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Jargon Buster

Explaining and demystifing the technical buzzwords.

Every industry has its jargon, funny words and expressions. At Springwater we promise always to use language and expressions that you understand. But as there’s bound to be the odd expression or two that you’d like to clarify, this handy glossary will guide you through the most common printing terminology.

Art Paper

Paper coated with a fine clay compound, which creates a smooth surface on one or both sides. Used when a higher quality of print is required, such as full-colour work.

Artwork or A/W

Artwork is the name given to the original material from which the printing image will be created. This may be typesetting, photos or illustrations. Today artwork is almost always transferred to a digital file, which can be stored on a disc or sent via email or ISDN.

Author’s Corrections

The term used for alterations or additions made to copy after you’ve received proofs of the job being printed. Any changes that are made (excluding corrections of any errors) are usually chargeable.


To print on the reverse side of a printed sheet.


Board is any weight of paper above 170gsm (grams per square metre)

Bond Paper

A grade of writing or printing paper generally manufactured for letterheads or forms.


Paper thickness. Sometimes used as the number of pages per inch (PPI).

Bleed or Bleed Off

Any printed matter on the page that extends past the edge of the finished size page is said to “bleed”. This is done by printing beyond the finished page size on larger sheets of paper and then trimming the sheet to the finished size.

Blind Embossed

A logo, text or design which has been relief stamped into a sheet of paper or board.

Bold Face/Weight

Thicker, heavier weight of type such as this, which is usually used for headings or emphasis.


The thickness of a single sheet of paper. Expressed in microns. 1,000 microns = 1 millimetre.

Carbonless Paper

Paper commonly used to produce multi-part business forms. Chemically transfers images from one sheet to another without carbon paper. The sheets are coated on one or two sides with an emulsion of colourless dyes and oils. A set is made up of three types of papers: CB (coated back) which is the top white sheet in the set; CF (coated front) which is the bottom sheet; CFB (coated front and back) which is used for the middle sheet of a multi-part form.

Cartridge Paper

Slightly rough coated or uncoated paper.

Cast Coated

A type of art paper that is coated then pressure dried using a polished roller that gives an enamel like hard gloss finish.

Chemical Pulp

Pulp made by cooking the wood in the presence of chemical agents (acids or alkali) that eliminates most of the non-fibrous material.


The initial letters of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and K for Black, which are the four ink colours used in four colour process (i.e. full colour) printing. In this method of printing, a separate printing plate produced from the colour separated film carries the image for each of the four colours. The paper stock is then fed through the press and each of the four process colours (CMYK) is printed on to the stock in succession, resulting in a full colour image.

Coated Paper

Paper or Board with a coating to produce a smooth, ink receptive finish that will enhance the sharpness and gloss of the printed image.


A layer of minerals applied to one or both sides of paper or board to improve brightness, gloss and printability. The coating is held together and stuck to the paper by a binder.


To gather sheets of paper together in their correct order.

Colour Separations

Separate pieces of film or camera ready artwork required for printing work in more than one colour, whether Pantone spot colour or CMYK separations for full colour work. A separate piece of film is required for each colour.

Copier/Laser Paper

Lightweight grades of good quality paper used for copying correspondence and documents.


An indentation made in thick paper to prevent cracking.

Crop Marks

Small lines that show the document edge. Essential for register and trim.

CTP (Computer To Plate)

A system whereby the plates used in the printing process are produced directly from the computer file, eliminating the need for film.


The tendency of paper by itself to bend or partly wrap around the axis of one of its directions. Usually caused by changes in weather, faulty drying on the paper machine or in a multi-ply sheet with differing ply composition.

Die Cutting

This is the process where an image is cut to a specified shape.


Mailing terminology. Laser printing the sheet both sides.

Dot Gain

Four colour process printing is comprised of individual dots of the four CMYK colours. Dot gain is the term used to describe the increase in the size of the dot from the film to what actually appears on the printed image. Coated papers should have a lower dot gain than lower quality uncoated bond paper because, on uncoated surfaces, the ink dots dry partially by absorption which increases their size.


The process of creating holes in paper typically for inserting into a ring binder.

Drop Shadow

A duplicate shadow image placed behind an image or text to create the illusion of depth.


An artistic effect of a two colour (black plus a spot colour) image generated from a greyscale photograph.

Digital Printing

A system that does not need to go through the same stages as conventional litho printing. There are no films or plates produced and the image is transferred directly from the printer to the paper. Digital printing is ideal for short run high quality work. It is usually more cost effective for short run jobs and, because it is data driven, every copy is an original which means it has the potential to make each copy unique by, for example, adding a name and address.


Dots Per Inch – a measure of the resolution of a display or output device.


