Offset lithography is mainly suited to printing illustrated work on a broad range of papers up to 500gsm (700 microns) and it is the main process for most types of printed matter on paper. Lithographic printing is ideal for:

  • Promotional literature, brochures and illustrated books
  • Magazines, newspapers, directories and catalogues
  • Printed stationery and forms
  • Security documents
  • Sheet labels and folding boxboard cartons
  • Spot colours, metallic and pastel colours


These are just some of the benefits of choosing digital print at Swallowtail Print

  • Our digital print facilities can produce finished material much faster than lithographic printing
  • We can print different versions of the same project within a single print-run, for example, variable data printing
  • We can personalise printed material with names, addresses or other relevant information – all at the same time

Simply tell us your needs and we’ll help you decide the best and most cost-effective printing method.


4:0 or 4:1 or 4:4 etc

Refers to the number of colours used per side. Can be referred to as four back zero / four back one / four back four.

4 Colour Process

Technique of printing that uses the four process colours of ink to simulate colour photographs or illustrations. See CMYK.


A product that has four pages and usually consists of a sheet folded in half. The 'outside right cover' is the first page, the 'inside' forms pages two and three, and the fourth page is the 'outside left cover'. For instance, an A4 sheet folded in half becomes an A5 4pp brochure.

4pp A4

A product where an A3 sheet is folded in half to create a multi-page A4 product. The first page is the outside right front cover, the second page is the inside left, the third page is the inside right, and the fourth page is the outside left cover. It is also known as double A4.


A product that has six pages and usually consists of a sheet folded into thirds. Each of the six panels are referred to as pages. For instance, an A4 page folded into three becomes a 6pp DL brochure.


A product that has eight pages and usually consists of a sheet folded into quarters. Each of the eight panels are referred to as pages. For instance, an over-sized A4 page folded into four becomes an 8pp DL brochure.


- A -

Abrasion Resistance

The resistance to scratching or scuffing of a surface of paper

Resistance to frictional rubbing as distinct from resistance to knocks and impacts. Abrasion tests may be made by means of the finger alone, or with a cloth or a pad with or without a mildly abrasive powder. The pressure, speed and time of rubbing as well as the character of the rubbing agent should be controlled when making comparisons of abrasion resistance.

Accordion Fold

A type of paper folding in which each fold of a brochure runs in the opposite direction to the previous fold of the brochure creating an accordion affect.


A thin flexible, clear or translucent plastic sheet material of a variety of colours used as an overlay usually.

Additive Colours

In photographic reproduction the primary colours of red, green, and blue which are mixed to form all other colours. Also known as RGB.

Adhesive Binding

Style of unsewn binding in which the backs of gathered sections are cut off and the leaves are held together at the binding edge by glue.  Also referred to as perfect bound.


This refers to a process whereby air is blown onto paper sheets to separate the sheets.

Against the grain

At right angles to the grain direction of paper.


Type size of 5 ½ points


A compressed air tool that dispenses a fine mist of ink; used in illustration and photo retouching software to create effects.


Space between columns of type on a page.


Change in copy or specifications made after production has begun.


Was used in laying film and stripping. Red-orange acetate used for masking mechanicals when photographing for plates. The Amberlith area appears black to the camera, and prints clear on the resulting film. Not used much anymore.

Anodized Plate

In lithography, a plate manufactured with a barrier of aluminium oxide, which prevents chemical reactions that break down the plate; it provides optimum press performance and can carry very small dots.

Antique Finish

Paper with a rough surface.

Antiskinning Agent

An antioxidant agent used to prevent inks from skinning over in the can or on press.

Aqueous Coating

Water soluble coating that protects ink and enables quick handling of piece. Comes in gloss, satin, and dull-Usually done in-line.

Aqueous Plate

Water soluble plate coatings, which are less toxic and less polluting which enables quick handling of paper and high level of gloss.

Art Board/Paper

A term used for coated papers.

Art Work or Artwork

Any materials or images which are prepared for printing. As a general rule, artwork should be supplied as a high resolution PDF at 300 dpi, with crop marks and 3mm bleed.

Art-Lined Envelope

An envelope that is lined with fine paper; can be coloured patterned or foiled.


Acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a standard code used to help interface digital equipment.


The most common paper sizes used for stationery, leaflets and other publications.

A0 - 841 x 1189 mm
A1 - 594 x 841 mm
A2 - 420 x 594 mm
A3 - 297 x 420 mm
A4 - 210 x 297 mm
A5 - 148.5 x 210 mm
A6 - 105 x 148.5 mm
A7 - 74 x 105 mm
A8 - 52 x 74 mm
A9 - 37 x 52 mm
A10 - 26 x 37 mm

Authors Amendments

Changes made by the customer, usually at the proofing stage. These are sometimes chargeable, as opposed to in-house errors which are not.

Author or Customer Alterations (AA, CA's)

Changes made after the proof stage where a customer is responsible for additional charges.


- B -

Back Lining

The fixing of material, either paper or cloth, to the inside of a book before it is bound. Can be coloured, textured or finishes.

Back to Back

Printing applied to both side of a sheet of paper.


The spine of the binding which connects the front of the book with the back of the book; also called back or spine.


Image that appears faintest and the type is usually printed over the background and used as effect.

Back slant

Type that tilts to the left of backward direction; opposite of italic type, which is to the right.

Back Up

To print on the reverse of a sheet which has already been printed on one side.


Method of packaging printed pieces using paper, rubber, or fiberglass bands.


The top primary headline usually spanning the entire width of a page. Used to draw eye or grab attention.


The support onto which printing plates are fixed and is usually metal.

Base Film

The foundation material onto which the film positives are stripped for making printing plates and becomes obsolete and was used primarily in the stripping process.

Base Line

Term used to describe the imaginary horizontal line upon which stand capitals, lower case letters, punctuation points, etc.

Base Size

Standard size of paper stock; even though it is required size may be smaller or larger. It is different for types of paper, book and cover weight.

Basis Weight

Basis weight refers to the weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to standard size for that particular paper grade and varies based on coated, uncoated, book and cover.


The steel flat table of a cylinder printing press upon which the type or die sits during the printing process.

Bible Paper

A thin but strong paper (opaque).

Binder's Board

A heavy paperboard with a cloth covering that is used for hardback or case back binding of books.


Print shop department or separate business that does trimming, folding, binding, and other finishing tasks.


Various methods of securing folded sections together and or fastening them to a cover, to form single copies of a book. Used on a spine.

Adhesive Binding

Style of unsewn binding in which the backs of gathered sections are cut off and the leaves are held together at the binding edge by glue.  Also referred to as perfect bound.

Burst Binding

Method of unsewn adhesive binding widely used on paperbacks. The back fold is burst through (nicked) in short lengths during folding so that the glue can reach each leaf as well as section without having to remove the usual 3mm as in perfect binding, unless PUR glue is utilised.

Due to the fact that each leaf and section is adhered with the glue, burst binding is considered to be a more robust form of binding than perfect binding.

As folded sheets are required to burst through, this method of binding does not lend itself to digital print processes.

Comb Bind

To bind by inserting the teeth of a flexible plastic comb through holes punched along the edge of a stack of paper.

Loose Leaf

Single sheets of paper or board bound together in a ring or similar device, which allows for easy removal or addition of pages.

Perfect Binding

An adhesive form of binding. Signatures that are folded will have a section of spine cut off with the back edge roughened, glue will then be applied and the cover attached.

As perfect binding is able to utilise loose sheets, it is a suitable method for binding digitally produced work also.  Perfect binding does not have the same robustness which a burst bound book offers, unless PUR glue has been used. PUR glue will create a bound book of similar robustness to that of a sewn book.

Spiral Bind

A form of binding using a spiral of continuous wire or plastic looped through punched holes in the documents back margin.  This can be either metal or plastic.

Saddle Stitched

A form of binding that uses staple shaped wires through the middle fold of collated sheets. In saddle stitched work the printed sections are inserted one inside the other on a saddle before stapling along the back fold.

