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Print Terms

Common Printing Terms


Back-up:  To make a duplicate or copy of a disk on another disk.

Banding:  An undesirable effect in a vignette.  Instead of a smooth gradation of percentage changes, one can see the steps as a hard edge.

Baseline:  The bottom edge of a letter, word, or line of type, not including the descender.

Binding or Bindery:  A method of attaching pages together into a magazine.  Some options are stitching (stapling) or perfect binding.

Bleed:  Bleed refers to a magazine layout where the artwork goes off of the paper.  A bleed ad will have no white (paper color) around it.  Art must go off the page at least 1/8″, and not stop at page edge.  Trimming machines are not as precise as printing presses and can be off slightly when the magazine is cut down to size.  It is almost impossible to cut along the page edge exactly.  Having art go off the page will assure that after final trimming of page there will no possibility of a white hairline around the edge of page.

Choke:  Also called shrink or skinny, is a photo-mechanical process of overexposing a knock-out to make it smaller than the original.  Used when trapping one color to another.

Clipping Path:  Another name for an outline or silhouette generated on a computer using Photoshop.  Its purpose is to only show the area that is outlined.  This allows the image to be placed on any color background with the background trapping to the image.

C2S/C1S:  Coated 2 Sides refers to paper that is shiny on both sides.  C2S is the paper used by most magazines.  C1S is the kind of paper typically used on some nice post cards.

CMYK:  Photos in most magazines are printed using just 4 ink colors; Cyan (bluish), Magenta (pinkish), Yellow & Black. Layering these colors can produce most colors but not all.

Coated Paper:  Coated paper is paper that has a shiny surface (has an enamel coating).  When printing on coated paper, the ink sits on top of the paper and doesn’t soak in much.  This produces a cleaner, sharper image, however the coating process makes paper more expensive to make and often renders it not recyclable.

Color Separation:  A method of dividing a continuous tone multi-colored image using Red, Green and Blue filters into the subtractive colors of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

Continuous Tone:  When all the shades of gray between black and white blend smoothly from one to the next.  An example would be a black and white photograph.

Crop:  A masking method used to retain or remove part of an image.  An example would be to make an image square by masking and keep it flush with left margin of type.

Crop Marks:  Non-printing lines used as a guide to indicate at what size the finished product will be when the job goes to the printer.

CTP:  Short for Computer-to-Plate.  A modern printing process that allows artwork to be converted in the computer to a form that bypasses the film stage and goes directly to the printing press (plate).  This process saves time, produces a cleaner image and eliminates expensive film charges.

Densitometer:  An instrument for measuring densities of selected areas on a photographic print or film.

Density:  A measure of the degree of darkening of the developed photographic image, or the ink coverage in printing.

Die-cutting:  The process of using sharp steel rules to cut special shapes for labels, boxes and containers, from printed sheets.  Die cut guides are provided to printers as acetate overlays.

Dot Gain:  The concept that ink soaks into paper by different amounts on different types of paper.  The more the dot gain, the darker, less crisp the photo will appear.  Usually expressed in %’s. Ink on newsprint soaks in approximately 10% more than coated paper.

DPI: Dots per inch.  A measure of screen (monitors) and printer resolution that counts the number of dots the device can produce per linear inch.

Duotone:  2 color halftone reproductions of art work.

Dupe:  To make a copy of an original.

Em Space:  Unit of area measurement equal in width and height to the point size of any selected type body size. Example:  With 10-point type, an em is 10 points.  En Space: A unit of measure half the width of an em.

EPS:  Encapsulated Postscript file.  A type of high res. file.

File Server:  A PC or MAC that provides access to files for all the workstations on a network.

Fill:  Color and/or pattern applied to the inside of a shape.

Font:  In composition, a complete assortment of letters, numbers, punctuation marks, etc. of a given size and design.

4/1 (four over one):  A job that is printed using 4 color on front and one color (usually black) on the back.

4 Color (four or full color) (4/C):  All photos in most magazines are printed using just 4 inks; Cyan (bluish), Magenta (pinkish), Yellow & Black.  Layering these colors produce the colors seen in photos.

F.P.O.:  For Position Only.  Example: Stat of a line shot for placement of 4/color.

FTP:  Stands for File Transfer Protocol.  It is a method of sending files via computer modem.

Gradation:  The compression of tone between the highlight and shadow of a reproduction.

Grayscale:  A strip of standard gray tones ranging from white to black.

Gripper Edge:  The edge of a pressplate or flat that corresponds to the edge of the press sheet that is seized by the grippers.  Before any job goes into the shop, quality control usually marks the gripper edge using x’s.

Gutter:  The space between pages of a book that allows for folding and binding.  The type of binding on a book will determine gutter space.  Also, space between columns of type.

Halftone:  Reproduction of art made up of dots of various sizes relating to the tones of the original.

JPEG:  Joint Photographers Experts Group.  This is a digital file compression standard found in Photoshop.

Kerning:  The reduction or addition of space between pairs of letters in typesetting, so they print in an eye pleasing manner.

Leading:  The space between lines of type, measured from baseline to baseline.

Leader:  The line of dots between items in separate columns that lead you visually across the page.  They are often used in a table of contents.

Line Screen:  Images on paper are made by printing tiny dots of ink.  These dots fool the eye into thinking there is a photo.  Line screen is the measurement of these dots in terms of lines per inch.  150 line has 150 lines (or rows of dots) every inch.  The higher the number, the more detail an image can have but the more difficult it is to print.  Printing standards are 150 line for coated paper, 100 for uncoated and 85 for newspaper.

