Glossary of Terms


A-Line or A-Style Envelope ~ An envelope with a square flap; often used for announcements, invitations, and note cards.

Accordion Fold ~ A bindery term describing a type of fold that involves two or more parallel folds in opposite direction to the previous fold that creates a pleated or accordion affect.

Against the Grain ~ A term to describe printing at right angles to the direction of the paper grain.


Baronial Envelope ~ An envelope with a a large pointed flap; often used for announcements, invitations, and note cards.

Bleed ~ When ink appears to “run off” the edge of the paper; the effect is achieved by overprinting an area and then trimming it down to size.

Booklet Envelope ~ An envelope with the seal flap on the long side of the envelope.

Business Reply Envelope (BRE) ~ An envelope with a pre-printed postage permit and return address. (In contrast, a Business Return envelope has a pre-printed return address and the sender applies the postage.)


Catalog Envelope ~ An envelope with the seal flap on the short side of the envelope.

CMYK ~ The acronym for “cyan, magenta, yellow, black,” the four basic colors of ink.

Coated Paper ~ Paper that has a dull or glossy coating, generally giving it a smoother finish and more opacity. A coated stock allows ink colors and images to “pop” or “jump” off the sheet more, since the ink rests on the surface of the paper rather than soaking into it. Coated paper can take longer to dry after printing.

Commercial Envelope ~ An envelope with a pointed flap that is commonly used for business correspondence, such as letterhead, statements, etc..

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Densitometer ~ A device used by printers for quality control to measure the density of ink color.

Die Cutting ~ The process of cutting a shape or design in paper (or other material) using a sharp die or block.

DPI ~ An acronym for “Dots Per Inch,” which is a measurement used to express the quality of the resolution of an image.

Dull Finish ~ A term used to describe paper that has a smooth, low gloss.

Dummy ~ A rough mock-up or comp showing the position and finish size of a soon-to-be-printed piece. Back to top



ECF (Elemental Chlorine Free) ~ Describes a paper made of virgin or recycled fiber that is bleached with chlorine dioxide or other chlorine compounds, which is a cleaner process than traditional chlorine gas bleaching. (See PCF and TCF.)

Embossing ~ A special paper finishing method that uses a die to achieve a raised or 3D effect on paper. Often used with foil stamping.



Finish ~ The quality of the paper surface (e.g., dull, laid, matte, satin).

Foil Stamping ~ A special process using a die to apply a thin metallic or pigmented film to paper. Often used with embossing Folio ~ The area where the page number appears.

Four-Color Process ~ The process of combining the four basic colors of ink (yellow, magenta, cyan, and black) to achieve a full-color effect. (See CMYK.) Back to top


Gang ~ Printing more than one job on the same press sheet.

Grain ~ The direction of fibers in a sheet of paper. Grain is important to keep in mind if a printed project is going to be folded; going with the grain makes for a stronger, cleaner fold and helps to prevent the ink from cracking.

Gripper Edge ~ The amount of space required on a press sheet to allow the metal fingers on a press to grab and hold the sheet as it passes through the press.


Hickey ~ An unintentional spot or mark that appears on a printed piece due to dust particles, lint, dried ink, etc., on a printing plate or blanket. Back to top


IBC ~ The acronym for inside back cover.

IFC ~ The acronym for inside front cover.

Indicia ~ Postal information that is preprinted on mailing pieces in place of a postage stamp.


Jog ~ The process of vibrating a stack of printed sheets to align them tightly before trimming to the final size.



Laminating ~ The process of applying a thin transparent plastic coating to the printed sheet to provide protection and a glossy finish. Back to top



Matte Finish ~ A term used to describe a coated paper that has a dull finish versus a high-gloss finish.

Moire ~ An undesirable pattern created by incorrect angles of overprinting halftone screens. Back to top



Orphan ~ A term that describes when only a part of the last word of a sentence is alone on the last line of text.

Overrun or overs ~ A surplus of copies printed in excess of the requested amount. It is common practice in the printing industry to have either a 10 percent overrun or underrun.


Pantone Matching System (PMS) ~ A registered name that is known worldwide as the standard language for for identifying specific ink colors for designers, manufacturers, customers, et al.

PCF (Process Chlorine Free) ~ Describes a paper made of fiber that is recycled and unbleached, or bleached without the use of additional chlorine or chlorine derivatives. (Since the paper is recycled, it may have been previously bleached with chlorine or chlorine derivatives, so it is not totally chlorine free.) (See ECF and TCF.)

Perfect Binding ~ An adhesive binding that glues the pages to the cover, as in a book.

Perfecting ~ The process of printing on both sides of the press sheet on the same pass through the press.

Perforating ~ A method of drilling or punching a series of small holes in a line on paper to create easy-to-remove response cards, coupons, etc.

PMS ~ See Pantone Matching System above. Back to top



Ream ~ Equivalent to 500 sheets of paper.

Remittance Envelope ~ An envelope with a seal flap covering most of the back of the envelope, and used for collecting donations, etc.

Resolution ~ A measurement expressed in dots per inch (DPI) used to define the quality of an image or output.

RGB ~ The acronym for “red, green, and blue,” the three primary colors used for computer monitor displays. They tend to be “rosier” or “more fruity” than CMYK appears, and must be converted to CMYK for printing. Back to top



Saddle Stitch ~ A bindery method using staples in the seam or fold to stitch multiple pages together.

Score ~ A method used to put a crease in paper to facilitate folding.

Self Cover ~ A cover that uses the same paper stock as the inside pages of a booklet.

Set Off ~ The unintentional transfer of ink from one printed sheet to the back of another, which can be caused by not allowing enough drying time before handling the printed sheets.

Sheet Fed Press ~ A type of press that prints from single sheets of paper rather than from reels or rolls of paper.

Stet ~ A proofreading term used to indicate that a correction should be ignored or canceled; in other words, let it stand as is. Back to top



TCF (Totally Chlorine Free) ~ Describes a paper made of virgin fiber that is unbleached or is bleached without chlorine or chlorine derivatives. (See ECF and PCF.)

Thermography ~ A method of printing that produces a raised ink surface. Trim Marks ~ The marks on a press sheet showing the cut lines for trimming down to the final size.


Up ~ A term indicating how many items are set up on the same press sheet, such as two up, four up, etc.Back to top



Varnish ~ An extra, transparent coating applied to all or part of a printed sheet to achieve a glossy finish and/or to seal heavy ink coverage.


Washup ~ The process of cleaning or washing ink off the rollers and blankets of the press.

Web Press ~ A type of press that prints from reels or rolls of paper versus sheet-fed paper.

Widow ~ A term that describes when a single word at the end of a sentence is alone on the last line of text.

Window Envelope ~ An envelope with an opening (with or without a translucent patch) that allow the contents inside the envelope to show through, such as a mailing address.

Wiro binding ~ A type of binding that requires pages to be punched with an aligned pattern of holes so that a double loop wire can fit into them; this type of binding allows a book to lay flat when open.

WYSIWYG ~ What You See Is What You Get.

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