Although dependent on the stock weight, ideally most suitable for books with fewer than 80 pages.

Wire-O Binding (or Wiro)

A metal preformed binding, which is clamped through a series of punched holes on the binding edge.

Wire-O offers a variety of cover options, most common are:

  • Standard Binding – separate front and back covers.
  • Full Canadian – partially hidden wiro is exposed on front and back cover.
  • Half Canadian – wiro is exposed on the back cover.
  • Easel – a free standing triangular cover.

The advantages of wiro binding are:

  • Pages turn easily.
  • Sheets will also stay flat whenever the book is opened (impossible with gluing or stitching).
  • Back to back opening without ever damaging the spine.
  • Secure retention of pages.
  • Perfect registration – ideal for overlays and double page spreads.
  • Different materials and thickness can be combined anywhere in the book.
  • Easy removal or replacement of sheets.
  • Virtually no size restrictions.

Sewn With Drawn On Cover

Providing that extra robustness when required. A paper or board book cover that is attached to a sewn book block by gluing the spine and then trimmed to final size.

In producing the sewn book block, after gathering of signatures, the sewing machine inserts threads through the spine of each section and then uses further thread to join the sections to each other to form the book block. Sewn books will generally tend to lie flatter when opened as opposed to a burst, perfect or saddle bound book. PUR gluing will provide similar results to that of a sewn booklet.


Ink that is one of the process colours. Also known as K in CMYK.


On offset presses a fabric-reinforced sheet of rubber to transfer the impression from the plate onto the impression cylinder.

Blanket to Blanket Press

A printing method in which there are two blanket cylinders through which a sheet of paper is passed and printed on both sides. Used on smaller presses or duplicators.

Blanket Cylinder

Cylinder of a press on which the blanket is mounted.


Where the image to be printed extends (usually by 3mm) over the crop marks. This makes trimming easier and means the finished documents will run to the edges.

Blind Emboss

Raising of the image on paper using a die and counter die with no ink involved.

Blind Embossing

Raising of images that are not inked or gold leafed.

Blind Folio

Page number not printed on page.

Blind Image

A problem that arises in the lithography process when an image loses it ink receptivity and fails to print.

Blind Emboss

A type of embossing where no ink is used. Instead, the design or text is only visible as a raised area on the paper/card. Also see debossing which has the opposite effect.


Illustrations or line are etched into zinc or cooper plates mounted to wood and used in letterpress printing.

Block Foiling

Where a design is stamped into the cover, usually in a metallic foil.


Enlargement of photos, copies or line art.


Photographic proof made from flats for checking accuracy, layout and imposition before plates are made. Becoming obsolete.

Board paper

Grade of paper commonly used for file folders, display, and postcards.


Type that has a heavier stroke that makes it bolder.


A grade of durable writing, printing and typing paper that has a standard size of 17 x 22 inches. Used in business correspondence. Strong, uncoated paper often used for stationery


A general classification to describe papers used to print books bookweight; its standard size is 25 x38 inches. A printed work that contains mare than 64 pages. Can be bound in a number of ways.


Alternate term for Trade Bindery.

Bristol Board

A board paper of various thickness; having a smooth finish and used for printing and drawing.


A heavily embossed paper.


A pamphlet to convey or promote message.


A printing method whereby special ink is applies to sheets and then a powder is applied producing a metallic effect. Particles will come off on hand or in printers.


Larger than A-sizes, most sheet-fed print presses take these paper sizes. It then allows for trimming to A-sizes.

B0 - 1000 × 1414 mm
B1 - 707 × 1000 mm
B2 - 500 × 707 mm
B3 - 353 × 500 mm
B4 - 250 × 353 mm
B5 - 176 × 250 mm
B6 - 125 × 176 mm
B7 - 88 × 125 mm
B8 - 62 x 88 mm
B9 - 44 × 62 mm
B10 - 31 × 44 mm

Buckle Folder

A piece of binding machinery with rollers that fold the paper.


Thickness of paper measured in Microns (thousandths of an inch or pages per inch – ppi), as opposed to the weight (see GSM).


A boldface square or dot used before a sentence to emphasize its importance.


A term used in plate making to describe applying light to "burn" the image onto plate.


A term used for the process of "rubbing down" lines and dots on a printing plate.

Burst Binding

Method of unsewn adhesive binding widely used on paperbacks. The back fold is burst through (nicked) in short lengths during folding so that the glue can reach each leaf as well as section without having to remove the usual 3mm as in perfect binding, unless PUR glue is utilised.

Due to the fact that each leaf and section is adhered with the glue, burst binding is considered to be a more robust form of binding than perfect binding.

As folded sheets are required to burst through, this method of binding does not lend itself to digital print processes.


To join without overlapping or space between.

Butt fit

Ink colours overlapped only a hairline so they appear perfectly butted.


- C -


Paper coated on one side.


Paper coated on both sides.


Often used to refer to Adobe's Creative Series software, such as Photoshop CS5. Begin replaced by CC which is Adobe's Creative Cloud version.


The measurement of thickness of paper expressed in thousandths of an inch or mils.

Camera Ready

A term given to any copy, artwork etc., that is prepared for photographic reproduction. Can be manually created or created on computer.

Caps & Lowercase

Instructions in the typesetting process, that indicate the use of a capital letter and the rest of the letters in lower case.

Caps & Small Caps

Two sizes of capital letters made in one size of type.


General term for stiff, bulky paper such as index, tag orbristol.


The thick cover of a hardbound book.

Case Binding

Books bound using hard board (case) covers.

To bind using glue to hold signatures together into a case made of binder board covered with fabric, plastic or leather to form a hardbound book. Case bound books are available in both round and square back formats.

Printed sheets will be folded into page signatures then collated and sewn by machine, the edges are then trimmed to form a book block. Endpapers are then attached to the first and last sections of the book block. The use of PUR glue will remove the need to sew in most instances.

The back edge of the book block is then coated with glue and a strip of gauze glued to the spine. This is then placed within the case (cover) on a casing-in machine which pastes the end papers to the case and fits the cover.

Also called cloth edition, hard bind or hard cover.

See How to choose the right binding for more details

Casing In

The process of placing in and adhering a book to its case covers.

Cast Coated

A paper that is coated with clay and then pressure dried using a polished roller which gives an enamel like hard extra high gloss finish.

Centre marks

Lines on a mechanical, negative, plate, or press sheet indicating the centre of a layout.


Abbreviation for colour electronic prepress systems, a high-end, computer-based system that is used to colour correct scanned images and assemble image elements into final pages.


Print on paper where the absorption is so great that it breaks up ink image creating loose pigment dust.

Chancery Italic

The roots of italic design.


Frame of steel, or cast or wrought iron, in which images are locked up for printing and is used in letterpress or cylinder presses.


Alternate term for Transparency.

Cleat bind

Alternate term for Side Stitch.


Abbreviation of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. These make up the standard 4 colour process used for printing in full colour.

Coated Paper

Paper which has a coating on one or both sides. This can have a gloss or silk (matt) finish. Coated papers are used for the majority of printed products, but not for stationery where an uncoated (or bond) paper is used.


To assemble sheets into proper sequence.

Colour Bar

Strip of colours printed near the edge of a press sheet to help evaluate ink density.

Colour break

In multicolour printing, the point or line at which one ink colour stops and another begins.

Colour Control Bars

A film test printed or exposed onto a film or substrate to produce an assortment of measurable colour and grey patches that are used to measure and control the printing process.

Colour correct

To retouch or enhance colour separation negatives.

Colour Matching System

System of numbered ink swatches that facilitates communication about colour.

Colour Process

Alternate term for 4-colour process printing.

Colour Separation

Set of four halftone negatives for making plates for 4-colour process printing.

Colour Swatch

Sample of an ink colour.

Comb Bind

To bind by inserting the teeth of a flexible plastic comb through holes punched along the edge of a stack of paper.

Combination Stamp

Process where embossing and foil stamping are done at the same time.

