603 E Washington St
Pittsburg, KS 66762

Glossary of Terms


Having trouble understanding "our" industry language, we're here to help. Below we've compiled a glossary of terms (vocabulary) that we commonly use to help explain what is happening with your project. This should help clear up confusion and help you gain a better understanding of what's happening to your project as it goes through our facility. If you have further questions on your project, feel free to contact one of our Account Managers or Sales Representatives to find out more of the specific details for your project. 


  • Accordion Fold

    A type of paper folding in which each fold runs in the opposite di

  • Acetate

    A transparent or translucent plastic sheet material of a variety of colors, used as a basis for artwork and overlays.

  • Additive Colors

    In photographic reproduction, the primary colors of red, green, and blue are mixed to form all other colors.

  • Additive Colors

    In photographic reproduction, the primary colors of red, green, and blue are mixed to form all other colors.

  • Aqueous Plate

    Water-soluble plate coatings, which are less toxic and less polluting.

  • Artwork

    All illustrated material, ornamentation, photos, and charts, etc., that is prepared for reproduction.

  • Bleed

    Extra ink area that crosses trim line, used to allow for variations that occur when the reproduction is trimmed or die-cut.

  • Blind Emboss

    A design or bas relief impression that is made without using inks or metal foils.

  • Book Block

    The term is given due to the unfinished stage of bookmaking when the pages are folded, gathered, and stitched-in but not yet cover bound.

  • Brochure

    A pamphlet that is bound in booklet form.

  • Caliper

    The measurement of the thickness of paper expressed in thousandths of an inch or mils.

  • Camera Ready

    A term is given to any copy, artwork, etc., that is prepared for photographic reproduction.

  • Case Binding

    Books bound using hard board (case) covers.

  • Cast Coated

    A paper that is coated and then pressured dried using a polished roller which imparts an enamel like hard gloss finish.

  • Collate

    To gather sheets or signatures together in their correct order. (see Gather)

  • Color Bars

    This term refers to a color test strip, which is printed on the waste portion of a press sheet. It is a standardized (GATF-Graphic Arts Technical Foundation) process which allows a pressman to determine the quality of the printed material relative to ink density, registration, and dot gain. It also includes Star Target, which is a similar system designed to detect inking problems.

  • Color Separating

    The processes of separating the primary color components for printing.

  • Color Strength

    A term referring to the relative amount of pigmentation in an ink.

  • Continuous Tone

    Image made of non-discernable picture elements which give the appearance of a continuous spectrum of grey values or tones.

  • Contrast

    The degree of tonal separation or gradation ranges from black to white.

  • Copy

    Refers to any typewritten material, art, photos, etc., to be used for the printing process.

  • Corner Marks

    Marks on a final printed sheet that indicate the trim lines. Also, known as Crop Marks. Always offset marks by 1/8" to ensure they don't accidentally appear on the finished piece. This is generally found in the settings or output menu before making a PDF of the final project.

  • Cover

    A term describing a general type of papers used for the covers of books, pamphlets, etc.

  • Cracking


  • Creep

    Result of added thickness of folded sheets being behind one another in a folded signature. Outer edges of sheets creep away from the back most fold as more folded sheets are inserted inside the middle.

  • Crop

    To eliminate a portion of the art or copy as indicated by crop marks.

  • Crop Mark

    Marks on a final printed sheet that indicate the trim lines. Also, known as Corner Marks. Always offset marks by 1/8" to ensure they don't accidentally appear on the finished piece. This is generally found in the settings or output menu before making a PDF of the final project.

  • Cross-over

    Elements that cross page boundaries and land on two consecutive pages (usually rules).

  • Crossover

    A term used to describe the effect of ink from an image, rule, or line art on one printed page, which carries over to another page of a bound work.

  • Curl

    Not lying flat and tending to form into cylindrical or wavy shapes. A term to describe the differences of either side of a sheet relative to coatings, absorbency, etc.; the concave side is the curl side.

  • Cutter

    Machine for accurately cutting stacks of paper to desired dimensions...can also be used to crease. Also trims out final bound books' top size (softcover).