Moiré:  This is the occurrence of an undesirable dot pattern when multicolor halftone images are not properly angled.

Network:  Two or more computers connected to share information.

Offset:  A type of printing press or printing method.  The printing press uses paper in sheets of a standard size (offset paper).  Used for short runs of printing.

Operating System:  A master control program that runs the internal activities of a computer, such as moving data to and from drives and other devices, managing information in memory or other basic activities.

Pages:  Each face of a sheet of paper.  The cover of a “self-cover” magazine is page 1, inside the cover is page 2, and soon.

Page Numbering:  The cover of a “self-cover” magazine is page 1, inside the cover is page 2, and so on.  The cover of a “plus-cover” magazine is not numbered, page 1 is the first interior page.

PDF:  Short for Portable Document Format. PDF is a digital file format that was designed to make it possible for viewers to open and view on many computer platforms (Macintosh, Windows or UNIX) without cross platform problems.

Perf:  Short for Perforation or Perforating.  A process that places tiny holes around a Business Reply card making them easier to tear out of a magazine.

Perfect Bound:  A binding method.  The magazine will have a spine that resembles the spine of a paperback novel.

Pica:  A unit of measurement equaling 12 points.

Plate:  The part of a printing press that transfers the ink onto the paper.

PMS: Pantone Matching System.  An extensive color matching system consisting of approximately 732 colors.

Point:  A unit of measurement.  12 points = 1 pica, approximately 72 points = 1 inch.

Point Size:  A term used to indicate size of type.  The actual measurement of a character is from ascender to descender.

Pounds (lbs.):  A very old and roundabout system of measuring paper thickness.  The higher the number the thicker the paper.  Newspapers are usually 45-50 lb. and business cards are roughly 80-100 lb.  Magazine are in between usually 60- 80 lb. The measurement is based on the weight of a ream of 25″ x 38″ (a standard size) paper.  Paper weight needs to be a consideration because heavier/thicker paper feels richer and is more durable but can increase mailing/shipping costs.  To make things confusing there is text and cover weights of paper.  When talking about interior pages of a magazine, it is assumed to be text weight unless otherwise stated.  In an attempt to end all the confusion, another measuring system has been devised that measures the actual paper thickness (in points) but it has been slow to catch on.

Raster Image:  A digital image made up of lines of information, or rasters.

RGB:  An acronym for Red, Green, Blue.

Resolution:  Images on a computer monitor are made by tiny dots of light (pixels).  These dots fool your eye into thinking there  is photo on the screen.  Resolution refers to the number of the dots in terms of pixels per inch (ppi).  The higher the number, the more detail an image can have.  Your computer monitor shows images at 72 ppi.  Printing standards are 300 ppi for coated paper, 200 for uncoated and 170 for newspaper.  The resolution needs to be twice the desired linescreen.

Rip:  Raster Image Processor.  A device that interprets instructions from a page layout program or language and tells the print output device what to put on the paper/plate.

Sheet-fed Press:  A printing method in which the printing press uses large, pre-cut paper.  Compared to web printing it is a much slower process.

Stitching or Saddle Stitch:  A binding method.  The industry term for stapling along the fold.

Self Cover/ Plus
  Self Cover refers to a job that the cover is included in the page count.  Plus Cover doesn’t include the cover in the page count (number of pages plus the cover).  Example:  16 pages self cover has 16 total pages.  16 pages plus cover has 20 total pages (16 interior pages + 4 cover pages).  Reason for Plus Cover: a magazine cover that requires a process that the interior doesn’t (heaver paper or UV coating).  It must be printed at a different time and possibly another location.  The term tells us that there is an added step to the process.

Signature:  A form made up of pages in multiples of 4, 16, 32, 64.

Spot Color:  A separate ink, in addition to or in place of CMYK, like Pantone ink.

Spread:  An image that extends across 2 adjacent pages in a book or brochure.

Step & Repeat:  The procedure of multiple exposures using the same image by stepping it in position according to a predetermined layout or program.

Stet:  A proofreader’s mark written in the margin signifying that copy marked or corrections should remain as it was.

Stroke:  A line around a letter or shape that is colored the same color as the letter or shape and then set to overprint to create trap.

TIFF:  Tagged Image File Format.  A standard graphics format for high-resolution bit-mapped images, like those generated by scanners.

Trap:  The overlap of colors to eliminate leaks when printing.

Uncoated Paper:  The paper doesn’t have a coating to make it shiny or keep the ink from soaking in.  Copier paper and newspapers use uncoated paper. Fully recyclable.

UV Coating:  A heavy, shiny coating put on some high-image magazines.  It makes for a very classy piece that hides fingerprints and takes abuse well.

Varnish:  A shiny coating put on some high-image magazines.  Although not as heavy or shiny as UV, Varnish is a cheaper alternative as it is “printed on” as just another ink color, not a separate process like UV.

Vector Images:  Information that is made up of a series of curved mathematical terms rather than dots.

Vignette:  The gradual blending or fading of color to make up a tint panel or background. Vignettes can be side to side, corner to corner, top to bottom, circular, etc.

Web:  A type of printing press or printing method.  The printing press uses papers that come supplied on a large continuous roll.  Used for large runs of printing.

Widow:  Word or group of words on the last line of a paragraph that does not fill the line adequately.  Poor typography.

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