Comprehensive dummy

A detailed dummy or sketch of a design, intended to give a client or the printer a clear sense of how the finished publication will or should look when reproduced. Desktop publishing systems can easily create comps using low-resolution black and white or colour printers. Every job submitted for printing must be accompanied with a colour-broken comprehensive clearly indicating colour breaks.

Contact Sheet

Alternative term for Proof Sheet.

Contract Proof

A colour proof that represents an agreement between the printer and the client regarding exactly how the printed product will appear.


For and Editor or Typesetter, all written material. For a graphic designer or printer, everything that will be printed: art, photographs, and graphics as well as words.


Ownership of creative work by the writer, photographer, or artist who made it.


Person who writes copy for advertising.

Corner marks

Lines on a mechanical, negative, plate, or press sheet showing the corners of a page or finished piece.


Characteristic of board for boxes made by sandwiching fluted kraft paper between sheets of paper or cardboard.

Cotton content paper

Paper made from cotton fibres rather than wood pulp.

Cover paper

Grade of paper made for covers and post cards.

Crash Printing

Letterpress printing on carbon or carbonless forms so image prints simultaneously on all sheets in the set.


Where a line is scored to allow for easier and tidier folding. Any board over 170gsm in weight will need to be creased before folding.


Phenomenon of middle pages of a folded signature extending slightly beyond outside pages.


DuPont trade name for integral colour proof.


To eliminate portions of an illustration or photograph so the remainder is more clear, interesting, or able to fit the layout.

Crop Marks

Lines marking where the paper is to be trimmed after printing. These should be part of the artwork.


Image that continues from one page of a publication across the gutter to the opposite page.


Paper sizes used for envelopes. These correspond to A-sizes (e.g. C4 envelope will hold A4 sheets).

C3 - 324 x 458 mm
C4 - 229 x 324 mm
C5 - 162 x 229 mm
C6 - 114 x 162 mm
DL - 110 x 220 mm (holds A4 folded twice)


The circumference of the impression cylinder of a web press, therefore also the length of the sheet the press will cut from the roll of paper.

Cut Star

The CutStar short-grain sheeter offers you the best of both worlds - the cost benefits of web offset and the flexibility of sheetfed offset. CutStar is installed right in front of the feeder. It allows you to process stock weights of between 40 and 300 gsm. The printing stock is unwound from the reel, cut to the required format in CutStar and then shingled. The stream of shingled stock is then fed into the feeder.

CutStar allows you to use inexpensive reel stock rather than more costly sheeted stock, saving you up to 15 percent. With special printing materials such as foils or aluminized paper, the saving is often even greater.

When starting a new job, either the reel can be changed in a matter of minutes or CutStar can be disengaged from the feeder at the touch of a button. A motor moves the CutStar cutting unit to one side to allow easy access to the feeder. The press can then continue working in sheetfed mode.

The high level of automation make CutStar extremely simple to operate

Cut Stock

Paper distributor term for paper 11 x 17 or smaller.


Process of cutting paper with guillotine cutter

Cutting Forme (or Die)

the custom made cutter used when die-cutting

Cyan (C)

One of the ink colours (blue) that is used as a process colour (CMYK).


- D -

Dampener fountain

Alternate term for Water fountain on a press.

Dampening solution

Alternate term for Fountain solution.

Data conversion

To change digital information from its original code so that it can be recorded by an electronic memory using a different code.


Where an image is pressed or stamped into the paper creating a depression as opposed to an embossed, raised impression.


Instrument used to measure light reflecting from or transmitted through copy.


Relative darkness of copy, ink on paper, or emulsion on film, as measured by a densitometer.

Density range

Expression of contrast between darkest and lightest areas of copy.

Design Brief

Written description of how a printed piece is intended to look and the requirements for reproducing it.


Sharp metal rule used for die cutting or block of metal used for embossing or foil stamping.

Die Cut

Where an irregular shape is cut from the paper instead of trimming square edges. This can be any shape but requires a die or cutting forme to be made up specially.

Digital Printed Proofs

Proofs printed digitally (not lithographically). These are suitable for checking layout and pagination but not for colour. The reason being they will be printed on different paper and/or using a different machine to the finished product. These can usually be offered free of charge.

Digital Printing

Low cost method of printing best suited for short run jobs. It works directly from electronic data without the need for printing plates. This makes the process very quick but the print quality, although a good alternative is not on par with lithography. Also, you cannot use specific spot colours or metallic inks.

Distribution Rollers

The rubber coated rollers responsible for the distribution of ink from the fountain to the ink train in presses.


Envelope size to hold an A4 sheet folded twice (or a compliment slip). 220 x 110mm. See C-sizes.


Xerox machine that is high end production copier and only does black/black using toner.

Dog Ear

A dog Ear occurs when you fold into a fold (such as a letter fold). At the side of one of the folds an indentation forms. It may look like a small inverted triangle. This usually happens when folds are too tight.


The smallest individual element of a halftone which can be expressed in %.

Dot Gain

A Dot Gain occurs due to ink absorption in paper causing halftone dots to enlarge or spread.

Double Gatefold

In double gatefolds there are three parallel folds. The left and right edges of the paper fold and meet in the middle, without overlapping, along a centre fold.

The outer panels (the ones that fold in to the middle) are usually 1/32" to 1/8" smaller than the inner panels (the ones covered by the panels that fold in) to allow for proper folding and nesting.


Dots per inch, or the image resolution. For print, all images in a document should always be a minimum of 300dpi.


Test of ink colour before going to press. Solid stripes on paper to show what ink will look like.

Drawn On Covers

A paper back cover with the text pages glued in (see perfect binding & burst binding).


Describes additives to ink which hasten the drying process.


The actual drilling of holes into paper for ring or comb binding which uses a bit that turns with sharp edges. This is essentially hole punching but on a larger scale.

Drop Shadow

A shadow image placed strategically behind an image to create the effect of a shadow from light.

Dry Gum Paper

Label paper with glue that can be activated by water.

Ductor Roller

The roller between the inking and the dampening rollers.

Dull Finish

Any matte finished paper that has very little reflection.


A Mock up of the finished product. This can be printed or unprinted, depending on the purpose.


A two-colour half tone reproduction generated from a one-colour photo with use of accent colour.

Duplex Paper

Paper which has a different colour on each side.


Small offset press using paper 12 x 18 or smaller.

Dutch Cut

Odd number of cuts or pieces placed in different directions.

Dutch Cutting

A process of cutting many sheets from the same parent sheet in which the smaller sheets have a different grain direction.


- E -

Edition Bind

Alternate term for Case Bind.

Eggshell Finish

Finish of paper surface that resembles an eggshell achieved by omitting the calendar process. Toothy feel or rough.

Electronic Composition

Composition of text, graphics and pictures.

Electronic image assembly

Assembly of new image from portions of existing images or elements using a computer.

Electronic memory

Disk, magnetic tape, or other memory device that holds digital information.

Electronic page assembly

Assembly and manipulation of type, graphics, and other visual elements on a computer screen.

Electronic Proof

Proof generated from the computer file directly -Inkjet, dye sublimation, digital halftone.

Electronic publishing

Publishing by printing with a computer-controlled photocopy machine.

Electronic retouching

Using a computer to enhance or correct a scanned photograph.

Elliptical Dot

Dots are actually elongated to produce improved middle tones.


A unit of measurement equalling 12 points.


Paper finishing where a pattern is pressed into the paper when it is dry which also applies to using die and counter die to impress image into substrate.


Where designs are pressed in to the paper to leave a raised effect.


A light sensitive substance used as a coating for film; made from a silver halide compound.


A term that describes coating on paper.


Where printed material is fully enclosed and sealed in plastic. This leaves a small, clear plastic border around the sheet where it is sealed. Encapsulation is durable and water resistant.

End Sheets

Sheets that attach the inside pages of a case bound book to its cover.


A printing process whereby images are etched onto a plate. When ink is applied, the etched areas act as small well to hold the ink; paper is forced against this die and the ink is injected into the paper creating raised images.