  • Densitometer

    An optical device used by printers and photographers to measure and control the density of color.

  • Density

    The degree of tone, the weight of darkness, or color within a photo or reproduction; measurable by the densitometer. Reference, densitometer.

  • Die

    Design, letters or shapes, cut into metal (mostly brass) for stamping book covers or embossing. An engraved stamp used for impressing an image or design.

  • Die Cutting

    A method of using sharp steel ruled stamps or rollers to cut various shapes i.e. labels, boxes, image shapes, either post press or in line. The process of cutting paper in a shape or design by the use of a wooden die or block in which are positioned steel rules in the shape of the desired pattern.

  • Die Stamping

    An intaglio process for printing from images engraved into copper or steel plates.

  • Digital Proof

    An electronic color proof is used to speed the proof approval process on a project. Typically a PDF is emailed to the customer for approval prior to printing.

  • Dog Ear

    Occurs when you fold into a fold (such as a letter fold). At the side of one of the creases, you get an indentation. It may look like a small inverted triangle.

  • Dot Gain

    Darkening of halftone image due to ink absorption in paper causing halftone dots to enlarge. Terms to describe the occurrence whereby dots are printing larger than they should.

  • Drill

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

  • Drop Shadow

    A shadow image placed strategically behind an image to create the effect of the image lifting off the page.

  • Dull Finish

    Any matte finished paper.

  • Dummy

    A term used to describe the preliminary assemblage of copy and art elements to be reproduced in the desired finished product; also called a comp.

  • Duotone

    Color reproduction from monochrome original. Keyplate usually printed in dark color for detail, the second plate printed in light flat tints. A two-color halftone reproduction generated from a one-color photo.

  • Embossing

    To raise in relief a design or letters already printed on card stock or heavy paper by an un-inked block or die. In rubber and plastic plate making the process is usually done by heat. Also, see Blind Emboss.

  • Estimate

    The form used by the printer to calculate the project for the print buyer. This form contains the basic parameters of the project including size, quantity, colors, bleeds, photos, etc.

  • Estimator

    One who computes or approximates the cost of work to be done on which quotation may be based.

  • Fan Fold

    Paper folding that emulates an accordion or fan, the folds being alternating and parallel.

  • Finish

    The surface quality of the paper.

  • Fold Marks

    Markings at top edges that show where folds should occur.

  • Folder

    The machine used to fold signatures down into sections.

  • Font

    The characters make up a complete typeface and size.

  • French Fold(er)

    Folder with printing on one side so that when folded once in e

  • Gang Run

    The bundling of two or more different printing projects on the same sheet of paper. This generally saves time and cost on projects that have low quantities and require the same paper specifications.

  • Gathering

    Assembling sheets of paper and signatures into their proper sequence; collating.

  • Ghosting

    An image that appears as a lighter reversed image on a subsequent page or sheet due to offsetting of ink from previous image areas. In someway during the drying process, the paper has not received the proper air space between the sheets or has not been allowed enough drying time to properly dry the ink before handling. Handling of wet ink can also create a smudging or smearing effect on adjacent sheets that are handled before they are dry.

  • Graduated Screen

    An area of the image where halftone dots range continuously from one density to another.

  • Grain

    The direction of fibers in a sheet of paper governing paper properties such as increased size changes with relative humidity, across the grain, and better folding properties along the grain.

  • Gripper Edge

    The grippers of the printing press move the paper through the press by holding onto the leading edge of the sheet; this edge is the gripper edge. No printed ink can be printed in this leading-edge as it goes through the press. See also Press Image Area.

  • Halftone

    Tone graduated image composed of varying sized dots or lines, with equidistant centers.

  • Hickies

    Imperfections in presswork due to dirt on press, trapping errors, etc. Generally, appear as small white hollow circles on the finished piece.

  • Highlights

    The lightest tones of a photo, printed halftone, or illustration. In the finished halftone, these highlights are represented by the finest dots.

  • House Sheet

    This is a term that refers to a paper that a printer keeps on hand in his shop.

  • IBC

    Inside back cover.

  • IFC

    Inside front cover.

