Glossary of Terms


Binding — Fastening papers together for easy reading, transport, and protection. Papers may be bound together with a variety of materials, like wire, thread, glue, and plastic combs.

Bitmap —A set of bits that represents a graphic image, with each bit or group of bits corresponding to a pixel in the image (jpg, tif, bmp, etc.).

Bleed — An image or printed color that runs off the trimmed edge of a page. Bleeding one or more edges of a printed page generally increases both the amount of paper needed and the overall production cost of a printed job. Bleeds are created by trimming the page after printing.

Blind Embossing — Stamping raised letters or images into paper using pressure and a die, but without using foil or ink to add color to the raised areas.


Camera-ready Art — Any artwork or electronic file that is ready to be submitted for prepress and printing.

CMYK — Abbreviation for the four process color inks: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.

Color Correction — The process of adjusting an image to correct for scanner color imbalances or for the characteristics of the chosen imagesetter.

Color Separation — Literally separating the areas of a piece to be printed into its component spot and process ink colors. Each color to be printed must have its own printing plate. Usually referred to in a photographic sense, a color separation of a photo done either digitally or traditionally on a scanner.

Comp (comprehensive) — A complete but prospective example of a design project, demonstrating size, layout of images and type, use of color, and sometimes paper.

Crash Print — The process of printing additional information or graphics on an already printed sheet.

Cropping — The process of cutting away the outer edges of an image.


Die-cutting — Using a formed, metal-edged die to precision cut, or to cut shapes into a piece of paper. If a printing project requires a custom-made die, the total cost of the job will increase.

Digital Photography — The process of recording images using a digital camera or a conventional camera with a digital adapter; it records on a disk or on a microchip which can then be downloaded directly to a computer in tiff, pict or eps format.

Digital Printing — A type of printing which uses digital imaging process that transfers the image directly onto plain paper immediately, without traditional offset rollers and plates.

Dot Gain — The tendency for the dots of halftones and four-color images to print larger than they are on the film or plate.

DPI (Dots Per Inch) — The number of dots that fit horizontally and vertically into a one-inch measure. Generally, the more dots per inch, the more detail is captured, and the sharper the resulting image.


Emboss — A process by which a die is used for raising an area of paper to create letterforms, shapes and textures. The die can be made of magnesium, which is created from exposing light to the magnesium and leaving only the form of the artwork to be pressed into paper, or brass which is hand done, and more expensive but looks very good with beveled edges and fine detail.

EPS (Encapsulated Postscript File) — A vector - based computer graphics file format developed by Adobe Systems. EPS is the preferred format for many computer illustrations, because of its efficient use of memory and fine color control. The artwork description is “plotted” by the computer.


Foil — A metallic or pigmented coating on plastic sheets or rolls used in foil stamping and foil embossing.

Foil Stamping — To cover paper with a thin, flexible sheet of foil material. The foil, which may be clear or opaque, comes in a range of colors, and is carried on a plastic sheet. Stamping separates the foil from the plastic and makes it adhere to the paper. Foil stamping can be combined with embossing or debossing as an added design element.

Font — Complete assortment of characters of one typeface.

Four-color Process — Method of printing that uses process colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to simulate full-color images.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) — is a standard network protocol used to exchange and manipulate files over an Internet Protocol computer network, such as the Internet.


Gang — Getting the most out of a printing press by using the maximum sheet size to print multiple images or jobs on the same sheet. A way to save money.

GIF — An eight bit (256 colors or shades of grey) or less computer file format. Commonly used to post photographic images to the internet, GIF files are almost never used for professional printing.

Gripper — The row of clips holding the sheet of paper as it speeds through the press.

Gripper Edge — The leading edge of paper that moves through a printing press or folding machine. No printing can take place on the outside 3/8” of the paper on the gripper edge.

Grayscale — The depiction of all values between black and white.

Gutter — White space between columns of type where facing pages meet at the binding.


Image Area — Portion of paper on which ink can appear.


JPEG (Joint Photographic Electronic Group) — A common standard for compressing image data.


Letter Shop —Preparing large-volume mailings.

