Printer Terminology - Understanding the print industry language

PRINTER TERMINOLOGY

Understand the terms used by printers that are important to your print job

Printer Terminology - Understanding the print industry language

From terms like "bleed" to "crop", this guide will give you a clear picture of the language that printers speak to help you from art development to selection of paper. We realize that the better you understand the printing process and the options that are available, your journey from design to print will be a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Here is a list of common terms that play an important role in the printing process of your project :

  • Binding: The fastening of assembled sheets or signatures along one edge of a publication. The binding process also includes folding, gathering, trimming, stitching, gluing, and/or casing.
  • Bleed: A printing term when printing goes to the edge of a sheet after it has been trimmed to a final size.
  • Bleed Allowance: The amount in which a bleed must extend beyond a document's trim in order to allow for variations in cutting and folding.
  • Body Copy: The majority of the copy, or text, in a book, magazine article, or marketing piece, as opposed to headline copy.
  • Cover Paper: A variety of heavier papers used as covers for booklets, catalogs, brochures, presentations, and other publications. Also called cover stock.
  • Cover Stock: A variety of heavier papers used for the covers of catalogs, brochures, booklets, and similar publications. Also called cover paper.
  • Creep: The process of compensating for the shifting position of the pages in a saddle-stitched bind. Creep moves the inside pages or signatures away from the spine.
  • Crop: To eliminate outer portions of a photograph, illustration, or plate. Cropping is indicated on the original with crop marks.
  • Crop Mark: A set of horizontal and vertical lines which indicate where a photograph, illustration, or page should be eliminated or trimmed.
  • Die: A metal plate cut in the shape of the master image used to make cuts in printed sheets. The general process of shearing using dies. Dies are generally plates with blades that are used to perforate, slice or shear part of the printed material. A good example of a printed product using a "die" is an envelope. The "die" in this case is used to cut the printed envelopes into the proper shape so it can be folded and glued. Dies can also be used to create perforations (like on ticket rolls) or business card holder slots on pocket folders (even the pocket folder itself requires a "die" to cut it to the proper shape).
  • Die Cut: The technique of using sharp steel rules to make cuts in printed sheets for boxes, folders, pop-up brochures, and other specialized printing jobs.
  • Direct Mail: A form of advertising in which the published matter is mailed directly to the potential customer.
  • Dot Gain: A defect that occurs in the reproduction process in which dots print larger than they should, causing darker tones or colors. Compensating for press dot gain is a key element in calibrating a digital prepress system. 
  • Duotone: A two-color halftone reproduction from a black-and-white photograph
  • Emboss: To impress an image in relief to achieve a raised surface; either overprinting or on blank paper (called blind embossing).
  • Enamel: A coating material used on paper.
  • Stock: The paper used for printing a particular piece.
  • Process Color (CMYK): The CMYK color model (process color, four color) is a subtractive color model, used in color printing. CMYK refers to the four inks used in full color printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). 

    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.However, this explanation, although useful as a mnemonic, is incorrect.

    This is important in the preparation of artwork. Where we see graphics on a computer monitor using the RGB color model (Red, Green, Blue), the print process uses the CMYK model to create all colors. All graphics need to be created or converted to CMYK before printing. This is done by the designer and not the printer. Unless the conversion is done properly the printed output will look different than the computer monitor output in both tone and color.