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Glossary of Terms

The following commonly used industry terms will help you to work with various suppliers.


Glossary Link BleedAn extra amount of printed image that extends beyond the trim edge of the sheet or page.

Glossary Link Digital printingPrinting by plateless imaging systems that are imaged by digital data from prepress systems onto a Glossary Link substrate. Digital printing uses toner rather than ink.  Most digital presses are limited in size to 18 x 20 and are suitable for short runs of color pieces. Digital presses cannot guarantee a match to PMS colors.  Digital printing is not suitable for all paper selections, especially those with uneven surfaces.

  • Glossary Link Variable Data PrintingThe buzzword used by the printing industry to describe the way digital presses handle new information for each page. Each page can contain different, names, places, colors, anything you program into the database can be changed. Also known as personalized printing or 1:1 printing.
  • pURLSpersonalized URLs. An application that lets you create a separate URL for each person you're targeting - perhaps in a marketing campaign.

Glossary Link Duplex"Prints duplex" means it's printed on both sides of the sheet.

Glossary Link ImpositionIn image assembly, the positioning of pages on a Glossary Link signature so that after printing, folding, and cutting, all pages will appear in the proper sequence.

Glossary Link Make readyAll work done to set Glossary Link up a press for printing. Happens after prepress. After Glossary Link proofs are checked and plates are made, the printing plates are mounted and the press brought into Glossary Link register.

Glossary Link Opaque inkAn ink that conceals all color beneath it.

Glossary Link OverprintingDouble printing; printing over an area that already has been printed.

Glossary Link OverrunAdditional copies printed in excess of the specified quantity.

Glossary Link Overs and undersOnly digital presses can literally print the number of pieces you order. Other presses will print extra copies (overs) or even print fewer than you order (unders). Printers can print 10% more or less than the quantity you specify, and charge you accordingly. Just be aware of this common practice, especially if you are printing a huge run and do NOT want 10% over, or if your quantity is dangerously close to what you need (say, for a mailing), in which case you don't want to risk running out. Know that you can specify what percentage of overs/unders you will accept.

Glossary Link Page countThe total number of pages in a book or other publication including blanks.

Glossary Link PerfectingA perfecting press prints both sides of the sheet at the same time.

Glossary Link Plate cylinderThe cylinder of a press on which the plate is mounted. Each plate and cylinder prints one color of ink or may be used for Glossary Link varnish or Glossary Link coating.

Glossary Link Plus coverA cover printing on different paper than inside text pages.

Glossary Link OffsetIn printing, the process of using an intermediate blanket cylinder to transfer an image from the image carrier to the substrate. Also, short for offset lithography. In presswork, when the ink of a printed sheet rubs off or marks the next sheet as it is being delivered.

Glossary Link Printer spreadsEach page needs to be printed next to it is true opposing page, versus the way it will look in the end after it is bound. Use your mock version as your guide and double check with the printer to make sure you are doing it right before you create the printer spreads.

ProofsSimulation of final printed piece made by photomechanical or digital means for client approval. Most common proofs are digital dylux proofs (for content) and matching proofs (for color).

Glossary Link Raster image processor (RIP)In digital imaging, a combination of computer software and hardware that controls the printing process by calculating the bitmaps of images and instructing a printing or plate setting device to create the images. Most PostScript systems use a hardware RIP built into the printer.

RegisterThe positioning of two or more printing images in exact alignment with each other. Printing that is correctly positioned on the page is said to be "in register." Four-color printing is in register, for example, when all four successive colors are aligned, one on top of the other, so that they produce a single image with no color gaps or overlaps. When you can see a single color 'hanging out' underneath another, that color is out of register.

Glossary Link Register marksCrosses or other targets applied to original copy prior to photography. Used for positioning films in register, or for register of two or more colors in Glossary Link process printing.

Glossary Link ReprographyCopying and duplicating.

Glossary Link Self coverA cover of the same paper as inside text pages.

Show-throughThe undesirable condition in which the printing on the reverse side of a sheet can be seen through the sheet under normal lighting conditions.

SignatureThe name given to a printed sheet after it has been folded.

Glossary Link SimplexWhen a sheet is printed on one side only, it's a "simplex," as opposed to duplex, meaning the job prints on both sides.

Glossary Link SpecificationsA detailed description of a print order.

Glossary Link StetA proofreader's mark, written in the margin, signifying that copy marked for correction should remain as it was.

SubstrateAny material that can be printed on, such as paper, plastic, and fabric.

Glossary Link TolerancesThe specification of acceptable variations in register, density, dot size, plate or paper thickness, concentration of chemicals, and other printing parameters.

Glossary Link TrappingIn printing, the ability to print a wet ink film over previously printed ink. Dry trapping is printing wet ink over dry ink. Wet trapping is printing wet ink over previously printed wet ink.

Glossary Link Trim marksMarks placed on the copy to indicate the edge of the page.

UpIn printing, two-up, three-up, etc., refers to imposition of material to be printed on a larger size sheet to take advantage of full press capacity.

