Glossary of Printing Terms

We hate technical jargon as much as you do. So we’ve gathered some common print terms with definitions to make printing online simpler and easier for you.

4-colour printing - a printing method that combines four separate colour inks (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) to produce a full-colour image

5th plate - a thin metal sheet coated in a spot colour, used in addition to four-colour printing for special finishes like Foils and Spot UV.

Bleed - an extension of an image or colour(s) placed beyond the finished trim size. 

Casebound - also known as a Hardcover, pages are bound together before they're attached to a hard outer case.

CMYK - an abbreviation for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black ink.

Colour conversion -the process of changing colours from RGB to CMYK

Colour gamut - a range of colours produced with a given set of inks

Colour values - a description of a colour's lightness or darkness.

Colour variance - a slight change in an ink's appearance on a printed surface during a print run

Digital printing - a printing process whereby digital files are reproduced directly onto paper using inkjets

Double-page spread - two facing pages when bound together in a multi-page item

Dust jacket - a detachable outer cover with folded flaps to protect and decorate a book.

Endpapers - a sheet of paper fixed to the inside cover at the beginning and end of a book

Foil - a layer of foil is stamped on top of a printed surface using heat and a strong adhesive.

Fold line - an indication of where we will fold your prints

Ghosting - a printing defect that results in duplicated print work appearing in undesirable places.

Gloss lamination - a finish placed on top of a printed page to create a high shine

gsm - paper weight measurement, an acronym for grammes per square metre.

Greyscale printing - printed material produced with a range of grey tones from black to white, using only black ink.

Ink Density - the perceived amount of ink absorbed or reflected by light on a surface.

Ink Saturation - a point at which ink dissolves into a surface.

Leaf/leaves - refers to a sheet(s) of paper.

Litho printing - a traditional printing method in which a design is transferred from an inked plate and pressed onto a surface.

Manufacturing variance - refers to minuscule shifts in the production process affecting the overall printing and binding of a product.

Matt Lamination - a coating on top of a printed page that provides an unshiny and subdued texture

Out-of-gamut - an alert stating that you cannot accurately reproduce on-screen colour(s) in print.

Overprint - refers to one colour being printed directly over another, causing them to mix.

Parent sheets - large sheets of paper, pre-cut to produce print material before being cut to size. 

Page - represents one side of a sheet of paper in a publication.

Paper stock  - a measurement of the density of paper

Paperback - also known as a softcover, a book with pages bound together with a flexible outer cover attached

Production - refers to the creation, organisation, monitoring and delivery of printed materials.

PUR Bound - sturdier than perfect binding, printed pages are assembled and glued together with a strong adhesive called PolyUrethane Reactive adhesive.

Perfect Bound - groups of printed pages are gathered and fastened at the spine with adhesive.

Proof - a replica of how your print files will look when printed.

Quiet Area - a margin that prevents text and images from entering the bleed area

RGB - a colour model - consisting of red, green and blue, representing an array of colours on a screen.

Rich Black - a combination of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow ink colours, mixed to produce a darker black in the printing process.

Professional Proof - a representation of your print files, highlighting errors or issues. 

Saddle-stitch binding - a multi-page item bound with staples

Side - refers to a printed page.

Silk Paper - a coated paper with a smooth finish and slight sheen 

Soft-touch lamination - a protective finish with a soft, matt texture

Spot Colour - a solid, specific colour that's premixed, unlike a process ink.

Spot UV - a coating applied on top of specific areas of your print that you want to highlight. We expose the varnish to UV light which hardens it, leaving a high-gloss finish. 

Standard Black - a standard black, consisting of black ink (100% K)

Sketch Cover - special edition covers are usually left blank, allowing readers to draw on top of them.

Trim line - a guideline indicating the size of your finished printed item

Variant Cover - a comic or graphic novel printed with more than one cover design or finish

Wiro Binding - a printed item with holes punched along one side before being fastened with a metal coil binding.

Uncoated paper - an absorbant paper stock without lamination or finish

For more print terms, head to this page.


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