Printing Glossary

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Click one of the letters above to advance the page to terms beginning with that letter.


Aqueous Coating (paper finish)
A fast-drying, water based, protective coating which is applied inline, on a press to achieve a variety of finishes at a more economical price than varnish.

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Back Up
To print the second side of a sheet that is already printed on one side.
To fasten sheets or signatures with wire, thread, glue, etc.
The finishing department of a print shop, or a firm that specializes in finishing printed products. There are 5 main types of binding: folding, perfect binding, plastic comb, spiral plastic binding and stapling. With perfect binding and plastic comb or spiral bindings, you can design as many pages as you wish; with folding and stapling, the total number of pages must be in multiples of 4 pages.
Printing an image/art that goes to the edge needs the image to extend beyond the final size of the piece. Usual bleed is .125 inch beyond page trim size.
Bond Paper
A strong durable paper grade used for letterheads and business forms.
Break for Color (also known as a color-break)
To separate mechanically or by software the parts to be printed in different colors.
Bulk Pack
To box printed product without wrapping or banding.
To join images without overlapping.

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Certified PrintRelead Partner

Design Printing is a Certified and Verified PrintReleaf partner. This allows us to calculate how many trees must be planted to offset the paper use in printing jobs. This system takes the amount of paper, whether pages or pounds, then figures out how many trees must go into the ground to offset that use. This allows our clients to directly support reforestation efforts with the printing you do and you can choose where those trees will be planted, and you can track the process.

The CMYK color model (process color, four color) is a subtractive color model, used in color printing, and is also used to describe the printing process. Though it varies by print house, ink is typically applied in the order of the abbreviation. The K in CMYK stands for key since in four-color printing cyan, magenta, and yellow printing plates are carefully keyed or aligned with the key of the black key plate. Some sources suggest that the K in CMYK comes from the last letter in black and was chosen because B already means blue.
Coated Paper
A clay coated paper with a smooth surface available in finishes from high gloss to matte.
Coatings are finishes that can be applied to protect printed pieces from exposure to moisture, temperatures, frequent handling, scratches and scuffs. Coatings can also be applied to draw the eyes to specific elements of the piece, to draw the eye or emphasize an aspect of the design. The four different print coatings are:
  • overprint varnish,
  • aqueous coating,
  • lamination and
  • UV coating (ultraviolet).
All four are available in matte, dull or satin, and gloss formulations. Different coatings perform differently on uncoated paper stock versus coated paper stock; and the different coatings will have an impact on the recyclability of the paper.
To gather paper in a precise order.
Color Correction
The process of improving color rendition by various methods.
Color Separation
The process of preparing artwork, photographs, transparencies, for computer generated art for printing by separating into the four primary printing colors or PMS Color, if used.

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A metal Rule or imagined block used to cut or place an image on paper in the finishing process.
Die Cutting (paper finish)
Cutting images or shapes in or out of paper. If your job has right angles, it can be printed on a standard press. If your job requires a custom shape or silhouette, then the piece will have to be die-cut. A special pattern cutter will be made to produce the shape you need.

Print packaging dielines are graphic design templates that show all the cut lines and folds for package printing in a flattened form. Design Printing has editable downloadable digital dielines and templates in an Adobe Acrobat Reader (PDF) file and Adobe Illustrator (EPS) file formats. They can be adjusted for size with various options for boxes, hang tags, coasters, door hangers, bottle gift tags, table tents, certificate holders, folders, holders, mailers, direct mail, and more.

Digital printing
Digital printing refers to methods of printing from a digital based image directly to a variety of media. It has a higher cost per page than more traditional offset printing methods, but this price is usually offset by the cost saving in avoiding all the technical steps in between needed to make printing plates. Digital printing also allows for on-demand printing, a short and fast turnaround, and a modification of the image with each impression. The savings in labor and constantly evolving capacities of digital printers means digital printing has reached a point where it can match or supersede offset printing technology's ability to produce larger print runs at a low price. The main difference between digital printing and traditional methods such as offset printing is that no printing plates are used, resulting in a quicker and less expensive turn around time, fewer outside components and greater flexibility for run sizes. The digital printing press can offer significant benefits thanks to new technology, which includes smaller toner particles, and greater reduction in fuser oil allows digital printing to have a very near offset look and feel. Greater stocks ranges and closer PMS color matching are more manageable as well.
Direct to Plate
The process of producing a metal plate for offset printing using an entirely digital means, bypassing the film process.
Dot Grain or Spread
A defect in which dots of color print larger than they should resulting in darker tones or stronger colors.
A sample of ink and paper used to evaluate ink colors.
Portions of artwork that do not print.
A rough layout of printed piece showing position and finished size.
A halftone picture make up of two printed colors.