Glossary Link WashupThe process of cleaning the rollers, form or plate, and sometimes the ink fountain of a printing press.

Glossary Link Web printingWeb printing refers to work produced on large presses that use rolls (webs) of paper, as opposed to paper that's cut into sheets. Web printing is suitable for very large quantities and/or very long runs.

Glossary Link WidowA single word or part of a word on a line by itself, ending a paragraph, or starting a page, frowned upon in good typography. Sometimes called an orphan.

Work-and-TurnTo print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn it over from left to right and print the second side using the same gripper and plate but opposite side guide.

Glossary Link YieldNumber of final size pieces you can get from a parent size sheet.

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Glossary Link Aqueous CoatingA coat of water-based varnish that protects a printed piece from scuffs and scratches. Aqueous Coating dries instantly.

CoatingAn emulsion, varnish, or lacquer applied over a printed surface to protect it.

Glossary Link Dot gainA defect in which dots print larger than they should, causing darker tones or stronger colors. There are two kinds of dot gain: mechanical and optical. When the plate is exposed, light scatters a bit and can cause 3-5% optical dot gain. Then during the printing process, the paper and the printing process can cause the ink to spread, thus creating mechanical dot gain at a theoretical 50% dot. Dot gain means the difference between a dark print and an acceptable print.

Glossary Link Flood varnishVarnish used to coat an entire printed sheet.

Glossary Link PMS (Pantone Matching System®)Color charts that have more than 1000 preprinted color patches of blended inks, used to identify, display, or define special "branded" colors. PMS is the standard ink color system used by commercial printers.

Glossary Link Process colorsYellow, magenta, and cyan, plus black in four-color process printing. Referred to as CMYK.

Process printingPrinting from a series of two or more plates to produce intermediate colors and shades.

Glossary Link Spot varnishVarnish used to highlight a specific area of the printed sheet.

Glossary Link TintsVarious even tone areas (strengths) of a solid color.

VarnishA thin, protective coating applied to a printed sheet for protection or appearance (gloss, matte, dull, or satin).

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Glossary Link Coated paperPaper having a surface coating that produces a smooth finish. Surface appearances may vary from eggshell to glossy.

Glossary Link DummyA set of blank pages made up in advance to show the size, shape, form, and style of a piece of printing. A dummy presents the look and feel of a printed product prior to production.

Glossary Link Laid paperPaper with a pattern of parallel lines at equal distances, giving a ribbed effect.

Glossary Link NewsprintPaper made mostly from groundwood pulp and small amounts of chemical pulp that is used for printing newspapers.

Glossary Link OpaqueIn paper, the property that makes it less transparent.

Pressure-sensitive paperMaterial with an adhesive coating, protected by a backing sheet until used.

Glossary Link StockPaper or other material to be printed.

Glossary Link ToothA characteristic of paper, a slightly rough finish, that permits it to take ink readily.

Glossary Link Vellum Finish A toothy finish that is relatively absorbent for fast ink penetration.

Glossary Link Wove paperPaper having a uniform unlined surface and a soft smooth finish.

Glossary Link WatermarkA distinctive logo or design created in paper at the time of manufacture that can be seen by holding the paper up to light.

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Bindery and Finishing

Glossary Link DiecuttingThe process of using sharp steel rules to cut special shapes for labels, boxes, folders, and containers from printed sheets.

Glossary Link EmbossingImpressing an image in relief to achieve a raised surface; either overprinting or on blank paper (called blind embossing).

Glossary Link Foil stampingIn this process a piece of colored foil is placed between a piece of paper and a die. The die is heated and it is pressed against the foil and paper. Through the uses of heat and pressure the color layer from the foil is transferred onto the paper.

Glossary Link Fugitive glueAdhesive used to affix items to a printed piece (such as plastic or paper cards, magnets, etc.). Allows for removal of the item without tearing the carrier piece.

Glossary Link GutterThe blank space between page columns or the inner or outer margin space from printing area to left and right page edges. More space is usually required in the binding fold area.

Glossary Link LaminationA plastic film coating bonded by heat and pressure to a printed sheet for protection or appearance

Glossary Link OblongA booklet or catalog bound on the shorter dimension

Glossary Link Perfect bindA type of binding that glues the edge of sheets to a wraparound cover.

Glossary Link Saddle stitchIn binding, to fasten a booklet by wiring it through the middle fold or spine of folded sheets. Also called saddle wire.

Glossary Link ScoreTo impress or indent a mark in the printed paper to make folding easier and reducing the likelihood of cracking the paper.

Glossary Link Side stitchBinding by stapling along one side of a sheet.

Glossary Link Spiral bindingA book bound with wires in spiral form inserted through holes punched along the binding side.

Wire-o bindingA continuous double series of wire loops run through punched slots along the binding side of a booklet.

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Graphics / Layout

Glossary Link DuotoneA term for a two-color Glossary Link halftone reproduction from a one-color photograph.

