Glossary of Print Terms

Accordion Fold
Simple zig zag fold normally with common size panels.

Aqueous Coating (AQ)
It is used to protect and enhance the printed piece. We utilize both gloss and satin AQ, provided at no extra charge.

Backing Up
Printing the reverse side if a sheet was already printed on one side.

A series of vertical bars and spaces that represent any numerical series, most often a correct ZIP Code for the delivery address on a mail piece. The barcode facilitates automated processing by barcode readers and scanners. A barcode also can be used to convey information for delivery confirmation and signature confirmation services.

The finishing department, which performs operations on the printed product after it has been printed. Some bindery operations are as follows: Folding, Binding, Stitching, Scoring, Perforation, Die Cutting, & Envelope Converting.


Different methods used to secure loose pages in a book is called binding. Saddle stitch is an example of binding.
Here are additional binding-related terms and definitions:


  • Book Block — Folded signatures gathered, sewn and trimmed, but not yet covered.

  • Case Bind — To bind using glue to hold signatures to a case made of binder board covered with fabric, plastic or leather. Also called cloth bind, edition bind, hard bind and hard cover.

  • Deboss — To press an image into paper so it lies below the surface. Also called tool.

  • Emboss — To press an image into paper so it lies above the surface. Also called cameo and tool.

  • End Sheet — Sheet that attaches the inside pages of a case bound book to its cover. Also called pastedown or end papers.

  • Finished Size — Size of product after production is completed, as compared to flat size. Also called trimmed size.

  • Foil Emboss — To foil stamp and emboss an image.

  • Hinged Cover — Perfect bound cover scored 1/8 inch (3mm) from the spine so it folds at the hinge instead of, along the edge of the spine.

  • Mechanical Bind — To bind using a comb, coil, ring binder, post or any other technique not requiring gluing, sewing or stitching.

  • Perfect Bind — To bind sheets that have been ground at the spine and are held to the cover by glue. Also called adhesive bind, cut-back bind, glue bind, paper bind, patent bind, perfecting bind, soft bind and soft cover.

  • Saddle Stitch — To bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine, as compared to side stitch.

  • Side Stitch — To bind by stapling through sheets along, one edge, as compared to saddle stitch.

  • Self Cover — Usually in the book arena, a publication not having a cover stock. A publication only using text stock throughout.

  • Spine — Back or binding edge of a publication

  • Spiral Bind — To bind using a spiral of continuous wire or plastic looped through holes.

  • Trim Size — The size of the printed material in its finished stage (e.g., the finished trim size is 5 12 x 8 12).

  • UV Coating — Liquid applied to a printed sheet, then bonded and cured with ultraviolet light. We offer gloss, satin and soft touch.

  • Varnish — Liquid applied as a coating for protection and appearance.

A rubber-surfaced fabric that is clamped around a cylinder from which an image is transferred onto paper.

Printed colors that extend past the edge of a page. To cut the job to its actual size the processor has to make sure the job gets printed with 1/8 of an inch bleed some jobs may require more than that.

An outline around graphics, text or edge of a sheet.

Refers to the percent of light reflected back from a sheet of paper as measured by a light meter reading. Contrast is reduced and highlights are not as strong when paper with a lower brightness is used for a printed piece.

Bulk Mail
Standard Mail or Third Class Mail. Quantities of mail processed for mailing at reduced postage rates. Preparation includes presorting and placing into containers by Zip Code.

C1S paper
Paper coated on one side.

C2S paper
Paper coated on both sides.

The thickness of paper, in thousandths of an inch (millimeters).

Card Stock
Also called cover stock. Mostly heavyweight papers are called cards stock. The thickness of card stock is indicated with point sizes such as 14pt, 16pt.

Carrier Route
The address to which a carrier delivers mail. In common usage, carrier route includes city routes, rural routes, highway contact routes, post office box sections, and general delivery units.

The primary colors used in 4-color printing. CMYK are used to reproduce full color on the printed sheet. CMYK also called PROCESS COLOR C: Cyan (Blue) M: Magenta (Red) Y: Yellow K: Key (Black)

The mixture of clay materials that are applied to paper to improve the smoothness of the paper's surface and improve ink holdout during the printing process. Examples are Aqueous coating (AQ) and UV coating. UV coating adds a gloss finish to the product and also improves the vibrancy of the printed colors. Spot-UV can be applied to selected portions of the piece, while keeping the rest a matte finish.

