Glossary of printing terms.



Accordion Fold - in bindery, a term used for two or more parallel folds which open like an accordion. 

Against the Grain - folding or feeding paper at right angles to the grain or direction in which the paper fibers lie. 

Antique Finish - paper stock of cover weight made with very little calendaring to preserve its rough finish and bulk. 





Backing Up - printing the reverse side of a sheet which has already been printed on one side. 

Bleed - to extend a printed image past the trimmed edge of a sheet. 

Block-out - a printed pattern which obscures write-through, on a printed business form. 

Bond Paper - paper generally manufactured for stationary. letterheads, forms ect.. Higher quality bonds are distinguished by a watermark and an excellent writing surface. 

Book Paper - a general description of any type of paper suitable for printing, exclusive or newsprint, bonds, or heavier weight sheets such as covers.  Can have finishes such as antique, eggshell, super calendared, coated, dull, matte or glossy. 

Bristol Board - a paper with a thickness of .0006 inches and up. Includes postcard stock and tags. 

Brittleness - the property of a paper causing it to break while folding or bending. 

Broken Carton - a quantity of paper less than a full carton. 

Bulk - a measurement of the thickness of a sheet of paper in relation to its weight. "High-bulk" papers are often used to give thickness to a book weight adding to its weight. 





C1S - Coated one side. 

C2S - Coated two sides. 

CB - Coated black (carbon-less paper). 

CC1S - Cast-coated one side. 

CC2S - Coated two sides. 

CF - Coated front. 

CFB - Coated front and back (carbon-less paper). 

Calendaring - paper is calendared on a paper making machine by running it between polished steel rolls under high pressure to give a desired smoothness. "Super-calendaring" is also done by special equipment to provide a  superior smoothness and glossy finish. 

Caliper - the term used for thickness of a sheet, usually expressed in thousandths of an inch. 

Carbon-less Paper - paper that is treated or coated to produce an image under pressure (without the use of carbon paper). 

Cast-coated - paper or board that is coated by allowing the coating (during paper making) to harden while in contact with a chromium polished surface, resulting in the glossiest of all coated papers. 

Chipboard - a low density board made from waste paper, .0006" and heavier usually used for backing writing pads, business forms, calendars ect.. 

CYMK - the subtractive process colours (cyan, magenta and yellow). Used in process colour printing, plus black to enhance colour and contrast. 

Cockle - a paper finish demonstrating a puckered condition of a sheet, resulting from non-uniform drying and shrinking. Generally not desirable, although some high quality papers are made specifically to have a cockle finish. 

Collate - in binding, the gathering of sheets or signatures in the correct order. 

Colour Fastness - the ability of a coloured paper or ink to retain its original colour or to resist fading and change through influences such as heat, light and use. 

Colour Key - an un-laminated overlay proof with each colour or individual piece of acetate. 

Combination Run - two or more print jobs printed simultaneously on the same sheet to effect cost savings. 

Condensed Type - in typography, a narrow or slender type face. 

Contrast - degree of difference between highlights and the dark areas of a photograph or artwork that has a range of tones. 

Cover Paper - a heavyweight paper made particularly for covers of brochures, folders, invitations, business cards ect.. 

Crash Printing - impressing an image by striking a relief image on the top copy of a multi-part form where the image is transferred through subsequent plies by the pressure exerted. 




Dandy Roll - a wire cylinder on the paper making machine that compresses the wet web of paper and improves fiber formation. Can also be used to place watermarks or designs on the paper stock. 

Die Cutting - metal cutting dies that are used to cut paper or board to the desired shape. 

Digital Printing - printing from a plateless imaging system that are imaged from digital data of prepress systems, rather than printed on an offset printing press. 

Dot - an individual element of a half tone image. 

Dot Gain - when the dots in half tone printing become larger through the printing process than desired. 

Dry-back - the decrease in the gloss or saturation of an ink that occurs during the drying of sheet fed offset inks. 

Dull Colour - a smooth surfaced paper that has low gloss, but more than that of matte coated. 

Duotone - a two colour half tone reproduction from a one colour original. 

Duplex Paper - a paper stock having a different colour on each side.





Edge Bleed - the colouration at the edge of printed sheets resulting from the pressure generated by the clamp and knife blade in the cutting operation. 

Eggshell Finish - a relatively rough surface finish, similar to the surface of an eggshell. 

Em Space - the square of a type body (in letterpress printing). For example, if an individual type character is 12 point, an em space is 12 point as card card-body. So named because in letter M in early fonts was cast on a square body. 

Embossed Finish - a paper surface embossed with with a broad variety of patterns, accomplished by pressing the paper against an engraved steel roll. Patterns include linen, pebbles, leather, tweed ect.. 

En Space - half the square of a type body (in letterpress printing). For example, if an individual type character is 12 point, an en space is 6 point. 

Enamel - a high gloss coated paper. 

English Finish - a non-gloss, uncoated finish between machine finished and super-calendared. 

EPS - in digital prepress, Encapsulated Post-Script file format is used to transfer graphic images between compatible applications. 





