Litho & Digital Print


Explained in jargon-free plain English, our Glossary of print terms is an essential guide to anyone looking to purchase print.


A transparent sheet placed over originals or artwork. Allowing the designer to write instructions and\or indicate a second colour for placement.

Acid-free Paper

Paper made from pulp containing little or no acid, so it resists deterioration from age. It is also called alkaline paper, archival paper, neutral pH paper, permanent paper and thesis paper.

Against the Grain

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


A term used to describe using a pen-shaped tool that sprays a fine mist of ink to retouch photos and create continuous-tone illustrations.


Any change made by the customer after copy or artwork has been given to the design studio or print department. The change could be in copy, specifications or both. This is also called author alteration and customer alteration.

Anti-offset Powder

Fine powder lightly sprayed over the printed surface of coated paper as sheets leave a press. This is also called dust, offset powder, powder and spray powder.

Antique Paper

Roughest finish offered on offset paper.

Aqueous Coating

A water based coating applied like ink by a printing press to protect and enhance the printing underneath.


All original copy, including type, photos and illustrations, intended for printing.

Author’s Alterations (AA’s)

At the proofing stage, changes that the client requests to be made concerning original art provided. AA’s are considered an additional cost to the client usually.

Backing Up

(1) To print on the second side of a sheet already printed on one side.
(2) To adjust an image on one side of a sheet so that it aligns back-to-back with an image on the other side.

Basic Size

The standard size of sheets of paper used to calculate basic weight.

Basic Weight

The weight in grams of one square meter of paper, using ISO Paper sizes. It is also called grammage and ream weight.


Is the joining of printed pages together with wire, glue, stitch or staples.


Rubber-coated pad, mounted on a cylinder of an offset press that receives the inked image from the plate and transfers it to the surface to be printed.


Printing that extends to the edge of a sheet or page after trimming to ensure the image runs off the edge of the page once the page has been trimmed. Bleed extends beyond the trim marks.

Blind Folio

A page number not printed on the page. (In the book arena, a blank page traditionally does not print a page number.)

Blind debossing or embossing

Print finishes that create a three dimensional image or design that gives real texture to the chosen substrate.


An enlargement, usually used with graphic images or photographs


Is a description or commentary of an author or book content positioned on the book jacket.

Board Paper

Is a general term for paper over 200 gsm that is commonly used for products such as file folders, displays and post cards. This is also called paperboard.


Is the main copy of text, not including the headlines.

Boiler Plate

Blocks of repetitive type used and copied over and over again.

Bond paper

Category of paper commonly used for writing, printing and photocopying, also called business paper, communication paper, correspondence paper and writing paper.

Book Block

Folded signatures gathered, sewn and trimmed, but not yet covered.

Book Paper

Is a category of paper suitable for books, magazines, catalogues, advertising and general printing needs. Book paper is divided into uncoated paper (also called offset paper), coated paper (also called art paper, enamel paper, gloss paper and slick paper) and text paper.


The term used to indicate work printed on one of a large sheet of paper.


Is the thickness of paper relative to its basic weight.

Burst Perfect Bind

To bind by forcing glue into notches along the spines of gathered signatures before affixing a paper cover. Also called burst bind, notch bind and slotted bind.

Butt Register

Register where ink colours meet precisely without overlapping or having any space in-between, as compared to lap register. Also called butt fit and kiss register.

C1S and C2S

Abbreviations for coated one side and coated two sides.


Thickness of paper or other substrate expressed in thousandths of an inch (mils or points), pages per inch (ppi), thousandths of a millimetre (microns) or pages per centimetre (ppc).

Carbonless Paper

Paper coated with chemicals that enable transfer of images from one sheet to another with pressure from writing or typing.


Covers and spine that, as a unit, enclose the pages of a case bound book.

Case Bind

To bind using glue to hold signatures to a case made of binder board covered with fabric, plastic or leather. It is also called cloth bind, edition bind, hard bind and hard cover.

