Common Print Terms: Unpacking the Words

Outline-Format-of-a-Definition-EssayPlacing a print order can be confusing—not just in figuring out what you want, but also in understanding the terminology used by print companies. With printers spending much of their days surrounded by different cover stocks and binding options, it’s easy to forget that the world at large is mystified by their jargon.

This list provides a brief introduction into print terminology, so you can feel better prepared when your printer comes calling.

Binding: Wire, glue, stitching, or other means of fastening sheets together along one edge

Bleed: Printing that runs off the edge of a sheet, so that trimming makes each copy identical

Body copy: The text to be printed in the main part of the project

Cover stock: Heavier paper used for the covers of catalogs, booklets, etc.

Coverage percent: The amount of ink covering the page

Crop mark: Horizontal and vertical lines showing where a photograph or page should be trimmed

DPI: Dots per inch, a measurement for printers and monitors; sometimes known as pixels per inch in web graphics

Finished size: The size of the product once it’s finished (folded, etc.)

Flat size: The size of the product after printing and trimming

Gloss: Light reflecting off an object, whether paper, ink, coating, or more

Gutter: The inside margins of pages toward the binding

Inserts: Additional items within a publication that are not bound in

Laminate: A thin, transparent plastic coating applied to stock to protect it from spills and heavy use

Leaf: One sheet of paper; each side of a leaf is one page

Linen finish: An embossed finish on text paper reminiscent of linen cloth

Page: One side of a leaf

Perforate: To create holes for easy tearing

Process color: Also called CMYK color or four color, it uses four ink colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to print the spectrum

Proof: The test run of a project, used to show errors and mark changes

Resolution: The sharpness of an image, whether on paper or screen

Saddle stitch: Binding with staples or stitching in the middle of the leafs to hold pages together, typical of magazines

Self cover: When no separate cover stock is used, instead having text stock throughout

Spiral bind: To bind by using a spiral of wire or plastic looped through holes

Text stock: Lighter weight paper, as opposed to cover stock, used for the inside of a publication

A little knowledge goes a long way! With this basic terminology, you’ll be able to communicate your needs more effectively to printing companies and make more informed decisions.

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