Not a hashtag, at least not in printing. Before this symbol meant hashtag it meant pound and we use it to indicate the weight of paper, e.g. 80# is eighty pound paper.


The normal thing... a business sized envelope which is just right for an 8.5x11 letter folded in third. The envelope is 9.5 x 4.125 inches. The common ones have a somewhat triangular shaped flap, but there are options. Even business sized envelopes can have square flaps or even open on the end if you want!

100% Recycled

Beware! This doesn't necessarily mean a paper was made from 100% Post-Consumer Waste paper! Much recycled fiber is obtained from waste made during manufacturing processes. While it is good that those fibers do not go to waste, it is not the same as post-consumer waste.

4 Bar or 4 Baronial

A small card and/or envelope, typically used as a reply device for an invitation package or small note card. They come premade in limited papers and colors, but most any paper can be made into an envelope if you have your heart set on it! A 4 Bar or 4 Baronial card is 3.5x5 (or a tad smaller) and the envelope is 3.625x5.125 inches and has a triangular flap.

5 Bar or 5 Baronial

Like the 4 Bar, the 5 Bar card and envelope are often used as RSVP's and small note cards. The card is 4x5.375 (or a bit smaller) and can be flat or folded to that size. The envelope is 4.125x5.5 and has a triangular flap. Papers for premade envelopes are limited, but we can make an envelope out of the paper you really want!

5.5 Bar or 5.5 Baronial

Watch your step! The archaic system we use for papers comes into play here. A 5.5 Bar is really the same size as an A-2, 4.25x 5.5 (flat or after folding). BUT... (there is always a but...) usually, the FLAP is different. A Baronial envelope usually has a triangular flap and an A-style envelope has a square flap.

6 Bar or 6 Baronial

Another of the Baronials. This one is similar in size to an A-6, but with the triangular flap. The card size is 4.5x6.25 (flat or after folding), the envelope is 4.75x6.5.


You don't see this one often, but it can be really useful. An a-10 envelope has a square flap that is longer than you would find on a standard booklet envelope. The envelope is 6x9.5. This size is available in very limited papers when buying them premade, but can be manufactured out of the paper you really want!


A paper size that can refer to a card or an envelope. The A-2 envelope (which is 4.375x5.75 inches) works nicely with a 4.25x5.5 inch card. A-2 envelopes have a square flap. If you want triangular flaps, ask for a 5.5 Bar envelope.


Another paper size. It can be a card size or an envelope. The A-6 envelope has square flaps and is 4.75x6.5 inches. A 4.5x6.25 inch card fits perfectly. For an envelope with a triangular flap, ask for 6 Bar!


Yet one more paper size. More precisely an A-7 envelope is 5.25x7.25 inches which accomodates a 5x7 inch card. The A-7 envelope has a square flap and its counterpart with triangular flaps is called a Lee size. There is no logic to this.


Yet one more rare announcement style envelope. This one is 5.5x8.125 inches and the card going inside would be 5.25x7.875. Large A-style envelopes have square flaps that are about 2.5 inches long.


This is the envelope you want if you want to have a letter folded in half mailed in an envelope that has a bigger (and considered a bit fancier looking by some folks) look. The A-9 envelope has 2.5 inch flaps and is 5.75x8.875. The more commercial 6x9 booklet or catalog envelope is a little too big for some uses and has a smaller flap.

A-Style Envelope

Announcement style, open side envelope with double side seam construction and a square flap. See A-2, A-6, A-7, A-8, A-9 and A-10. Apparently A-3, A-4 and A-5 fell out of favor, or it was getting confusing because of the European paper sizing system... now you have to go read about that, don't you.


A4 is the European equivalent to the US letter size paper. It measures 210 mm wide and 297 mm longl (about 8 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches). It is used in most countries of the world, except the US and some neighboring countries (you know, like Canada) where letter-size paper (8 1/2 x 11 inch) is used.

A4 size paper

A4 - not to be confused with the A-style envelope sizing system - is the European version of letter sized paper. Fun fact: In the European system the length divided by the width is always 1.4142. The A0 size has an area of 1 square meter and each subsequent size A(n) is defined as A(n-1) cut in half parallel to its shorter sides (rounded to the nearest millimeter).

Accordion Fold

Imagine the bellows of an accordion…oh that was too obvious. What it means is a simple zig-zag fold with 3 or more panels and two or more parallel folds. Each panel of the accordion fold is about the same size. Also see "Z" and "W" Fold.

Acid-free Paper

Paper that lasts. For more information also see Archival Paper. Acid-free paper is made from pulp containing little or no acid and resists deterioration from age. Also called alkaline paper, archival paper, neutral pH paper, permanent paper and thesis paper.


Adobe Acrobat is a software product that primarily deals with PDF files. If you mean Acrobat, say Acrobat or Adobe Acrobat, not simply Adobe. Acrobat Reader does not have the ability to edit PDF files. Acrobat Pro does have some editing capabilities. Many Acrobat files can be opened in Illustrator for editing, but not always.


A major software company that makes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat and many other products. Adobe is NOT synonymous with Acrobat! Side note: Adobe created 3 primary programs, each with a distinct purpose. Illustrator to make vector graphics (including advance type manipulation), Photoshop to create raster images, and InDesign to assemble pages using images created in the other programs plus generating type. Graphics are best done keeping these purposes in mind.


A poster that is integrated into the structure of a bus shelter.

Against the Grain

Individuality, going against the societal norm... oh we are talking printing here, aren't we... This term usually refers to folding, specifically folds that run perpendicular to the predominant orientation of the fibers in the paper being folded (see Grain). The long fibers can break during folding and if enough break the paper cracks. In many cases scoring mitigates any problems with folding Against the Grain, but sometimes not, and even folding with the grain won't prevent cracking. Cracking can make a beautiful print job look rather flawed and folding with the grain can help.

ai or .ai

An Adobe Illustrator file. Some can be opened in Acrobat or Preview, try it if you don't have Illustrator and all you want to do is see the file.

Alkaline Paper

See Acid-free paper.


Just a great word. The name of the symbol that means "and". In the font Verdana it looks like: &.


A material prepared for printing. It refers to photographs, drawings, paintings and printmaking.


Making a statement..yes, and no... In printing we call the smaller cards and envelopes used for invitations and the like Announcements. Announcement cards. Announcement Envelopes. There are several standard sizes. See A-Style Envelope, A-2, A-6, A-7, etc. Announcement envelopes have square flaps. If you are looking for diagonal or triangular flaps see Baronial.

Antique Finish

Beautiful and a bit rough. Antique is more textured than eggshell and smoother than felt and is often creamy or off-white in color. Some papers with antique finishes may not print well with toner based digital printing but is beautiful with offset or letterpress.

Aqueous Coating

Aqueous coating, or AQ, is a clear, non-toxic coating that is applied like ink by a printing press to protect and enhance the printed surface underneath. Aqueous coating adds brilliance and durability to printed products.

Archival Paper

Paper able to make a long term commitment. Archival paper has long-standing qualities. It is acid free, lignin free, usually with good color retention and won't deteriorate over time. Archival papers must meet national standards for performance: they must be acid free and alkaline with a pH of 7.5 to 8.5; include 2% calcium carbonate as an alkaline reserve; and not contain any ground wood or unbleached wood fiber. The expected life of archival paper is more than 100 years.

Artboard Size

Why not call it like it is? Because Adobe says so. Newer versions of Adobe Illustrator have the ability to make multiple pages, but they are called Artboards, not pages. When you are working in Illustrator, you set the artboard to the final size of the printed piece, and remarkably, artboards in one file can be different sizes! This is good for the designer and sometimes confusing for the printer, so be careful how you sent your files to your printer.


We're not asking for Van Gogh. Artwork is material prepared for printing. It once referred to photographs, drawings, paintings and printmaking, but now it is synonymous with computer files containing all the images and layout for a printed piece.


Those annoying social climbers in every high school... or... the upper part of a letter or character that extends above the primary part of the letter, such as with the letters t, l, and k, not to mention b, d, and h.

Aspect Ratio

An important term when designing bulk mail pieces to be sent through the US Mail. The ratio used by the USPS is the LENGTH divided by the HEIGHT of the piece. The result is called the aspect ratio. Mail pieces which do not have the aspect ratio between 1.3 and 2.5 will cost more to mail than those that do. For example, a typical postcard is 4x6. The aspect ratio is 6 divided by 4 or 1.5 and within the required range. A square envelope has an aspect ratio of 1 and would be subject to extra fees.

Author Alterations

The author makes alteration to the file after the first proof. Beware - making changes after a proof can incur extra costs!

Back up

This is what you should have done last night for your computer. But in printing it is simply the process of printing on the second side of the printed sheet.

Barcodes or Bar Codes

Not a signaling system at the local nightclub. Machine-readable (often OCR), preprinted vertical bars used extensively for automated materials handling, inventory control, and point of sale terminals. On products the barcode you see is usually a UPC code. For mailing the barcode represents the correct zip code information for the delivery address on a mailpiece.


An envelope style mostly used for announcements and greeting cards, this envelope has a large pointed flap and diagonal seams which is different from Announcement style envelopes which have square flaps.

Basic Size

This is the root of all evil. The sheet size (dimensions) of a ream of paper (usually 500 sheets) used to determine basis weight in the United States and Canada. The system used in the US is not logical nor simple to understand. The important point is this: Basic size is the reason 80# Cover is heavier than 100# text. You may not need to really understand the arcane details. If you are interested, check out our resource on Everything you (may) want to know about paper.

Basic Weight

See the snarky discussion under Basic Size. In the United States and Canada, the weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to the basic size. Also called ream weight and substance weight (sub weight).


A transformative process. Paper is printed in flat, rectangular or square sheets. Anything that is done to that paper after it is printed is lumped together as Bindery processes. These include cutting, folding, die cutting, foil stamping, collating, gluing, scoring, stapling or stitching, wire-o, perfect binding and more.

Binding Edge

The edge of a booklet or other assembled piece where the fold, wire or staple or glue will be.


What the heck...bitmap is a real word? A bitmap (or "bit map") is a type of raster image composed of dots. When viewed at 100%, each dot corresponds to an individual pixel on a display. In a standard bitmap (.bmp) image, each dot can be assigned a different color. Together, these dots can be used to represent any type of rectangular picture. There are several different bitmap file formats. The standard, uncompressed bitmap format is also known as the "BMP" format. Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) and JPEG are examples of compressed graphic image file types that contain bitmaps.


In offset printing ink is transferred from the plate to a softer surface called the blanket, and then from there to the paper. This 2 step process is the essence of the offset in offset printing.


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly truths about paper manufacturing. The process used to whiten paper pulp uses bleach. Cellulose fibers don't all naturally appear white in color, naturally occurring impurities give the fibers a brownish color, as in grocery bags, which are unbleached kraft pulp. Pulp is bleached in multiple stages with chemical agents such as chlorine, chlorine dioxide, hypochlorites, peroxides or ozone (the last 2 being oxygen type bleaching materials). Dyes and other chemicals are used to create the specific colors of paper, including the specks, which are often added back into bleached pulp.


Yep. Bleed is a printing term and doing it right can save everyone a headache. Bleed refers to any printed element which extends beyond the trim edge of sheet or page. For it to work properly the image should extend at least 1/8" past where the paper will end.

Bleed Marks

In addition to the crop marks (which guide us where to trim the paper after printing) you may include bleed marks indicating how far beyond the trim the bleed extends. While crop marks are essential, bleed marks are not necessary for most printing.

Blind Emboss or Deboss

If you emboss or deboss and image that has no ink or foil as part of the image being pressed into the paper, that is blind embossing/debossing. Now you have to look up emboss and deboss.

Blow In

A dramatic entrance or... an ad or other paper that is loosely inserted in a catalog or magazine. You will often find blow-ins as post card-sized promotions that fall from the magazine when you open it up. These are called "blow-ins" because of the process used to insert the promotions into the publication.


An archaic prepress photographic proof made from stripped negatives where all colors show as blue images on white paper. Nowadays we make really nice full color proofs on fancy schmancy digital and ink jet printers. Ask for a blueline these days and you'll likely get a digital proof.


Extension or designation for a bitmap image. You could read more by looking up bitmap in this very glossary.


General term for some papers over 110# index, 100# cover or 200 gsm which are often used for products such as file folders, displays and heavy cards. Also called paperboard and may also refer to the board material used to make the covers of hardback books and is sometimes called binder board. In general, papers that are considered board grade are lower quality than papers intended for fine printing.

Bond Paper

Not 007's letterhead. Bond can be a confusing term. In general bond refers to business papers, ranging from commodity grade such as copy paper to high quality writing papers that are made of 100% cotton fibers. Technically, bond papers are those whose basic size is 17 x 22 inches. Bond papers are also called writing or ledger (heavier weight) and generally are less opaque than an equivalent weight book or text grade paper. If you are looking for beautiful writing paper, ask for a bond or writing with a high cotton fiber content!

Book Papers

It's not just for books... Book is general term for a group of coated or uncoated papers suitable for graphic arts which are also called text or offset. Book Papers are made from all types and combinations of virgin, reclaimed and recycled fibers in basis weights usually ranging from 40 to 100 lbs. They are characterized by a wide variety of finishes such as Antique, Eggshell, Smooth, Vellum, Dull Coated, Matte Coated, and Gloss Coated. Book papers are generally more opaque than a similar weight bond paper and lighter weight than coverstock. 

Booklet Envelopes

An envelope which is larger than a common business style envelope and which seals on the long dimension, generally described as 'open side'.


Not an IQ test... Brightness is the reflectivity of paper or how white it looks. But not all whites are created equal. In paper, brightness is measured as the amount of light, diffusely reflected from a surface, compared to that which would be reflected from a block of bright Magnesium Oxide. More than you really needed to know, but because the human eye sees only reflected light, and brightness influences printed contrast and the appearance of color printed on the paper, it is an important concept!

Bristol Board

A good quality board made from rag content papers prepared or plied together, usually with a thickness of .006" and up. Once source says that types of bristols include engraver bristols, folding, index, and wedding bristols, but in reality these terms are not used much. If you see a paper that is called bristol, know it probably has some cotton content and might be very nice. We always recommend coming by and looking at paper samples before ordering!


A piece printed on one of a large sheet of paper, often as an advertising circular or newspaper. Traditionally, a broadside is only printed on one side, but the term has been known to refer to pieces printed on both sides. An alternative usage: collide with the side of (a vehicle). The parentheses add a lot to the definition.

Broken Carton

Paper is sold in cartons, just like most products. We are able to purchase less than a carton of some papers from our distributors. They break the cartons open to do that. They also often charge a premium to do that and that cost is called the 'broken carton' price. If a distributor does not stock a paper then buying just part of a carton is not possible. That is called a "mill order" because it has to be shipped from the paper manufacturer.

