Glossary of Printing Terms - Olympus Press - Seattle, WA
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Glossary of Printing Terms

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  • ISO standard paper size 210 x 297mm or 8.3 x 11.7". The common paper size used outside the US in place of 8.5 x 11.
  • Folding paper by bending each fold in the opposite direction of the previous fold creating a pleated or accordion effect.
  • A paper containing no acidity or acid producing chemicals that degrades less over time than acidic papers.
  • Running a sheet of paper through a printing press at right angles to the grain direction of the paper, as opposed to with the grain. This is usually suboptimal for both press operation and registration of the 4 color process inks. Sometimes called cross grain.
  • A compressed air tool that sprays a fine mist of paint or ink, used in illustration and photo retouching.
  • The process of averaging between pixels of different colors. This results is a smoother, more blended transition between the edge of two areas rather than a distinctly jagged appearance.
  • This clear coating is used to protect printed pieces. It provides a high-gloss surface that deters dirt and fingerprints. Aqueous coating improves the durability of postcards as they go through the mail, and protects business cards as they ride around in people's pockets. It also looks(...)
  • The original physical materials, including photos, graphic images, text and other components needed to produce a printed piece. Can also now refer to the electronic or digital components needed for preparing a printed piece for production on a press or copier.
  • Any part of a lower case letter which rises above the main body of the letter such as in "d", "b" and "h".
  • How an image on one side of a printed sheet aligns with the image on the other side.
  • Any type that tilts to the left or backward direction; opposite of italic type.
  • In an illustration, any line that encircles copy or dialogue.
  • The imaginary horizontal line upon which stand capitals, lower case letters, punctuation points, etc.
  • Basis or basic weight refers to the weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to a given standard size for that particular paper grade.
  • A thin but strong paper (opaque), used for bibles and books.
  • A business or department within a printing company that does the cutting, folding, collating, drilling and other finishing operations used on printing projects.
  • The rubberized surfaced material secured onto a cylinder onto which the ink is transferred from the plate and then to the paper.
  • Any element that extends up to or past the edge or trim area of a printed item, commonly 1/8”.
  • A design or bas relief impression that is made without using inks or metal foils.
  • When ink or coating causes printed sheets of paper in a pile to stick together, causing damage when they are separated. This is normally caused by not enough anti-offset powder or too much ink, and usually ruins the printed job.
  • In typography, the main shank or portion of a letter character other than the ascenders and descenders.
  • A grade of durable writing, printing and typing paper that is erasable and somewhat rigid.
  • Types of paper usually used for printing books. Book paper text weight and is divided into uncoated or offset paper, and coated paper, which includes matte or gloss coating.
  • Inconsistent positioning of the printed image on the sheets of paper as they travel through a printing press.
  • A board paper of various thicknesses having a smooth finish and used for printing or drawing.
  • A term given to paper to describe its thickness relative to its weight.
  • A boldface square or dot used before a sentence to emphasize its importance.
  • Acronyms for Coated One Side and Coated Two Sides paper stock. A cover stock with a glossy finish on one side and uncoated on the other, usually between 8pt (.008") and 18pt (.018") in thickness.
  • The measurement of the thickness of paper measured in thousandths of an inch or mils.
  • Paper that is chemically treated to transfer the impression from the first page to the subsequent pages. See Carbonless NCR Form Printing for more detailed info.
  • Books bound using hard board (case) covers.
  • A paper that is coated and then pressure dried using a polished roller that imparts an enamel like hard gloss finish.
  • The two pages that face each other in the center of a book or publication.
  • Lines that appear on laid paper as a result of the wires of the papermaking machine.
  • Graphic images, designs, and artwork in digital form that can be used in a digital document.
  • The primary colors of pigment: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. These inks are used for "4-color process printing.”
  • Halftone screens commonly used in newsprint; up to 85 lines per inch.
  • Any paper that has a mineral coating applied after the paper is made, giving the paper a smoother finish.
