Bradley Graphic Solutions, Inc's Glossary of Printing Terms (K-Z)
Updated: Aug 28
Sometimes it seems every industry speaks its own unique language, and printing is no exception. Fortunately, you've found the ultimate translation guide. Here's Bradley's list of common printing and graphic-arts terms, with simple, straightforward definitions you're sure to understand.
K (in CMYK - Key)
K stands for “Key” (or black) in the CMYK pigment model, which refers to the subtractive process colors (cyan, magenta, and yellow) used in color printing. Black (K) is added to enhance color and contrast.
The method used to reduce space between two or three characters so type appears better fitted together. Due to different font styles and serifs, some letters may need extra kerning for words to look right.
To relate loose pieces of copy to their positions on a dummy or mechanical layout using a set of symbols (letters or numbers).
Key Negative or Plate
One of a set of printing plates for a color printing job; this plate contains the most detail and is used as a guide to properly align the other plates. Also called key printer.
An outline drawing of finished art that details the exact size, shape, position, or location of elements like photos, half-tones, line sketches, or other graphic elements. Sometimes called holding lines.
Kiss Die Cut
To make a die cut in the top layer of self-adhesive paper without scraping into the backing film behind it. Sometimes called face cut.
In printing, the lightest possible impression that will transfer ink to the material being printed on.
A paper or board made of unbleached wood pulp (brown in color). Kraft paper is strong paper used for wrapping and for making grocery bags and large envelopes.
A clear resin or solvent coating (usually glossy) that is used as an industrial coating or applied to a printed sheet for protection. Lacquer films are shiny, hard, and resistant to wear and weathering.
A finish on paper where grids of parallel lines give it a ribbed or watermarked appearance (in contrast to the uniform surface of wove paper).
A type of paper that exhibits parallel lines at equal distances (almost resembling a watermark) that run either horizontal or vertical across the page. This ribbed effect arises due to the wire mesh over which the paper pulp is laid as it is being pressed and dried.
The process of bonding a plastic film coating to a printed sheet, using heat and pressure. This is often applied to thick stocks (like covers, cardstock posters, etc.) to protect against liquid or heavy use. Lamination also accents the existing color to provide a glossy (or lens) effect.
A term referring to the slight overlapping on ink colors, as compared to a butt fit or kiss register. Sometimes called lapping color.
Commonly used paper with a smooth, dry texture that is compatible for use with laser printers.
A die cut refers to a cut on a surface or object using a very strong razor called a steel rule. A laser cut die cut uses an exceptionally strong laser beam to perform this same cut. While the steel rule is guided by hand, the laser beam is guided by use of a computer using a pre-determined path or direction.
Ink that will not bubble or fade when exposed to heat during the laser printing process.
The side of a piece of paper (or printed material) that will feed into a printing press.
Lay Flat Bind
A binding method that allows publications to open completely flat across a center fold, so images can run across both halves of the spread with minimal disruption. Also called lay flat perfect binding.
A sketch or plan of how a page or sheet will look when printed. In platemaking, a layout is the sheet designating settings for a step-and-repeat machine.
In typography, leading is known as “line spacing,” and is generally measured as the distance from one baseline of type to the next, while leaders are rows of dashes or dots to guide the eye across the page (for example, in a table of contents).
In typography, leading is known as “line spacing,” and is generally measured as the distance from one baseline of type to the next. Leading is measured in points.
A term for one sheet of paper in a publication. One leaf contains two pages (a verso and a recto). May also refer to shiny tissue-like colored metal applied during a foil stamping process.
Acronym for Light Emitting Diodes. Used in place of lasers for some output systems. An LED printer is similar to a laser printer, but it uses a LED array as a light source in the printhead.
A light-weight paper stock that is generally used for keeping records (or for tasks that incur a high degree of wear and tear) because it is very durable. Commonly occurs as 24lb or 28lb bond weight.
Any explanatory text or directions placed near an illustration or chart to guide in its use.
A printing technology in which a lenticular lens is used to produce an image with an illusion of depth, or the ability to change or move as the image is viewed from different angles. The image itself is a composite of two or more graphics interlaced together using special software.
A three-panel fold that allows a sheet of letterhead to fit in a business envelope. Sometimes called a wrap-around or barrel fold.
The most common size of print or document paper. In North America, this is 8.5 X 11-inch sheets. In Europe, the label is A4.
Printing that uses inked, raised surfaces (either metal type or plates whose surfaces have been etched away from the image areas) to create the image. The use of letterpress printing has declined due to advances in other forms of printing, especially offset lithography and gravure. Sometimes called block printing.
The amount of space between all characters, or the placing of additional space between each letter of a word. Sometimes called character spacing.
Book paper whose weight of one ream (500 sheets) is less than 40# (60 gsm).
The organic substance in tree wood that binds cellulose fibers together. The presence of lignin in paper pulp reduces permanence and contributes to the yellowing of paper over time. Free sheet paper has most lignin removed, while groundwood paper does not.
Any monochrome copy (e.g., a document or drawing) consisting of two bones, black and white, and no intermediate gradations. This allows for reproduction without the use of a halftone screen.
A photographic negative which contains only text or line art (but no tonal images or any matter containing shades of gray).
An embossed finish on paper that mimics the pattern of fabric. Linen texture adds a sophisticated quality to paper and is available in colors like white, blue, ivory, and gray.
A printing method that uses plates whose image areas attract ink and whose nonimage areas repel ink (often because they have been treated with water or another ink-repellent coating). Here the image and non-image areas co-exist on the same plane, in contrast to raised letterpress or engraved/etched gravure printing.
In typography and page layout, the portion of a page (within the prescribed margins) where type, graphics, and other elements can be added for a mockup or for final print. Sometimes called safe area.
Printing ink characterized by its ability to flow (on printing press ink rollers) and to form long threads when stretched. Long ink performs well on the press, has water-resistant qualities, and transfers well to the printed service.
A color separated proof (or overlay) that has not been assembled with other elements from a page (as compared to a composite proof, which combines all colors onto one surface). Sometimes called first, random, scatter, or show-color proof.
Any binding method that allows users to insert or remove pages from a publication.
A compression technique that decompresses data back to its original form without any integrity loss, as all pixel data is retained. The decompressed file and the original are identical. All compression methods used to compress text, databases, and other business data are lossless. For example, the ZIP archiving technology (PKZIP, WinZip, etc.) is the most widely used lossless method. Lossless compression is recommended for high-contrast images, line art, and text.
A compression technique that does not decompress digital data back to 100% of the original. Lossy methods can provide high degrees of compression and result in smaller compressed files, but some number of the original pixels, sound waves, or video frames are removed forever. The lossy techniques available in Acrobat Distiller (when making a PDF) are JPEG, Subsampling, Downsampling, and Bi-cubic Downsampling.
Real-world definitions for common printing and graphic-arts industry words, provided by your friends at Bradley Graphic Solutions,
A small magnifier used to inspect copy, proofs, film, or other details of a printed sheet. Sometimes called a linen or glass tester.
Low Key Photo
A photo whose most important details appear in shadow areas, with very few highlight regions.
Acronym for lines per inch. A linear measure of screen ruling expressing how many lines of dots that are per inch in a screen tint, halftone, or separation.
An abbreviation for mega or megabyte. (A bit is equivalent to one character; a number of bits is a byte). In computers, a megabyte is equivalent to around one million bytes (1,048,576), and is used to specify the amount of storage available on a disk or in memory. M is also a prefix for capacities and speeds (megabits, megahertz, etc.).
A means of describing paper based on the actual weight of 1000 sheets of paper in a specific base weight and sheet size. For example, 1,000 sheets of 80 Cover in a 26 x 40 sheet size weighs 320 pounds. Thus, this paper has a 320 mweight.
Coating applied to a paper on one or both sides (coated on a paper machine as an integral part of the papermaking operation, and not on a separate machine).
The direction in which the stock flows onto the paper machine wire or the corresponding direction of a sheet cut from it.
Machine Glazed (MG)
A high-gloss paper finish produced by allowing the wet paper web to dry against a highly-polished metal cylinder. This paper has a shiny appearance on one side and a slightly rough appearance on the other, and is manufactured with the capability to hold greasy or oily products.
Black ink containing magnetic iron-oxide particles (similar to those on magnetic tape), often used for printing checks, deposit slips, and other financial documents.
The storage of data on a magnetized medium, such as a disk, film tape, drum, core, or the magnetic stripes of credit cards.