Bulk Mail

Bulk Mail is what the USPS now calls Standard Mail. It is the USPS category for mail that qualifies for the greatest postage discounts. There are significant rules and regulations governing those qualifications. See our FAQ on mailing!

Butt Register

An unfortunate term, but real. When ink colors meet each other without overlapping (see trapping) or having any space in between they are butt registered, or butt fit or kiss register. Printers don't like this much. We will trap the colors so they overlap ever-so-slightly so that no unwanted gaps appear between the colors. It really is better this way.

C Fold

See Letter Fold

C1S and C2S

Abbreviations for coated one side and coated two sides. See Coated Paper.


That thing that helps you remember what day it is or where you are supposed to be tomorrow. We make these in all sorts of shapes and sizes. This is entirely different from 'calender' (see below).


The surface of paper is made smooth by pressing it between rollers during manufacturing. The calender is a set of smooth steel rolls resting one on top of the other at the end of a paper machine. The paper web is passed between one or more of the "nips" under pressure to control the desired smoothness and thickness of the final sheet. The more highly Calendered a sheet is, the smoother it is.


If your monitor and printer are not calibrated in a manner similar to ours, the color you see may not be what we see or what you get. Color calibration is the process pf adjusting or modifying the behavior of a device (such as a printer or monitor) to bring it into a known specification or state. Calibrating is often performed as the first step in building a color profile for the device. (Oh, snap, now you have to look up Color Profile!) Calibrating is done in an effort to to ensure color consistency across the design, pre-press, proofing and printing processes.


A caliper can be a device we use to precisely describe the thickness of paper usually expressed in thousandths of an inch as measured. It is also a term used to describe the thickness of a paper. For example, the caliper of that 100# cover stock is 0.0084 inches. Fun Fact: another definition of caliper: a metal support for a person's leg.

Carbonless Paper

Paper coated with chemicals that enable transfer of images from one sheet to another with pressure from writing or typing. Originally NCR paper (No Carbon Required) which was an invention of the National Cash Register Company, conveniently also abbreviated NCR.

Case Bind

A type of book binding that uses glue and/or sewing to hold signatures/pages to a stiff cover (or case) which is often made of heavy paper board covered with fabric, plastic or leather. Also called cloth bind, edition bind, hard bind and hard cover.

Cast-coated Paper

Super shiny! High gloss, coated paper made by pressing the paper against a polished, hot, metal drum while the coating is still wet. Cast coated papers can be coated (shiny) on just one or on both sides.

Catalog Envelopes

A larger envelope that opens on the end and has a center seam. Often these are called 'Open End' envelopes.

Center Seam of an Envelope

The seam that joins the two side flaps together at the center of a catalog envelope. The seam can present quality concerns when printing some types of images on pre-made envelopes. The seam creates multiple and variable thicknesses which can be visible in ink that is applied across the envelope. The alternative is to print the paper before the envelope is manufactured (or 'converted' as printers like to say).


Not the person in a book or movie. Here we refer to a single letter in a word. There are many special characters in addition to the standard 26 in the English alphabet. Some are used in other languages, others have uses in mathematics, science and other specific fields.

Chicago Screw

See Post Binding


That gray or brown stuff on the back of notepads. Chipboard is a type of paperboard made primarily from waste paper used mainly in packaging and pads. We don't generally recommend printing onto chipboard though it can be done. The fibers tend to pull out of the paper causing print inconsistencies. There are several higher quality papers that have the look of chipboard. 

Chlorine Free Paper

Chlorine Free Paper comes in two types: Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) and Processed Chlorine Free (PCF). TCF paper is sourced only from virgin fiber and has not been exposed to any forms of chlorine during the bleaching stages. PCF is made in part or entirely from recycled fiber that has not been whitened with a chlorine based bleach but most certainly contains fibers that were originally bleached with a chlorine product when initially manufactured.


No Heimlich Maneuver required... We printers like colors that touch each other to overlap a tiny bit to avoid white gaps between the colors. This is called a trap. A choke is a type of trap that involves adjusting the size of one graphic element to create an overlap or trap of the inner element or color. See also Trapping.

Clear Window (in an envelope)

On a clear day, you can see forever... Windows in envelopes can be covered with several materials, or none at all. Clear windows are completely transparent, but cannot withstand the heat of the high speed copier, thermographic process or other high-heat printing. If you want a window that will withstand the high speed copier, request window envelopes for digital printing!

Closed Gate Fold

A gate fold involves two panels folding in toward the center to create the appearance of a gate that opens from the middle. A closed gate fold is a gate fold that is folded a second time at the spot where the two gates come together. Gate folds can look very cool but when they are closed gates there is a small gap between the gates which provides room for the second fold. This may not be the desired effect if an image crosses the two gates, so plan your design accordingly.


Not a rock band. Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black. The component colors of full color or process color or four color process printing.

Coated Paper

Paper with a coating (usually made of clay) that improves reflectivity and ink holdout while printing. That means crisper photos and more intense colors. Coated papers come in four major categories: cast, gloss, dull and matte.

Cockle Finish

Don't let yourself go into the gutter on this one. A cockle surface has a slight toothiness or rippling effect, which simulates hand made, air dried paper.

Cold Type

A total misnomer. When technology using photographic paper and ultimately fully computerized type replaced metal type it was called 'cold' because with the old technology the metal had been made from melted lead and was 'hot'.


Imagine a big table with lots of piles of paper and people walking around taking one of each in perfect order. Collating is to organize printed pages in a specific order as requested.


Printing is often expensive, but we won't put a lien on your house... Printed collateral is simply a somewhat obtuse term meaning the printed materials you use in your business or organization. Most commonly it will refer to a coordinated collection of actual physical items such as letterhead, envelopes, business cards, product or services sheets, or brochures.

Color Bar

Sidle up to the bar, we have color! A color bar is a strip of small blocks of color on a proof or press sheet to help evaluate features such as hue, density and dot gain. The color bar appears out in the margin and is trimmed off during the finishing of the piece by the bindery folks.

Color Break

In multicolor printing, the point at which one ink color stops and another begins is called the color break. This can be important if a color break falls exactly on a fold. In some cases extra steps may be required to ensure the fold lands exactly in the correct spot. This is particularly true with envelopes and digital printing.

Color Build

Build a color by printing more than one ink colors in combination to make another color. Printing inks are not usually opaque. When you print one color on top of another, particularly using different screens of the colors, it doesn't block out the color below, it functionally mixes with it. Full color offset printing relies on this. We print tiny dots of cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks onto white paper and where they overlap creates the continuous color we see as full color. Or, color builds can be done with spot colors in order to create the look of many colors using just 2 or 3 inks.

Color Correction

To adjust the relationship among the process colors in a digital file to achieve desirable colors for printing.

Color Fastness

Capacity of paper or ink to retain its original color or to resist fading and change through the influence of heat, light, use, etc. 

Color Gamut

The phrase 'full gamut' does not really apply here. It is an important concept because not all the colors we can see can be printed on every device! The gamut is the range of hues it is possible to reproduce using a specific device that is building printed color by combining base colors, such as a computer screen, inkjet printer, or four-color process printing. Some colors that can be printed as spot colors are famously 'out of gamut' for CMYK printing which means the color does not match the spot PMS color. See also Color Space.

Color Key

Everyone in printing knows: Color is the key. But seriously, a color key is a manual device to specify what elements in a piece print in what ink color. Originally this was a brand name for an overlay color proof which is rarely seen now that graphics are almost exclusively sent to printers as electronic files.

Color Match

This isn't a very good technical term, but if you want us to match a color we are printing to something you have, bring it in, we will talk over the options for putting that color on paper. On the more technical side, you might read about Match Prints, Proofs and Calibration - those terms may get to what you need to know.

Color Model

A system designed to specify color information numerically; RGB and CMYK are examples.

Color Profile

A color profile is a numerical model of a color space. Clear as mud, we know. In basic terms, the color profile is the information that tells the computer how to make the color so that it looks the way it should on a PARTICULAR printer, and maybe that is all you need to know.

Color Separation

The process of separating images into the intended printing colors. These colors may be the process colors (cmyk) or the component spot colors. In the old days this was done by hand, but computers are very handy when figuring this stuff out.

Color Space

The important concept here is that not all the colors we can see can be made with a color model such as CMYK or RGB. Some colors are outside the gamut of possible colors to be made. A color space is a geometric representation of colors that can be produced by a color model. Imagine a three-dimensional graph with an irregularly shaped blob in the middle. That is the color space the graph is showing us. Everything inside that blob is a color that can be made with that color model. Colors outside that blob will not be reproduced properly. In general, the limits of a color space are why the purple you really want comes out too blue on your TV or the gold you see on your monitor looks muddy when you print it. Important tip: if you are printing in cmyk, set it up and proof it in cmyk!

Column Guides

Not Doric or Ionic... Column guides are non printing lines used by graphic designers to mark out the grid format that the body text element of a page will take. Free Tip: If you are having trouble making your 11" wide sheet divide evenly into 3 panels, change your rulers to use Picas instead of inches. There are 6 picas to an inch, making the division into thirds really simple: 66 picas per 11 inches, 22 picas per one third page panel or column. Remember, when setting up your columns, the margins should be equal on both sides of EACH column, otherwise your copy won't be centered.

Comb Binding or Comb-binding

Rather late 20th century, don't you think? Comb Binding is a plastic edge binding for books that is similar to spiral or wire-o binding but uses flat plastic. The only advantage of comb binding over the other methods is that the booklet can be opened to allow for the adding, subtracting or changing of pages, and then re-closed. The downside is you have to have the special machine to open the binding. We do not do comb binding and recommend wire-o for these types of books.

Commercial Envelope

Most commercial envelopes open on the long edge (or side) and have either diagonal or double side seams with a rounded corner diagonal style flap. Your basic business envelope, not on particularly nice paper. See Commodity Envelope

Commercial Printer

Think Girlie Press! A Printer that prints a variety of things on paper, but not so much like a copy shop where you get one copy of your tax return.

Commodity Envelope

Think basic. Mass produced, value priced, standard sized envelopes usually made from white wove.

Commodity Papers

Mass produced, value priced paper usually white. Fun fact: the term commodity paper is also used in the financial sector: A loan or cash advance secured by commodities, bills of lading, or warehouse receipts. Who knew?


Not a free concert ticket! In its most general use a comp, comprehensive or composite is a proof. More specifically, a comp is a mock up showing how a design will look when the job has been printed. This could range from a rough sketch, to a fully formatted digital layout or printed proof.

Compressed File

A file that has been made smaller by the magic of computers. Apple computer users often use StuffIt to compress files. Windows based computers generally come with a program that will compress, or zip, a file or folder made up of multiple files, into a single entity that is smaller in size and easier to transmit. Many websites that have file upload or FTP capabilities can only upload single entities. Compressing folders is how you can transmit a group of files in one step.

Concertina Fold

Since a concertina is a musical instrument that is like a small accoridion, maybe a concertina fold is just a small piece of paper folded in the accordion style. Makes sense. See Accordion Fold.

Continuous Forms

So very old school, but still in use in many facilities. Continuous forms are paper, often multi-part or -ply, tractor-fed forms which have two sprocketed wheels on either side of the printer that fit into holes along both sides of the paper. As the wheels turn the paper is pulled through the printer. Tractor feed is also called pin feed. The individual sheets or forms are perforated for separation from the source and allowing detachment of the pin-feed sides. The other principal form of feeding paper into a printer is friction feed, which utilizes plastic or rubber rollers to squeeze a sheet of paper and pull it through the printer.

Continuous Tone

Not what is heard in an operatic aria. A color that changes tone across an area with smooth transitions of tones. That is a complicated way of describing photographs and most full color graphics.

Converted Envelopes

Technically speaking, the manufacturing an envelope from flat sheets of paper is called conversion. But practically, it means that we can make an envelope from most any paper you want. Also, if your design has bleeds or is full color, printing the paper first and converting the envelope afterward might be the best plan!

Copyright or Universal Copyright Convention (UCC)

Copyrights are serious business to printers. Copyrights are the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same. We cannot reproduce something that is copyright protected and which we know has not been used with permission. Please don't ask us to do it. The copyright system protects unique work and its creator from being pirated or reproduced without permission from the originator. Look for the (c) indicating registration, but it isn't always that simple. Original work is protected even if not registered! Please do your homework before discussing copyright issues with your printer.

Cotton Fiber

Cotton is strong. Prior to 1900, cotton supplied the majority of fiber used in the U.S.A. for papermaking and was preferred for important documents that needed to last. Today, cotton supplies less than 1% of all fiber used. Paper made with 25 to 100% cotton fibers are classified as cotton papers. One of the finest materials used for paper, cotton is durable and is often selected for certificates and historical documents. Fun fact: today the cotton used in paper making comes primarily from the waste of the textile industry, often making it a recycled fiber!

Cotton Fiber Paper

Paper made using fiber derived from cotton, usually waste from the textile industry, i.e., garment clippings, cotton linters (short fibers that adhere to cotton seeds) or waste, and originally rags - therefore "rag content paper". 

Counter Die

When embossing or debossing paper there is a primary die and a counter die. The primary die makes the image, the counter die receives the image and prevents unwanted impression marks on the paper. Counter dies can be made from several materials: poured fiberglass, etched magnesium plates, embossing compound, or layered counterboard.

Cover or Cover Stock or Coverstock

Think beyond an old song made new. Cover stock is thick paper. Just that simple, and not at all simple. Cover stocks include a large category of papers that have a heavier basis weight (based on measured on a 20" x 26" basic size) and are normally used for all sorts of cards, book covers, brochures, and more.

Crash Numbering

Not a NASCAR statistic. No, in printing crash numbering is sometimes used to sequentially number carbonless forms or other paper by using a mechanical numbering machine that hits the form hard with ink and pressure. On carbonless forms the number is printed on the top copy and shows through on the underneath copies through the magic of the carbonless chemistry.


That weird guy on the corner that stares at you in a way that makes your skin crawl...or... The phenomenon of middle pages of folded sheets extending slightly beyond outside pages. Normally, that extra is trimmed off to make the booklet or book have a clean edge. Luckily, computers now have a way of adjusting layouts for creep - so if it is a concern, just ask!

Crop Marks

This is nothing like crop circles. Crop marks are lines printed outside the edges of an image indicating portions to be reproduced. After printing the excess paper, and the marks, are cut off. The crop marks must be set away from the image area, we prefer a 1/8" (0.125") from the actual edge of the finished sheet.


Any image or type that continues from one page of a book or magazine across the gutter to the opposite page is a crossover. Also called bridge, gutter bleed and gutter jump. If you want to include a crossover in your design, remember that a certain amount of image can be lost in the area that is in the binding. Different binding types create different problems and advantages with regards to crossovers.