In binding, the gathering of sheets and signatures in order.

Color Correction
Any method used to improve color.

Color Proof / Epson Proof
An image, created by using color inks. Showing what the final printed product will look like.

Consecutive Numbering
Numbering a form or a series of printed material where the number changes sequentially from one to another. Example, if the first one has number 201, the second will get 202; the third would be 203 and so on.

The tonal gradation between the highlights, middle tones, and shadows in an original or reproduction.

To eliminate portions of an image.

Crop Marks (Guide Marks)
Lines printed in the margin of sheet that indicates to the cutter and bindery where the finished product should be trimmed.

Die Cutting
A specific shape like star, oval, circle, etc (any designs that cannot be done by a straight cut) which is cut by a metal blade.

Digital Printing
Printing by plateless imaging systems that are imaged by digital data from prepress systems. Includes toner, inkjet, and other processes.

Direct Mail
Another name for advertising mail sent to targeted markets.

The smallest digital imaging or screening element.

Dot Gain
A defect in which dots print larger than they should, causing darker tones or stronger colors than expected.

Dots Per Inch (DPI)
A measurement of resolution of input, output and display devices. 300 DPI means that when printed, each square inch of your image will contain 90,000 pixels (dots), the higher the DPI (the more pixels per inch) the more crisp the printed image will be.

Double Gate Fold
Single gate fold, with an additional fold on the center.

Double Parallel Fold
A type of fold where the piece is folded in half and then folded in half again. The folds are parallel to each other.

Portions of originals that do not reproduce.

Simulation of the final product. Also called mockup.

A process of imprinting an image by applying pressure to the back side of a material to change the surface, giving it a three dimensional or raised effect. Embossing can be referred to as raised lettering.

Film Laminate
Thin sheet of plastic bonded to a printed product for protection or increased gloss.


Fin Seal
Cellophane wrapping technique that encases single or multiple items in a protective film. Great for kitting and mailing packets.

Finished Size / Trim Size
The size of a printed product after all production operations has been completed.

An operation to a document after it has been printed. The finishing operations could include bindery work such as, folding, trimming, binding, die cutting, inserting or any post press process that must be completed.

Fixed Costs
Costs that remain the same regardless of how many pieces are printed. Copyrighting, photography and design are fixed costs.

Flat Size
The size of a printed product after printing and trimming but before any finishing operations that affect its size, such as folding.

The process of bending printed sheets in a specific area.

Full Bleed
Printing that goes to the edge of all four sides of the page.

Gate Fold
When both sides of an oversize page fold into the gutter in overlapping layers. If the product then final folds, that is a closed gate fold.

A faint image that appears on a printed sheet where it was not intended. Gas ghosts occur when the previously printed image appears as a subtle "ghost" within the image of the side of the sheet after the second pass through the press. This type of chemical ghosting is caused by a variation in predicted ink drying times.

Gloss Finish
A coating on paper that provides a higher reflection of light, which results in a shiny appearance. Gloss coatings reduce ink absorption, which allows excellent contrast and color definition.

Gloss Paper
Paper with a gloss finish, usually used for higher quality printing. Examples are 100lb gloss book, and 100lb gloss cover.

Gray Scale
A strip of paper containing gray tones ranging from white to black. So gray scale refers to black and white printed material.

Gripper Edge
The leading edge of paper as it passes through a printing press.

Gripper Margin
Unprintable blank edge of paper on which gripper bears. Usually .375" to .5" on most machines.

Metal finger like clamps that grab the paper to pull it through the press as the sheet is being printed.

The blank space between facing pages of a book or between adjacent columns of type or stamps in a sheet.

The thinnest possible line or space that is visible.

Half Fold
Folded in half.

A sheet is folded in half and then tri-folded.

A spot on a printed sheet that appears as a small white circle with ink in the center, caused by particles such as dirt, dust, or bits of paper.

The printing of new copy on a piece that is already printed.

Ink Jet
A printing technology in which liquid ink is sprayed through tiny nozzles onto the paper in a pattern of dots, forming the image on the paper.