EPS stands for Encapsulated PostScript. PostScript was originally designed only for sending to a printer. But PostScript's ability to scale and translate (move the origin of) what follows makes it possible to embed pieces of PostScript and place them where you want on the page. These pieces are usually EPS files. EPS is considered a graphic file format.


Price that states what a job will probably cost based on initial specifications from customer.


Producing an image on a plate by the use of acid.


That stage of the photographic process where the image is produced on the light sensitive material.


- F -

Fan Fold

Paper folding that emulates an accordion or fan.

Felt Finish

The smoother side of paper usually a soft weave pattern used for book papers.

Felt Side

It is the top side of the sheet in the paper making process that does not lie on the Fourdrinier wire.

Film Laminate

Thin sheet of plastic adhered to printed paper for protection.

Final Count

Number of printed pieces delivered and charged for.


The surface quality of paper.

Finished Size

The size once trimmed and folded.


Inclusive term sometimes used for all bindery operations.

Finish Size

Size of printed product after production is complete.


The registration of the print on the substrate.

Flat Size

The size before folding, after trimming. Can also be used if a product is to be supplied creased but unfolded.


Method of printing on a web press using rubber plates with raised images.


To cover a sheet with ink or varnish.


To reproduce a photograph or illustration so that its image faces opposite from the original.

Flush Cover

Book or booklet etc. having the cover trimmed to the same size as the text.


Paper pleat between the walls in corrugated cardboard.

Foil Emboss

To foil stamp and emboss an image.

Foil Stamping

Process where foil is transferred via pressure and heat

Fold Marks

Markings that show where folds should occur which are located outside of a trimmed area.


Machine used to fold signatures or brochures.


There are a large number of different folding options. Some common folds are:

  • Concertina or Z fold
  • Gate fold – where left and right edges fold to the centre
  • Double gate fold
  • Roll fold – like a takeaway menu

Folding Options

  4 page
  single fold

  1/3rd A4 6 page concertina fold

  6 page
  gate fold

  6 page
  standard fold

  8 page parallel double fold

  8 page french fold right single

  8 page roll fold over and outer

  8 page parallel map fold

  8 page reverse map fold

  10 page concertina fold

  12 page standard letter fold

  12 page concertina fold


Folio or Page Number

Number of pages at top or bottom.


Characters that make up a typeface and size.


Another name for a die-cutting block.


Size, shape and overall style of a layout or printed piece.

Form Rollers

The rollers that come into direct contact with the plate of a printing press.

Formula Pricing

Printing prices based on standard papers, formats, ink colour and quantities.


Reservoir for ink or water on a press.

Fountain Solution

Mixture of water and chemicals that dampens a printing plate to prevent ink from adhering to its non-image are.

Four Colour Printing

Usually means process printing (CMYK)


A machine with a copper wire screen that receives the pulp slurry in the paper making process which become the final paper sheet.

Free Sheet

Paper that is free from wood pulp.

French Fold

Two folds at right angles to each other. With French folds the paper is folded with crossfolds (right angle folds), often with a short first fold. The shorter portion or head in french folds may be folded to the inside (heads in) or outside (heads out).

Eight-panel french folds with even panels (no short heads) are commonly called quarter-fold or 8-panel right angle folds.

French folds are often used for greeting cards and wedding invitations.


Forest Stewardship Council ( is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organisation established to promote the responsible management of the world's forests. Certain paper brands are accredited by the FSC.

Full Colour

Printing in CMYK, as opposed to using spot colours. Although you can print full colour with additional spot colours.


- G -

Gang or Ganging

Grouping multiple jobs or forms on same press sheet.

Gate Fold

Fold where both outside edges fold into the middle thus creating a gate.

Gas Ghosting

Image from one side of sheet showing through to other side due to ink gasses being trapped.


To assemble sections into single copies of complete sets for binding.


Noticeable difference in density of ink in certain areas next to larger solid areas due to ink rollers running out of capacity to carry enough ink.


Treating Gold leaf edges of books with a liquid agent and made permanent with burnishing tools.


Characteristic of paper, ink, or varnish that reflects relatively large amounts of light.

Gloss coated paper

These papers have a smooth surface and a high shine, perfect for producing printed promotional items e.g brochures, flyers and leaflets.

Graduated Screen

An area of image where halftone dots range continuously from one % to another gradually.


One of seven major categories of paper:  bond, uncoated book, coated book, text, cover, board and specialty.


The direction of the fibres of paper. It is easier to fold with the grain.

Graphic Designer

Professional who conceives the design, plans how to produce and may coordinate production of a printed piece.


Art and other visual elements used to make messages more clear.


(Rotogravure or Gravure for short)

Is a type of intaglio printing process; that is, it involves engraving the image onto an image carrier. In gravure printing, the image is engraved onto a cylinder because, like offset printing and flexography, it uses a rotary printing press. Once a staple of newspaper photo features, the rotogravure process is still used for commercial printing of magazines, postcards, and corrugated (cardboard) product packaging.

Grey Scale

Strip of swatches of tone values ranging from white to black used by process camera operators to calibrate exposure times.


Metal fingers that hold each sheet of paper as it passes through each unit of the printing press.

Gripper Edge

The side of the paper that the grippers hold to run through the press.


Grams per square metre. This is the standard measurement of weight for paper.

Guillotine Cutter

Machine that trims paper excess.


Expandable portion of a bag, file folder or envelope.


Space between pages in the printing sheet.


- H -


Very thin line or gap about the width of a hair: 1/100 inch.

Hairline Register

Very tight register which is the thinnest of the standard printers' rules.


Tone graduated image composed of varying sized dots or lines to make a image or picture.

Halftone Dots

Dots that by their varying sizes create the illusion of shading or a continuous-tone image.

Halftone Screen

Ruled right-angled lines, used to translate the full tone of a photo to the halftone dot image required for printing.

Half Web

Web press whose width and cut-off allow printing eight 8½ x 11 pages on one press sheet.

Hard Bind

Alternate term for Case Bind.

Hard Cover

Bound with a case of binder’s board.

Head Margin

The margin between the top of the printed copy and the trimmed edge.

Head Stops

Adjustable posts on register unit of a press that properly position leading edge of a sheet.

Heat-Set Web

Web press equipped with oven to make ink dry faster, thus able to print coated paper.


Imperfections in presswork due to dirt on press, in ink or in paper. Donut-shaped spot or imperfection in printing, most visible in areas of heavy ink coverage.

High Bulk Paper

Stock that is thicker than normal in relation to its basis weight.

High Contrast

Few or no tonal gradations between dark and light areas.


The lightest tones of a photo, printed halftone or illustration.

Hi Res

Short for High Resolution.

Hot Melt

An adhesive used in the binding process.

House Sheet

This is a term that refers to a paper that a printer keeps on hand in his shop.


- I -


Inside back cover.


Inside front cover.


A vector based software program from Adobe.

Image Area

Area of the printing plate that carries the ink and prints on paper.

Image Setter

High resolution output device for producing film from electronically generated page layouts.


The pages of the artwork are arranged such that after printing, cutting and folding, the pages will be in the correct order. Sometimes seen when an imposition proof is supplied electronically, the pages will not be in chronological order.


Product resulting from one cycle of printing machine where image is transferred to paper.

Impression Cylinder

Cylinder on a press that presses paper against the blanket (offset) or plate (gravure).


To print additional copy on a previously printed sheet.

Index Paper

Light weight paper board paper for writing and easy erasure.


Printed information to replace stamp.

Ink Fountain

The well which holds ink and distributes in to the inking rollers.

Ink Holdout

Ability of paper to not allow absorption on ink into paper.


Type of proofing process or low quality production machine.


Type that is slanted body forward.


- J -


The paper cover that goes over a hardbound book.

Job Ticket

Alternate term for Work Order.


To vibrate a stack of finished pages so that they are even.


Vibrating platform that evens up the edges of stacks of paper.


A file format for photos it is typically used because of its ability to compress files. (It creates a smaller file than a TIFF file and it is used mainly on the Internet.) Printers prefer TIFF over Jpeg files.


