Printing Glossary

Have you ever wondered what some of those curious printing terms actually mean? No? Well we've decided to publish them anyway!

If you come across any others that you think ought to be included (real or invented), we'd be pleased to hear from you...


A thin flexible sheet of transparent plastic used to make overlays.

against the grain:
At right angles to the grain direction to the paper.

art paper:
A common term used to describe a range of smooth papers with a filled surface.

'A' sized paper:
Paper sizes are based on dimensions of a large A0 sheet. Letterheads are commonly produced on A4 sized paper.

A computer program designed for a particular use, such as a word processor or page layout application, i.e. Microsoft Word or Quark Xpress.

A process which follows the initial design stage which makes rough ideas into a print-ready form.

Abbreviation for artwork.

backing up:
Process of printing on the second side of a printed sheet.

Process of fastening papers together.

A grid of pixels or printed dots generated by computer to represent type and images.

Thick rubber sheet that transfers ink from plate to paper on the press.

blind emboss:
Impression of an un-inked image onto the back of a sheet which produces a raised 'embossed' image on the front of the sheet.

The printed image extends beyond the trim edge of a sheet or page. A bleed may occur at the head, front, foot and/or gutter of a page.

A smooth transition between two colours, also known as a graduated tint.

bond paper:
A grade of paper suited for letterheads, business forms etc.

carbonless paper: (NCR)
Paper coated with chemicals that enable transfer of images from one sheet to another with pressure from writing or typing.

case bound:
A hardback book made with stiff outer covers. Cases are usually covered with cloth, vinyl or leather.

cast coated:
Coated paper with a very high gloss enamel finish

A method of altering the thickness of a shape by over exposure in processing or by means of a built-in option in some computer applications.

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A fast proofing system which uses powder as opposed to ink.

Abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black), the 4 process colours, which combined together in varying proportions can be made to produce the full colour spectrum.

Gathering together sheets of paper from a book, magazine or brochure and placing them into the correct order.

colour separation:
Process by which a continuous tone colour image is separated into the four process colours (CMYK) for print production.

concertina fold:
A method of folding in which each fold opens in the opposite direction to its neighbour, giving a concertina or pleated effect.

continuous stationery:
Forms which are produced from reels of paper and then fan folded. these can be either single or multi-part forms.

crash number:
Numbering paper by pressing an image on the first sheet which is transferred to all parts of the printed set.

To mechanically press a rule into heavy paper or board to enable it to be folded without cracking.

Phenomenon when middle pages of a folded section extend slightly beyond the outside pages.

crop marks:
Lines near the margins of artwork or photos indicating where to trim, perforate or fold.

Graphics saved in ready-to-use computer files. these are normally vector illustrations and not photographic images.

clipping path:
An outline, embedded into the file, that tells an application which areas of a picture should be considered transparent.

Abbreviation of computer-to-plate; a process of printing directly from a computer onto the plate used by a printing press.

To trim the edges of a picture or page to make it fit or remove unwanted portions.

One of the four process colours.