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Printing Glossary & Terminology: The Ultimate Guide

Time: 2024-05-24 Hits: 30

As someone new in printing industry, may be you encountered numerous technical terms that can be confusing. In this guide, we will delve into the world of printing glossary & terminology, exploring various concepts and definitions that are essential for effective communication and understanding within the industry.

printing glossary

Printing Glossary: Artwork

Artwork refers to the original design or illustration that is prepared for printing. It can include text, graphics, images, and other visual elements. Artwork is typically created using graphic design software and must be properly formatted and prepared for the specific printing process.

Bleed and line

Bleed refers to the extension of printed elements beyond the trim edges of a printed piece. To make sure that no unprinted borders appear after trimming. A bleed line, on the other hand, refers to the boundary or edge of the printed area.


CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). It is a subtractive color model used in printing, where these four colors are combined to create a wide range of colors on the printed surface.


A margin is the blank space around the edges of a printed page, separating the text or images from the trim edges. Margins are important for ensuring proper binding and providing a visually appealing layout.

Print-ready file

A print-ready file is a digital file that has been properly prepared and formatted for the printing process. It includes all necessary elements, such as text, images, and layout, and meets the specific requirements and specifications of the chosen printing method.

Page numbers

Page numbers are numerical identifiers assigned to individual pages within a printed document. They serve as a navigational aid, helping readers keep track of their progress and locate specific sections or information within the publication.


The printing glossary of RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue, which are the three primary colors used in digital displays and electronic devices. In the printing industry, RGB colors are often converted to CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) or PMS colors for accurate color reproduction on printed materials.

Resolution for printing

Resolution for printing refers to the measurement of the detail and clarity of an image or graphic when printed. It is typically expressed in dots per inch (dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi). Higher resolutions generally result in sharper and more detailed printed output, while lower resolutions can lead to pixelation or blurriness.

Safe zone

The safe zone in glossary, also known as or margin. It is a designated area within a printed layout where critical elements, such as text or important graphics, should be placed to ensure they are not trimmed or cut off during the finishing process.


The spine is the outer edge of a bound book or publication where the pages are held together. It is often reinforced with adhesive or other materials to ensure the book’s durability and longevity.

Trim line

The trim line is a designated line or boundary within a printed layout that indicates where the printed piece will be trimmed or cut during the finishing process.

Vector graphics and raster graphics

Vector graphics are digital images composed of mathematical equations and lines, making them infinitely scalable without losing quality. Raster graphics, on the other hand, are made up of individual pixels, which can become pixelated or distorted when scaled beyond their original resolution. Both vector and raster graphics are commonly used in the printing industry, depending on the specific requirements of the project.

Printing Glossary: Pre-Press

Pre-press is the stage in the printing process that involves preparing and processing digital files, images, and layouts for final printing. This stage includes tasks such as typesetting, color separation, imposition, and proofing to ensure the final printed product meets the desired specifications.


Pre-flight is the process of thoroughly checking and analyzing digital files before sending them to the printing press. This step involves verifying file formats, image resolution, color settings, font embedding, and other critical elements to ensure a smooth and error-free printing process.

Printing proof

A printing proof is a preliminary version of a printed piece that is used to review and approve the final output before proceeding with the full print run. Proofs allow for the detection and correction of any errors or issues. To make sure the final printed product meets the desired quality standards.

Color separation

Color separation is the process of separating a full-color image or design into its individual color components (CMYK or spot colors) for printing. This allows each color to be printed separately and then combined to create the final printed product.


Registration refers to the precise alignment of different printed elements, such as colors, images, or text, on a printed piece. Proper registration is essential for achieving accurate and consistent printing results, ensuring that all components are correctly positioned and aligned.

Computer-To-Plate (CTP)

Computer-To-Plate (CTP) is a technology that allows digital data to be transferred directly from a computer to a printing plate, eliminating the need for intermediate film or other manual processes.


In the context of printing, plates refer to the thin, flat surfaces used to transfer an inked image onto a printing surface, such as paper or other substrates. Plates can be made from various materials, including metal, plastic, or photopolymer, and are essential components in various printing processes.

Printing Glossary: Printing Press

A printing press is a mechanical device used to transfer ink onto a substrate, such as paper or other printable materials. There are various types of printing presses, including offset, digital, flexographic, and gravure presses. Each designed for specific printing applications and requirements.

Digital printing

Digital printing is a printing process that transfers digital data directly from a computer or digital file to the printing surface, without the need for intermediate steps like creating printing plates. It is often used for short-run or on-demand printing projects.

Offset printing

offset printing

Offset printing is a widely used commercial printing technique that involves transferring an inked image from a plate to a rubber blanket and then onto the printing surface. This process is known for its high-quality output and versatility, making it suitable for a variety of printing projects.