Fanapart Glue - a special glue for edge-padding carbonless papers. 

Felt Side - to top side of a sheet of paper (the side recommended for the best printing results). 

Fiber - tiny particles of rag or wood pulp, which are the raw ingredients in the paper making process. 

Finish - the characteristics of a paper's surface, such as antique, vellum and wove. 

Folio - in typography, the correct term for the paper number at the top or bottom of a page. 

Font - an assortment of type characters of a particular style and size. 

Four-colour Process - printing in the primary process inks colours - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow plus Black. 

Fourdrinier - a paper machine on which sheets are formed on a moving wire. Water drains from the wire as the pulp is processed into paper. 





Grain - produced by the alignment of fibres in the direction of the flow of stock during the paper making process. 

Gripper Margin - the unprintable edge of a sheet of paper where grippers physically hold the sheet as it travels through the printing press. 




Hairline - the finest normal printing line, approximately .003 to .004 inches in thickness. 

Hairline Registration - the fitting of two or more printed images in alignment, within a tolerance of .003 inches, or 1/2 a row of dots on a screened image. 

Half Tone - the reproduction of continuous-tone artwork, in which a screening process converts the image to dots of various sizes. 

Hickeys - in printing, spots or imperfections in the printed image due to dirt, dried ink skin, paper dust, ect.. 

Highlight - the lightest or whitest parts of an image. 





Imposition - laying out images or pages in a press form.




Jog - in paper handling, the process of evenly stacking sheets of paper directly on top of one another, either by hand or mechanically. 

Justify - fitting a line of type to both left and right margins. 



Kerning - in typography, subtracting space between two characters, making them closer together. 

Kiss Cutting - in die cutting pressure sensitive labels, a very light impression that cuts through the peel-off portion of the badgeonly, and not through the backing material. 




Laid Finish - a pattern of parallel lines at equal distances, giving a ribbed effect. 

Leader - in typography, a row of dashes or dots to guide the eye across the page. 

Leading - (pronounced ledding) - the distance between lines of type, measured in points. 

Linen Finish - an embossed pattern on paper to resemble linen cloth. 

Lint - loosely bonded surface fibers from paper stock that become attached to a printing plate or blanket and interfere with the print quality. 

Lithography - a printing process where an image from a flat-surfaced plate is transferred first to a rubber blanket and then to paper. 




M - a symbol in the paper industry designating 1,000. Usually used to designate 1,000 sheets of paper. 

M Weight - the weight used of one thousand sheets of paper of a particular grade and size. 

Make Ready - all work done to set up a press for printing. 

Matte Coated - a coated paper that has little or no gloss, having a heavier coating that dull coated. 

Measure - in printing composition, the width of a line of type, expressed in picas. 

Middle Tones - the range between the highlights and the shadows in photographs. 

Moiré - a geometric pattern caused when two screened images are superimposed at certain angles. Occurs when making a half tone image from a previously printed half tone image. 

Moisture Content - a measure of relative humidity which expresses the amount of water content in paper. Humidity changes the affect the paper's stability. 

Mottle - the spotty or uneven appearance of printing, common in solid areas printed on uncoated paper. 




NCR Paper - paper coated with a carbonless coating to provide for duplicate copies. "No carbon required". 




Offset Printing - the process of printing from a lithographic plate, where the images on the plate are ink receptive. Ink is transferred from the inking rollers to the plate, then from the plate to a rubber blanket. The image on the blanket then transfers, or offsets, to the paper. 

OTC - One Time Carbon, is a lightweight paper coated on one side with carbon, for use in business forms. 

Opacity - ability of paper to minimize show-through, from the back side or the next sheet of paper. 

Overprint -  printing an area which has been previously printed.




Padded Forms - a set of forms joined together by a padding compound (flexible glue). 

Parchment - originally a writing substrate made from the processed skins of calves, goats and sheep. Today, a writing paper is produced with a finish to resemble the processed skins of a bygone era. 

Per M - per thousand. 

Perfect Binding or Perfect Bound - the method of binding books in which all the pages are converted into single sheets, then held in a clamp and attached to a cover with an adhesive. Most paperback books today are examples of perfect binding. 

Perfecting Press - a printing press which prints both sides  of a sheet paper at the same time. 

Pica - a unit of measure in printing equalling 1/6 of an inch. Twelve points make one pica. 

Plate Finish - a hard finished paper. 

Point - in reference to paper, a measure of thickness equal to one thousandth of an inch. In reference to copy measurement, a unit of measure equalling 1/12 of a pica. Seventy two points equal one inch. 

Preflight - in digital prepress, the evaluation of every component needed to produce a printing job. Preflight confirms the type of disk being submitted, the colour gamut, colour breaks and any ark required (illustrations, transparencies, reflective photos ect). Plus layout files, screen fonts, printer fonts, EPS or TIFF files, trapping, laser proofs, page sizes, print drivers, crop marks ect.. 

Proofs - samples of a copy and layout, produced at various stages of production. Proofs are sent to a client for they approval prior to printing.




Rag Paper - historically, paper made with rag pulp. Today it is usually referred to as cotton fibre paper. 

