Jargon Buster and the confusion of print terminology

Posted in: Guides

You know the feeling.

You’ve finished the job. It’s gone back and forth from the creative agency, to the MD  – and everyone else in between. You’re glad to finally get that long awaited sign off – and hand it over to the printers.

Then, you start being asked questions.

What stock? Do you want it embossed? What’s the pantone reference?

At Galloways, we work hand in hand with our customers from the off and so we’re clear from the start on the requirements for each job we do.

If you’re feeling that you’re in the dark, our print jargon buster tells you everything you need to know to achieve the perfect end result.



Changes made in text or images after a job has been submitted to the printer and you’ve had proofs to look at.


Illustrations, drawings, photographs, paintings, sketches, or copy that is being prepared or used for reproduction.



The phase of the print job in which the print is finished, where the printed sheets are taken and processed into its final format – which could include folding, stitching and trimming.


The part of image which extends beyond the trim-line of the page.


The degree of thickness of the paper, when producing a book or brochure the number of pages per inch is given as a basis weight.



A finish given to paper to give a smooth effect. Coated stock reproduces a sharper dot than uncoated stock and usually gives a higher level of gloss. Glossy magazines are printed on coated paper.


The holy grail of print – and the one that raises the most questions! It stands for the  process colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black which are combined in varying amounts to represent colours in the original image.



A tool made from steel and wood used for cutting irregular shapes from paper or board. Also called a forme.


A preliminary layout showing the position of illustrations and text as they are to appear in the final printed job. A set of blank pages made up in advance to show the size, shape, form and general style of a piece of printing.



Process producing raised images on this materials such as paper and board (opposite to Debossing)


Type of hard copy proof



All production processes after printing, such as cutting, folding, stitching, laminating

Four Colour Process

A technique of printing that uses CMYK to simulate colour photographs or illustrations

Full Bleed

Image printed 3mm beyond the trim marks on all sides. This is done to aid the printer in preventing a white edge from appearing if the paper is not trimmed perfectly to size.



The weight of paper (G/M2) and  the thickness of the finished product


The inner margin of a page, from the edge of the printing area to the binding edge.


Hard Copy

The permanent visual record of the output of a computer or printer (e.g print out, Epson proof)


No, not that type of hickie! In printing this refers to spots or defects caused by foreign matter on the printing plate.


Image resolution

The fineness or coarseness of a digitised image. Measured in dots per inch (DPI)


In production, one revolution of the printing cylinder as it contacts the paper and produces printed copy. An impression is any printed page.



An outline showing the shape for a diecut, crease or perforation.

Knocked Out

When an image or text is reversed out of a background colour giving the illusion of white due to the unprinted portion of the paper.



Applying transparent or coloured or plastic films to printed matter to protect or to enhance it. Different films are available such as Gloss, Matt, Anti Scuff and Soft Touch.


Page orientation in which the width is greater than the height.

Litho Printing (offset)

A printing process in which the inked image is transferred from the plate to a blanket before printing on the paper or board.


Make Ready

The work carried out to set up a machine.



Manufactured and delivered quantity that exceeds the number ordered.



Pantone’s ink colour-matching system, each colour bears a description of its formulation (in percentages) for subsequent use by the printer.


The surface from which a print is made and that bears the image to be reproduced.


A vertical format – the shorter dimension being at the width. Often confused with landscape.


A printed or digital copy that is a test representation made to show how the printed job will appear when finished.



Red, Green, Blue. The colours used to create the image on screens.


Print ready file format (Raster Image Format), meaning the files to be printed have been converted from the application format to a format understandable by the printing device.


Self Cover

Referring to a brochure where the cover is printed on the same material as the text.


Complete and precise description of the product to be printed. Get your specs right! It’s important.

Spot Colour

Where a colour is printed using a specific colour or ink rather than creating it from process colours. Usually identified using the Pantone Matching System (PMS) codes.



To cut the edges of paper either before or after printing

Trim Marks

Marks placed on the copy to indicate the edge of the page



Paper or board that does not have a top layer of coating. The raw deal.

UV Coating

Coating applied after printing through UV (ultra violet) radiation. Generally glossy, although Matt is possible. Has a plastic like feel and appearance.



Varnish or lacquer applied to printed material to improve its appearance or durability. Not as strong or glossy as lamination or UV Varnish.

So, there you have it. Your complete printing jargon buster guide. If you’d like to be working with a printer who involves you from the start – jargon and all – give Galloways a call.

We’ll have you an expert in print lingo in no time!

© 2023 Galloways Printers Limited. All Rights Reserved | Registered Office: Malcolm House, First Avenue, Poynton, Cheshire, SK12 1YJ | Registered No: 00174272
Privacy Notice | Cookie Notice (Manage Consent) | Sitemap | Terms and Conditions | Core Labour Requirements Policy Statement | Credit application form