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Accordion Fold

Two or more parallel folds that form a simple zigzag. Each panel of the accordion fold is approximately the same size.

Against the Grain

At right angles to the grain direction of the paper being used, as compared to with the grain. Also called across the grain and cross grain.


Any change made by the customer after the artwork has been submitted to the printer. Alterations could be in copy, color or specifications. Also called AA, author alteration and customer alteration.

Backing Up

Printing on the second side of a printed piece, or behind other colors when printing on clear. When printing on clear material the backup would be the only color visible from the other sided

Back Slit

Linear cuts into an adhesive liner to aid in the removal of the liner.


To join pages of a book together by thread, wire, comb or adhesive; to enclose pages in a cover.


An image formed (or appearing to be formed) by a grid of pixels. Bitmapped also refers to an image that has a too low resolution or line screen for the output resolution.


One of the four process colors. The "K" in CMYK.


Bleed is printed image that extends to the edge of a sheet or page after trimming. All files that have image going to the side of the page must have bleed added (extending the color or image outside of the trim lines). Excess image will be cut off when the page is trimmed. Without bleed, a tiny bit of unprinted page may show at the edge of the page.


Characteristic of paper or ink referring to how much light it reflects.

C1S (Coated 1 Side)

Paper coated on one side only.

C2S (Coated 2 Sides)

Paper that has been coated on both sides.

Calendar Vinyl

Vinyl sheeting manufactured by rolling the molten compound flat onto a substrate. Also known as intermediate vinyl. Life expectancy of calendar vinyl is 5 years.

Cast Vinyl

Vinyl sheeting manufactured by coating the liquid compound onto a substrate, usually a polished chrome plated sheet, where it remains until it sets to form the plastic sheet. Also known as premium vinyl. Designed for indoor or outdoor use with a life expectancy of 7 years.

Carbonless Paper

Paper coated with chemicals and dye that will produce copies without carbon paper. Also known as NCR paper (no carbon required).


Technique of slightly reducing the size of an image or printing area to create a trap or to outline.


Acronym for the four color process colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Coated Paper

Paper coating that improves reflectivity and ink holdout. Coated paper is available in gloss, dull and matte finish.

Color Separation

The conversion of a color photograph or drawing into its component spectral colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) or spot colors with one screened plate produced per color.


To eliminate portions of an image or photograph or other original that is not required to be printed. Cropping allows the remaining parts of the image to be enlarged to fill the space so the image is more useful or fits the layout.

Crop Marks

Printed lines showing the dimensions of the final printed page. These marks are used for final trimming.


One of the four process colors (bright blue). Also known as process blue. The "C" in CMYK.

Die Cutting

Part of the finishing process. Die cuts are areas of the document that are partially or completely cut, shaped, or cut-out in a variety of shapes. The die is a steel blade used to punch out the desired shape. We have standard dies for common shapes and sizes. Custom dies can substantially increase the cost of the job.


A device for cutting, scoring, stamping, embossing or debossing.

Digital Printing

See our Digital Printing section in the Basics of Printing.

Digital Proof

A color prepress proofing method in which a job is printed from the digital file to show what the final printed piece will look like. Because the proof is not printed in the same method or equipment as the finished job, colors may vary slightly from the final product.

Double Gatefold

Three parallel folds. The left and right edges of the paper fold and meet in the middle, without overlapping, along a center fold. The outer panels (the ones that fold in to the middle) are usually slightly narrower than the inner panels.

DPI (Dots Per Inch)

A measure of the resolution of a printer is called DPI or dots per inch. It refers to the dots of ink or toner used by an imagesetter, laser printer, or other printing device to print your text and graphics. In general, the more dots, the better and sharper the output from the printer.


To drill a hole in printed materials.


A set of blank pages made up in advance to show the size, shape, form and general style of a piece of printing. Also called a mock-up.


Grayscale image reproduced using two colors.