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Embossing (paper finish)
Pressing an image into paper so that it will create a raised relief. If you need a raised section on your invitation or catalogue, this is called embossing. A shape in the form of your image will be created and that image pressed into each sheet.

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To cover a printed page with ink, varnish, or plastic coating.
Foil Embossing
Foil stamping, then embossing an image on paper with a die.
Foil Stamping (paper finish)
Using a die to place a metallic or pigmented image on paper. This is the addition of a layer of metallic material that shines on the paper. This layer shines and can be in gold, silver, and holographic finishes.
Folding (binding type)
Folding- just as it says, the piece of paper is printed and folded to display the front, middle and sides.
Four Color Process
The procedure of combining four basic colors to create a printed full color picture.
French Fold
Two folds at right angles to each other.
FSC Certification

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent, non-profit organization. Its mission is to promote responsible management of the world's forests. FSC has developed strict standards for responsible forest management and forest product producers.

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To get the most out of a printing press by using the maximum sheet size to print multiple images or jobs on the same sheet-a way to save money.
Ghost Mail Permit
A special mail permit allowing drop shipment of mail from remote location to post office where permit was issued.
A faint printed image that appears on a printed sheet where it wasn't intended. More often than not this problem is a function of graphic design.
An ink or paper surface that reflects light.
Glossy Paper
A clay coating is added and the paper rolled out under a series of chrome rollers to give it that glossy finish. Depending on the finish desired for that particular paper stock, the paper could be rolled under multiple chrome rollers for super glossy paper.
The direction in which the paper fibers lie.

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Image Area
The portion of paper on which ink can be applied.
Postal information placed on a printed product.
Ink Types
Design Printing uses soy and other vegetable-based inks which are less harmful to the environment than their petroleum-based counterparts. Soy and vegetable products are used in ink for their oils, which act as the vehicle for the ink pigments. There are several types of vegetable-based printing inks, including linseed (Flax), tung (Chinawood), castor, canola, and safflower. Soy is popular because it is a very stable material that exhibits excellent wetting properties which enhance its ability to carry solid pigments. That low VOC inks can be produced from a wide variety of vegetable oils, not just soy, and we at Design Printing adhere to our standard of using the lowest VOC rated inks available.
Ink vs. Dyes
Soy ink is a kind of ink made from soybeans. As opposed to traditional petroleum-based ink, soy-based ink is more environmentally friendly, might provide more accurate colors, and makes it easier to recycle paper. It is slower to dry than many inks. By using clearer soy bean oil grades, less pigment is necessary to produce the same optical effect, which reduces the overall cost of the ink. Recent studies involving engineering of certain oils in the bean have resulted in even clearer oils. Some printers report that they need less ink to print the same amount of paper when compared to petroleum inks. Soy ink has been found to spread approximately 15% further, reducing ink use and printer cleanup costs.

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To mask our an image.

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Matte Paper
The paper is dried and cut.
Matte vs. Glossy Paper
For matte paper, the paper is dried and cut. For glossy papers, a clay coating is added and the paper rolled out under a series of chrome rollers to give it that glossy finish. Depending on the finish desired for that particular paper stock, the paper could be rolled under multiple chrome rollers for super glossy paper.

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Offset printing
A commonly used printing technique in which the inked image is transferred (or offset) from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. When used in combination with the lithographic process, which is based on the repulsion of oil and water, the offset technique employs a flat (planographic) image carrier on which the image to be printed obtains ink from ink rollers, while the non-printing area attracts a water-based film (called fountain solution), keeping the non-printing areas ink-free. Offset lithography is one of the most common ways of creating printed matter. A few of its common applications include: newspapers, magazines, brochures, stationery, and books. Offset printing is the cheapest method to produce high quality printing in commercial printing quantities.
Using an intermediate surface to transfer ink. Also, an undesirable occurrence when the images of freshly printed sheets transfer images of freshly printed sheets transfer images of freshly printed sheets transfer images to each other.
Overrun or Overs
Copies printed in excess of the specified quantity. Printing trade standards allow for plus or minus 10 percent to represent a completed order. InterPrint's Standard for plus or minus 5 percent.

