A—Z Glossary Terms.

A sizes

Main series of finished printing trimmed sizes in the ISO international paper size range.

Adhesive binding

Style of threadless binding in which the leaves of a book are held together at the binding edge by glue or synthetic adhesive and suitable lining.


American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This is a standard coding system within the computer industry to convert keyboard input into digital information. It covers all of the printable characters in normal use and control characters such as carriage return and line feed. The full table contains 127 elements. Variations and extensions of the basic code are to be found in special applications.

Author's corrections

Corrections made by the author on proofs, that alter the original copy. The cost of making such alterations is charged for, in contrast to printer's errors or house corrections.

B sizes

ISO International sizes intended primarily for posters, wall charts and similar items where difference in size of the larger sheets in the A series represents too large a gap.


An image arranged accordingly to bit location in columns. Resolution of a PostScript file processed through a RIP will have a bitmap image with the characteristics and resolution of the particular output device (for example, laser printer at 300 upto 1200dpi, imagesetters at 1270dpi upto 5080dpi).


Printed area that extends off the trimmed area. As it is not possible to print all the way to the edge of the paper sheet, to achieve this effect it is necessary to print a larger area than is required and trim to size. Typically a designer will allow an extra 3mm of bleed to colour and image areas to allow for variations when trimming.


In binding, to impress or stamp a design upon the cover. The design can be blocked in coloured inks, gold leaf or metal foil. In printing, a letterpress block is the etched copper or zinc plate, mounted on wood or metal from which an illustration is printed.

Bound Book

A book in which the boards of the cover have first been attached to it, the covering of leather, cloth, or other materials being then affixed to the boards. Bound books are more expensive to produce and much stronger than cased books.


Relative thickness of a sheet or sheets, for example, a bulky paper and a thin paper both of the same weight display different "bulk".

Burst binding

A type of adhesive binding in which the back of the book block is not sawn off, but is slit in place to allow glue to penetrate.

C sizes

The C series within the ISO International paper sizes range which is mainly used for envelopes or folders suitable for enclosing stationary in the A series.

Case binding

The binding of printing books, which include leather, cloth and other forms of covering

Colour Bar

Strip of small blocks of colour on a proof or press sheet to help evaluate features such as density and dot gain. Also called colour bar, colour guide and standard offset colour bar.

Colour Separation

The process of separating the colour originals into the primary printing colour components (CMYK).


A method of reducing a computer file size by saving files to a specific file format (e.g. JPEG and GIF).

Cover Stock

A term for paper durable enough to be used as a cover on magazines, catalogues and brochures.


Phenomenon of middle pages of a folded signature extending slightly beyond the outside pages. Also known as feathering, outpush, push out and thrust.

Crop Marks

Indicator marks on artwork to show where an illustration is to be cut or sized. Also known as cut marks and tic marks.


Abbreviation for “Computer to Plate”. The process of producing printer’s plates directly from computer data with no films involved.


To dry inks, varnishes or other coatings after printing to ensure good adhesion and prevent set-off.


Machine presses a die into the surface of the material to create an imprint so it lies below the surface.


Device for cutting, scoring, stamping, embossing and debossing.


The use of a custom made sharp steel blade cutter to cut out irregular shapes in paper or card.


An intaglio process of printing in which the resultant impression stands out in relief above the surface of the stamped material, either coloured (using inks) or blind (that is, without colour): relief stamping.

Dots Per Inch (dpi)

A linear unit of measurement for input devices such as scanners, display devices such as monitors and output devices

Drawn-on cover

A paper book cover which is attached to the sewn book by gluing the spine.


Holes made in pieces of print so typically they can be placed in a binder.


A sample of the proposed job made up with the actual material and cut to the correct size to show style, bulk and style of binding etc.

Duo tone

An image printed in two colours rather than one (greyscale). Normally, black is used together with a further colour. Duotone is used as an alternative to normal greyscale images as this technique offers a softer and more detailed result.

Embossed Finish

Paper with a raised or depressed surface resembling wood, cloth, leather or another pattern.


Pressing a pattern into the paper using a raised or etched relief.


“Encapsulated Post Script” A known computer file format usually used to transfer postscript information from one program to another.


This covers all operations after printing including: folding, creasing, stitching, binding and any hand operations post printing.


In printing it refers to the registering or exact alignment of two or more printing images with each other. Also known as “register”.


Method of printing on a web press using rubber or plastic plates with raised images and is widely used in the packaging industry to print on polythene for bags etc.

Fold Marks

Markings on printed matter indicating where a fold is to occur which is usually located at the top edges.


Printer’s technical term for the page number.


A set of characters of one specific character set, typeface, size and style.

Form Rollers

The rollers, either inking or dampening, that directly contact the plate on a printing press.

Fountain Solution

Mixture of water and chemicals that dampens a printing plate to prevent non-printing areas from accepting ink.

Four Colour Process Printing

The most common system of producing full colour print. Originally the artwork and originals were separated using filters in a photographic process. Latterly this has been replaced by an electronic process involving a scanner, whereby the image is broken down into the four component colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK) and a plate is produced for each colour. Because the inks used are translucent they can be overprinted and combined in a variety of different proportions to produce a wide range of colours. The vast majority of publications such as magazines, catalogues, brochures and books are produced using this method.