In engraving, a metal die with an impression cut into the surface is filled with an opaque engraving ink then pressed against paper creating raised areas of the paper coated with ink. Engraving creates the raised surface on the front of the paper.

EPS (Encapsulated Postscript file)

Based on the PostScript language, EPS is a format designed for printing to PostScript printers and imagesetters. It is considered the best choice for high resolution printing of illustrations because it is resolution independent, as opposed to TIFF.

Face Down

Printing the image on a clear substrate to be right reading from the opposite side from which it was printed. This adds extra durability to your printed piece with the image not directly exposed to the elements.

Face Score

Linear cuts into material on an adhesive backer, usually separating parts, to aid in the removal of the part from the backer.

Face Up

Printing the image to be right reading from the side it was printed on.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

A popular and effective way to send large electronic files via the internet. Using an FTP site is quicker and more convenient then sending files as an email attachment. We recommend using a file compression program, such as Stuff It or ZIP before uploading to our FTP site.


See our Flexography section in the Basics of Printing.


The size and style of a typeface. By contrast, typeface is a set of characters, such is Times, Helvetica or Palatino. Although frequently used interchangeably, typeface and font are different.

Four Color Process

Four basic colors of ink (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), also known as CMYK, used to reproduce full color photographs or artwork.


To group several printing jobs on the same sheet and accomplish a number of tasks with one print run.


In a gatefold, the left and right edges fold inward with parallel folds and meet in the middle of the page without overlapping. The paper might be folded again down the middle so that the folded edges meet and a fold is created in center panel of the paper also known as a double gatefold.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)

GIF is a low-resolution bitmap graphic format that supports transparency and animation. The vast majority of non-photographic images seen on Web pages use the GIF format.


Predominant direction in which fibers in paper become aligned during manufacturing; can be short or long and run the length of the paper or across it.


Refers to the shades of gray in a black and white photograph or image.

Gripper Edge

Edge of a sheet of paper held by grippers on a sheet fed press.


In the book arena, the inside margins toward the back or the binding edges.


Dots of varying size, shape or spacing to create different hues and shades when multiple colors are printed together.


Referring to a color or shade of color.


To print new copy on a previously printed sheet, such as imprinting employee's names on preprinted business cards.
To print on the surface of an object.

Ink Holdout

Characteristic of paper that prevents it from absorbing ink, thus allowing ink to dry on the surface of the paper.

Ink Jet Printing

Method of printing by spraying droplets of ink through computer-controlled nozzles.

JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

A file format for photos typically used for its ability to compress files (saves a smaller file than TIFF). Used mainly on the internet; most printers prefer TIFF files over JPGs.


Abbreviation for black in four color process printing (the "K" in CMYK).

Kiss Cut

To die cut the top layer, but not the backing layer of self-adhesive paper, vinyl, or other substrate.


A knockout is a portion of an image that has been removed. When two colors overlap, they don't normally print on top of each other. The bottom color is knocked out (not printed in the area where the other color overlaps).
Knockout type is typically text that is knocked out or reversed out of a dark background so that the type appears in the color of the paper.


A thin, transparent plastic sheet or other material with adhesive back that is applied to stock, providing protection against liquid and heavy use and adding durability to printed piece. Available in various thicknesses and matte or gloss finish.

Letter Fold

Two folds creating three panels that allow a sheet of letterhead to fit a business envelope. Also called barrel or wrap-around fold.


In lithography, the printing surface is flat with both image and non-image areas at the same level on the printing plate. Lithography uses the fact that oil and water don't mix as the basis of the printing process. A flat plate is treated so that the image area attracts oil-based inks and the wet non-image areas repel the oil-based inks.


One of the four process colors (similar to fuchsia). The "M" in CMYK.

Make Ready

Functions required to prepare a press or other machine for a specific printing or bindery job (as opposed to production run). Also known as set-up.


Space around the edge of the printed material.

Matte Finish

Flat (not glossy) finish on photographic paper, coating paper or lamination.


See our metalphoto® section in the Basics of Printing.


