Printing terms

In order to make your life easier, we’ve put together a list of the most used print industry words that you can access anytime.


Adhesives are chemicals used in printing to make things stick firmly together.

Crop Marks

Small, printed lines marked around the edges of the pages to indicate where the document or print will be trimmed. Sometimes referred to as cut marks.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is a high-speed printing technique using laser technology, ideally for short-run and small-scale jobs.


The final touches to a print – cutting the crop lines, adding protective gloss etc.


The abbreviation for "grams per square metre" relates to the paper's weight. However, it is significant to remember that heavier sheets (with a greater GSM) are not always thicker. Silk or glass covered sheets can feel thinner than untreated sheets of the same weight. The thickness of a sheet is typically measured in microns. It's usually a good idea to test a piece of paper by hand to determine your preference for thickness vs. weight.

Offset Printing

Offset printing, the most common commercial printing process, involves the transfer or offset of ink from a printing plate to a sheet of paper via a rubber blanket.


A preliminary version of a printed piece used to confirm that the final product appears correct. Proofs are prepared to ensure that the customer and the printer are completely in agreement and that the project is error-free.


Trim is the line cut to produce the finished sized product, and cuts through the bleed to ensure a continuous edge around a design.

Bespoke Printing

A method used to suit the demands of a business in order to create something really unique that is not limited by certain printing products, materials or sizes.


Refers to the four inks used in the colour process – cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and ketone (black).

Different Folds

Folding is a standard operation that follows printing and cutting and provides additional presentation choices for your materials. There are about eight folding techniques: the letter fold, the tri-fold, the Z-fold, the double parallel, the half-fold, the double gate, the single gate, and the French.


A finishing process in which a thin layer of metal (foil) is adhered to the surface of a material using heat, pressure and a glossy UV light.

Image Quality

Frequently referred to as ‘resolution’, images have usually been compressed to 72dpi for online use. To achieve the best print quality, images for print should be no less than 300dpi as standard practice.


The ‘original’ refers to the initial file of the piece of work you wish to produce.


Computers show images on your screen using the RGB colour space (red, green, and blue). To print correctly, an RGB computer file must be converted to CMYK.


The art of arranging letters and text in way that makes copy clear and visually appealing. Printers need to know the layout of your text, along with the colour and style.


Any element that extends up to or past the margin of the printed page.


Debossing is a stamping process of indenting a design into the surface of an item or paper.


Embossing is the process of imprinting a design onto paper so that it appears raised.


The font style relates to the lettering used in the print.


Laminating reinforces your print output with a thin coating of plastic for extra durability. Matt or gloss lamination may provide a tactile aspect to your print, such as soft touch laminate, which is almost velvet-like. Recommended for projects requiring a high level of ink coverage to avoid ink transfer and chipping of paper after it has been cut or folded.

Pantone Colour

It's a universal colour code that's used to talk about colours. As a standard, Pantone uses a code number to designate each colour in their system for 'colour matching' purposed.

Spot UV

Spot varnishing, or spot UV, is a coating technique that only applies the coating to particular parts of a printed product, resulting in ‘spots’ giving your product a shiny, vibrant aesthetic. Please keep in mind that spot UV works best on coated paper since the varnish soaks into uncoated paper and loses its impact.


A glossy coating applied to a final printed object to enhance lustre and protect it from any damage.


To minimise the risk of ink smudging after printing, a special mineral coating can be applied to the paper, giving the paper a smoother finish.

Die Cut

The process of cutting paper using a precise, razor-sharp steel blade or wooden die that enables the efficient and consistent creation of numerous pieces of the same shape.


The surface quality of a paper.

Gray Scale

It is a range of grey values from white to black that incorporates shades of grey and is used to reproduce images.

Metallic Ink

The metallic look is produced by utilising powdered metal or reflecting pigments. Silver and gold are the most often used colours to add a that metallic touch.

Process Colours

Colours are created by combining the base colours of cyan, magenta, yellow and black – known as the base colours of print.


Text stock is the paper used to print normal page runs on, and it is often thinner, looser, and more flexible. Cover Stock is more often used for goods that require stiffer, heavier paper, such as postcards, bookmarks, hang tags, and business cards. Both have the potential to significantly change the impact of printed items.

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