Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, Two

Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, Two

Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, Two

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Also, there are a few terms that are redundant or outdated because they refer to technologies and/or processes that are no longer in use.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


Dandy Roll. The wire cylinder on the papermaking machine that impresses Laid and Wove patterns and Watermarks on the surface of paper.

Debossing. Debossing is a process in which an image or shape is pressed into the surface of paper. It differs from Embossing in that the male plate is pressed into the front surface and that there may be no female plate as such – just a flat plate – under the paper. Debossing is most effective on heavier weight stock with higher Bulk.

Deckle edge. A rough hand torn paper edge. A Deckle edge can actually be torn or it can be simulated by intentionally roughening guillotined edge. Indicates actual or simulated handmade paper.

Deep Etch. To edit out portions of a image (often the background).

Densitometer. A device for measuring the density of ink on a printed page. Essential for maintaining colour consistency across both the width of the press and the print run. Modern offset printing presses often have this device built-in and managed by proprietary software.

Design Process. The process by which a design job proceeds from initial briefing to completion within a design practice.

Die-cut knife. Sharp metal blades set into a wooden block used for die-cutting a printed sheet.

Die-cutting. The process of using sharp cutting blocks to cut out areas of a printed sheet.

Digital Printing. Pretty much any printing process that does not involve the creation of a printing plate. Includes inkjet and laser printers.

DL. Is a size that one third, cut along the short axis, of an A4 sheet of paper, thus it is 210mm x 99mm. (A DL envelope is approximately 10 mm larger in both directions.) See also Envelopes and Paper sizes.

Dot gain. During printing the paper is pressed against an inked surface. This causes the ink to spread slightly. It is particularly visible when printing the dots of halftones and can make these tones appear darker than intended. Normal dot gain for coated stocks is around 7-14% and for uncoated papers as much as 20%. Dot gain must be compensated for by make the dots on the Printing Plate smaller by the appropriate amount.

Dot Screen. Printing Presses cannot actually print shades or halftones. In order to mimic halftones a colour is broken up into a series of dots. The human eye is then tricked into seeing the colour as less than 100% because of the white space (of the paper) between the dots. The smaller the dot and the more space between them the lighter the apparent tone. The most common dot screen is 150 LPI. This is just visible to the naked eye. Other screens are 175 and 200 LPI for fine art printing and 133 LPI for low quality printing and between 70 and 120 LPI for newsprint. The term comes a time when actual etched glass screen was place between artwork and Paper Bromide.

Double Hit. To print with the same Plate (and Ink) twice on to the same surface of paper.

Double Sided Page. When a page is printed both sides. Each side is counted as a page. See also Back to Back and Backing-up.

DPI. Dots per Inch, a measure of resolution of pixel type images, computer screens and fineness of detail rendered on printing plates.

Drill. Cut small holes (up to about 5mm) holes into paper. Down after printing and performed on stacks of the printed paper.

Dry trap Varnish. See Varnish.

Drying time. The time required for ink to dry before the next stage of the process can begin. Drying time is affected by the type of paper, the amount of ink of the surface (Ink Weight) and the humidity of the surrounding air.

Dummy. Same as a Mock-up but more likely to refer to something made by the printer, or perhaps by a paper supplier show given an indication of what the final outcome will look like.

Duotone. Special print affect where two colours are used with specific screen angles to create depth in a two toned image/photo. Careful consideration needs to be given to the colours selected so the image is effective. Black and blue or brown make the Sepia look.

Dust Jacket. A thin paper removal cover that wraps around Hardcover books. Has flaps that tuck under the cover and hold the jacket in place.

Dyeline. A normally crude version of a multi-page document that has been roughly bound using the imposition of the Proofs. Used to be made from paper coated in a light sensitive dye that had been exposed under the imposed Film (prior to Plates being made). Dyelines have now largely been replaced by roughly bounding digital prints (which may still be called Dyelines, however).


Editing. Checking copy for fact, spelling, grammar, punctuation, consistency and length.