An exact, handmade format sample created with blank paper to show the desired size, shape, weight and general appearance of a job prior to production.

Die Stamping

To cut paper, card or board to a particular size and design with a metal die, for packaging and display work.


The ink reservoir in a printing machine.


Encapsulated PostScript – a file format usually containing object graphics. Also facilitates the exchange of PostScript graphic files between applications.


Item protected by sealing usually with a clear laminate on both sides and with an edge seal, so that no area is exposed to moisture.


The light sensitive coating of a photographic material such as film.

Filling In

An undesirable effect in printing in which the ink begins to fill in areas of fine lines or half tone dots.


The term used for registration or how distinct areas such as two colours in a logo align to each other.


Aligned to the margin with no indentation e.g. flush left.


Another name for a typeface.


This is the operation of folding a flat piece of paper into the required sequence. It is performed on a buckle or knife folder. The paper is passed through a series of stations, each station performing a different fold.


Mailing terminology referring to the folding and inserting process involved in getting documents into mailing envelopes.

French Fold

A sheet of paper that has been printed on one side only and then folded twice to form an uncut four page section.


A paper fold in which both sides are folded across the middle of the sheet in overlapping layers.

GIF (Graphic Interchange Format)

GIF is one of the most common graphic file formats used on the internet. Whereas the JPG format is best used for images such as photographs, GIF is better for images such as logos etc. and images that contain areas of block colours. The GIF format supports a palette of 256 colours although this can be reduced. GIF also supports transparency so the background of a web page can be seen behind the GIF image.


Logo and images that need to be incorporated into the document.


Fibres in a sheet of paper all lie in one direction. This is called the grain.

Grip or Grip Edge

Sheets of paper, when passing through a printing press, are usually held in place along the leading edge by a gripper bar whilst passing through the cylinders. Because of this, it is not possible to print on this area. This non-printable area is known as the grip edge.

GSM or GM2

The weight of a sheet of paper that is one square meter in size. This is the universal descriptive used for paper weights.


Placing the sections of a book in the correct order for binding.


The smooth transition from one tone or colour to another, or the range of values between black and white.


It is theoretically possible to print 100 different versions of any one colour by varying the size of the dots that make up that colour. Reducing the size of the dot increases the white area around the dot and gives the optical illusion of making it lighter. Photographs are often called “halftones” by printers and designers.


A spot on a printed sheet caused by dust, lint or ink imperfections. It is particularly noticeable on solids or halftones.


The arrangement of pages ready for plate making in the correct sequence, layout and orientation that is required to produce the finish document.


With the onset of broadband, ISDN will become obsolete. However, it still offers a relatively fast, but most importantly, secure method of data transfer.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

A 24 bit image format capable of displaying 16 million colours. JPEG is the most commonly used compression format used to display photographic type images on the internet. In order to reduce the file size and therefore download and display quickly on a web page, compression techniques are used which sacrifice image quality for image size. This type of image is therefore unsuitable for using in high quality print projects. Most digital cameras store photos in this format in order to store a greater number of images on the storage medium.


Blocks of text justified and aligned flush to both left and right margins. This is achieved by adjusting the spacing between words to force the words to align to both margins. Commonly used in novels and newspaper columns.

Knockout, Overprint, Registration and Trap

When printed on an offset press, objects which overlap or are printed on top of one another can cause problems. For example, red overprinted on a yellow background could cause the red to appear as orange. To compensate for this, the foreground object would be “knocked out” of the background e.g. a duplicate of the foreground object would be reversed out of the background.

Dark colours such as black can be set to overprint so that no knockout is created. To make registration between overlapping colours, and to compensate for slight miss registration on the press, a slight overlap is created know as “a trap”. Trap ensures that if there is a slight miss registration on the press, any unprinted area such as the white paper underneath will not be visible.

Laid Finish Paper

Expensive but somewhat old fashioned paper that was historically associated with quality printing paper. It has a slightly raised fine parallel lined effect.


This is a process which covers the printed area in a gloss or matt coating. The lamination is applied with a water-based adhesive. This increases tear resistance and allows for a wipe-free surface.

Laser Proof

A laser is a proof which shows you the copy, basic layout and low resolution images of your job. Laser proofs are not regarded as being accurate for checking colour but do confirm that other elements are correct.


Old style printing process that used raised inked surfaces to transfer the image onto sheets of paper. This process is largely obsolete now because digital and offset litho printing are much faster and give a much higher quality job.


Printing process in which the image from the printing plate is first transferred (offset) onto a rubber blanket and then transferred onto the paper.

Laser Papers

Papers with special coatings or hard finishes that are optimised for laser printers and copiers.