Abbreviation of grams per metre. A method of indicating the substance of paper or board (whatever the size of the paper/board or number of sheets in the package) on the basis of weight in grams per square metre.


A sheet of paper that folds where both sides fold toward the gutter in overlapping layers.


To place in their correct order the sections or sheets to make up a book.


Occurs when a ghost image appears in the printed image. It results from inadequacies of the inking system, i.e. uneven ink take-off from the rollers.

Grain Direction

Predominant direction in which fibres in paper become aligned during manufacture on a paper making machine. They tend to line up in one direction and this produces a preferred direction or grain, along which it is easier to fold, bend or tear the paper. Cut laser sheets generally use long grain paper in which the grain runs parallel to the long side of the paper.


The method of producing a range of tones, such as a photograph or tinted area by dividing the image into a series of dots. Dark areas have relatively big dots close together and light areas have small dots surrounded by white space. The number of dots used determines the quality of the image produced.


A proprietary separation process developed by Pantone that uses 6 colours instead of 4 colours.


In offset lithography, spots or imperfections in the printing caused by dirt on the press, dried ink skin, paper particles etc.

Hinged Cover

Perfect bound cover scored 3mm from the spine so the cover folds at the hinge instead of along the edge of the spine.


High-resolution laser output device used to produce separated films from digital artwork.


The order in which pages of a printed product are placed so that they appear in the right order after folding.

Impression Cylinder

In printing, the cylinder on a printing press against which the paper picks up the impression from the ink plate in direct printing or the blanket in offset printing.


Leaflet or other printed material inserted loose in a publication or mailing package.


Mailing equipment that inserts letters into envelopes.


Leaflet or other printed material bound in with the pages of a publication rather than loosely inserted.


Introducing alternate sheets of blank paper between the printed sheets as they come off the press to prevent set off.


This is an acronym for Integrated Services Digital Network - a telephone network service which carries data, voice transmissions by digital means, not analogue.


Two images which touch each other without any trapping being applied.


The application of transparent plastic film, usually with a high-gloss or matt finish, to the surface of printing matter to enhance its appearance and to increase its durability.


Oblong loose or folded printed sheet, or book, having its long sides at head and foot.

Lithographic printing

A process in which the printing and non-printing surfaces are on the same plane and the substrate makes contact with the whole surface. The printing part of the surface is treated to receive and transmit ink to the paper, usually via a blanket, the non-printing surface is treating to attract water and thus rejects ink from the ink roller, which touches the surface.


The appearance of paper or board when held up against a strong light.


The red colour ink used in four colour printing. Also known as process red.


All preparatory work done before running a press.


Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. Automatic sorting method used, e.g.. on cheques, based on the printing of numbers in magnetic ink.


In four colour printing, an undesirable screen pattern resulting when halftones and screen tints are made with improperly aligned screen angles (a clash of dot patterns when two or more screens are used), or when a pattern in a photo, such as plaid, interfaces with a halftone dot pattern.

Offset Printing

A lithographic method of printing in which the ink is first transferred from the imaged plate to an offset blanket and then onto the paper.


The property of paper or other substrate to block the transmission of light and the amount of ink showing through the sheet.


Printing on a piece that already has been printed.


A quantity of printed material in excess of the net amount ordered and normally charged at the run-on rate. Overs
The quantity of unit production, for example, books and sheets, delivered to the customer above the net amount ordered, usually uncharged at a run-on rate; also allowance to cover wastage.


One side of a leaf in a publication.

Page Count

Total number of pages in a publication. Also known as “extent”.

Pantone Matching System (PMS)

A colour scale used to precisely match colours for printing inks with each “special/spot” colour having a specific coded number indicating instruction for mixing inks. The system provides an accurate method for the selection, presentation, specification, communication, reproduction, matching and control of colour and is ideal for maintaining corporate colours, logos, type, borders, backgrounds and other graphics.

PDF (Portable Document Format)

A standard computer file format developed by Adobe, which is widely regarded as the industry standard for saving files in an acceptable stable format.

Perfect Binding

A type of binding whereby the pages have been ground at the spine and are held to the cover by glue. Many magazines, catalogues and most paperback books are perfect bound.


Printing both sides of the sheet in one pass through the press. (Duplex printing)


To cut or punch a line of small holes within a portion of printed material to facilitate the tearing out of that section.


Phenomenon whereby the ink pulls bits of the coating or fibre away from the surface of the paper as it travels through the printing press, thus leaving unprinted spots in the image area.

Pixel (Picture Element)

A dot made by a computer, scanner or other digital device.


The orientation of the page so the short edge is along the bottom and is sometimes referred to as the vertical. The opposite to landscape.


A Page Description Language (PDL) developed by Adobe, which describes the contents and layout of a page. PostScript also serves as a programming language whereby the PostScript code is executed by a PostScript RIP in the output device in order to produce a printout or film containing the page.


Those steps needed to transform the finished original copy into the printing plates or other forms needed for reproduction.

