Do you speak design?
A small glossary for print and design
Do you know your bleed from your blad? Or an orphan from a widow? Print and design are full of strange terms. We’ve put together this small guide to help decipher the jargon.
A finished design ready to print.
Editable design files in the format the artwork was created in, such as InDesign (.indd) or Illustrator (.ai).
‘Tidying up’ a design ready to print.
Fastening loose sheets into a booklet, using wire (like staples), glue or stitching.
Additional printed section (normally 3mm) which runs off the edge of the page. This avoids white paper showing around the edges when the item is trimmed to size.
Impress or stamp a design using coloured inks, gold leaf or metal foil.
The identity of a product or organisation, normally comprising unique assets, such as a logo and brand name.
An agreed set of rules that determine how your brand is used, including assets like logo, colours, photography and icons, and aspects of communications such as tone of voice.
Group of possible colours available within a colour system (such as CMYK).Not all colours can be made in all colour systems (for example, some Pantone colours cannot be reproduced in CMYK).
The tonal gradation between highlights and shadows.
To edit (a manuscript, document, text, etc.) for publication, especially for punctuation, spelling, grammar and style.
Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black: the 4 inks that make up printed colours. (See also: Four colour process printing; RGB; Colour gamut)
Lines that indicate where the printer should cut a page from a flat printed sheet.
A bespoke cutter used to produce a shape, such as rounded edges or a folder.
Information is transferred direct from the computer to a sophisticated digital press.
(See also: Lithographic print)
A proof that is direct from the computer to a digital press, without first going to film. Colours will not be 100% accurate. Sometimes used as a proof for litho printed items.
Dots per inch (dpi)
A unit of measurement used to give the resolution of a printed item. Dots per inch and ‘spots per inch’ (spi) are often used interchangeably.
A sample of a proposed job made up using the actual material and cut to the correct size to show bulk and binding.
An image printed in two colours, normally black and another colour. Used as an alternative to standard greyscale images for a softer, more detailed result.
(See also: Greyscale)
Pressing a pattern into a paper creating a raised or etched effect.
Encapsulated Post Script – a vector file format which requires design software to open, such as Photoshop or InDesign.
(See also: Vector image)
The last proof before sending material to the printer, with all amendments taken in.
All operations after printing – including binding and any specialist finishes such as blocking or laminating.
A set of characters of one specific character set, typeface and style.
Four colour process printing (CMYK)
Colour printing using three colours (cyan, magenta, yellow) and black.
File Transfer Protocol system – used to share large files by uploading and downloading to a remote computer.
Print using grey tones.
Is a unit for measuring paper thickness (grams per square metre). 130-170gsm is a reasonable minimum thickness for a leaflet and 200-250gsm a good thin card.
The inside margins of a book nearest to the binding. Binding often makes it difficult to read text that is too close to the gutter, and parts of pictures can be lost.
High resolution / hires
An image with a resolution of more than 300dpi at the printed size. 300dpi is minimum resolution for good quality printing.
The order in which the pages of a printed product are placed so that they appear in the right order after folding and trimming.
Method of printing using computer-generated ink droplets, often used for personalisation for mail-outs.
Leaflet or other printed material inserted loose in a publication or mailing package.
.jpg / .jpeg
Picture format, composed of individual pixels of various colours. It is a compressed file, so is low to medium quality and a small file size.
(See also: Raster image)
The space between individual characters.
(See also: Leading, Tracking)
Application of transparent plastic film (either glossy or matte), to the surface of printed matter to enhance its appearance and to increase its durability.
Oblong paper, having its long sides at head and foot.
Drawing or sketch of a proposed printed piece.
Distance between lines of text.
(See also: Kearning, Tracking)
Lithographic printing (Litho)
A printing process in which the whole surface of the paper is run under consecutive inked rollers. The printing and non-printing surface are treated differently to determine whether they receive or reject each ink colour.
Logo (or logotype)
The name of a company or product in a special design used as a trademark in advertising.
Low resolution / lores
An image with a resolution of less than 300dpi at the printed size. Suitable for web and screen only.
Usually refers to printing an item only when it is needed, instead of printing a batch and having it stored.
First line of a paragraph when it appears alone at the bottom of the page / column.
(See also: Widow)
Pantone Matching System (PMS)
A colour guide use to help standardise colours for type, logos and other graphics elements.
Pantone Colour reference
A reference number that refers to a specific colour. Using lots of Pantone colours is expensive, so it is best to use a colour bridge charts to find a CMYK alternative.
A file format where all the elements (such as text and graphics) are within the document.
Perfect binding (glue setting)
A threadless form of binding: the printed product is bound using adhesive.
Running a dotted score into paper to allow a section to be easily pulled off.
Short for “picture element”. A pixel is the smallest resolvable point of a raster image. It is the basic unit of digital imaging.
(See also: Raster image)
A light-sensitive sheet of metal or paper onto which an image / artwork is transferred by a photographic process. During printing, the image on the plate picks up ink, which is then indirectly transferred to paper.
Point / .pt
Typographic unit of measurement equal to ½ pica or 1∕72 inch. The point size of a font is measured from the bottom of the descenders to the top of the ascenders. Points are always used to express type size and leading.
Oblong paper, having its short sides at head and foot.
Print on Demand (POD)
Materials are digitally printed as they are needed, rather than printed in bulk and stored.
Print ready pdf
A high resolution pdf with bleed and crop-marks, sent to the printer to print from.
(See also: High resolution, Low resolution, Crop-marks, Bleed)
Black and three primary colours – cyan, magenta and yellow – into which full-colour artwork is separated before printing.
(See also: CMYK)
Working copy used for review and approval.
To read in order to detect and mark errors to be corrected.
A type of digital image composed of individual pixels of various colours; also called raster graphics image, bit-map image, bitmap. A raster image may be put in many file formats such as gif, jpg, tiff, bmp, pict and pcx.
The quality of printout using the number of dots / spots per inch.
(See also: dpi, High resolution, Low resolution)
To partially cut / crease with a rule into heavy paper or board to break the grain and so enable easier folding.
Any area of colour that is not printed using a CMYK process set, such as Pantone inks. Spot colours are more accurate and have a wider gamut, but are more expensive than CMYK.
Paper or other material to be printed.
A photograph or illustration that has been sourced from an image library.
Picture format, composed of individual pixels of various colours. Not compressed, so is normally medium to high quality, but a large file size.
(See also: Raster image)
Various even tone areas (strengths) of a solid colour. Shows as a % of the full colour.
Tracking (letter spacing)
The consistent spacing between letters across a block or line of text.
(See also: Kearning, Leading)
A printing type of a specific design.
Laying out type, optimising letter spacing and positioning.
To apply a varnish to printed matter to enhance its appearance or increase durability.
Vector graphics files store the elements that make up an image (lines, shapes and colours) as mathematical formulae. A vector graphics program uses these mathematical formulae to construct the screen image. Vector images are scalable to any size and give a sharper, higher resolution result than a raster image.
The last line of a paragraph running onto the next page or column. Also a short last line or paragraph, particularly a single word.
(See also: Orphan)
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