1. Replacing an old design with a new one.
2. A printing job done over because of flaws in a previous run.
3. A printing plate that is remade.
Paper used in the press preparation before a printing run begins, or the mounting and preparation of printing plates (including setting paper size, ink density, fold sizes, etc.) before a publication is produced.
Mill-ordered paper that is exactly tailored to a customer’s specifications (as compared with a stock order).
Any metal plate or block etched with a design, lettering, or pattern that applies pressure while stamping these into a print surface (used in embossing and debossing). Sometimes called force card.
Any original handwritten, typed, or electronic copy submitted for publication. Commonly abbreviated ms. (singular) or mss. (plural).
Any deliberately unprinted space on a page, especially surrounding a block of text. Margins improve aesthetics and readability and allow room for finish techniques such as trimming, binding, etc.
In typesetting, instructions for desired type characteristics that are written on a proof (or dummy), such as point size, alignment, leading, style, etc.
In lithography, a mask is an opaque material used to protect selected areas of a print plate during exposure. In color separation photography, a photomask is an opaque plate with holes or transparencies that lets light shine through in a defined pattern that is reproduced on the material receiving the print.
A paper or plastic plate used on a duplicating press.
A one page, color-printed proof that simulates the final product outcome before sending a piece to press. Hard proofs printed on an output device are less expensive than the final piece, which is run through the printing press.
A dull, flat finish on photographic paper or coated printing paper. Matte will reflect little to no light, satin finish retains a pearl-like sheen, and semi-gloss and gloss finishes have a gleaming, polished sheen.
The width of a column of type. With justified type, all lines have equal measure. With right- or left-aligned text, the measure will equal the longest possible line. Usually expressed in picas, sometimes called line measure.
A term for a camera-ready mockup of artwork (including text, photos, and other elements onto one artboard) complete with instructions for the printer. A hard mechanical consists of paper and/or acetate, and may also be called an artboard, board, or paste-up. A soft mechanical exists as a file of type and other images assembled using a computer, and may be called an electronic mechanical.
A means of fastening sheets of paper together using metal or plastic inserts such as combs, coils, clamps, posts, or any technique not requiring gluing, sewing, or stitching.
The process in which wood is separated or defibrated into pulp for the paper industry. This process uses wood in the form of mechanically processed logs or chips, by grinding stones (from logs) or in refiners (from chips) to separate the fibers.
Color breaks performed by hand, where the art for each separate color is prepared manually on separate boards or transparent overlays.
Dots arranged in patterns or lines that enable artwork to be easily reproduced.
A unit of frequency equal to one million hertz. It can also be described as one million cycles per second. Megahertz is used to measure wave frequencies as well as the speed of microprocessors. Radio waves, which are used for both radio and TV broadcasts, are typically measured in megahertz.
Ink that looks metallic when printed. Made with powdered metallic bits, combined with colored pigments that are suspended in liquid to imitate the look of metal. The most common colors used are silver and gold.
Paper coated with a thin film that simulates metal, such as gold, silver, pearlescent luster, etc.
A system of measurement in which the basic units are the meter, the second, and the kilogram. In this system (adopted by most countries for solid, liquid, and distance measurements), the ratios between units of measurement are multiples of ten. For example, a kilogram is a thousand grams, and a centimeter is one-hundredth of a meter.
In a photograph or illustration, the tonal range (created by dots between 30 and 70 percent of coverage) that falls between the highlights and shadows.
Mil 1/1000 Inch
A unit of length equal to 0.0001 inch, used for measuring the thickness of plastic films, paper, or the thickness of a printed surface.
Mirafoil, Liquid Foil, Super Silver
A metallic UV-cured coating that creates a foil- or chore-like finish. Mixed as a liquid but appears as a foil when dried and applied. Also called Super Silver or Liquid Foil.
During commercial printing, a condition generated when rapidly moving ink rollers spray out filaments and threads of ink, commonly occurring when excessively long ink is used. Sometimes called flying, spitting, throwing, or spraying ink.
A detailed sample page including the position and style of page elements and possibly containing instructions or direction for final print. Sometimes called a dummy.
Short for Modulator-Demodulator, a device that adapts one type of signal to another. Mostly used over a phone line, modems convert electronic stored information from one location to another.
A independent (usually shimmering) pattern seen when two geometrically regular patterns are superimposed at an acute angle. Destructive moiré is an undesirable phenomenon for the screen printer, creating distortion or causing odd stripes and patterns to occur in a photo or print.
A horizontally-oriented paper (7’ x 10’) or envelope, often used for personal stationary.
A single pictorial composition made by juxtaposing or superimposing many pictures or designs, often based on a specific theme.
A spotty, uneven absorption of ink, mostly in solid areas. A mottled image may be called mealy, spotted, or blotchy. Also called sinkage.
A specialty glue used to bind books and personal notepads.
A test performed to measure the bursting strength of paper or paperboard. In a Mullen test, the paper sample is placed between two clamps as the paper is stretched by hydraulic pressure and a rubber diaphragm.
Printing publications with more than one ink color (but not separately printing the different color layers, as the four-color printing process does).
The science of developing materials at the atomic and molecular level in order to imbue them with special electrical and chemical properties. Nanotechnology, which deals with devices typically less than 100 nanometers in size, and nongraphic printing presses use very small pigment water-based particles, combining offset performance with digital adaptability.
A term to describe printing materials that have a neutral, wood-colored hue (including ivory, cream, or off-white).
An image – usually on a strip of transparent plastic film, a plate, or other photographic material – in which the lightest areas of the photographed subject appear darkest, and vice versa.
Booklet or book papers assembled inside each other (in proper order but without the cover) for binding. Sometimes called an inset.
Refers to gray that is not a black and white mix, but an equal mixture of all the spectrum colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). This shade minimizes “color pollution” of a viewing area, which is caused by reflections from chromatic surfaces.
Newsprint is a low-cost, non-archival paper consisting mainly of wood pulp and most commonly used to print newspapers and other publications or advertising material. Invented in 1844 by Charles Fenerty of Nova Scotia, it usually has an off-white cast and distinctive feel.
A term used to describe a flaw in a photograph or printed image that appears as a drop of water or oil.
An acronym for Near Field Communication, this wireless communication technology with a very short range is built into most new smartphones and credit cards, and may be included in tablets, cameras, and household appliances. NFC is used for identification, mobile payments, train and bus tickets, etc. It can also be used to transfer data between devices or to connect a new wireless device to a Wi-Fi hotspot An acronym for Near Field Communication, this wireless communication technology with a very short range is built into most new smartphones and credit cards, and may be included in tablets, cameras, and household appliances. NFC is used for identification, mobile payments, train and bus tickets, etc. It can also be used to transfer data between devices or to connect a new wireless device to a Wi-Fi hotspot
In book binding, the process of expelling air from the pages (as the spine is compressed) prior to attaching the cover.
A printing device (such as a laser printer or copier) in which a printing element does not directly strike a surface. Non-impact printing uses lasers, ions, ink jets, or heat to transfer images to paper.
A press that prints on paper rolls fed into the printing equipment (instead of on stacks of paper). Nonheatset presses do not have a drying oven, so they cannot print on coated paper. Ink laid down by these presses must be absorbed into the paper to dry or the solvent must evaporate into the surrounding air.
Any printer that uses lasers, ions, ink jets, or heat to produce images on a printing surface without actually striking it (e.g. laser, thermal, or ink-jet printers).
In prepress and graphics, any light blue marks (made using a non-reproducible blue pen) on camera-ready pages. Light blue does not record on graphics arts film, and can be used to preprint layout grids or write instructions. Sometimes called blue pencil, or drop-out, fade-out, and nonrepro blue.
Printing on “swag” or novelty products such as stress balls, pens, hats, tumblers, tote bags, etc. Often used for advertising, gifts, or promotional purposes.
Software and hardware that use geometrical formulas (like line and arc segments) to represent images. The other method for representing graphic images is through bit maps made of patterns of dots. Vector-oriented images are more flexible than bit maps because they can be resized and stretched. Vectors look better on monitors and printers with higher resolution.
A magazine or booklet bound on the shorter edge (with landscape rather than portrait alignment). Oblong projects combine wide pages with narrow, short spine heights, which requires more planning for folding, stitching, or binding.
An acronym for Optical Character Recognition, or the machine recognition of printed characters. OCR systems “read” printed characters and convert them to digitized files that can be saved and edited as a text file. Advanced OCR systems can also recognize hand printing.
