Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, Six

Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, Six

Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, Six

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Also, there are a few terms that are redundant or outdated because they refer to technologies and/or processes that are no longer in use.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


Saddle Stitch. Multi-page documents of up to about 80 pages can have a stapled or stitched binding. After pages are printed folded and trimmed into spreads of four pages, then Collated they are creased down the middle. This crease is called the saddle and when stitched becomes the Spine. To specify that a document been bound with two staples a designer requests that the printer “Saddle stitch with two wires”. Note, documents with spines less than about 150mm high probably only need one wire.

Satin Finish. Uncoated stock that is smoother and shinier than Matt but less than Gloss.

Scan. Digitise an image using a Scanner.

Scanner. A piece of photoelectric equipment used for digitising images that exist in hardcopy (analogue) form, such as photographic prints, positive (Transparency) and negative film and other kinds of images and text. The result is a pixel image. See also Optical Character Recognition.

Score. To press a thin line into paper in order to aid folding. Scoring is generally required for paper above 150gsm.

Screen. See Dot Screen. Also common name for a computer monitor.

Screen Back. To lighten an image or colour.

Screen Angle. Because printing is an additive process (printing colours over each other results in black) in order for each colour to remain visible the Dot Screens are angled slightly differently so that the dots do not over lap.

Screen printing. A printing process in which the artwork is adhered to a (usually nylon) screen and the ink is dragged across the surface of and forced through screen on to the print surface underneath. This is generally a very manual process. Used for a great deal of fabric printing. It has a long association with short run music and political posters. It is necessary when truly opaque inks and thick UV Varnishes are required.

Screen Ruling. The number of lines per inch (LPI) of a Halftone screen.

Scuffing. During the life of printed documents the ink may get rubbed off during handling. This is called scuffing. It is more common with coated papers where the ink does not soak into the paper as much as Uncoated papers. To reduce scuffing and all-over sealing varnish or a plastic laminate should be used.

Section Sewn. A Signature when folded and trimmed is called a section. In books these sections are normally Sewn then bound together into the book. Section sewing prior to Burst binding further increases the strength and longevity of Glued bindings.

Self Cover. Specification to a printer that a brochure’s, or booklet’s, cover be of the same Weight stock as the internal (or Text) pages. In this case that total page number of the document includes the cover.

Self-mailer. A printed piece that is designed to be mailed without an envelope. Postcards are the most common example of a self-mailer.

Separation. Each colour to be printed for artwork is separated from the others and rendered on a individual Printing Plate. For full colour artwork there are normally four Separations, one for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (see CMYK). Sewn. Stitched with cotton thread.

Sheet-fed printing. Paper is cut into individual sheets prior to printing. Sheet-fed Offset presses tend to have an upper limit of around 20,000 to 50,000 impressions per hour.

Show-through. The phenomenon in which printed matter on one side of a sheet shows through on the other side. Lighter weight stocks generally have more show through than heavier weights. Show-through is different from Set-off. See also Opacity.

Side stitching. Binding where the staples or sewing can be seen on the front of the book and are pushed through the book to the back.

Signature. A group of pages printed on a sheet of paper, which when folded and trimmed will appear in their correct sequence. The most common signature is 16 pages. Once collected together into a book these signatures form the sections of the book.

Single sided. When a page is to be printed on only one side.

Slip Case. A, usually five sided, box of covered board into which a, usually Hardcover, book is placed. Originally Slip Cases were created for protection of the book but now are often created for stylistic reasons as much as anything.

Slug. The area around the artwork on which Trim Marks, Registration Marks and Colour bars appear. In InDesign this is an area that can (and must) be defined by the designer if they wish to include additional information along the side of the artwork layout and outside the Bleed area.

Softcover. See Paperback.

Solid colour. Ink printed with no Dot screen, that is, coverage is solid.

Speciality Stock. Premium quality Uncoated paper sometimes has textures and/or is coloured. May also be made from non-wood Pulp. Usually premium priced as well. 

Spine. The bound edge of a Multi-page document.

