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Glossary Of Terms

Printing Processes

Digital: very cost effective for short run printing, it works directly from electronic data and print in four colour process. The quality is not quite on a par with lithography and you cannot use single Pantones® or metallic inks.

Litho: by far 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. The process is more expensive than digital though and only starts to pay for itself on larger runs.

Screen: is historically the oldest form of printing. Ink is applied to a porous silk screen and passes through a stencil or template to leave an impression. Normally used for t-shirt printing and banners.

Thermal: is the process of creating an image using a heated print head. The print does not smear and is water resistant.

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.


Standard sizes are more cost effective as they make the most economical use of the paper:

Business Cards - 88mm x 55mm / 85mm x 55mm
Letterheads - A4 - 210 x 297mm
Compliments slips - DL - 210mm x 99mm
A7 - 74.25mm x 105mm
A6 - 105mm x 148.5mm
A5 - 148.5mm x 210mm
A4 - 210mm x 297mm
A3 - 297mm x 420mm
A2 - 420mm x 594mm
A1 - 594mm x 841mm
AO - 841mm x 1188mm

Colour Printing

Four colour process / CMYK: printing in full colour. The inks used are translucent and can be overprinted to produce a variety of different colours.

Spot colour printing: refers to solid colours which are found in commercially obtainable colour ranges such as Pantone®. Two colour printing is used regularly for printing stationery, in order to save money on inks.

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 added expense of using a fifth plate.

Metallic inks: spot colours which produce gold, silver, bronze or metallic effects.

Binding Options

Saddle stitching: binding folded pages by stitching them through the spine from the outside with wire staples. Not recommended for products of more than 64 pages in length.

Perfect binding: this is often used for binding books and large brochures. The printed sections are collated and held in the spine using glue.

Spiral binding: secures loose pages with looped wire that fixes into holes down the left hand side of the page. It allows for products to lie flat when opened, but can be less durable than the other binding options.


There are many different paper mills offering an extensive range of papers, most of which fit into one of the following categories; gloss coated, matt coated, silk or satin coated and uncoated.

All the terms are pretty self-explanatory, so you just have to think about what impression you want to make and remember that uncoated papers are more likely to absorb the inks, leaving a slightly softer finish.

GSM: an abbreviation for grams per square metre, which indicates how heavy paper or card stock is. As a guide, you could work on the premise that copier paper is approximately 90-100gsm, while at the other end of the scale, postcard stock is between 350-400gsm.


Folding is a relatively cheap and easy way to give you more pages to play with. If you want your print work supplied folded, then make sure you mention in the quote request; the start size, the finished size and how many sides there will be when folded.

Different folds include; single fold, gate fold, roll fold and map fold.


Spot gloss: the advantage of spot glossing is that it is similar to printing an extra colour and can be applied to particular areas to produce special effects and a glossy finish.

Die-cutting: a template can be made to cut almost any design or shape. The most common dies are made to form pictures or geometric shapes.

Embossing: stamping a design into paper or card to produce a raised effect.

Blind embossing: no ink is used for this type of embossing; instead, the design or text is only visible as a raised area on the paper or card.

Debossing: creates a depression rather than a raised impression.

Laminating: if you have room in your budget to add lamination, it can really define and dramatise your print, whether you opt for a soft matt lamination to create a velvety finish or a gloss lamination to catch the light and add a bit of shine. It also acts as a protective barrier if your print needs to be more durable or is likely to encounter a demanding environment.

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