Machine Varnish/Sealer

Varnishes are used to enhance the finish of a print job. Sealers are used to reduce ink smudging or fingerprints marking onto a job. Your job may require a sealer, particularly if there are large areas of ink coverage. Machine varnishes and sealers are applied during printing at the end of the press. A ‘spot varnish’ covers a selected area, whilst a ‘solid varnish’ covers the entire sheet.


The undesirable effect produced by the incorrect angles of overprinting halftone screens. When these screens are printed on top of each other, they cause moire or unwanted patterns.

Mechanical Pulp

Pulp produced by grinding logs and wood chips into pulp. Chemical pulping produces the most desirable paper but is the least cost effective. Mechanical pulping is the cheapest but produces a poorer quality paper.


Paper that is used in the press set-up process before the print run actually starts.

Matt Finish

A dull, clay-coated paper without gloss or lustre.


Instrument used to measure the thickness (caliper) of paper.

Moisture Content

The amount of moisture in paper, normally ranging from 5% to 8%. Paper easily picks up or emits moisture to and from the surrounding environment.


Paper formally produced from manilla hemp but now produced from softwood kraft pulp.

NCR Papers (No Carbon Required)

Specially coated papers that will react to pressure to produce duplicate copies without the use of carbon.


The relatively low grade paper on which newspapers are printed. It is mainly produced from mechanical pulp and recycled fibres.


Printing a unique number on a job, i.e. tickets.

Offset Printing

The most common printing process used today. The printed paper/board does not receive the ink directly from the printing plate but from an intermediary blanket cylinder that receives the ink from the plate and transfers it to the printed sheet.


The degree of opaqueness of a sheet of paper that determines its ability to prevent printing on the other side of the sheet showing through.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

An optical method of gathering data. As the term suggests, you scan the page(s) on a flatbed scanner and then the OCR software processes the resulting image and converts it into editable text by optically recognising the shape of the individual characters.


The term used for any printing that is done on paper that has already been printed.


The number of pages is determined by the number of sides and not the number of leaves.


Visual representation of the finished job, designed to show the client what the final product will look like.
Proofs vary in quality from PC viewable PDF’s, which only show content and style through to machine proofs, which will accurately represent the finished colours, layout and finish.

Perfect Binding

This is another process to keep all the collated pages of a book together. This is the process used when producing books with many pages. The pages are collated into sections. These sections are then clamped together and glue is applied. The cover is then attached. Perfect bound books have spines of which the minimum width is around 3mm.


This is the series of preparation processes that occur from your submission of final artwork to getting the job onto the printing press.


The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is an international system used primarily in the printing trade to specify spot colours. It was developed to eliminate the obvious limitations and ambiguity of terms such as ‘red’ or ‘green’ etc. Printing inks are mixed using formulas to match exactly the Pantone colour references. Using Pantone references is the best way to ensure that the correct colour is used every time. Pantone Colour Reference charts and swatches should be used to specify colour. Whether you use a printer in Perth or Paraguay, if you use Pantone reference numbers you know that correct shade will be used.


A unit of measurement used in typography usually used to measure the size of type. There are 72 points to an inch, so 72 point type will be roughly one inch high. Body text is often set in the range of 10 to 14 points.

PDF (Portable Document Format)

A file format created by Adobe that lets people share documents regardless of the operating system and software application used to create the document. PDF is a file format designed to preserve fonts, images, graphics, and formatting of an original application file. Using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software, a PDF file can be viewed, shared and printed by PC, Unix and Macintosh users.

Primary Colours

In photography they are red, green and blue. In printing they are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK – CMYK.


Broken slotted cuts or rules to enable the paper to be torn in the correct place.

Recycled Paper

Made from wastepaper – varying percentages. The quality of ‘green’ papers and boards has greatly improved. The criteria for ‘green’ paper is the lack of chlorine used, the use of sustainable forests in the production of the paper and the ability of the paper to be re-cycled. This paper can be coated or uncoated.


Unit of wrap for paper and board – usually 500 sheets.

Register and Register Marks

These enable the printer to arrange two or more items on a page in exact alignment with each other.


A continuous length of paper wound on a core.


The sharpness and clarity of an image.


Red, Green and Blue. These are the primary colours of light, used for all photographic and digital capture of coloured imaged by camera and scanners.


Raster Image Processor.


A5 210 x 148mm SRA5 160 x 225mm B5 180 x 255mm

A4 297 x 210mm SRA4 225 x 320mm B4 255 x 360mm

A3 420 x 297mm SRA3 320 x 450mm B3 360 x 510mm

A2 594 x 420mm SRA2 450 x 640mm B2 510 x 720mm

A1 840 x 594mm SRA1 640 x 900mm B1 720 x 1020mm


These are the line or spot colours (Pantone) not made up out of the four colour process.