  • Where a metal or plastic wire is spiraled through holes punched along the side of a stack of paper. Commonly used for reports, proposals and manuals. Documents bound with coil have the ability to lay flat and can rotate 360 degrees. Also called spiral binding.
  • Any color that is toward the blue side of the color spectrum.
  • To gather sheets or printed signatures together in their correct order.
  • A printers' or publishers' identifying symbol or emblem.
  • The relative amounts of process colors used to reproduce an image, either digitally or when printed on a press.
  • A color test strip that is printed on the waste portion of a press sheet. It helps a press operator to monitor and control the quality of the printed material relative to ink density, registration and dot gain. It can also include a Star Target, which is designed to detect inking and press problems.
  • Unwanted color tone or overall color shading distorting the normal color balance of a photographic image.
  • Using a computer to adjust, change or manipulate a color image, such as retouching, adjusting color balance, color saturation, contrast, etc.
  • The entire range of hues possible to reproduce on a specific system, such as a computer screen, or four-color printing press.
  • The processes of separating the primary color components (CMYK) for printing.
  • The order in which process inks are printed on a printing press. Also called the color rotation or laydown sequence.
  • Change in the perceived color of elements on a printed piece caused by changes or irregularities in ink densities, dot gain, or color register during a four-color printing press run.
  • Transparent film containing a positive photographic color image.
  • Binding a stack of paper together by inserting the teeth of a flexible plastic comb into holes punched along one of the edges. Commonly used for catalogs, reports and manuals.
  • A narrow, elongated typeface.
  • The degree of tonal separation or gradation in the range from black to white.
  • The process of preparing written material to make sure the text is grammatically accurate, readable, and factually correct.
  • A term describing a general type of paper used for the covers of books, pamphlets, etc., also used for business cards and postcards.
  • The extent to which printing ink covers the surface of a printed sheet. Ink coverage is frequently expressed as light, medium or heavy.
  • To reduce the size of an image.
  • Small printed lines around the edges of a printed piece indicating where it is to be cut out of the sheet. Sometimes referred to as cut marks.
  • An image, rule or line art on one printed page that carries over to an adjacent page of a bound or folded work.
  • A shade of blue used in four-color process printing. The C in CMYK. Also referred to as process blue.
  • An essential part of the offset printing process whereby rollers distribute a solution to the plate that covers the non-printing area of the plate, repelling ink in those areas. Some newer presses use a waterless ink technology that does not use dampening.
  • To press an image into paper with a die so it extends below the surface. The opposite of emboss where the image is raised above the paper surface.
  • The rough or feathered edge of paper when left untrimmed.
  • An optical device used by printers and photographers to measure and control the density of ink or color.
  • The degree of tone, weight of darkness or color within a photo or reproduction measured by a densitometer.
  • A term that describes that portion of lower case letters that extends below the main body of the letter, as in "p".
  • Creating materials to be printed using a personal computer, as opposed to taking non-electronic documents to a commercial printing company to be prepared for printing.
  • The process of cutting paper in a shape or design by the use of a wooden die or block in which are positioned steel rules in the shape of the desired pattern.
  • The process of printing digital-based images directly onto a variety of media substrates. Great for short run printing and variable data.
  • Color separation data is digitally stored and then exposed to color photographic paper creating a picture of the final product before it is actually printed with ink.
  • The process of averaging between pixels of different colors. This results in a smoother, blended transition between the edge of two areas rather than a jagged or 'stair-step' appearance. Also a method used on ink jet printers where colors are produced by mixing colored dots in a randomized pattern.
  • The smallest individual element of a halftone.
  • A term used to describe when dots are printing larger than they should.
  • To print a single area on the sheet twice so it has two layers of ink. Usually done on soild ink areas to increase the smoothness and/or density.
  • The drilling of holes into paper for ring or comb binding.
  • A shadow image placed offset behind an image to create the affect of the image lifting off the page.
