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...


Image pressed into paper so it lies below the surface.

The degree of darkness of light absorption or opacity of printed images.

Process of using sharp metal rules on a wooden block to cut out specialised shapes such as pocket folders or unusual shaped flyers etc

digital printing:
Benefits are for very short runs or for personalised print. some feel that the quality is not yet to the standard of offset litho, however, some feel that it is.

dot gain:
A printing defect in which dots print larger than intended, causing darker colours or tones; due to the spreading of ink on stock. the more absorbent the stock, the more dot gain. can vary by type of ink also.

A measure of the quality of an image from a scanner or output resolution of a printer. The more dots per inch, the higher the quality will be but the larger the file size the slower it will process.

A method of enhancing a mono image using two colours.

Drilling of holes in product which will allow insertion over rings or posts in a binder of some sort.

A mock-up made to resemble the final printed product which uses the proposed grade, weight, finish and colour of paper.

Implies the inclusion of elements and data into a computer file necessary to maintain or change the elements when used remotely.

A process performed after printing to stamp a raised (or depressed) image into the surface of paper, using engraved metal embossing dies, extreme pressure, and heat. embossing styles include blind, deboss and foil-embossed.

An acronym for Encapsulated PostScript, a computer file format widely used by the printing and graphics industries.

file format:
The system by which data is held in a particular type of computer file.

To align, to be even with. (flush right to a margin for example).

foil stamping:
A metallic finish, or other embossed finishes applied by specialist equipment.

One of a range of styles/typefaces in which lettering can be produced during the type setting stage, e.g. Times New Roman, 10pt.

four-colour process:
Reproduction of full-colour photographs or art with the four basic colours of ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, black).

font matching:
A sometimes undesirable process used when a chosen font is not available, the closest possible match is made, sometimes causing reflow of the text or other errors.

Size, shape and overall style of layout or printed project.

french fold:
Two folds at right angles to each other.

full colour:
Or 'four colour process' using the four basic printing colours: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.