CSV File

CSV or .csv stands for Comma Separated Values and is the file format we use for variable data printing. CSV files can be made from Excel spreadsheets and you do not need to do it, we gladly work with your Excel File. It is good to note that you should consult with us if you are making a mailing list for the first time - getting the format right the first time is key!


Paper has grain (look that one up) and sheets have a tendency to curl in the direction parallel to the grain. Humidity, heat, and unflat storage can contribute to paper curl. Curl can be limited or prevented with proper storage of paper. Overly curled paper may not feed well in printing equipment - so store it right!


Curves is one of the tools in Photoshop (and some other output devices) for adjusting the color of an image or page. Be careful! Things can get dramatically out of whack if this is not carefully done!

Cut-Size Paper

Refers to any paper offered by a manufacturer which has been cut from its parent sheets size, usually 13x19 inches or less in dimensions. Generally, specific to business papers which are generally 8-1/2"x11", 8 1/2"x14" (legal size), 11"x17", 12"x18", or 13"x19". 

Cutting Die

Usually a custom ordered item to trim specific and unusual sized printing projects. See Die Cutting


CWT Stands for Hundred weight - meaning 100 pounds for pricing or weight purposes. We do not purchase paper by the CWT, we purchase by the sheet, case or package.


So, you want your paper to be nice and white, without lots of specks, and you want it to have a significant post-consumer waste content. To do that, the inks and toners on the recycled paper must be either removed or bleached white. Removing ink is called de-inking.


No, not quitting your job and going into business for yourself. Debossing is the opposite of embossing. With debossing, an imprinted design is pressed into the paper from the top downward, leaving a depressed or indented imprint of the image. Debossing requires a die which is pressed into the surface of the paper. The impression is often deep enough to significantly show on the reverse side of the paper, as does embossing.

Deckle Edge

That elegant feathered edge of fancy paper. A deckled edge of paper is left ragged as it comes from the papermaking machine instead of being cleanly cut. There aren't too many papers with deckle edges. They come in large sheets with the deckle on 2 of the 4 edges. An edge cannot be made to be deckled after the fact. Our equipment requires a straight cut edge on at least one side, so the deckle is just on one edge of a printed piece.


We use this gadget to fine tune the color of the ink on your offset print job. Just one tool we use to get it right!


The kids who were chronically in trouble in school... or... the part of a letter or character that extends below the baseline of the letters, such as p, q, g and y.

Desktop Publishing

This is what the internet says: Desktop Publishing is the production of printed matter by means of a printer linked to a desktop computer, with special software. I especially like the 'special software'. This is how graphics are prepared, design implemented and sometimes final output made with the use of personal computers. Nothing all that special about it anymore, but it is nifty technology we rely on every day.


Device for cutting, scoring, foil stamping, letterpress printing, embossing and debossing. Making dies requires art (in the form of a computer file) and manufacturing the die. The cost of these and the process required is generally included in your quote.

Die Cut

Our big paper only cuts straight lines at right angles. To cut irregular shapes in paper we use a die and the cutting is done on a letterpress. The shapes can be simple, like circles or rectangles with rounded corners, or elaborate shapes to make a lasting impression.

Digital Color Proof

Color proof made by a laser, ink jet printer or other computer-controlled device without needing to make separation films first. Remember - only fully calibrated, high quality printers can simulate the color of your final printed piece. Never assume the color you see on your monitor or office printer will match what is done in a printshop. Ask about digital color proofs if you are unsure or particular about your colors.

Digital Printing

Not finger-painting. Digital printing is a process that allows printing directly from an electronic or digital file to a toner, or ink-based printer. This is a high-quality, cost-effective manner for producing documents in small quantities with a quick turnaround time.

Direct Mail

Marketing communication carried out by mail. This can take the form of a card, letter, enclosed leaflets and forms, self-mailers and pieces sent in envelopes.

Direct Printing

No beating around the bush with direct printing. Any printing where the ink is transferred directly from the plate to the paper is direct printing. Most lithographic printing is offset, meaning a rubber coated blanket is utilized to transfer the ink from the plate to the paper. Letterpress and flexography are types of direct printing.


Let's get physical! Get out your magnifying glass and study some printing. You'll see that ink and toner goes onto paper in discreet little bits with clear edges. It might be a line, type or a dot (sometimes round, oval or even square). Continuous tone images and tints are broken up into tiny pieces that are hard to see individually but collectively build color and shading. Those little pieces are dots. The more dots there are per inch (dpi), the finer and smoother the image looks when printed.

Dot Gain

Yep, this kind of gain happens! Once you are clear on what we mean by dots (see above), then you can learn what can happen to the dots during printing. The viscosity of ink, the surface of the paper the pressure the press uses while applying the ink to the paper, or any combination of these, affects the size and sometimes shape of the dots in a photo or screen. Printers regularly adjust plates to compensate for dot gain on their presses. Some dot gain is normal and usually corrected. If the increase or distortion gets abnormally great, then it can cause problems. Dot gain is the increase in the size of the printed dot. Dots that are larger than planned can cause a defect evidenced by irregular filling in of white dots, darker tones and/or different hues, reducing detail and lowering contrast.

Double Bump

Flashback to a 70's disco! Sometimes when we want extra dense color we print a single image twice in the same color of ink so it has two layers.

Double Parallel Fold

Fold a sheet of paper in half and then the whole thing in half again with the folds running in the same direction (making eight panels) is called Double Parallel. The last two (interior) panels need to be slightly smaller than the outer panels to fold properly inside the outer two panels to ensure that the edge of the paper does not poke out where unwanted.

Double Thick

This is trickier than it should be. Some papers are really thick because that is how they are made. But there is a limit to how thick that can be, and a limit to how thick a sheet can run through a press or digital printer. To make extra thick printing paper two sheets are glued or laminated together. Some double thick papers are available from the manufacturer or if you want something thicker than what we can print, we can make it right in our press room after printing - it can be wondrously cool!


One source actually said this under Download: See Ingest. But really, it means to acquire digital files of any type from one platform to another, like from the internet to your computer. When you send us files to print you Upload the file to our website, and we DOWNload it for use. Also see Upload.


Dots per inch. DPI is a measure of resolution of input and output devices such as scanners and laser printers, imagesetters, and platemakers. Also called dot pitch. In printing the number of dots that fit horizontally and vertically into a one inch measure. Generally, the more dots per inch, the more detail that is captured, and the sharper the image. High dpi is not a substitute for low resolution images which really should be 300ppi for print!

Drafting Vellum

The word Vellum has two meanings. One is a somewhat toothy paper finish (see Vellum Finish). The other is paper which is semi-transparent, or translucent, making it great for tracing or technical drawing. Drafting vellum is usually light weight enough to easily roll up. Not all translucent papers are called Drafting Vellum, more often it is just called Vellum or Vellum Paper. Papers that are translucent and suitable for fine printing are available in a variety of weights and shades of white.


Not done at the blood bank. Sample of an ink specified for a job and applied to the substrate specified for that job. Also called pulldown. A drawdown is used as a test method for hue, shade, color strength, coating strength, or other concerns.


This is not a practice run. We printers often punch a hole in a paper with a hollow, spinning bit. We can put holes in whole piles of paper at once with this gadget!

Dull Coated

Same as dull finish. Paper is said to be dull coated when it registers a gloss test reading of less than 55 percent, but how is that helpful? Characteristically, dull coated or finished paper has a smooth surface and is low in gloss. Generally, it is a shininess categorized as falling between a matte coated sheet and a gloss coated paper. 

Dull Finish

Dull yet interesting! A finish with a low gloss but excellent ink holdout, meaning that colors have good intensity. The differences between dull and silk finishes are subtle and both are a bit more glossy than a true matte coated finish. Technically, a coated paper with a finish glare test less than 55 percent.


Kind of old-school, but can be a beautiful effect for photographs in a 2-color project. A photograph can be reproduced using two ink colors, each set to emphasize different tonal values in the original. The result gives depth & hue and increases the contrast in a photo at a lower cost that going to full color offset printing. Duotones are two color halftones that use two screens at two different angles and two colors of ink on two different plates to create more depth and contrast. Tritones and quadtones add additional screens at unique angles. All are great options for jobs where spot colors are used.


Not where you lived in college. Duplex means printing on both sides of the paper. Sometimes is used in reference to machines that can print both sides of a sheet of paper during one trip through the machine.

Dye-based Inks or Dye Inks

The ink in your inkjet printer is likely dye-based. Very high quality ink jet printers use Pigment-based inks. Dye-based inks tend to be cheaper and water soluble. Dye inks are more likely to smear, generally take more time to dry and are often prone to fading over time with exposure to light. Dye-based inks can also have superior color vibrancy because various optical compounds are added to dye ink to enhance the color. While dye ink has its drawbacks, advances in ink development have improved the fade resistance of dye inks. Big brands like HP, Fuji, and Epson have improved the fade resistance quality of their dye-based inks, almost rivaling the quality of pigments.

E-13B Font

E-13B is a font that is optimized for magnetic ink character recognition (MICR), a technique used in the banking industry for processing checks.

Edge Painting

You know you want this! It is that really cool effect on thick business cards and invitations where the edge of the paper is gold or red or whatever color. Edge painting is done by precisely applying color to tightly clamped cards. It works best when the paper is quite thick!


Get an egg out of your fridge and feel the surface. That, of course, is the goal of an eggshell finish. Eggshell finished papers have a beautiful, soft, textured feel without being bumpy or irregular.

Elemental Chlorine Free Paper

Elemental chlorine free paper bleaching replaces elemental chlorine with chlorine dioxide in the process of making the paper pulp white. This reduces the production of unwanted dioxins in the waste. This is NOT the same as Totally Chlorine Free.


A great Scrabble word. It is also a printer's variable unit of measure, generally considered to be the width of the capital letter "M". Half an Em is an En. Go figure.

Em Dash

A symbol ( — ) used in writing and printing to indicate a break in thought or sentence structure, to introduce a phrase added for emphasis, definition, or explanation, or to separate two clauses.


Emboss to impress - a printer's pun. Embossing can create a beautiful effect of paper pushed out from the surface. Two dies are used to create the raised design on paper. The image is pressed up from the underside of the paper (which, of course, leaves an indentation on that underside). Embossing can be done blind (with no ink, foil or other coloration just on the image area) or in combination with ink or foil. If you want to have an image pressed into the paper from the top, you want debossing.


1/2 an em. See em. Then go to lunch, you have learned enough for today.

En Dash

An En dash that is one-half the length of an em dash. An en dash is most commonly to indicate inclusive dates and numbers. Useful?

Enamel Finish

A term applied to a super calendered (read: smooth) coated paper to produce a high level of gloss. 

English Finish

Not commonly used, this term means a smooth finish on uncoated book paper; smoother than eggshell, rougher than smooth.


Printing method using a special plate, with an image cut into its surface. The ink is applied to the plate and fills the etched or engraved areas. Then the non-image areas of the plate are scraped or wiped clean. Applying the plate to the paper with pressure transfers the ink to the paper. Engraved printing normally is accompanied by a slightly raised image area, and a slightly recessed area on the reverse side of the paper corresponding to the printed image.

EPS or .eps

Encapsulated Post Script, a file format that we accept.

European or Euro Flap

A style of triangular flap on an envelope that is very long, reaching nearly to the bottom of the envelope. Pretty cool.

European Paper Sizes

There are only 3 countries in the world that have not adopted the metric system: Liberia, Myanmar (once known as Burma) and the USA. The Europeans devised an actually logical system for sizing paper. In the European system the length divided by the width is always 1.4142. The A0 size has an area of 1 square meter and each subsequent size A(n) is defined as A(n-1) cut in half parallel to its shorter sides (rounded to the nearest millimeter). I think the US missed the bus.

Facing Pages

So, you are reading a magazine, or perhaps a book. When the book is open the two pages you see are facing one another. They are facing pages. When working in InDesign, you can set the screen to simulate the pages of a book by selecting Facing Pages in the page setup area.

Fake Duotone

Also know as false duotone, duograph, duplex halftone, screen halftone and flat tint halftone. A fake duotone simply has an image, usually a photograph or other continuous tone type image, from one plate printed over a screen of a single, spot color, uniform in density. It is worth pointing out that a fake duotone is just about as costly as printing a true duotone.

Faux Letterpress

Faux, as in Faux Pas. French for fake. Often, in the absence of true letterpress printing with ink the look of letterpress is achieved by printing the ink offset and subsequently debossing the image on a letterpress. Looks great and allows for multiple colors where letterpress can only print one color at a time! Try it.

Felt Finish

Think soft, woolen fabric, or your emotional state after a bad breakup. Felt finish papers have a soft slightly pebbled texture. Felt finishes are formed at the wet end of a paper machine, using woven wool or synthetic felts with distinctive patterns to create a similar texture in the finish sheets.

Felt Side

There is a joke here, but it seems inappropriate to use. Side of the paper that was not in contact with the Fourdrinier wire during papermaking, as compared to wire side. This term can be used in reference to papers that have finishes other than felt, such as laid.

Film Laminate

Thin sheet of plastic bonded to a printed product for protection or increased gloss. See Lamination.

Fine Papers

High-quality writing, text and cover papers with excellent surface characteristics for printing. This term is usually used in contrast to coarse, industrial and/or packaging papers. 

Fine Screen

First, read about Screens and LPI. Fine screens have at least 133 lines of dots per inch and up to 200 or more. Picture a photo in the newspaper, it was likely printed with a screen with fewer dots per inch and thus looks a little grainy. The more dots there are, the smaller they are and thus the less visible the individual dots are - giving a more refined, high quality product.


The important part of the Olympics... or... The surface characteristics of paper…or… A general term for trimming, folding, binding and all other post press operations.

Finished Size

When a printed piece is completely done and ready for the client, it is at its finished size, or the dimensions after the final trimming, folding and binding.

First Class Mail

Not all that elite... but certainly the most private type of mail. First Class Mail is your regular mail, not bulk, not standard, not parcels, just regular mail. Technically it is a class of mail that includes handwritten or typewritten addresses, all personal correspondence, bills and statements of account, and all matter sealed or otherwise closed against inspection.

Flat Size

Size of product after printing and trimming, but before folding, as compared to finished size which would be after folding.


Method of printing on a web press using rubber or plastic plates with raised images. Also called aniline printing because flexographic inks originally used aniline dyes. Some just call it flexo. Flexography is used mainly for packaging products, stickers, and in decorating sanitary tissue products.


It is just what it sounds like. To print a flood is to cover a sheet completely with ink or varnish.

Fluorescent Inks

Not really related to light bulbs... Fluorescent inks are semi-transparent, naturally bright colored and somewhat reflective. Fluorescent inks can increase the clarity and brightness of images printed on uncoated paper. Fluorescent inks may be used as spot colors or may be added to process colors to alter a color image. Fluorescent inks are not recommended for images of people because they can make flesh tones appear rather alien.