Printed with one color ink (can be black or other single color).

Offset Lithography

See our Offset Lithography section in the Basics of Printing.


Characteristic of paper or other substrate that prevents printing on one side from showing through the other side.
Characteristic of ink that prevents the substrate from showing through.


To print one image over a previously printed image, such as printing type over a screen tint.


Copies printed in excess of the specified quantity. Over/Under policies vary in the printing industry.

Pad Printing

See our Pad Printing section in the Basics of Printing.

Page Count

Total number of pages including cover pages.

Parent Sheets

The larger size sheets of paper used by commercial printers are called parent sheets. These large sheets of paper are typically printed to fold into smaller sizes such as for booklets or brochures. Parent sheets can be printed, then cut into smaller sizes.

PDF (Portable Document Format)

File saved in the PostScript printer description language that is highly portable across computer platforms.

Perfect Binding

Method of bookbinding where the pages are glued, rather then sewn to the cover. Often used for paperbacks, phone books, etc.


A line of small dotted holes for the purpose of tearing off a part of a printed piece.


Removing the small cut-outs (such as inside the letter "o" or "e") after a decal is cut. This is only necessary on decals that have no background.


The smallest distinct unit of a bitmapped image displayed on a screen.

PMS (Pantone Matching System)

The Pantone Color Matching System is a standardized color reproduction system. Pantone colors are described by their allocated number or name (such as PMS 109 or Reflex Blue). Colors are given formulas so that different printers can produce the same color without direct contact with one another.

PNG (Portable Network Graphic)

Similar to a GIF. Used mainly for web graphics. Generally not suitable for printed pieces.


A removable protective film laminated to parts to protect during manufacturing, shipping and handling.
Pre-masking is laminated onto the front of die-cut decals to aid in their application.


The steps required to turn a design into final form, ready for final printing on a printing press. May include preflight, color correction, color trapping, color separation, proofing, and imagesetting.


A general term for a variety of options for seeing what your file will look like when printed. Proofs are used for checking that all text, graphics and colors come out as expected before going to press.


The process of converting mathematical and digital information (vector commands) into a series of dots by an output device.

RIP (Raster Image Processing)

The process in which an electronic page is converted to a bitmap format on a pixel by pixel basis. Most RIP software utilizes PostScript language.


The sharpness of an image on film, paper, computer screen or other medium, usually measured in DPI.

Reversed Type

A light typeface on a dark background, such as white text on a black background is referred to as reversed type. With white on black, the background prints and the text is knocked out so that it doesn't print, letting the white background (or paper color) show through.

Rewind (Unwind)

Direction in which the label is oriented on the roll. Roll labels can be and wound in the direction that best suits your equipment or application.


Stands for the colors of Red, Green, Blue. Colors on a computer monitor are displayed by mixing varying amounts of red, green, and blue. RGB images are only suitable for viewing on a monitor and being published to the web. All printed materials must be converted to spot colors or CMYK.

Ring Binding

Securing loose printed pages in soft or hard-covered book with rings that hold the pages through holes punched in the pages is ring binding. 3-ring binders are the most common form of ring binding.

Saddle Stitched

Securing loose, printed, folded, and nested pages with stitches or staples down the middle of the fold (the spine). Side-stitching is a similar method where the pages are stapled about 1/4" from the spine, but the booklet can no longer be opened flat.


To convert a continuous tone image into a halftone or a solid into a screen tint.

Screen Printing

See our Screen Printing section in the Basics of Printing.

Self Cover

Term used when a publication uses the same stock (paper) for the cover and the inside pages (as opposed to using a different stock for the cover).


On a printing press, each color of ink used in a document is printed one at a time. Each printing plate used on the press is made up only of components of the page that have that one color. Separations are artwork split into plates of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black in preparation for process printing (CMYK) or into the required number of plates for spot color printing.

Side Stitch

To bind by stapling through the sheets along one edge, (instead of along spine as in saddle stitch).

