Printing Glossary

This page is devoted to all common terms related to the printing industry. If you find a word while perusing our website that you are not familiar with then check here for the definition or give us a call if there is something that you don't understand.

Accordion Fold
An accordion fold is generally two parallel folds in the opposite direction to give the appearance of the pleats on an accordion. The zigzag nature of this fold sometimes makes it referred to as a Z fold.
Aqueous Coating
Aqueous coating is a high gloss finish that is applied directly after the print process. This water based, fast drying, protective coating makes the finished product more resilient to smudges, scratching, and other impurities.
A bleed refers to the process of a printed image that extends to the very edge of a finished piece of paper. With digital printing there is a standard printer margin of roughly .25" of white space that will be around the edges on the finished product. To avoid having this white margin on the finished product a bleed must be applied. A bleed design setup needs to be .5" larger than the finished product.
C1S is the abbreviated term for coated one side. Meaning that only one side of the paper has a coating. This coating is applied during the paper manufacturing process and not after the printing process. Coatings can vary from matte to gloss.
CMYK is the abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). CYMK is the subtractive color model used in most digital and offset printing and is not to be confused with RGB which is the standard model for displaying colors on a computer screen or monitor. A file setup for print in RGB will not look the same when printed as a file setup for print in CMYK.
Collate means to assemble in numerical sequence or logical order. This means if you get 10 copies of a 3 page document collated together you will end up with 10 copies of page 1, 2, and 3 grouped together. To not collate would mean that you would end up with 10 copies of page 1 in one stack, 10 copies of page 2 in a second stack, and 10 copies of page 3 in another stack.
Color Space
A color space defines how a color model such as CMYK or RGB is interpreted by the printer. A common CMYK color space is U.S. web coated (SWOP) v2. This color space would render colors differently than a U.S. web uncoated color space. In generic terms though a color space can also just refer to CMYK or RGB.
Comb Binding
Comb binding refers to a type of binding that uses a plastic spine with 19 rings to assemble pages together. Rectangular holes are punched into the paper and then the rings are inserted into the holes. The natural form factor of the comb spine closes on the rings to create the binding. This type of binding is generally used for books whose pages are often changing and replaced.
Digital Printing
Digital printing is a process in which files are sent directly to a laser or ink jet print where no plates are involved like traditional offset printing. The elimination of plates for different inks decreases the time involved to setup a print job and keeps the cost of small to medium sized print runs at a minimum as compared to offset printing.
Double Parallel Fold
A double parallel fold is created by folding a sheet of paper in half twice in parallel. This creates an 8 panel brochure.
DPI stands for dots per inch and defines the resolution of a printer. When viewing an image on a computer screen its resolution can be referred to as pixels per inch or PPI and is only indirectly related to DPI. When designing a digital file it is best to design at a minimum resolution of 300 DPI. 300 DPI is generally the standard minimum print resolution. Many images taken from the web are not suitable for print as their resolution is 72 DPI.
Duplex is the technical term for two sided printing.
Gate Fold
A gate fold is where the left and right panel of a brochure are folded inward on a center panel and meet in the middle without overlapping. The center panel is usually twice the size of the left or right panel. This type of fold is also known as a window fold.
Gloss is a coating applied to paper either before or after the printing process that gives the paper a shiny appearance.
Grayscale is a color model in which only variations between black and white are used. All other color values are disregarded except for the intensity or shades of black. Grayscale printing can also be referred to as monochromatic printing meaning only one color. If you are printing a color image in black and white then your images will be converted to grayscale when printed.
GSM refers to the metric density of a paper. Technically referred to as grams per square meter (g/m2) or grammage. In the U.S. GSM is the more common term. A high GSM paper will allow less light through the paper than a lower GSM paper.
Head to Head
Head to head is a term used in duplex printing meaning that the top or "head" of a document's front side should match with the top of the back side.
Head to Toe
Head to toe is a term used in duplex printing meaning that the top or head of a document's front side should match with the bottom or "toe" of the back side.
Letter Fold
A letter fold is more commonly known as a tri-fold or brochure fold. A letter fold is created when a left panel and right panel are folded in on center panel of the same size creating an overlap.
Matte Finish
Matte finish is a dull coated paper without luster. Matte finish paper is not as susceptible to being marred by fingerprints and smudges. Text is generally easier to read on a matte finish.
Offset Printing
Offset printing is the most commonly used form of printing for large print runs. Offset printing works by transferring an image from a plate to a rubber blanket and then onto the printing surface. Offset presses run primarily in two types, sheet-fed and web-fed. A sheet-fed offset press prints on single sheets of paper fed into the press one at a time. A web-fed offset press prints on a continuous sheet of paper fed from a roll.
Pantone (PMS)
Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a proprietary color space developed by Pantone Inc. A pantone spot color is a specific color in the pantone matching system that usually cannot be reproduced with standard CMYK colors.
Perfect Binding
Perfect binding is a thermally activated binding that uses hot glue to attach interior pages to the spine of a cover. The result is a soft cover or paperback book.
Perforation is a series of slits in paper to make that portion of the paper easily removable. You will often see perforation on raffle tickets and forms.
Short for picture element, the term pixel refers to a single point in a graphic image.
Raster Image
A raster image is one that is defined by a set of pixels. Raster images unlike vector images cannot be scaled to a larger size than their original without loss of quality. Raster graphics are usually photographs or other multicolor photorealistic images.
RGB is an additive color model that uses light of three primary colors red, green, and blue to produce a color. RGB is the color space used for electronic devices such as televisions and computer monitors. If you have a file that is in the RGB color model it will not look the same when it is printed on a CMYK printer. Thus it is best to make sure you design your print files in CMYK for the best color reproduction from the computer screen to print.
Saddle Stitch
Saddle stitching is a type of binding that uses two staples in the gutter or folded area of documents to bind them together. This is a common type of binding for booklets, children's books, newsletters and magazines.
Scoring is a groove put into a sheet of paper where it will be folded to make the fold appear cleaner. Scoring is often used on heavier papers that tend to crack when folded.
UV Coating
UV coating is a type of high gloss finish that is applied to paper after its been through the printing process and then is cured with ultra violet radiation. This type of coating generally has more shine and protection than aqueous coating.
Vector Image
A vector image is one that uses mathematical expressions to form an image with lines and shapes. The mathematical nature of a vector image allows it to be easily scaled to a larger size without the loss of quality.
Z Fold
A Z fold is a zigzag type fold that forms a brochure. This is also be known as an accordion fold.