Em. Short for Em-quad. A measure equal to the width of a letter M. Also called a ‘mutton’ or 'mutt' to distinguish it from the En-quad.

Em-dash. A dash that is the width of an Em. Usually set with no spaces either side.

Embellishments. Pretty much any process additional to actual printing that is applied to a print job. Includes; Varnishes, Emboss/Deboss, Foil stamping and Die-cutting, however, binding is not generally considered to be an embellishment.

Embossing. Also called Blind Embossing. A process where by an image or shape is pressed into the paper creating a raised relief image or texture. The embossing blind has two parts; a ‘male’ or raised surface plate that is pressed through from the back of the paper and a ‘female’ or recessed surface plate into which the paper is pressed by the male plate. Embossing is most effective in heavier weight stocks.

En. Short for En-quad. A measure equal to the width of a letter N. Also called a ‘nut’ to distinguish it from the Em-quad.

En-dash. A dash that is the width of an En. Usually set with single space either side, except when setting dates (2007–2008).

End Papers. The sheets at the front and back of hardcover books that attach the internal pages of the book to the cover.

Engrave. To cut or carve (text or design) into a hard surface. How embossing, debossing and foil stamping dyes are made.

Envelopes. In Australia the most common sizes for envelopes are DL and the C-series. DL is 220mm x 110mm and is commonly available with and without a window and both ‘peel-n-seal’ and Gum Arabic type glue. C-Series are approximately 10mm larger in both dimensions than the A-series of paper sizes and the numbering (C4, C5, etc) matches the A series also. While there is no reason for other sizes to be created as required by the needs of a particular design job, these two sizes a preferred by Australia Post and other sizes may attract higher mailing costs and/or take longer to deliver because they are harder to process. See also Paper sizes and Stationery Package.

EVA Binding. A method of Glued or Perfect Binding that uses Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) as the adhesive. See also Burst Binding and PUR Binding.


Fibre. The component of wood that is used for making paper. It consistent of strands of cellulose a fraction of a millimetre in length. Fibre that has never previously been used for paper making is called virgin fibre.

Filling-in. In printing, a condition in which in fills the area between the Halftone Dots or plugs up the counters of type. Could be an indication that the press is Over-inked.

Film. Short for Negative Bromide Film. Prior to CTP Imagesetters all artwork was transferred to film then photographically transferred to the Printing plate. Some printers still use a film stage in their Workflow, however for most printers this stage is redundant. Some embellishment processes still required a film stage in their Workflow.

Finish. The surface properties of paper.

Finished size. The size (dimensions) of the finished document. See also Trim size and Flat size.

Finishes. In printing, the processes that occur after printing, including Embellishments, Trimming and Binding.

Flat Colour. Same as Solid Colour.

Flat size. The flat area of a printed job prior to folding or other size modifying finishing.

Flexography. A relief printing process using soft plastic plates and fast drying inks. Used for printing on packaging, especially boxes.

Flush Cover. A cover that is the same size as the text pages, common in Softcover books.

Flyer. A small document, usually not larger than A4 and may be up to four to six pages. May be folded to A5, DL or smaller for easier delivery. Rarely appear as an intentional related series. Quality of paper used varies greatly but tends to be lower to middle range as flyers usually have short informational life expectancy.

Foil Stamping. Bonding, using heat and pressure of a very thin layer of metal foil to the surface of the paper. Now the term also covers a range of non-metallic ‘foils’ applied by the same process. Aside from clear/transparent foils, foils are generally opaque and are therefore one of two ways – the other is Screen printing – to get a Solid colour printed over colour Paper stocks or already printed paper.

Folding. Bend or crease paper.

Folio. The term for an individual leaf of a document. A folio therefore comprises two pages. Some people also refer to the actual pages numbers as folios.

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

Forme. A set of imposed pages. See also Pages-to-view.

Four Colour Process. See CMYK

4CP. Contraction of Four Colour Process. See CMYK

Full Colour. The all colours in the visible colour spectrum. See also RGB and CMYK.



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