Basic print terminology

Basic Printing Terminology


Standard metric size of 297mm x 210mm


Standard metric size of 420mm x 297mm


Any element that extends up to or past the edge of a printed page


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


To gather sheets or pages together in their correct order. Normally for calendar assembly

Colour bars

A colour test strip that is printed on the waste portion of a press sheet. It helps a press operator to monitor and control the quality of the printed material relative to ink density, registration and dot gain. It can also include a Star Target, which is designed to detect inking and press problems.

Colour cast

Unwanted colour tone or overall colour shading distorting the normal colour balance of a photographic image.

Colour correction

Using a computer to adjust, change or manipulate a colour image, such as retouching, adjusting colour balance, colour saturation, contrast, etc

Colour separating

The processes of separating the primary colour components (CMYK) for printing


To reduce the size of an image.

Crop marks

Small printed lines around the edges of a printed piece indicating where it is to be cut out of the sheet. Sometimes referred to as cut marks


A shade of blue used in four-colour process printing. The C in CMYK. Also referred to as process blue

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


Encapsulated Post Script. A standard file format used to transfer postscript formatting information between applications


Then metal sheet that is applied to paper using the foil stamping process. Frequently gold colored, but available in many colours


The characters which make up a complete typeface and size

Gate fold

Where the item is folded, so it can open like a book or a gate


Applying thin transparent plastic sheets to both sides of a sheet of paper, providing scuff resistance, waterproofing and extended use.


A document layout where the width is greater than the height. (the opposite of Portrait)


One of the four process colours, or CMYK, the M is for magenta. Magenta is a predominately red colour with some blue. Magenta, cyan and yellow are also the three subtractive primary colors.


Paper that is used in the press set-up process before the printing run actually starts. Or the process of setting up press or bindery equipment to produce a specific product, including setting paper size, ink density, image alignment, fold sizes, etc., in preparation for the actual production run


Quantities of sheets printed over the requested number of copies, which can form part of quality control

Perfect Binding

A binding process where the pages of a book or notepad are held together by a flexible adhesive

Perfecting press

A printing press that prints on both sides of a sheet in a single pass through the press.


A document layout in which the height is greater than the width. (the opposite of Landscape)


The abbreviation of the Pantone Colour Matching System.


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.

Self cover

A cover that is the same paper stock as the internal sheets.

Trim marks

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

Trim size

The final size of a printed piece after being cut from the sheet of paper that it was printed on.


A spelling mistake in printed material resulting from a mistake in typing or setting type.

UV Coating

A very shiny and durable high gloss coating applied to printed material. Applied as a liquid then cured with ultraviolet light

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.


A clear coating added to printed material as a protective layer for improved scuff resistance and usually higher gloss.


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


One of the four process colors of ink, or CMYK. The Y is for yellow.

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.