Glossary Link EPS (Encapsulated PostScript)In digital prepress, a file format used to transfer graphic images (primarily line art) within compatible applications. A file containing structured  PostScript code, comments, and a screen display image. EPS images can be sized without loss of quality at different resolutions. PDF files may be used for the same purpose.

Halftone The reproduction of continuous-tone images, through a special screening process, that converts the image into dots of various sizes and equal spacing between centers (AM or Amplitude Modulated screening), or dots of equal size with variable spacing between them (FM or Frequency Modulated screening), or some combination of them.

JPEG (The Joint Photographic Experts Group)was formed to create a standard for color and gray scale image compression. JPEG describes a variety of algorithms (rules), each of which is targeted for a specific type of image application. JPEG is the default format for most digital cameras. JPEG 2000 is the latest version. Compressing a JPEG file, that is already compressed, will affect quality adversely.

Glossary Link KerningIn typesetting, subtracting space between two characters, moving them closer together. Negative letterspacing can apply to two letters (kerning) or to any other group of letters.

Glossary Link lpi (lines per inch)Acronym for lines per inch. Used as a measurement of resolution or halftone screening.

Glossary Link PDF (Portable Document Format)Created by Adobe, a PDF is a portable file format intended to facilitate document exchange. PDFs are often the print industry standard for proofing, and they are intended to deliver the same results in the digital document as in the printed document. These documents are difficult to edit, as it reflects the intent and execution of its creator. Already on website as: PDF (Portable Document File) Adobe's PDF is a universal electronic file format, modeled after the PostScript language and is device- and resolution-independent. Documents in the PDF format can be viewed, navigated, and printed from any computer to almost any printer regardless of the fonts or software programs used to create the original. Printing industry workflows are now primarily PDF-based.

PostScript code, comments, and a screen display imageEPS images can be sized without loss of quality at different resolutions. PDF files may be used for the same purpose.

Glossary Link PreflightingThe evaluation and analysis of every component in a file needed to produce a printing job. Preflight confirms the data being submitted, color gamut, color breaks, and any art required (illustrations, transparencies, photos, etc.), plus layout files, fonts, image files, proofs, page sizes, print driver, cropmarks, etc.

Glossary Link ZippingZipping is the act of packaging a set of files into a single file or archive that is called a zip file. Usually, the files in a zip file are compressed so that they take up less space in storage or take less time to send to someone.

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Mail Classifications

Glossary Link First Class Pre-Sorted Mail - Minimum of 500 pieces required. Postage method: Printed Indicia. Will deliver in-home as quickly as normal First Class Mail – approximately 3 business days-but must be pre-sorted and Cass-DPV or CASS Certified, as well as NCOA verified in order to receive postage discounts. For lowest postage rate, letters should not weigh more than 1 ounce; Flats should not weigh more than 13 ounces. Nonprofit organizations do not receive any additional discounts when mailing Pre-sorted First Class.

Non-Profit Mail -  Minimum of 200 pieces required. Postage method: Printed Indicia. Will deliver in-home in 3-15 business days; must be pre-sorted and Cass-DPV or CASS Certified, as well as NCOA verified in order to receive postage discounts. For lowest postage rate, letters should not weigh more than 3.3 ounces; Flats should not weigh more than 16 ounces.

Lettershop Services

Data Processing/Postal Presorting—CASS-DPV (Coding Accuracy Support System-Delivery Point Validation)Sorts your mailing list and adds important information to each address in your mailing list as well as corrects some data. CASS-DPV or CASS processing is required for every automated or presorted mailing (First Class, Standard or Non-Profit); This added information is the basis for the discounts allowed for presorting and automating your mail; NCOA (National Change of Address) updating is also a requirement for Non-Profit Mail.

Glossary Link FulfillmentKit assembly; warehousing materials and sending out to recipients as instructed.

Glossary Link HandworkWork which cannot be done by machine including sorting (mail that is already addressed), labeling, matching, Glossary Link inserting (most standard invitations cannot be inserted by machine due to equipment size minimums).

Glossary Link Laser Printing/PersonalizationA process whereby letters or other mailing items may be printed using laser technology; personalization fields may be programmed into the body of a letter and pulled directly from your mailing list. Laser printing is typically limited to one color only (black).

Glossary Link Inkjet personalization/addressingInk is emitted from a series of nozzles in a print head, spraying drops of ink directly on the paper as the nozzles pass over a variety of possible media. Most often used in lettershops to address envelopes or self-mailers. Inkjet printer heads are limited in size.

InsertingA process whereby letters or other mailing items are mechanically inserted into an envelope; the envelope is then sealed and kept in postal sort order. Most lettershops can insert into envelopes up to 9 x 12 inches.

Glossary Link OCR (Optical Character Recognition)An electronic means of scanning (reading) copy, and converting the scanned image to an electronic equivalent. The ability to "read" printed text (characters) and convert it to digitized files that can be saved on disk and edited as a text file.

Glossary Link TabbingUn-enveloped letter-size mail pieces prepared for automation rate mailings must be secured (tabbed) to prevent an open edge from jamming high-speed processing equipment; Tabbing is also referred to as wafer-sealing.

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