Ream - five hundred sheets of paper, regardless of weight and finish. 

Register - in printing, register is the placement of two or more images on the same sheet of paper in perfect alignment to one another. 

Register Mark - a mark place on a  a printing form to assist in proper positioning during printing operations. 

Reverse Printing - printing so that the original background becomes the inked area, and the image remains white or the colour of the paper. 

Reverse Side Printing - printing on the back of a sheet that has already been printed on the front. 

Rule - in letterpress printing, a thin lead strip which is type high, in offset printing, any line on a page which is either horizontal or vertical. 

Rule Weight - the thickness of a line: hairline rule, medium rule (usually one half point), or heavy rule (usually one point). 

Running head - in typography, a headline or title repeating at the top of each page. 



Saddle Stitch - to fasten a booklet by wire stitching the middle fold of the printed sheets of paper. 

Satin Finish - a smooth finish applied to paper. 

Score - in binding, to impress an indent a mark in the paper to evenly fold. 

Scumming - the undesirable tendency of non-image areas of a printing plate to take on ink, which is transferred to the printed sheet. 

Self Cover - a booklet cover stock that is identical to the stock used on the inner pages. 

Serif - a short cross line at the ends of a main stroke of many letters and type face. Opposite to "sans-serif"a style for type which has an absence of serifs, or ticks, on the ends of strokes. 

Set-off - transferring or inks from freshly printed sheets of paper to another adjoining paper surface.  

Sheet-fed - any printing press requiring paper in sheet form as a opposed to roll form. 

Sheet Wise - to print one side of a sheet of paper with one form or plate, then turning the sheet over and printing the other side with another form, using the same grippers and side guide. 

Show Through - printing that is seen by looking through a sheet of paper that is not opaque enough. 

Signature - a section of a book obtained by folding a single sheet of printed paper to make 8, 12, 16 or 32 pages. 

Spine - in reference to books, the backbone or binding edge of a book. 

Spiral Binding - wires in spiral form inserted through specially punched holes along the binding edge. Often used on books intended to lay flat when opened.  

Stock - another name for paper. 

Stripping - in offset printing, the process of assembling negatives in proper positions on a masking sheet prior to platemaking. 




Text Papers - a high quality printing paper available in a variety of colours and finishes. Usually textured, although plain finishes are available. Text weight is usually between a book and a cover weight. 

Thermography - printing in which a special ink, while still wet, is dusted with a powder. The sheets are then baked, fusing the powder with the ink to give give it a raised effect. 

TIFF - in digital prepress, a Tagged Image File Format, suited for representing scanned images. TIFF is a neutral format destined for compatibility with all applications. TIFF was created specifically for storing grayscale images such as photographs. 

Tooth - the slightly rough characteristics of some some surfaces, permitting the acceptance of ink readily. 

Translucency - the ability of paper stock to transmit light without being transparent. 

Trapping - in electronic imaging, the overlap of overprinted images to avoid coloured or white fringes or borders around image detail. In printing, the ability to print a wet ink film over previously printed ink. Wet trapping is printing wet ink  over previously printed wet ink. Dry trapping is printing wet ink over dry ink. 

Trim Marks - marks placed on the copy to indicate the edge of the finished page.




Up - in printing, two-up, three-up, ect.., refers to imposition of material to be printed on a larger sheet size to take advantage of the full press capacity at a more economical cost. 




Varnish - a thin protective coating applied to a printed sheet of paper for protection or to improve appearance. Usually clear, it can have a finish from high gloss through to a matte finish. It can also be tinted for design impact. 

Vellum - a popular type of paper with a good printing surface that is slightly rougher than a smoothly calendared sheet - sometimes called an eggshell finish. 

Virgin Paper - paper containing pulp that has not been previously used in the paper making process, it is also paper that has not been recycled. 




Wash-up - the operation of removing one ink or colour from the roller train on a press before changing to another ink or colour. 

Watermark - a faint design and/or the manufacturer's name pressed into the paper while it is still wet on the paper making machine. Usually more recognizable when the sheet is held up to a light source. 

Web Press - a printing press that prints from rolls of paper rather than sheets of paper. 

Whiteness - white papers have a colour hue, usually made with a blue-white tint. The whiteness of pulp and paper is generally indicated by its brightness which is measured by the reflectance of a wave length of light blue light. In describing paper, referred to by terms such as "87 bright" or "95 bright". 

Widow - in typography, a single word or part of a word on a line by itself, at the end of a paragraph or the beginning of a new page. Frowned upon in good typography. 

Wire Side - in paper making, the side of a sheet next to the wire. The bottom side, opposite the felt side side. 

Work and Tumble - to print one side of a sheet of paper then turn the sheet over from the gripper edge to back edge, using the same guide and plate to print the other side of paper. 

Work and Turn - to print one side of a sheet of paper then turn the sheet over from left to right and print the second side, using the same gripper and plate for both sides. 

Wove Finish - characterized by the impressions of a felt covered roll during the paper making process. A uniform unlined surface with a soft smooth finish.