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absorbency: The ability of paper to absorb or take in liquids.

acid-free paper: Paper that has a neutral or slightly alkaline pH.

against the grain: Running a sheet of paper through a printing press at right angles to the grain direction of the paper, as opposed to with the grain. This is usually optimal for both press operation and registration of the 4 color process inks. In the folding operation it is preferred to run the blanks or web in the grain direction to achieve a crisp score for folding. Running the paper against the grain or cross grain will create cracking and poor folding.

aqueous coating: A water-based coating applied after printing that gives an added glossy finish to the paper. Helps prevent the printing image from being scratched.

artwork: All original copy, including type, photos and illustrations, intended for printing.


basis weight: The weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to a standard size. Each major paper grade, like cover, bond or offset, has its own basic sheet size, which determines it basis weight.

bleed: Printing that extends beyond the trim edge of a page or blank. To print a bleed, the piece is printing on oversized paper, which is trimmed after printing.

brightness: The light-reflecting property of paper in comparison with a standard reference. Paper brightness affects the legibility and contrast of printing.


C1S and C2S: Acronyms for Coated One Side and Coated Two Sides paper stock. A cover stock with a glossy finish on one side and uncoated on the other, usually between 8pt (.008″) and 18pt (.018″) in thickness.

Caliper: The measurement of the thickness of paper measured in thousandths of an inch or mils

CMYK: An abbreviation for the four primary colors used in four-color process printing: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.

coated paper: Paper with a surface coating that provides a smooth finish. Coated paper finishes have a higher opacity and better ink holdout than uncoated papers. Art is sharper on coated (vs. uncoated stock) because ink does not absorb into the stock.

Coverage: The extent to which printing ink covers the surface of a printed sheet. Ink coverage is frequently expressed as light, medium or heavy.


density: The specific weight of paper per unit volume. Density directly relates to the paper’s absorbency, stiffness, opacity and resiliency.

die cutting: 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.

Digital Proof: Color separation data is digitally stored and then exposed to color photographic paper creating a picture of the final product before it is actually printed with ink.

Dot: The smallest individual element of a halftone.

Dot gain: A term used to describe when dots are printing larger than they should.

dots-per-inch (dpi): The measurement used to indicate how many dots or pixels appear within a vertical and horizontal inch of a graphic. This measurement is the resolution of the image.

Drop shadow: A shadow image placed offset behind an image to create the effect of the image lifting off the page.

Dull finish: A semi-gloss finish on paper that is less glossy than gloss and more than matte paper.

duotone: a halftone image composed of two colors and printed at different screen angles. Various effects are possible by changing the density (or curve) of each color in image editing software.


Electronic Proof: A process of generating a prepress proof in which paper is electronically exposed to the color separation negatives and passed through electrically charged pigmented toners, which adhere electrostatically, resulting in the finished proof.

embossing: An impression of an image in relief to achieve a raised surface on paper.

EPS (Encapsulated PostScript): A graphic file format. Essentially a “wrapper” is placed on a graphic file which contains information about the image such as size, resolution, bounding box.


finish: The surface contour and characteristics of paper measurable by smoothness, gloss, absorbency and print quality.

Flexography: A printing method using flexible plates where the image to be printed is higher than the non-printing areas. The inked areas are then contact the material to be printed, transferring the ink from the raised areas to the material. Fast drying inks are usually used in this process. Common uses are the printing of cans and bottles and other non-flat items.

foil-stamping: A process wherein a thin, flexible sheet of metal or plastic is used to cover an area of a printed page.

Font: The characters which make up a complete typeface and size.

four-color process: A printing process that uses the four primary ink colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) to reproduce almost any color required. “Pleasing Color” and “Critical Color” are some terms used to describe how accurate the press proof must be to the contract proof. Critical color may require special ink formulation; but digital file manipulation and proper proofing practices are usually sufficient.


Ganging: The combining of two or more different printing projects on the same sheet of paper.

ghosting: An offset printing defect characterized by the appearance of faint replicas of printed images. Much like ghosting on your TV.

GIF (Graphic Interchange Format): An imaging standard that uses pixels to recreate an image electronically, often used for animation.

gloss: A paper’s shine or luster.

Grain: Paper fibers lie in a similar direction in a sheet of paper. This direction is called the grain. Printing is usually done so that if folding is required, the fold is done parallel to the grain.

gripper edge: The leading edge of paper as it passes through a printing press.

grippers: The metal fingers in a sheet-fed press that hold the paper in place as it travels through the press.


halftone: In traditional publishing, a continuous tone image photographed through a screen in order to create small dots of varying sizes that can be reproduced on a printing press. On a printing plate, a dot can either be “on” or “off.” The halftone process reproduces images and tints of color with tiny halftone dots at different screen angles.

heavy coverage: Refers to the heavy use of inks on a printed piece, such as large areas of solid color.

Hickey: The effect that occurs when a spec of dust or debris (frequently dried ink) adheres to the printing plate and creates a spot or imperfection in the printing.