Flyer or Flier

The word flyer reminds me of the red Radio Flyer wagons. But we mean a small advertising piece, often called a handbill and usually printed relatively inexpensively because flyers often have short term use.

Foil Stamping

What the losing fencer does at the end of a bout... Foil stamping is a printing process whereby a thin metallic foil is applied to paper via a heated die. Other resources call this process 'foil blocking', but we've never used that term.

Fold Marks

With printed matter, fold marks indicate where a fold is planned, usually located at the top edges. Fold marks are often included on proofs and will not print on final piece. They are very helpful in creating precise printing!

Folding Dummy

The idea of a folding dummy made me think of Edgar Bergen packing up Charlie McCarthy at the end of a show and stuffing him into the suitcase... In printing, a folding dummy is a simulation of the final product. It may not be on the final paper or be the exact size. The intent of a folding dummy is to verify that all the information appears where it should and serve as a model for the bindery folks who will actually fold the piece.


The folio is simply one page - one side of a sheet. It also refers to a page number, as opposed to the actual position of the sheet in the document.


Font of Wisdom is actually a correct usage, font meaning fount or fountain, but that is not what we mean here. A font is a complete assortment of all the different characters of a particular size and style of type. The key phrase is particular "size AND style." In the days of handset type and hot metal type a font was a subset of a typeface (such as Garamond) in one size (such as 12 point) and style (such as bold italic). With modern computer dynamic typesetting the terms Font and Typeface are used interchangeably. See Typeface for a fun fact.

For Position Only (FPO)

Refers to photos or other images used on mechanicals or proofs to indicate placement and scaling, but not intended for reproduction. Abbreviated FPO.


Each side of a signature. So, you might need to read about Signatures. A form is one side of a signature.

Four Color Printing

Yes, we do this. Think color photos, with multiple hues, colors, densities, etc., even though full color printing is not limited to photographs. Four Color Printing is a technique that uses black, magenta, cyan and yellow to simulate full-color images. Also called process color printing, full color printing and process printing. It can be done offset or digitally.


See For Position Only


A vector based program similar to Adobe Illustrator. In 1994 Adobe was barred from acquiring Freehand for a period of 10 years by the Federal Trade Commission because of anti-trust issues. Adobe did in fact buy the company that owned Freehand in 2005. We accept Freehand files if by some chance you are still using it.

French Fold

A printed sheet, printed one side only, folded with two right angle folds to form a four page uncut signature.

FSC Certified

The Forest Stewardship Council offers a certification of wood and wood products that "come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits." Printers cannot print the FSC Certified Logo/Symbol without obtaining their own FSC Certification and the fees for certification are significant. We ar not FSC certified but we do, however, print on FSC Certified papers every day.

Full Color

Like Living Color, only on paper. See Four Color Printing and/or CMYK.

Fully Oxidizing Inks

Printing on a non-absorbent surface requires inks that will dry either by very rapid evaporation or oxidation, or a combination. Printing on non-porous surfaces with standard inks may never dry properly.


No, not every color in the rainbow can be printed, Dorothy. Gamut is an important concept because not all colors can be printed on every device! The gamut is the range of hues it is possible to reproduce using a specific output device such as a printing press or digital printer. But what does that mean? Spot colors are printed with inks that are pigmented and not subject to the concept of color gamut. Full color (or even fields of what appear to be single colors but are actually being printed as a color build) is done by combining base colors to create the full color. Some colors that can be printed as spot colors are famously 'out of gamut' for CMYK printing which means the color does not match the spot PMS color when printed as a build.


Nope, not a bad thing in printing. To save money we sometimes print two or more different finished products simultaneously on one sheet of paper during one press run. If we say we can 'gang your invitation and rsvp card' it means we will print them at the same time on one sheet of paper and then cut them apart. In a more civilized culture it is also called a combination run.

Gate Fold

A sheet that has 2 folds and where the outer panels fold inward and meet at the center is said to be Gate Folded. When the piece is folded again putting the two panels ending on the inside it is called a 'Closed Gate Fold.'


A cool store in the Columbia City neighborhood of Seattle... OR... a quiet party... OR... see Collate.


On an offset press ghosting is a phenomenon where a faint image appears on a printed sheet where it was not intended. Mechanical ghosting refers to the faint image appearing as a repeat of an image on the same side of the sheet. Ghosting occurs when the ink in the rollers does not replenish quickly enough. The bigger the press and the more rollers in the ink train of the press remedies most ghosting problems.

GIF or .gif

Graphics Interchange Format. A bitmap type image that is highly portable and widely used on the internet because of the small files sizes. GIFs support transparency, interlacing and animation, but only 256 colors. GIFs are NOT a suitable format for images intended for quality printing.


A smooth, dense, semi-transparent paper that has been supercalendered to produce a glazed and polished surface on both sides. Glassine has been used for envelope windows but newer materials that are heat resistant are somewhat clearer than glassine. Glassine is not completely transparent. Glassine is safe for thermography and is recyclable because it is a wood product.

Gloss Finish

Just think shiny. If that doesn't satisfy you, light reflects off paper, ink, laminates, UV coating, and varnish. The more reflective it is the more gloss it has. In scientific paper measurement, it is the specular reflection of light, incident and reflected at a 15-degree angle from a surface, as compared to a polished plate of black glass. Papers range in finish from matte to satin or dull to glossy.

Gloss Varnish or Coating

Printing varnish is essentially ink without any pigment. It dries hard and fast and is often printed on top of other inks for protection. Gloss varnish can add shine to a printed page. It can be printed as a flood (completely covering the sheet) or as a spot (in discreet places and shapes as any other image on the sheet).

Glued Sheets

It is possible to create extra thick paper by gluing 2 sheets together. Sometimes called laminated paper, though that can be confused with the outer type laminate that is added to paper to encapsulate it or otherwise protect it the paper). Many of our most beautiful and distinctive printing projects include gluing sheets together for that special look.


Not to be confused with Cliff... A character or graphic symbol in a font. A font is actually a collection of glyphs. Fun fact: the word is derived from the Greek word for “carving.”


See Graduated Screen

Graduated Screen Tint

Not a college degree. Screen tint that changes density (from dark to light) gradually and smoothly, not in distinct steps. Also called degrade, gradient, ramped screen and vignette.


Take this with a grain of salt... Paper is made of wood fibers which are long and skinny. When paper is made the fibers lie predominantly in one direction. The direction that in which the fiber lie is the grain. Folding heavier paper and coverstock is somewhat easier when the fold runs parallel to the grain of the paper. Folding against the grain can result in fibers breaking causing the appearance of cracking. It is often possible that scoring the paper prior to folding reduces or eliminates the cracking of the paper. Here's the thing about paper grain: Grain is always written in reference to either the shorter or longer dimension of the paper. If the paper is 8.5x11 and the fibers run parallel to the 8.5" side, it is called short grain. If the fibers run the 11" way, that sheet is long grain.

Grain Long

A sheet with grain parallel to its longest dimension, regardless the size of the sheet. Example: 25" X 38" has the paper fibers running along the 38". (Note the underscoring to denote the grain dimension). A sheet of paper where the grain direction is in the long dimension, an 8-1/2" x 11, sheet of paper is grain long, if the grain direction is parallel to the 11" dimension. 

Grain short

A sheet with grain parallel to its longest dimension. Example: 25" X 38" (Note the underscoring to denote the grain dimension). A sheet of paper where the grain direction is in the short dimension, an 8-1/2" x 11, sheet of paper is grain short because the grain direction is underlined and parallel to the 8-1/2" dimension. 

Graphic Design

Creating visual (and often artistic) images for print or electronic communications.

Graphics File

A computer file containing pictures, images, layout, and more.

Gravure Printing

A form of recessed printing, as is engraving and intaglio. Very fluid ink is applied to the plate or plate cylinder, and is actually carried in small microscopic cells, recessed into the plate and then pressed onto paper. This technology is used for long run printing applications, due to plate or cylinder costs, but long plate life.

Gray Scale

Slightly different from a Gray Whale. Grayscale is most commonly used to indicate that an image prints in black only. That image may have screens or it could be a photograph, but it can be printed in just black. Sometimes, though, you might hear the word grayscale in reference to a strip of gray values ranging from white to black on a reference sheet that was used by process camera and scanner operators to calibrate exposure times for film and plates. Also called step wedge. Also completely obsolete.

Green Seal

Green Seal is a non-profit organization that endeavors to identify and certify companies and products that are environmentally friendly. For printed products their certification reflects recycled and recyclable content, reduced use of chlorine in pulp bleaching and reduced toxicity in packaging. The fees for certification are significant.


We are in Seattle, so it must mean coffee, no? No. When a book is being perfect bound approximately 1/8 inch (3 mm) of the paper, along the spine, is ground off to allow the binding glue to strongly adhere to the paper and the cover.

Grind Edge

The edge of the pages or signatures of a book that are glued into the spine. See Grind.

Gripper Edge

Perhaps this is the advantage the Grip on a movie set gets when telling tales about movie stars at dinner. But really, every printing press grabs one edge of the paper and pulls it through the press with mechanical fingers called the grippers. The edge of the sheet in those fingers is the gripper edge and cannot print on the part of the paper that is in the gripper.

Gripper Margin

On a press sheet, this is the margin at the lead edge of the sheet that the press grabs onto. No ink can print in this area as the sheet cannot make contact with the printing blanket and be in the gripper fingers. We generally run all our jobs a bit oversize and trim to the finished size after printing, so you can let us worry about the gripper margin!


Grams per square meter. The really logical unit of measurement for paper weight (unlike the system we have been using in the US for decades). See our reference sheet on paper weights!

Guide Edge

Doesn't this sound like it should be some sort of extreme eco-tourism company? In printing it is rather mundane and mechanical. One definition says the guide is the edge of a sheet at right angles to the gripper edge. Clear as mud. As paper travels through a printing press there are mechanisms (guides) to position the sheet correctly. The guide edge is the edge of the printed paper which touched the guides. This mechanism allows for correct registration of images on the paper even if the size of the sheets of paper varies a little.


A type of scouting troop. In the computer programs used in the graphic arts there is a tool that draws thin lines in a light color to assist in the alignment of elements on a page or in a design. Alternatively, on a printing press some of the mechanical pieces that ensure the paper goes through in the same position each time are called the Guides or Side Guides. Also see Guide Edge.


The guillotines in print shops are eerily similar to those used during the French Revolution. Think "Tale of Two Cities". A guillotine cutter is a machine equipped with a long heavy removable knife which is often hydraulically powered (though there are manual cutters, too). The large blade moves a downward slicing action and can cut large stacks of paper in one cut. 

Gummed Paper

All papers that include an adhesive on one side of the sheet that must be moistened to activate the adhesive.


That nasty space on the side of a bowling lane, where my ball wants to roll... In printing, the space between individual finished pieces on a press sheet is called the gutter. In books the gutter is the inside margins toward the back or the binding. The gutter space is important because of the space lost during the binding process, especially perfect binding. In saddled-stitched publications the gutter is adjusted o allow for a process called 'creep', in which the outer pages of a section appear to bunch up and the inner pages protrude more.


Visualize: a comb-over of one strand of hair. One definition: A very thin rule or line. There is no agreed measurement that defines a hairline, but somewhere between 0.125pt and 0.25pt would seem to be generally agreed measurements. Things to think about with hairlines: if you are reversing the line out of a solid, don't make the line too thin, if you are printing digitally, don't make the line too thin. In either case the line can appear a little broken up. If unsure, stick to a 0.5 point line or thicker.

Hairline Register

With multi-color printing the different colors usually touch. Normally, the printer builds in a trap or tiny overlap so that no unwanted gaps appear. If there is no trap the colors must meet exactly and that is called Hairline Registration. Sometimes colors are intended to come very close but not touch with a tiny gap between them. This is true Hairline Registration because the colors cannot be trapped and that tiny gap needs to stay the correct width. Hairline registration is actually much more difficult that trapping colors!


It isn't half of anything at all. The key to this term is the notion of continuous tones. Shades of gray or color that appear to smoothly transition from light to dark. Think photographs. Printing a continuous tone image requires that it be converted to dots. Small dots leave lots of room for the paper to show, large dots merge together leaving white dots and create darker shades.

Hardcopy Proof

PDF proofs can be sent via email or other file transfer means. But is what you see what you will get on the paper? Likely not quite. Monitors and printers vary wildly as to color rendering. So if you want to know what the printed piece will look like, request a Hardcopy Proof and/or a Press Check. For digital printing, the Hardcopy Proof is very true to the final product. For proofing offset the Hardcopy Proof will be close, but not exact. For that you need a Press Check where you actually come in when the job is on the press. Word of warning: Do ALL your copy editing before the hardcopy or press check stage! Fees could be involved. Refer to real PMS swatch books for spot color selection (and on-line doesn't solve the problem!). If you need to see the binding as part of your proof, be sure to ask. Do your homework, you'll be glad you did!


Colorful sorcery...or... Orange and green are among the hardest colors to reproduce in vibrant shades using the traditional CMYK four color process and so Hexachrome is used when an extremely high print quality color reproduction is required. The downside is that it is generally far more expensive at the prepress and print production stages. The Hexachrome printing process uses a color model based on six primary colors as opposed to the traditional four color process. As well as cyan, magenta, yellow and black, Hexachrome also adds orange and green into the range. To utilize the six colors, images must be scanned and imported using software that can understand the file formats, which most up to date software can.


What you are thinking is also not so good in printing. Spot or imperfection in printing, most visible in areas of heavy ink coverage, caused by stray bits of paper, dried ink or dust on the plate or blanket.


That bottle blonde look! Or... Lightest portions of a photograph or other image as compared to midtones and shadows.


This term might conjure up notions of doctor's visits or wailing teenage girls, but that would be spelled hYste... An histogram is an electronic tool in Photoshop and other image editors, that shows the relative distribution of the density of colors (in pixels) in an image. It is used to gauge the evenness of distribution of shadow and highlight tones or density of colors in digital images.


This is not the NFL, we are not looking to get paid more money... In printing, holdout is the extent to which a paper surface resists the absorption of ink or varnish. The less ink absorbs into paper the better the holdout and the more vibrant and dense the color can look. Coated papers are not absorbent allowing the ink to dry on the surface with gloss or high holdout qualities. Ink absorbs into uncoated papers making the colors look less vibrant.

Hot Metal Typesetting

Hot metal (or hot lead) typesetting is an old technology for setting lines of type for printing on a letterpress printing machine. Initially this was done by hand, where the typesetter would either set individual letter or slugs of type. The hot part came when the technology moved to setting molds and then pouring molten lead to make type. Hence the 'hot' name. Eventually machines were built that speeded up this process somewhat. Metal type was replaced by phototypesetting and then fully computerized digital type. Old style typesetting can still be found in artisan printshops or can be simulated with die based letterpress printing.

