Glossary of Printing Terms

The Printing Industry is full of unique terms that mean something completely different outside of the print shop. We wanted to take some of the mystery out of the terms that we use every day to help empower our clients. If you can't find what you're looking for below, reach out to us or submit a term you'd like to for us to add.

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Ammonia is a chemical used in the printing industry to clean off aqueous coating from the printing blanket.


Artwork in Printing refers to the original digital files, frequently PDF files, including text and photographs that will be used for printing.

Author's Alterations (AA's)

Client requested changes made to artwork after it was submitted for proofs, which typically result in an additional fee to the client.

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Backlit Substrate

Material that when printed and lighting is placed behind, the print is translucent enough to allow light to pass through, enhancing the depth of the image


Backup is when the second side of the substrate is printed. Different ways to Backup include work and turn/work and tumble/sheet wise.


Bleed is the area printed beyond the intended crop line to allow printing to the edge of the finished piece. Bleed aides cropping in that it accommodates production discrepencies such as minor shifts during the production process.

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C1S & C2S

These abbreviations are used to indicate whether a paper stock is coated on one (C1S) or both (C2S) sides prior to additional finishing processes being applied.


Caliper is the measurement of the thickness of paper measured in points, or thousands of an inch, measured by using a Micrometer on different parts of the paper at various times throughout productions.

CASS Certification

CASS certification from USPS, or Coding Accuracy Support System is used to evaluate the quality of address-matching software and improve accuracy of ZIP+4 codes, carrier routes, and standard five-digit coding. CASS adds missing USPS information on each address such as correcting ZIP codes, cities names, and states to ensure your list is deliverable.

Circa Disk Binding

Circa Disk Binding is a binding technique along the edge of a catalog using circular disks from half an inch to two inches in diameter with a raised edge holding the paper, providing a unique high quality look and ease of removing and adding pages.


CMYK is the abbreviation for Four-Color Process Printing, a printing process that uses four different colors of inks: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK). These colors combine in various amounts to create every other color in the spectrum.


Coating is a finishing process in which a layer is added on top of a printed piece to provide protection. It's sometimes used during back up of print to eliminate drying time.


Color is the result of light penetrating objects (filters) and reflecting only some of the wavelengths back, which are then perceived by the cone cells in the human eye.

Color Contract Proof

A Color Contact Proof is a printed proof of the art file displaying an accurate representation of color which is used to match the piece when it runs on the press. While only accurate with CMYK built files, they are not accurate for PMS colors unless a CMYK conversion has been agreed upon.

Cover stock

Cover stock is heavier and thicker than regular printing paper and is used for book covers and folder.

Crop Marks

Used in finishing, crop marks are lines printed around printed pieces that are used as guides indicating where the final cut lines are within the bleed to produce the finished size.


One of the colors that make up 4-color process or CMYK, Cyan is a shade of blue that resembles the sky.

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Deboss is used to press an image from the front so that a depressed image appears on the front

Die Lines

Die Lines are marks indicating where an unusual cutting path should line up.

Digital Reader Proof

A Digital Reader Proof is a fully composed proof used to verify content and binding methods prior to production.


DPI stands for "dots per inch" which is a measurement for the resolution/quality of an image in printing. The greater number of dots, the greater the resolution. While images for the internet average 72 dpi, the standard for printing purposes is 300dpi or more.


Usually a dylux print, a Dummy is a rough layout of a printed piece showing position and finished size.

Duplex Paper

Duplex Paper is paper that has two different finishes or colors on either side.

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Embossing impresses an image from the back of a piece so that a raised image appears on the front side.


In printing, and Estimator takes pricing, labor, overhead, historical numbers and puts together quotes for clients on jobs.

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Finished Size

The Finished Size is the final size of the product once all finishing processes are completed including cutting and folding. For instance, a flat 8.5x11 sheet of paper that is being folded in half horizontally will result in a finished size of 5.5x8.5

Flat Size

The Flat Size refers to the size of the piece that is printed which includes the bleed/crop areas prior to cutting.

Foil Die

A Foil Die is a sculpted die used for hot foil stamping. Most often manufactured using state-of-the-art CNC machines using vector art which is permanently engraved into a sheet of brass or other thick metal. Die’s can be simple or complex in nature depending on the pattern. Die’s are often produced with duplicate patterns on the same sheet (such as a company’s logo) so that the same pattern can be stamped on various print pieces at one time, increasing efficiency and registration.

Foil Sleeking

Sleeking is a foil application process for digital substrate applications. The sheet is printed digitally with black ink on the HP Indigo to identify the areas in which the foil will be applied. A foil roll is then loaded onto the laminator, and the foil roll is heated/adhered to each sheet. When the sheet makes contact with the foil roll, it sticks ONLY to the inked black areas which were digitally printed on the Indigo. The unique quality of the HP Indigo liquid inks allows the foil to stick. The HP Indigo also allows for variable data printing, which means sleeking can be applied to variable areas, creating a unique foil effect that is different on every finished print piece.

