From A
To Z
  • A
    Accordion fold

    Folding technique which consists in bending each fold in the opposite direction of the previous fold, thus creating a pleated or accordion effect.

    Against the grain

    Running a sheet of paper through a printing press at right angles to the grain direction of the paper, as opposed to with the grain.

    Anti-offset powder

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

    Aqueous coating

    Clear coating method used to protect printed pieces. It provides a high-gloss surface to protect the printed medium (brochures, catalogue covers, postcards etc.) from dirt and fingerprints.


    All the original materials, including texts, photos, illustrations and other components needed to produce a printed piece.

  • B

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

    Blind embossing

    A raised impression on the paper made without using inks or metal foils.


    Excess printed area that is trimmed after printing. Having bleeds (usually 3mm) in your files ensures that full-page images take up the entire page and are not left with a fine, white edge after trimming.

    Bodonian binding

    Particular binding technique where the spine of a thread-stitch bound book is made of canvas (instead of a cardboard spine), in order to make the book easier to open.

  • C
    Case binding

    In binding and finishing, a means of binding pages together involving the sewing of printed signatures together with thread, followed by encasing the signatures between cloth-covered cardboard covers. Case binding is used for hardcover – or case bound – books.

    Coated paper

    Paper with a coating of clay and/or other substances that improves reflectivity and ink holdout. Coated paper can be produced in 4 major categories: cast, gloss, dull and matte.

    Colour control bar

    Strip of small blocks of color on a proof or press sheet to help evaluate features such as density and dot gain.

    Crop marks

    Small printed lines around the edges of a printed piece indicating where it is to be cut out of the sheet. Sometimes referred to as cut marks.

    Cutting die

    Usually a custom ordered item (made of wood and thin steel blades) to trim specific and unusual sized printing projects.


    One of the four process colours – indicated with the letter C in CMYK.

  • D

    To press an image into paper with a die (and a counter die) so it extends below the surface. It is the opposite process of embossing, where the image is raised above the paper’s surface.


    The degree of tone, weight of darkness or colour within a photo or reproduction. The density is measurable by the densitometer, an optical device used by printers and photographers.

    Digital printing

    Printing technique particularly suitable for short run productions and specifically for print products based on variable data.


    Mock-up simulating the final product. Dummies range from very simple, showing only size or rough layout, to very complicated, showing position and colour of type and art.

  • E

    A process performed by using a metal die, heat, pressure, and a counter die to reshape a paper surface, creating a raised image in relief.


    Sheets that attach the inside pages of a case bound book to its cover. Also called pastedown or end papers.

  • F
    Finished size

    Size of a product after production is complete, as compared to flat size. Also called trim size.


    Single printed page with no folds, sometimes called leaflet.

    Foil printing

    Method of printing that impresses a metallic foil onto paper with a heated die.

    Fold marks

    Small lines on the printing plate or on the press sheet indicating where to fold the final product.

    Four-colours printing

    Technique of printing that uses black, magenta, cyan and yellow to simulate full-colour images. Also called colour process printing, full colour printing and process printing.

  • G

    To assemble or collect sections or signatures of a book next to each other in the proper sequence for binding.

    Grain direction

    Predominant direction in which fibers in paper become aligned during manufacturing.


    Strip of different grey values ranging from white to black. A grey scale is used to analyse and optimize the contrastive black and white and coloured reproductions.

    Guillottine cutter

    A machine to cut or trim printed matter. Guillotine cutters can be automatic or manual devices that are available in a wide range of sizes.

  • H

    The small piece of fabric seen at the top and bottom of a hardcover binding, with optional colour variations.


    A spot or imperfection in printing caused by dirt or hardened specks of ink. The problem is most visible in areas of heavy ink coverage. A hickey is also called a bulls eye or a fish eye.

    Hot melt

    An adhesive used in the binding process, which requires heat for application.

  • I

    Arrangement of pages on mechanicals or flats so they will appear in proper sequence after press sheets are folded and bound.


    A number assigned to a published work and usually found either on the title page or on the back of the title page. Abbreviation for International Standard Book Number.

  • L

    Applying thin transparent plastic sheets to one or to both sides of a sheet of paper, providing scuff resistance, waterproofing and extended use.


    A rendering of a proposed printed piece, indicating positions for headings, copy, art, and borders.


    A paper that simulates the look and texture of a linen cloth.

  • M

    One of the four process colours – indicated with the letter M in CMYK.

    Male die

    Die that applies pressure during embossing or debossing. Also called force card.

    Metallic ink

    Particular kind of ink made with powdered metal or pinks, so that it looks metallic once printed. The most common colours used are gold and silver.


    A reproduction of the printed matter which simulates the outlook of the product after production.

  • N
    Native file

    The digital file that has been originally used to create a document.

  • O
    Offset Printing

    Particular printing method, where the printed material does not receive ink directly from a printing plate but from an intermediary blanket that receives the ink from the plate and then transfers it onto the paper.


    The property of a paper that limits show-through from printing on the opposite side or from another printing sheet.

  • P
    Perfect bind

    Method of binding in which pages are held together and fixed to the cover by means of a flexible adhesive. Widely used for paper back books, it’s also called adhesive bind, cut-back bind or glue bind.

    Printing plate

    Piece of paper, metal, plastic or rubber carrying an image to be reproduced using a printing press.


    (Obsolete) abbreviation of the Pantone Color Matching System.

    Press check

    When a client visits a printing company to view actual printed sheets of their project before a full production press run is started.

    Press proof

    Test sheet made with the very same paper, ink and plates to be used for the final press run, in order to predict results on press and record how a printing job is intended to appear when finished.

  • R

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

    Register marks

    Any crossmarks or other symbols used on a press sheet to assure proper registration.


    Abbreviation for red, green, blue, the primary colours of light, which computers use to display images on screen. An RGB file must be translated into CMYK in order to be printed on a printing press.

    Rich black

    Using multiple ink colours in addition to black to produce a deep, dark black colour.

  • S
    Saddle stitch

    The binding of booklets or other printed materials by stapling the pages on the folded spine.


    In printing and publishing, any single printed sheet with multiple pages imposed on it. The sheet, once folded and cut, forms a group of pages in their proper numbered sequence, as in a book. Some common signature sizes include quarto, octavo, sixteenmo, and thirty-twomo.

    Specifications (specs)

    Complete and precisely written description of features of a printing project, such as size, number of pages, type of paper, printing quality, binding method and so on.


    The back of a bound book connecting the two covers. Also called backbone.

    Spot colour

    One ink or varnish applied to portions of a sheet, as compared to flood or painted sheet.

  • T

    Pattern used to draw illustrations, make page formats, or lay out press sheets.


    In prepress trapping is a technique that minimizes the effects of misregistration in print by slightly overlapping abutting colours. In printing, trapping refers to the reaction of various colours of ink to each other when they are printed wet on top of each other.

    Trim size

    The final size of a printed piece after being cut from the sheet of paper that it was printed on.

  • U
    Uncoated paper

    Paper that has not been coated with clay.

    UV coating

    A very shiny and durable high gloss coating applied to a printed sheet or part of a page, then bonded and cured with ultraviolet light.

  • V

    A transparent liquid coating that is applied to a printed product to either protect it or make it visually more pleasing. Varnish can be either matte or glossy and is sometimes only applied to certain elements of a page to make them stand out.

    Vector file

    A file created on a page makeup system containing page design commands that specify the start, the end, and the length of each line.

  • Z
    Zip file

    Zipping a file compresses one or more files into a smaller archive, so that it takes up less hard drive space and less time to transfer across a network or the internet.