- K -


The measure of space between letters.


Alternate term for Mechanical.


Lines on a mechanical or negative showing the exact size, shape, and location of photographs or other graphic elements.


Screws on an ink fountain that control ink flow.

Kiss Cut

A light die cut that cuts through first layer but leaves base substrate uncut.

Kiss die cut

To die cut the top layer, but not the backing layer, of self-adhesive paper.

Knock out

Alternate term for Mask out.

Knockout film

Alternate term for masking material such as Rubylith.

Kraft Paper

Strong paper, usually brown, used for wrapping and to make bags.


- L -

Laid Finish-

Grid of parallel lines on paper simulating surface of handmade paper.


To bond plastic film to paper, or to glue paper to chipboard or corrugated cardboard.


Where a thin plastic film is fixed to one or both sides of the paper. This can create a silky matt or a high gloss finish, depending on the intended purpose and personal preference. It also acts as a protective barrier if the print needs to be more durable or is likely to encounter a demanding environment.


Where a document is oriented so the long edges are at the top and bottom. As opposed to portrait.

Large-format camera

Camera that makes negatives 4 x 5 or larger.

Laser printing

Method of photocopying using a laser beam to charge the drum.


A dummy that shows the placement of all the elements. Sketch or drawing of a design for a proposed printed piece showing position, size, and colour of copy.


Space between the lines of type

Leading Edge

Edge of a sheet of paper that enters the press first, also known as the Gripper edge.

Ledger Paper

Strong, smooth bond paper used for keeping business records.


Characteristic of copy having sufficient contrast with the paper on which it appears and determined by such features as typeface, size, leading, and quality of printing.


Letterpress printing is relief printing of text and image using a press with a "type-high bed" printing press and movable type, in which a reversed, raised surface is inked and then pressed into a sheet of paper to obtain a positive right-reading image. It was the normal form of printing text from its invention by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century until the 19th century and remained in wide use for books and other uses until the second half of the 20th century. In addition to the direct impression of inked movable type onto paper or another receptive surface, letterpress is also the direct impression of inked printmaking blocks such as photo-etched zinc "cuts" (plates), linoleum blocks, wood engravings, etc., using such a press.

In the 21st century, commercial letterpress has been revived by the use of 'water-wash' photopolymer plates that are adhered to a near-type-high base to produce a relief printing surface typically from digitally-rendered art and typography.

Light Table

Translucent glass surface lit from below, used by production artists and strippers.

Light weight paper

Book grade paper of basis weight 40# or less with high opacity for its weight.

Line conversion screen

Piece of film containing line patterns that break light into those patterns as it passes through.

Line Copy

Any copy that can be reproduced without the use of halftone screens. Type, rules, clip art, and other images that are high contrast.

Line negative

High contrast negative usually made from line copy.


A paper that copies the look and texture of linen cloth.

Linen Tester

Alternate term for Graphic arts magnifier.

Lines per inch

The number of lines or rows of dots there are per inch in a screen and therefore in a screen tint, halftone, or separation.


Mergenthaler trade name for machine that sets lines of metal type.

Liquid laminate

Plastic applied to paper as a liquid, then bonded and cured into a hard, glossy finish.

Lithography / Lithographic (or litho)

The most popular print process, a metal plate is treated so that the image area attracts the oil-based inks, while the wet non-image areas resist them

Live area

Alternate term for Image area.


Assembly of type and art into a distinctive symbol unique to an organization, business, or product.

Long grain

Alternate term for Grain long (paper).

Loop Stitch

To saddle stitch with staples that are also loops which slip over rings of binders.

Loose Leaf

Single sheets of paper or board bound together in a ring or similar device, which allows for easy removal or addition of pages.

Loose proof

Proof of one colour separation.


Alternate term for Graphic arts magnifier.


- M -


Roman numeral for 1,000.


One of the four process colours; also known as process red. One of the primary colours (CMYK).

Mailing service

Business specialising in addressing and mailing large quantities of printed pieces.

M Weight

The actual weight of 1000 sheets of any given size of paper.

Make Ready

Process of adjusting final plate on the press to put work in register. All activities required to set up a press before production begins. Also refers to paper used in the process.

Manilla Paper

Strong, buff-coloured paper used to make envelopes and file folders.

MAP fold

The piece of paper is firstly folded in half along the short edge. This folded sheet is then concertina folded and finally folded in half. The map is then small enough to be carried easily and still be available for use without having to unfold them entirely.


Space forming border of a page or sheet.

Masking material

Opaque material, often film, used in pasteup to outline photographs or in platemaking to withhold light from non-image areas.

Mask out

To cover selected copy or art so it will not appear on a negative or plate.


Paper or plastic offset printing plate. Also, paper plate for spirit duplicating.


3M trade name for integral colour proof. Photographic proof made from colour flats to form a composite proof showing colour quality this is now done digitally.

Matte finish

Slightly dull finish on coated, lightly calendered paper. A coated paper finish that has very little reflection of light or dull finish.

Matte ink or varnish

Ink or varnish that appears dull when dry.


A term used to describe finished artwork that is camera ready for reproduction, including all type, photos, and illustrations Camera-ready assembly of type, graphics, and other line copy complete with instructions to the printer.

Mechanical artist

Alternate term for Production artist.

Mechanical separation

Mechanical prepared using a separate overlay for each colour to be printed.

Media conversion

Alternate term for Data conversion from one digital coding to another.

Medium format camera

Camera that makes 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 negatives.

Medium screen

Screen with ruling of 133 or 150 lines per inch.

Metallic ink

Ink containing powdered metal that sparkles in light.

Mill swatch

Paper sample book provided by a mill.


Method of printing using a plastic stencil mounted on a rotating drum containing ink.

Mimeograph bond

Highly absorbent paper made for the mimeograph method of printing.

Mill swatch

Paper sample book provided by a mill.


Method of printing using a plastic stencil mounted on a rotating drum containing ink.

Mimeograph bond

Highly absorbent paper made for the mimeograph method of printing.


See dummy.

Model release

Contract authorising commercial use of a photograph that includes image of a recognizable person or private property.


Short for modulator/demodulator, a device that converts digital signals to analog tones and vice versa so that systems based on electronic memories can interface over telephone lines.


An undesirable halftone pattern produced by the incorrect angles of halftone screens.


A term used to describe spotty or uneven ink absorption.

Mounting board

Any thick, smooth piece of board paper used to paste up copy or mount photographs.


DuPont trade name for polyester film.


- N -


Papers that have a colour similar to cream, off white or ivory.


Film that contains the same images as the original print, except that all colours and shades are reversed, becoming obsolete. Characteristic of an image on film or paper in which blacks in the original subject are white or clear and whites in the original are black or opaque. Also, piece of film on which negative image appears.

Negative space

Alternate term for White space.

Non-image area

Portion of mechanical, negative, or plate that will not print.

Non-reproducing blue

Light blue colour that does not record on graphic arts film, therefore may be used to write instructions on mechanicals.

Novelty printing

Printing on products such as pencils, balloons, and ashtrays.


- O -


Outside back cover.


Outside front cover.


The most commonly used printing method. The image is transferred from plate to blanket to impression cylinder to paper. Thereby the image is being offset.  Alternate term often used for Setoff.

Offset Paper

A term used for uncoated paper stock.

Offset powder

Fine powder sprayed on freshly printed sheets to prevent transfer of wet ink as they accumulate in the delivery stack.

Offset printing

Method of lithographic printing that transfers ink from a plate to a blanket, then from the blanket to paper.

Offshore Paper

Any papers made outside the US and Canada.

On Demand Printing

Printing done to meet immediate demand needs.


A light bond paper used for typing. It is very uncommon these days.


Ability to prevent two sided printing from showing side to side. Characteristic of paper that helps prevent printing on one side from showing on the other.


A quality of paper that allows little light to pass through. Not transparent. Also, a verb meaning to cover flaws in negatives with paint or tape. Also, the paint used for this purpose.

Opaque Ink

Ink that completely covers through which light cannot shine through. Heavily pigmented ink that blocks out colour of underlying ink or paper. 