Saddle Stitch

The binding of booklets by stapling the pages on the folded spine.


Impressing a line in a sheet of board to aid folding.

Screen Angles

The placement of halftone screens to avoid unwanted moiré patterns. Frequently used angles are cyan
105° , magenta 75° , yellow 90° and black 45° .

Screen Ruling

A measurement of the number of lines of dots per inch on a halftone screen.


Unwanted ink marks in the non-images areas.

Self Cover

A cover which is the same stock as the inner pages of the book i.e. not made from heavier weight paper or board.

Show Through

An undesirable effect whereby the printing on one side of a sheet is able to be seen from the other side. This might occur if a paper of insufficient opacity or thickness is used or there is heavy ink coverage on the other side.


A general term for unprinted paper or other material to be printed.


A screen is a thin transparent film onto which is printed a very fine matrix. A screen enables a continuous tone image such as a photograph or transparency, which cannot be reproduced by most printing process, to be broken down into tiny dots which can be printed and which from a normal viewing distance, give the illusion of continuous tone. Screens are also used to print tints of solid colours by altering the size or spacing of the dots. Screens are referred to in terms of DPI (Dots Per Inch) or dots per centimeter. The finer the screen, the better the quality of reproduction.


A colour specimen.


A printing process in which slow drying ink is applied to the paper and, whilst the ink is still wet, lightly dusted with a powder before being passed through a heater where the powder melts and fuses with the ink to produce a raised tactile surface. A quality process used when a little extra is called for such as high-quality stationery or special invitations.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

A graphic file format supported by almost all computer applications and widely used in the business for photographic images and line illustration. It’s often preferred over other formats such as JPEG for high quality photographic type images used in print.

Trim Marks

Marks placed on the larger sized sheets to indicate where the pages should be trimmed to the finished size.

True Type Font

A PC font format used to store typefaces in a computer file format.

Type Size

The distance between the bottom and the top of the type, usually measured in points.


A term used to describe how many printed items can be produced on a larger single sheet, e.g. business cards may typically be printed 10 up on an A4 sheet.

UV Coating

A very slick, glossy coating applied to the printed paper surface and dried on press with ultraviolet (UV) light. The slick surface of UV coating, makes it eye-catching and therefore very popular for printing the covers of paperback novels.


There are two types of varnish – litho varnish and UV varnish. The litho varnish is a machine process, which is performed on a printing press at the same time as printing. It can be used for two purposes – to aid the look of the print or to avoid ‘set off’. This is a problem that occurs when ink is not dry and sheets rub against each other. The ink is then smudged onto the sheets stacked below it. The varnish seals the ink into the paper so that smudging is virtually eliminated. UV varnish is very similar to laminating. It produces a high gloss or matt coating. It is not produced on a conventional printing machine, but is a separate process.


A photo or illustration in which the tones fade gradually until they blend with the background colour of the material on which they’re printed.

Wet Proof

These are the most accurate proofs. They are usually produced on the machine that the finished job will be printed on and use the same plates that will be used on the printing press. These proofs are produced on the same stock as the final job. They are 95% accurate. They are the most expensive proofs to produce.

Wash Up

The procedure of cleaning the ink from the rollers of a printing press, either at the end of the working day or to prepare the press for the next colour of ink.


A translucent logo, visible when the paper is held up to the light, incorporated into the paper during the manufacturing process. Typically found on higher quality paper for business stationery. You can have your own company watermark; however, the paper mills specify a minimum making of around one tonne of paper. Cheaper, chemical watermarks are availabe to Springwater.

Web Press

A printing press that prints on rolls of paper passing through the press in one continuous piece, as opposed to separate sheets of paper. Commonly used for printing newspapers and other similar high volume work.


Weight is a term used in typography to describe a typeface’s thickness or degree of boldness etc. examples are light, normal, bold, heavy black etc.

Work and Turn

A printing terms used for a job in which sheets are printed then turned over and printed on the opposite side to back them up using the same printing plate.

Wove (paper)

A quality smooth paper made on finely textured wire that gives the paper a gentle patterned finish, suitable for high quality business stationery.


Woodfree is a description of pulp and paper meaning that they contain little or no mechanically ground fibres.


Wood reduced to a pulp for subsequent papermaking processes; can be mechanical, chemical or combination – TMP and CTMP.

Wove Finish

A sheet with impressions in it formed by a dandy roll covered with woven wire.

ZIP – file format

A compressed file format that can be used to compress i.e. lower the file size or one or more files into a ZIP archive. The ZIP format can be used simply for storage, or can be used to compress files to fit on a disk that they might otherwise be too big, or for sending over the internet.

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