Glossary of Specialist Printing Terms

Creating your own marketing materials can be very rewarding – both financially, and personally. You get to have complete control over the process, highlight what you know are your best and most important features, and save some money. However, when it comes time to do your brochure printing, business card printing or letterhead printing, it can get pretty involved! Today we give you a quick run-through of some of the terms you’ll need to know to ensure your printing job looks the way you expect it to.

Paper sizes
Sometimes they sound confusing, but for most jobs the paper size options are simple. You know what size a sheet of A4 paper is, so:

  • A3 size is A4 doubled widthways
  • A2 size is A3 doubled widthways
  • A5 size is A4 folded in half widthways
  • A6 size is A5 folded in half widthways
  • DL size is A4 folded into three widthways

Paper types

  • Coated paper: Has a thin coating of china clay to make it glossy
  • Uncoated paper: Has a rougher matte feel
  • Matte, Silk and Gloss: These are levels of coating, smoothness or shininess in order from roughest to least rough.
  • Carbonless paper: If you are getting letterhead printing or invoice book printing, you may want to get it on carbonless paper to make copies of handwritten documents easily.

The designing process

  • Bleed: To put a bleed on a document means to let pictures and coloured boxes that will run right up to the edge of the document after printing, actually go over the edge. If you have graphics up to the edge, but don’t put a bleed on, you may end up with a thin white line along the edge of some printouts.
  • CMYK: Stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. Most printers need your images to be in CMYK format to print. CMYK is a color space – it tells the machine how much of each color to mix to create the images in your layout.
  • DPI – Dots per inch: The number of dots per inch determines how large a photo can be blown up without losing detail. Should be at least 150 for most printing services.
  • EPS: Preferred file type for images that need to be enlarged significantly
  • Grayscale: To ordinary people, black and white … although we know that ‘black and white’ photos aren’t really only black and white.
  • Gutter: If you are having book printing done, this is the area between the text and the bound edge
  • Pixel: Stands for picture element – a single dot of the many different coloured dots created by a digital camera or scanner to make up an electronic image.
  • PMS: Stands for the Pantone Matching System, or a set of’ trademarked’ colours
  • RGB: Another color space, usually used on screen. Stands for red, green and blue. Many printing services can’t use images in RGB color space.
  • Spot colours: ‘Trademarked’ colours, very specific colors blends. They make printing more expensive.

Printing process

  • Die cut: To us a die to cut paper into shapes other than the size it comes in.
  • Embossing: To press an image into paper so that part of it lies above the usual surface
  • Ghosting: When a faint printed image appears where it isn’t supposed to
  • Imposition: When you arrange the pages for a printer, two or more per sheet of paper, so that when they ar cut and folded they appear as they are supposed to, in order.
  • Imprint: To print new info onto something that was printed already, such as putting a new employee’s name on a previously printed business card
  • Page proof: A single printout of a job, usually for purposes of checking that everything is correct

General terms

  • Body: The main part of a textual area, not including headlines
  • Laminate: A thin plastic sheet or coating applied to paper for protection from water and dirt.
  • Mockup: To create a suggested design or dummy print
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