The transfer of resource intensive computational tasks to a separate processor, such as a hardware accelerator or an external platform (like a cluster, grid, or a cloud) to relieve the pressure of data processing associated with a specific application. Off loading to a coprocessor can be used to accelerate applications including image rendering and mathematical calculations.
A color proof prepared photographically or digitally by exposing a negative or positive to light-sensitive materials (or by generating color output from a computer). Off-press proofs are designed to simulate the appearance a printed piece, and are usually cheaper and faster to produce than press proofs.
A printing technique that transfers ink from a plate to a rubber-coated pad (a blanket cylinder) and then to the paper or print surface (instead of directly printing from plate to paper). Also called offset lithography.
Offset gravure printing—also known as rotogravure printing—is primarily a long-run, high-speed, high-quality printing method. This style of printing is generally performed on a flexographic press by adding a cylinder with an engraved depression and covering the plate cylinder with a solid rubber plate. Sometimes called rotogravure printing.
A general term used for a variety of paper, similar to uncoated book paper (e.g. coated offset paper and uncoated groundwood-free offset paper). Offset paper is produced especially for offset printing, where the printer transfers ink from a plate to an intermediate image-carrier before reproducing it on a printing surface.
Any form of printing that uses an intermediate carrier to transfer the image from an original to a printing surface (instead of directly from plate to paper). Most commonly used in offset lithography.
A term used to define a type of material that doesn’t have an affinity to oils. The opposite is oleophilic.
A lightweight bond paper typically used for products like carbon copies, legal copies, or air mail.
The characteristic of paper that minimizes the show-through of printing from one side to another.
1. Not transparent
2. To cover flaws (with tape) or paint out areas on a negative that are not wanted on a printing plate.
An ink that conceals all color beneath it. High opaque colors, sometimes called “high definition colors,” will have more pigment added to the resin and thinner mixture, thus giving the high opaque inks the most hiding power.
Open Prepress Interface (OPI)
A workflow protocol used in electronic prepress that links publishing software and image setting hardware through a network. OPI automatically replaces low-resolution images with high-resolution images and is useful for minimizing high-resolution file transfer on networks. Also called APR.
Photographic surfaces unaffected by red but sensitive to blue, green, yellow, and ultraviolet rays. In photography, this term also means an image is correct in the rendering of colors – free from the usual photographic fault of exaggerating the deepness of greens, yellows, and red, and the brightness of blues and violets.
The side of a press sheet whose images fall on the first and last (outside) pages of a folded pages of a bound publication (rather than on the inside pages, like an inner form).
A halftone print image in which background material has been eliminated to isolate or silhouette the main image. Sometimes called silhouette halftone or knockout halftone.
Any quantity of printed materials produced above the requested number of copies in the original order.
Refers to a cover that is bigger than most of the pages found inside of it.
A transparent layer taped to a mechanical, photo, or proof to give directions on color breaks, corrections, or print guidelines. Also refers to acetate overlays used to separate colors by having some type of base art on them (instead of attaching artwork to the mounting board).
A process of proof-making where color separations are individually exposed to light sensitive film, each containing one of the four process colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black). These transparent sheets are then overlayed on top of each other to simulate the appearance of the final, full-color reproduction.
To print one element over a previously printed image (such as text on top of a graphic) or to print one color on top of another color. When this happens, the bottom color can show through and ruin the quality of printed materials. Or overprinting can be done intentionally for effect (like creating a rich black by printing black over another dark color). Also called surprint.
A quantity of printed materials greater than the what was specified in an initial print order.
Overs and Unders
An amount either more than or less than the requested quantity of an item (overs exceed the expected quantity; unders occur when a print runs falls short). Because each step in the print process results in spoilage that must be accounted for, overs and unders are incorporated into the print contract.
Paper, plastic, or other material inserted underneath a press plate or rubber coated pad (while on the press) to raise the printing surface or increase image surface. Packing is often necessary when printing pressure is too light to produce a good image or when the printing length needs to be adjusted.
The ability to send a whole image to disk and print at one time (uninterrupted) for continuous flow.
Page Description Language (PDL)
A language used to describe how type and graphic elements should be produced by an output device (like a printer). PDL files are typically generated by a print driver or by the application itself. The two most common are PCL (developed by HP) and Postscript (developed by Adobe).
Proof samples of a page (including type, graphics, headings, etc.) produced prior to a pressrun as a means of checking for errors.
1. In book making, the numbering of pages.
2. In prepress printing, the process of assembling all elements into pages (typesetting combined with other graphic elements).
A sheet with ink printed to the edge (as compared to spot color), resulting in 100 percent coverage.
A sheet with ink printed to the edge (as compared to spot color), resulting in 100 percent coverage. A sheet with ink printed to the edge (as compared to spot color), resulting in 100 percent coverage.
1. One page or section of a brochure (a letter-folded sheet has six panels total, counting front and back sides).
2. In finishing, a solid color of ink or foil applied to all or part of a book cover to provide a background for additional foil or die-stamping.
A commercial printing plate – made of robust, durable paper – used for short runs in offset printing.
Any fold made in a sheet of paper (or printing material) oriented in direction of a previous fold. Two parallel folds in a sheet will produce six panels, four folds will produce ten panels.
A sheet larger than the cut stock of the same paper (typically A3, or larger than 11’ x 17’).
To paste page elements to mounting boards so overlays can be assembled into a camera-ready image. For many years, paste-ups were performed manually, but now paste-ups are usually compiled digitally.
Thick fiber paper (similar to cardboard) with another paper pasted to it.
An acronym for printer’s errors, which is a proofreader mark showing mistakes made in typesetting, prepress service, or by the individual printer (as opposed to an error or an “Author’s Alteration” made by the customer).
A coating or mixture of inorganic materials used to add iridescence (or the luster characteristic of mother-of-pearl). Used in screen, lithographic, gravure, and flexographic inks to impart a metal-like sheen.
On a preliminary mockup (created prior to production), a series of cuts or slits made on the printing surface that show the size, form, or shape of a project as it may appear in a final print run.
Binding sheets of paper at the spine, which are held to the cover by glue that attaches them to a wraparound cover. Also called adhesive bind, cut-back bind, glue bind, paper bind, patent bind, perfecting bind, soft bind, and soft cover.
An offset printing press that applies ink to both sides of a sheet of paper during a single pass through the press.
A line of small dots inflicted by a binding machine for creating a tear-off portion of a brochure, ticket, etc.
A coating or ink film produced from phosphors, which have the ability to become luminous when exposed to heat, light, or ultraviolet rays. Use of this element will allow a product to absorb daylight and glow in the dark.
Flexible material wrapped around the drum (which accepts an electrical charge and discharges where exposed to light). In printing, digitized data is sent via an electrostatic charge to the photoconductor, which then distributes the ink to the paper. The photoconductor unit is considered one of the core components of a laser printer.
An engraving process that uses a light-sensitive photoresist applied to the surface to be engraved; this creates a mask that shields some areas from dissolving or behind etched away. Photoengraving can be used to make printing plates or to make printed circuit boards, nameplates, commemorative plaques, foil-stamping dies, and embossing dies.
Photomechanical Transfer (PMT)
A transfer process used to “diffuse” an image from film to a photographic print made of line art. Also called diffusion transfer.
A soluble, light-sensitive plate coating used in the exposing of flexographic printing plates or offset lithography. These coatings allow the plates longer print runs, especially when baked in an oven after processing.
A brand name for the transfer process that occurs during photomechanical transfer.
A typesetting unit of measurement in printing. One pica is approximately 1/6 of an inch (0.166 in.). There are 12 points to a pica.
A rupture or deformation of a paper’s surface during printing. This occurs when the pulling force of a sticky ink is pulling fibers or coating off the paper or forming a blister-like protrusion in the paper. Picking also describes a similar problem of gravure printing in which bits of the printing surface are transferred to the printing rollers.
Artwork for a current job that was used previously in another design project.
In papermaking, pigments refer to fine, inorganic particles (e.g. clay, titanium dioxide, or calcium carbonate) that are added to fill, color, or coat paper. These delicate particles give inks color, opacity, and transparency.
A printing problem caused by the build up or caking of inks, coatings, or paper fibers on the printing plate, rollers, or rubber plates. Piling diminishes the print quality and can increase wear and tear on the printing press.
A technique to align printing plates, flats, or separation films by using small holes (of equal diameter) at the edges of each element.
A printing defect characterized by air bubbles or incomplete ink coverage causing small, unwanted holes to occur in the printing surface. Pinholing is commonly found in flexographic and gravure printing processes.
