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Glossary | Printing Terms

4:0 or 4:1 or 4:4 etc
Refers to the number of colours used per side. Can be referred to as four back zero / four back one / four back four.

4 Colour Process

The most common paper sizes used for stationery, leaflets and other publications

A0 - 841 x 1189 mm
A1 - 594 x 841 mm
A2 - 420 x 594 mm
A3 - 297 x 420 mm
A4 - 210 x 297 mm
A5 - 148.5 x 210 mm
A6 - 105 x 148.5 mm
A7 - 74 x 105 mm
A8 - 52 x 74 mm
A9 - 37 x 52 mm
A10 - 26 x 37 mm

Art Board/Paper
A term used for coated papers

The images/text that are to be printed (usually supplied digitally as a PDF). As a general rule, artwork should be supplied as a high resolution PDF at 300 dpi, with crop marks and 3mm bleed. Please see here for further details

Authors Amendments
Changes made by the customer, usually at the proofing stage. These are sometimes chargeable, as opposed to in-house errors which are not

Larger than A-sizes, most sheet-fed print presses take these paper sizes. It then allows for trimming to A-sizes

B0 - 1000 × 1414 mm
B1 - 707 × 1000 mm
B2 - 500 × 707 mm
B3 - 353 × 500 mm
B4 - 250 × 353 mm
B5 - 176 × 250 mm
B6 - 125 × 176 mm
B7 - 88 × 125 mm
B8 - 62 x 88 mm
B9 - 44 × 62 mm
B10 - 31 × 44 mm

Back Up
To print on the reverse of a sheet which has already been printed on one side

Where the image to be printed extends (usually by 3mm) over the crop marks. This makes trimming easier and means the finished documents will run to the edges

Blind Emboss
A type of embossing where no ink is used. Instead, the design or text is only visible as a raised area on the paper/card. Also see debossing which has the opposite effect

Block Foiling
Where a design is stamped into the cover, usually in a metallic foil

Bond Paper
Strong, uncoated paper often used for stationery

Thickness of paper measured in Microns, as opposed to the weight (see GSM)

Burst Binding (or slot binding)
A method similar to perfect binding where the text pages are glued in to the cover. In burst binding, slots are cut in to the sections to help the adhesive.

Paper sizes used for envelopes. These correspond to A-sizes (e.g. C4 envelope will hold A4 sheets)

C3 - 324 x 458 mm
C4 - 229 x 324 mm
C5 - 162 x 229 mm
C6 - 114 x 162 mm
DL - 110 x 220 mm (holds A4 folded twice)

Abbreviation of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. These make up the standard 4 colour process used for printing in full colour

Coated Paper
Paper which has a coating on one or both sides. This can have a gloss or silk (matt) finish. Coated papers are used for the majority of printed products, but not for stationery where an uncoated (or bond) paper is used

See sealing

Where a line is scored to allow for easier and tidier folding. Any board over 170gsm in weight will need to be creased before folding

Crop Marks
Lines marking where the paper is to be trimmed after printing. These should be part of the artwork

Cutting Forme (or Die)
The custom made cutter used when die-cutting

Where an image is pressed or stamped into the paper creating a depression as opposed to an embossed, raised impression

Where an irregular shape is cut from the paper instead of trimming square edges. This can be any shape but requires a die or cutting forme to be made up specially

Digital Printing
Low cost method of printing best suited for short run jobs. It works directly from electronic data without the need for printing plates. This makes the process very quick but the print quality, although a good alternative is not on par with lithography. Also, you can not use specific spot colours or metallic inks

Digital Printed Proofs
Proofs printed digitally (not lithographically). These are suitable for checking layout and pagination but not for colour. The reason being they will be printed on different paper and/or using a different machine to the finished product. These can usually be offered free of charge.

Envelope size to hold an A4 sheet folded twice (or a compliment slip). 220 x 110mm. See C-sizes

Dots per inch, or the image resolution. For print, all images in a document should always be a minimum of 300dpi

Drawn On Covers
A paper back cover with the text pages glued in (see perfect binding & burst binding)

Where holes are drilled. This is essentially hole punching but on a larger scale.

A Mock up of the finished product. This can be printed or unprinted, depending on the purpose. See proofs

Where designs are pressed in to the paper to leave a raised effect

Where printed material is fully enclosed and sealed in plastic. This leaves a small, clear plastic border around the sheet where it is sealed. Encapsulation is durable and water resistant

Finished Size
The size once trimmed and folded

Flat Size
The size before folding, after trimming. Can also be used if a product is to be supplied creased but unfolded.

