Reference Our

Printing Glossary

Printing is our life. Here are some commonly used terms to help you undestand what’s going on.

Accordion Fold

Folding paper by bending each fold in the opposite direction of the previous fold, creating a pleated or accordion effect.

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 suboptimal for both press operation and registration of the 4 colour process inks. Sometimes called cross grain.


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

Blind Emboss

A design or bas relief impression that is made without using inks or metal foils.

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.

Case Binding

Books bound using hard board (case) covers.

Centre Spread

The two pages that face each other in the centre of a book or publication.

Coil Binding

Where a metal or plastic wire is spiraled through holes punched along the side of a stack of paper. Commonly used for reports, proposals and manuals. Documents bound with coil have the ability to lay flat and can be rotated 360 degrees. Also called spiral binding.

Colour Bars

A colour test strip 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 Correction

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

Colour Separation

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

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.


To press an image into paper with a die so it extends below the surface. The opposite of emboss where the image is raised above the paper surface.

Deckle Edge

The rough or feathered edge of paper when left untrimmed.


An optical device used by printers and photographers to measure and control the density of ink or colour.

Die Cutting

The process of cutting paper in a shape or design with a wooden die or block in which steel rules are positioned in the shape of the desired pattern.

Digital Proof

Colour separation data is digitally stored and then exposed to colour photographic paper, creating a picture of the final product before it is actually printed with ink.


The molding and reshaping of paper by the use of special metal dies and heat, counter dies and pressure, to produce a raised image on the paper surface.

Foil Embossing

Stamping a thin sheet of metallic foil onto a sheet of paper and then embossing a pattern under it, creating a three dimensional raised area, usually text or an image. See a sample of foil embossing.

Foil Stamping aka Hot Stamping

Impressing metallic foil onto paper with a heated die.


Also known as gloss ghosting. A condition that occurs when vapors from drying ink on one side of a press sheet interact chemically with dry ink or blank paper on sheets in contact with the reverse side of the same sheet, creating unintended faint images.


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.


A blank space or margin between components on a printed piece or press sheet.


An unwanted effect that occurs when a spec of dust or debris (frequently dried ink) sticks to the printing plate and creates a spot or imperfection in the printing.


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


Or dust jacket. The paper cover sometimes also called the "dust cover" of a hardbound book.


Lines that are drawn on artwork that indicate the exact placement, shape and size of elements including halftones, illustrations, etc.


A coarse unbleached paper used for printing and industrial products.


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).


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


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.

Matte Finish

A coated paper finish that goes through minimal calendaring.


An undesirable halftone pattern produced by the incorrect angles of overprinting halftone screens.


A light, low-cost unbleached paper made especially for newspaper printing.

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.

Orange Peel

A finish which texture resembles the skin of an orange.


Any printing that is done on an area that has already been printed.

Perfect Binding

A binding process where the signatures of a book are held together by a flexible adhesive.


The abbreviation of the Pantone Colour Matching System.

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.

Process Printing

A system where a colour image is separated into different colour values (cyan, magenta, yellow and black or CMYK) and then transferred to printing plates and printed on a printing press.

Quote or Quotation

A price estimate to produce a specific printed piece, frequently with custom attributes not priceable in standard online pricing tools.

Register Marks

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


The colour space of the primary colours of light: Red, Green and Blue. An RGB computer file must be converted into the CMYK (the primary colours of pigment) colour space in order to be printed on a printing press.

Saddle Stitch

The binding of booklets or other printed materials by stapling the pages on the folded spine.


To crease paper with a metal rule for the purpose of making folding easier.

Self Cover

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


A printed sheet with multiple pages on it that is folded so that the pages are in their proper numbered sequence, as in a book.

Soy Inks

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

Thread Sewn

A technique similar to perfect binding. However, thread sewn books enjoy more durability as they employ multiple flexible threads to sewn the signatures together.


The overlapping of one colour over a different, adjacent colour to ensure that no white space is visible. Used when there are slight variations in the registration of the two colours during the printing process. Or the process of printing wet ink over wet or dry previously printed ink.

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 it was printed on.

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

A form of on-demand printing in which elements such as text, graphics and photographs can be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the press, using information from a database.


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


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.

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.

Work and Turn

A printing production format that has the front and back of a printed piece on one side of the paper, which is then printed the same on the back side, producing two copies of the piece.

Xerographic Paper

Papers made to operate well in copy machines.


One of the four process colours of ink, or CMYK. The Y stands 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.

3D Embossing

3D Embossing is a specialty embossing. Standard embossing offers just one level of impression. However with 3D Embossing, the indent can be sculpted and gradated, with different levels and shapes.