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Better known as the PMS (Pantone Matching System) this is a standardized color reproduction system that allows the printer to match the colors set by the designer, no matter what was used to produce the art. Different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another. You have probably seen the Pantone ‘fan’ book with the many codes and shades of colors.
Paper Coatings
All paper comes from the mill as slurry: wood pulp, chlorine and other additives, and is more than 98% water. As the paper is dried and heated to pull out the water, it is rolled out flat.
Perfect Binding (binding type)
A type of binding that glues collated sections of a book to cover like a telephone book. All the pages are glued together with a flat spine.
Perfecting Press
A sheet-fed printing press that prints both sides of a sheet in one pass.
Plastic Comb (binding)
This piece of plastic looks like a comb: there is a full spine and little tines that clasp the perforations in the page together.
The abbreviated name of the Pantone Color Matching System, a standard color system used in commercial printing.
A digital printing technology that allows a complete booklet to be printed and bound in a matter of minutes.
Process Colors/Inks
Cyan (process blue), Magenta (process red), Yellow (process yellow), Black (process black).

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To position print in the proper position in relation to the edge of the sheet and to other printing on the same sheet.
The RGB color model is an additive color model in which red, green, and blue light is added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors. The name of the model comes from the initials of the three additive primary colors, red, green, and blue. Typical RGB input devices are color TV and video cameras, image scanners, and digital cameras. Typical RGB output devices are TV sets of various technologies (CRT, LCD, plasma, etc.), computer and mobile phone displays, video projectors, multicolor LED displays, and large screens such as JumboTron, etc. Color printers, on the other hand, are not RGB devices, but subtractive color devices (typically CMYK color model). The main purpose of the RGB color model is for the sensing, representation, and display of images in electronic systems, such as televisions and computers.

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Saddle Stich
To bind a booklet or magazine with staples in the seam where it folds.
To crease paper in order to make if fold more easily.
A cover of the same paper as the inside test pages.
Sequential Numbering
A method of numbering business forms or tickets performed by letter press or digital machine.
SFI Certification

Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) is a nonprofit organization who's mission is to encourage responsible environmental behavior and sound business practices. SFI practices sustainability in all their program participant forests ensuring the long term health and sustainability of millions of acres of forest.

A sheet of printed pages which, when folded, becomes a part of a book or publication.
Spiral Plastic Binding (binding)
Tthis is as it sounds a long spiral plastic cord that curls through the pages that have been perforated.
Planned paper waste for all printing operations, including finishing.
Spot UV Coating
Different portions of the page can be spot UV coated to highlight an image or a word and make them stand out from the rest of the sheet.
Spot Varnish
Varnish used to highlight a specific part of the printed sheet.
Stapling (binding)
The book or item is laid out and the pages stapled together along the folded spine.
The raw paper material to be printed.
Sustainability for printers is:
  • Sustainability is the ability to operate in a way that meet our present needs while providing for the needs of the future and future generations.
  • Thoughtful acquisition and use of materials, such as paper, plates, inks, glues and coatings.
  • Sustainable manufacturing has that includes socially, environmentally, and resource-responsible approach to printing and binding.
  • Finding the most efficient use of machinery, delivery, time and energy.
  • Sustainability encompasses more than just using recycled paper and ink or the other materials used to produce printed products; it means making the smartest design decisions for the life of the piece.
Sustainability is not a simple list of discrete actions; it requires continuous improvement process that requires an overall approach to the entire manufacturing operation. It means looking at resources, most efficient staffing, best use of energy and staff time. Sustainability is a way of life, an enduring series of choices for the betterment of all.

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Text Paper
Grades of uncoated paper with textured surfaces.
The ability to print on ink over another.

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UV Coating
This is an ultra violet coating for paper that is NOT environmentally friendly. This finish gives the paper a high shine and can be applied by a screen-printing process similar to screening t-shirts. UV coatings contain a high level of VOC ( volatile organic compounds that leaves unpleasant gases in the air). How we are graded as a company is dependent on how few VOCs we release. Design Printing is very environmentally friendly.

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Variable Data Printing
Printing unique documents in one print run. This is done by merging information from database records with a static document design It allows you to print customized copies with targeted messages.

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Wire-O Binding
A continuous series of double wire loops run through holes punched along the spine of a booklet, allowing it to lay flat when opened.

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Design Printing, your green partner®, is an award-winning Los Angeles printer specializing in green printing, packaging, multi-color offset, large format, signs and banners, digital, finishes, and binding. Excellent quality, customer service, with fast-turnaround and delivery including same day and next day turnaround.