A printing process in which the image area (of the plate carrying an image) is to be printed on the same plane as the non-image areas. In planographic processes like lithography, oil-based inks and water repel each other to keep non-image areas from being reproduced.
Plastic Comb Binding
A binding method where pages are bound together using a plastic comb – a strip with a series of curved plastic prongs – which is inserted into drilled or punched holes along the binding edge of the pages.
In a printing press, the image-carrying surface (like a piece of paper, metal, plastic, or rubber) that transmits an image to be reproduced.
Mechanism in the printing press where a plate is attached, which then transfers inked images to either a rubber plate or directly to the printing surface. Each cylinder prints one color of ink; plate cylinders can also be used for coating or varnish. A plate cylinder is also used in some types of letterpress printing.
Stripped negatives or positives ready to be assembled for use on a printing plate.
A machine or process camera that makes plates that can reproduce illustrations or printed matter (often by exposing film to ultraviolet light). Can also refer to a prepress worker using any variety of techniques to make printing plates for use in commercial printing.
Plates are the basic image-carrying surface in the printing press, and methods of preparing a plate for print depend on the print process being used. Some plates are engraved, some use photoconductors, and some use screens with mounted stencils. A platesetter (or image setter or computer-to-plate system) uses lasers to expose or image paper, polyester, or aluminum plates.
PMS (Pantone Matching System)
PANTONE is the brand-name for a popular color matching system, and PMS is a spot color system comprised of 1,012 colors mixed from 12 different base inks. PMS is the standard ink color system used by commercial printers.
A measurement used for the thickness of paper (one point equals 1/1000 inch) or of type sizes and line spacing (there are 12 points to a pica and approximately 72 points in text that is one inch tall).
Trapping is the technique of printing one ink on top of another one. Poor trapping leads to inks that do not adhere properly. This can cause the ink to form little beads or it can be rubbed off too easily. Also called undertrapping.
A measure of the extent to which a paper surface will allow the permeation of air or liquid through its surface. Different printing methods require paper of differing porosities.
A color proof used to check the position, layout, location, graphic or text elements, and colors before a full print run is conducted.
A photocopy or photomechanical transfer of an illustration or photo, made to size and mounted on a camera-ready mockup of artwork.
Any images (especially in photographic film or paper print) in which the dark and light values are the same as the original, as opposed to a negative, which is tonally reversed. Positive film prevents light from passing through images, while negative film does allow this.
Post Bind A mechanical binding process that inserts metal or plastic posts through punched or drilled holes in pages to hold them together. One advantage of post binding is it allows pages to be added (and the post extended) as the size of a publication increases.
A page description language (developed by Adobe), used to describe how type and graphic elements should be produced by an output device (like a printer).
Acronym used for Pixels Per Inch. A measure of the resolution – specifically, how many dots occur in one inch – on a computer monitor, scanner, printer, or imagesetter. The more pixels per inch, the finer the details an image will carry, and the sharper it will look. Sometimes called Dpi (dots per inch).
A color proof (made using ink jet, toner, dyes, or overlays instead of using ink) that is meant to simulate the appearance of a printed proof. Sometimes called dry proof and off-press proof.
The process of confirming and analyzing every digital file needed to produce a printing job (making sure they are present, valid, correctly formatted, etc.). This eliminates costly errors and facilitates smooth print production.
All the steps required to transform an original into a state that is ready for reproduction by printing. Can include art and copy preparation, photography, image assembly, color separations, plate making, and more.
To print portions of sheets that will be printed on again later (in the surprint or overprinting process).
Previewing actual printed sheets of a project before authorizing the full production run (of a commercial print project) to begin.
A color proof made using ink (rather than toner, dyes, or overlays). This printed sample, made on the press, shows exactly how the project will print using the same elements needed for the final press run.
The start time (or total amount of time) a project will spend on the physical printing press.
Paper coated with an adhesive substance which, in dry form, will remain sticky at room temperature and will bond with another surface under minimal pressure (without moistening). The adhesive coating is protected by a backing sheet until used.
The order quantity at which the unit cost of paper or the actual print processing fees decrease.
A term describing the quality of a printed images compared to the version that was originally intended. The properties of the paper being used will affect the quality of a reproduction.
In brochure or booklet publication, laid out spreads that will be committed to paper. If you are considering printing a piece with multiple pages, you may be required to supply your artwork in printer pairs
In multi-page printings, spreads are general descriptions for a pair of facing pages. A reader’s spread is the consecutive placement of pages (like page 2 & 3 together). A printer’s spread is the imposed position of pages based on how many pages are in the publication (for a 16-page booklet, p. 2 & 15 are grouped together).
The traditional name for apprentices in printer’s shops. Today this term refers to a pressman’s assistant. Printing was originally associated with black magic because of the marvelous uniformity of printed works as compared with handwritten manuscripts. Printers cherished their air of mystery and dubbed their young helpers as evil spirits, or “devils.”
In a printing press, the image-carrying surface (like paper, metal, plastic or rubber plates, etc.) that transmits an image to be reproduced.
The portion of a printing press where printing actually occurs (including elements like printing plates, impression cylinders, ink rollers, etc.). Sometimes called color or ink station, tower, or deck.
A large camera operated for graphic arts photography, used to photograph mechanicals and other camera-ready copy. Sometimes called a stat, copy, or graphic arts camera.
The printing of color images using the subtractive primaries (cyan, magenta, and yellow, plus the addition of black) in a color separation process where colors are detached from the original art and each given their own printing plate.
The printing of color images that separates different process colors (cyan, magenta, and yellow, plus the addition of black) by printing from a series of two or more plates to produce intermediate colors and shades. Sometimes called CMYK.
Press runs that manufacture products as specified (not including the makeready activities required to prepare a press or other machines before the print run).
A collection of instructions that tell a computer what to do. All programs are “software,” but the programs users work with (e.g. word processors, spreadsheets, Web browsers, etc.) are called “applications,” “application programs” or “apps.” The overarching programs that control the computer (operating system, driver, etc.) are called “system software.”
A set of color proofs produced using the four color separation negatives one by one (e.g. the yellow plate alone; the magenta plate alone; a combination of yellow and magenta; cyan alone; yellow, magenta, and cyan in combination; etc.). Progressive proofs allow for greater color control and accuracy during a press run.
Color separations (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) printed from individual plates then compiled into one final image. Progressive proofs are any proofs made from the separate colors of a multi-color printing project.
An early copy made to check for typos, flaws, positional errors, layout problems, etc.
Standard abbreviations or symbols used to identify corrections on a manuscript or proof.
A round device found in graphic arts photography and plate making, used to calculate percent reduction or enlargement of an image (required to yield a specific reproduction size). Sometimes called a proportion rule or a percentage, scaling, or proportion wheel.
Production paper of varying weights, surfaces, or colors that is well-suited for books, magazines, or free-standing inserts.
Acronym for personalized URLs, or a unique web address created for a specific target of a marketing campaign. Each pULR renders a unique landing page or microsite for the target. Direct mail and email marketers love them because the uniqueness of the web address enables individual and precise response tracking. PURLs also generate higher conversion rates than standard landing pages because the page content is personalized and more targeted.
Any printed sheet that has been folded two times to yield four leaves (or eight pages). Abbreviated 4to and 4º. May also refer to a book made from quarto sheets.
Printing using small sheetfed presses that use cut sizes of paper (versus printing on rolls of paper which require cutting after the print run).
Quote or Quotation
A price estimate offered by a printer for the production of a specific job. Quotes are based on the size of a project, the quality of materials, the finishes added after printing, etc.
Papers or stationery containing a complete or partial content of cotton fibers.
To set type flush on the right margin, so the text is uneven on the left/right. Sometimes called rag left/right
The rainbow effect produced by putting ink colors next to each other in the holding fountain while oscillating the ink rollers so colors merge when they touch.
Raised ink printing places a transparent coating over certain areas of a design, adding texture to a product that can be felt at a touch and admired in fine detail. Raised coatings required special flexible plates within the printing press.
Raster Image Processor (RIP)
A combination of computer software and hardware that prints images using a series of tiny dots (called pixels), where each small square is assigned a color and is arranged in a pattern with other pixels to form the image.
A pair of facing pages, typically the left- and right-hand pages in a publication, such as a book, magazine, or newspaper. Reader spreads are placed as readers would see the pages, while printer spreads position page pairs based on final booklet assembly (for a 16-page brochure, pages 2 and 15 may form a printer’s spread).
