Hours: M-F, 9-4


Look up common printing terms.


Accordion Fold
A type of paper folding in which each fold runs in the opposite direction to the previous fold creating a pleated or accordion effect.

The non-colors… black, white and gray.

A water-soluble polymer used in paints to make them dry both tough and flexible.

Additive Colors
In photographic reproduction, the primary colors of red, green and blue which are mixed to form all other colors.

The condition of type and or art materials as they level up on a horizontal or vertical line.

All illustrated material, ornamentation, photos and charts etc., that is prepared for reproduction.


Back Lining

The fixing of a material, either paper or cloth, to the back of a book before it is bound. Reference: case binding.

Back Margin

A term referring to the margin which lies closest to the back of the book.

Back Step Collation

The collation of book signatures according to reference marks which are printed on the back fold of each section.

Back To Back

Print applied to both sides of a sheet of paper.


That portion of the binding, which connects the front of the book with the back of the book; also called “back”.


That portion of a photograph or line art drawing that appears furthest from the eye; the surface upon which the main image is superimposed.


A term used to describe the aesthetic or harmony of elements, whether they are photos, art or copy, within a layout or design.

Bank Paper

A thin uncoated stock used for making carbon copies.


The primary headline usually spanning the entire width of a page.


Various methods of securing folded sections together and or fastening them to a cover, to form single copies of a book.


Extra ink area that crosses trim line, used to allow for variations that occur when the reproduction is trimmed or die-cut.

Blind Emboss

A design or base relief impression that is made without using inks or metal foils.

Blind Embossing

Embossed forms that are not inked, or gold leafed.

Blind Folio

Page number not printed on page.

Broad Fold

A term given to the fold whereby paper is folded with the short side running with the grain.


A pamphlet that is bound in booklet form.

Burst Binding

A binding technique that entails nicking the back fold in short lengths during the folding process, which allows glue to reach each individual leaf and create a strong bond.


Camera Ready

A term given to any copy, artwork etc., that is prepared for photographic reproduction.

Caps & Lower Case

Instructions in the typesetting process that indicate the use of a capital letter to start a sentence and the rest of the letters in lower case.

Caps & Small Caps

Two sizes of capital letters made in one size of type.


The stiff covers of a hardbound book.

Case Binding

Books bound using hard board (case) covers.

Coated Stock

Any paper that has a mineral coating applied after the paper is made, giving the paper a smoother finish.

Cold Color

Any color that moves toward the blue side in the color spectrum.


To gather sheets or signatures together in their correct order.

Color Separating

The processes of separating the primary color components for printing.

Color Transparency

Transparent film containing a positive photographic color image.


The assembly of characters into words, lines and paragraphs of text or body matter for reproduction by printing.

Condensed Type

A narrow, elongated type face.

Continuous Tone

Image made of non-discernible picture elements which give appearance of continuous spectrum of grey values or tones.


The degree of tonal separation or gradation in the range from black to white.


Refers to any typewritten material, art, photos etc., to be used for the printing process.


A board upon which the copy is pasted for the purpose of photographing.


To eliminate a portion of the art or copy as indicated by crop marks.

Crop Mark

Markings at edges of original or on guide sheet to indicate the area desired in reproduction with negative or plate trimmed (cropped) at the markings.


Machine for accurately cutting stacks of paper to desired dimensions…can also be used to crease. Also trims out final bound books’ top size (soft cover).

Cutting Die

Sharp edged device, usually made of steel, to cut paper, cardboard, etc., on a printing press.


Deckle Edge

The rough or feathered edge of paper when left untrimmed.


Design, letters or shapes, cut into metal (mostly brass) for stamping book covers or embossing. An engraved stamp used for impressing an image or design.

Die Cutting

A method of using sharp steel ruled stamps or rollers to cut various shapes i.e. labels, boxes, image shapes, either post press or in line. The process of cutting paper in a shape or design by the use of a wooden die or block in which are positioned steel rules in the shape of the desired pattern.

