Glossary of printing terms

Baffled by graphic designers' terminology? Don't be – check out the alphabetically listed jargon buster below. If someone has foxed you with a phrase or word not shown below then email Phil via the contact page. He will email you back with an explanation and add it to the jargon buster list.

Acrobat: software used by designers to create PDF files (Portable Document Format). PDF files allow clients without professional graphics software to see accurate proofs of artwork created in Indesign or QuarkXpress.

AI file: a file type created by Adobe Illustrator software commonly used to create logos and drawings which can be used at enormous size without a loss in quality.

Author's corrections: Changes and additions in copy after it has been typeset.

Bind: To fasten sheets or signatures (groups of pages) with wire, thread, glue

Bindery: The finishing department of a print works

Bleed: Printing that goes to the edge of the sheet after trimming.

Coated paper: A clay coated printing paper with a smooth finish.

Collate: A term for gathering pages in a precise order.

Colour separations: The process of preparing artwork for printing by separating into the four primary printing colours.

Copy: Text used in the production of a printed product.

Crop: To cut off parts of a picture or image.

Crop marks: Printed lines showing where to trim a printed sheet with a guillotine in the print works.

CC 2015: Adobe’s (Creative Suite) graphics software comprising: Acrobat, Illustrator, Indesign and Photoshop. These four programs are the core software used by graphic designers.

Cyan: One of four standard process printing colours – the blue.

Dots per inch: relates to the quality of photos – more dots = better quality. A high resolution photo is typically 300 dpi and used in professional graphics for printing. A low resolution is typically 72 dpi and used by web designers.

Duotone: A picture made up of two printed colours, typically black and one other colour.

EPS: a file type (Encapsulated PostScript) used in professional design and printing especially for logos and drawings. EPS files can be used at enormous sizes without loss of quality (unlike a TIFF or JPEG).

FTP: a method for moving large files from one computer to another either across a room or across the world via the internet. (File Transfer Protocol)

4-color-process: The process of combining four basic colours to create a printed colour picture or colors composed from the basic four colours (also described as printing in ‘4c’ or ‘CMYK’.

Gloss paper: A shiny look reflecting light.

Hairline: A very thin line or gap about the width of a hair or 1/100 inch.

Hard copy: The output of a computer printer or typed text sent for typesetting.

Hickey: Unplanned spots that appear in the printed image from dust, lint or dried ink.

Indesign: Page layout software used by graphic designers.

Imposition: Positioning printed pages so they will fold in the proper order.

JPEG: a photo file format. JPEGs are compressed so that they take up less space on computers and can be emailed quickly. Designers take JPEG files and, using Photoshop turn them into TIFF files for use in professional page layout software such as Indesign and QuarkXpress

Keylines: Lines on mechanical art that show position of photographs or illustrations.

Laminate: To cover with film, to bond or glue one surface to another.

Magenta: One of four standard process printing colours – the red.

Makeready: All the activities required to prepare a press for printing.

Matt finish: Dull paper or ink finish.

Perfect bind: A type of binding that glues the edge of sheets to a cover like a book or thick magazine.

Photoshop: Software used by graphic designers to change photos.

PMS: The abbreviated name of the Pantone Color Matching System.

Point size: Type size. For example, 9pt or 48pt

PostScript: The computer language most recognised by printing devices.

Process colours (CMYK): Cyan (blue), Magenta (process red), Yellow (process yellow), black (process black).

QuarkXpress: page layout software used by designers. Its major rival, Adobe’s Indesign, has gained enormous popularity with designers in recent years.

Ragged left: Type that is justified to the right margin and the line lengths vary on the left.

Ragged right: Type that is justified to the left margin and the line lengths vary on the right.

Ream: Five hundred sheets of paper.

Recto: Right hand page of an open book.

Register: To position print in the proper position in relation to the edge of the sheet and to other printing on the same sheet.

Saddle stitch: Binding a booklet or magazine with staples in the seam where it folds.

Scanner: Device used to scan photos or drawings.

Score: A crease put on paper to help it fold more easily.

Self-cover: Using the same paper as the text for the cover.

Show-through: Printing on one side of a sheet that can be seen on the other side of the sheet.

Signature: A sheet of printed pages which when folded become a part of a book or publication.

Spine: The binding edge of a book or publication.

Spot varnish: Varnish used to highlight a specific part of the printed sheet.

Stet: A proof mark meaning let the original copy stand.

Stock: The material to be printed on.

Substrate: Any surface on which printing is done.

TIFF: a file format, mostly for photos, used by graphic designers. (When clients supply JPEGs we turn them into TIFFs using Photoshop.)

Tints: A shade of a single colour or combined colours.

Trim marks: Similar to crop or register marks. These marks show where to trim the printed sheet.

Trim size: The final size of one printed image after the last trim is made.

Varnish: A clear liquid applied to printed surfaces for looks and protection. (UV coating looks better.)

Vector artwork: artwork created in Adobe Illustrator; often a logo or drawing. Vector artwork can be used at enormous sizes without loss in quality

Verso: The left hand page of an open book.

Web press: The name of a type of press that prints from rolls of paper. Usually used for enormous print quantities.

Wire-O binding: A method of wire binding books along the binding edge that will allow the book to lay flat using double loops. See Wire O.