Cast-coated Paper

High gloss, coated paper made by pressing the paper against a polished, hot, metal drum while the coating is still wet.

Catalogue Paper

Coated paper rated 50gsm to 75gsm commonly used for catalogues and magazines.


Is an abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black) the four process colours.

Coarse Screen

Is a halftone screen with ruling of 65, 85 or 100 lines per inch (26, 34 or 40 lines centimetre).

Coated Paper

Is a paper with a coating of clay and other substances that improves reflectivity and ink holdout. Mills produce coated paper in the four major categories gloss, matt, silk and uncoated.


To organise printed matter in a specific order as requested.

Collating Marks

Mostly in the book arena, specific marks on the back of signatures indicating exact position in the collating stage.

Colour Blanks

Press sheets printed with photos or illustrations, but without type. It is also called shells.

Colour Break

In multi-colour printing, the point, line or space at which one ink colour stops and another begins. Also called break for colour.

Colour Control Bar

Strip of small blocks of colour on a proof or press sheet to help evaluate features such as density and dot gain. It is also called colour bar, colour guide and standard offset colour bar.

Colour Correct

Is when you adjust the relationship among the process colours to achieve desirable colours.

Colour Curves

Are instructions in computer software that allow users to change or correct colours.

Colour Electronic Prepress System

Computer, scanner, printer and other hardware and software designed for image assembly, colour correction, retouching and output onto proofing materials, film or printing plates.

Colour Gamut

Is the entire range of hues possible to reproduce using a specific device, such as a computer screen, or system, such as four-colour process printing.

Colour Key

Is a brand name for an overlay colour proof. Sometimes used as a generic term for any overlay colour proof.

Colour Separation

Is the separation of an image in to its CMYK components (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and black), one colour per plate. You can also convert pantone colours to CMYK to avoid printing 5th colour jobs.

Colour Sequence

Is the order in which inks are printed. It is also called laydown sequence and rotation.

Colour Shift

Change in image colour resulting from changes in register, ink densities or dot gain during four-colour process printing.

Colour Transparency

Film (transparent) used as art to perform colour separations.

Comb Bind

To bind by inserting the teeth of a flexible plastic comb through holes punched along the edge of a stack of paper. It is also called plastic bind and GBC bind (a brand name).

Composite Proof

Is a proof of colour separations in position with graphics and type. It is also called final proof, imposition proof and stripping proof.


(1) In typography, the assembly of typographic elements, such as words and paragraphs, into pages ready for printing.
(2) In graphic design, the arrangement of type, graphics and other elements on the page.

Comprehensive Dummy

Simulation of a printed piece complete with type, graphics and colours. Also called colour comprehensive and comp.

Contact Platemaker

Device with lights, timing mechanism and vacuum frame used to make contact prints, duplicate film, proofs and plates. It is also called plate maker and vacuum frame.

Continuous-tone Copy

All photographs and those illustrations having a range of shades not made up of dots, as compared to line copy or halftones.


Is the degree of tones in an image ranging from highlight to shadow.


Is a thick paper that protects a publication and advertises its title. Parts of covers are often described as follows: Cover 1=outside front; Cover 2=inside front; Cover 3=inside back, Cover 4=outside back.


Is the extent to which ink covers the surface of a substrate. Ink coverage is usually expressed as light, medium or heavy.


Is where the middle pages of a folded signature extending slightly beyond outside pages of the document.  Also called feathering, out push, push out and thrust.

Crop Marks

Lines near the edges of an image indicating portions to be reproduced. Also called cut marks and tic marks.


Is to dry inks, varnishes or other coatings after printing to ensure good adhesion and prevent setoff.

Cut Sizes

Are paper sizes used with office machines and small presses.

Cutting Machine

A machine that cuts stacks of paper to desired sizes. The machine can also be used in scoring or creasing.


Is one of the four process colours. Also known as process blue in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black)

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