A letter, card, or similar item placed inside another mail piece (host piece).

A number assigned to a published work and usually found either on the title page or the back of the title page. Considered an International Standard Book Number.

Printing a page so that when positioned for reading the width is greater than the height.

Line Screen
A transparent screen which has been etched with fine lines. It is used to convert a picture or photograph into a halftone dot pattern so that can be printed.

Line-of-Travel (LOT) Sequence
A sequence required for some Enhanced Carrier Route and carrier route rates in which mail pieces are arranged by ZIP+4 codes in the order in which the carrier serves the route. The mail pieces are sequenced in delivery order.

The non-printed areas around the image area of a page.

Matte Finish
A coated paper finish that is flat, not shiny like a gloss, but still keeps much of the ink from being absorbed by the paper and produces an excellent image.

A film generally used to cover tabs for improved stability. Mylar can be clear or colored.

Offset Printing
The transfer of an inked image from a plate to a blanket cylinder, which in turn transfers the image to the printing material as it passes between the blanket, and the impression cylinder and pressure is applied.

Open End Envelope
An envelope with an opening along its short dimension.

Open Side Envelope
An envelope with an opening along its longest dimension.

Pantone Matching System (PMS)
A registered name for an ink color matching system used to compare, match and identify specific colors.

Paper-related terms and definitions:

  • Acid-free Paper — Papermade from pulp containing little or no acid so it resists deterioration from age. Also called alkaline paper, archival paper, neutral pH paper, permanent paper and thesis paper.

  • PPI — Number of book pages per inch. The higher the PPI the less bulky the book will be after binding

  • C1S and C2S — Abbreviations for coated one side and coated two sides.

  • Calender — To make the surface of paper smooth by pressing it between rollers during manufacturing.

  • Caliper — (1) Thickness of paper or other substrate expressed in thousandths of an inch (mils or points), pages per inch (ppi), thousandths of a millimeter (microns) or pages per centimeter (ppc). (2) Device on a sheetfed press that detects double sheets or on a binding machine that detects missing signatures or inserts.

  • Coated Paper — Paper with a coating of clay and other substances that improves reflectivity and ink holdout. Mills produce coated paper in the four major categories cast, gloss, dull and matte.

  • Creep — Phenomenon of middle pages of a folded signature extending slightly beyond outside pages. Also called feathering, outpush, push out and thrust. See also Shingling.

  • Opacity — (1) Characteristic of paper or other substrate that prevents printing on one side from showing through the other side. (2) Characteristic of ink that prevents the substrate from showing through.

  • Uncoated Paper — Paper that has not been coated with clay. Also called offset paper.

Paper Grain
The direction in which the fibers line up during the manufacturing process. It is easier to fold, bend, or tear the paper along the same direction of the fibers. Cut sheet laser printers generally use long grain paper in which the grain runs parallel to the long side of the paper, resulting in better performance through the laser printer.

Printing presses that can print on the front and the back of the paper in one pass through the press.

Creating a series of holes so that the paper can be torn more easily along the line that is formed.

The smallest unit of a digitized image created by a digital device, such as a computer, camera, or scanner. Pixel is short for "picture element." The more pixels per inch the better the resolution.

A metal or paper light-sensitive sheet that holds an image that has been photographically produced. During the printing process, the image area picks up ink, which is then transferred to a blanket and then to paper.

Payment for delivery service that is affixed or imprinted to a mail piece, usually in the form of a postage stamp, permit imprint, or meter stamp.

Pre-press-related terms and definitions:

  • Alteration — Any change made by the customer after copy or artwork has been given to the printer and a proof has been produced. The change could be in copy, specifications or both. There is typically a charge for customer alterations after a press proof has been produced so it’s best if you review your files thoroughly prior to sending them to a printer to make sure they are accurate and avoid costly changes/reprints.

  • Crop Marks — thin lines placed at the corners of an image, page or artwork layout to indicate where the paper should be trimmed after printing.

  • Crossover — Type or art that continues from one page of a book or magazine across the gutter to the opposite page.

  • Digital Proofing — Preparing a sample of printed output on a computer printer before the job is printed on a commercial press. Often, the term digital proof can also be used when a printer sends you a digital file of the artwork prepared for printing through email rather than printing a proof.