Process Colours (Inks)

Black and three primary colours-Cyan (blue), Magenta (red) and yellow into which full-colour artwork is separated before printing. (CMYK)


A version of a document or colour illustration produced specifically for the purpose of review prior to reproduction

Ram bundled

A way of presenting finished printed products that have been strapped together very tightly with end boards for protection and to make them suitable for machine inserting.


500 sheets of paper.


When printing with two or more colours it is necessary to align the different plates (register). On the edge of an untrimmed sheet you will see small target shapes called register marks that are used for accurate positioning. A printed piece that is (out of register) will have an unfocussed look.


In electronic imaging, the qualification of printout quality using the number of dots per inch (dpi).


Often when a printed price is quoted it is given as a figure for the basic quantity as specified in the brief. A run-on is also quoted for additional copies that may be required. For example the price may be for 5,000 copies at £200 with £18.00 for a 500 run-on. This enables you to calculate a range of prices for different quantities without the need to have the job re-quoted.

Saddle stitch

A simple method of binding publications in which the pages are wire stitched (stapled) together where they fold at the spine.

Score or Crease

To partially cut/crease with a rule into heavy paper or board to break the grain enabling easier folding and avoid cracking.

Screen Angles

In colour reproduction, angles at which the halftone screens are placed in relation to one another to avoid undesirable moiré patterns. A typical set of screen angles often used could be black 45 degrees, magenta 75 degrees, yellow 90 degrees and cyan 105 degrees.

Screen Printing

A method of printing often called silk screen printing from the material formally used for the screen. This is a process where the ink is transferred to the printing surface by being squeezed by a squeegee through a fine fabric sheet stretched on a frame and the screen carries a stencil, which defines the image area. Screen printing is most suitable for short runs and is usually used for large poster work and display material. It really comes into its own when printing on unusual surfaces such as clothing or plastic objects.


A folded sheet of paper forming part of a book; sections are sometimes made of insetted folded sheets of four, eight sixteen or more pages.

Self Cover

A publication only using text paper stock throughout.


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. (See also “Interleaving”)


To fasten the sections of a book together by passing thread through the center fold of each section in such a way as to secure it to the slips; in distinction from stitch.

Sheet Fed

A printing press whereby the paper is fed into the press in single sheets, as opposed to paper on a roll (web fed press).

Shrink wrap

Method of packing printed products by surrounding them with plastic, then shrinking by heat.

Side stitching

To stitch through the side from front to back at the binding edge with thread or wire

Spot/Special Colour

Any area of colour that is not printed out of four colour process set (CMYK), coloured areas using self-coloured inks i.e. Pantone inks as referred to earlier.


To stitch with wire through the side of gathered work at the binding edge.


To sew, staple or otherwise fasten together by means of thread or wire the leaves or signatures of a book or pamphlet. The different styles of stitching are; double stitch, where two loops of a single thread are fastened in the center of the fold. Machine stitch, where a lock stitch is made; saddle or saddle-back stitch, where the center of the fold is placed across the saddle in the machine and wire staples are driven through and clenched on the inside, side stitch, where the thread or wire is stitched through the side of the fold; single stitch, where a single loop is drawn through the center and tied; wire stitch, in which staples are made, inserted and clenched by a machine from a continuous piece of wire, as in the saddle back stitch; as distinct from sew.

Stochastic screening

Also known as FM (Frequency Modulated) screening. With conventional halftone screening, the variable dot size formed, creates the optical illusion of various tonal values; however, the dot center pitch distance is constant. In the case of FM screening systems, the dots are randomly distributed to create this tonal change illusion. The greater the number of dots located within a specific area, the darker the resultant tone. The dots produced in this way are usually smaller than conventional halftone dots, resulting in improved definition, although greater care and attention to detail is required in platemaking stage.


A general term for paper or board that is to be used as a printed surface.


To insert and tie string on hanging cards, catalogues, and other work either singly or in batches.


Any surface or material that is to be printed on.


Tagged Image File Format, a file format for exchanging bitmapped images (usually scans) between applications


Various even tone areas (strengths) of a solid colour.


In printing when one section of an image slightly overlaps another to avoid any possibility of holes (see also Kissfit).

Trim Size

Finished size of a printed piece after the waste is trimmed away.

Two Colour Press

A printing press that prints two colours in one pass through the machine, however it is possible to print four colour process by printing cyan and magenta together then changing the plates send the sheet through again to print the yellow and black

Uncoated Paper

Paper that has not been coated in clay.

UV Inks

Solventless inks that are cured by using UV radiation. They are extensively used in screen printing, narrow web letterpress and flexography printing.


To apply oil, synthetic, spirit, cellulose or water based varnish to printed matter by hand or machine to enhance its appearance and/or to improve its durability. An overall varnish is applied to the whole sheet and a spot varnish is applied to specific areas. Varnishes have a variety of effects from gloss to silk or matt.


This term usually refers to a single dot pattern that may start at 50% dot and gradually decrease to say 5% in a smooth graduation.

Web Press

A fast printing press that uses paper supplied on reels or rolls and tends to be used for relatively long runs, high volume work like newspapers.