Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, Seven

Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, Seven

Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, Seven

This is the seventh and final post in 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Also, there are a few terms that are redundant or outdated because they refer to technologies and/or processes that are no longer in use.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 another 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.


Varnish. Also called Machine Varnish. Transparent liquid that can be applied in addition to printing Ink. Varnishes can either gloss or matt. Varnishes can be applied in-line in the same pass as the ink or dry trap, that is, as a separate pass after the ink has dried. Dry trap varnishing has a stronger effect but is more expensive and result in a longer production time because the job has to be put aside for up to a couple of days to allow the ink to dry.

A Sealing Varnish is an all-over in-line varnish that is applied to minimise Set-off and reduce drying times and consequently speed up production. It will increase the glossiness of Coated paper but have little or no effect on Uncoated papers

Standard varnishes are petroleum based, however, there are also water-based aqueous varnishes. UV varnish is a particular kind of varnish notable for being very thick and requiring setting under UV lights (and heat). UV varnishes may need to be screen printed rather than machine printed.

Vector Graphic. A kind of digital image in which all the component elements are defined by a series of mathematical curves (called Bezier curves). This kind of graphic is independent of Resolution (unlike Pixel or Raster images) and is therefore infinitely scalable. These images cannot be used to accurately render photographic imagery. Most common application for creating vector graphics is Adobe Illustrator.

Verco Printing. A process where a resinous powder is applied to wet ink prior to heat setting. During setting the resin melts creating a glossy, if uneven, embossed effect. Works best with dark inks on largley unprinted paper, that is, most effective on items such as business cards. Much cheaper than actual embossing. aka Raised Printing and Thermographics.

Verso. The left-hand side of a spread, as opposed to the Recto.

Vignette. An image that fades gradually away until it blend into the unprinted paper.

Virgin Fibre. See Fibre.

Visual. A layout prepared by a designer. A rough visual is a crude render of an idea or concept that is intended to convey an approximate impression of the final design – used in the early stages of the design process. A highly finished visual is a rendering of the design that is very close in appearance to the final design.


W/c. ‘With Compliments’ slip. See also Stationery Package.

Wallet Envelope. An envelope that has a long rectangular closure flap across the long edge of the envelope.

Wash up. The process of cleaning down a press (or silk screen) after a job is completed in preparation for inking up for the next job.

Watermark. A device or design that is pressed into the surface of the paper during manufacture. Watermarks are largely invisible until the sheet is held up to the light where because the design was pressed in to the paper while still wet the transparency of the paper has been modified slightly. Most watermarks relate to the brand/manufacturer of the paper. Watermarks can be created for a clients stationery though in most instances it is uneconomic to do so as the minimum paper quantities needed to be ordered are very large.

Web printing. Paper is fed into the press from a continuous roll and cut after (in-line). Web Offset presses can handle speeds of up to about 120,000 impressions per hour. However, quality of printing may be sacrificed as a result. Newspapers and ‘junk mail’ catalogues are usually printed this way.

Weight. Measured grams per square metre (gsm) it indicates the amount of Fibre used to make up a paper stock. It is used as an indication of thickness. See also Bulk.

Window Faced Envelope. An envelope that has an address window.

Wire Binding. A kind of wire spiral or wire comb inserted through holes drilled into the edge of a document. Common in calendars and some technical manuals as it allows for the document to be opened completely flat at any page without destroying the binding. See also Spiral and Wiro Binding.

Wiro Binding. A continuous double series of wire loops run through punched slots along the binding side of a booklet. See also Spiral and Wire Binding.

Work and tumble. Turning the paper during backing-up so that the Grip edge becomes the Trailing edge for the second pass. Usually requires the job to be registered again. Much less efficient that Work and Turn.

Work and Turn. Artwork is imposed and printed with both font and back next to each other so half the fronts and half the backs are printed at a single pass. The paper is then flipped laterally to the direction of printing and backed up. At the second pass the backs are printed over the fronts printed in the first pass and so on. If set up carefully no re-registration is required for the second pass. An efficient way of printing small sized jobs. In work and turn printing the Grip edge does not change for the second pass.

Workflow. The general term given to the system of organisation of progress of jobs through a business (both design and printing).

Wove Paper. Uncoated paper that has no manufactured surface texture. Wove paper is generally smooth, though not as smooth as Calendared paper.


Z Fold. See Concertina fold.

Zig-Zag Fold. See Concertina fold.


Further Reading;

While the processes of printing have changed over the years as a result of computerisation much of the terminology has not. The books in this list are at least six years old at the time of posting, however, if they are still in print, one or more is still a useful addition to your reference library.

Craig, J. Production for the Graphic Designer, 1990, 2nd edition, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York.

Lawler, B.P. The Official Adobe Print Publishing Guide, 2006, 2nd Edition, Adobe Press, Berkley.

Pipes, A. Production For Designers, 2009, 5th Edition, Lawrence King, London.

Gatter, M. Production For Print, 2010, Lawrence King, London.

Bann, D. The All New Print Production Handbook, 2011, Revised Edition, RotoVision SA, Mies.

And of course:

Barnum, A., Haddock, S., Hicks, A., Oppen, F. Graphic Design: Australian Style Manual, Chapter 6, 2012, McGraw Hill, Sydney

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License