printing company glossary

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Glossary Of Printing Terms And Definitions

These are some of the printing terms and printing term definitions that will help you to understand the way the printing process is described at our printing company. These printing terms are those used by printing companies when they send you a printing quote utilizing these same printing term definitions for online printer services. This glossary is the exact same one you will find on our website when you visit us for your quote whether magazine printing, books, catalog printing or any other form of commercial printing service.


What type of printing item do you need the quote for (book printing, brochure printing, catalog printing, etc?)


How many of the above item do you need? It is a good idea to bracket your quote up, as the unit pricing is more favorable once you are on the printing press and running.


How many pages do your book printing or brochure printing has? This is different from how many sheets of paper. For an “apples to apples” and easy to quote them it is best to always deal in page count and not sheet count for a given item.


What is the size of your final printed piece once folded? (Example: if you fold a letter to fit an envelope, the folded size is the “trim size folded=3 2/3 x 8 1/2″ verses the flat size of the letter you started with of 8 1/2 x 11”).


This is the flat and trimmed size of your printed piece before folding. (Example: and 8 1/2 x 11″ 4 page brochure spread out as a 2 page “spread” would be 17 x 11 “) NOTE: IN COMMERCIAL PRINTING THE WIDTH IS ALWAYS THE FIRST DIMENSION GIVEN.


The paper you require for the inside of your periodical. If there were not a separate cover, then would be the stock for the entire piece (i.e. a “self cover”)


This is the paper you require for the outside 4 pages of your periodical, providing that it is different from the text. If it is not, then your piece is a “self cover”.


The ink you require for the inside of your piece. This is described by the number of inks you require and the two numbers used are separated by a slash sign /. If the front of your piece has 4 colors and the back has 1, then your piece would be described as 4/1 or “four over one”. There are 2 main kinds of inks, CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) for process printing, such as color photos and Pantone inks also known as spot color, such as PMS # 187. PMS stands for Pantone Matching System. This a universal system to pick the same color every time. (Note: always count on a slight variation of color from paper to paper and press to press.


This is as above, but for the cover portion, if the cover is different from the text.


Coverage refers to the amount of ink on the page. Always let your printing company know if there are large solid areas of 100% ink on a job and the overall ink coverage. It better allows the printing company to place your job on the appropriate press.


A bleed occurs when your design allows the ink to print to the very edge of the paper. If your bleed on one side goes completely across the side from top to bottom, that would be 3 bleeds and not one. The reason for this is due to the fact that you would then also be “bleeding to the top and bottom.


This is art on board or paper output that can be photographed. If there is more than one color, they should be separated to different boards or sheets. A composite of your separations should also be included as a guide for stripping of the film for press. Photographs should not be included within the camera-ready art, but photographed as “half tones” in a separate process.


This is film that is ready to be “stripped” (pieced) together with other pieces of composed film in order to then have “plate ready” film. It is the plate ready film that is used to “burn” or make the plates to print with.


A disk that is complete and does not require any further production other than to “rip” (the conversion from digital to analog) to film. This disk should also contain a folder for all of your images and another for your fonts used.


Scanning is the process that records your images as a digital file from a transparency (35mm, 2 1/4″ or larger).


A print made from your original photographic negative.


A black and white photo shot with a camera with a honeycombed lens or scanned, that recreates your image as a series of dots required in printing.


To chose the appropriate font (typeface) and type your copy and laying it out on the page.


Design is the finished product you receive when you combine the elements consisting of your type, images, colors logo and other items into a finished eye pleasing piece for output of film.


The output of film from files occurs when the printing company rips your digital files and produces your art as final film or plates.


A contact proof from the film used to verify that the film is correct. The word comes from the blue paper used, although other colors are occasionally available.


A contact proof from the film made from acetate. There is one sheet per process color, which is overlaid with each other to verify that your color film is correct. Process or CMYK colors are generally all that is available. The benefit of this type of color proofing system is cost. It is accurate on most things, but the color on a match print is more accurate. If color is not 100% critical and cost is than this is the proofing system for your piece.


A multiple piece of contact proofing that is pieced together and laminated as a single piece. This is the most accurate proofing method; especially where color is a critical factor, such as in skin tones for a cosmetics brochure.


To die score a piece is to make a “steel rule” die, which is composed of thin pieces of steel that will be used to stamp a line or rule where your piece needs to fold. This action compresses the paper and allows for ease of folding and prevents cracking. 100# gloss book and heavier, especially where there is “cross over art” (ink going from one panel to the next), especially on the spine (outer edge). To die cut is to create a steel rule die and to cut your finished piece as if it were a cookie.   The most common example of this is a “presentation folder with pocket”. The glue flap that is used on the pocket, as well as the pocket and the slit cut to hold business cards are examples of die cutting.


The type of fold you require in order to finish your piece. A letter fold is a paper folded in thirds with each end folding towards the center. A “z” fold differs in that one third of the sheet folds to the front and the other to the rear and so on.


Two staples added to the center of the piece on the fold line, with the head of the staple on the outside of the folded piece.


A squared off edge; with scored hinges for ease of opening and glued in pages define this type of bindery. An example would be your standard “pocket” or “soft cover” book, as opposed to a “case bind” which is hard cover binding.


To perforate or die score in holes that allow one to cleanly remove a coupon or page from the piece with ease and not destroy the piece. If the perforation goes from top to bottom, that is a vertical perforation. If from side to side, it is a horizontal perforation.


The term “holes” refers to the punching or die cutting of holes in the piece to allow for binder or other similar use.


To foil stamp create a stamping tool, known as a die and stamping a material onto the paper. The material usually is seen as metallic gold or silver, but can come as enamel colors as well. If the foil touches nearby ink on the piece or is raised by embossing, it is referred to as “registering”.


This is a process where the embosser will stamp the paper from the rear in order to create a raised effect. De-bossing would stamp the paper from the front in order to create a sunken effect. If the embossing or de-bossing does not touch ink or a foil, then it is referred to as “blind” embossing. Should it touch ink, or have a foil on top of it, this is referred to as “registered” embossing or de-bossing.


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