  • To print over dry ink with a second pass of another ink or varnish.
  • A semi-gloss finish on paper that is less glossy than gloss and more than matte paper.
  • The preliminary assemblage of copy and art elements to be reproduced in the desired finished product, also called a comp.
  • A two-color halftone reproduction generated from a one color photo.
  • A photographic looking color print created by heating dyes on a substrate instead of using inks. Often used for proofing.
  • A process of generating a prepress proof in which paper is electronically exposed to the color separation negatives and passed through electrically charged pigmented toners, which adhere electrostatically, resulting in the finished proof.
  • To emboss is to press an image into paper so it lies above the surface, while a deboss lies below the surface
  • The molding and reshaping of paper by the use of special metal dies and heat, counter dies and pressure, to produce a raised image on the paper surface.
  • Another term for gloss coated paper.
  • Encapsulated Post Script. A standard file format used to transfer postscript formatting information between applications.
  • The smoother side of a sheet in the paper. The wire side is the rougher side of the paper. The difference happens in the papermaking process. The differences are eliminated when papers are gloss or matte coated.
  • An ink color added to a printed piece in addition to the standard cyan, magenta, yellow and black used in 4 color process printing. Usually a Pantone spot color or custom formulated ink. Requires an extra run through the press on a four color press adding to the cost. Some presses have five(...)
  • The surface quality of a paper.
  • The registration of the different colors on a printed sheet.
  • A printing method using flexible plates where the image to be printed is higher than the non-printing areas. The inked areas are then contact the material to be printed, transferring the ink from the raised areas to the material. Fast drying inks are usually used in this process. Common uses(...)
  • Then metal sheet that is applied to paper using the foil stamping process. Frequently gold colored, but available in many colors.
  • Stamping a thin sheet of metallic foil onto a sheet of paper and then embossing a pattern under it, creating a three dimensional raised area, usually text or an image. See a sample of foil embossing.
  • Impressing metallic foil onto paper with a heated die.
  • Using heat, pressure, and metallic paper (foil) to create a metallic image on the paper stock
  • The characters which make up a complete typeface and size.
  • Low resolution or mockup images used to indicate placement and size in a design, but not intended for final production.
  • Any paper that is free from wood pulp impurities.
  • The combining of two or more different printing projects on the same sheet of paper.
  • A three or four panel fold where the two outside panels fold inward to meet in the center. In an open gate fold, there are three panels, the bottom of which is twice the size of the folded panels. In a closed gatefold, there are four panels of roughly equal size where the outer panels are(...)
  • Assembling sheets of paper and signatures into their proper sequence. See also collate.
  • Also known as gloss ghosting. A condition occurring during the printing process when vapors from drying ink on one side of a press sheet interact chemically with dry ink or blank paper on sheets in contact with or on the reverse side of the same sheet creating unintended faint images.
  • Paper fibers lie in a similar direction in a sheet of paper. This direction is called the grain. Printing is usually done so that if folding is required, the fold is done parallel to the grain.
  • A printing process using recessed areas on a metal cylinder that hold the ink.
  • A series of metal fingers that hold each sheet of paper as it passes through a printing press.
  • The side of a piece of paper held by the gripper fingers as it passes through a printing press. Nothing can be printed in this area.
  • A blank space or margin between components on a printed piece or press sheet.
  • Using small dots to produce the impression of a continuous-tone image. The effect is achieved by varying the dot size and the number of dots per square inch.
  • A sheet of film or glass containing ruled right-angled lines, used to translate the full tone of a photo to the halftone dot image required for printing.
  • The effect that occurs when a spec of dust or debris (frequently dried ink) adheres to the printing plate and creates a spot or imperfection in the printing.
  • The lightest tones of a photo, printed halftone or illustration. In the finished halftone, these highlights are represented by the finest dots.
  • An adhesive used in some binding processes, which requires heat for application.
