Glossary of Terms

Below are a list of industry terms you’ll hear from Gorman Foy as we work to provide you with the best cost estimates and options for your project, and the definition of what we really mean when we mention them in our conversations with you. By no means does this list cover all the terminology for printing and promotional products. In fact, these industries are changing so rapidly, that new vocabulary is formed every day.

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z  

art/ artwork – all illustration copy in a print job; how the art is provided, either as a camera-ready or electronic file.

aqueous – a fast-drying, water-based, protective coating which is applied while the paper stock is on the press. This coating increases durability and reduces cracking and finger-printing.


backbone – the back of a bound book, connecting the two covers, also called the spine of the book.

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

bleed – an extra amount of printed image which extends beyond the trim edge of the sheet or page.

blind embossing – a type of decoration in which a design is stamped without metallic leaf or ink, giving a bas relief effect.

bond – considered a writing paper, this paper is commonly used for letterhead and digital copies.

brightness – the brilliance of the paper.


CMYK – (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) the subtractive process colors used in color printing. Black (K) is added to enhance color and contrast.

cast-coated finish – coated paper dried under pressure against a polished drum to produce a high-gloss enamel finish.

collating – the gathering of sheets or signatures.

commercial printing – also referred to as lithography, commercial printing includes sheet fed or web fed paper. Also a printer producing a wide range of products such as announcements, brochures, posters, booklets, stationery, business forms, books and magazines.

contract proof – a color proof representing an agreement between the printer and the customer regarding how the printed product will look.

copy – any written materials to be used in the print production; usually provided in electronic file format

cover – heavier weight paper that complements text and book grades. Good for scoring, folding,

embossing, and die-cutting.

crop marks/trim marks – marks placed on the copy to indicate the edge of the page

cutting – trimming the press sheet down to size for either folding or binding.


deboss – impressing an image to achieve a sunken surface; either overprinting or on blank paper (called blind embossing)

d้cor – project specifications such as type of printing (i.e. how many colors, sides, coatings, embossing, stamping)

densitometer – used to measure and control the density of color ink on the substrate.

density – the degree of darkness of a photographic image.

design – the creative services involved in creating the artwork, usually in electronic format for printing.

die-casting – molten metal is poured into the cavity of a carved die. Used to create fine detail and thin lines for metal products such as jewelry, pins and belt buckles.

die-cutting – uses sharp steel rules to cut special shapes for covers, labels, folders and more.

digital imaging/digital printing – this style of imaging requires toner (black or color) to set onto the sheet/paper. Offset printing absorbs ink into the fiber of the paper. Digital imaging is a cost effective choice for short run (low quantity) projects.

direct plate – replaces film in lithography or offset printing. The image is transferred directly to the plate from the file.

dot gain – a defect in which dots print larger than they should, causing darker tones and stronger colors.

dots per inch – a measure of the resolution of a screen image on a printed page.

drilling – the actual drilling of holes into paper for ring or comb binding.

dummy/mock up – a preliminary layout showing the position of illustrations and text as they are to appear in the final reproduction. A set of blank pages made up in advance to show the size, shape, form and general style of a piece of printing.

duotone – a two color halftone reproduction from one-color photograph.

duplex paper – paper with a different color or finish on each side.


emboss – impressing an image to achieve a raised surface; either overprinting or on blank paper (called blind embossing)

enamel – coated paper or coating material on paper.

EPS (encapsulated postscript) – a digital file format used to transfer graphic images.

engraving – The cutting or etching of letters and designs on metal, wood, glass and other material. The cutting is done by the use of a diamond point or rotary blade.

embroidery – A design or image that is stitched into the product by use of a high-speed, computer-controlled sewing machine.

etching – The product is coated with a resistant coating. The image is then exposed on the product, leaving bare and protected metal. This is a great process for images with fine lines.


file – a group of related information, such as text, graphics, page instructions and picture information.

finish size – trim out; Size of final product.

finishing – all other embellishments, besides the printing such as folding, scoring, cutting, drilling, collating, binding, die-cutting and perforating.

flat size – size of project, unfolded.

flush cover – a cover that has been trimmed to the same size as the inside text pages of a book.

flush left (or right) – type set to line up at the left or right margin.

folding – various ways to configure a press sheet to create panels or pages. There are several different types of folds such as (bi-fold, tri-fold, z-fold, accordion fold, roll fold, gate fold and double gate fold.

font – typeface; a complete set of letters, numbers and punctuation of the same design and size.

