Printing Terms

Aqueous coating

Water-base coating applied like ink on a printing press to protect and enhance the printing underneath.


Change in specifications after production has begun.


Packaging printed pieces using paper, rubber or fiberglass bands.


Insert that is bound into a saddle-stitch or perfect-bind publication.


Printing that goes beyond the edge of the sheet after trimming.

Blow-in card

Loose insert that is not bound into the publication but is “blown in” at an approximate page.


Characteristic of paper, referring to how much light it reflects.

C1S and C2S

Abbreviations for “coated one side” and “coated two sides”.


Abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black) — the four process colors.

Coated paper

Paper with a coating (of clay and other substances) that makes it appear shiny. Mills produce coated paper in four categories: cast, gloss, dull and matte.

Color correct

To adjust the balance of cyan, magenta, yellow and black to achieve desirable colors.

Dots per inch (DPI)

Measure of resolution of input devices (e.g., scanners), display devices (e.g., monitors) and output devices (e.g., laser printers, image setters).


To bore holes in paper so sheets fit on rings of loose-leaf binders.

Dull finish

Characteristic of paper that reflects relatively little light.


Stamping a raised or depressed image into the surface of paper, using engraved metal dies, extreme pressure and heat.


Brand name for hard-proof materials.


Price provided to a customer based on specifications on the estimate form. It is normally set prior to the entry of an order. Price estimate may change as specifications change.


Size, style, shape, layout or organization of a layout or printed piece.


When multiple projects are printed simultaneously, side by side on the same paper sheet, in an effort to reduce cost.

House sheet (house brand)

Paper kept in stock by a printer and suitable for a variety of printing jobs.


Piece to be bound or blown in to a publication.


Brand name for hard-proof materials.


Thin, transparent plastic sheet (coating) applied to protect paper stock against liquid and heavy use. It usually accents existing color and provides a glossy effect.


Method of printing, using plates with image areas that attract ink. Non-image areas may be coated with water to repel oily ink or may have a surface, such as silicon, that repels ink.


All activities required to prepare a press or other machine for a specific printing or bindery job.

Matte finish

Flat (not glossy) finish on photographic or coated printing paper.

M weight

Weight of 1,000 sheets of paper in any specific size.


Advertisement affixed to a page or cover of a publication (e.g., sticky note).

Over run

Pieces printed in excess of the quantity specified.

PMS color/Pantone matching system

International system used to mix inks to standard colors used by printers.


To bind by applying glue along one edge of a stack of sheets.

Page count

Total number of pages, including blanks and printed pages without numbers.

Perfect bind

Binding process whereby single sheets are stacked together, the binding edge is ground to create a rough surface, adhesive is applied and a cover is wrapped around the pages.


Process of wrapping publications and any outserts in plastic.


Processes performed on a project before it goes to the press to be printed (e.g., layout, scanning).

Press check

Event at which makeready sheets from the press are examined before authorizing full production.


Sharpness of an image.

Rush jobs

Orders produced faster than the printer’s normal five- to seven-day turn-around time.

Saddle stitch (or saddle wire)

To bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine.

Satin finish

Alternate term for dull finish on coated paper.


To compress paper along a straight line so it folds more easily and accurately.

Self-cover or self-contained

Publication using only text stock and no cover stock.


Printed item that can be mailed without an envelope.

Shrink wrap

Tight-fitting plastic wrap used to protect a publication.


Section of a book made by folding a printed sheet so that the pages follow in the correct order (standard signatures are 8, 16 and 32).


Binding edge of a publication.

Spiral bind (coil bind)

To bind using wire or plastic spirals looped through holes.


Planned paper waste for all printing operations.

Spot color or varnish

One ink or varnish applied to small portions of a sheet, instead of covering the entire sheet.


Standard layout.

Uncoated paper (offset paper)

Paper that is not coated with clay and does not appear shiny.

Turn-around time

Amount of time needed to complete a job, from submission of PDF to delivery.


Liquid applied as a coating for protection and appearance.

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