  • This is a term that refers to a paper that a printer keeps on hand in their shop.
  • That portion of a printing plate that carries ink and prints on paper.
  • The correct sequential arrangement of pages that are to be printed, along with all the margins in proper alignment, before producing the plates for printing.
  • A physical proof showing the final size, folding, stitching and die-cutting. Not to be used for color proofing.
  • An image and/or text pre-printed on mailing envelopes in place of a stamp.
  • When printed ink colors become lighter or less dense after they have dried on the paper.
  • A piece of printed material that is inserted into another piece of printed material, such as a magazine or catalog.
  • Text that is used to denote emphasis by slanting the type body forward.
  • Or dust jacket. The paper cover sometimes called the "dust cover" of a hardbound book.
  • To vibrate a stack of finished pages so that they are tightly aligned for final trimming or binding.
  • Adjusting the spacing or hyphenation of words and characters to fill a given line of text from end to end. Sometimes referred to as word spacing.
  • The narrowing of space between two letters so that they become closer and take up less space on the page.
  • Lines that are drawn on artwork that indicate the exact placement, shape and size of elements including halftones, illustrations, etc.
  • A coarse unbleached paper used for printing and industrial products.
  • A parallel lined paper that has a handmade look.
  • Applying thin transparent plastic sheets to both sides of a sheet of paper, providing scuff resistance, waterproofing and extended use.
  • A document layout where the width is greater than the height. (the opposite of Portrait)
  • A rendition that shows the placement of all the elements, images, thumbnails etc., of a final printed piece.
  • Space between lines of type. The distance in points between one baseline and the next.
  • Printing that utilizes inked raised surfaces, usually type, to create the image.
  • The addition of space between typeset letters.
  • Any copy that can be reproduced without the use of a halftone screen.
  • A paper that emulates the look and texture of linen cloth.
  • The process of printing that utilizes flat or curved inked surfaces to create the printed images.
  • A personalized type or design symbol for a company or product.
  • A small magnifier used to observe the details on a printed sheet.
  • The actual weight of 1000 sheets of any given size of paper.
  • One of the four process colors, or CMYK, the M is for magenta. Magenta is a predominately red color with some blue. Magenta, cyan and yellow are also the three subtractive primary colors.
  • Black ink containing iron oxides, used for magnetic ink character recognition used for check printing.
  • Paper that is used in the press set-up process before the printing run actually starts. Or the process of setting up press or bindery equipment to produce a specific product, including setting paper size, ink density, image alignment, fold sizes, etc., in preparation for the actual production run.
  • A coated paper finish that goes through minimal calendaring.
  • Ink that looks metallic when printed. Made with powdered metal or pigments that look metallic. The most common colors used are gold and silver.
  • An undesirable halftone pattern produced by the incorrect angles of overprinting halftone screens.
  • A term used to describe spotty or uneven ink absorption.
  • A term to describe papers that have a color similar to that of wood, also called cream, off-white or ivory.
  • A light, low-cost unbleached paper made especially for newspaper printing.
  • An erroneous variation of the word "setoff". Ink that is unintentionally transferred from a printed sheet to the back of the sheet above it as the pieces are stacked in a pile when printed.
  • A term for sometimes used for uncoated book paper.
  • The most commonly used printing method, where the printed material does not receive ink directly from a printing plate but from an intermediary blanket that receives the ink from the plate and then transfers it to the paper.
  • A light bond paper used for typing and used with carbon paper because of its thinness.
  • Quality of papers that defines its opaqueness or ability to prevent two-sided printing from showing through.
  • Ink that completely covers any ink under itself.
  • A process of proof-making whereby the color separations are individually exposed to light sensitive film. This film is then set in registration with a piece of white paper in the background.
  • Any printing that is done on an area that has already been printed.
  • Quantities of sheets printed over the requested number of copies.
  • The total number of pages in a book, magazine or publication. Sometimes referred to as the extent.
