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Printing Terminology

Align: Lining up characters and images on a document using a base or vertical line as a reference point.

Binding: This is the process used to keep the printed sheets within Magazines, Booklets or Notepads together. There are many different methods of binding depending on the end product. Most printers offer Saddle Stitching, Loop Stitching, Burst Binding and Perfect Binding as finishing options.

Bitmap: A digital graphic image formed by tiny squares called pixels. The more pixels in an image, the clearer the image appears.

Black: The colour of maximum darkness. In CMYK, black is the ‘key colour’ and so is represented with the letter ‘K’. To get the deepest black possible in CMYK printing, add 40% cyan to 100% black. No other colour combination produces a better black.

Bleed / External Bleed:
The extra bit of artwork that extends past the trim area (i.e. the printed section that will be trimmed / cut off and thrown away by the printing company). Bleed is an allowance for a small amount of movement when your work is being cut to size, and required so that any variations in trimming do not result in white around the edges of the finished job. Print Finder recommends a minimum 3mm Bleed on all sides of artwork, except Magazines which require a minimum 5mm bleed.

Border / Internal Bleed / Safe zone: A margin around the inner edge of your artwork, inside which is safe for printing. When printing services trim your job to size there might be some movement. It is unwise to have important information within this margin (i.e. too close to the edge of the artwork). Print Finder recommends a minimum 2mm inner margin on all Business Card artwork files and minimum 5mm inner margin on all other artwork files to be safe.

Burst Binding: similar to Perfect Binding, except it is more durable. The spine of each section is perforated during the folding process. Glue is then pushed up between the perforations during binding and the cover drawn on.

Celloglazing (Cello): A plastic film coating that can be heat-bonded to printed products such as Booklet Covers, Buiness Cards, Flyers and Postcards. Celloglazing provides long-term protection, as well as a matt or gloss finish and is applied as part of finishing. Celloglazing can be applied to one side, or both sides of a printed product.

CMYK: The abbreviation for Cyan (blue), Magenta (red), Yellow and Black which are the four colours used in the offset full colour printing process. CMYK is also referred to as Four-Colour or Full-Colour printing.

Coated: Printing papers that have had a surface coating to give a smoother, more even finish with greater opacity. Coated paper is not recommended for Overprinting.

Colour Mode: A setting requirement within image editing software – always select “CMYK” (not “RGB”) when creating artwork for print. Sometimes referred to as Colour Space and Colour Model.

Concertina Fold: See Zig Zag Fold or Z Fold.

Crease / Score: An indent made in printed paper (before folding) to make folding easier and cleaner. Creasing / Scoring is required before folding on paper stocks heavier than 150gsm. Creasing / Scoring minimises cracking of the paper and ink at the edge of the fold.

Crop Marks: Also known as Trim Marks, these are marks included in artwork files to indicate the trim lines for the printing service or printing company to use. Print Finder recommends including Crop Marks on all artwork files, ensuring your Crop Marks are located outside of the Bleedarea, otherwise they may appear on your finished product.

Curves / Outlines, converting font to: A process inside image editing software where fonts are converted from editable text into curves, lines or outlines. The curves look and print the same as fonts, thus eliminating the embedded / commercial font issue. See Embedded Fonts andFonts.

Die Cutting: The process of cutting paper into a non-rectangular shape using metal dies / knives (also referred to as Forme Cut or Knife Line). Most printers offer standard die cut round corners on Business Card printing, as well as a range of standard die cut Presentation Folders and Tent Calendars.

Digital Printing: Printing by a plate-less imaging system. Printed sheets are produced directly from a computer file without being transferred onto printing plates. Digital Printing is cost-effective for low volume printing (typically less than 500 units in a print run).

Digital Proof / Hard Proof: A hard copy proof of what your artwork will look like, before the print run is initiated. Digital proofs typically incurs an additional charge.

DL / Double DL: DL is a common paper size of 99 x 210 mm and can be printed either horizontal or vertical.

DPI: Dots Per Inch, the number of dots in an image / line within a one inch span. The dots can be seen under an eyeglass. To ensure your printed job is high-quality when seen by the naked eye, Print Finder recommends the following minimums:

  • 300dpi for all artwork files when at 100% in a PDF/EPS file;
  • 600-800dpi for artwork in a TIFF or JPEG file;
  • 800dpi for all text as an image regardless of the file type.

Drilling: The process of drilling holes in printed material. The hole can also be sectional to produce round corners, for example on Business Card printing.

