Skip to main content

Common Printing Terms

We take great pride in making our clients feel comfortable and confident about their printing jobs during the production process. To help you gain a better understanding of what's happening to your project, we've compiled a glossary of common printing terms.

  • Alignment

    The position of elements on a page in relation to a referenced horizontal or vertical line.

  • Artwork

    All illustrated material (ornamentation, photos and charts, etc.) that is prepared for reproduction.

  • Binding

    Various methods of securing folded sections of paper together and fastening them to a cover to form a book.

  • Bleed

    Extra inked area that crosses designated trim line; used to allow for variations that occur when the reproduction is trimmed or die-cut. A bleed is necessary if the color prints to the edge of the page.

  • CMYK

    An abbreviation for the four primary colors used in four-color process printing; cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

  • Coated Stock

    Any paper that has a mineral coating applied after the paper is made, giving the paper a smoother finish.

  • Collate

    To gather sheets or signatures together in their correct order. Reference: Gather.

  • Copy

    Refers to any typewritten material, art, photos, etc., to be used for the printing process.

  • Cover

    A term describing a general category of papers used for the covers of books, pamphlets, etc.

  • Crop Mark (Cut mark)
    Crop Mark (Cut mark)

    Markings at edges of original or on guide sheet to indicate the area desired in reproduction with negative or plate trimmed (cropped) at the markings.

  • Die Cutting
    Die Cutting

    A method of using sharp steel-ruled stamps or rollers to cut various shapes (e.g. labels, boxes or image shapes) either post press or in line. The process of cutting paper in a shape or design by the use of a wooden die or block in which are positioned steel rules in the shape of the desired pattern.

  • Duotone

    Color reproduction from monochrome original. Keyplate usually printed in dark color for detail, second plate printed in light flat tints. A two-color halftone reproduction generated from a one-color photo.

  • Embossing

    To raise in relief a design or letters already printed on card stock or heavy paper by an uninked block or die. In rubber and plastic plate making the process is usually done by heat.

  • Gutter

    Space between pages in the printing frame of a book, or inside margin towards the back or binding edge. The blank space or margin between the type page and the binding of a book.

  • Kerning

    The narrowing of space between two letters so that they become closer and take up less space on the page.

  • Leading

    Space between lines of type; the distance in points between one baseline and the next.

  • Offset

    The most commonly used printing method, whereby the printed material does not receive the ink directly from the printing plate but from an intermediary cylinder called a blanket which receives the ink from the plate and transfers it to the paper.

  • Perfect Binding
    Perfect Binding

    Binding process where backs of sections are cut off, roughened and glued together, and rung in a cover.

  • Proof

    An impression of composed type and illustrations made for the purpose of checking the accuracy of the layout, type and color.

  • Saddle Stitching
    Saddle Stitching

    Stitching where wire staples pass through the spine from the outside and are clinched in the center. Only used with folded sections, either single sections or two or more sections inserted to form a single section.

  • Signature (Section)

    A group of pages that, having been printed together on one large sheet of paper, are folded, cut and bound, along with the book's other signatures, into a book.

  • Spiral Bind
    Spiral Bind

    A binding whereby a wire of metal or plastic is spiraled through holes punched along the binding side.

  • Stagger Cutting

    A process of cutting many sheets from the same parent sheet in which the smaller sheets have different grain directions; also called dutch or bastard cutting.

  • Thermography (also known as raised print)

    A printing process whereby slow drying ink is applied to paper and while the ink is still wet, it is lightly dusted with a resinous powder. The paper then passes through a heat chamber where the powder melts and fuses with the ink to produce a raised surface.

  • Trim Marks (Cut Marks)
    Trim Marks (Cut Marks)

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

  • Watermark

    A translucent logo that is embossed during the papermaking process while the paper slurry is on the dandy roll. Reference: dandy roll.