  • Image Setter

    High resolution, large format device for producing the film from electronically generated page layouts. More modern Image Setters output the layouts directly onto a plate, thus skipping the film stage. This means better quality plates and end product.

  • Imposition

    Arrangement of pages so that they print correctly on a press sheet, and the pages are in proper order when the sheets are folded. This is done in-house at the printer using the specific software for their specific process of manufacturing. See also Printer Spreads, Reader Spreads, and Individual Pages.

  • Impression

    The product resulting from one cycle of the printing machine.

  • Indicia

    Markings are pre-printed on mailing envelopes to replace the stamp. Generally, this mark is a square approximately 1-inch square and referencing a permit number assigned to the mail house that will handle the mailing.

  • Inserts

    Extra printed pages either inserted loosely or stitched into printed pieces. Sometimes this can be things like a poster in the center of a magazine or an order form with an envelope.

  • Job Number

    A number assigned to a printing project used for record-keeping and job tracking at the printer. Also used to retrieve old jobs for exact reorders and alterations. This number is useful for referencing a new job to an old job for either size or paper etc.

  • Jog

    To vibrate or rearrange a loose stack of finished pages so that they are tightly aligned for final trimming or binding.

  • Jogger

    This can reference either manually airing and collecting paper into an orderly stack of lined up paper or a vibrating, sloping platform that evens up the edges of stacks of paper.

  • Layout

    A rendition that shows the placement of all the elements, roughs, thumbnails, etc., of the final printed piece before it goes to print. Also, reference Native File.

  • Letterpress

    Printing that utilizes inked raised surfaces to create the image.

  • Machine Direction

    An alternate term for grain direction.

  • Make Ready

    Generally referred to as the material used during the process of adjusting final plate location on the press. This material is then used to set up the next machines in the job process.

  • Margin

    White space around the edge of the page or in-between elements.

  • Mark-up

    To write up instructions, as on a dummy or proof.

  • Matte Finish

    A coated paper finish that goes through minimal calendaring. Reference, calendaring.

  • Mechanical

    A term used to describe finished artwork that is camera ready for reproduction, including all types, photos, illustrations, etc.

  • Moire

    An undesirable halftone pattern produced by the incorrect angles of overprinting halftone screens.

  • Mottle

    A term used to describe spotty or uneven ink absorption.

  • Natural

    A term to describe papers that have a color similar to that of wood; also called cream, off-white, or ivory.

  • Negative

    The film contains the same images as the original print, except that all colors and shades are reversed. Reference, positive.

  • OFC

    Outside front cover.

  • Offset

    The most commonly used printing method, whereby the printed material does not receive the ink directly from the printing plate but from an intermediary cylinder called a blanket which receives the ink from the plate and transfers it to the paper.

  • Offset Paper

    A term for uncoated book paper.

  • Opacity

    Quality of papers defines its opaqueness or ability to prevent two-sided printing from showing through.

  • Opaque Ink

    The ink that completely covers any ink under itself.

  • Over Run

    Surplus of copies printed.

  • Overhang Cover

    A cover of a book that extends over the trimmed signatures it contains.

  • Overprinting

    Any printing that is done in an area that has already been printed.

  • Overset

    The type that is set in excess of the allotted space.

  • PPI

    Pixels per inch. Usually used to reference images on the screen. Once they are reproduced on press using dots the term changes to dots per inch. See also DPI.

  • Page

    One side of a leaf.

  • Parent Sheet

    A sheet that is larger than the cut stock of the same paper. Used in sheet-fed applications and can range in size from 8.5" x 11" up to 28" x 40".

  • Perf Marks

    Markings usually dotted lines at edges showing where perforations should occur.

  • Perfect Binding

    The binding process where the backs of sections are cut off, roughened and glued together, and rung in a cover. The cover wraps around the pages to form a square-edged spine on the finished book.

  • Perfecting

    Printing both sides of the paper (or other material) on the same pass through the printing machine.

  • Perforating

    Punching small holes or slits in a sheet of paper or cardboard to facilitate tearing along a desired line.

  • Picking

    An occurrence in printing whereby the tack of ink pulls fibers or coating off the paper surface, leaving spots on the printed surface.

