Glossary of printing terms
Here’s a selection of terms used in the design and print industry. Hope you find these helpful.
ANODIZED PLATE An offset printing plate having a treated surface in order to reduce wear for extended use.
BACK The bound edge of a book. The back margin is the space between the bound edge and the type.
BACK LINING A paper/fabric strip.
BINDERY Usually a department within a printing company responsible for collating, folding and trimming various printing projects.
BLANKET Rubber-coated pad, mounted on a cylinder of an offset press, that receives the inked image from the plate and transfers it to the surface to be printed.
BLEED Printed matter which runs off the edge of the paper.
BLIND IMAGE Image debossed, embossed or stamped, but not printed with ink or foil.
(1) Impressing a design or lettering on a book cover. The blocking may be in ink or metal foil, or it maybe blind blocked to produce a recessed surface.
(2) Sticking together of printed sheets causing damage when the surfaces are separated.
BLURB A description or commentary of an author or book content positioned on the book jacket.
BORDER The decorative design or rule surrounding matter on a page.
BOARDS The material used to stiffen the covers of a casebound book.
BOLT The folded edge of a sheet before cutting or trimming.
BOOK BLOCK The pages of a book when trimmed and ready for casing in, before the case is added.
BRASS A brass die used for blocking.
BULK The thickness of a book or sheet of paper.
BURST BINDING A method of unsewn adhesive binding in which the sections are burst by being punched through the spine to allow the adhesive to link the paper in each section, and the sections to each other.
BUTT REGISTER Register where ink colors meet precisely without overlapping or allowing space between, as compared to lap register. Also called butt fit and kiss register.
CALENDER To make the surface of paper smooth by pressing it between rollers during manufacturing.
CASE The cover of a book, made in advance of the book pages.
CASEBINDING A method of binding in which the cover is made separately but consists of rigid/flexible boards covered with paper, cloth or material.
CASING IN Inserting the book block or pages into the case and glueing in.
CHALKING Deterioration of a printed image caused by ink that absorbs into paper too fast or has long exposure to sun, and wind making printed images look dusty. Also called crocking
CLENCHING Used in wirestitching (stapling). The wires are bent back towards each other after piercing the book and lie flat on the spine.
CMYK The process of printing full colour using just four ink colours: cyan, magenta, yellow & black. Black, however, is know in the industry as 'key' - hence CMYK.
COCKLING Ripples or waves in paper due to storing under conditions at unstable relative humidity.
COARSE SCREEN Halftone screen with ruling of 65, 85 or 100 lines per inch (26, 34 or 40 lines centimeter).
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.
COLLATE To check the sections of a gathered book to ensure that they are all present and are in the correct order.
COLLATING MARKS Stepped marks printed on the spine of the section so that a miscollated section is immediately apparent.
COMB BINDING A type of mechanical binding, using a piece of rigid vinyl plastic sheeting die-cat in the shape of a comb or rake and rolled to make a cylinder of any thickness.
COVERAGE Extent to which ink covers the surface of a substrate. Ink coverage is usually expressed as light, medium or heavy.
CREASE To mechanically press a rule into heavy paper or board to enable folding without cracking.
CROP MARKS The tiny lines printed outside the page area that denote where the finished trim will be.
CUT FLUSH A style of binding where the cover is trimmed flush with the pages of the book.
DECKLE EDGE The feathery edge occurring round the borders of a sheet of hand-made or mould-made paper due to the deckle/frame of the mould.
DEFLECTOR PLATE Used on buckle plates on folders to stop the paper entering the fold plate. The paper is then deflected into the correct fold plate.
DIE Device for cutting, scoring, stamping, embossing and debossing.
DOTS PER INCH Measure of resolution of input devices such as scanners, display devices such as monitors, and output devices such as laser printers, imagesetters and monitors. Abbreviated DPI. Also called dot pitch.
DRAWN-ON COVER A paperback cover which is attached to the sewn book block by gluing the spine.
DRILLING Drilling of holes in folded sections trimmed or untrimmed, or in finished books, which will permit insertion over rings or posts in a binder.
DUMMY A dummy book made up of the correct number of pages and the paper to be used for the book to show the thickness and the binding style.
EDGES The three cut sides of a book-block.
EMBOSS To press an image into paper so it lies above the surface. Also called cameo and tool.
COLOURED EDGE(S) one or more edges sprayed or brushed with a colour pigment. These can also be achieved by bleeding areas of colour off one or more sides of a page
EPS Encapsulated Post Script, a known file format usually used to transfer post script information from one program to another.
GILT EDGES are embossed with gold leaf or gold substitute and burnished.
