Placing 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.