Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, One

Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, One

Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, One

To begin the year I thought it would be useful to present a series of posts that collect terms relating to Pre-Press and Print Production though there are one or two that might, strictly speaking, be called design terms. Many of the terms contained here, if you do any print design, should be familiar to you already, however, you will eventually come across most them as you interact with the printing industry. I have tried to make this list comprehensive, but it is nonetheless not exhaustive.

As much as possible I have tried to give definitions for the terms as I understand them to be used in Australia at the present time. Also, there are a few terms that are redundant or outdated because they refer to technologies and/or processes that are no longer in use. I have included these because one day, like letterpress, they make come back into use and because older printers may still refer/use these terms as part of conversation, so it will help to know what they are talking about. This list was updated in November 2018 The terms are spread over this and the following six posts. 

A–C, D–F, G–L, M–O, P–R, S–U, V–Z. In the last post there is also a list for useful books on the subject of Pre-Press and Print Production.


Accordion fold. See Concertina Fold.

Acrobat. A software application used for viewing and checking PDFs and Print Ready PDFs.

Acrobat Distiller. A software application used specifically for creating PDFs. This application will give consistently better and more accurate results than expertly directly from artwork creation applications such as InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. See also Postscript.

Adobe. The software company that makes the most common and relevant software applications for designers. The suite of applications is currently grouped as Creative Cloud. They used to be sold as Creative Suite.

Against the grain. Folding paper at right angles to the Grain.

Alcohol. Solvent used for some print processes.

Aqueous Varnish. See Varnish.

A-series. See Paper Sizes.

Author’s Corrections. Corrections made by the author (or client) to modify a proof from the original file supplied. Additional costs may be chargeable.


B/c. Business Card. See also Stationery package.

Back to Back. A document page that is printed both sides.

Backbone. See Spine.

Backing-up (print). Printing the reverse side of the sheet.

Bevel. Sloping edge around the outside of an engraved surface (eg Emboss plate).

Bindery. The place where binding occurs. May be just a section of a Printery or it may be a separate business.

Binding. Joining together of multi-page documents so that pages are fixed in the proper order.

Blanket. A flexible rubber bonded to fabric sheet, wrapped around a drum that transfers the ink from the surface of the Printing Plate to the Paper.

Bleed. The portion of the artwork that extends beyond the specified borders of a layout, that is beyond the Trim Size, to ensure that artwork continues to the edge after printing and trimming. In fine printing the bleed should be at least 3mm. For other printing it should be at least 5mm.

Blind Emboss. See Embossing.

Blow-up. To enlarge.

Blurb. Summary of contents of a book presented as cover copy. Usually on the back of Softcover books and on the front Dust jacket flap of Hardcover books.

Bond paper. A grade of writing and printing paper with a surface treated to take pen and ink well and have good erasure qualities.

Book. Documents above 80-100 pages. Always bound and almost always has a cover of a heavier weight stock than the internal pages. May appear as a related series on a particular topic, but tend to do so on an infrequent/irregular basis. Quality of paper used varies greatly. Informational life expectancy is usually long.

Booklet. Documents from about 40 to around 80-100 pages. Always bound and usually has a cover of a heavier weight stock than the internal pages. May appear as a related series on a particular topic, but tend to do so on an infrequent/irregular basis. Quality of paper used varies greatly. Informational life expectancy can vary considerably.

Box board. Heavy weight paper used for packaging. Thickness is usually measured in micro metres rather than gsm. These days it can have a very high Recycled content.

Bread and butter work. Fast/high volume, low cost and low creative design work.

Brochures. Documents usually of four to about 40 pages. Usually bound, may have a cover of same (see Self cover) or different (see Plus cover) stock Weight as the internal pages. May appear as a related series on a particular topic, but tend to do so on an infrequent/irregular basis. Quality of paper used varies greatly but tends to be lower to middle range as brochures usually have short informational life expectancy.

Bromide. A Pre-press stage no longer in use. Previously the first stage of the Separation process was to make a positive paper bromide (Bromide refers to the photochemical process involved) for each colour ink. This was then used to make Film.