MARBLED EDGES are decorated by dipping into colouring matter which is floated on a mucilaginous fluid.
ENDPAPERS A piece of plain, fancy or printed paper folded into four pages to the page size, sewn or pasted to the first and last section to secure the book to the case or binding. Always use long grain paper.
ERRATUM A slip of paper containing a list of corrections and pasted into, or placed in, a copy of a book.
FIFTH COLOUR Ink color used in addition to the four needed by four-color process.
(1) Surface characteristics of paper. (2) General term for trimming, folding, binding and all other post press operations
FLAT SIZE Size of product after printing and trimming, but before folding, as compared to finished size
FLAT WIRE SWITCHING To stitch with wire through the side of gathered work at the binding edge.
FLY LEAF The inside leaf of a four page endpaper which is pasted along the folded edge of the first or last page of the book.
FOIL Sized metallic or pigment leaf used in blocking lettering or designs on the surface.
FOLD OUT ‘A folded insertion in the text when opened extends beyond the normal page sizes. Also celled a throw out’.
FOLIO The term used to describe a page number. Generally speaking, all right hand pages in a publication are odd numbers.
FOREDGE The Outer edge of a book opposite the spine.
FORMAT Size, style, shape, layout or organization of a layout or printed product
FRENCH FOLD A sheet of paper with four pages printed on one side and folded into four without cutting the head.
FRENCH GROOVE A groove impressed Into a cased book after casing in, between the hollow and the back edge of the boards.
FRENCH SEWING A number of gathered and collated sections sewn together, usually without tapes, on one continuous thread to form a sewn book.
FRONTISPIECE An illustration on the page facing the title page of the book.
GALLEY PROOF Proof of type from any Source, whether metal type or photo type. Also called checker and slip proof.
GATE FOLD A sheet that folds where both sides fold toward the gutter in overlapping layers.
GATHERING To place the sections of a book in their correct order to make up a complete book.
GRAIN The direction In which the cellulose fibres of paper tend to lie due to the motion of the paper making machine.
GRAPHIC DESIGN Arrangement of type and visual elements along with specifications for paper, ink colors and printing processes that, when combined, convey a visual message.
(I) The space between the hollow and board in the spine of a binding case.
(2) The inner margins of a book between the text and the binding edge.
(3) The blank area between boundaries of pages on a lay down sheet.
HEAD The top cut edge of a book.
HEADBAND A cotton or silk cord, which is sewn or glued on at the top of the back of the book.
HICKEY Spot or imperfection in printing, most visible in areas of heavy ink coverage, caused by dirt on the plate or blanket. Also called bulls eye and fish eye.
HOLLOW A strip of brown paper or board in the centre of a binding case to stiffen the spine.
HOT MELT A type of adhesive which becomes liquid at high temperatures, and immediately reverts to the solid state at normal temperature.
IMAGE AREA The actual area on the printed matter that is not restricted to ink coverage.
IN-LINE GLUING Single section work only which can be glued on the spine at the same time as the folding operation.
INSETTING The placing of the section of a book, one inside the other.
INTERLEAVING Insetting into and folding around the sections of a book, paper different from that used in the general body of the book, such as writing paper. Also the alternating of processed and plain sheets, for example, in a duplicate book.
ISBN A number assigned to a published work and usually found either on the title page or the back of the title page. International Standard Book Number.
JACKET The printed paper outer cover which wraps round a case bound book in order to protect it and to act as point of sale display.
JPEG A commonly used image compression standard. The name JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the name of the committee that created the standard in 1986.
KNOCKING UP To make the edges of a paper pile straight and in register.
LAMINATE A thin transparent plastic sheet (coating) applied to usually a thick stock (covers, post cards, etc.) providing protection against liquid and heavy use, and usually accents existing color, providing a glossy (or lens) effect.
LANDSCAPE The shape of an illustration or book is referred to as landscape when its width is greater than its height.
LAP EDGE A section folded so that the foredge overlaps on one half to facilitate feeding.
LAY EDGE The edge of a sheet of paper which is laid against the front or side lay edges of a printing or folding machine. The front lay edge is the ‘gripper’ edge.
LAY MARK A mark inserted by the printer to indicate which is the lay edge of a sheet.
LEADING EDGE The trimmed right hand edge of a book
LEAF A sheet of a book containing two pages, one on each side.
LEAVE EDGE The opposite end of a sheet of paper to the ‘gripper’ edge, sometimes called trailing edge.
MAKEREADY (1) All activities required to prepare a press or other machine to function for a specific printing or bindery job, as compared to production run. Also called setup. (2) Paper used in the makeready process at any stage in production. Makeready paper is part of waste or spoilage.