LPI (Lines Per Inch) — The number of lines in an inch, as found on the screens that create halftones and four-color process images (for example, “printed 175-line screen”). The more lines per inch, the more detailed the printed image will be. With the demand for computer-generated imagery, the term “dots per inch” (which refers to the resolution of the output) is replacing the term “lines per inch."


Offset Printing — Common commercial printing method, in which ink is offset from the printing plate to a second roller and then onto paper.


PDF (Portable Document File) — A proprietary format developed by Adobe Systems for the transfer of designs across multiple computer platforms.

Perfect Binding — A book binding process where pages are glued together and then glued directly to the cover of the book. The appearance is of a flat spine on the end of the book such as a paperback book.

Pixel (Picture element) — The smallest distinct unit of a bitmapped image. Pixels are the dots that make up a bitmapped picture. When the image is magnified so that you can see the individual dots, it is said to be “pixelated.”

PMS (Pantone Matching System) — The most widely used system for specifying and blending match colors. It provides designers with swatches for specific colors, and gives printers the recipes for making those colors.

Press Sheet — One sheet of paper, regardless of size, delivered from a printing press but not yet folded or trimmed.

Proof — A reasonably accurate representation of how a printed job is intended to look. Can be emailed as a pdf, jpg, etc. or presented in "hardcopy" form (a printed sample).


Raster — Images made up of individual dots that each have a defined value precisely identified by its specific color, size, and place within the image. Also known as bitmapped images.

Registration — The process of alignment of the different elements in a printing job, such as the different colored inks on a print job, so they are correctly printed next to each other or over each other (i.e., if the inks can be seen to overlap improperly or to leave white gaps on the page, the printing is said to be “out of registration” or “poorly registered”).

Register Marks — Cross-hair lines or marks on film, plates, and paper that guide strippers, platemakers, pressmen, and bindery personnel in processing a print order from start to finish.

Resolution — The measurement used in typesetting to express quality of output. Measured in dots per inch, the greater the number of dots, the smoother and cleaner appearance the character/image will have. Currently page (laser) printers print at 300, 406 and 600dpi; typesetting machines print at 1200 dpi or more.

RGB (Red, Green, Blue) — The additive primary colors used to create images on a computer monitor.


Saddle Stitch — A book binding process where pages are stapled together through the spine of the book. Traditionally performed on a V-shaped saddle.

Scanner — A device used to digitize images to be manipulated, output, or stored on a computer.

Score — A crease put on paper to help it fold better.

Self Cover — A booklet having a cover made of the same paper as the inside or text pages.

Self-Mailer — A publication designed to be mailed without an envelope.

Signature — The collated pages of one folded and trimmed form, making up one section of a bound book.

Spot Color — Single colors applied to printing when process color is not necessary (i.e. one-, two- and three-color printing), or when process colors need to be augmented (i.e. a fluorescent pink headline or a metallic tint).

Stock — Paper or other material that will be printed. To a paper mill, a “stock item” is a manufactured item that is inventoried, as opposed to a “manufacturing order,” which is custom made.


TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) — A bitmapped file format used for the reproduction of digitally scanned images such as photographs, illustrations and logos.

Transparency — A positive photographic slide on film allowing light to pass through.

Trapping — A technique in which adjacent colors slightly overprint each other to avoid white gaps between the colors, should one or more of the inks print out of register.

Trim Marks — Similar to crop or register marks. These marks show where to trim the printed sheet.

Trim Size — The final size of one printed image after the last trim is made.

Trimming — Cutting paper after printing to make all sheets the same or a specified size. After binding printed papers, the head, foot, and edge of a book are often trimmed in a guillotine to make all the papers even. The inner papers of each signature have a tighter fold and will be slightly longer than the outer pages.


Varnish — A coating printed on top of a printed sheet to protect it, add a finish, and/or add a tinge of color. An entire sheet may be varnished, or certain areas, like halftones, may be spot varnished to highlight a specific part of the printed sheet.

Vector — Images formed by formulae that define the shape and color of their elements. Also known as object-oriented images.

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