Spiral Binding. A book bound with wire/plastic spiral form inserted through holes punched along the binding side. See also Wire Binding and Wiro Binding.

Split-back. Kind of Label Stock where the removable back paper is supplied pre-cut to enable removal from the label paper.

Spot Colour. Ink specially mixed from a selection of base inks. Also known as a ‘Special’. See also Pantone and PMS.

Spread. (1) See Trapping.

Spread. (2) A pair of facing pages.

Stationery Package. A collection of printed items of stationery normally created in conjunction with and corporate/business/personal identity program. The basic set includes; business card, letterhead, ‘with compliments’ slip. It can also contain a; fax cover sheet, envelopes, follower (a version of the letterhead with less information to be used as the second and following pages of a long letter), invoices, purchase orders, quotes, estimates, and numerous other specialised items on which the identity of the entity is required to be displayed.

Stickers. See Label Stock.

Stitch. To bind a document with either wires or thread. See also Binding, Sewn, Saddle-stitch, Side-stitch, Wire binding.

Stochastic Screen. A digitally created screen consisting of randomly sized and placed dots to mimic Halftones. Eliminates Moiré pattern problems. Tends not to handle smaller percentage halftones very well. Requires much greater computer processing power than normal Dot Screens and is therefore more expensive to output Printing Plates and is used as a result for work in which exceptionally high quality image reproduction is required. Stock. Paper or other material to be printed on. Style sheet. A set of (usually) typographic instructions created within a page layout program that define the visual appearance of text (words). They are particularly useful in ensuring visual consistency in, and great reduce the time require to lay out, complex layouts.


Text. For printers this is usually a reference to the stock of the internal or text pages of a multi-page document. For designers and others, the words on the page.

Tooth. The apparent roughness of the surface of an Uncoated paper. Ranges from very toothy, or high tooth to low of little tooth. High tooth paper is deemed to be very tactile (and perhaps more personal) and low tooth is smooth (and perhaps more impersonal). Tooth is qualitative rather than quantitative.

Toner. A very fine powder pigment used in digital (laser) printers and photocopiers. Contact with toner powder is not healthy and should be avoided. If you do get it on your hands wash thoroughly.

Top-cut. In some instances when printing labels using Split-back label stocks are not possible/appropriate. In the case a top-cut is specified. A top-cut is where a die-cut has been used to cut through the printed label paper but not the removable backing sheet.

Trailing edge. The bottom edge of a printed sheet that passes through the press last. That is, the opposite edge to the Leading edge or Grip edge.

Transparency. A positive coloured photograph on transparent film. Commonly known as a slide, colloquially known as a ‘tranny’ and the opposite of a negative (a ‘neg’). Transparencies are digitised by being scanned on a Scanner. Transparencies have largely been replaced by digital photography.

Trapping. Due to the difficulties of achieving absolutely perfect registration and the fact that paper can move and expand/contract slightly during printing it is virtually impossible to get to colours to butt up against each perfectly. To get around this problem the areas of colour are enlarged ‘Spread’ and gaps shrunk ‘Choked’ fractionally where they butt up against each other. The goal is to achieve an overlap of about 0.14pt which effectively allows for movement of a quarter of a point before miss registration becomes visible.

Trim. The act of cutting printer pages down to size.

Trim Marks. The little lines near the corners of printed artwork that define the edges of the page. The printer uses these marks as a guide to trim the printed pages to final size. Trim size. The final size of a printed piece after it has been trimmed. Also called the finished size.


U&LC. Also u/lc. Abbreviation for ‘upper and lowercase’.

Uncoated Paper. Paper that has no coatings and the fibres that make up the paper are exposed. These papers may have textured finishes applied to them during manufacturing such as Wove, Linen and Laid. Uncoated papers are divided into two broad categories; Specialty and Commodity. Specialty papers are often used for printing of stationery and now, more frequently, higher quality brochure work. Specialty papers are often available with the textured finishes. Commodity papers are commonly used in general lower cost printing, this grade also includes photocopy paper.

UV Varnish. See Varnish.



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