Printing Tips




Author's Alterations (AA)
Change in copy or specifications, made after production has begun.

ASCII (Pronounced askee) )
Acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a standard code used to help interface digital equipment. ASCII files contain text and some formatting commands, but no style commands or graphics.

Print shop department or separate business that does trimming, folding, binding and other finishing tasks.

A graphic image constructed out of dots, also known as a raster image; contrast with vector images, which are constructed out of lines.

Type or artwork that prints off the edge of the page.

Blind Emboss)
To emboss without adding ink or foil on the embossed image.

Blueline Proof)
A proof from negatives, where all the colors to be printed appear as different shades of blue on white or pale yellow paper.

To expose a blueline proof or printing plate with light.

Colors that touch without overlapping or white space in between.

Paper coated on one side.

Paper coated on both sides.

Matching of input, display, proof, and final production, especially with regard to color.

Thickness of paper expressed in mils or thousandths of an inch, as point size (.001 = one point).

Abbreviation for the four process colors -cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

Coated Paper)
Paper with a coating of clay that improves ink holdout. Commonly known as glossy, enamel, or slick; also comes in finishes such as matte and dull.

Color Separation)

    1. The process of separating a full-color original into the four primary printing colors, producing a halftone negative for each color (cyan, magenta, yellow, black), usually accomplished with a scanner and software.

    2. Laser proofs, digital files, films, or plates that have been prepared so that each color to be printed appears on its own separate output.

Combination Screen)
Also known as color build. Overlapping two or more screen tints to create a new color. Used with process color printing to simulate spot colors such as navy blue or purple, and also used with individual Pantone® spot colors.

Contact Print)
Photographic print made by exposing a negative in direct uniform contact with special photographic paper. Often used to proof halftone quality.

Continuous Tone)
Also known as contone. An image that contains gradually changing shades of gray. A gradation or blend, and a photograph of a face are examples of contones. A contone is simulated in printing by the creation of a pattern of halftone dots.

CTP (Computer To Plate) )
Plates imaged directly from digital artwork files. No negatives are produced.

Instrument that measures and controls the density of color inks in printing and proofing.

Digital Proof)
Any proof output from a digital artwork file directly to an electronic printing device (such as Rainbow, Iris, etc.).

Direct Imaging (DI®))
Plates imaged with lasers directly on the press. DI is a trademark of Presstek, Inc.

Dot Gain)
Phenomenon of dots printing larger on paper than they are on negatives or plates.

DPI (Dots per inch)
A linear measurement of resolution that refers to the number of image dots or spots that a printer can create per linear inch (for example, 600 dpi or 1200 dpi).

Method used by ink makers and pressroom staff to show roughly how a color will appear on a specific stock.

Preliminary drawing or layout showing visual elements. Also a simulation of a printed piece using paper specified for a job.

Photograph reproduced from two halftone negatives and printed in two ink colors.

To press an image into paper so it lies above or below (deboss) the surface.

Coating of chemicals on papers, films, and printing plates.

EPS (Encapsulated Postscript)
File format used to save graphics for a variety of PC and Mac applications.

Fake Duotone
Halftone in one ink color printed over screen tint of a second ink color.

Film Laminate
Thin sheet of plastic adhered to printed paper for protection.

An assembly of negatives taped to masking material; or digitally imposed film, ready for platemaking.

Method of printing on a web press using rubber plates with raised images. Used commonly for labels and packaging.

To reproduce a photograph or illustration so that its image faces the opposite from the original.

Typeface of a specific style.

For Position Only

Two or more originals printed on the same sheet of paper are said to be ganged.

The direction in which fibers are aligned in paper.

The leading edge of the paper as it passes through the press. No printing can take place on the gripper edge (usually 3/8" from the edge). Gripper dimension is press-dependent.

Very thin line or gap about the width of a hair: 1/100".

A photograph converted for printing by producing variably sized or spaced printable dots, creating the illusion of shading as it appears in the original photo.

Spot or imperfection in printing, most visible in areas of heavy ink coverage.

House Sheet
General-use paper ordered in large quantities and kept in stock by a printer.

Image Area
Portion of paper on which ink appears.

High resolution (1200 dpi to 5000 dpi) laser based photographic output device. Imagesetters can often produce both film and paper.

Arrangement of pages on a press sheet or in an electronic file, so they will appear in proper sequence after press sheets are folded and bound.

To print additional copy on a previously printed sheet.

Ink Holdout
Characteristic of paper allowing ink to dry on its surface rather than by absorption.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
File format used to save and compress photographs. Used frequently to display photos on web pages.

To straighten or align sheets of paper in a stack.