Slip Sheets

Sheets that are different then the stock of a document, inserted for various reasons (i.e.: to separate one set of printed sheets from the next).

Spiral Fold

A piece of paper folded in spiral folds has two or more parallel folds that each fold in. It may fold in from the left or right. Seen from above, the folds spiral inward. The inside panels are usually slightly narrower than outer panels with the inside end panel being the most narrow. Spiral folds are common for brochures and for folding letters.

Spot Color

A premixed ink (as opposed to CMYK in which colored dots blend to create colors during the printing process). Ideal for applications in which color must be very consistent from one printed piece to the next (such as letterhead, envelopes and brochures). Using spot colors also helps maintain consistency of color when pieces are printed months apart or by different vendors.

Spot Varnish

A special effect that puts an overprint varnish on only specific areas of a printed piece (instead of covering the entire page).


Technique of slightly increasing the size of a printing area to create a trap or to outline.


A material that provides the surface on which something is printed.

Steel Rule Cut (SRC)

A process using a thin steel blade to cut through a material and its backer in a unique shape not achievable with conventional sheer cutting.


A template is a master copy of a document used as a starting point to design new documents. A template may be as simple as a blank document in the desired size and shape or as elaborate as a nearly complete design with placeholder text, fonts, and graphics that need only a small amount of customization.

Thermal Die Cut (TDC)

A process using heat and pressure to "kiss cut" pressure sensitive materials.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

One of the most commonly used and versatile graphics formats in printing, TIFF is a bitmap graphic format that is ideal for high resolution printing to PostScript printers and image setters. TIFF offers flexibility for use in page layout applications. TIFF images support both embedded paths and alpha channels which can be used to create transparent backgrounds for images in a page layout application.


The process of printing one ink color slightly over the edge of another ink color (instead of butting colors up to each other). Used to avoid slight gaps in color.

Trim Size

The final size of a printed page after excess edges have been cut off is the trim size. Crop marks indicating where to cut are printed at the edges of the paper that are then trimmed after printing.


The design of an alphabet or set of characters is a typeface. For example, Times, Helvetica, and Palatino are each a specific typeface. By contrast, font is a specific typeface in a size and style. Although frequently used interchangeably, typeface and font are different.


Setting type or typesetting is the process of putting text into the desired typeface, style, size and arrangement on the page in preparation for printing. Typesetting is typically handled by a designer, using software to format type.

Uncoated Paper

Paper that does not have any kind of coating, such as clay or latex, applied to it.


A color printed behind all other printed colors. On dark surfaces there is often a white underlay printed so that colors printed on top do not appear darker than normal.


When the quantity of printed pieces delivered is less than the quantity ordered. Over/Under policies vary in the printing industry.


Term that indicates multiple copies of the same image printed on a single sheet. "Eight-up" means that the same image is printed eight times on the same sheet.

Variable Data

Printing documents with different data (such as headline, city, address or photos) on each document. Documents can be as simple as a mail merge letters with personalized names, or something much more sophisticated, such as a booklet with targeted headlines and photography and customer profile. We produce variable data documents digitally.


A coating added to a printed piece, varnish adds a glossy, satin, or dull (matte) finish. Part of the printing or finishing process, varnish is applied like a final layer of ink after a piece is printed. It can be clear or tinted.


Vector is a resolution-independent, scalable format composed of individual objects made up of paths and points that can be defined by mathematical and numeric data. Vector images can be resized without loss of quality, making them an ideal format for initial design of logos and illustrations that to be reduced or enlarged without changing the quality of the output.


The web refers to a continuous roll of paper or other material being fed into a press. Web-fed presses (in contrast to sheet-fed presses) can cut the stock into sheets or spool back onto a roll after printing.

Write-On Finish

Specialty varnishes that allow the finished surface to be written or typed on.


One of the four process colors (bright yellow). The "Y" in CMYK.


Compression software in which one or more files are combined into one smaller, encoded file. This is helpful in reducing and protecting files that will be transferred over the internet.