Open web

Web press without a drying oven, thus unable to print on coated paper.


The files to be printed which make up the artwork. Usually a print ready PDF.

Outline halftone

Halftone in which background has been removed to isolate or silhouette an image.

Overhang Cover

A cover of a book that extends over the trimmed signatures it contains.


Sheet of tissue or acetate taped to a mechanical so that it covers the mounting board.

Overlay proof

Colour proof consisting of acetate sheets covering each other in register, one for each colour to be printed.


To print over a previously printed image. Any printing that is done on an area that has already been printed.


Printed pieces in an overrun.

Over Run

Surplus of quantity ordered. The number of pieces that were printed in excess of the quantity specified.


- P -


To bind by applying glue along one edge of a stack of sheets.


DTP Graphics Software by Adobe, it was replaced by InDesign.


One side of a sheet of paper -whether printed or not. For example, an A4 sheet has 2 pages. An A4 sheet folded in half to A5 has 4 pages.

Page count

Total number of pages, including blanks and printed pages without numbers.

Pages per inch

Number of pages per inch of thickness of a bound publication. Each sheet has two pages.

Page Makeup

The assemblage of all the necessary elements required to complete a page.


Assembly of type with other line copy into page format. When done by hand, this is makeup or pasteup; when done electronically, it is computer aided pagination (CAP).


Wooden platform used as a base for loading and moving paper and printed products.


The Pantone Colour Matching System is a standardized colour reproduction system. By standardizing the colours, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colours match without direct contact with one another. The Pantone system also allows for many special colours to be produced, such as metallic and fluorescents.

Pantone colours are often referred to as spot colours.

Paper dummy

Unprinted sample of a proposed printed piece trimmed, folded, and, if necessary, bound using paper specified for the job.

Paper distributor

Merchant selling paper wholesale to printers and other buyers of large quantities.

Paper Over Board Folder

Paper over board really offers a high quality litho printed feel maybe a retro or recycled look.

Like a Chameleon they will be made to fit your requirement. Sizes and Ring mechanisms are variable to cater for a wide variety of contents. This example has been Litho printed and has a multi creased curved spine.

Parallel Fold

All folds are parallel to each other


A hard finished paper that emulates old paper.

Parent Sheet

A sheet that is larger than the cut stock. Paper distributor term for sheet 17 x 22 or larger.

Paste bind

To bind by adhering sheets with glue along the fold of the spine.

Paste up

To adhere copy to mounting boards and, if necessary, overlays so it is assembled into a camera ready mechanical.


Portable Document Format is a universal file format which combines images and text. Adobe's continual development and the implementation of ISO standards has made it the ideal format for designers to supply print ready artwork in.

Percentage wheel

Alternate term often used for Proportional scale.

Perf Marks

Markings usually dotted lines showing where the perforations should occur.


A term used to describe the binding process where the book makes a squared spine.

Perfect Binding

Perfect Binding is a method for binding printed sheets suitable for binding documents where they are too thick to saddle stitch. Where the text pages are glued in to the cover. Perfect Binding is most commonly used on paperback books. See also burst binding and drawn on covers

Perfecting Press

A printing press that prints on both sides of the page in a single pass.


Punching small holes or slits in a sheet of paper to facilitate tearing along a desired line


Method of printing that transfers images electrostatically and creates them on paper with powder bonded by heat.


Characteristic of paper, film, and printing plates coated with light-sensitive chemicals.


Process used to make positive paper prints of line copy and halftones. Often used as alternate term for PMT.


Standard of measurement, 1/6 inch. 1 pica = 12 points 72 points = 1 inch


When the tack of ink is stronger than the surface strength of the paper, some lifting of the paper surface occurs; this is referred to as picking. Undesirable phenomenon of bits of fiber or coating coming loose from paper during printing.


Finely-ground particles giving colour and opacity to ink.


Tiny holes in the emulsion of negatives or printing plates.


Short for picture element, referring to a part of a dot made by a scanner or other digital device.


Reproduction of type or cuts in metal, plastic, rubber, or other material, to form a plate bearing an image that can be transferred

Plate Cylinder

The cylinder on the printing press on which the plate is mounted


In quick printing, process camera that makes plates automatically after photographing mechanicals. In commercial printing, machine used to expose plates from flats.

Plate Making

Making a printing plate

Platen press

A letterpress that opens and closes like a clamshell.

Plate-ready film

Alternate term for Flat.

Plate Setter

Machine that images plates directly from digital file.

Pleasing colour

Colour that is satisfactory even though it doesn't match original samples, scenes, or objects.

Plugged up

Undesirable characteristic of printing when ink fills in around halftone dots, causing loss of shadow detail.


Pantone Matching System. Followed by 3 or 4 digits to make up a code e.g. PMS 072.


A measurement unit equal to 1/72 of an inch. 12 points to a pica, 72 points to an inch.

Polyprop Binder Folder

Polypropylene in sheet form has been around for about 40 years. In that time it has been developed into probably the most durable and flexible material for making binders, folders and packaging. The variety in both colours available and thickness must be unique and is always under review to be sure it remains fashionable.


Collection of best work by an artist, photographer, or designer for showing during meetings with prospective clients.


Where a document is oriented so the long edges are on either side. As opposed to landscape


Characteristic of an image on film or paper in which blacks in the original subject are black or opaque and whites in the original are white or clear.


Printed pages. Refers to the number of pages in a document e.g. 12pp (12 pages).


Pixel per inch.


Any paper that is considered better than #1 by its manufacturer.


Alternate term for Preparation.


To print work in advance to be ready for inserting or imprinting.

Press check

Event at which test sheets are examined before production run is authorised to begin.

Press proof

Proof made on press using the plates, paper, and ink specified for the job.

Press run

The number of pieces printed.

Press sheet

One sheet as it comes off the press.

Price break

Quantity level at which unit cost of paper or printing drops.

Primary Colours

In printing the four primary colours are cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black.


In printing trade, person who owns or manages print shop or runs printing press. In 4-color process printing, one of the separation negatives.


Any process that repeatedly transfers an image from a plate, die, negative, stencil, or electronic memory.

Printing plate

Surface carrying image to be printed.

Process blue

Alternate term for Cyan.

Process colours

The colours needed for 4-color process printing: yellow, magenta, cyan, and black.

Process Inks

CMYK, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black that create images in full colour.

Process Printing

CMYK printing - Alternate term for 4-color process painting.

Process red

Alternate term for Magenta.

Progressive proof

Press proof showing each colour of a job separately or several colours in combination.


Proofs are an example of what is to be printed so both parties are in agreement. Any errors or amendments should be picked up at this stage. This can take the form of a digital proof, usually supplied as a PDF, or a printed proof. See digital proofs and wet proofs for more details.

Proof OK

Customer signature approving a proof and authorising the job to advance to the next stage.


To examine copy or a proof for errors in writing or composition.

Proof sheet

Photographer term for sheet of images made by contact printing negatives.

Proportional scale

Device used to calculate percent that an original image must be reduced or enlarged to yield a specific reproduction size.


To produce and sell or otherwise make available printed communication to the public.


Mixture of wood and/or cotton fibres, chemicals, and water from which mills make paper.

PUR Glue

Polyurethane Reactive - The most flexible and strong adhesive you can use in soft cover binding. Also used in Adhesive Case Bound books.


- Q -


DTP Graphics Software.

Quick printer

Printer whose business attitude emphasises basic quality, small presses, and fast service.


Printer's offer to print a job for a specific price calculated from specifications and dummies provided by customer.


- R -

Rag Paper

Paper with a complete or partial content of cotton fibbers.

Ragged Lift

The term given to right-justified type that is uneven on the left.

Ragged Right

The term given to left-justified type that is uneven on the right.

Railroad board

Heavy board paper used for posters and signs.

Raised printing

Alternate term for Thermography.

RC paper

Resin-coated paper for typesetting and PMTs that, when properly processed, will not yellow.


Characteristic of messages that are written and edited and set in type selected and composed to make them easy to understand.