PANTONE A range of pure ink colours used in addition to the four process colours. Pantone colours tend to be more vibrant and consistent throughout a printed job.
PERFECTOR The term used for a printing machine that can print both sides of a sheet during one pass through the machine.
POINT (1) Regarding paper, a unit of thickness equating 1/1000 inch. (2) Regarding type, a unit of measure equaling 1/12 pica and .013875 inch (.351mm).
PREPRESS Camera work, color separations, stripping, imposing, platemaking and other prepress functions performed by the printer, separator or a service bureau prior to printing. Also called preparation.
PROCESS COLOURS (Inks). The colours used for four-colour process printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and black, although black is more commonly known as 'Key' in the industry - hence CMYK.
PRINT RUN The number of finished printed items ordered/produced.
PRINTING UNIT Assembly of fountain, rollers and cylinders that will print one ink color. Also called color station, deck, ink station, printer, station and tower.
PROOFREADER MARKS Standard symbols and abbreviations used to mark up manuscripts and proofs. Also called correction marks. (see separate page on this website).
QUARTER BOUND Bound with the spine of the case in one material, and the sides in another.
RASTER IMAGE PROCESSOR Device that translates page description commands into bitmapped information for an output device such as a laser printer or imagesetter.
REAM 500 sheets of paper, whatever the size..
RECYCLED PAPER New paper made entirely or in part from old paper.
REGISTRATION The lining up two or more printing plates to enable clean and crisp printing.
RGB Abbreviation of red, green, blue - the additive color primaries.
ROLL FOLD A method of folding a sheet of paper all the same way but not concertina.
ROUNDING The shaping of a book so that a convex form is given to the back and a concave form to the ‘foredge’.
RUN-ON The cost-beneficial process of printing extra copies while a printing machine is still running as the bulk of the cost of a printed job is getting it on to the printing machine in the first place.
SADDLE STITCH To bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine, as compared to side stitch. Also called pamphlet stitch, saddle wire and stitch bind.
SCORE To compress paper along a straight line so it folds more easily and accurately. Also called crease.
SECTION A folded sequence of pages forming part of a book. Sometimes called a ‘signature’.
SELF COVER A booklet cover of the same paper as the inside leaves, generally the first and last pages on the sheet.
SEPARATIONS Usually in the four-colour process arena, separate film holding images of one specific colour per piece of film (black, cyan, magenta and yellow). Can also separate specific Pantone colors through film.
SET-OFF Undesirable transfer of wet ink from the top of one sheet to the underside of another as they lie in the delivery stack of a press. Also called offset.
SEW To fasten the sections of a book together by passing thread through the centrefold of each section in such a way as to secure the pages within that section, and to join it to the next section.
SPECIAL COLOUR A purer colour or Pantone colour printed at the same time as, and in addition to, the 4 colour process. Generally used for more colour consistency, vibrancy or special effects i.e metallic ink.
SPINE The bound edge of a book, also known as the ‘back’.
SPRINKLED The spattering of book edges from a brush charged with liquid ink. This may also be done with an air brush.
SWOP Abbreviation for Specifications for Web Offset Publications, specifications recommended for web printing of publications.
SQUARE BACK A binding which has been collated, trimmed and sewn, but not rounded and backed. Also called ‘Flat Back’.
STABBING To stitch with wire through the side of a gathered / collated work at the binding edge.
STEP INDEX A style of index in which the divisions are cut into the edge of the book in steps. Also known as ‘Cut in’ index
TAGGED IMAGE FILE FORMAT Computer file format used to store images from scanners and video devices. Abbreviated TIFF.
TAIL The margin or area at the foot of each page.
THUMB INDEX A type of index or contents where the divisions are cut into the edge of the book.
TITLE PAGE The right hand page of the book immediately following the half title.
TRIM SIZE The eventual finished or trimmed page size of a publication
TURNED IN Where the material used on the cover of a book is turned in round the edges so as not to leave the edges of the coverboards exposed.
UV COATING Liquid applied to a printed sheet, then bonded and cured with ultraviolet light.
VARNISH Liquid applied as a coating for protection and appearance.
VECTOR A format where image content/data is determined by points. The points provide an area which is then filled with colour.
VIGNETTE Decorative design or illustration faded out to white.
WASH UP To clean ink and fountain solutions from rollers, fountains, screens, and other press components.
WEB The use of a large paper roll to feed a printing machine as opposed to a stack of paper sheets.
WIRO BINDING A mechanical binding which uses a series of double wire loops formed from a single continuous wire which runs through the longitudinal slots on the binding edge.
WORK & TURN Printing one side of a sheet, then turning the paper to print the other side.
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