Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, Three

Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, Three

Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, Three

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Also, there are a few terms that are redundant or outdated because they refer to technologies and/or processes that are no longer in use.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


Ganging-up. Running off a number of different jobs on the same sheet.

Gate Fold. When a printed document is folded twice with the folds meeting at one point to make a ‘gate’.

Ghosting. Where a second faint printed image appears on a page. Usually indicates that not all the inking is transferring correctly from (or to) the Blanket. Regarded as poor printing.

Gloss Finish. A shiny, reflective surface of coated paper.

Glued Binding. Pages are glued together along the spine. See also Burst Binding, Perfect Binding, PUR Binding and EVA Binding.

Grain. During the manufacture of paper from the water/Pulp suspension the fibres tend to align themselves in one direction. This is the grain of the paper. Grain confers directional characteristics to the paper affecting things like folding and tearing.

Gripper edge. The leading edge of a sheet of paper (sheet-fed printing only) that is gripped by the press so it can travel through the press. This edge, approximately 15-20mm deep cannot be printed on.

Guillotine. A device with a heavy metal blade that is used for cutting, trimming, paper. Gum Arabic. A water-based adhesive that can be printed onto envelopes and labels. Needs to moistened in order to stick.

Gutter. The gap between Columns of text. Also the gap between Imposed pages.


Hairline. A fine line or rule, normally about 0.25 pt.

Half-tone. Effectively any value of a colour greater than 0% (no tone) and 100% solid. Good printers can print half-tone ranges between about 3% and 96%. Below and above these percentages the tone drops to 0% and increases to 100% respectively.

Hardcover. Book with a board weight stock perhaps 2-3mm thick. Board is usually covered with either fabric or paper (and occasionally other materials). Also called Case Bound Books.

Hard Bound. See Permanent binding.

Head. The top of a page or book. See also Foot.

Heat Setting. When a heating unit is placed In-line, usually at the end of the press, to accelerate the drying process.

Hickey. A white spot of no ink on an ink portion of a printed page. Most visible in areas of solid colour. A lot of hickeys is an indication of poor maintenance of the press.

Hole Punching. When holes are added to a job. See also Drill.


Illustrator. A Software Application used for creating vector described images. Part of the Adobe suite of programs.

Imagesetter. The electronic device that transfers digital artwork to either Film or to the Printing Plate.

Imposition. The process of arranging multiple pages of artwork (of a multi-page document or duplicates of a single page) in such a way that they print correctly in relation to other pages and to maximise the efficiency of printing (this will be a balance between the size of the press and the length of the print run). See also Forme and Pages-to-view.

Impression. The transfer of a single inking of a plate to a single sheet of paper.

In-line. A process in addition to printing of colour that occurs as part of a single print Pass. Varnishing is the most common in-line process but, particularly in the case of Web offset printing, Collating, Binding and Trimming can also be in-line.

InDesign. A Software Application used for page layout. InDesign is the optimal application for creating artwork for export to PDF. Part of the Adobe suite of programs.

Ink. The coloured liquid used to print with by printers. Consists of pigment and a liquid medium made from petroleum or, in the case of vegetable based inks, soy beans.

Ink Fountain. A reservoir and series of rollers that delivers the ink to the Printing Plate at the correct volume. Also known as the Ink Tower.

Ink Holdout. A characteristic of paper that keeps the ink on the surface and prevents it being absorbed into the paper’s fibres. Coated paper has better ink holdout than Uncoated paper. See also Ink Lift.

Ink Lift. The apparent brightness of ink on paper. Coated paper gives better lift (and A1 coated better than A2 – see Paper) than Uncoated paper. Basically the less the ink absorbs into the surface of the paper the greater the lift. Good ink lift was seen, until the recent broader use of uncoated papers, as the primary goal of all printing not associated with stationery printing. Lift can sometimes be enhanced by the selective use of varnishing and double hitting (See Varnish and Double Hit).

