA paper sizes, which allow printers to print oversize sheets that can be trimmed to ‘A’ size for commercial use.

Inserting – To place a piece into a direct mail package. Unlike nesting, it doesn’t require the extra step of being placed in a specific location in the mailing piece.

JPEG – type of compression format for photographs that use full colour, although some detail can be lost in the process. Short for Joint Photographic Experts Group.

Lamination – A gloss, matt or satin clear plastic film which is added after printing. As well as providing a pleasing effect it will add some durability.

Landscape – When a document is wider than it is tall it is referred to as landscape.

Large Format Printing – A printer that prints on large paper, which can range from two to more than 15 feet in width. Such printers typically use ink jet technology to print on a variety of output, including premium glossy-coated paper for signs and posters.

Layout – Shows how text and illustrations will be printed in relation to each other on the page.

Leaf – a single side. 1 leaf is equivalent to 2 pages. A document is usually referred to as leaves if it is bound with a spiral, comb or drilled (hole-punched).

Litho Print – Method of printing using oil and water to enable the ink to produce a printed image. Image areas are covered with oily ink and non-image areas use water to repel the ink. In combination with the offset printing technique – offset-litho – this is by far the most popular method of printing for long run non-personalized publications.

Makeready – The combination of activities that comprise the preparation of a printing press to print a job. One of the reasons that a conventional printing job can be so expensive to keep repeating is that the makeready process is very time consuming and, therefore expensive. Obviously the shorter the print run, the larger the percentage of the price is attributable to the makeready process Something that designers and their clients often overlook.

Matte Finish – A dull surface.

Microns – The measurement of the thickness of a sheet of paper or board. 1 micron = 0.001mm.

Overall UV Varnish – A high gloss UV varnish which is applied over the entire sheet.

Paper – Material up to and including 170gsm.

PDF – is a file format created by Adobe Systems in 1993 for document exchange. PDF is used for representing two-dimensional documents in a manner independent of the application software, hardware, and operating system. Each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout 2-D document (and, with Acrobat 3-D, embedded 3-D documents) that includes the text, fonts, images, and 2-D vector graphics which comprise the documents.

Perfect Binding – A type of unsewn binding where the leaves of the book are held together at the binding edge by adhesive. A cover is then wrapped around and glued on in the spine.

Perforating Creating– A line of punched dots on a printed sheet so that a part of a sheet can be detached by a user at a later date.

Pixel – the basic square unit of scree images. Screen images usually have 72 pixels per inch.

Plates – Printing plates are moulds or cylinders used by the printing press to imprint materials with ink. They can be made in a variety of substances, ranging from metal to rubber or paper.

PMS – A popular colour matching system used by the printing industry to print spot colours (colours that can be reproduced with only their own ink) but not for process colours, which need a combination of the four inks, CMYK. Each PMS colour has its own name or number that helps you make sure that your colours are the same each time you print, even if your monitor displays a different colour or if you change printing services. PMS Stands for Pantone Matching System.

Portrait – When a document is taller than it is wide.

PostScript – A type of high quality language developed by Adobe Systems to describe pages independent of their resolution. The current standard in the industry, it is widely supported by both hardware and software vendors.

PP – Abbreviation of printed pages. For example, 1 side of a sheet is often referred to as 1 pp, whereas printing on both sides of the sheet would be referred to as 2pp.

Registration Marks – Cross-haired lines that help visually ensure that a set of films or printing plates are in register, to produce a sharp registered result. Many modern printing presses have sensors which can automatically detect registration marks and ensure registration.

Resolution – measured in dpi, resolution measures the quality of output in typesetting. The greater the number, the smoother and less jagged the appearance of the typeface or the image.

Saddle Stitching – A printed document is saddle stitched by stapling its sheets at the fold of the spine. Saddle stitching is used for thin magazines, brochures and journals. Thicker documents often have a perfect bound.

Sealer – A special transparent finish applied during the printing process to reduce colours rubbing onto other printed sheets.

Self-Cover – when the cover of a booklet us printed on exactly the same material as the text pages

Show-Through – Show-through happens when the printed image from one site of a sheet of printed paper shows through to the other side. Usually occurs on thin newspaper or magazine printing paper. An ‘off- white’ sheet is often used to help reduce this in thinner paper stocks.

Spot Colour – A spot colour is an ‘extra’, or ‘special’ colour that is used in addition to the CMYK four colour process. The extra ink is added to its own roller on the printing press, so as to more accurately print certain colours that are hard to reproduce with CMYK inks. There are a number of companies that manufacture and specify spot colours, most common of these is the Pantone colour matching system. Spot colours are often also used in predominantly black and white publications, where it would be too expensive to add a CMYK graphic element. Advertising is often sold this way and a charge is made for each extra spot colour. It is for these reasons that companies often have several versions of their company logo as part of their corporate identity full colour, mono and a spot colour version.

Spot Gloss UV Varnish – A high gloss varnish which is applied to a specific area of print e.g. a company logo, photograph or document title. Usually used with matt lamination to show greater contrast.

Substrate – Any material or surface that is to be printed on. For example, paper is a printing substrate. Other printing substrates can include plastics, card and even metals.

Thread Sewing – Similar to perfect binding but the pages of the individual sections of the book are first sewn together.

TIFF– (Tagged Image File Format) A common format for interchanging digital information, generally associated with greyscale or bitmap data.

Typeface – The complete set of characters that form a family in a particular design or style. Originally referred to the raised surface. Typesetting Words must be typeset before they can be printed on a commercial printing press, that is, their type style and size must be set and composed into columns and pages. Traditionally done manually or mechanically, typesetting is now mainly digital.

Uncoated paper – Paper that has not been coated with clay to give it a shiny, or ‘coated’ finish.

UV coating – A UV varnish is a shiny coating that is applied to the printed sheet and fixed with an ultraviolet light. It can be used to cover the complete sheet of paper, or just applied to areas of the printed sheet, such as photographs.

Variable Data – Variable-data printing (VDP) (also known as variable-information printing (VIP) or VI) – is a form of on-demand printing in which elements such as text, graphics and images may be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the printing process and using information from a database or external file.

WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) (pronounced “wizzywig”) A term used to describe systems that preview full pages on the screen with text and graphics. The final result can vary slightly because of differences in the resolution of the computer screen and the page printer.

About the author

Lewis Burgess

Digital Marketing Assistant

As Digital Marketing Assistant at Print4UK, Lewis helps with all aspects of digital marketing – from social media, to web design and from email campaigns to PPC. Being social media savvy Lewis settled into the role with ease. He is looking forward to making a real impact on what goes on at Print4UK, by taking their digital marketing to the next level.


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