Digital Proof

Color separation data is digitally stored and then exposed to color photographic paper creating a picture of the final product before it is actually printed.

Drop Shadow

A shadow image placed strategically behind an image to create the affect of the image lifting off the page.

Dull Finish

Any matte finished paper.

Duplex Paper

Paper which has a different color or finish on each side.


Electronic Composition

The assembly of characters into words, lines and paragraphs of text or body matter with graphic elements in page layout form in digital format for reproduction by printing.

Electronic Proof

A process of generating a prepress proof in which paper is electronically exposed to the color separation negatives; the paper is passed through the electrically charged pigmented toners, which adhere electrostatically, resulting in the finished proof.


A method of paper finishing whereby a pattern is pressed into the paper when it is dry.


To raise in relief a design or letters already printed on card stock or heavy paper by an uninked block or die. In rubber and plastic plate making the process is usually done by heat.


A light sensitive substance used as a coating for film; made from a silver halide compound. This side should face the lens when the film is exposed.


Attaching the final sheet of a signature of a book to the binding.


A printing process whereby images such as copy or art are etched onto a plate. When ink is applied, these etched areas act as small wells to hold the ink; paper is forced against this die and the ink is lifted out of the etched areas creating raised images on the paper.


The form used by the printer to calculate the project for the print buyer. This form contains the basic parameters of the project including size, quantity, colors, bleeds, photos etc.


That stage of the photographic process where the image is produced on the light sensitive coating.


Fan Fold

Paper folding that emulates an accordion or fan, the folds being alternating and parallel.


The surface quality of paper.

Finish (Paper)

Dull – (low gloss) also matte or matte gloss.


Papers that have a surface resembling metal.

Fold Marks

Markings at top edges that show where folds should occur.


Machine used to fold signatures down into sections.

Folio or Page Number

Number of page at top or bottom either centered, flushed left or flushed right often with running headline.


The characters which make up a complete typeface and size.


In Binding, the process between folding sheets and casing in, such as rounding and backing, putting on headbands, reinforcing backs, etc.



Group of frames or impositions in the same form of different jobs arranged and positioned to be printed together.


The bundling of two or more different printing projects on the same sheet of paper.


To assemble or collect sections into single copies of complete books for binding.


Assembling sheets of paper and signatures into their proper sequence; collating.


Direction of fibers in a sheet of paper governing paper properties such as increased size changes with relative humidity, across the grain, and better folding properties along the grain.

Grained Paper

A paper embossed to resemble various textures, such as leather, alligator, wood, etc.


A series of metal fingers that hold each sheet of paper as it passes through the various stages of the printing process.

Gripper Edge

The grippers of the printing press move the paper through the press by holding onto the leading edge of the sheet; this edge is the gripper edge.


Space between pages in the printing frame of a book, or inside margin towards the back or binding edge. The blank space or margin between the type page and the binding of a book.



Tone graduated image composed of varying sized dots or lines, with equidistant centers.

Halftone Screen

A sheet of film or glass containing ruled right-angled lines, used to translate the full tone of a photo to the halftone dot image required for printing.


The lightest tones of a photo, printed halftone or illustration. In the finished halftone, these highlights are represented by the finest dots.



Inside back cover.


Inside front cover.

Image Area

That portion of the printing plate that carries the ink and prints on paper.

Image Setter

High resolution, large format device for producing film from electronically generated page layouts.


Arrangement of pages so that they print correctly on a press sheet, and the pages are in proper order when the sheets are folded.


Product resulting from one cycle of printing machine. The pressure of the image carrier, whether it be the type, plate or blanket, when it contacts the paper.

Industrial Papers

A term used to denote papers such as janitorial, sanitary or heavy packing papers.


Extra printed pages inserted loosely into printed pieces.