B-series. See Paper sizes.

Bulk. A subjective indication of the apparent thickness of paper. Thus two papers of the same Weight may have different bulk, one appearing bulkier, therefore thicker, than another. This is particularly apparent when comparing Coated and Uncoated papers, for a given Weight the latter are always bulkier than the former.

Burst binding. A version of Perfect or Glued binding in which the bound edges of the page are roughened then glued. The glue adheres better and the binding is stronger and lasts longer. See also EVA Binding and PUR Binding.

Butterfly binding. Pages are folded and the trimmed edge is bound into the Spine. The out edge then has a fold that renders two pages virtually inaccessible to the viewer.


Calendared paper. Uncoated paper that has been passed through cooled hard steel rollers during manufacture and has a very smooth surface with very low Tooth.

Calliper. The thickness of a sheet measured under specific conditions.

Canadian binding. A version of wire binding where the wire Spine is hidden because the front cover is attached to the back cover and folds over and around the wire bound spine.

Case bound. See Hardcover.

Cast coated board. Coated paper dried under pressure against a polished cylinder to produce a high-gloss enamel finish.

Celloglaze. Actually, a brand of Plastic laminate. Though also used to refer to the process of plastic laminating as well.

Choke. See Trapping.

Client. The person who commissions the work and ultimately pays the bills.

CMYK. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black. Also known as Full colour, Four Colour Process and 4cp. The four base colour used in printing to simulate the visible colour spectrum. The process of printing CMYK is subtractive meaning that combining 100% of each will result in black. This means that the final printed version of artwork will always display differently compared to how it displays on screen.

Coated Paper. Normal fibre paper that has been coated in Calcium Carbonate (Chalk) or sometimes Titanium Oxide (now less common). The are four grades of coated papers; A1 – the best quality with the thickest coating, which can sometimes be Titanium oxide – used for high end printing when optimum results are required, A2+ – less expensive and lower quality than A1 but print results are superior to standard A2, A2 – less expensive and lower quality than A2+ – the real work horse of coated paper printing, A3 – again less expensive and lower quality than A2 – however, as the cost of A2 grades have fallen, this grade has virtually disappeared from the market. Coated papers are generally available in three finishes; Gloss which is shiny highly reflective, Satin (or semi-gloss) which has a low sheen surface and Matt which has a dull non-reflective surface.

Collating. Gathering together of printed sheets of multi-page documents into correct order prior to binding.

Colour. In printing any pigmented hue that is printed onto as substrate (Paper, fabric, plastic).

Colour Separation. See Separation.

Colour bars. As series of boxes along one edge of printed CMYK artwork that the printer uses to maintain colour accuracy and consistency.

Column. A block of text between the Margins and/or Gutters.

Commodity Stock. Lower cost Uncoated paper. Unlike Speciality papers it rarely is available in any other finish than smooth and is almost always white.

Concertina Fold. When the fold looks like a Z or Zig Zag. Also called an Accordion fold.

Crash Fold. When a document requires more than one fold and subsequent folds cross over previous folds: ie A3 folded to A4 and then crash folded to DL for mailing.

Creative Cloud. See Adobe.

Creative Suite. See Adobe.

Creep. In multi-page documents of folded sections or Signatures the inner pages take up space at the Spine and the thus the outer edges of these pages extend beyond the out edge of the outer most page. This extended page edge is cut of when finally trimmed to size. The critical issue is that the outer margins also move outwards so allowance must be made for creep when the document is designed and the printer should also make allowance for creep during Imposition.

Cropping. Trimming or masking off unwanted portions of an illustration.

C-series. See Paper sizes.

Computer-to-plate. (Used to be called DTP or Direct to Plate but the acronym became confused with Desktop Publishing which was also called DTP.) Refers to the way modern Imagesetters now transfer the content of electronic artwork files directly to the Printing Plate.

CTP. See Computer-to-plate.

Cyan. One of the four process colours. See CMYK. Also known as process blue.



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