Embossing and Debossing: This effect is where a a specific area of a printed job is either raised up (Embossed) or pressed down (Debossed). This printing technique makes the area more tactile and prominent than the surrounding area. Alternatively Embossing and Debossing can be used to suggest a three-dimensional look to the printed product, such as a bevel.

Embedded Fonts: This is a process inside image editing software that allows fonts to be viewed accurately and printed by all printing services – even if the printing service or printing company doesn’t have the same fonts installed. Embedding fonts is a critical step when preparing your artwork files to ensure the font you’ve selected can be printed and appears as you expect. In PDFs all fonts must be embedded when the PDF is created. An alternative to embedding fonts is to convert fonts to Curves.

EPS: Encapsulated Postscript File, which is a vector-based, computer graphics file format. EPS is the preferred format for many computer illustrations because of its efficient use of memory and colour control. EPS is the artwork format preferred by almost all printing services.

Fonts: A complete assortment of letters, numbers and punctuation of a given size and design. For example Times New Roman and Arial are common fonts. Also see Embedded Fonts.

Finishing: Any process that follows after printing. Includes Spot UV, Foiling, Creasing / Scoring, Celloglazing, Folding, Stitching and Binding.

Foiling / Foil Blocking: A technique of applying metal foil (available in various colours) to a final product as part of Finishing to create an eye catching shiny effect. Foiling uses heat and pressure too apply the metal foil to the printed product and the result is a much shinier finish than normal metallic inks. However, foiling is more expensive than using metallic inks as it requires special equipment for application.

Folding: When a printed document requires folding for completion. For example: A3 folded to A4; or A4 folded to DL.

Four-Colour / Full-Colour Process: Printing using four colour separation plates – cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The inks are translucent and can be combined to produce a wide range of colours.

Gang Printing: An economical way of printing multiple artwork files on the same printed sheet using larger sheet sizes. Gang Printing allows printing services and printing companies to bundle multiple client jobs together in the one print run, reducing costs which can be passed onto the client.

GIF: Graphics Interchange Format, a highly compressed image file format ideal for simple graphics with limited shading or colour variation. The GIF format is not designed for printing, and shouldn’t be used in artwork files to be sent to a printing company. GIF images are designed for computer-screen display only.

Gate Fold: A type of fold which turns in on itself from both edges to the centre.

Gloss Cello: A clear, shiny finish that enhances and emphasises colours. It makes images look brighter, adding definition and radiance.

Gluing: A permanent method of fixing multiple items together.

Green Printing: Green Printing is printing in a way which is environmentally friendly. This involves the printing service or company making use of natural inks, recycled papers and active energy conservation.

Grayscale: An image made up of a range of shades of black and white.

Gumming: Similar to Gluing, however it is not permanent.

GSM: Grams per Square Metre. A standard measure of the weight of paper in Australia.

Half Fold: A method of folding where the finished printed product is folded in half down the centre of the page.

JPG or JPEG: Joint Photographic Experts Group (pronounced ‘jay peg’), an image file compression format that allows high quality (but not print quality) full colour or grey-scale digital images to be stored in relatively small files. Compressing a JPEG file that is already compressed will adversely affect quality. JPEG formats are not designed for printing, and should not be used in artwork files to be sent to a printing company. JPEG images are designed for computer-screen display only.

Knife, Forme Cut or Die Cut: The process of cutting paper and or card into non-rectangular shapes after it has been printed. Most printers have a vast array of Dies / Knife Lines, allowing them to cut just about any shape you can imagine. Dies / Knife Lines can also be custom made, incurring additional charges.

Laminating: See Celloglazing.

Loop Stitching: Loop Stitching is similar to Saddle Stitching, except specially designed U shaped staples are used to bind the Magazine or Booklet to provide a hook. Useful for promotional material, product catalogues and Calendars that can be inserted into a ring binder. See alsoBinding and Saddle Stitching.

Matt Cello: A non-reflective coating applied to a printed surface as part of Finishing. Matt Cello has a slightly granular look and tends to make colours appear less vivid.

Offset Printing: A printing method that transfers an image from an inked plate onto a rubber blanket covered cylinder and then onto the printed page. Offset Printing involves a substantial setup (fixed) cost for each job, and is therefore only cost-effective for medium-to-high volume printing (typically more than 500 units in a print run).

Overprinting: The process of printing over an area that’s already printed. Used to emphasise changes or alterations. Overprinting is a setting availabe in image editing software and should be used for very thin lines to ensure accurate representation in the final product. Overprinting is also commonly used to identify Spot UV areas.