Offset printing is particularly advantageous for large print runs due to its efficiency and cost-effectiveness. It can handle a wide range of paper stocks and substrates, ensuring consistent and vibrant color reproduction.

The offset printing process also allows for the use of Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors, which are essential for achieving precise color matching and brand consistency.

Print on demand (POD)

Print on demand (POD) is a printing technique that allows for the production of individual copies or small quantities of printed materials as needed, eliminating the need for large inventory or upfront printing costs. This method is particularly useful for self-publishing, customized products, or low-volume print runs.

Sheet-fed printing press

A sheet-fed printing press is a type of printing press that feeds individual sheets of paper or substrate into the printing units, one sheet at a time. This method is commonly used for smaller print runs or projects that require frequent changes in paper stock or size.

Web printing press

Web press printing is a high-speed printing method that uses large rolls of paper or substrate, rather than individual sheets. This technique is commonly used for large print runs, such as newspapers, magazines, and catalogs, due to its efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Printing Glossary: Post-Press


Post-press refers to the various finishing processes that occur after the initial printing stage. This can include tasks such as trimming, folding, binding, laminating, or applying special coatings or finishes to the printed materials.


Trimming is the act of cutting or removing excess material from the edges of a printed piece to achieve the desired final size or shape.


Once the pages are printed, they are folded into signatures. Folding the pages into signatures allows for easier handling during the binding process.


In the printing glossary, a signature refers to a group of printed pages that are folded together and assembled to form a complete book or publication. Signatures are typically gathered and bound together during the bookbinding process.


Collating is the process of gathering and assembling printed sheets or pages in the correct sequence. To make sure that they are in the proper order for binding or distribution.


Binding is the process of assembling printed sheets or signatures into a complete book or publication. Different binding methods include perfect binding, saddle stitching, spiral binding, and case binding.

Printing Glossary: Paper and Card Stock

C1S and C2S

C1S (Coated One Side) and C2S (Coated Two Sides) refer to the coating applied to paper surfaces. C1S paper has a coating on one side, while C2S paper has a coating on both sides, providing a smoother surface and better ink adhesion for printing.


Gloss refers to the shiny, reflective surface finish applied to printed materials, such as paper or cardstock. It enhances the vibrancy and contrast of printed colors and images, but can also cause glare or reflections.


Matte refers to a non-glossy, flat, or dull surface finish applied to printed materials, such as paper or cardstock. It reduces glare and reflections, providing a more subtle and understated appearance compared to glossy finishes.

Paper coating

Paper coating is a process in which a thin layer of material, such as clay or polymer, is applied to the surface of paper. This coating enhances the paper’s printability, smoothness, and overall appearance, making it ideal for high-quality printing projects.

Paper finishes

Paper finishes refer to the various surface treatments applied to paper during the manufacturing process. Common finishes include glossy, matte, satin, and uncoated. Each offering distinct visual and tactile properties that can impact the overall look and feel of a printed piece.

Paper texture

Paper texture describes the surface characteristics of paper, such as smoothness, roughness, or embossing. Different textures can create unique visual and tactile experiences, influencing the perceived quality and appeal of a printed product.

Paper weight

Paper weight is a measurement of the thickness and density of paper stock. It is typically expressed in grams per square meter (gsm) or pounds per ream. Selecting the appropriate paper weight is crucial for ensuring optimal print quality and durability for a specific printing project.

Printing Glossary: Binding


Board book binding

Board book binding is a specialized technique used for children’s books. Self-cover board books have thick, rigid cover made as the same of inside paper which are made of two sheets of C1S paper mounted together. But hardcover board books which cover is the same as normal hardcover covers.


Flexibound, also known as flex binding or flexible binding, is a type of binding that allows a book or publication to lie flat when opened. It is often used for bibles, cookbooks, manuals, or other publications that need to stay open for easy reference.


Hardcover, also known as case binding or hardback. It is a type of book binding where the text block (printed pages) is secured to a rigid cover made of cardboard or cloth, leather. It is often used for books intended for long-term use or as a premium product.

Perfect binding

Perfect binding is a popular bookbinding technique. It involves grinding the spine of a printed book block and applying a strong, flexible adhesive to attach the cover. This method creates a durable and professional-looking binding suitable for various types of publications.

Saddle stitch

Saddle stitching is a bookbinding method in which folded printed sheets are nested together and bound with staples along the centerfold line. This technique is commonly used for booklets, catalogs, and magazines, providing a durable and cost-effective binding solution.

