Printing Lingo: A Glossary Of Commonly Used Printing Terms

Welcome to the dynamic world of printing!

Whether you are a graphic designer, a small business owner venturing into the realm of marketing materials, or simply a curious individual, comprehending the language of printing is crucial. In this blog, we will explore the top 15 printing terms that are essential for anyone seeking knowledge in the industry. From the diverse color systems of CMYK and RGB to the intricate details of different printing techniques, we will demystify these terms in a manner that is easily understandable. Whether you are preparing to embark on your first significant print project or eager to expand your knowledge, this comprehensive guide will provide you with the fundamental terminology necessary to confidently navigate the vibrant world of printing.

We frequently get asked what many of these printing terms mean so we decided to create an easy to reference guide for you to better understand printing terminology when speaking with your printer.

Here are the top 20 printing terms and their definitions:

What does the term bleed mean? Bleed refers to printing that goes beyond the edge of the sheet after trimming. It ensures that no unprinted edges occur in the final trimmed document.

What does CMYK stand for? :CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). These are the four basic colors used for printing color images.

What does DPI (Dots Per Inch) mean: DPI is a measure of the resolution of a printer or an image. The higher the DPI, the more detailed the image.

What does four-color process mean? : Four Color Process is a printing technique that uses CMYK colors to create full-color images.

What is pantone matching system (PMS)?: PMS is a standardized color reproduction system used to ensure colors are consistent across different printers and mediums.

What does the term proof mean? : A proof is a preliminary version of a printed piece, used for review and making necessary corrections before the final print run.

What is a raster image: A raster image is an image composed of pixels, often used in digital photography and digital applications.

What does the term registration mean? : Registration refers to the precise alignment of colors in a multi-color printing process.

What does RGB stand for? RGB Stands for Red, Green, and Blue. These are the primary colors used in electronic displays, such as monitors and televisions.

What does the term saddle stitch mean? Saddle stitching is a method of binding where folded sheets are gathered together one inside the other and then stapled through the fold line.

What is screen printing? Screen Printing is a printing technique where ink is pushed through a woven screen (stencil) onto the material to be printed.

What does the term spot color mean? Spot Color is a printing technique that uses a single color ink, often used for printing solid colors and corporate identities.

What does the tern substrate mean? Substrate is any material on which printing is done, such as paper, cardboard, plastic, fabric, etc

What is a vector image? A vector image is an image created using paths or strokes, which can be scaled indefinitely without losing quality. Vector images are common in logo and graphic design.

What is a web press? A web press is a type of printing press that prints on continuous rolls of paper, used for high-volume printing such as newspapers and magazines.

What is offset printing? Offset printing is a widely used printing technique where the inked image is transferred (or "offset") from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. It's known for high-quality print and efficiency for high-volume jobs.

What is digital printing? Digital Printing is a method of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media. It's generally used for small-run jobs from desktop publishing and other digital sources.

What does the term bindery mean? Bindery refers to the process of physically assembling a book from an ordered stack of paper sheets that are folded together into sections or sometimes left as a stack of individual sheets. The stack is then bound together along one edge by either sewing with thread through the folds or by a layer of flexible adhesive.

What are crop marks? Crop marks are lines near the edges of an image indicating portions to be reproduced. Also known as trim marks, they guide the printer on where to cut the paper

What is the difference between matte finish and glossy finish? Matte finish is a non-glossy, flat looking finish on paper or photographic prints. It reduces glare and is often used for projects where a more muted look is desired. Glossy finish is a highly shiny finish applied to the paper surface that gives it a bright, reflective quality. It's often used for photographic prints, brochures, and other marketing materials.

There you have it! The top 20 printing terms defined in an easy to understand way for you! It is clear that the world of printing is both complex and fascinating. Understanding these terms not only enhances your communication with printing professionals but also empowers you to make informed decisions about your printing needs. Whether it's choosing the right color system for your project, understanding the type of paper to use, or knowing the difference between vector and raster images, this knowledge is invaluable. Keep this guide handy as a quick reference for your future printing endeavors. Remember, the more you know about printing, the better your printed projects will turn out. Do you have more questions about printing or need a quote on your printed project? Give us a call at 866-367-6221 or submit our quote request form!

Take Care! Rick

About the Author

Rick Stallings is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include book printing, full-color printing, laminated printing, map printing and mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Rick is always happy to help. He can be reached at 866-367-6221 or by submitting our easy quote request form. Rick and the Formax team have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

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