There are a large number of different folding options. Some common folds are:

  • Concertina or Z fold
  • Gate fold – where left and right edges fold to the centre
  • Roll fold – like a takeaway menu

Forest Stewardship Council ( is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organisation established to promote the responsible management of the world's forests. Certain paper brands are accredited by the FSC.

Full Colour
Printing in CMYK, as opposed to using spot colours. Although you can print full colour with additional spot colours

Gate Fold
Exmaple of a gate folded printed leaflet

The direction of the fibres of paper. It is easier to fold with the grain.

Gloss coated paper
These papers have a smooth surface and a high shine, perfect for producing printed promotional items e.g brochures, flyers and leaflets

Grams per square metre. This is the standard measurement of weight for paper.

The pages of the artwork are arranged such that after printing, cutting and folding, the pages will be in the correct order. Sometimes seen when an imposition proof is supplied electronically, the pages will not be in chronological order.

Kiss Cut
To die-cut the top layer but not the backing of a two layered sticker/label

Where a thin plastic film is fixed to one or both sides of the paper. This can create a silky matt or a high gloss finish, depending on the intended purpose and personal preference. It also acts as a protective barrier if the print needs to be more durable or is likely to encounter a demanding environment

Where a document is oriented so the long edges are at the top and bottom. As opposed to portrait

Lithography / Lithographic (or litho)
The most popular print process, a metal plate is treated so that the image area attracts the oil-based inks, while the wet non-image areas resist them

All work associated with setting up the print press before production

See dummy

The files to be printed which make up the artwork. Usually a print ready PDF

One side of a sheet of paper. For example, an A4 sheet has 2 pages. An A4 sheet folded in half to A5 has 4 pages.

See spot colours

Portable Document Format. Universal file format which combines images and text.

Perfect Binding
Where the text pages are glued in to the cover. See also burst binding and drawn on covers

Pantone Matching System. Followed by 3 or 4 digits to make up a code e.g. PMS 072. See spot colours

Where a document is oriented so the long edges are on either side. As opposed to landscape

Printed pages. Refers to the number of pages in a document e.g. 12pp (12 pages)

Proofs are an example of what is to be printed so both parties are in agreement. Any errors or amendments should be picked up at this stage. This can take the form of a digital proof, usually supplied as a PDF, or a printed proof. See digital proofs and wet proofs for more details

500 sheets of paper

Roll Fold
Example of a Roll folded pinted leaflet

Where a document is wire stitched on the spine, better known as stapled

Screen Printing
The oldest method of printing. Ink is applied to a porous silk screen and passes through a stencil or template to leave an impression. Normally used when printing on fabric and banners and when printing on board that is too thick to pass through a standard litho print press

Seal or Sealer
A coating applied over the print to fix it. This helps prevent set off and smudging

Where the cover and text pages are on the same paper stock

Set Off
This is where the ink from one sheet is transferred on to the reverse of the sheet above. Leaving ample time for the ink to dry and applying a sealer helps to prevent this

Silk Coated Paper
Silk papers have a low surface shine, a smooth finish, but not glossy.

A sheet-fed printing press uses individual sheets, instead of continuous rolls of paper used on web offset presses

Spot Colours
Refers to solid colours which are found in commercially obtainable colour ranges such as Pantone®, these are mostly used in addition to CMYK where CMYK is not available e.g. Printing gold or silver. When using Pantone colours, it is worth bearing in mind for future jobs that should you want to print in CMYK, the chosen Pantone® may not have a suitable CMYK equivalent, which may in turn lead to the expense of using additional plates

Spot Gloss UV Varnish
A high gloss finish applied to specific areas of print. This differs from gloss laminating which has to cover the whole sheet

Uncoated Paper
Paper which has not been coated, not gloss or silk

Web Offset
A method of printing which uses a continuous roll of paper. They are very fast presses and are only suitable for large print runs on relatively thin paper stocks

Wet Proof
This is a fully made up, printed proof. The same machine and materials will be used as for the finished product. Whilst this is quite expensive, it does leave you with an exact mock up of what is to be printed. This is suitable for colour checking. Only recommended for large runs and specialist items

Z Fold

Example of a z folded printed leaflet

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