Setting letter combinations closer together closer than usual to provide visually even spacing.

Kiss Cut
When the top layer of self-adhesive paper is cut, but not the backing.

Alternate term for silhouette and reverse.

Laminate Proof
Proofs created by exposing film separations in contact with CMYK proofing material and laminating the resulting color sheets onto a piece of paper. Also known as MatchprintTM or Chromalin®

Line Art
Type, rules, clip art, and other black and white images that do not have any screens or shading.

Liquid Laminate
Plastic applied to paper as a liquid, then bonded and cured into a hard, glossy finish.

LPI (Lines per inch)
Resolution term used in printing that designates the number of halftone dots per inch that are printed horizontally and vertically.


    1. All activities required setting up a press before production begins.
    2. Stock used to set up and produce the first saleable press sheet.
Undesirable pattern in halftones and screen tints made with misaligned screens.

Spotty, uneven ink coverage especially noticeable in large solids.

The graphically attractive portion of the front page of a newsletter that contains the name of the publication, along with volume number, date, company, etc.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition)
Input and conversion, through scanning, of text as editable characters rather than as graphics.

Offset Printing
Method of lithographic printing that transfer ink from a plate to a blanket, then from the blanket to paper.

Characteristic of paper that helps prevent printing on one side from showing on the other.

Not transparent. Also a verb meaning to cover flaws in negatives with paint or tape.

Overlay Proof
Color proof consisting of polyester sheets laid on top of each other with their images in register. Each sheet represents the image to be printed in one color, resulting in four sheets for CMYK proofs.

Overprint (surprint)
Printing over an area that already has ink on it such as type over a photo, or color on color.

Parent Sheet
Paper distributor term for sheet 17 x 22" or larger.

PDF (Portable Document Format)
Cross platform file format from Adobe Systems, Inc., that incorporates all elements of a document (fonts, graphics and page layout) for viewing and printing.

Undesirable phenomenon of bits of fiber or coating coming loose from paper during printing.

Plate-Ready Film
Alternate term for flat.

PMS Color
An acronym used to describe colors of the Pantone Matching System, the most widely used standard for ink color manufacture and reproduction in the United States. There are more than 1000 colors denoted by a number, such as Pantone 347, or by name, Pantone Purple.

The checking and preparation of an electronic file for output on a printing device. Involves checking for the presence of all high resolution graphic files, fonts, and other required elements necessary to properly print a file.

Printer’s offer to print a job for a specified price calculated from specifications and dummies provided by the customer.

500 sheets of paper. Usually precut and wrapped (typical sizes 8 1/2 x 11", 8 1/2 x 14", or 11 x 17" inches).

To position printing in proper relationship to edges of paper and other printing on the same sheet. Such printing is said to be in register.

Type or other image reproduced by printing the background rather than the image itself, allowing the underlying color of paper to show in the shape of the image. Alternate term for knock-out.

Red, Green, Blue color space used for viewing color on monitors and capturing color on scanners.

Saddle Stitch
To bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine.

To compress paper along a line so it will fold more easily.

Screen Tint
To create a lighter version of a color, images are converted to very small dots so ink will print at less than 100% coverage. Specified percentages, such as 20% tint screen.

Publication made entirely from the same paper so that the cover is printed simultaneously with the inside pages.

Sheetfed Press
Press that prints sheets of paper rather than rolls of paper (web).

A master sheet printed in quantity with information that does not change, to be imprinted later with copy as needed, such as shells for newsletters and business cards.

The name given to a printed sheet after it has been folded.

Photograph in which the background has been removed (masked out) to isolate an image.

A printed area completely covered with ink. A solid area 3 x 3" or larger may require additional attention on small presses.

Alternate term for paper.

Method of printing using colorless resin powder and heat applied to wet ink yielding raised images. Also known as raised printing.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)
The most common and portable format for saving bitmap images for printing.

When two or more colors touch, trap is the overlap allowed preventing white space from appearing between colors in the event of a shift on press.

The entering of text into a computer, along with placement and formatting of type on a page.

Printing two-up or three-up means positioning and printing the same original 2 or 3 times on one sheet of paper to create a shorter press run.

UV Coating
Liquid laminate bonded and cured with ultraviolet light. Can be done full (over the whole piece) or spot (over selected parts).

Clear liquid applied like ink on press for beauty and protection. Can be done full or spot.

An illustration where background fades gradually until it blends into unprinted paper.

Wash Up
To clean ink from rollers, fountains, and other components of a press.

Distinctive design created in paper during manufacture.

A single word in a line by itself, ending a paragraph, or starting a page.

Work and Tumble
To print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn it over from left to right to print the second side.

Alternate term for photocopy.

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