  • Pinhole

    Failure of printed ink to form a completely continuous film, visible in the form of small holes in the printed areas.

  • Plate

    Reproduction of type or cuts in metal, plastic, rubber, or other material, to form a plate bearing a relief, planographic, or intaglio printing surface.

  • Positive

    The film contains an image with the same tonal values as the original; the opposite of a negative.

  • Press Image Area

    That portion of the printing plate carries the ink and prints on paper. This is limited by the guides and grippers on an individual press. Each machine is different. Also, see Gripper Edge.

  • Press-Proof

    Actual press sheet to show the image, tone values, and colors as well as imposition of frame or press-plate.

  • Process Inks

    Printing inks, usually in sets of four colors. The most frequent combination is yellow, magenta, cyan, and black, which are printed, one over another in that order, to obtain a colored print with the desired hues, whites, blacks, and grays.

  • Proof

    A finished project used for correction and to check the accuracy of layout, type matter, tone, and color reproduction. See also, Press Proof and Digital Proof.

  • Register

    The arrangement of two or more images in exact alignment with each other.

  • Register Marks

    Any crossmarks or other symbols used on layout to assure proper registration.

  • Right Angle Fold

    A term that denotes folds that are 90 degrees to each other.

  • Run-Around

    A term given to copy that accommodates the lines of a picture or other image or copy.

  • Saddle Stitching

    Stitching where the wire staples pass through the spine from the outside and are clinched in the center. Only used with folded sections, either single sections or two or more sections inset to form a single section.

  • Satin Finish

    A smooth delicately embossed finished paper with sheen.

  • Scaling

    The enlargement or reduction of an image or copy to fit a specific area.

  • Score

    Impressions or cuts in flat material to facilitate bending or tearing.

  • Self Cover

    A cover made out of the same paper stock as the internal sheets.

  • Sheetwise

    The printing of two different images on two different sides of a sheet of paper by turning the page over after the first side is printed and using the same gripper and side guides.

  • Show Through

    A problem that occurs when the printing on one side of a sheet is seen from the other side.

  • Side Stitching

    Stitching where the wire staples pass through the pile of sections or leaves gathered upon each other and are clinched on the underside.

  • Slitting

    A term to describe the process of cutting printed sheets by the cutting wheels of a printing press.

  • Spine

    The back edge of a book.

  • Spiral Bind

    A binding whereby a wire or plastic is spiraled through holes punched along the binding side.

  • Spot Color

    Referencing a specific ink color to be used on an entire job or as an additional color. Referencing a Pantone number in which to keep the ink standard.

  • Step And Repeat

    A process of generating multiples by taking an image and stepping it according to a predetermined layout.

  • Stock

    A term for unprinted paper or other material kept on hand to be printed. Common size or weight material kept in-house. Also known as house stock.

  • Tag

    A dense, thick, strong paper stock.

  • Text

    A high-quality printing paper used as a lighter alternative to heavier cover paper. Easier to fold and bind.

  • Thermography

    A printing process whereby slow drying ink is applied to paper and while the ink is still wet, it is lightly dusted with a resinous powder. The paper then passes through a heat chamber where the powder melts and fuses with the ink to produce a raised surface.

  • Transparent Ink

    Inks that do not block out the colored inks that they print over, but instead blend with them to create intermediate colors.

  • Trapping

    The process of slightly overprinting inks to decrease the possibility of white showing between the colors of a piece. In most cases, the small overlap is not noticeable with the naked eye.

  • Trim Marks

    Marks placed on the sheet to indicate where to cut the page.

  • Varnish

    Clear shiny ink used to add gloss or dullness to printed pieces.

  • W&B

    An abbreviation for work and back. Reference, sheetwise.

  • W&T

    An abbreviation for work and turn. A process in which to save a set of plates and work time on press. Must have an equal number per sheet to achieve this style of printing.

  • Washup

    The procedure of cleaning a particular ink from all of the printing elements (rollers, plate, ink fountain, etc.) of a press.

  • Watermark

    A translucent logo is embossed during the papermaking process while the paper slurry is on the dandy roll.