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22 Print terms it might be helpful to know

12 April 2016

Print has a lot of jargon and industry specific terminology that can all sound a bit strange. Here are some of the most common ones.

  1. PP
    You will see multi page brochure and leaflets say 8pp or 24pp, this term refers to “Printed Pages”, the total number of pages in that particular product. Generally these go up in increments of 4pp, that’s one piece of paper, folded in half, giving 2 printed pages on one side (one on each side of the fold) and 2 printed pages on the reverse. There is also the 6pp format, in which a leaflet is folded twice (giving three pages on each side of the paper). Sometimes a brochure might have a 6pp cover, which will give a “throw out” page at the back or front of the brochure. Generally think in terms of 4pp being the norm. You can’t have a 30pp stitched brochure, as you need 4 printed pages per section, with the fold in the middle, along with the stitch. The exception to this would be a brochure that has been wiro-bound, in which case we can work in leaves of 2pp. Confused? Well, to make it a little more complicated, the printed pages don’t even have to be printed. It’s to total number of pages in a printed product, that could be printed. 
  2. Bleed
    Don’t worry there is no blood involved. This is a very common term used to describe the ink coverage. If you need a graphic or an image to run off the edge of the page so no white areas show at the edges, then we need the image to extend further than the crop marks, or the cutting line. The blade will come down onto the printed sheet and cut through the image at the crop marks, giving a seamless finish to your page. We need an extra 3mm of image, beyond the cut line to produce a product with an image that bleeds.
  3. CMYK
    This refers to the four colour inks, or colour model we use for commercial printing. They are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. When we receive your artwork, we “separate” your artwork into these four colours. Some colours can’t be achieved using CMYK or it might not provide a good enough match to a special corporate colour for example, in which case we can use a “Special” or Pantone ink on a fifth plate. CMYK or four colour process, is the model used for all commercial printing. It has a gamut, a set of colours that are available within it, this gamut is different to the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) gamut that a computer screen uses. This is why you can’t use a screen, of any kind, to match colours exactly to CMYK colours. The model is different, the colours available in the model are different and RGB is a bigger gamut than CMYK, so some colours won’t reproduce at all. 
  4. Litho Printing
    This term refers to a “traditional” printing press, where  four plates are made from the separated artwork. The litho press put ink onto the plate, the ink sticks to the image on the plate, the image is then transferred to a rubber blanks, which in turn transfers to inked image to the sheet of paper as it runs through the litho press. Generally it will do this four times for each of the CMYK colours to produce a full colour image at the end. Each of the four “separated” images need to be “registered” so they are perfectly aligned to produce a sharp, high quality image.
  5. Digital Printing
    This term refers to newer printing technology. Digital printing does not use a separate plate for each colour and it can be produced using a range of technologies that utilise ink jet, toners, or liquid inks, it depends on the particular machine. Essentially, the imaging (transfer of image to paper) is digital, or electronic, and every page can be different as there are no static plates involved in the process. Digital printing is cost effective for smaller quantities and it’s the only way produce variable data printing (where each page is different). 
  6. GSM
    You will see this abbreviation after a paper weight. It means Gramage per Square Metre. A lighter (thinner) paper used for letterheads might be 100gsm, whereas, a heavier (thicker) paper used for a folder or a business card might be 350gsm. It’s a good general indiction of how thick your paper will be. Thickness of a paper is actually measured using microns, and the weight of a paper and it’s thickness are actually two separate things. A lighter paper can sometimes “mic up” to a greater thickness than a heavier one. It depends on the finish, coating and make up of the paper. 
  7. Clear-Zone
    The Clear-Zone is the area at the very edge of your artwork where you shouldn’t put any text or important information. Images that bleed off will need to go into the Clear-Zone, but text placed inside this area runs the risk of being of getting sliced off. We recommend an absolute minimum of a 5mm Clear-Zone, 10mm is better, depending on your design. 
  8. Trimmed or Trim
    Basically this just refers to a flat, straight cut, produced using a guillotine. This is how we produce your finished size.
  9. Die-Cut