  • The numbering of individual pages in a multi-page document
  • A hard finished paper that emulates animal skin used for documents, such as awards, that require writing by hand.
  • A sheet that is larger than the cut stock of the same paper.
  • A binding process where the signatures of a book are held together by a flexible adhesive.
  • A printing press that prints on both sides of a sheet in a single pass through the press.
  • A typesetting unit of measurement equaling 1/6th of an inch.
  • An occurrence in printing whereby the tack of ink pulls fibers or coating off the paper surface, leaving spots on the printed surface.
  • A method of binding books whereby holes are drilled on the spine, and a plastic grasping device is inserted to hold the pages together.
  • Plus-cover is a printed item that has a cover and interior pages of different weights; with a self-cover they are the same weight
  • The abbreviation of the Pantone Color Matching System.
  • A measurement unit equal to 1/72 of an inch. 12 points to a pica, 72 points to an inch.
  • A document layout in which the height is greater than the width. (the opposite of Landscape)
  • A tradename of Adobe Systems, Inc. for its page description language. This language translates a digital file from an application into a language a compatible printer or other device can use to create its output.
  • Pages per inch or pixels per inch.
  • Any paper that is considered better than grade #1 by its manufacturer.
  • Refers to processes that happen after a client submits artwork to prepare their designs for physical printing. This can include: color correction, proofing and typesetting, adjustments to artwork for press, media selection, and other quality control checks.
  • When a client visits a printing company to view actual printed sheets of their project before a full production press run is started.
  • Printed sample made on the press that a project will be printed on to show exactly how it will actually print using the paper, ink and plates to be used for the final press run.
  • Self-adhesive paper covered by a backing sheet.
  • A system where a color image is separated into different color values (cyan, magenta, yellow and black or CMYK) by the use of filters and screens or digitally with a software program and then transferred to printing plates and printed on a printing press, reproducing the original color image.
  • Any proofs made from the separate colors of a multi-color printing project.
  • The final step of editing a written publication before printing.
  • A softcover, book-binding method that uses Polyurethane Reactive (PUR) adhesive. The pages and cover are glued together at the spine.
  • Short for QuarkXPress, one of the primary computer applications used in graphic design.
  • A price estimate to produce a specific printed piece, frequently with custom attributes not priceable in standard online pricing tools.
  • Papers with a complete or partial content of cotton fibers.
  • The term given to right-justified type that is uneven on the left.
  • The term given to left-justified type that is uneven on the right.
  • 500 sheets of paper.
  • The arrangement of two or more printed images in exact alignment with each other.
  • Any crossmarks or other symbols used on a press sheet to assure proper registration.
  • The color space of Red, Green and Blue. These are the primary colors of light, which computers use to display images on your screen. An RGB computer file must be translated into the CMYK (the primary colors of pigment) color space in order to be printed on a printing press.
  • Using multiple ink colors in addition to black to produce a deep, dark black color. Common CMYK values used are 30% Cyan, 20% Magenta, 20% Yellow and 100% Black.
  • A term that denotes folds that are 90 degrees to each other.
  • A title at the top of a page that appears on all pages of a book or chapter of a book.
  • A method of binding where the pages are gathered together, folded and stapled along the crease with a wire staple.
  • A paper that shows sign of erasure so that it cannot be altered or tampered with easily.
  • To crease paper with a metal rule for the purpose of making folding easier.
  • The placement of halftone screens to avoid unwanted moiré patterns. Frequently used angles are black 45º, magenta 75º, yellow 90º, and cyan 105º.
  • A measurement equaling the number of lines or dots per inch on a halftone screen.
  • A printed area of color created by dots of a certain screen percentage instead of using a layer of solid ink. Frequently used to create a colored area on the sheet, or tint the entire sheet instead of using colored paper.
  • Unwanted deposits of ink in the non-image area of a printed piece.
  • A cover that is the same paper stock as the internal sheets.