500 sheets of paper.


Right-hand page of an open publication.


Any substrate that reduces the tack of ink.

Reflective copy

Copy that is not transparent.


The arrangement of two or more images in exact alignment with each other.

Register Marks

Any cross marks or other symbols used on layout to assure proper registration.


General term for xerography, diazo, and other methods of copying used by designers, engineers, and architects.


To enhance a photo or correct its flaws.


Type or other image reproduced by printing the background rather than the image itself, allowing the underlying colour of paper or previously printed ink to show in the shape of the image.

Right Angle Fold

A term that denotes fold that are 90 degrees to each other.

Right reading

Copy reading correctly (normally) from left to right.

Roll Fold

Usually refers to a folded leaflet. The leaflet is folded in a similar way to rolling a newspaper; one page folds in on another.

Ring Binder

The capacity depends on how many sheets are to be accommodated, the thickness of the material and whether or not tabbed dividers are required.

Essentially there are two types of mechanism, round 'O' and 'D'. 'O' rings are fixed into the binder spine and 'D' Rings onto the inside back cover. The 'D' is a little more expensive. The decision to use one or other style of mechanism usually depends on whether or not the binder is to include dividers. The 'D' Ring is designed so that the contents sit flat on the back cover and square on the right hand edge therefore a wider cover is necessary. As the mechanism is riveted to the back cover, the spine area is clear for printing.

The 'O' ring can be fitted to the inside back cover, but this is not common. When it is riveted to the spine it can interfere with the print on the outside and care must be taken at the quoting/artwork stage to ensure the client is aware of this.

Measurements for quoting are Sheet size, Cover size, Spine width, and Flat size.

Most binders use a 2 ring mechanism. The benefit of using a 4 ring is that the content is held more squarely and securely. This is especially important when large amounts of paper are being carried. The 4 ring spreads the weight. Find out how the binder contents are being supplied. If they are coming from their Printer, they will probably be pre-punched. Remind them to advise their Printer accordingly. If the material is being produced in house, they will need a 4 hole punch and most offices only use 2 hole punches.

Binds with 6 ring mechanisms are usually the Organiser type, either A5 or the 'Filofax' size which carries a sheet size 170mm x 95mm wide. Organiser mechanisms usually have triggers for easy opening. As with 4 ring binders, clients need reminding about hole punching. Six ring mechanisms are not available for A4.

The most cost effective ring mechanism is a 25mm capacity 2 round ring. Larger and smaller rings are more expensive. Ring mechanisms can be 'dipped' to a colour, but an exact Pantone match is not possible.


Roto or Gravure for short is a type of intaglio printing process; that is, it involves engraving the image onto an image carrier. In gravure printing, the image is engraved onto a cylinder because, like offset printing and flexography, it uses a rotary printing press. Once a staple of newspaper photo features, the rotogravure process is still used for commercial printing of magazines, postcards, and corrugated (cardboard) product packaging.

Rough layout

Simple sketch giving general idea of size and placement of type and art.

Rub Resistance

Measure of inks ability to resist rubbing or scuffing.


A pigment redder than true magenta and is used primarily in mixing other ink colours.


Ulano trade name for red masking film.


Total number of copies ordered or printed.

Running head or foot

Title or other information at the top or bottom of every page of a publication.


- S -

Saddle Stitching

Stitching where the wire staples pass through the spine from the outside and are clinched in the centre which is only used with folded sections in four page increments.

Safety Paper

A paper that cannot be altered or tampered with easily.

Satin Finish

An uncoated paper very similar to matte paper.


To identify the percent by which images should be enlarged or reduced.


Electronic device used to make colour separations and sometimes halftones and duotones.


Light indentation to help folding or tearing. Reduces or prevents cracking of folds.


Piece of film with dots of uniform density, used to make plates that will print screen tints. See also Halftone screen.

Screen Angles

The placement of halftone screen in printing to avoid unwanted moiré patterns. Frequently used angles are black 45deg, magenta 75deg, yellow 90deg, and cyan 105deg.

In offset printing, the screen angle is the angle at which the halftones of a separated colour is outputted to a lithographic film, hence, printed on final product media.

Screen density

Amount of ink, expressed as percent of coverage that a specific screen allows to print.

Screen Printing

The oldest method of printing. Ink is applied to a porous silk screen and passes through a stencil or template to leave an impression. Normally used when printing on fabric and banners and when printing on board that is too thick to pass through a standard litho print press.

Screen ruling

The number of rows or lines of dots per inch in a screen for tint or halftone.

Screen tint

Area of image printed with dots so ink coverage is less than 100% and simulates shading or a lighter colour.


Ink film on paper due to lack of water balance.

Seal or Sealer

A coating applied over the print to fix it. This helps prevent set off and smudging.

Self Cover

A cover made out of the same paper stock as the internal (guts) sheets.


Publication made entirely from the same paper so that cover is printed simultaneously with inside pages.


Printed piece designed to be mailed without an envelope.


Alternate term for Colour separation.

Set Off

This is where the ink from one sheet is transferred on to the reverse of the sheet above. Leaving ample time for the ink to dry and applying a sealer helps to prevent this. Undesirable transfer of wet ink from the top of one sheet to the underside of another as they lie in the delivery stack of a press.


To use thread to fasten signatures together at the spine of a book.


Darkest areas in a photograph or halftone.


Characteristic of an image in clear focus.


Device to cut roll of paper into sheets.


A sheet-fed printing press uses individual sheets, instead of continuous rolls of paper used on web offset presses


The printing of two different images on two different sides of a sheet of paper by turning the paper by turning the page over after the first side is printed and using the same gripper and side guides on press.
Also known as a work and back


Allowance made during pasteup or stripping to compensate for creep.

Short grain

Alternate term for Grain abort (paper).

Short Run Printing

Denotes runs with small quantities.

Show Through

When the printing on one side of a sheet is seen from the other side and can be helped by using a more opaque sheet.

Shrink wrap

Method of tightly wrapping packages or products in plastic film.

Side Guide

The guides on the sides of the press that position the sheet sideways as the paper is led towards the front guides. This controls the sheet position sideways for registration.

Side Stitching

Stitching where the staples pass through the paper gathered upon each other and are closed on the underside.


Printed sheet that consists of a number of pages of a book, paginated so they will fold and bind together as a section of a book.

Silk Coated Paper

Silk papers have a low surface shine, a smooth finish, but not glossy.


Chemicals mixed with pulp that make paper less able to absorb moisture.

Slip sheet

Blank sheet placed between newly-made printed products to prevent setoff or scuffing during handling and shipping.


To cut paper using a disk or wheel.


A term to describe the process of cutting of printed sheets by the cutting wheels of a folding machine.


Undesirable phenomenon of halftone dots becoming slightly elongated during printing.

Soft bind

Alternate term for Perfect bind.

Soft cover

Bound without a case; usually perfect bound, but also sewn and bound with a paper cover.


Any area of the sheet that has received 100% ink coverage.

Special effects

General term for reproduction of photographs using techniques such as line conversion and posterization.

Speciality advertising

Printed advertising on products such as mugs, matchbooks, jewelry, and pencils.

Speciality papers

Paper distributor term for carbonless, pressure-sensitive, synthetic, and other papers made for special applications.

Speciality printer

Printer specializing in making a particular product.


Complete and precise descriptions of paper, ink, binding, quantity, and other features of a printing job.

Spec sheet

Short for sheet on which specifications are written.


How do I know how wide the spine will be?

There’s a simple formula which determines that width. Just take the number of pages in your book and divide that figure by your text paper’s PPI (Pages Per Inch). Where do you get the PPI? It depends on what kind of paper you’re using and it usually appears on the printer’s estimate or quote. If for some reason it doesn’t appear there, ask the printer for it. Let’s say your book has 200 pages and you are printing it on a web press using a paper which has a PPI of 400. Then the width of your book’s spine will be 200 ÷ 400 or half an inch. That’s for a paperback. For a hard cover book, you have to add the thickness of the boards. The easiest way to do this accurately is to have your printer provide you with a template.

