top of page

Print Lingo: A Glossary of Printing Terms

If you have ever worked with a commercial print shop, chances are you’ve heard a few words or terms that were completely foreign to you. As with many industries, the printing world has its own language of sorts, and for many, it can be difficult to understand. But never fear— Omega is here! We’ve compiled a glossary of some basic terms that will prevent you from feeling left in the dark when working with your printer.

printer definition

Absorbency: The amount of liquid that a piece of paper can retain.

Acetate: A thin and flexible sheet of clear plastic that is commonly used to construct overlays.

Adhesives: Adhesives are compounds used in printing to make objects cling together securely.

Aqueous Coating: A transparent coating that is used to preserve printed objects by creating a high-gloss surface that increases durability.

Barcodes: A means of encoding data on a scannable, visible surface in a visual and machine-readable manner.

Bindery: The process of attaching, gluing, or otherwise linking a series of separate pages together to form a book, notepad, etc. Perfect binding, spiral binding, saddle-stitching, staple stitching, are all examples of bindery.

Bleed: After printing, the inks on the paper may bleed over the trim markings. This is referred to as "bleeding."

Caliper: A device used to measure the thickness of paper in thousandths of an inch, or mils.

Chemical Resistance: The ability of printed materials to resist interacting with substances with which they come into contact, ensuring no damage is done.

Coating: A specific liquid coating can be put to the paper to lessen the possibility of ink smearing after printing. It's especially useful for printed material.

Color Separation: The process of breaking down colors into their core elements.

Color Sequence: The sequence of printing inks in the press. This is also known as color rotation.

Creep: The movement or shift of margins in a document that occurs as pages are folded during the booklet finishing process. Creep can vary based on the thickness of the paper and the number of pages.

Crop Marks: Lines drawn on pages to indicate where the document or print will be cut.

Crossover: An image or rule on one printed page that extends to an adjacent folded page.

Damping: The process of applying water to the lithographic plate on a lithography printer before printing.

Debossing: The process of stamping a design into the surface of an item or paper, creating a concave imprint.

Die-cut: A Die is a precise, razor-sharp steel blade used in the printing industry to make many pieces of the same shape in an efficient and uniform way.

Digital Printing: Digital printing refers to methods of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media. Digital files (i.e., a PDF) are uploaded to the machine to be created via laser technology.

Dot Gain: When dots are printed larger than they should be.

Dye-Sublimation: Instead of applying color to the material, dye-sublimation alters the color of the material itself.

Elasticity: When a printed object does not lose its form when opened, it is said to be elastic.

Embossing: A technique for making raised relief pictures on paper and other materials. The design will protrude from the paper.

Feeder: The device that supplies paper into a printer in the proper position.

Finishing: The finishing touches of a print (for example, cutting the crop lines and adding protective gloss).

Flexography: A method of printing that is used on uneven surfaces such as packaging. This is commonly used for labels and uses a flexible relief plate to print letters and short words.

Ghosting: The appearance of another lighter image in the same print on a printed picture is referred to as ghosting due to the lighter, ghostly finish.

Guillotine: A sharp blade used to cut and trim printed paper stacks.

Hickey: An unintentional flaw mark that appears on a final printed product, possibly caused by dust or ink difficulties.

Imposition: When a printed sheet is folded, the pages are arranged in a way that reads sequentially.

Ink Set-Off: Ink that is transferred accidentally from a printed sheet to the back of the sheet above it when the materials have been printed and are piled in a pile.

Laminate: A thin, clear plastic sheet that is frequently put to a thick material to create a glossy protective coating against fluids and heavy wear.

LED UV: A print technology that produces a high-end finish. The inks are precisely blended and pressed onto the material (paper, card, etc.). This is then blasted with LED lights to swiftly dry it. This keeps colors crisper and speeds up the printing process overall.

Lithography: Lithographic printing is a common method for producing high-quality images. The picture is transferred to the lithographic plate, inked, and finally printed on paper. It's a quick and easy printing process.

Lux Paper: This material is a triple-layered, ultra-thick card with a distinctive colored core running through the central layer.

Metallic ink: Ink that is made with powdered metal or pigments that reflect light. Silver and gold are the most utilized hues.

Pantone Color: A color language used by designers, printing businesses, and brand owners. This makes it easier to create the desired hue over and again.

PPI: Pages or pixels per inch.

Process Colors: Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Printers mix these fundamental colors together to produce other hues.

Proofing: This is the most effective technique to avoid costly printing errors. It's critical to pay great attention to the proofs you get to ensure that the design, content, and color are all correct.

Ream: 500 sheets of paper.

Paper reel: A reel of paper is a continuous length of paper wound around a cylinder. Reels are frequently used in combination with Digital Printing equipment.

Registers: These are markings used as reference points to ensure that different print elements are correctly positioned on a given piece of print.

RGB: The red, green, and blue color space that computers utilize to show images on your screen. To print correctly, an RGB computer file must be converted to CMYK.

Runnability: A printer's runnability refers to how rapidly it can 'run' without creating any errors.

Satin Finish: A smooth, soft finish applied to paper.

Silk Paper: Silk paper has a low surface shine and offers great ink-to-paper contrast. When used, colors seem brighter and more defined.

Spot Color: Rather than utilizing the CMYK method, Spot Color is done by mixing ink to create a desired color.

Spot Varnish: A method of emphasizing a specific part of a page by applying varnish selectively.

Tint: The addition of the color white to another color. As a result, when printed, the color appears lighter and whiter.

Trim: This is a line that is cut along to achieve the desired size for a given print project. To provide a continuous and precise edge around a design, the trim cuts through the bleed.

UV Varnish: A protective and aesthetically pleasing thin coating applied to a printed page which is dried with UV light.

Varnish: A glossy coating applied to a final printed object to enhance luster and protect it from external damage.

At first, it may seem like an intimidating list of terms to commit to memory. However, when you work with a printer like Omega, your customer service rep will never shame you for not being up on every term. After all, that’s why we’re here and we’re more than happy to clear up anything you may find confusing. Nevertheless, if you do find yourself wanting to upgrade your print terminology, this glossary is a great place to start.

Written by Omega High Impact Print Solutions' Digital Marketing Manager, Emily Steel


bottom of page