  • To decrease the dot size of a halftone, which in turn decreases the color strength.
  • The printing of two different images on two different sides of a sheet of paper by turning the sheet over after the first side is printed and using the same gripper and side guides.
  • When the printing on one side of a sheet is seen from the other side, a frequent problem with thin papers.
  • The guides on the sides of a printing press that consistently positions the sheet sideways as it is fed through the press.
  • The stapling of sheets or signatures on the side closest to the spine.
  • A printed sheet with multiple pages on it that is folded so that the pages are in their proper numbered sequence, as in a book.
  • That quality of paper defined by its levelness that allows for pressure consistency in printing, assuring uniformity of print.
  • Inks made with soy oils instead of petroleum as the base. They are considered to be more environmentally friendly, a standard component of green printing.
  • A type of binding where a metal or plastic wire is spiraled through holes drilled along the binding side of a document.
  • A term for unprinted paper. See paper type descriptions
  • A machine procedure that produces a very smooth paper surface that is exceptional for printing.
  • Any non-wood or cloth paper, usually petroleum (plastic) based.
  • A high quality light weight printing paper.
  • A printing process whereby slow drying ink is applied to paper and, while the ink is still wet, is lightly dusted with a resinous powder. The paper then passes through a heat chamber where the powder melts and fuses with the ink to produce a raised surface.
  • A halftone screen that contains all the same sized dots, or a diluted variation of a full strength color.
  • The overlapping of one color over a different, adjacent color to ensure that no white space is visible where the two colors meet, especially when there are slight variations in the registration of the two colors during the printing process. Or the process of printing wet ink over wet or dry(...)
  • Marks placed on the printed sheet to indicate where cuts should be made.
  • The final size of a printed piece after being cut from the sheet of paper that it was printed on.
  • The process of arranging text to prepare for printing. It's purpose is typically to make sure text is legible in printed form.
  • A spelling mistake in printed material resulting from a mistake in typing or setting type. See common printing term misspellings.
  • The removing of cyan, magenta, or yellow from a heavily colored image to limit the total amount of ink being applied to that image to avoid potential production problems.
  • A term used to describe how many similar pieces can be printed on a larger sheet; two up, four up, etc.
  • A very shiny and durable high gloss coating applied to printed material. It is applied as a liquid then cured with ultraviolet light.
  • Is a form of on-demand printing in which elements (such as text, graphics, photographs, etc) can be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the press, using information from a database. For example, a set of personalized letters, each with the same basic(...)
  • A clear coating added to printed material as a protective layer for improved scuff resistance and usually higher gloss.
  • A finish of paper that is somewhat bulky and is slightly rough.
  • A photo or illustration, in which the tones fade gradually away until they blend with the background they are printed on.
  • Abbreviation of volatile organic compounds. Petroleum based chemicals used in some printing inks and coatings who's high vapor pressure allows easy evaporation into the air.
  • A color with a reddish tone rather than a blue tone. Browns, oranges, reds, and yellows are generally considered to be "warm" colors.
  • The procedure of cleaning a particular ink from the unit of a printing press.
  • A translucent mark or image that is embossed during the papermaking process, or printed onto paper, which is visible when the paper is held up to the light.
  • A printing press that prints on rolls of paper passed through the press in one continuous piece, as opposed to individual sheets of paper.
  • A single word or two left at the end of a paragraph, or a part of a sentence ending a paragraph, which loops over to the next page and stands alone. Also, the last sentence of a paragraph, which contains only one or two short words.
  • A printing production format that has the front and back of a printed piece on one side of the paper, that is then printed the same on the back side, producing two copies of the piece.
  • A smooth paper with a gentle patterned finish.
  • Another name for bond paper.
  • Papers made to reproduce well in copy machines.
  • One of the four process colors of ink, or CMYK. The Y is for yellow.
  • Zipping a file compresses one or more files into a smaller archive. It takes up less hard drive space and less time to transfer across a network or the internet.