Smyth sewing

Smyth sewing is a bookbinding technique that involves sewing the folded signatures of a book together using thread. This method provides a durable and flexible binding, making it suitable for hardcover books and publications that require a sturdy and long-lasting binding.

Spiral bound

Spiral binding is a bookbinding method that uses a continuous coil of plastic or metal wire to hold the pages together. This binding style allows the book to lay flat and is commonly used for notebooks, calendars, and manuals that require easy page turning and referencing.


Wire-o binding, also known as twin-loop binding or double-loop binding, is a bookbinding technique that uses a continuous double-loop wire to hold the pages together. This binding style allows the book to lay flat and is often used for calendars, notebooks, and manuals that require frequent page turning.

Concealed wire-o

Concealed wire o binding also known as Canadian binding, hidden wire-o binding. It is a book binding technique that combines the durability of wire o binding with the aesthetic appeal of a concealed spine. Unlike traditional wire o binding, where the wire loops are exposed, concealed wire o binding hides the wire loops within the spine of the document, giving it a seamless appearance.

Comb binding

Comb binding is a variation of wire-o binding. Its appearance and functionality is samilar to wire o binding, but uses as a plastic comb instead. This method involves insert the plastic comb through the punch holes, which provides a slightly different aesthetic, with the comb offering a unique visual appeal.

Printing Glossary: Add on

special finishes


Lamination is the process of applying a thin, transparent plastic film or coating to the surface of printed materials, such as paper or cardstock. It provides protection against moisture, scratches, and wear, while also enhancing the appearance and durability of the printed piece.

Foil stamping

Foil stamping is a printing process where a thin metallic or pigmented foil is applied to a surface using a heated die. It creates a shiny, reflective, or metallic effect on the printed material, adding visual appeal and texture.


Embossing is a printing technique where an image or text is raised above the surface of the material, creating a raised or three-dimensional effect. It is often used for adding texture or creating a tactile experience on printed materials.


Debossing is a printing technique where an image or text is pressed into the surface of a material, creating a recessed or indented effect. It is often used for adding texture or creating a depressed tactile effect on printed materials.

Die cut

Die cutting is a process where shapes or patterns are cut out of paper, cardboard, or other materials using a sharp metal blade or die. It is commonly used for creating unique shapes, packaging designs, or intricate details in printed materials.

Spot UV

Spot UV is a printing technique that involves selectively applying a clear, glossy UV coating to specific areas of a printed piece. This creates a raised, textured effect that can add visual interest and highlight important design elements.

UV coating

UV coating is a finishing process that involves applying a clear, liquid coating to the surface of printed materials and then curing it with ultraviolet (UV) light. This coating provides a glossy or matte finish, enhances durability, and protects the printed piece from scuffs, scratches, and other environmental factors.


Varnish is a clear, protective coating applied to the surface of printed materials to enhance their appearance and durability. It can provide a glossy or matte finish and can also be used to create special effects, such as spot varnishing or overall varnishing.

Glitter edges

Glitter edges, also known as glitter edging or glitter foilin. It is a decorative technique where a thin layer of glitter or metallic foil is applied to the edges of a book’s pages, creating a shimmering or sparkly effect.


In the printing glossary, a bookmark is a thin marking tool, usually made of paper, card, fabric, or other material,  used to track a reader’s progress in a book and allow the reader to easily return to where the previous reading session ended.


Tabs, also known as index tabs or divider tabs, are protruding extensions on the edges of printed pages or sections within a document. They are commonly used in binders, manuals, or reference materials to facilitate easy navigation and organization.


Endsheets, also known as endpapers, are the folded sheets of paper that are pasted onto the inside covers of a hardcover book. They serve as a transition between the book’s cover and the text block, and can be decorative or plain.

Book flap

A book flap, also known as a cover flap, is an extension of the cover that folds inside the front and back covers of a soft cover book. It typically contains additional information about the book or the author.

Dust jacket

A dust jacket, also known as a book jacket or dust cover, is a detachable outer covering for a hardcover book. It typically features the book’s title, author, and design elements, and serves to protect the book’s binding and cover.


A bookmark is a thin, lightweight marker used to keep one’s place in a book or document. Bookmarks can be printed with designs, logos, or promotional messages and are often used as marketing or promotional items.

Book slipcase

A book slipcase is a protective, rigid enclosure made of cardboard or similar material, designed to hold and protect a book or set of books. It is often used for valuable or limited-edition publications.

Other Printing Glossary

Printing template

In printing glossary, a printing template is a pre-designed layout or file that serves as a guide for creating consistent and properly formatted printed materials. Templates often include bleed, trimming line and other design elements, ensuring a streamlined and efficient printing process.