ICC Profile

See Color Profile

ID Package or Identity Package

A fancy word for all the printed pieces used for conducting business. A good package has coordinated the design of all pieces for a coherent and consistent presentation and is carried through to websites, social media and other applications. These packages often include letterhead, envelopes, note cards, business cards, marketing pieces, brochures, product sheets, etc.


An Adobe software program primarily used to create and use vector type images. If you are sending an Illustrator file for printing, be sure you are providing us with the native ai file, all links and fonts. If you are certain no text edits will be needed, convert the type to outlines to avoid having to send fonts - but be sure you have saved the original file! Side note: Adobe created 3 primary programs, each with a distinct purpose. Illustrator to make vector graphics (including advance type manipulation), Photoshop to create raster images, and InDesign to assemble pages using images created in the other programs plus generating type. Graphics are best done keeping these purposes in mind.

Image Area

The actual area of a printed piece in its final size. Image area is not restricted to ink coverage, but by the area remaining after the final trimming. Every printing device has a maximum image area meaning the area where it is able to actually lay down ink which is slightly smaller than the largest piece of paper that can be passed through for printing. Offset presses require some paper for gripping the paper where it cannot print ink and inkjet printers often cannot print all the way to the edge of paper, for example.

Image Size

This is not an ego thing... This should be differentiated from the Image Area or size of the paper. Image size refers to the dimensions of an image, often in reference to the measurements of the native image, not the size when placed into a page layout. Image size can be given in inches, picas, pixels, or other units. Do not confuse image size with the resolution of the image which is given in ppi, or pixels per inch. Information regarding image resolution can be found under the Image Size tab in Photoshop.


Not an inconvenience, rather it is an imperative... When books or booklets (or other pieces printed more than one on a sheet) are printed the pages are arranged on the sheet in such a way that when folded or cut all the pieces will fall into correct position. That is the printer's imposition.


This is what baby ducks do to permanently remember their mom... Printers imprint new information or copy on a previously printed sheet, such as adding an employee's name on business card masters with the company logo already on them.

In Register

See Register. But if you don't feel like it, then printing that is 'in register' has all the colors fitting together properly and in the correct spot on the paper.

indd or .indd

An InDesign file.


An Adobe software program intended for page layout. InDesign has the ability to use both vector and raster images, manipulate type, and design single or multiple page documents or projects. If you are sending an InDesign file for printing, be sure to package it so you are providing us with the native indd file, all links and fonts. Side note: Adobe created 3 primary programs, each with a distinct purpose. Illustrator to make vector graphics (including advance type manipulation), Photoshop to create raster images, and InDesign to assemble pages using images created in the other programs plus generating type. Graphics are best done keeping these purposes in mind.

Index Tabs

See Tabs.

Industrial Papers

Something like the Pentagon Papers, no doubt... Broad term referring to papers manufactured for industrial uses such as packaging, card boards, tissues, toilet paper, and wrapping papers. 

Ink Holdout or Hold Out

See Holdout

Ink Jet Printing

Fun fact: Consumer Reports says, "...printer ink might be the most expensive liquid you buy." Inkjet printers print without pressure or plates. Rather, an image is generated from an electronic or computer file which "triggers" the squirting or deflection of a very fluid liquid ink through one or more nozzles onto the paper surface: can be likened to graffiti spray can painting only super controlled and inside a small box on your desk.

Ink Tack

Nope, this is not like a thumb tack. Rather, printing ink is liquid, often very thick, or viscous, but liquid. It is also a bit sticky, that is the tack. The stickiness, or tack, of an ink determines how it adheres to paper and other inks when the inks are printed one on top of another as in process color printing. Get the ink tack wrong, and the colors won't layer properly on the paper.

Inside Tint Envelopes

Like looking at the world through light blue tinted glasses... When you want to be extra sure that no one can see what is inside an envelope use one with an Inside Tint. That means a pattern is printed on the inside to make the paper super opaque.

Intaglio Printing

Printing method where inked areas lower than noninked areas. Gravure and engraving are the most common forms of intaglio. Also called recess printing.

ISO Paper Sizes

See European Paper Sizes.

Jog or Jogger

Only some printers run, but we all jog. We jog paper to make a neat stack. If we are too tired to jog we might have a machine with a high vibration rate that is used in the finishing process to even up large stacks of printed sheets.

jpg or jpeg or .jpg

An abbreviation of Joint Photographic Experts Group. JPEG is a file format used to compress the file size of images. The downside is that jpg compression often brings some loss of quality. This can be limited by using a high quality setting, but this results in a larger file size. For print non-compressed graphic file formats, such as psd, tif (or tiff) and eps, are preferable because of the retained quality and despite the bigger file sizes. The JPEG format supports 16.7 million colors so is largely used to keep the file size of complex and photographic web images down, to enable faster downloads.


Just one K. Printers use K to mean Black. The irony of this is stunning.

Kern or Kerning

To kern means to push together or separate pairs of characters in order to make a bitter fit or more attractive appearance. Without kerning unwanted space may occur between certain letter combinations such as W and e. In this case the e is more tightly kerned so it tucks under the overhang of the W.


A keyline is another term for a rule, line, or even a frame border, used in graphic design, and which generally does not print on the final product. Keylines can be set in many graphic design software applications to different widths, to be solid or dotted, or even with various patterns.

Kiss Cut or Kiss Die Cut

Not a dating term... To kiss cut is to die cut the top layer, but not the backing layer, of self-adhesive paper.

Knockout or Knock-out or Knock Out

To KO or deliver a finishing blow, but only in boxing. In printing a knockout refers to a reverse, or an area within an image that does NOT print allowing the color of the paper to show through. For example, the type is knocked out of a black background making the type appear white. It can also mean type or an image which fits inside another image without overprinting it.

Kraft Paper

Not just for scrap-booking... True kraft paper is high-strength, may or may not be bleached, and is strong enough to be used for wrapping and packaging. Several manufacturers also make fine papers for printing which resemble the brown of industrial kraft papers. Visit us to see samples!

Lab Color

Lab is a color system that includes all the colors that are viewable by the human eye. The Lab color model includes all the colors in the CMYK and RGB color spaces and more which are visible but not readily printable.


Sticky. Sticky. Sticky. Label paper has adhesive on the back. Gummed labels require moisture, pressure sensitive labels have a backing that peels off.

Laid Finish

A paper finish or texture which simulates the surface of handmade paper. The laid texture is on the front or felt side of the paper and forms rough lines which are close together and run against the grain and give an uneven texture. The imprint of the wires from the paper making machine are often visible on the back or wire side of the paper. Some laid papers have been converted to have the appearance of the rough texture but are smooth enough to work well in toner based digital and desktop printers, usually called Imaging Finish.


A thin transparent plastic film applied to one or both sides of a sheet of paper which provides protection against liquid and heavy use. Laminate can be trimmed flush to the edge of the paper or it can encapsulate the sheet for maximum protection. Laminate can be glossy, matte or soft-touch.

Laminated Paper

This term does not always mean the paper has a plastic film applied to its surface. Rather, laminated papers can be multi-ply papers consisting of sheets that have been glued together. We frequently make extra-thick cards and coasters by laminating or gluing 2 or even 3 sheets together after printing using our Potdevin Gluer. Very cool effect.

Landscape Mode

Think big, wide painting of prairie at sunset, rolling hills stretching across a canvass. A landscape. In printing landscape is is an orientation of printing on paper in which the printed lines run parallel to the long edge of the paper. The opposite of portrait mode.

Large Format Printing

Think Big. Inkjet printers print on paper that comes on rolls. The maximum width of the paper depends on the size of the printer but can range from 24" up to 60" and beyond. At Girlie Press we have a 44" maximum paper width. The length of the paper is limited only by the amount of paper on the roll. That is big. Or perhaps, Large.

Latex Self-Seal

This is a method for closing or sealing an envelope. Latex is applied to both the inside of the flap and the area where the flap hits the back of the envelope when sealed. The two areas are kept separate by keeping the envelope open until the user folds it closed. When the two latex areas meet the envelope is sealed. No licking required.

Lay Flat Binding

As the name indicates, Lay Flat Binding is a type of hard bound book binding that allows the book to sit open on a table. We know of no one that does this type of binding in the greater Seattle area, but there are sources around the country if no other binding will do.


Walking at the front of a procession. No, that is pronounced LEE-Ding. This one is pronounced LED-Ding and refers to the amount of space between lines, not letters, not words and not paragraphs, but lines of type.


An electric car... OR... One sheet of paper in a book or other multi-page document. Each side of a leaf is one page. Don't confuse Leaves with Pages!


Just when you thought you understood envelope sizes, the word Lee pops up. Lee is analogous to the A-7 size. The Lee usually has triangular flaps and the A-7 usually has square flaps. This is what you want if you have a 5x7 card because the envelope is 5.25x7.25.

Letter fold

This is the regular kind of folding for an 8.5x11 sheet of paper, but is not limited to a particular size of paper, and, of course, regular is relative. A typical letter fold has two folds that divide a sheet in thirds and one third is tucked inside the other two. When it is 8.5x11 the folded sheet fits into a business (#10) envelope. Also called barrel, C, U and wrap around fold.


Letterpress is the old thing made cool for beautiful printing. It's a printing process where images are pressed, printed or cut directly on or into paper. When printing with ink raised metal type or dies are used. When embossing or debossing a hard metal die is used with no ink and a raised or indented impression is made in the paper. Dies can also be used on letterpresses with foil where the die is heated and when pressed against the paper with the foil in between adheres foil to the paper. Letterpresses are also used with custom shaped cutting dies to create printed pieces into custom shapes, circles, or other non-square or rectangular shapes.


This is not murder, promise... in general a ligature is a thing used for tying or binding something tightly. In typography or typesetting certain letter pairs can be created with a special linkage known as a ligature. Yes, they are tied together as the word implies. Double ff's for example. Ligatures sometimes cause problems as fonts are moved from platform to platform, demonstrating the importance of supplying the exact fonts used in a publication when submitting for print. When ligature problems arise it is sometimes reasonable to convert the the type to paths for print. See paths.

Line Copy or Line Art

Any copy or art made of straight or curved lines and solids with no gradations in tone. See Vector Graphics.

Line Screen

Also referred to as the line screen frequency, this refers to the measure of distance between the rows of dots that make up a halftone screen or tint. Lower line screens are used on rougher, low quality printing substrates (such as newsprint), whilst higher line screens are used for high quality print jobs on smooth art papers.

Lined Envelopes

Fancy. Fancy. Lined envelopes have a second sheet inserted into the envelope visible when opened. We can make custom liners for envelopes and standard lined envelopes are available from specialty stores.

Linen Finish

A paper surface which simulates a cloth or woven textile pattern.

Linen Tester

See Loupe!


A really difficult golf course with very few trees... When creating a layout for print it is common to place images or pictures into that layout. Those images should be connected or linked to the files used. Links provide the ability to use all the available information in the digital file of the image and it will print with the highest available resolution. Embedding images into your layout makes your file much larger. We prefer you link your images and then provide the links when submitting your file. See Packaging for tips on how to do that.


Think of a vinaigrette salad dressing. The fact that oil and water don't mix is the most important concept in lithography. Offset printing has become the commonly used name for this type of printing. The Neenah Paper website says it well: Lithography is "a generic term for any printing process in which the image area and the nonimage area exist on the same plane (plate) and are separated by chemical repulsion."

Long Grain

A sheet with grain parallel to its longest dimension. Example: 25" X 38" (Note the underscoring to denote the grain dimension). A sheet of paper where the grain direction is in the short dimension, an 8-1/2" x 11, sheet of paper is grain short because the grain direction is underlined and parallel to the 8-1/2" dimension. 


A magnifying lens built into a small stand or holder which is used to inspect copy, film, proofs, plates and printing. Also called glass and linen tester.

Low resolution

This sounds like something that is an unsatisfying solution to a problem. And like that situation, and many important concepts, this is a relative term. Images that are going to be printed must usually be at a resolution of 300 ppi. In comparison, images intended for use online are normally 72ppi. Using a high resolution image on the web can cause slow page loading. Using low resolution images for print can cause blurry, pixelated or very grainy images.


See Line Screen

LZW Compression

LZW is a compression format that is used to compress certain types of bitmap graphics images (such as TIFFs). Unlike JPG compression LZW is a lossless compression format - I.E. file size is reduced without the loss of image quality. The downside of compressing image with LZW is that the technology is relatively old and they may take longer to print.


The code name of the boss in James Bond movies. Or - the abbreviation for a quantity of 1000.

Machine Insertable Envelope

It is not always practical to insert letters or bills or cards into envelopes by hand. When machine inserting contents it is critical that you choose an envelope that is compatible with the inserting equipment that will be used. We recommend contacting us or your mail house prior to ordering your envelopes to determine what construction is compatible with their machinery. In general, envelopes being machine inserted usually require a relatively short flap.

Magnetic Ink

A magnetized ink is a special ink used to read or recognize characters. Like on your checks, if you still have such an archaic thing.

Mail Merge

See Variable Data, the process of personalizing printed pieces, and it isn't just for envelopes!

Make-ready or Makeready or Make Ready

We printers call the waste used in setting up a press or bindery machine for a run 'make-ready'. Adjusting that machine prior to running a job uses paper which is not the final paper for the job.

Map Fold

Map Folds require at least a 12 panel design and is done by first folding the sheet in an accordion or double parallel style followed by a final fold that is perpendicular to the first folds. This fold is commonly used for larger sheet sizes divided into 16 or more panels (remember each panel is a single printed SIDE). The inside panels need to be slightly narrower than the two outside panels if done as a double parallel.


Not the profit margin, just the printing margin. The space with no printing that usually frames the art or type. 0.25" is a good starting margin size. The type of printing being used will determine how small your margins can be, offset printing being more accurate than digital, and therefore your best option when small margins are desired.


A mask is a technique used to block out one part of an image. A mask can be used to create a simple knock out or other more complex effect. Masks are a powerful tool in Photoshop.


One usage in printing is as another term for a printing plate for an offset press. But more often we use the term to refer to sheets, especially for business cards, pre-printed with the information that never changes, and which are saved. The masters are then used a little at a time as the variable information is imprinted as people need cards. This is particularly useful when the card uses a fixed image that is more expensive to produce than the variable information, such as foil stamping, embossing or process color printing.

Match Print

A four-color-process proofing system, and a trademark of the 3M company. We offer hard copy proofing and press checks to our customers to check color reproduction, though our proofs are not the branded Match Print.

Matte Finish

A coated paper with a low level of gloss compared to gloss, satin or even dull finishes.