Foil Stamping

Foil Stamping is a process where hot foil is stamped onto the surface of printed material, creating a foil finish and uniquely imprinted texture. A foil die is created based on the dieline art file. The foil die is set-up on the foil press, heated up and pressed between a roll of foil and the printed piece to imprint only at the desired location.


The print terms “For position only” or FPO is used to show placement of images that do not print. Example: die cut, emboss, deboss, spot UV in the proofing process.

Fugitive Glue

An adhesive formulated to firmly attach two materials together while remaining pliable in order to facilitate separating the two items at a later time without damage to the materials. This glue remains sticky and has become commonly known as “booger glue.”

Full-Color Printing

Full-color printing or 4-color process is the full color spectrum offset printing method using Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black plates, otherwise known as CMYK.

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Gang Runs or Ganging is when 2 or more printing projects are run together on the same sheet to print at the same time.

Gatefold & Double Gatefold

A Gatefold Brochure is divided into four panels that fold onto each other size. The left side panel and the right side panel fold in toward the center of the sheet creating a large center panel twice as wide as the two end panels, known as a gatefold. If folded over again in the middle, this is known as a Double Gatefold.


Geo-Fencing allows marketers to communicate their message to people in specific locations by targeting phones and other IP devices in a specific “fenced” area.


Geo-Framing allows marketers to go back in time and capture device IDs at an event that happened in the past and map those device id’s back to their business or homes so that they can display relevant ads in real time.


Geo-Targeting allows marketers to go further than Geo-Framing and target only specific people in that area who meet certain criteria.


Gigabyte is a measurement of digital storage. Over a billion bytes.


Grippers are metal fingers that clamp onto paper to help guide it through the press.

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Hard Proof

A Hard Proof is a proof on paper for clients and printers to agree upon and sign off before production.

Head Band

Headbands are decorative fabric end piece applied to the top and bottom of a book block (text block) to conceal the binding edge between the cover and text of a hard cover book.


In printing, Hickeys are imperfections due to dirt, ink issues, or flecks of paper on the plate or rollers.

High Type Letterpress

High-type Letterpresses are used for Foiling Dies.

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electro inks


Slanted letters used in text

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Kilobyte is a measurement of digital storage. 1024 bytes.

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Large Format

Refers to any printed piece that must be printed using a special printer—usually larger than 16x20 or uses specialty material to print on. Used for banners, poster, billboards.


A Loop is a small hand held magnifying glass similar to what a Jeweler uses to inspect diamonds. Loops are used to check the quality and to line up registration of the printed image.

Loop Saddle Stitching

Loop Saddle Stitching have an open loop on the staples outside of the spine on a booklet which allows them to be installed and replaced easily in other containers such as 3-Ring Binders.

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One of the colors that make up 4-color process or CMYK, Magenta is a pinkish shade of red.


Mail.dat files are generated by postal approved software to transfer information regarding presorted mail into the postal one database for electronic processing of mail.


A Makeready is created in the process of preparing the press to print a job. Makereadies are compared to proofs prior to starting.


Matte is a dull finish with no gloss.


Megabyte is a measurement of digital storage. One million bytes.


Montages are where several photographs are combined to create one image.

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 The National Change of Address, now called Postal Pro, consists of a database that hosts new addresses of individuals, households and companies that have moved in the last 48 months and who filled out a change of address form.

Notch Binding

Notch Binding is a method in binding books where notches are cut out of each signature for adhesive along the spine.

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Overhang Cover

An Overhang Cover is a book cover larger than the pages (text).

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Page count

The page count is the total number of pages in a magazine or book.


The number of each individual page in a multi-page document is called the pagination.

Pantone - PMS

Pantone Color Matching System is a system used to match printing ink colors.


Perfecting is the process of printing both sides of a sheet of paper running thru a printing press in only one pass, or one time through the machine.


Pixels are units of measurement used in digital screen resolutions.


A PIP (Printing imaging plate) is used to transfer an image onto the substrate in the printing press.

PMS Color

Pantone Color Matching System standard ink mix values used to achieve specific colors for offset printing.

PMS Swatch Book

The Pantone Color Matching System booklets are a common tool used by all types of printers and designers as a common guide to select a certain colors for printing colors including spot colors, Fluorescents, Pastels, Metallics and a CMYK match system to match Pantone spot colors.


Points are units of measurement for type sizes.


Pixels per inch, or PPI, is a measurement of screen resolution.


PreFlighting is a process of evaluating if a print job is ready to print, using software to check color, crop marks, fonts, etc. before scheduling a job.

Preventative Maintenance

Preventative Maintenance is performed regularly to prevent breakdowns before they occur.

Process Color Printing

Process Color Printing describes four-color, also known as full-color printing.

PUR Perfect Binding

A type of perfect binding, PUR uses highly durable Polyurethane glue which is applied to the pages and cover of a book, as well as glued at the spine. The remaining 3 sides of the Sheet are trimmed which create a clean and crisp finish to the book. PUR glue is durable enough to keep the spine from cracking, so even with extended pulling/wear-and-tear, the pages remain securely adhered to the spine. PUR Perfect Binding is great for larger page counts and books that need long-term durability such as novels, brand books, or catalogs.