500 sheets of paper. A ream is the quantity of paper used to determine a paper’s base weight.
The odd-numbered page on the right-hand side of a book, from the Latin phrase “recto folio.” Opposite of verso.
Printed products (such as photos, fabrics, or artwork) viewed by light reflected from them, as compared to transparent copy. Sometimes called reflex copy.
Register The arrangement of two or more printed images (or colors) in exact alignment with each other. Such printing is said to be in register. Accurate register ensures that a final printed piece has the effect of a “single image,” with no color gaps or overlaps.
Any cross-hair lines or symbols applied to the original copy prior to production, used for positioning films, plates, or flats on a press to ensure proper positioning. Sometimes called cross marks or position marks.
Relative Humility (RH)
A measure of the amount of water vapor present in the atmosphere (expressed as percentage of the maximum water vapor that air could hold at the same temperature and pressure). RH is an important consideration in printing and papermaking, as paper can absorb and lose water readily, which affects print quality and dimensional stability.
Any printing or imaging process that transfers an image to a printing surface by means of a raised image-carrying surface (such as letter press, block printing, and flexography).
The ability of a device (such as an imagesetter) to keep photographic film or plates in proper positioning so final outputs are exactly aligned with no color gaps or overlays. Usually measured in micrometers.
General term for duplicating, xerography, diazo, or other methods of copying used by designers, engineers, printers, etc.
The sharpness of an image on film, monitors, paper, etc., and the ability of input or output devices to reproduce fine details of these images. High resolution images are usually needed for best-quality print outputs.
Highly precise test images helpful for diagnosing, calibrating, and monitoring imaging steps (like resolution of film, proofs, and plates) in the graphic reproduction process.
Reticulation Effect A printing defect resulting from a withdrawal of ink from the printed material, which results in a wrinkled, granulated appearance.
The act of providing a machine with a part that it did not have when it was built. In printing, this may mean adding advanced capabilities into a device or program (without replacing it completely) to reduce the time, capital, or resources needed for a new product.
The negative or opposite of an image, type, or graphic (e.g., black text on white paper, versus white text on black paper). In print, this may mean reproducing a graphic or text by printing ink around its outline and allowing the underlying color or paper to show through and form an image. Also called a knockout or liftout.
Using multiple ink colors (in addition to black) to create a deeper, darker hue. Common CMYK values used are 30% cyan, 20% magenta, 20% yellow, and 100% black.
Copy that reads correctly in the language in which it was written. Can also describe a photo whose orientation matches the original scene or any film or paper images which can be read normally (from left to right and top to bottom)
Any fold made in a sheet of paper (or other printing surface) which is oriented at a 90-degree angle to a previous fold.
The optical path of white space that sometimes occurs when poor or random word spacing is used. This is distracting to the eye, and can be corrected by repositioning words from one line to another for better aesthetic appeal.
Removing excess ink from ink rollers, or a general reference to ink that does not adhere to metal rollers on a press.
Any printing press that passes a printing material between two rotating cylinders when making an impression (in contrast to a flatbed press).
Round Back Bind
A binding on which the spine is curved or rounded, as compared to a flat back bind.
Scuff-resistant ink that has reached maximum dryness (often due to wax that has been added to give ink a tough, robust surface that resists wear during shipping and handling). Used primarily for printing on cartons and other packaging. Also called non-scratch ink.
A rubylith mask, placed on a camera-ready mockup of artwork, that creates a window on film shot from this mechanical.
A line used as a graphic element to organize copy, separate page elements, to create boxes, or underline something. The lightest weight rule (and the most commonly used) is the hairline rule.
A diagram or map created by a printer to demonstrate how a job must be imposed using a specific press and sheet size. Sometimes called a ruleout or a press/printer’s layout.
Copy that is typeset so it will create a “hole” on the page to fit an illustration, photo, or other page element (like a pull quote). Also describes type that is set to form a shape. Sometimes called a wraparound or a contour.
The paper properties that determine how a paper performs on the printing pres. Can include the cleanliness of the paper surface, the coatings or varnishes on a paper, or how well the paper holds its stability during a run through the press.
A text or character (like a page number, book title, chapter title, or author) located at the bottom of consecutive pages in a chapter or book.
A headline or title at the top of a page that appears on all pages of a chapter or book.
To bind a booklet or printed material by stapling (or wiring) pages through the spine of folded sheets. Also called pamphlet stitch, saddle wire, and stitch bind.
A special colored lamp used in photographic darkrooms, which illuminates without fogging the materials. The color of light (usually red) is one designed to which a specific film in not sensitive.
Paper formulated with a protective background that shows sign of erasure, so it cannot be tampered with easily. Used to expose forgery or document alterations, such as paper used for checks, bonds, bank clips, coupons, tickets, warranties, and legal forms.
The smallest unit of any digitized sound or optical image taken by a digitizing device (like a camera or scanner). Can be measured in pixels per inch (in scanning) or kilohertz (in audio).
Print coatings that add a gritty, tactile sandpaper texture. These coatings, similar to some unglazed clay work, give plastics and paper products a slightly edgy feel.
Characters or typefaces without serifs, or lines crossing the free end of the stroke. Serif type is easier to read in text, while sans serif characters are more easily perceived in headlines.
A dull semi-gloss paper finish that is slightly smoother than matte but less glossy than gloss. Intended to simulate the feel of stain. Also called suede finish, velvet finish, or velour finish.
A delivery by the USPS to every address on one or more carrier routes or an entire zip code. Significantly reducing costs and simplifying the mailing process, this technique is great for marketing local businesses to nearby residents.
1. In design or photography, any range of values between a minimum and maximum amount.
2. In imaging, to resize an image by enlarging or reducing it by some amount so it fits in a predetermined area.
3. In print, a paper defect characterized by a slightly discolored, highly glossy blotch on the paper surface.
Identifying the proper size (or percent) by which photos or art should be reduced or enlarged to achieve the correct size for printing.
Thin, transparent varnishes that are laid over a piece of print. The coating contains tiny micro-capsules of scent which are broken when rubbed, allowing the scent to be released into the air (which often evokes an emotional response from the sniffer!).
To compress (or crease) paper along a straight line so it folds more easily. This improves accuracy and reduces the likelihood of paper cracking.
In process color and prepress printing, individual screens (film sheets or dot patterns) are placed at specific angles to avoid a shimmering, distorted pattern from occurring in the photo or print. Frequently used angles are black 45º, magenta 75º, yellow 90º, and cyan 105º.
The percent of ink coverage allowed through a mesh screen during screen printing. Sometimes called screen percentage.
A print method that uses a squeegee to force ink through a mesh fabric and a stencil, allowing bold, opaque colors to be applied to clothing, glass and plastic containers, CDs and DVDs, or fine art prints. Sometimes called serigraphic printing.
The number of lines or dots per inch for making a screen tint or a film with a photographic image on it (a halftone). Sometimes called line count, ruling, screen frequency, screen size and screen value.
A printed area of color (made up of patterns of dots) created by forcing ink through a mesh fabric and a stencil instead of applying a solid layer of ink. Screen tints consist of dots that are all the same size and create an even color tone. Sometimes called Benday, screen tone, shading, or fill pattern.
1. In prepress and photography, the act of converting a continuous-tone image into a halftone dot pattern, or to produce any other screen tint.
2. A part of an image processor that calculates tonal values for each bit or pixel.
3. A printing defect of gravure printing or flexographic printing (relating to inconsistent ink application).
In printing, embossing uses custom made dies to create a raised surface according to the design. Sculpted embossing creates an emboss that resembles a bas-relief sculpture, and it requires a multilevel die that will accept shapes, angles, and edges that create a carved effect.
Unwanted deposits of ink in the non-image area of a printing plate. This can cause image discoloration, haphazard patterns, or ink films left on the print surface. Sometimes called toning.
Placing inserts or various publication segments into various print products for different intended recipients in one binding run. For example, a catalog can be selectively bound so that pages advertising women’s fashions will be sent only to women. Selective binding can be used to insert special reply forms, to attach different covers, or to conduct other promotional tests.
A cover that is the same paper stock as the pages inside a booklet.
Any advertisement, booklet, or piece of direct mail that has space for a name, address, and postage and can be mailed without a wrapper or envelope.
A method of converting wood chips to paper pulp (for papermaking) that combines chemical and mechanical means. This results in stiff fibers, and the process is used to make corrugated paperboard, cardboard roll cores, and containers.