PDF: Portable Document File, a type of formatting that enables files to be viewed on a variety of computers regardless of the program used to create them. PDF files retain the “look and feel” of the original document, and is one of the artwork formats accepted by all printing services, printing companies and printing businesses.

Perfect Binding: A type of binding method where single sheets of paper are stacked together, and an adhesive applied to the binding edge. The cover is then wrapped around the pages to hold it all together. See also Burst Binding and Binding.

Perforation: A line of punched holes that allow a sheet of paper to be torn or folded accuratel

Pixel: A coloured dot that makes up an image on a computer or television screen.

PP (Printed Pages): References to “pp” mean the number of printed pages / panels, and not the number of paper sheets. For example, an 8pp A4 magazine is actually 2 x A3 paper sheets, printed double sided, then Folded and Saddle Stitchedto A4 final size.

PPI: Pixels Per Inch, a measurement describing the size of a printed image. The higher the number, the more detailed the image will be.

PMS Colour: Pantone Matching System Colour. See Spot Colour.

Pre-flight: The process used in prepress to determine that files are press ready and contain nothing that may hinder the print quality or result in production delays.

Printing Service: is a business that works with clients in order to obtain printed products. The term Printing Services can relate to retail printers, trade printers, print brokers, printing hubs, printing companies, copy shops, graphic designers and many more. There are literally thousands of Printing Services across Australia, each with different specialities. Print Finder’s job to know the advantages and disadvantages of each Printing Service to obtain the cheapest printing prices and best quality for our users.

Resolution: The number of pixels or dots in an image. Higher resolutions produce higher quality printed products. See also DPI.

RGB: Red Green Blue, the three primary colours used in display devices such as television screens, computer monitors and scanners. Four colour (CMYK) presses do not recognise the full range of colours generated by RGB, so will be forced to make the best possible match. As a result, conversion of RGB to CMYK may result in some colour shift. Printing services and printing companies will not typically accept artwork if it is supplied in RGB Colour Mode.

Roll Fold: A type of fold where the page is folded inward at one end and then folded inward again one or more time. It is as if you are rolling up the final product. Most commonly used to fold A4 to DL size.

Saddle Stitch: A type of Binding whereby a Magazine or Book is stapled through the middle fold of its sheets using saddle wire. See also Loop Stitching.

Scoring: See Creasing.

Section: A printed sheet that is folded to make multiple pages. Multiple sections are placed together to make up a Booklet. Individual sections are held together by either saddle-stitching or perfect binding.

Soft Proof: A soft copy PDF proof of what your artwork will look like, before the print run is initiated. Soft Proofs do not usually incur charges. Soft Proofs only allow the client to confirm that the printing service or printing company is printing the correct file and that the trim marks are in the correct location. Not all printing services or printing companies require Soft Proofs to be confirmed before sending jobs to print.

Stock / Paper Stock: The general term for any paper or board that is used as a printed surface and varies depending upon stock weight. SeeGSM.

Spot UV / UV Varnish: An Overprinting method of Varnishing where selected areas of the final product (based on settings in the artwork file) are coated in a very high gloss varnish and the remaining areas of the printed product are unaffected.

Spot Colour: Also referred to as a PMS Colour, is a standardised colour listed in the Pantone Colour Matching System. Every PMS Colour has a unique identifying code which every printing service, printing company and printing business can refer to in order to guarantee colour consistency. If your artwork includes PMS colours but you purchase Full-Colour printing (or vice versa) then your artwork files will be automatically converted to CMYK with possible colour variation occuring.

TIFF: Tagged Image File Format, a compressed image format (pronounced “tiff”). TIFF formats are not designed for printing, and should not be used in artwork files to be sent to a printing service or printing company. TIFF images are primarily designed for computer-screen display.

Uncoated: Printing paper stock that do not have a coating, commonly referred to as Bond or Laser Bond.

Varnish: A cheaper alternative to Celloglazing but does not provide protection of the paper stock.

Vector Graphics and Text: This is a type of image / text created using mathematical statements that define geometric shapes. You can move, resize, upscale and change the colour of vectors without losing quality. Unlike compressed image formats, vectors are not dependent on resolution so you can scale them to any size without losing detail or clarity. Where possible, vectors should be used when creating artwork to be sent to printing services, printing companies or printing businesses to ensure the highest quality final product.

Zig Zag Fold or Z Fold: Also known as a Concertina Fold, this is a method of folding where each fold opens in the opposite direction to its neighbour in a Z shape, giving a concertina or pleated effect.