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Qualtiy is a standard or objective, obtained and sustained through competition and comparison.

Quote or Quotation

A price estimate or quote determined for a specific printed product or job.

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Raised “3D” UV

Raised UV layering adds 3-dimensional form to flat print designs. Highlighting specific areas by using Raised UV generates a visually stunning effect while appealing to touch through the built up tactile textures. Sensory print designs such as a silky smooth raised layers over a water droplet, or bumpy scales of various heights on a lizard’s skin are made possible with this emerging UV technique.


A standard ream of paper has 500 sheets of paper.



Recto is the right page of a book. Verso is the left page.


RGB or Red, Green, Blue, are the primary colors used in display devices such as TV’s and computer screens.

Raster Image Processor - RIP

RIP or Raster Image Processor is a process creates a rasterized version of all the files prior to printing, creating plates, etc.

Rule Out Sheet

Rule Out Sheets are a registration quality press check sheet, used primarily when printing a publication. The press sheet is printed on 1 side first then when making ready the second side the press operator will place a press sheet on a Light Table so they can see through the sheet to make sure the pages are lining up from 1 side to the other. The operator will use a straight Edge ruler to and mark the sheet from crop mark to crop mark in order to get a perfect alignment with the opposite side of the sheet.

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Saddle Stitch

Saddle Stitching is a binding method where multi-page booklet or catalog pages are folded in half, then stapled along the center of the fold.


Scaling has to deal with the enlargement or reduction of an image or print size.


Score marks are made on printed pieces for easy folding, tearing, or bending.


Scum is a term for rogue ink marks on non-image areas of printed pieces.

Self Cover

A Self Cover, typically a booklet or book, has the same stock throughout, and consequently doesn’t use a separate stock for the cover.

Soft Touch Coating

An ultra-soft matte Liquid Aqueous Coating applied while printing on press.

Soft Touch Laminate

An ultra-soft matte laminate that can be applied to many types of coated or uncoated paper. The laminate protects ink, and keeps the integrity of the color beneath it, and is commonly used on book covers, brochures and invites. Soft laminates are often preferred to soft Aqueous Coating because of their longevity. Various finishing techniques can be applied on top of the laminate such as Flat or 3D Spot UV, or Foil Stamping.

Source Files

The files used to create the artwork, may include image files such as jpg/png/tiff as well as those used to lay out the artwork such as Adobe Illustrator/Indesign with embedded fonts.


The spine is the back edge of a book where it is bound.

Spot color

Spot colors are usually pre-mixed inks in PMS (Pantone Matching System) colors.

Staggered Cut Inserts

Staggered Cut Inserts are created by cutting the top or sides of Presentation Folder Pocket Inserts in staggered sizes to allow 1 side of each insert to be seen when collated into sets.

Step and Repeat

Repeating a logo or image across the full surface area of the product chosen, typically used in reference to banners or displays. Also a print procedure for placing the same image on plates in multiple places.


Stock can refer to available or unused paper used in printing.


Substrate describes the type of material to be printed on such as paper, PVC, vinyl, cloth, glass, wood or any other surface on which printing is done.

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Tack is the adhesive or sticky quality of inks.


Terabyte is a measurement of digital storage. One Terabyte is one trillion bytes.

Text Paper

Text Papers are lightweight printing paper such as those used for newspapers.


Tagged Image File Format, a file format for storing images, usually high resolution.

Turned Edge

A product created by wrapping a cloth or paper material around a heavy board stock in order to yield an attractive and durable finished piece. This process is commonly used in making book covers, binders and check presenters as well as high-end packaging.

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Uncoated papers have no gloss or matte coatings and feel the most natural.

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Variable Imaging

the ability to print different content from one record to the next within one production print run. The process is achieved by using a digital press driven by a database and a library of multiple graphic images that are uniquely key coded to each other.


Varnish is a clear, shiny ink used to add gloss to printed piece.


Verso is the left page of a book. Recto is the right page.

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Wide Format

Wide Format is a term used for large flexible Large Format printing.

Work and Back - W&B:

Work and Back refers to the way the plates and sheets are setup in a press job.

Work and Turn - W&T

Work and Turn refers to the way the plates and sheets are setup in a press job.

Wash Up

Wash Up refers to the process of cleaning rollers and the ink fountain of a printing press.

Location & Hours

SunDance is located in south Orlando, near the interesections of The Beachline (SR528), Orange Blossom Trail (US17-92), and Florida's Turnpike (SR91). Just minutes from The Orange County Convention Center, International Drive, the attractions and Downtown Orlando, we service most of the Central Florida Area.

9564 Delegates Dr.
Building A
Orlando, FL 32837
Local & Sales: 844-42-PRINT
Operations: 407-734-7444
8am-5pm M-F