Integral Proof

A proof made by exposing each of the four-color separations to an emulsion layer of primary colors. These emulsion sheets are stacked in register with a white sheet of paper in the background.


Extra blank pages inserted loosely into book after printing.

Iridescent Paper

A coated stock finished in mother-of-pearl.


Text that is used to denote emphasis by slanting the type body forward.



The paper cover sometimes called the “dust cover” of a hardbound book.

Job Number

A number assigned to a printing project used for record keeping and job tracking. Also used to retrieve old jobs for reprints or reworking by customer.



The narrowing of space between two letters so that they become closer and take up less space on the page.

Key Plate

The printing plate that is used as a guide for the other plates in the color printing process; it usually has the most detail.


Lines that are drawn on artwork that indicate the exact placement, shape and size of elements including halftones, illustrations etc.


A coarse unbleached paper used for printing and industrial products.



A clear gloss coating applied to printed material for strength, appearance and protection.

Laid Finish

A parallel lined paper that has a handmade look.

Lay Edge

Edge of a sheet of paper being fed into a printing press.


A rendition that shows the placement of all the elements, roughs, thumbnails etc., of the final printed piece before it goes to print.


Space between lines of type; the distance in points between one baseline and the next.


One of a number of folds (each containing two pages) which comprises a book or manuscript.

Leaf Stamping

A metal die, either (flat, or embossed), created from the image or copy, which is then heated to a specific temperature which allows the transfer of a film of pigmented polyester to the paper.

Ledger Paper

A stiff heavy business paper generally used for keeping records.


Printing that utilizes inked raised surfaces to create the image.

Letter spacing

The addition of space between typeset letters.

Line Copy

Any copy that can be reproduced without the use of halftone screens.


The process of printing that utilizes flat inked surfaces to create the printed images.


M weight

The actual weight of 1000 sheets of any given size of paper.

Machine Coated

Paper that has had a coating applied to either one or two of its sides during the paper making process.

Machine Direction

An alternate term for grain direction.

Machine Finish

A paper finish that results from the interaction of the paper with the Fourdrinier process as opposed to post machine embossing. Reference, Fourdrinier

Magnetic Black

Black pigments containing black iron oxides, used for magnetic ink character recognition.


Imprinted space around edge of page.

Matte Finish

A coated paper finish that goes through minimal calendaring. Reference, calendaring.



A term to describe papers that have a color similar to that of wood; also called cream, off-white or ivory.


Film that contains the same images as the original print, except that all colors and shades are reversed. Reference, positive.


A light, low cost ground wood paper made especially for newspapers.



Outside back cover.


A term used to describe printed books, catalogs etc., that are bound on their shorter side; also referred to as album bound.


Outside front cover.


The most commonly used printing method, whereby the printed material does not receive the ink directly from the printing plate but from an intermediary cylinder called a blanket which receives the ink from the plate and transfers it to the paper.


Quality of papers that defines its opaqueness or ability to prevent two-sided printing from showing through.


A transparent sheet placed over artwork, in register with the work it covers; this is used to call out other color components of the work, instructions or corrections.

Overlay Proof

A process of proof making whereby the color separations are individually exposed to light sensitive film. This film is then set in registration with a piece of white paper in the background.


Type that is set in excess of the allotted space.


Page Makeup

The assemblage of all the necessary elements required to complete a page.

Page Proofs

Proofs made up from pages.


Any paper with a thickness (caliper) of 12 points (.3mm) or more.

Parent Sheet

A sheet that is larger than the cut stock of the same paper.


Preparation of positive materials into a layout for photographing to film negatives.

Perf Marks

Markings usually dotted lines at edges showing where perforations should occur.


A term used to describe the binding process where the signatures of a book are held together by a flexible adhesive.

Perfect Binding

Binding process where backs of sections are cut off, roughened and glued together, and rung in a cover.


Printing both sides of the paper (or other material) on the same pass through the printing machine.


