Glossary of Printing Terms

There are a variety of terminologies and technologies in the printing industry that can seem complicated to some. This is why we have put together a printing glossary where you can find printing terms explained. 

Feel free to bookmark and refer to this page whenever necessary as we’ll be adding more definitions to assist you. Let’s dig into this glossary of printing terms!

Batch Production

Meaning of Batch Production: batch production is a printing method in which similar or identical products are mass-produced in a production run. These production runs can range in different sizes, depending on what is needed. However, this doesn’t need to be identical. Changes such as colour and size can occur in a batch production run. 

Binding

Meaning of Binding: binding refers to the process of attaching multiple sheets together. This printing technique is most commonly used in the production of books. The most common methods of binding are Spiral Binding, using a plastic coil attached to the edge of the paper, and Perfect Binding, using glue to bind pages together or to a cover.

Bleed

In printing terms, Bleed refers to an area of the paper in which the background of an image is extended past the trim. A bleed is used when an image is blown up before printing and avoids a strip of paper around the design. The bleed is cut off later to allow the design is fit to the size

Calendared Vinyl

Calendered film is a thicker, stiffer and less expensive type of material when compared to its counterpart cast vinyl. Ideal for flat, simple surfaces, calendared vinyl has a lifespan of roughly 3 to 5 years.

Cast Vinyl

Cats vinyl is produced by pouring liquid into a mould, creating a stretchy final product. When compared to calendared vinyl, cast film is thinner and more long-lasting. With a lifespan of over 7 years outdoors, cast vinyl is ideal for curved, textured surfaces.

CMYK 

Meaning of CMYK: Most commonly used in printers, CMYK refers to the primary colours, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key referring to the darkest colour that when mixed together in different quantities can make an unlimited number of colours and different shades. 

Die-Cut

Meaning of Die-Cut: Die-cut is a cutting technique that uses a small blade to cut mediums such as cardstock and paper. This is done using a machine, in a similar way a printer works. Popular machines include a Cricut. 

Digital Print

What does Digital Print mean? Digital print is a printing technique in which a digital-based image is printed onto different mediums. This refers to printing from a desktop publisher such as Adobe InDesign and printing using a large-format printer such as an inkjet printer. 

DPI

What does DPI mean? DPI or Dots Per Inch refers to the quality of an image. DPI measures the number of dots or pixels that can fit within one inch. The higher the DPI the better quality the image is.

Embossing

Meaning of Embossing: Found on certificates, embossing is a technique used to create a raised paper stamp. Most commonly used on paper, embossing usually represents quality. Debossing is a similar technique that pushes the paper down rather than up. Embossing can either be done by hand or using a machine. 

Flexo Printing

Flexo printing or flexographic printing is a technique that uses flexible metal plates that can be used to print on a wide range of materials such as paper and plastic. Inks such as water-based inks and UV curing inks are often used for flexo printing. 

Foiling

Meaning of Foiling: Using machines such as a laminator, foiling is a finishing technique that uses films of metal attached by heat to paper and card. Often used in wedding invitations, foiling adds a metallic look to designs and is popular for its premium look. 

Folds

After the printing and cutting process, folds are used to create paper booklets such as magazines and brochures. Common folding techniques include the ‘tri-fold’ and the ‘Z-fold’ 

Gravure Printing

Gravure printing is a printing method that uses a rotary press, where images are engraved onto metal cylinders via millions of tiny wells. These indentations hold ink and are often used in commercial printing for magazines and postcards, among others.

GSM

Meaning of GSM: GSM is the acronym for grams per square metre This is the unit of measurement for the weight of paper. In the same context, grammage refers to the basis weight of paper in GSM.

Inkjet printing

Inkjet printing refers to the process by which a printer sprays ink onto paper to print images, texts or graphics. Typical inkjet printers are often found in non-industrial settings, like households or small offices, though some commercial companies do use them.

Kitting

Meaning of Kitting: kitting is a process that refers to the compilation of several printed items. These are placed into storage or shipped together at a later time.

Lamination 

Meaning of Lamination: A laminate is a thin transparent plastic sheet that is applied to add durability to a print product.  Lamination is slightly different for normal print as opposed to window graphics, but the goal is the same: protect against heavy use and liquids, accent existing colours, and provide a glossy or lens effect. Lamination can be matt, gloss or textured. 

Latex Printing

Latex ink printing uses print heads to apply water-based inks on a range of products, from vinyl banners and posters to see-through vinyl. It is different from solvent printing, as in this case, latex is the carrier for colour pigments.

Lithographic Printing 

Meaning of Lithographic Printing: Lithographic printing is a traditional printing method that uses plates and ink to print. The plates have image and nonimage areas. The nonimage areas repel ink either by coating them with water or having a surface like silicone.

Offset Printing

What does Offset Printing mean? Also known as offset lithography printing, offset printing is a common technique of commercial printing. In this printing method, the ink is transferred from a printing plate to a rubber blanket and subsequently transferred to paper.

Overlaminate

Overlaminate refers to a type of coating process where a laminate protective film is added to print products. The goal is to enhance the appearance, add longevity to a printed product, as well as add UV protection.

Point-of-Purchase

What does Point of Purchase mean? POP or Point of Purchase is an in-store marketing campaign, often used in retail. It’s a noninvasive marketing campaign that usually takes place near the end of the sale and often near the checkouts. The aim is to create brand awareness, provide a positive customer experience and increase sales.   

Not to be confused with Point of Sale advertising, or POS, which refers to one of the first stages of the customer visit.

Proofing

Next in our printing glossary is proofing. In this process, you receive a copy of the finished product (either a soft copy such as a PDF or a hard copy which is physical) so you can review the final product before approval.

Quiet Zone

In printing, the quiet zone refers to the gap between the edge of the page and any data on the sheet. It is known as the no-print zone as it should be free from any text, imagery or other diagrams in order to provide tolerance to cutting. 

Reflex Copy

Also called reflective copy, this printing term refers to products that are viewed by light reflected from them, as compared to transparent copy. These products can be fabrics, illustrations and photographic prints.

Transparency

Sometimes abbreviated as TX, transparency in printing refers to an image or text that is printed onto pieces of film where the result is partially or fully see-through.

UV printing

Ultraviolet printing, or UV printing, is a printing technique. It uses special UV curing ink that allows it to print unique images, text and even textures onto a wide range of materials.

Wide-format

Wide-format printing refers to the printing of large format artwork or signage. Wide-format printers are used to print these designs onto large rolls of paper or other materials to create banners, posters, and vehicle wraps, among others.

There you have it, our glossary of printing terms. Looking for different terminologies? Take a look at our page Outdoor Advertising Terms Explained.

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