In prepress, a thin, continuous-tone gray scale with numbered steps for each tone that helps control exposures in platemaking and lithfilm photography.
In four-color printing, the process of separating the colors of full color artwork into individual plates (or films) for each color of ink. Also called preseparated art. The process of color separation can be accomplished photographically, electronically, or on the desktop.
Usually in the four-color process realm, a means of dividing a full color photography into four separate components, corresponding to the four primary colors used in process color printing (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black). The process of color separation can be accomplished photographically, electronically, or on the desktop.
In typography, an all-inclusive term for characters that have a line crossing the free end of a stroke (as seen in many Roman typefaces). The term serif refers to both that finishing line and to the characters and typefaces that have them. Serif characters tend to be easier to read and are good for typsetting long stretches of copy.
An alternate term for screen printing, especially using image carriers made of woven fabric, plastic, or metal that allow ink to pass through some areas while blocking ink from passing through others. The word is derived from the Greek words ser (meaning “silkworm”) and graphein (meaning “writing [or printing]”).
A company or prepress house that provides high resolution printouts of files prepared on microcomputers. Service bureaus typically form a link between desktop publishers and commercial printers, who require assembled pages on film for platemaking. Sometimes called output house or prep service.
In presswork, the undesirable transfer of wet ink from the top of one sheet to the underside of another as sheets are lying in a delivery stack of the press. Sometimes called offset.
SGML (Standard Generalized Mark-up Language)
A coding language used for identifying and marking text for elements of a document (like titles, sub-headings, paragraphs, tables, etc.). SGML is used in typesetting and electronic publishing and is also used for information retrieval from databases and for designing World Wide Web pages.
The alteration of a color hue by adding small amounts of black ink.
The darkest areas of an original, a print, or a photograph. In halftone (dot pattern) printing, shadows have the largest dots.
To decrease the dot size of a halftone (in dot pattern printing) which decreases the color strength of an image or enhances the contrast around the edges of an image.
Any press that prints on individual sheets (or other printing surfaces) rather than being fed by rolls of paper. Sometimes called sheet-fed.
Printing two different images on two sides of a sheet by turning the sheet over after the first side is printing (and using the same side guides and gripper).
A means of positioning type in saddle-stitched publications. Shingling compensates for creep, an increasing book thickness through the interior of the publication, by progressively narrowing and increasing the bind margin. Sometimes called stair stepping or progressive margins.
Printing ink characterized by a limited ability to flow. This ink forms short threads when stretched and does not perform well on the press.
The characteristic of paper that allows printing on the reverse side of a sheet of paper to be seen under normal lighting conditions.
A device attached to the feedboard of a sheetfed printing press, which aids in laterally positioning a sheet of paper before it is fed through the press.
In binding and finishing, the stapling of sheets or page sections together on the side closest to the binding edge.
In printing and publishing, any single press sheet on which multiple pages are printed. When folded and cut, this signature forms a group of pages in their proper sequence.
A halftone print image in which background material has been eliminated to isolate or silhouette the main image. Sometimes called a knockout halftone or an outline halftone.
A sheet printed on one side only (as opposed to a duplex, when a job is printed on both sides).
Simulated Split Fountain
A print process for developing a multicolor look by using just two inks. Here, two colors are placed side-by-side in the same ink fountain and printed off the same plate. The ink colors are distinct on the edges but blend in the center where they meet.
The treatment of various materials either to wet paper pulp or the to surface of partially dried finished paper. Sizing increases surface strength by giving paper greater resistance to the penetration of liquids or vapors.
A platform support onto which papers or print materials are loaded (and often wrapped, stacked, safely stored, and even transported by a fork lift or skid lift) for later use.
A sheet of paper inserted between printed products to prevent ink smudges or sticking.
In printing or in binding and finishing, the cutting of a large press sheet into two or more smaller sheets by means of cutting wheels on a folder or press.
An alphabet of small capital letters designed to match the x-height (of the lowercase letters) of a particular typeface and size. Small caps should be used for abbreviations of awards, decorations, honors, titles, etc., following a person's name.
A paper quality defined by the evenness or lack of contour in its surface. Smoothness can be measured by an air leak tester or several varieties of smoothness gauges, which utilize rates of air flow over a paper surface. Smooth papers assure more uniformity in print.
In halftone photography, dots appearing with a considerable soft halo fringe that causes printed material to reveal darker tones (or stronger colors) than intended.
A thick, viscous ink, such as that used in paste inks or offset lithography.
A type of digital proof (as opposed to a hard proof that you can physically hold) which reproduces an image on a color computer monitor. Sometimes called digital soft proof.
A transparent liquid coating applied during the inline process once a printing has been completed. This special effect imparts a unique, rubbery, suede-like feel, with a durable, velvety-soft matte film.
Any area of a page receiving 100 percent ink coverage (as compared with screen tints, which are made up of patterns of dots).
Inks using vegetable oils (often from soybeans) instead of petroleum products as pigment vehicles. Soy inks help eliminate smudging and are easier on the environment.
Acronym for Statistical Process Control, an industry-standard methodology for measuring and controlling quality during the manufacturing process. Quality data in the form of product or process measurements are obtained in real-time during manufacturing. This data is then plotted on a graph with pre-determined control limits.
A printer whose equipment, workstations, or marketing is streamlined to produce a particular category of products.
A device for measuring light intensity by calculating the wavelength of light. The most common application of spectrophotometers in the printing industry (or in ink and paper manufacturing) is the measurement of light absorption.
The complete range of colors that corresponds to wavelengths in the visible (rainbow) spectrum. Black, white, and gray, which are produced by combinations of wavelengths, are not considered spectral colors.
Spectrum Silver Foil
A foil that contains pigments that change color when moved in the light.
In an original proof or a printed image, a highlight where the brightest area of an image is produced by a reflection of a light source within an image. This area has no printable dots and no detail. Sometimes called a drop-out highlight and a catchlight.
The back or binding edge connecting two covers of a publication. Sometimes called backbone.
A type of binding where a metal or plastic wire is spiraled through holes punched along the binding side of a document.
A technique of putting ink colors next to each other in the holding fountain and printing them off on the same plate (but not blending the edges together, which is done with rainbow fountains).
Dividing a print run so its products vary in some way: like altering advertisements in different editions of a publication, or assembling some booklets with a plastic comb and others with perfect binding.
Wasted materials or labor that is consumed as a result of avoidable errors. In printing, this usually refers to paper that must be thrown away instead of delivered (printed) to the customer.
Spool (Simultaneous Peripheral Operations OnLine)
A computer utility that regulates data flow by putting jobs on a queue and taking them off one at a time. Most operating systems come with one or more spoolers, such as a print spooler for spooling documents.
Similar to a pixel, this data represents the diameter of the spot that a scanner can detect or an output device can image. The spot size is the determining factor in a device's resolution: the smaller the spot the more that can fit in a particular unit of linear distance, and the smoother the image that will be scanned or produced.
One ink or varnish applied to highlight specific portions of a sheet, as compared to a full painted sheet.
Spreads and Chokes
In prepress and multi-color printing, a trapping technique that adjusts the size of an image and the opening in which it will be inserted. A choke is a photographic enlargement of the background color in which a second image will print. This has the effect of reducing the size of (or “choking”) the hole in which a foreground object will be printed. A spread is the slight photographic enlargement—or “spreading”—of the image that will print within the choked image. This combination of reducing the opening and enlarging the image creates a slight overlap when the images ultimately print, eliminating unwanted white spaces or gaps between the two images.
Standard Viewing Conditions
A set of specific standards (set by the American National Standards Institute) prescribed for optimum viewing and evaluation of color transparencies and prints. This includes a background of 60 percent neutral gray, a light source with a temperature of 5000K, and an illumination of 200 footcandles (simulating the color of daylight on a bright day). Sometimes called lighting standards.
A film pinwheel used to measure resolution during production and degradation during printing. A star target amplifies the effect of gain, slur, doubling, paper movement, so that small distortions in print can be easily seen by the operator.
Short for photostat. A general term used for an inexpensive photographic print made of line art or halftones (patterned dots).
An attachment to the printing press which removes static electricity from paper. This helps minimize the transfer of wet ink to the reverse side of the sheet laying on top of it (in the press delivery tray) and streamlines the paper feeding process.
Statistical Process Control (SPC)
A workflow management method used by printers to ensure timely delivery of best-quality products.
A prepress technique of exposing an image multiple times by stepping it in position according to a precise, predetermined pattern. Step-and-repeat can be done manually or by a photocomposing device.