You can also use our spine width calculator

Spiral bind

To bind using a spiral of wire or plastic looped through holes.

See How to choose the right binding for more details

Spirit duplicating

Method of printing that uses a chemical fluid to dissolve a trace of carbon from the plate to make each impression.

Split fountain

Technique of printing more than one ink colour at a time from a single printing unit.


Paper wasted during make ready, printing, or bindery operations.

Spot Colours

Refers to solid colours which are found in commercially obtainable colour ranges such as Pantone®, these are mostly used in addition to CMYK where CMYK is not available e.g. Printing gold or silver. When using Pantone colours, it is worth bearing in mind for future jobs that should you want to print in CMYK, the chosen Pantone® may not have a suitable CMYK equivalent, which may in turn lead to the expense of using additional plates.

Spot Gloss UV Varnish

A high gloss finish applied to specific areas of print. This differs from gloss laminating which has to cover the whole sheet.

See When to use UV Varnish for more details.


The amount of increase in size of image to create ink trap.


To receive a pile of sections or leaves, the required number of staples is first inserted from one side. The wire feed control is set so that the shank of the staple is not long enough to pass through the underside of the pile.

Stabilization paper

Paper for typesetting and PMTs that begins deteriorating a few weeks after use.


Alternate term for Foil stamping.

Static Neutralizer

Device on a printing press that minimizes the amount of static build up on paper as it passes through the press to enable it run faster.


Letterhead, envelopes, cards, and other printed materials for business correspondence.

Step and Repeat

A process of generating multiple exposures by taking an image and stepping it in a set measurement.


Piece of fabric or film carrying image for screen printing or mimeograph.


A proofreaders’ symbol that indicates that the copy, which was marked for correction is actually ok.


Is a method of binding pages together see Binding for the different types.

See How to choose the right binding for more details

Stitch bind

To bind with wire staples.


A term for paper or other material to be printed.

Stock photo

Photograph in a collection maintained for commercial purposes.


Assembling negatives in flats in preparation for making printing plates.

Substance weight

Alternate term for Basis weight used when referring to bond papers.


Any surface on which printing is done.

Sub weight

Short for substance weight.

Super Calendaring

A machine that produces a high finished paper surface that is extremely smooth and exceptional for printing. (Usually on coated paper).


Alternate term for Overprint.

Swatch book

Book with small samples of paper or ink colours.

Synthetic Papers

Substrate not made from wood or cotton pulp. Usually petroleum based plastic materials.


- T -


Adhesive quality of inks.


A dense, strong uncoated paper stock.


High quality uncoated paper.


Raised printing used to simulate engraving, which is printed offset with resin powder and heat that melts the resin on the ink.

Thumbnail sketch

Rough sketch of a design.

Tick marks

Alternate term for Crop marks.

TIFF or TIF (Tagged Image File Format)

A graphics file format developed by Aldus, Adobe, and Apple that is especially suited for representing large bitmaps, such as scanned black and white or colour images. A TIF file can be saved uncompressed or compressed. However unlike a JPEG the LZW compression of a TIF is lossless so the image quality is unaffected.


Method of binding by crimping a metal strip along edges of sheets.


A solid screen that contains all the same % size dots

Tip in or on

To glue one edge of a sheet to another sheet or signature.


Thin, translucent paper used for overlays.

Tonal range

Photographer term for density range.


Type of solid ink particles that can be black or colour and used on some types of short run digital machines.


Alternate term for Scumming.


The rough surfaced finish of papers such as vellum or antique (Not smooth).

Trade bindery

Business specialising in trimming, folding, binding, and other finishing operations.

Trade camera service

Alternate term for Camera service.

Trade custom

Business terms and policies followed by businesses in the same field and often codified by a trade association.

Trade shop

Printer or other service working primarily for other graphic arts professionals.

Transfer key

3M trade name for integral colour proof.


Piece of glass or plastic lit from behind and on which a photographic image has been reproduced for display.


Positive photographic image, usually in colour, on film allowing light to pass through.


Spreading or overlapping of colours or images into each other to not show white.

Trim Marks

Marks placed on the sheet to indicate where to cut the page

Trim size

Size of the printed product after last trim is made.

Turnaround time

Amount of time needed to complete a job or one stage of it.


- U -


Papers that are not smoothed by going through the calendaring press

Uncoated Paper

Paper which has not been coated, not gloss or silk

Undercolour removal

Technique of making and printing colour separations that minimizes amount of cyan, magenta, and yellow ink in shadow areas.


Production run of fewer copies than the amount specified.


Printing two up or three up means printing the identical piece twice or three times on one sheet of paper in one impression.

UV coating

Liquid laminate bonded and cured with ultraviolet light.



- V -


A clear shiny material used to add gloss to printed pieces. (Also available in satin or dull).


A finish of paper that is rough, and has a degree of tooth.


Left-hand page of an open publication.


Fade to white of illustration (A photo or illustration etc., in which the tones fade gradually away).


- W -


An abbreviation for work and back (Reference sheetwise / Does not change gripper).


An abbreviation for work and flop (Changes gripper).


An abbreviation for work and turn (Does not change gripper).


Cleaning a particular in from all of the printing elements (rollers, plate, ink fountain etc.) of a press.


Alternate term for Spoilage.

Water fountain

Reservoir on a press to hold fountain solution.


A translucent mark that is embossed during the papermaking process


The roll of paper that is used in web printing

Web Offset

A method of printing which uses a continuous roll of paper. They are very fast presses and are only suitable for large print runs on relatively thin paper stocks.

Web offset printing

Web offset is a form of offset printing in which a continuous roll of paper is fed through the printing press. Pages are separated and cut to size after they have been printed. Web offset printing is used for high-volume publications such as mass-market books, magazines, newspapers, catalogues and brochures.

There are two methods of web offset printing, known as heatset and coldset (or non-heatset). In the heatset process, the ink is dried rapidly by forced-air heating. In the non-heatset or coldset process, the ink dries more slowly by ordinary evaporation and absorption.

Some web offset presses transfer text and images to only one side of the print medium at a time. Others can print on both sides simultaneously. The paper width is usually between 11 and 56 inches (approximately 28 and 142 centimetres). The paper is fed through the system at speeds ranging from 5 to 50 feet per second (approximately 1.5 to 15 meters per second).

Web offset printing differs from sheet-fed offset printing, in which individual pages of paper are fed into the machine. Sheet-fed offset printing is popular for small and medium-sized fixed jobs such as limited-edition books.

Web Press

Cylinder printing machine in which the paper is fed from a continuous reel, as opposed to sheet fed.


See Basis weight (of paper).

Wet Proof

This is a fully made up, printed proof. The same machine and materials will be used as for the finished product. Whilst this is quite expensive, it does leave you with an exact mock up of what is to be printed. This is suitable for colour checking. Only recommended for large runs and specialist items.

White space

Designer term referring to non-image area that frames or sets off copy.


A single word or two left at the right end or a paragraph.


Block of masking material on a mechanical that shows position of a photograph or other visual element. Also, an area cut out of masking material.

Wire Stitching or Stapling

To fasten together sheets, signatures, or sections with wire staples.


Trade name for method of mechanical binding using double loops of wire.

See How to choose the right binding for more details

With the grain

Parallel to the grain direction of paper.

Work order

Form used by printing companies to specify and schedule production of jobs and record the time, materials, and supplies that each job requires to complete.

Wove finish

Relatively smooth finish on paper achieved by moderate calendaring.

Writing Paper

Another name for bond paper.

Wrong reading

Image that is backwards compared to the original.


- X -

Xerographic Paper

Papers made to reproduce well in copy machines and laser printers.


- Y -

Yankee dryer

A device that dries as it comes off the wet end of the paper making machine by pressing one side of the paper against a cylinder that seam-heats it and imparts a glazed finish at the same time.

Yellow (Y)

Also one of process colours (CMYK).


- Z -

Z Fold

Brochure that is folded in the pattern of a "Z".

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