Hot melt: An adhesive used in some binding processes, which requires heat for application.


Image area: That portion of a printing plate that carries ink and prints on paper.

Imposition: The correct sequential arrangement of pages that are to be printed, along with all the margins in proper alignment, before producing the plates for printing.

Indicia: An image and/or text pre-printed on mailing envelopes in place of a stamp.

Insert: A piece of printed material that is inserted into another piece of printed material, such as a magazine or catalog.


JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group): A digital image file. JPEG images use a lossy compression method which means some detail is lost each time the file is saved. Various resolutions and color spaces are supported.


Kraft: A coarse unbleached paper used for printing and industrial products.


Layout: A rendition that shows the placement of all the elements, images, thumbnails etc., of a final printed piece.

light coverage: Refers to the amount of ink used on a printed piece. Light coverage generally does not include extensive areas of solid color.

Line copy: Any copy that can be reproduced without the use of a halftone screen.

linen finish: A paper finish that is similar to the texture of linen fabric. Linen finishes are embossed after the paper comes off the paper machine.

Lithography: The process of printing that utilizes flat or curved inked surfaces to create the printed images.

Logotype: A personalized type or design symbol for a company or product.


make-ready: All the activities involved in preparing a printing press for a print run, such as setting the registration, balancing the color and adjusting the plates and blankets for paper thickness.

Matchprint proof: A high-resolution hard copy contract proof.

matte finish: Coated papers with little or no gloss. A matte coated sheet is often specified when the printed pages will contain a lot of type, since the low gloss makes for easier reading.

Metallic Ink: Ink that looks metallic when printed. Made with powdered metal or pigments that look metallic. The most common colors used are gold and silver.

moiré: An undesirable pattern created by overprinting halftone dots usually attributed to incompatible screen angles.


Natural: A term to describe papers that have a color similar to that of wood, also called cream, off-white or ivory.


Offset: Ink that is unintentionally transferred from a printed sheet to the back of the sheet above it as the pieces are stacked in a pile when printed.

Offset printing: The most commonly used printing method, where the printed material does not receive ink directly from a printing plate but from an intermediary blanket that receives the ink from the plate and then transfers it to the paper.

offset paper: Paper that contains the quality characteristics needed in order to withstand the rigors of offset presses.

opacity: The strength of transparency of a graphic element. Opacity of 100% indicates a solid object. Opacity less than 100% changes density of elements below the transparent object. Also a property of paper that minimizes the show-through of printing from the opposite side or the adjacent sheet. Opacity is influenced by the paper’s weight, brightness and type of fiber.

opaque: A property which prevents transparency of other objects. An opaque object conceals all objects below it.

overlay: Placing a transparent object over another. Uses include indicating alterations, die strike, color breaks.

overprint: Printing an object on top of another object.

Overrun: Quantities of sheets printed over the requested number of copies


Pantone®: the company that makes the Pantone® Matching System (PMS), a standard color-matching system used by printers and graphic designers for inks, papers and other materials. A PMS color is a standard color defined by percentage mixtures of different primary inks. Changing materials will provide a different look from the PMS book.

Parchment: A hard finished paper that emulates animal skin used for documents, such as awards, that require writing by hand.

PDF (Portable Document File): Adobe’s proprietary file format evolved from the PostScript language which allows documents to be viewed and shared from any computer platform. PDF files have different properties. The ISO 15930-4:2003 PDF/X-1a format is the standard PDF “flavor” for offset printing.

perfect binding: A binding technique in which single sheets are stacked together and the binding edge is ground to create a rough surface. An adhesive is applied to the binding edge and a cover is wrapped around the pages.

pica: a unit of measurement primarily used in typesetting. One pica is equal to 1/6 of an inch.

pixel (picture element): the smallest spot of phosphor on a display monitors that can be lit up on a screen.

plate: Short for printing plate, this is generally a thin sheet of metal that carries the printing image. The plate surface is treated or configured so that only the printing image is ink receptive.

PMS: Pantone Matching System – See Pantone®.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics): A feature-rich graphic file format which uses lossless compression and a non-patented compression algorithm; primarily used for internet publishing.

PostScript: A text-based page description language that defines how text and graphics will be displayed when viewed or printed.

process color separation: The process used to reproduce color images by creating and superimposing halftone dots from the four basic colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

preflight: In digital prepress, the check given to files to determine if they are valid for output. Checks include but are not limited to fonts, graphic resolution and quality, color breaks, and size.

prepress: The process and procedures that occur after a job is submitted for output to prepare for printing. Processes include but are not limited to preflight, color correction, proofing, and platemaking.

Press Check: When a client visits a printing company to view actual printed sheets of their project before a full production press run is started.

press proof: A sheet from the actual printing plates and inks for a job after the run is put in register and brought up to color on press. This is the last chance for making adjustments before the job is printed.

Process printing: A system where a color image is separated into different color values (cyan, magenta, yellow and black or CMYK) by the use of filters and screens or digitally with a software program and then transferred to printing plates and printed on a printing press, reproducing the original color image.

proof: A representation of the printed piece, created either electronically or in print, that demonstrates what has been produced in the film or plate procedures.

proofreader marks: Standard symbols and abbreviations used to indicate corrections on a proof.