  • DPI — Considered as "dots per square inch," a measure of output resolution in relationship to printers, imagesetters and monitors.

  • Imposition — One of the fundamental steps in the prepress printing process. It consists of the arrangement of the printed product's pages on the printer's sheet in order to obtain faster printing, simplify binding and reduce paper waste.

  • Page — one side of a sheet of paper in a collection of sheets bound together, especially as a book, magazine, or newspaper. Example: When you turn a page in a book you are holding 2 pages and 1 sheet of paper.

  • Preflight — The process of checking files and verifying all aspects of a print job are correct before preparing them to print.

  • Page Count — Total number of pages that a book, booklet or publication has.

  • Pre-Press — Once a client sends us their completed artwork file, including items being set up for automation or online, it goes to our prepress department. There, we check the files for all necessary functions, quality, sizing and finishing. We then prepare the files to finish appropriately for the machine(s) the product is being produced on. This includes imposing the artwork with the correct number of prints on the press sheets, accounting for gutters, tick marks, margins etc. Our prepress team ensures they set the files up to produce the optimal output in the most cost-effective manner for our customers. Our prepress department can also help with typesetting, variable data, some alterations, scanning, color management and file troubleshooting.

  • Scanning — The process of converting a document or photo into digital form. Scanning is typically done for either storage or reproduction copies of the original.

  • Sheet Count — The number sheets of paper it takes to create a product. May be helpful to include an illustration for sheet vs page count.

Authorization required to mail without affixing postage. A postage imprint, also referred to as an indicia (The imprinted area in the upper right corner of the mail piece that indicates postage payment), is used instead.

The process by which a mailer groups mail by ZIP Code so that it is sorted to the finest extent required by the standards for the rate claimed.

Press Check
Printed sheets from the press that are pulled once all the make-ready has been completed. The sheets are checked for quality and accuracy before authorization is given to go ahead with the full production run.

Press Unit
The machinery that makes up an offset press, including an inking system, a rubber blanket and an impression cylinder. One press unit prints one color.

A copy of the artwork representing the finished product. It is used for review and approval.

Drilling of holes through a stack of paper.

Register Marks
The printed marks used to align color separations for printing so that each color registers with each other.

The measurement of output quality expressed in pixels (dots) per inch on a computer monitor or dots per inch on printed media.

The additive primary colors, red, green and blue, used to display color in video monitors. Printing with a file in RGB color mode will produce a washed out appearance.

Roll Fold
A type of fold where the piece is folded inward at one end and then folded inward again one or more times. It is as if you are rolling the piece up.

Round Cornering
Using a machine to die cut the corners of forms, cards and books to create a rounded corner.

Saddle Stitching
The method of binding the pages of a section where the folded pages are stitched through the fold from the outside, using a wire staple (stapling).

A crease applied, in a straight line, to a sheet of paper to allow it to fold easier and more accurately.

Self Cover
A cover printed on the same paper as the text.


Shrink Wrapping
A method of wrapping packages or products with a plastic film and then applying heat so that the wrap fits tight to the product. Shrink-wrapping is used to package a product in specific quantities and is also used for protection purposes. It also adds some stability to the product when storing. Also see Fin Seal.

Spiral Binding
Book binding that consists of a spiral wire or plastic that is wound through holes. Also referred to as coil binding.

Spot Coating / Spot UV
Coating paper only in specific areas as opposed to all over coating. In a Spot UV job the job gets a UV coating in only specific areas and does not get any AQ coating in any other places.


To assemble and combine film or negatives to produce the final film for plate making. This process is done electronically.

Swatch Book
A booklet containing samples of paper or ink colors.

A preset model that acts as a structure for setting up a similar product.

A fold where a three panel piece has both side sections folded inward, one on top of the other each section is approximately 1/3 the length of the piece. Also known as a letter-fold.

UV Coating
A liquid coating applied to the printed piece, which is then bonded and cured with ultraviolet light. This coating is used to provide a protective coating to the printed image.

A thin, liquid protective coating, either matte or glossy, that is applied to the product. It adds protection and enhances the appearance of the product. It can be applied as an all over coating or it can be applied as a spot coating.

Z Fold
A paper fold represented by back and forth folds into three panels.

Zipping is a way to compress electronic files a compressed file is considered "zipped."