FPO (for position only) – low resolution image placed in a document just to show image placement; will later be replaced with a high-resolution image.

fulfillment – putting materials together for mailing. This could include kitting, collating or boxing.


gathering – the assembly of folded signatures in proper order.

generation – each succeeding stage in reproduction from the original copy.

gloss finish – a high shine finish that shows less markings and more durability. It dries faster than a matte or uncoated sheet.

gripper edge – the leading edge of paper as it passes through a printing press.

gripper margin – unprintable blank edge of paper on which the gripper bears.

gutter – the blank space or inner margin from printing area to binding.


hairline register – color printing on which the misregister allowable is within + or – one half row of dots.

hickeys – spots or imperfections in the printing due to dirt on the press, dried ink skin, paper particles, etc.

hot stamping/foil stamping – a method in which the image is impressed in the form of a relief die with heat and pressure through metallic or pigmented foil onto the surface.


imposition – in image assembly, the positioning of pages on a signature so that after printing, folding and cutting, all pages will appear in the proper sequence.

ink drawdown – a small amount of ink is placed on paper and drawn down with the edge of a putty knife spatula to get a thin film of ink

insert – a printed piece prepared for insertion into a publication or another printed piece.

italic – slanted style of lettering.


jog – align sheets of paper into a compact pile

justify – space lines out uniformly to flush both right and left sides.


kerning – taking space away between two characters in order to bring the characters closer together.


laid paper – paper with a pattern of parallel lines at equal distances, giving a ribbed effect.

lamination – a plastic film bonded by heat and pressure to a printed sheet for protection.

layout – the drawing or sketch of a proposed printing project.

leading – the distance between lines of type, measured by points.

logotype (Logo) - a special design used as a trademark in advertising to represent a company or product.

loose leaf binders – various sizes of rings and spines that hold various amounts of material.


M (Mega) – represents one million, or one megabyte of computer disk space.

mailing services – these services customize mail pieces using the customer’s database and mails in the most cost efficient and time efficient methods, based on US Postal Service regulations.

make-ready – in printing, all work done to set up a press for printing.

matte finish – a type of coated paper that has a dull, low luster finish.

moir้ – the unwanted screen pattern caused by incorrect screen angles of overprinting half-tones.

mottle – spotty or uneven appearance of printing.


negative – film containing an image in which the values of the original are reversed, so the dark areas appear lighter and vice versa.


offset - a printing method in which an inked image on a flat plate is transferred to a rubber surface before being pressed onto the printing surface.

opacity – the property of paper which minimizes the “show-through” effect onto the back of the paper.

opaque – the property which makes paper less transparent.

overhand cover – a cover larger than the size of the inside pages.

overprinting – printing over an area that has already been printed.

overrun/under run – the number of products in excess of the quantity specified, or fewer copies that the amount specified. The industry norm is 10 percent over or under.


packaging – includes boxes, bags, tubes, shrink-wrap and banding.

pad printing – used for imprinting small, unusual objects.

page – the final, trimmed sheet once the paper is folded. A page represents one printed side of the final, folded product.

pagination - the process of performing page makeup and numbering automatically.

palette – the colors or shades available in a graphics system or program.

PANTONEฎ Matching Systems (PMS) – a system of over 700 preprinted colors made of blended inks.

paper brand – nationwide, there are many leading paper merchants with varying lines of signature papers, from coated to uncoated, vellum to texture, cover to book. Just like cars or clothing, various paper lines are known for their distinctive characteristics and qualities.

paper finish – represents the surface of the paper (see gloss, matte, cast-coated)

paper grade – defines the use of the paper such as text or cover.

paper weight – weight of paper in pounds of a ream (500 sheets). For example, 70 lb. book.