Metallic Ink

Not a loud rock'n'roll band. It is a kind of printing ink used to produce colors with a shiny, reflective appearance mimicking metal. Metallic inks contain powdered metal or pigments are most obvious when printed on coated papers, but also creates interesting effects on uncoated sheets. Remember: Do not rely on your monitor to predict printed ink colors without a quality calibration. Feel free to come by our shop and view a reliable ink color guide.

Metallic Paper

Paper coated with a thin film of plastic or pigment whose color and gloss simulate metal.

Microperf or Microperforation

First, see Perforation if you are unclear what that means. Microperf or Microperforation is simply a perforation or series of small holes allowing for easy tearing or separating of a sheet of paper into parts and where those holes are very, very small. Microperf makes paper more easily torn and is cleaner looking than traditional perforating but may not hold up to handling and repeated folding as well as the traditional method.


Midtones are the areas in an continuous tone image which will print closest to 50% tint, but in practice this is any shade between 30% and 70%.

Mill Order

Paper is made at paper mills. Mill orders are paper orders that must come all the way from the mill that makes them. Normally, we purchase paper through a local distributor who has quantity purchasing contracts with the mills. But they don't stock every paper made. Mill Orders generally take a 1-3 weeks to get and there is always a minimum quantity to be purchased.

Mimeograph Printing

You may not be old enough to remember the smell of the school mimeograph machine, but it was once the standard for making bulk copies affordably. Even if you do remember, did you know that mimeograph is a form of screen printing and was originally patented by Thomas Edison using the name Autographic Printing? It used a porous stencil which was "cut" (usually with an impact typewriter) to create holes in the image areas in the screen. This then allowed an ink to be forced through these porous areas onto the sheet of paper brought into contact with the stencil.


Simulation of the final product. In printing it may not be exactly to size or the print quality of the finished product, but will provide a very good idea of that final product.


A moire is the unfortunate patterns caused by incorrect screen angles of overlapping colors. It is important to ensure that the screen angles of each printing plate are different. See also Rosette Pattern.


Kind of old school, but it Monarch size paper can be very cool. Monarch is a paper size (7.25' x 10.5') and envelope shape often used for personal stationery. Envelope is 3.875x7.5

MS Publisher

Nope, we don't do that. Microsoft Publisher is commonly used but we can't accept Publisher files. Luckily, you can easily make a pdf from your Publisher file and send that to us!

Native File

We often ask clients to send us the Native File for a printing project. What we are looking for is the original file in which the file was laid out. Be sure to include all the linked files and fonts!

Neon Ink

See Fluorescent Ink.


Folded sheets or signatures assembled inside one another in the proper sequence for binding, as compared to simply collated.


Really, just for web presses. A soft, low grade paper used to print newspaper. Most sheetfed printers don't print on newsprint.

Non-profit Mail

A non-profit agency is eligible for lower postage rates from the US Postal Service when doing large mailings. The trick is that the organization must be recognized by the IRS as non-profit AND specifically registered with the USPS to receive the lower rates! See our resource on US Mail!

Nonreproducing Blue or Non-Repro Blue

In the old days, like 30 years ago and before the digital age, printers used cameras to make plates. Light blue does not record on graphic arts film and therefore was used to preprint layout grids and write instructions on mechanicals. It is still relevant for hand drawn art. It is very cool. Really.

Novelty Printing

Printing on products such as pens, pencils, balloons, golf balls and mugs.


Different from OCD (which is not defined in this glossary). OCR is the acronym or abbreviation for "Optical Character Recognition" which is the magic where a computer can scan written words and build digital text files of those words.

Offset or Set Off

See Set-Off.

Offset paper

Offset paper refers to quality uncoated book paper used in offset presses. Remember, offset presses can print on many types of paper, not just offset papers.

Offset printing

Yes, we do that. Offset printing is a type of indirect printing where ink is applied to a printing plate then transferred to a softer surface known as a blanket, and then transferred again to paper. In comparison, letterpress printing or flexographic printing are direct methods where the ink is transferred from the plate or metal type immediately to the paper without that intermediate step.

Old Style Numerals

In older type designs some of the numerals were placed so they are below the baseline of the typeface.


A very thin, lightweight paper once used primarily for typewritten correspondence. Cool, but we don't miss it much because it is almost always too thin for our equipment.


We try to be clear, but don't always succeed... In other words, opacity is a relative term describing something that is not entirely transparent. In printing it is the characteristic of paper to provide (low opacity, like tracing paper) or prevent (high opacity) "show through" of printing from the opposite side or the sheet below.

Opaque Ink

An ink that hides (or at least attempts to cover) the paper or previous printing under it. In multicolor process printing transparent inks are required so the colors blend. It is often nearly impossible for offset presses to print a completely opaque layer of ink.

Opaque Paper

Papers that have been manufactured to allow a minimum amount of show-through. See Opacity.

Open End Envelope

Open end envelopes have the opening and seal flap on the short dimension and are not suitable for most machine insertion applications. Large open end envelopes are also called catalog envelopes.

Open Face Window Envelope

See Open Panel Window Envelope

Open Panel Window Envelope

This type of window has no patch material such as clear plastic or poly film added to cover the opening.

Open Side Envelope

Open side envelopes have the opening and flap on the long dimension. Some open side envelopes are ideal for automatic or machine insertion. Also called Booklet Envelopes.

Open Type Font

Open Type is a font format that was jointly developed by Adobe and Microsoft. It resembles TrueType but can contain both TrueType and PostScript Type 1 font data and does not require multiple font files to work.

Out of Register

See "Register" or "In Register" (which will refer you to "Register" so maybe just go there. Or, just read this: the mis-alignment of colors on a printed sheet, or inconsistent position of a printed image on a print job is said to be "Out of Register".


If you do not wish to send fonts, or you can't find them on your system, you may instead convert the type to outlines. This may solve some potential problems with your printer. However, type will not be editable once it has been converted to outlines, so it is a good idea to work from a backup file. Also, be sure all the type in the concerning font is converted, otherwise you have not solved the problem of supplying fonts to your printer.

Over Lam or Over Laminate

See Laminate.


To print one image over another printed image, such as printing type over a screen tint or dark type over a lighter background.

Oxidizing Inks

See Fully Oxidizing Inks

Package or Packaging your file

InDesign has a handy feature for collecting all the pieces you need to send to your printer. It is called Package and it creates an entirely new folder with a copy of your InDesign file, fonts and linked images. Be cautious - you now have 2 copies of your InDesign file. If you edit your working file after packaging, the files in the folder do NOT have the changes! Packaging is intended to be the very last step before sending to your printer.


It seems so obvious, but there could be a few things to know about gluing paper into pads. The glue is water soluble and we only use the white variety that dries clear. It is important to think about how many sheets of paper you want in your pads. When you order, we think about your job as the number of pads, not the number of sheets that will end up in pads.

Padding Compound

Also called edge padding glue or adhesive. A liquid adhesive mixture which when brushed or sprayed onto the side of a pile of paper adheres the sheets together along one edge, thus forming a pad. There is also a type of padding compound that works only with carbonless paper. That is a chemical process that reacts with the coatings on the paper to cause the white sheet to stick to the yellow sheet, etc.


One side of a leaf in a publication. Think how pages are numbered in a book. In general, we don't want you to send us a book in spreads. We want to do that work for you!

Page Count

Count 'em as you read 'em and include the blanks. That's the rule. Not sheets of paper, but faces of text/graphics or potential text/graphics. Total number of pages in a publication.


The ancestor of InDesign and a Seattle original developed by Aldus and later purchased by Adobe. It should be noted that Pagemaker is a nicely intuitively obvious product name.


In the book arena, the numbering of pages in the correct order.


A group of experts sitting in front of an audience... or... One page of copy in a folded piece such as a brochure. One panel equals one side of the paper. A letter-folded sheet has six panels, not three.

Pantone Color

Pantone is a company, the name is a trademark. We use the Pantone color matching system (see PMS) to specify spot colors for printing. Because it is the most widely used method of specifying colors for print in the US, it allows for predictability of making the same color from place to place and day to day. Pantone colors are numbered and are made up out of a base set of colors. Pantone also has tools for specifying colors for duotones and full color (CMYK) printing, and even fabrics and other substrates.

Parallel Fold

A dictionary definition of parallel is: two lines, side by side and having the same distance continuously between them. We use it to describe a method of folding. Two parallel folds in a sheet will produce paper divided into thirds, 3 parallel folds divides the paper into 4 parts, etc. The panel widths do not need to be equal, that is a function of the design.

Parallel Map Fold

See Map Fold.


It's not just for baking. In ancient times animal skins or linings were stretched and prepared as writing/painting surfaces. Today parchment paper made to mimic the appearance and feel of genuine parchment or to simply look old or old-fashioned. One brand of this is made by Neenah Paper and is called Astroparche.

Parent Sheet

The size of paper as it is shipped from the manufacturer. It is often larger than 13" x 19". Smaller sheet sizes are called 'cut-sizes'. We cut paper from parent sheets sizes to the size we need every day.

Pastel Inks

Pantone systems have a number of specially mixed ink colors to produce very light spot colors. As with all spot colors, we highly recommend that you view an actual Pantone swatchbook when choosing colors.


How you get through the woods to Grandma's house...or... If you do not wish to send fonts, or you can't find them on your system, you may instead convert the type to outlines or paths. See also: Outlines.

PCF Paper

Process Chlorine Free, or PCF, paper is made from recycled fiber that has not been re-bleached with any chlorine based bleach. It is highly likely that a least some of the recycled fiber was originally bleached with a chlorine compound. For paper that has never been bleached with chlorine, look for TCF or Total Chlorine Free papers.


See Post-Consumer Waste.


Did you know it stands for Portable Document Format? A PDF is a type of digital file that contains all the elements of a page, document or image. Once totally non-editable, now some PDF files are alterable with the right software. PDF files are not perfect and do not always print perfectly depending on how they were generated, but in general are a reliable means of transferring documents. See our tips on how to prepare a PDF for print! And, we always like to get the native files too.

PDF Proof

A PDF proof is a digital proof that has been through our rigorous preflight process. We carefully look over your files, searching for potential issues with color, image resolution, folding, or anything else that could cause trouble later on. If we see anything we're worried about, we'll let you know when we send the PDF proof. Digital proofs are a great way to catch small mistakes before they become big, expensive ones. This is where you want to do your final proof reading and content checks.

PDF Requirements

PDFs should be high resolution and include bleeds, if applicable. The PDF/X-1a:2001 setting is a good preset - just make sure you turn on bleeds before you hit export! Keep in mind that using this preset means that the PDF will not be editable, so you should also include native files when you submit art.

Peel and Seal Envelopes or Peel 'n' Seal

A type of envelope closure where an adhesive strip is applied to the flap. Simply pull off the protective strip and close the envelope to seal.


The acronym for Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. An international organization which promotes sustainably managed forests. Their logo printed on a product guarantees products are made from sustainably managed forests.

Perfect Binding

Think Books, usually softcover or paperback books. Perfect bound books have a wrap-around cover and the pages glued into the squared spine. Perfect bound books don't generally lie open easily. Yes, we can do that for you!

Perfector or Perfecting

One fulfilling the dreams of a perfectionist... or... A sheetfed press that prints on both sides of a sheet of paper in one trip through the press.


An online dictionary defines perforation as: "a hole made by boring." Boring people?... The same site also offered this: "a small hole or row of small holes punched in a sheet of paper," and points out that it makes the paper easy to tear. Then it went on to give postage stamps as an example. These things should be updated more often.


First: see Engraving. Photoengraving is the process of making the engraving plate using photochemistry. The plate is coated with a light sensitive material and exposed to light where there is no image. Light causes the surface to harden and then the surface is washed leaving image area recessed or etched into the plate.


A software program sold by Adobe. It is the premier raster image editing program on the market.


Not your everday unit of measurement (nor a small furry mountain mammal, that is a pika). Originating with a book of church rules in the 15th century. There are 6 picas in an inch and 12 points to a pica. This is really esoteric until you realize picas allow you to easily divide something measured in inches easily into thirds - like a trifold brochure! Fun fact: pica also means: pathological craving for substance unfit for food, such as ink!


Printers never choose picking... Fibers or contaminants like fillers can be pulled from the surface of paper during printing and enter into the ink train of the press. This can cause flaws in the printed image.

Pigmented Inks

A pigment is a substance that gives ink color. Without pigments ink would only be what we call varnish, which we also use. Inkjet printers can use pigmented inks or dye-based inks. Pigmented inks tend to last longer and resist fading over time. Dye-based inks are less expensive.


Fun Fact: Pixel was originally short for picture element and now is a real word in every modern dictionary! A pixel is the smallest element of an image, meaning a dot made by a computer, monitor, scanner or other digital device, and is measured as ppi, pixels per inch.


Low resolution images may look great on a monitor but might not print well. When the individual pixels or bits of color in the image are visible we describe it as pixelated. For print we look for images to be 300 ppi. If you don't know how to find the ppi of your image, try the 200% test. If your picture looks crisp when you look at it at 200% on your screen, there is a good chance that it will print clearly. This doesn't always work if the image is being enlarged for print. It is always better for a picture to be 300ppi!


Presses use sheets of paper, metal, plastic or rubber with an image to reproduce. We used digitally mastered metal plates for all our offset work.

Pleasing Color

Color that the customer considers satisfactory even though it may not precisely match original samples, scenes or objects.


This term is proof that language is unpredictable. In printing PMS stands for Pantone Matching System. A comprehensive system that holds information so that specific colors of ink can be consistently reproduced. Today, the correct trade name of the colors in the Pantone Matching System is Pantone colors, not PMS Colors. See Pantone.

PNG or .png

Acronym for Portable Network Graphic. A .png file is a raster graphics file format that supports loss-less file compression. PNG was created as an improved replacement for Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), and is the most used lossless image compression format on the Internet. PNG supports levels of opacity (different levels of transparency) allowing a wide range of functionality which is especially useful for web design.

Pocket Folder

See Presentation Folder


A bit of land that sticks out into a body of water... Or... A unit of measurement equaling 1/12 pica and .013875 inch (.351mm). See Pica - because the point and pica are actually very useful tools.

Poly Window

Poly refers to polystyrene which is the most popular and inexpensive patching material for window envelopes. It's resistant to humidity which is good for the postal service, but it will melt in the thermographic process or high-heat digital printing. New materials are now available which are more heat resistant and allow us to print your window envelopes digitally. Also, glassine windows are made of cellulose rather than plastic and are more environmentally friendly but are not as clear. Window materials are changing, becoming more environmentally friendly both in manufacturing and in the recyclability of the envelope.

Portrait Mode

This sounds like it could be a fine art term, but it's not. A print output orientation in which the printed lines run parallel to the short dimension of the paper. See landscape mode. 