In typography and proofing, a proofreader's command written in the margin of marked up proofs (or corrected manuscript or typescript copy), indicating that copy marked for correction should remain as it was so that the originally copy should stand.
A digital screen process that converts images into very small dots, while keeping the size of the dots constant. In contrast, conventional halftone screening varies the size of the dots while keeping their frequency per line constant. This method is particularly suitable for the color printing of complicated images involving complex textures such as that of woven fabrics such as tweeds and silks, repeating backgrounds, and other geometric shapes that tend to cause interference/moiré problems when printed using conventional screens. It is being used in day-to-day printing for projects ranging from telephone directories to fine art reproductions. Sometimes called Frequency Modu-lated (FM) screening.
A term for unprinted paper or other material to be printed. See paper type descriptions for precise details.
The most often needed page formats (sizes, weights, and colors) available for prompt delivery from a merchant’s warehouse.
1. In printing, the undesirable condition in which printing on the reverse side of a page shows through the sheet (due to excessive ink penetration through the paper or because of low paper opacity).
2. In typography or publishing, type that has been set with a line through it.
A crease impressed in a piece of paper (or other print materials) by pressing a string against paper. Scoring is done to indicate the desired positions of folds or to make them easier to facilitate.
1. In printing, removing excess ink from ink rollers, or a general reference to ink that does not adhere to metal rollers on a press.
2. In image assembly, to assemble images on film for platemaking. Stripping involves positioning film negatives or positives on a flat, and correcting flaws in film. Also called film assembly and image assembly.
Using hot die, foil, or other methods to create an image on a hardcover book.
An alternate term for the base weight of bond or writing paper; this is the weight in pounds of 500 sheets of paper (one ream) cut to the standard for business paper. Sometimes called substance number or substance weight.
An alternate term for the basis weight of common paper stock. Sometimes called a sub weight.
Material on which printing is done, such as paper, plastic, foil, metal, cloth, or the surface any surface where ink will be applied.
Color produced when light is reflected from (rather than absorbed by) an object. All color printing processes use the subtractive process to reproduce color.
Yellow, magenta, and cyan. In graphic arts, process colors describe the printing of color images using the subtractive primaries – yellow, magenta, and cyan – plus the addition of black, in a color separation process where colors are separated from the original art and each given their own printing. Sometimes called the four-color process when four separations are made.
Paper pulp made from wood chips cooked under pressure in calcium bisulphite. This material is sometimes called kraft paper, and is a strong paper used for wrapping and for making grocery bags and large envelopes.
Paper pulp made from wood chips cooked under pressure in a solution of bisulphite of life (calcium bisulphate). One of the most common uses of sulfite paper is in the development of a photograph.
A paper finishing operation that produces a very smooth, high-gloss paper surface that is exceptional for printing. A supercalendar (separate from the papermaking machine) presses a hard roll heavily against the soft roll to compress the material, which “buffs” the paper and adds luster and an enamel-like finish.
In digital halftone screen printing, a combination of dots or machine pixels which can be used as a single unit to optimize certain screen angles.
1. In printing, taking an already printed matter and re-printing again on this material.
2. In prepress, exposing separate negatives (or flats) on an exposed image so there is some amount of overlap between images. Sometimes called overprinting.
A collection of color swatches (including specific paper stock or thickness options) bound in book form to identify and aid in selection of colors for design and print.
A UV coating that provides a shimmering color transformation effect when applied to the printed materials.
An acronym for Specifications for Web Offset Publications; one of the major (quality) standards recommended for printing web offset publications.
The general term for an entire category of products that look, feel, and perform like standard paper. Rather than wood pulp as the primary ingredient, these papers are made with synthetic polymers (which are plastic/petroleum-based) to deliver additional material properties.
In printing inks, tack is the property of cohesion that exists between particles of the ink film, or the force required to split an ink film. The tack (or stickiness) of the ink should not exceed the surface strength of the paper or damage to the paper may occur.
A paper grade characterized by high thickness, strength, density, and tear or water resistance. Tag is used in heavy-duty products such as folders, badges, and covers, and is produced in a variety of colors (primarily white and manila).
Tagged Image File Format (TIFF)
A computer file format for storing raster graphics and other large bitmaps. Widely used in book publishing and other print-related industries, TIFF is the standard format for scanned images such as photographs. TIFF files retain their layers and transparency when saved in design software. Files use the .tif and .tiff extensions.
Target Ink Densities
The recommended density of inks used in four-color process printing, tailored for best quality transfer of ink from the printing plate to the unique print surface.
Thermal Dye Sublimation
A computer printing technique which uses heat to transfer dye onto a printing surface, converting vaporized pigments from a solid to a gas state without passing through a liquid stage.
Thermal Transfer Printing
A type of printing that occurs on a ribbon (or transfer sheet), as ink from the ribbon is transferred directly onto a printed surface.
A reaction caused by dyes whose optical properties change as a function of temperature (like bottle label that changes color when the syrup inside is fully heated).
An economical printing process designed to simulate engraved printing. Done by dusting wet printed ink with a resin-based powder, then fusing resin particles with heat to produce a raised effect.
Thermomechanical Pulp (TMP)
Paper pulp made by steaming wood chips before and during refining. Thermomechanical pulp is stronger than refined mechanical groundwood pulp, and newsprint made with TMP allows for higher runnability on the press.
A mixture of color with white (which increases lightness). These even tones of a solid color contrast with shades, which refers to a mixture of color with black (which increases darkness).
Binding a foldout or other insert as a separate insertion (usually by means of an adhesive).
In commercial printing, tolerances are the accepted amount of variance from stated specifications (such as dot size, plate or paper thickness, or other printing parameters).
Reducing the range of light between shadows and highlights when reproducing an image or page.
The degree to which all elements of a reproduced image are similar to those on the original image. In printing, a tonal reproduction curve can be applied to electronic images prior to printing so the final copy closely approximates the proportionality or the original.
A very concentrated pigment or dye (usually fine powder contained inside a catridge) used in plateless printing systems such as electrophography, magnetography, or laser printers. Toner powder is electrostatically charged inside the printer and fused to a printing surface as it passes over a metal drum in the printer.
Unwanted deposits of ink in the non-image area of a printing plate. This can cause image discoloration, haphazard patterns, or ink films left on the print surface. Sometimes called scum.
The surface roughness of a paper that allows it to accept ink readily. In screen printing, tooth refers to the roughness of a monofilament fabric that allows it to accept the adhesion of a stencil.
Total Area Coverage (TAC)
The combined value of all ink colors for a particular area or object on a page. This value cannot exceed a specified amount, or the ink transfer or paper quality will suffer. May also refer to the percentage of dot percentages produced during halftone (pattern dot) image reproduction.
A method for adding extra-trinary colors (or special match colors) outside of the traditional cyan, magenta, or yellow. Used especially to reproduce a unique color in the original artwork. In multi-color or screen printing, a touch plate can be added to print “non-producible” colors such as fluorescents or whites.
Commercial printers who fulfill orders for other print professionals (and not for the general public).
In photography and imaging, a transparency is a photographic color positive exposed to transparent film. In digital imaging, this refers to a design feature that allows the opacity of graphics to be adjusted so that underlying layers, text, or images can show through.
An original copy of an image that must be reproduced, scanned, or viewed by transmitting light through it (sometimes known as transmission copy).
A type of white pigment that does not reflect light, but allows light to pass through it so it does not conceal the color beneath. In screen printing, a transparent pigment is known as an extender base.
To exchange the position of a letter, line, graphic element, etc., with another. Often used when describing typographic errors, where two letters are inadvertently reversed, like in this “xeample.”
In printing, transpromo refers to transactional documents (such as invoices, event tickets, or bills) that also contain promotional messages or advertising.
The action of printing one ink film on top of another (previously printed) ink, as in process color printing. Trapping is a way to avoid white lines or gaps between colors or graphic elements.
Marks placed on copy to indicate where cuts should be made (designating the edge of the page).
The desired dimensions of a printed piece, distinct from the cover size and finalized after trimming pages after printing.
A fourdrinier paper machine using two wires (instead of one) to form pulp into paper. This allows for efficient dewatering of fibers while providing strength and aesthetic appeal to the product.
A paper property denoting the difference in texture, printability, or appearance between a paper’s top (felt) and bottom (wire) sides.
A typography tool used to measure points and pica for character and line spacing. Also called a line gauge or an E-gauge.