Punching small holes or slits in a sheet of paper or cardboard to facilitate tearing along a desired line.


Standard of measurement, 1/6 inch. 1 pica = 12 points 72 points = 1 inch


Reproduction of type or cuts in metal, plastic, rubber, or other material, to form a plate bearing a relief, planographic or intaglio printing surface.

Plate Finish

Any bond, cover or bristol stock with an extremely smooth finish achieved by calendaring.


Making a printing plate from a film or flat including preparation of the plate surface, sensitizing, exposing through the flat, developing or processing, and finishing.


Film that contains an image with the same tonal values as the original; opposite of a negative.

Pixels per inch.


Actual press sheet to show image, tone values and colors as well as imposition of frame or press-plate.

Primary Colors

In printing the four primary colors are cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black.

The quality of papers to show reproduced printed images.

Printers Pairs

Two consecutive pages as they appear on a flat or signature.

Process Inks

Printing inks, usually in sets of four colors. The most frequent combination is yellow, magenta, cyan, and black, which are printed, one over another in that order, to obtain a colored print with the desired hues, whites, blacks, and grays.

Process Printing

Printing from two or more half tones to produce intermediate colors and shades.


Taken for checking and correction, to check accuracy of layout, type matter, tone and color reproduction.



Railroad Board
A thick, coated paper used for signs; usually waterproof.

Readers Pairs

Two consecutive pages as they appear in printed piece.


500 sheets of paper.


The master roll of paper as it comes off the papermaking machine. It is in its original width and is then cut into smaller rolls.


The arrangement of two or more images in exact alignment with each other.

Register Marks

Any crossmarks or other symbols used on layout to assure proper registration.


A term used to describe how well a paper runs on a printing press.

Running Head

A title at the top of a page that appears on all pages of a book or chapter of a book.


Saddle Stitching

Stitching where the wire staples pass through the spine from the outside and are clinched in the center. Only used with folded sections, either single sections or two or more sections inset to form a single section.

Satin Finish

A smooth delicately embossed finished paper with sheen.


The enlargement or reduction of an image or copy to fit a specific area.


Impressions or cuts in flat material to facilitate bending or tearing.

Screened Print

A photo print made by using a halftone negative; also called a velox.

Self Cover

A cover made out of the same paper stock as the internal sheets.


To decrease the dot size of the halftone which in turn decreases the color strength.


That quality of paper defined by its levelness which allows for pressure consistency in printing, assuring uniformity of print.


Back edge of a book.

Spiral Bind

A binding whereby a wire or plastic is spiraled through holes punched along the binding side.

Spot Color

Small area printed in a second color.


A film image that is larger than the original image to accommodate ink trapping. Reference, trapping


The quality of paper to maintain its original size when it undergoes pressure and moisture changes.


A term for unprinted paper or other material to be printed.

Stumping Or Blocking

Impressing book covers, etc., by means of hot die, brass types or blocks.

Synthetic Papers

Any petroleum based waterproof papers with a high tensile strength.



The adhesive quality of inks.

Tensile Strength

A paper’s ability to withstand pressure.


A high quality printing paper.


A printing process whereby slow drying ink is applied to paper and while the ink is still wet, it is lightly dusted with a resinous powder. The paper then passes through a heat chamber where the powder melts and fuses with the ink to produce a raised surface.


The rough surfaced finish of papers such as vellum or antique.


Inks that do not block out the colored inks that they print over, but instead blend with them to create intermediate colors.


The process of printing wet ink over printed ink which may be wet or dry.

Trim Marks

Marks placed on the sheet to indicate where to cut the page.



A term used to describe how many similar sheets can be produced on a larger sheet; two up, four up, etc.



A clear shiny ink used to add gloss to printed pieces. The primary component of the ink vehicle. Reference, vehicle.


A finish of paper that is rough, bulky and has a degree of tooth.



A translucent logo that is embossed during the papermaking process while the paper slurry is on the dandy roll.