Quark: Short for QuarkXPress, one of the primary computer applications used in graphic design.


RGB: The color space commonly used for computer monitors and that divides color into the three primary colors of light: red, green and blue.

raster image (bitmap image): A method to represent digital images. File formats include: GIF, JPG, BMP, TIF, EPS. Each pixel of the image is assigned a value depending on the color space used. The resolution of the image refers to the pixels per inch (PPI) or dots per inch (DPI) in the image.

Raster Image Processor (RIP): A hardware or software device that converts one format (typically PostScript or PDF) into a format understood by the output device the RIP supports.

recycled content paper: A paper product containing some, but consisting of less than 100% recovered fiber.

recycled paper: A paper product consisting of 100% recovered fiber. Recovered fiber includes pre- or post-consumer sources or both.

Register: The arrangement of two or more printed images in exact alignment with each other.

Register marks: Any crossmarks or other symbols used on a press sheet to assure proper registration.

resolution: The number of dots-per-inch or pixels in a raster image. Typical resolutions are 300dpi for offset printing and 72dpi for web graphics.

RGB: The color space of Red, Green and Blue. These are the primary colors of light, which computers use to display images on your screen. An RGB computer file must be translated into the CMYK (the primary colors of pigment) color space in order to be printed on a printing press.


saddle-stitching: A binding process for newsletter, booklet or catalogs in which the folded sheets, or signatures, of paper are gathered together one inside the other, placed over a “saddle,” and stitched or stapled along the spine with wire. Saddle-stitched books will lie flat when open but may contain only a limited number of pages.

Scaling: Reduction or enlargement of artwork, which can be proportional (most frequently used) or disproportional. In desktop publishing, optimal scaling of bitmaps is reduction or enlargement that will avoid or reduce moiré patterns.

Scoring: A mechanical means of pressing a channel into a sheet of paper to facilitate folding while guarding against cracking the paper. Scoring is typically used when heavyweight papers are folded.

Screen (tint): A uniform dotted fill pattern, described in a percentage, such as 50% screen.

Self-cover: A printed booklet, catalog or other piece where the paper stock used for the cover pages is the same as that used for the text.

Show-through: Printing that is seen by looking through transparent stock.

Smoothness: The rate of flatness and evenness on the surface of a sheet of paper.

Soy Inks: Inks made with soy oils instead of petroleum as the base. They are considered to be more environmentally friendly, a standard component of green printing.

Spiral bind: A type of binding where a metal or plastic wire is spiraled through holes drilled along the binding side of a document.

Stet: A proofreader mark indicating a change is not to be made.

Synthetic papers: Any non-wood or cloth paper, usually petroleum (plastic) based.


Text paper: A high quality light weight printing paper.

Thickness: The thickness of a single piece of paper, as measured in thousandths of an inch, called “caliper.” Thickness measurements define the bulkiness of a sheet of paper.

Tint: A halftone screen that contains all the same sized dots.

Trapping: The physical process of ink sticking to ink; often represented as a thin line of overlapping colors to help avoid a white gap between the two colors. A choke is a type of trap that contracts an element. A swell is a type of trap that enlarges an image.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format): a raster graphic file format.

Trim marks: Marks placed on the printed sheet to indicate where cuts should be made.

Trim size: The size of the printed sheet of page once it has been trimmed.

Trimming: Cutting paper prior or after printing to make all sheets a specified size.


Up: A term used to describe how many similar pieces can be printed on a larger sheet; two up, four up, etc.

Uploading: A form of file transfer in which files from one computer are uploaded to a designated server site. This technique can be used for files up to 5 MB.

UV coating: A very slick, glossy coating applied to the printed paper surface and dried on press with ultraviolet light. The slick surface of UV coating makes it eye catching and popular for printing covers on paperback novels.


Variable Data Printing: Is a form of on-demand printing in which elements (such as text, graphics, photographs, etc.) can be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the press, using information from a database. For example, a set of personalized letters, each with the same basic layout, can be printed with a different name and address on each letter.

Varnish: A thin protective coating applied like an ink on printed material. It is used on glossy papers to protect against dirt and damage.

Vellum: A finish of paper that is somewhat bulky and is slightly rough.

Vignette: A photo or illustration, in which the tones fade gradually away until they blend with the background they are printed on..


Watermark: A translucent mark or image that is embossed during the papermaking process, or printed onto paper, which is visible when the paper is held up to the light.

Waterproof: A high resolution, hard copy proof similar to a Matchprint. This proof is a good way to check for color accuracy.

Web press: A printing press that prints on rolls of paper passed through the press in one continuous piece, as opposed to individual sheets of paper.

Wove paper: Paper having a uniform unlined surface and a soft, smooth finish.




Zip file: Zipping a file compresses one or more files into a smaller archive. It takes up less hard drive space and less time to transfer across a network or the internet.