UCA (UnderColor Addition)
In process color printing, a means of lightening dark neutral gray areas by adding dots of cyan, magenta, or yellow ink to the color separation films.
UCR (UnderColor Removal)
In process color printing, a means of reducing the amounts of cyan, magenta, and color ink used in neutral gray areas by reducing the dots on the color separation films where the colors overlap (and increasing the black dots by an equivalent amount in these areas). This technique reduces the cost of printing since it uses less color ink.
UGRA Test Target
A measure of the dot size and image resolution. UGRA is the Swiss Association for the Promotion of Research in the Graphic Arts industry.
Paper which has not had a coating (such as varnish or lacquer) applied. Also called offset paper.
In four-color process printing, a means of lightening dark neutral gray areas by adding dots of cyan, magenta, and yellow ink to the shadow areas of different color separation films.
In multicolor printing presses, a shorthand term for the portion of the press where printing actually occurs (including elements like printing plates, impression cylinders, ink rollers, etc.). Sometimes called color or ink station, tower, or deck. A four-color press has four printing units.
Universal Copyright Convention (UCC)
An international system (adopted in 1952) to protect unique work from being reproduced without knowledge from the originator. To qualify, one must register their work and public a © indicating registration.
A multiuser, multitasking operating system used in servers ranging from personal computers to high-end mainframes. UNIX is the most common operating system for servers on the Internet.
In image processing, an edge enhancement process performed by adjusting the dot size so reproductions appear sharper (or more focused) than the original. Sometimes called peaking.
A reference to describe how many copies of a single image can be placed on a larger sheet (or plate) and printed at the same time. Two-up printing, for example, would involve printing two pages on the same sheet with the same plate.
A protective coating applied to a printed sheet, then bonded and cured with ultraviolet light. This high gloss coating is very shiny and durable, protecting products that are handled frequently and reflecting light in an eye-catching way.
A type of radiation-curing ink that dries, or “sets” with the application of ultraviolet light. Designed to replace heatset inks whose solvents emit potentially toxic gaseous emissions. Used in specialty printing such as cosmetic packaging, screen printing, and flexography.
One of the three attributes of color, describing a color’s shade (darkness) or tint (lightness). Sometimes called brightness, lightness, or tone.
Variable Data Printing
A digital printing technique that uses database-driven print files for the mass personalization of printed materials (allowing businesses to personalize text, artwork, addresses, or promotions to different types of clients, for example). Also known as personalized printing or 1:1 printing.
An overcoating applied to a printed piece for aesthetic reasons (i.e. to increase gloss) or to protect a piece from wear and tear. Can be applied across the printed surface or only to certain portions for aesthetic effect.
The liquid component of ink that holds the pigment (the ink property that specifies color and or ink properties like transparency or resistance to heat) and binds pigment to a surface after drying.
A rough, toothy paper finish similar to eggshell. Characterized by an uneven texture and an absorbent surface, allowing for relatively fast ink penetration.
A brand name for high-contrast chloride photographic papers, used for proofing negatives and producing prints.
The even-numbered page on the left-hand side of an open book. From the Latin phrase, in verso folio, meaning “on the turned leaf.”
Small areas or rooms that allow printing professionals to make visual color judgments with accuracy and confidence. Booths range from small portable desktop devices to vertical viewing systems designed for the evaluation of large format prints.
A decorative illustration sketch in which the borderless elements fade gradually away as the object blends and disappears into areas of the unprinted (white) paper.
A halftone (or dot pattern print) whose background gradually and smoothly fades away. Sometimes called a degrade.
Paper made exclusively of tree or cotton pulp, in contrast to recovered fiber used in recycled paper.
The measure of a liquid’s resistance to deformation, informally described as its “thickness” (like how syrup is “thicker” than water). The viscosity of ink can affect its transfer process onto printed materials or the overall jetting of ink through the nozzle.
Chemicals that tend to evaporate easily, specifically petroleum-based chemicals used in some printing inks and coatings. Abbreviation for volatile organic compounds.
WAN (Wide Area Network)
A long-distance communications network covering a wide geographic area beyond a single building or campus. Large enterprises have their own private WANs to link remote offices if they are not using internet connectivity. The Internet is the world’s largest WAN.
Any color that is toward the red side of the color spectrum. Warm colors (browns, oranges, red, and yellows) tend to expand in space, drawing the eye and evoking a wide range of emotions.
The process of cleaning ink rollers, cylinders, forms, plates, cylinders, or other image-carrying surfaces (including the ink fountain itself) from a printing press. A washup is often performed at the completion of a job.
Unusable paper or materials used to set up the press before printing begins (as compared to spoilage, which occurs during a print run).
A printing plate with silicone rubber coating in non-image areas. Waterless printing eliminates the need for a dampening solution and allows for many benefits, including tighter color control and reduced paper waste.
An alternative to conventional printing, this method uses printing plates with silicone rubber coating in non-image areas. Waterless Printing eliminates the need for a dampening solution and allows for many benefits, including tighter color control and reduced paper waste.
A translucent design, image, or logo embossed during papermaking (or printed onto paper) at the time of manufacture. Watermarks are visible when paper is held up to light.
A term for a continuous roll of paper (or any printed material – like paperboard or plastic film) used in commercial printing. Uncut paper rolls are used in web offset lithography.
A split of paper (fed from a continuous roll into a commercial web press) that requires operators to stop printing and rethread the press.
An unwanted stretching of paper (fed from a continuous roll) as it passes through a commercial web press.
A press that prints on rolls of paper – passed through a press on one continuous piece – rather than printing one piece of paper at a time.
Work produced on large presses that use rolls of paper (called webs) rather than individual pieces. Web printing is preferred when printing large quantities or long runs. Projects printed on rolls are usually cut to size after printing.
A web press prints on rolls of paper, which are passed through a press on one continuous piece. Web tension is the amount of tension applied by the press as it pulls the paper through the press.
In process color printing, the ability to successfully lay ink or varnish on top of wet ink. (As compared with dry trap, which adds layers after the ink has dried.)
In typesetting, widows and orphans are lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph which are left dangling at the top or bottom of a page or column. May also refer to a single word or part of a word on a line by itself.
In papermaking, this property refers to the texture, printability, or appearance of the bottom side of a sheet (the part produced next to the wire in the manufacturing process).
A type of spiral binding comprising a double set of wire loops inserted into punched or drilled holes along the bound set of pages.
With the Grain
Folding or feeding paper into a press in a direction parallel to the orientation of the paper fibers.
Paper created exclusively from chemical pump (where most of the lignin is removed and separated from cellulose fibers during processing). Woodfree paper is not as susceptible to yellowing as paper containing mechanical pulp. Sometimes called calendered or supercalendered.
A machine or software application used to electronically create and edit text documents.
In prepress and printing, a layout in which one plate contains all the images (or pages) to be printed on both sides of the sheet. Once one side of the job has been printed, the printed materials are turned over using the same side guide and plate to print the back side.
In prepress and printing, a layout in which one plate contains all the images (or pages to be printed). Once one side of the job has been printed, the printed materials are turned over using the opposite side guide, and the same plate is used to print the back side.
Film that will be copied to make a perfect final film after design alterations are made. Also called buildups.
Wove or Wove Paper
A unlined, smooth paper with a uniformed surface and a gentle patterned finish.
Common bond paper used for printing, photocopying, and everyday business purposes.
A term describing any film or paper image that appears backwards when compared to the original. This is a reversed mirror image, as opposed to a right-reading, which can be read from left to right, top to bottom.
WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get)
In computing, WYSIWYG is a system in which editing software allows content to be edited in a form that resembles its appearance when printed or displayed as a finished product, such as a printed document, web page, or slide presentation. Colors may vary slightly.
A type of bond paper manufactured specifically for electrostatic printing processes (reproducing well in photocopiers and laser printers).
An electrophotographic printing and imaging process, used most commonly in photocopiers and laser printings. Xerox is a trade name for this process.
XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language)
The most widely used semi-structured format for data, containing tags and text similar to HTML. XML allows content developers to create tags that can do almost anything they want – specifying data items such as products, prices, and sales reps – so that richly structured documents can be shared over the Web.
In larger print runs, projects are printed on continuous rolls rather than individual pages, then cut to size after printing. Yield refers to the number of final pieces you can cut from a parent size sheet.
A compressed archive file used to make large files and collections of files more manageable to the user. When a .zip file is created, data is compressed. Multiple files can be combined into a single zip folder, making it easier to upload, download, store on the hard drive, or transfer across a network or the internet.