In the printing glossary, a substrate is the material or surface on which printing is done. Common substrates include paper, cardstock, plastic, metal, and fabrics. The choice of substrate is crucial as it can significantly impact the overall quality, durability, and appearance of the printed product.

Parent sheets

Parent sheets, also known as parent sizes or stock sizes. They refer to the initial large sheets of paper or other substrates used in the printing process. These sheets are typically cut down or trimmed to create smaller, finished sizes for various printing applications.

parent sheets

Black and white printing

Black and white printing, also known as monochrome printing. It involves reproducing text, images, or graphics using only black ink or toner on a white substrate. This printing method is often used for documents, books, or publications that do not require color.

Grayscale printing

Grayscale printing is a printing process that reproduces images or graphics using varying shades of gray, ranging from black to white. It is often used for printing black-and-white photographs or illustrations with tonal variations.

Head to head printing and head to toe printing

Head to head printing refers to the arrangement of pages in a book or publication where the top of one page faces the top of the next page. Head to toe printing, on the other hand, refers to the arrangement where the top of one page faces the bottom of the next page.

Large format printing

Large format printing refers to the printing of materials on wide or oversized substrates, such as banners, posters, signage, or display graphics. It typically involves specialized printers and equipment capable of handling larger print sizes.

Recto and verso printing

Recto and verso printing of printing glossary refer to the printing on the front (recto) and back (verso) sides of a sheet of paper or substrate. This printing terminology is commonly used in the book printing industry and is essential for ensuring proper page sequencing and layout.

Rich black printing

Rich black printing is a technique used in offset printing to achieve a deeper, richer black color by combining various percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks. This method helps to overcome the limitations of using a single black ink, resulting in more vibrant and consistent black tones in printed materials.

Simplex and duplex printing

Simplex printing refers to printing on one side of a sheet of paper or substrate. Duplex printing involves printing on both sides of the sheet. Duplex printing is often preferred for its efficiency and cost-effectiveness, as it reduces paper consumption and waste.

Up printing

Up printing in printing glossary, often referred to as n-up, 2-up, or 4-up. It is a printing technique that involves arranging multiple pages or images onto a single larger sheet of paper or substrate. This method is commonly used to maximize efficiency and reduce waste during the printing process.

4/4, 4/1, 4/0 printing

These printing glossaries refer to the number of ink colors used in a printing process. 4/4 printing means printing in full color (CMYK) on both sides of the paper or substrate. 4/1 printing involves printing in full color on one side and a single spot color on the other side. 4/0 printing indicates printing in full color on one side, with no printing on the other side.


A headband is a decorative strip of fabric or material that is attached to the top and bottom of the spine of a hardcover book. It serves both a functional and aesthetic purpose, helping to reinforce the binding and adding a decorative touch.

Pantone Matching System (PMS)

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) of printing glossary is a proprietary color space used in the printing industry. To ensure consistent and accurate color reproduction. PMS colors are identified by unique numerical codes, allowing printers to precisely match specific colors across various printing processes and substrates.

Spot color

Spot color refers to a specific premixed ink color, such as those from the Pantone Matching System (PMS), that is used in addition to the standard CMYK process colors. Spot colors are often used for branding purposes or to achieve precise color matching requirements.

Trimming size

The trimming size, also known as the finished size or trim size. It refers to the final dimensions of a printed piece after it has been trimmed or cut to its intended size during the finishing process.


Copyright in printing glossary is a legal concept that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, display, or perform their work. It is an important consideration in the printing industry, as it protects the intellectual property of authors, artists, and designers.


Barcodes are machine-readable codes that are printed on various materials, such as books, product packaging or shipping labels. They are used to store and convey information(such as price), enabling efficient tracking and inventory management.

Color variance

Color variance refers to the difference in color appearance between the original digital file and the final printed output. This can be caused by various factors, such as differences in color management, paper stock, or printing conditions.

Crossover image

A crossover image is an image or graphic that extends across the gutter (the center margin) of a printed piece, such as a book or magazine. It creates a continuous visual effect across the spread.


The gutter is the inner margin or space between the two facing pages of a book, magazine, or other printed material. It allows for proper binding and prevents text or images from being obscured when the pages are opened.

Lead time

Lead time, we aslo called production turnaround time, which is the period between start and completion of a process. The production turnaround time allow us to do printing, cutting, binding, finishing, quality check and packaging.

These are just a few examples of the vast array of printing glossary used in the industry. Understanding these terms is crucial for effective communication and ensuring that printing projects are executed accurately and efficiently.

If you’re interested in learning more about printing glossary or have any specific questions, feel free to contact our team of experts. We’re always happy to provide guidance and share our knowledge to help you navigate the complexities of the printing industry.

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