    Print can also be cut to size by Die-Cutting. This is where the finished size is not straight or is a shape. The finished sheet will be cut out by using a trace of the finished design on a die-cutting machine. This can be traditional, where a metal cutting forme is made to press out the design, or digital where a laser might be used to cut the shape. 
  10. Lamination
    Lamination is the process of applying a very thin layer of plastic the paper. This layer adds extra durability to the finished product and a little extra thickness. There are lots of amazing laminate finishes these days, but the most popular are gloss or matt. We recommend lamination on products such as folders which are often creased through heavy ink coverage to prevent cracking of the folder along the creases.
  11. Proof
    One of the most important parts of buying any kind of printing, is checking your proof. A proof is a visual representation of how your design will look when printed. It’s based on the artwork created, and has been “Ripped” through a pre-press system. When artwork is ripped (processed and separated, ready for print) it can reveal problems, such as transparencies, that may need fixing. You should check your proof against your on screen artwork for any technical problems and also content problems such as spelling. Most printers provide a “Soft” (electronic) proof, which will be provided as a PDF. There are also “Hard” proofs, but these are becoming less and less popular due to cost.
  12. Resolution
    This term is used to describe image quality. A low-resolution image is no good for litho printing, but might be acceptable for some digital processes. A High-resolution image is always the best bet. We measure image resolution in dpi, that’s dots per inch. Images for use on screen, or a website for example are usually 72dpi, but we need at least 300dpi for litho printing, and if the image allows, 600dpi will ensure high quality, sharp images. If you are unsure of the resolution of your images, the size of the image file can be a good indication. A very high quality image might be 100mb, whereas a 10k image will be very low resolution and in turn, very low quality.
  13. NCR
    NCR is a type of paper used for multi-part sets. You can write on the top sheet and it goes through to all the copies. This type of paper is often called “carbonless” as you don’t need a sheet of carbon paper to make the image transfer to the other copies. NCR is an abbreviation for No Carbon Required.
  14. Turnaround
    The turnaround time of a product refers to how long it will take produce. It starts from the time the artwork is approved and finishes when it is despatched.
  15. Binding
    Binding is the process of fastening sheets together to form multi-page booklets and brochure. There are lots of different types of binding, the most common being stitching. This might be called Saddle Stitched or Saddle Bound
  16. Uncoated Paper
    As the description would suggest an uncoated paper, doesn’t have a coating. Uncoated paper is best for anything that needs to be written on or put through any kind of office printer, as there is no coating to prevent the ink, toner, pen or pencil from soaking into the paper. You can write on a coated paper such as a silk or gloss, but you’ll probably find the ink from a pen will smudge as it can’t penetrate the paper through the coating, so it sits on top of the coating instead. 
  17. Coated Paper or Art Paper
    These papers have a coating on them to give them a finish, usually silk (matt) or gloss. Different papers have different types of coatings, and can be very glossy or specific to certain types of applications, such as food or packaging. A commodity grade silk or gloss paper would be used with most types of commercial printing, that doesn’t need to be written on.
  18. Capacity or Gusset
    These terms are used to describe how much room or capacity a pocket or folded area contains. A folder with a 5mm capacity means you’ll have up to 5mm worth of room to insert other sales materials inside it.
  19. Imposition or Impo/Imposed
    Everything that gets printed gets imposed. If it’s a business card, it might be imposed so there are 20 cards to view on the same sheet. It’s how we use the paper in the most economical fashion. Multi-page brochures need special attention, as they must be imposed in such a way as the pages will run in the correct order once it has been folded and bound. You don’t need to worry about the imposition, as we will do that as part of the pre-press production.
  20. Make-Ready
    This is the work we need to do to set up a printing or finishing machine before it can used in production. 
  21. Self-Cover
    This is the term used to describe a multi-page brochure that used the same material for the cover as it does for the inner pages.
  22. Machine Seal or Machine Varnish
    This is a process where will add a coating of sealer varnish to a sheet during the litho printing process. It happens after all the colours have been printed to “seal” them. It can help prevent marking which can be problem with certain colours or types of paper, particularly if they are being put through lots of finishing processes after printing.
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