PDF (Portable Document File) – a universal electronic file format modeled after the PostScript language. This file can be viewed, navigated and printed from any computer, regardless of fonts and software.

perfect bind – pages are held together by a flexible adhesive and a cover is glued to the spine.

perfecting press – a printing press that prints both sides of paper in one pass.

perforating – punching small holes or slits in a sheet of paper to facilitate tearing along a desired line.

picking – the lifting of the paper surface during printing.

plasticoil bind – used for books that need flexibility in opening (such as a notebook). A series of holes are punched along the edge and a plastic coil is fitted into the holes. Allows for wrap around functionality, very user-friendly.

portrait – vertical orientation of the page.

position proof – color proof for checking position, layout and color breakout of image elements.

positive – film containing an image in which the dark and light values are the same as the original.

preflight – confirms the type of disk being submitted, the color gamut, color breaks and required artwork.

press proof – a proof of a color subject made on a printing press, in advance of the production run

process colors – colors for process printing: cyan, yellow, magenta and black.

production proof – provided by the supplier, an example or sample of the final, imprinted product.

proofing – representation of the final piece. A proof can be in the form of a fax, laser, digital color proof, press proof (sheet of the press), or pdf.



ream – 500 sheets of paper

register – fitting of two or more printing images in exact alignment with each other

register marks – cross or other targets applied to original copy used for positioning two or more colors in printing

reprography – copying and duplicating.

(RIP) raster image processor – combination of computer software and hardware that controls the printing process by calculating the bitmaps of images and instructing a printing device to create the image. All files go through the (RIP) before plating.

resolution – printing quality based on dots per inch.

run charge – special charge that covers the actual printing on the product.


saddle-stitch – wire forced through the middle crease (or spine) of the book. Looks like a staple when finished.

scoring – a crease in a cover weight paper that makes it easier to fold. Scores have different rules or thickness depending on the thickness of the paper.

screen printing – makes an imprint by transferring ink through a fine screen.

self cover – a cover of the same paper as the inside text pages

set-up charge – special charge that covers the cost of preparing the artwork that will be imprinted on the product.

sheet – the full-sized paper sheet that runs through the press. A press sheet will contain multiple pages in order to maximize paper space. The press sheet will then be folded or cut to form pages.

show-through – printing can be seen on the reverse side of the sheet under normal lighting conditions.

signature – the printed sheet once it has been folded and is ready for binding.

skid – platform that supports a pile of cut sheets of paper.

step-and-repeat – the procedure of multiple exposures using the same image by stepping it in position according to a predetermined layout.

stet – proofreader’s mark that mean copy should remain as is.

stock – paper or other material to be printed

substrate – any material that can be printed, including paper, fabric or plastic.


tagged image file format (TIFF) – a graphics file format for scanned images, specifically for storing grayscale images.

text – this type of paper is commonly used in commercial printing for brochures, booklets, annual reports and more.

textured finish – a paper with a rough, bumpy or toothy surface.

tolerances – the accepted variations in register, density, dot size, plate or paper thickness and other printing parameters.

toner – imaging material also called digital inks.

traditional forms – continuous (pin-fed) forms, snap out forms, checks, invoices and shipping documents.

transparency – color positive film.

transparent ink – a printing ink which does not conceal the color beneath. Process inks are transparent.

trapping – the ability to print a wet ink film over previously printed ink. Dry trapping is printing wet ink over dry ink. Wet trapping is printing wet ink over previously printed wet ink. In prepress, refers to how much overprinting colors overlap to eliminate white lines between colors.

trim Marks – marks placed on the copy to indicate the edge of the page.


unit – the combination of inking, plate and impression operations to print each color. For example, a four-color press has four printing units.

uncoated finish – a flat paper without coating.

-up (i.e. two-up) – refers to the number of being printed on a sheet to take advantage of full press capacity.

UV Inks – solvent less inks that are cured by UV radiation. Used extensively in screen printing, narrow web letterpress and flexographic printing. Also used in lithography but must be printed with specific UV press.


varnish – a thin protective coating applied to a printed sheet for protection or appearance. Ink based coating.

vellum finish – an uncoated transparent or textured paper.


wash-up – the process of cleaning the rollers, form or plate on a printing press.

wearables – includes items of clothing that can be embroidered or silkscreened, like shirts, golf shirts, aprons, uniforms, blazers, headwear, jackets, neckwear, footwear, blankets and more.

widow – a single word or part of a word on a line by itself.

work-and-tumble – to print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn it over from gripper to back using the same side guide and plate to print the second side.

work-and-turn – to print one side of a sheet of paper, and then turn over from left to right and print the second side using the same gripper and plate, but opposite side guide.

wove paper – paper having a uniform unlined surface and a soft smooth finish.