Post Binding

Post binding is a great way to dress up a portfolio or other book project. Holes are drilled and screw posts inserted and tightened. Posts are available in various sizes, colors and styles. The covers can be fancy with cloth wrapping, or simple. They can be rigid or flexible. The spine can be exposed or covered.

Post Consumer Waste

Often designated as PCW and expressed as a percentage of the total fiber source of the paper during manufacturing. Recovered fibers come from products that have been recycled back into the papermaking process. Postconsumer material is challenging to process and clean but reduces the amount of waste going to incinerators and landfills. Often printing will show a recycled content logo that includes text indicating the percent of the PCW in the paper used.


This is NOT taking something small (like a flyer) and making it big (like a poster). Posterizing in Photoshop takes a full color image with thousands of different colors and reduces it to just a few colors, giving it a distinctive often high contrast look.


Poster is a paper which comes up with printing of events, activities in beautiful text, graphic and design.

Postscript Font

The PostScript or "Type 1" font format was developed by Adobe in the 1980s, several years before the release of TrueType. The format is based on Adobe's PostScript technology which allows for high-resolution output of resizable graphics. PostScript fonts consist of two parts, which are both necessary for the font to be properly printed and displayed on screen.

Postscript or PS or .ps

A computer language developed by Adobe that encoded both text and graphics for high quality reproduction. We use this, but don't think about it too much. Really.


Pixels per inch is the method of measuring the resolution of a raster digital image. PPI is an important measure of resolution. For images meant for web use, 72ppi is standard. For print we want 300ppi images. This is separate from dots per inch (dpi) which is a measurement of print resolution. Higher dpi (such as 200) is good for printing but cannot be a substitute for images with inadequate ppi resolution!

Pre-collated or Precollated

If you think about carbonless forms, and a there really are folks who have really good reasons to think about them, the white-yellow-pink sheets come in a package already in sequence. They are Precollated.

Preconsumer Waste

What, exactly, is a preconsumer? Oh, it is an adjective, not a noun! Manufacturing produces waste such as envelope cuttings, bindery trimmings, rejected unused paper, and obsolete inventories. Waste which has never reached an end user is called PRE-consumer. The fibers recovered from this waste are regularly reused to make new paper and are considered recycled content, but should be differentiated from the POSTconsumer waste content of a paper.

Preconverted Envelopes

As printers we buy envelopes from paper distributors. We call these preconverted because the process of making an envelope from a flat piece of paper is called envelope conversion. Not all designs can be printed on preconverted envelopes so we often print on flat paper and then convert the paper into an envelope after printing. Go figure.


Buckle up! Preflighting is the process of checking if the digital data required to print a job are all present and valid. We look for things such as bleeds, fonts, links, page count and page size. Using the Package function in InDesign will help you know that you have sent us what we need!


Prepress is what we do to prepare your original digital files for printing. It once included camera work, color separations, negative stripping, and platemaking. Nowadays prepress functions performed by the printer include preflighting (checking files for things such as bleeds, fonts, links and page size), imposition and platemaking.

Presentation Folders

Think of those old PeeChee folders from your school days. They are really presentation folders. These folders are heavy paper which is folded and usually have one or two pockets on the inside. They can be most any size and can be customized, but are commonly 9 x 12 or 6 x 9.

Press Check

A press check is an on-site, last-chance proofing step for the main purpose of achieving color accuracy. The press is literally set up and ready to run with your project but, before it does, the press operator brings out a proof on the actual paper, right off the press. A press check occurs only after you have given final sign-off on your project based on pdf and hard copy proofs. The press check is not the stage to be proofreading, since making corrections almost always incurs costs for additional prepress time, new plates and setup. However, sometimes the benefits of catching a significant error on press can outweigh the expense!

Pressure Sensitive Paper

The meaning of the term pressure sensitive is not intuitively obvious, but we will tell you it is label or sticker paper that has a peel-off backing that reveals an adhesive.

Print On Demand (POD)

This could describe what most of the employees in a printshop do every day, but doesn't. Traditionally, printing involved a significant amount of setup time and expense, which resulted in it only being used for large print runs. Today, technology allows for cost effective printing because of reduced setup costs and time, and in some cases, printing just one copy when ordered by a client, or it is printed only when demanded, or POD.

Printed Collateral

See Collateral. That one has a little pun in it!

Printer Font

Not the typeface your printing company uses. Some fonts require a "printer" font and a screen font. These are computer files that contain the information needed to properly reproduce the font. Your printing company may ask you for all the fonts used in the document they are printing for you. InDesign's Package function can help you with that.

Printer Spreads

In a multi-page document the printer spreads are made so they are set up in the arrangement needed for printing. These may not look logical to the common observer. This is compared to reader spreads which would look just as they do as if you were reading the printed product. When conveying your files to your printer, please send individual pages, not spreads of either kind. You may not know just how we plan to set up your job to print!

Process Camera

An old fashioned analog camera used to photograph layouts, mechanicals and other camera-ready copy. Quaint.

Process Chlorine Free Paper

This is a type of paper which contains recycled content and is produced without elemental chlorine or chlorine derivatives. It is important to understand that that the recycled components may have originally been bleached with chlorine or chlorine derivatives, so PCF paper is not completely chlorine free. For a paper to be completely free of chlorine it must be made from virgin pulp and processed without chlorine. See Total Chlorine Free or TCF.

Process Color

This is not a psychoanalytical term. Process color refers to printing in full color by the use of four separate printing inks: yellow, magenta, cyan, and black. Combining these process colors can reproduce most every color, but not all. See Color Space. Process color is the standard method of printing full color images.


The proof is in the pudding...or in the mail...or email. A proof is a test file or sheet made to reveal errors or flaws BEFORE a job is printed. PDF proofs are best used for content checking (spelling, page order, image placement, etc.) and must be checked carefully and in detail. Hard copy proofs simulate results on press and record how a printing job is intended to appear when finished. With digital printing Hard Copy Proofs are extremely reliable for predicting the look of the finished piece. For offset printed jobs the Hard Copy Proofs are very good but only actual Press Checks can show exactly what a piece will look like when printed.

Proportion Scale

Oh. So. Old. School. A proportion wheel is a round device used to calculate percent that an original image must by reduced or enlarged to yield a specific reproduction size. Also called percentage wheel, proportion dial, proportion wheel and scaling wheel. Very cool.

psd or .psd

A native Photoshop file format.


See MS Publisher


Nope, not Pulp Fiction. This is Pulp Reality. The broken down wood, cotton, bamboo, hemp, old paper or other source that is used to make paper is called pulp. It consists of fibers made of primarily cellulose which are long and thin. When paper is made these fibers generally orient in a common direction giving the paper grain and strength. The more times paper is recycled, the more those fibers are broken which reduces the tensile strength of the paper. Ultimately, new fibers must be used to create quality paper.

PUR Binding

First, be sure you know what perfect binding is. Only then will you appreciate that PUR binding is a form of perfect binding that uses a polyurethane adhesive that is strong and more flexible than tradtional book binding glue.


A page layout program similar to InDesign and which was once widely used in some countries and regions but has lost market share to Adobe's InDesign in recent years. In the Seattle area we very rarely see QuarkXPress files any more.

Quarter Fold

Folding a quarter? No, quarter folding is simply folding a sheet twice with the second fold perpendicular to the first fold. It is also called a Right Angle Fold.


There is a game called Quarto, but that is not this. This is a term referring to a book made from sheets that are quarter folded, traditionally measuring about 9' x 12'. Sometimes this term is used to simply mean a sheet that has been quarter folded (you might have to look this up, too).

Quick Printing

As opposed to slow printing? Printing using small sheetfed presses, called duplicators, was once commonly called Quick Printing. It is reasonable to suggest that this term is no longer relevant to the current printing industry.

Rag Paper

Stationery or other forms of paper having a significant cotton content by percentage. Paper used to be made from the waste from the textile industry, or rags, hence the term rag paper.


Sounds cool, or villainous, or... but really, a raster image is composed as of pixels, or points of color, viewable via a monitor, paper, or other display medium. Raster images are different from Vector Images which are defined by lines, curved, straight or solids defined by lines on their eidges. Raster images are stored in image files with varying formats and are subject to resolution issues defined by their ppi. See also Bitmap.


Rasterizing is converting a graphic from a vector to a bitmap or pixel based format.

Reader Spreads

Layouts or mechanicals made in two page spreads as readers would see the pages, as compared to printer spread. Hint: Never send files to your printer in Reader Spreads. We prefer to get files as individual pages (within one file, of course) and we will set them up properly for print!


A ream is a unit of quantity that is always 500 sheets of paper. This means that a package that contains 250 or 400 sheets is not a ream, it is just convenient packaging, and can be very confusing, all at once.


Recyclable means only that a material CAN be recycled and is NOT the same as being made of recycled materials. It even has its own distinct symbol which is the set of 3 arrows that are OUTLINED ONLY. Do not mistake this as meaning a product is made from recycled materials.

Recyclable Symbol

All things are not equal. This symbol is used to indicate that a product may be used in the recycling process. Recyclable products may bear a distinct symbol which is the set of 3 arrows that are outlilned only or solid arrows without the surrounding circle. Do not mistake this as meaning a product is made from recycled materials.


To reuse, repurpose, or to use over and over.

Recycled Content Paper

A paper product can be manufactured using all recovered fibers or a mixture of recycled and virgin fiber. The recycled content symbol may tell you what portion of the fibers came from recycling paper, but not always. The EPA does not define the term 'recycled'. In practice, the Recycled Content Symbol is used to indicate that some portion of the pulp was sourced from recycled fibers and 10% recycled content is generally the minimum to use the symbol.

Recycled Fiber

Cellulose fiber is reclaimed from waste paper and reused to produce new paper. That is the recycled fiber portion of paper and those fibers may or may not be mixed with new, virgin fiber to produce new paper.

Recycled Paper

New paper made entirely or in part from old paper. The EPA does not define this term. The EPA does not define the term 'recycled'. In practice, the Recycled Content Symbol is used to indicate that some portion of the pulp was sourced from recycled fibers and 10% recycled content is generally the minimum to use the symbol.

Recycled Symbol

Watch it! The symbol used to indicate that the paper is made from recycled fibers is not the same as the one indicating the paper is recyclable. Look for the 3 arrows which are SOLID, not just outlined. The solid arrows tell you at least some portion of the paper is composed of recycled fibers.


Old heating radiators were sometimes called registers but we mean something else. It is essential that printed images are in the correct position on the paper as well as the positions of each color relative to the other colors. When they are perfectly positioned, they are "in register," otherwise, they are "out of register."

Register Marks

Fine lines crossing at right angles and placed on original copy before color separation. Used for checking the positioning of images, fitting of colors, accurate cutting, etc. For our purposes, we prefer to put our own marks on our plates, so when you send us files, just include the crop marks, set off 0.125 inches.

Regular Envelope

Just like a regular guy. An envelope with no window, usually used in reference to a commercial or business style envelope. The most common envelope format.


A term used to refer duplicating printed materials using high speed printers and other kinds of printing presses.


The resolution of a digital image is a measure of its quality, or the amount of digital information it contains. Resolution is measured by the number of pixels an image contains per inch (ppi). For quality printed reproduction we look for a resolution of 300ppi. There is some wiggle room there, though. Images that are going to be printed must have a resolution approximating 1.5 times to 2.5 times the intended line screen of the output device, which for most offset printing presses is between 150 and 225 lines per inch (hence the 300ppi baseline recommendation). The human eye cannot detect more than 300 dots of color per inch so printing at 300 dpi will produce crisp, clear images. If you intend to enlarge your image by 200% for printing, you should scan at 600 dpi. This way the effective resolution of the enlarged image is still 300 dpi when printed. If you want your image to print at exactly the same size as the original, then scan it at 300 dpi. If your image has text, the image should be at least 400 dpi at their final size to help preserve hard edges, but vector type is often higher quality.

Reverse or Reversed or Reverse Out

Not a change in course, though sometimes we wish it could be that. In general, we do not print white ink onto black paper. It can be done but typically it is done by printing the black around the shape and letting the paper show through. This 'reverses' the image out of the ink color. Also called knockout and liftout.


Not to be confused with RBG, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Supreme Court Justice). RGB is the abbreviation for red, green, blue, the additive primary colors. Monitors build colors in RGB. Many small desktop printers also print in RGB. Commercial printers usually work in CMYK.

Rich Black

If you want to have a black that is more saturated, you can use a rich black build. We recommend using a build of C:30 M:30 Y:30 K:100. Anything beyond this will not print well. Rich black builds are not recommended for text. For most applications just printing in black ink works just fine!

Right Angle Fold

There are dozens of ways to fold paper, just think of origami. Printers generally are able to machine fold paper so that the folds are either parallel to each other or at 90° (right angle) to a previous fold. A simple right angle fold is to fold a sheet in half, then in half again but perpendicular to the first fold.

Right Reading

Copy that reads correctly in the language in which it is written, or an image that is oriented the same way as the piece is intended to read.

RIP or Raster Image Processor

A RIP is a computer tool that processes a digital file and converts it - rasterises - to a printable format. Most folks just need to know that printers use RIP's to process their files for printing or platemaking.

Roll Fold

A piece with a Roll Fold is folded inward multiple times as if you are “rolling up” the paper with folds. The outside two panels must be the largest, and each successive panel beginning with the 3rd must be about 1/16″ smaller than the previous panel to fold properly.

Rosette Pattern

A beautiful stained glass window in a cathedral in France... oh, no, we are not in France... Process or full color printing is done by printing the four basic process colors (C,M,Y, & K) on top of each other. Each color is printed as lines of variable sized dots and the orientation of these lines, known as the screen angles, is critical. When done properly a symmetrical "rosette" dot pattern results, which the eye sees as smooth color gradations. However, incorrect screen angles can result in moire patterns and a poor printed product.


When one printed sheet comes in contact with another the ink from one may rub off onto the other. This can happen on the press, during shipping or other handling. Protective coatings often eliminate rub.

Saddle Stitch

Fold several pieces of paper, nest them together and lay them across the back of a horse, like a saddle. Saddle stitching does that and staples the sheets together along the fold to make a booklet. Always remember that the number of pages (as you read the booklet) must be a multiple of 4 and the booklet can open out flat.

Safety Paper

Used mainly as bank checks and other legal documents. Safety paper is treated to prevent erasure, alteration or duplication of any writing or printing on its surface.

Sans Serif

Sans means without in French. So, typefaces or fonts without the little flags, or serifs, on the letters are sans serif. Think Arial or Helvetica!

Satin Finish

Also called dull or silk, satin finishes are generally coated papers that have a shininess generally between a matte finish and a gloss finish.


The slow admiration of a wide and beautiful landscape... Or, a digital image made from a printed image or other item. Different types of scanners handle different types and sizes of originals.