Ink pyramid. See Ink Fountain.

Ink set-off. The transfer of ink from one sheet to another. It occurs when printed paper has been put under pressure (by excessive stacking or during trimming) before the ink has dried properly. This is an undesirable effect that in most cases requires the job be reprinted.

Ink Tower. See Ink Fountain.

Ink weight. Expressed as a percentage. It indicates the densest amount of ink on the surface of the paper. Maximum possible ink weight for

CMYK is 400% and for spot colour printing the sum of 100% of each colour laid down. However, uncoated Newsprint should not have an ink weight above 230%, Uncoated Paper should not have an ink weight above 260% (though it is possible to get up to 270-5% for super-calendared paper) and Coated Paper should not have an ink weight above 290-300%. Ink weights above those quoted do not add to colour richness and will only slow Drying Time.

Interleaving. A process whereby thin unprinted sheets are inserted between printed sheets during printing. The purpose is to avoid Ink set off when time constraints do not allow the ink time to dry. Normally the unprinted must be manually separated after trimming. It is a time consuming and wasteful process that can also add considerably to cost. Alternatives are In-line Varnish and Heat Setting.


Jacket. See Dust Jacket.

Jaggies. A term for the jagged edges of type or images formed on a Raster scan at low Resolution. Also occurs with Deep etched images that have been saved in the wrong file format.

Jobbing Work. Fast, low cost, sometimes low quality printing work. See also Bread and Butter Work.

Journals. Similar to Magazines but with longer informational life expectancy.


Key Line. A fine line (normally 0.25pt) drawn on or around artwork. Often used for Die-cut knife artwork.

Kill. To end a job prior to completion.

Kill Fee. A reduced (negotiated) design fee paid when a job is killed.

Kraft. A rough, (usually) brown, very fibrous paper often used in packaging.


L/h. Letterhead. See also Stationery Package.

Label stock. In printing, paper that has an adhesive on one (non-printing) side for the printing of adhesive labels or stickers. Adhesive can be Gum Arabic or other sealing compounds, the latter requiring a removable backing paper. Label adhesives can be permanent or removable.

Laid Paper. Uncoated paper that has a regular grid like texture applied to it during manufacture.

Laminate. To bond together. Two paper stocks can be laminated to increase thickness beyond what is commercially available and/or to create a stock that has different textures on each side. See also Plastic Laminate.

Laser cutting. The process of using a laser to cut out areas of a printed sheet. Laser cutting allows for far greater detailed cut-outs than conventional die-cutting. Note, a laser cut edge will appear black or dark brown due to charring of the edge. Laser cutting will also cause paper surface to discolour to some (variable) extent near the cut edge. Discolouration is due to smoke and/or heat and is not avoidable.

Leading Edge. See Gripper edge. See also Trailing edge.

Letterpress. The name comes from old days of printing when most printing involved composed type (i.e. letters). In letterpress printing the print surface, called the ‘bed’, made of an engraved surface, hand or mechanically set type, is inked with a roller and then the paper is pressed directly onto the inked surface. Letterpress printing machines fall into three categories; Platen (a flat bed that is small enough to be lifted to the inking roller), Flatbed (a larger bed that is not lifted to the inking rollers) and cylinder (a curved bed that is mounted on a drum, the print surface for cylinders is always etched). Letterpresses cannot be placed In-line and there for can only print one colour at a Pass. Letterpress printing is much slower than offset but some may argue that it has a more human feel. In Australia letterpress printing has virtually disappeared.

Lick Stick Envelope. Kind of envelope where dry Gum Arabic is printed along one edge of the closing flap, when moistened and pressed shut, seals the envelope.

Linen Paper. Uncoated paper that has a fabric-like texture applied to it during manufacture.

Loupe. A small, hand-held magnifier used for enlarging detail when inspecting printing or images.

LPI. Lines per Inch, a measure of Dot Screen resolution.



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