Are you bad at folding paper? Scoring is for you! (You thought there would be spicy joke here, didn't you?) Scoring adds a line pressed into paper so it folds more easily and accurately. Scoring is really necessary for heavier papers and coverstock, even if using a folding machine. Scoring will help reduce cracking and breaking along a fold, but cannot always fully eliminate cracks especially with toner based digital printing. Contrary to most folks' intution, the groove of the score goes on the outside of the folded piece.

Scratch-Off Printing

Think lottery tickets. We don't do this.


An important rule in printing: Ink and toner are applied to paper in discreet bits, usually dots, in continuous tones as in photographs or lines as in drawings and type. Screens are the patterns of dots that make continuous tone images and tints of solid colors. Computers create the dots and we call that a screen.

Screen Angle

Get out a manifying glass and study some nice color printing. You will likely see tiny dots in rows or perhaps they look like small flowers or geometric shapes (see Rosette!). In color reproduction, the screens for each component color are rotated with relation to one another, to avoid undesirable moire patterns. The common screen angles for CMYK separations are black 45 degrees, magenta 75 degrees, yellow 90 degrees, and cyan 105 degrees.

Screen Density

Refers to the percentage of ink coverage that a screen tint allows to print. Also called screen percentage. So, if the color is solid, it covers 100% of the sheet. If the dots of a screen cover half the area and the other half is the paper showing through, the screen is 50%. With computers, screens can be any percentage between 1 and 100%. Digital sometimes tends to darken very light screens, offset sometimes tends to plug the very dark screens (95% and up).

Screen Font

Some fonts come with a low resolution version suitable for monitors but not for printing. Often the name of this file will be the full font name (eg. Futura-Bold). When sending fonts to your printer be sure to include the entire folder so we have both the screen and printer fonts if they are necessary.

Screen Printing

Also called Silk Screening. Screen printing is a method of printing that uses a squeegee to force ink through a stencil which is adhered to a fine mesh (this is the screen). This is how many t-shirts and other fabrics are printed but it also can be done on paper and other materials.

Screen Shot

Most computers have a tool that allows you to capture in a small file an image on your monitor. These images are never good for high quality printing but are great for other purposes.

Screen Tint

Think gray boxes on a page of type. This is only applicable when discussing spot color printing! A screen tint allows us to create a lighter version of a solid color with dots instead of solid ink coverage. Something to keep in mind is that when you choose the spot color that will be printed you should always look at a screen tint book. Screen tints don't always look like you think they will!


Imperfections in printing that appear to be a result of abrasion may be scuffed. It can happen to either wet or dry ink, during printing, binding, mailing or other handling. Protective coatings and laminates can provide varying levels of protection to ink on paper.

Self Cover or Self-cover

This brings to mind a concert where the performer sings their own songs... Actually, we're talking about booklets here. If the outer sheet, or cover, is printed on exactly the sampe type and weight of paper as the interior pages it is called self cover.

Self Mailer

Skip the envelope, please... A printed piece that is to be mailed without an envelope. It could be a postcard or a folded piece, but be sure to check the USPS regulations regarding folded self mailers!


Not a precursor to divorce. In printing we have separations but always with the intent of rejoining them together. Full color printing (process color) combines Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Spot color printing combines separate specific PMS colors on the press. The separations are the individual colors which are imaged onto separate plates for printing.


The portion of a letter that extends beyond the primary stroke of the letter. Sometimes thought of as the 'little flags' on the letters in some typefaces.

Sewn Binding

Old school and really, really nice! This is the oldest method of book binding, and, yes, we do that. We sew folded signatures (go look that up) together along the spine with strong thread. Sewn books can be opened to the center and hard covers can be added. See also Case Binding.


Areas where goblins lurk... Darkest areas of an image as compared to midtones and highlights.


This is the usual method where we print one side of a sheet with one set of plates, then the other side of the sheet with a set of different plates. The options to these are Work & Turn, Work & Tumble or Perfecting. You are free to look all those up, too.

Short Grain

Cheap rice, or...A sheet of paper with grain parallel to its shortest dimension. Example: 38" x 25" (Note the underscoring to denote the grain dimension, and that the dimension parallel to the grain is listed second). A sheet of paper where the grain direction is in the short dimension, an 11 x 8-1/2", sheet of paper is grain short if the grain direction is parallel to the 8-1/2" dimension. 

Side stitch

To bind by stapling through sheets along one edge from the top front, rather than on the fold (which is saddle stitching).

Silk Screen

See Screen Printing.

Spiral Bind

To bind a booklet using a continuous wire or plastic which is looped through holes. Also called coil bind and is different from double wire, aka wire-o binding, comb binding or saddle stitching. We do not do spiral or coil binding as we believe wire-o gives a superior result.

Spot (color or varnish)

Not a dog's name. One ink (or varnish) applied to specific portions of a sheet, as compared to flood which is printing over the full area of a sheet. or process colors which are multiple inks combined to create a full color image. Spot color inks are mixed according to a specific recipe to allow us to reproduce the same color today as we did last week, or last year. Spot colors may be added to process color printing because not all colors are achievable with process printing, and spot colors can be printed on top of each other to produce more variable color effects.

Split run

A print job with one single front-side, but two or more different back-sides.


This term has two meanings in the graphic arts. One has to do with multiple page documents. Envision a 4-page newsletter which is one sheet of paper folded in half. When it is open, the two pages you see are a Spread. Also see Printer Spreads and Reader Spreads. In the prepress arena making colors meet with no gaps requires Trapping (go look that up). One way to trap is to slightly enlarged one color (usually the lighter of the two) to accomplish a hairline overlap with another image.

Standard Mail

You used to know it as Bulk Mail. It is the economical option for sending out more than 200 pieces of identical mail. See Bulk Mail.


A term used to represent product such as envelopes, notepads, greeting cards, paper clips, staples, pens and even more. But, it is basically used to represent paper.

Step and Repeat

You have 2 business cards to get printed. We print 4 cards on a press sheet, or even 8 or 10. Yo, magic! We do Step and Repeat to print those images in a perfect, multiple pattern on the plate. Of course, the term originated from when this was done by hand, now computers do it with great ease and precision. Alternatively, a square dance command.

T1 Type

See Type 1 Fonts, and from there you will be directed to Postscript Fonts.

Tab Banks

Index tabs are cut into some predetermined number of tabs from top to bottom. If there are 4 different tabs, we call them 1/4 cut. Each set of tabs, from top to bottom, is a bank. If a project has 8 sections we might make 2 banks of 1/4 cut tabs or 1 bank of 1/8 cut tabs. Tabs can be cut in many different configurations!


Also called Index Tabs. A tab is a sheet that serves as a marker in a larger publication as a means of allowing easy reference.


Thermography is printing that uses a powder which is dusted onto freshly printed ink and then heated. The result is that the ink bubbles slightly, sits up on the surface of the paper and has a somewhat shiny appearance. Also called raised printing. Thermography simulates true engraving at a very economical price point but sacrifices the ability to print very fine and clean lines.


The inner portion of an envelope exposed with the flap is opened.


Stands for Tag Image File Format. Originated by Aldus right here in Seattle and now part of Adobe. The primary feature of a Tiff is that the image is saved without data loss, unlike jpg or other formats. This attribute also tends to make large file sizes though some types of compression are possible without data loss.


Color created by dots instead of solid ink coverage. See Screen and screen-related terms!

Toner-based Printing

Laser printers and many high quality digital printers and presses use extremely fine powders, or toner, for imaging.


No hide-and-seek involved... Tracking refers to the amount of space between the letters of an entire word or sentence. This is different from Kerning which refers explicitly to the space between pairs of letters. Loose tracking puts more space between the letters, tight tracking compacts the words.

Tractor Fed Forms

Yes, a few people still use these! Paper with strips on the sides that are used to pull the paper through a printer. Individual sheets perforate apart and the strips come off, too. Mostly used for some carbonless forms. Probably a disappearing technology.

Translucent Paper

There are several papers available which are semi-transparent. They make nice overlays and also as stand-alone pieces. Come check them out!


We use this term to describe how see-through or opaque an image is. In this use, 100% means totally solid and 0% means totally clear and the image is invisible. As a physical item this is a positive image on clear film. In politics it means something entirely different. Just saying.

Trap or Trapping

Fitting colors on a press is a precise business. We generally extend the lighter color ever-so-slightly into the darker color for a tiny overlap. This eliminates gaps between the images and is called trapping.

True Type Font

A font format created by Apple Computer that eliminates the need for multiple font files (ps, screen, printer).

Tuff Scuff

A silicone based substance printed onto paper just as ink would be and which effectively seals the ink into the paper.

Type 1 Fonts

See Postscript Fonts.

Typeface or Type Face

A design of letters of the alphabet and other characters intended to be used in combination. Example: Arial or Garamond. Today the word Typeface and Font are used interchangeably, but it wasn't always so. See Font. Fun fact: Each piece of old fashioned metal type was a rectangular block of metal with a letter raised out of one end. The block portion is called the "body", the letter surface is called the face. This is the origin of the term "typeface"!

U Fold

See Letter Fold


Unlike JPEGs, GIFs, BMP and other raster based images, vector graphics are made up of paths or lines, which are defined by a start and end point, along with other points, curves, and angles along the way. A path can be a line, a square, a triangle, or a curvy shape. These paths can be used to create simple drawings or complex diagrams. The resolution of vector images is not affected by image size when printed.

Vellum Finish

Papers with vellum finishes have a slightly rough, toothy surface. Vellum is also used to designate heavy weight, translucent drawing of drafting papers but are rarely truly vellum in the historical sense since it was originally made from calfskin.

Vellum Paper

Vellum is a textured and bulky paper stock, generally used for book covers. Vellum can also be used to refer to heavy translucent drawing paper. See also Translucent Papers.


An effect for a photo or illustration where the image fades to white or black around the edges of an image.


Not just for LP's! We have several vinyl materials that are made for printing and are great for use in wet environments or where camage from handling is an issue.

Virgin Paper

Paper made entirely from new wood pulp, as opposed to paper made with some significant portion of recycled fibers. See also items about recycled paper and fibers.

Virgin Pulp

Fibers derived from their original source (like trees, bamboo, hemp, etc.) and used for the first time in papermaking, as opposed to recycled fibers.


Abbreviation for Volatile Organic Compounds which are petroleum based substances used in most printing inks. These are OSHA and EPA regulated type materials because chemical components evaporate during use into the air we breathe. We always seek to use effective materials with reduced VOC's, both for our staff and for the world in general.

W or M Fold

See Accordion Fold. Paper folded with two or more parallel folds in a zigzag configuration. Usually, each panel of the accordion fold are the same size.

Wash Up

To clean ink from rollers, fountains, screens, and other press components in order to go home at the end of the day or simply to change colors.

Waterless Offset Printing

There is a type of lithographic printing where no fountain solution (which is water based) is used. The non-image areas of the printing plate are composed of a material that serves the same function as the fountain solution, and does not "accept" the lithographic ink. 


You left your water glass on your mom's wood table and she had a fit because it left a perfectly round mark - a water mark (two words). A true watermark is a translucent design or name easily visible when a sheet of paper is held to the light. It is not printed onto the paper but rather intentionally created during the manufacturing process. Computer software such as Word often calls type or images that are screened into the background of what is printed on paper "watermarks", but they merely immitate the real thing.

Waterproof Paper

This is either exactly what it sounds like or an oxymoron. There are several options for signs, maps, stickers, posters, and other items that need to stand up in the weather. Ask us.

Web Press

Weightlifting for arachnids... or... A printing press that prints on rolls of paper passed through the press in one continuous piece, as opposed to sheets of paper. Think newspapers!


We have one even if it isn't really a word (it is only a matter of time until Webster and their friends add it to their dictionaries). We have developed an on-line ordering system for clients with regular and repeated orders. If you think it might work for you just ask!

Wedding Cabinet

One of our favorite terms and it has little meaning any more. A wedding cabinet is simply an old term for the paper that formal wedding invitations were printed on. Double envelopes, tissues, the whole kit and kaboodle.


No, not gardening. The process of removing excess vinyl on peel-and-stick vinyl applied to a substrate, like a sign.

White Point

The lightest area of an image is called the white point. This is too technical for most of us but see our link if you want to learn more.


We shouldn't have to explain this. Really. But if you need a hint, it is the place in an envelope where there is a hole so an address can show through.The standard window for most business envelopes is 1-1/8" x 4-1/2" (7/8" from left, 1/2" from bottom). But check the link - windows can be made in all sorts of sizes.

Wire Marks

Don't even mention Joan Crawford here... Small impressions produced on the bottom surface of a sheet of paper caused by the mesh of the wire screen on which the wet web is formed in the wet end of a paper machine. See Wire Side.

Wire Side

Not Fireside or Wild Side, but Wire Side. The side of a sheet next to the wire in manufacturing, opposite from the felt or top side, and historically the rougher of the two sides. In most paper these marks are not visible, except for some laid finish papers where the felt side and wire side are distinctly different.


Not sprial binding, wire-o is better. A continuous double series of wire loops running through punched slots along the binding side of a booklet. We love Wire-O.

Work and Tumble

The printing form of gymnastics! See Work and Turn! In this case we flip the paper tip to tail changing the gripper or lead edge and using the same guide side. 

Work and Turn

This sounds like a square dancing term but is really a printing term. It is sometimes efficient to print both the front and back of a piece on one side of the paper, then turning the sheet over and running it through the press again. The result is two sided at perhaps a better price! In this case we turn it over from left to right or right to left, using the same edge of the paper as the gripper or lead edge. Also see Work and Tumble.

Wove Finish

Uncoated paper that has an even finish with a slight toothiness. We found this definition and think it is fabulous: "Finish characterized by the impressions of a felt dandy roll covered in woven wire and without laid lines."

Wove Paper

See Wove Finish. Duh.

Writing Paper

Another name for bond paper. 

Xerographic Paper

Papers that reproduce well in toner-based copy machines and laser printers. Generally, little or no texture is best.


Think Death Valley... a very dry geography. In printing xerography is a copying process that uses electrostatic forces to form an image. Toner based copiers, laser printers and digital presses use this principle that puts an electric charge on paper and tiny grains of color toners adhere to it exactly where it should to make an image. The toner is then heated to adhere it permanently to the paper. Xere means dry and is the word Xerox used as the inspiration for their name.

Z Fold

Also see Accordion, "W" or "M" fold. Folding paper in thirds (the piece has 6 printed panels) in“zig zags” so it opens like an accordion. Look at the paper from the side and you will see the shape of a “Z”

Zipped File

Computers generally come with a program that will compress, or zip, a file or folder made up of multiple files, into a single entity that is smaller in size and easier to transmit. Many websites that have file upload (or FTP) capabilities can only upload single entities. Compressing folders is how you can transmit a group of files in one step.