Terminology / Glossary


The following words are used often in the print industry.  This section is designed to give our readers the "insider viewpoint" of the color print business and make it easier for you to save bundles of money on your next print order.

  Aqueous Coating - This is a water based coating applied after printing, thus giving the paper a gloss, dull or matte finish.  Coating of printed surfaces helps keep ink from rubbing off. 

  Bleed - Bleed is the portion of the artwork that will be trimmed off after cutting.  We recommend having 0.0625" bleed from each side of the original image, therefore after final cutting you will have the correct size product with full bleed.  For example, the correct bleed for a standard 3.5" x 2" business card will have an image size of 3.625" x 2.125".   

  C1S - Paper that is coated on one side only.

 C2S - Paper that is coated on both sides, obverse and reverse.

  Color Separations - An older process of preparing artwork, photographs, transparencies, or computer generated art for printing by separating into the four primary printing colors.  This process is still being used throughout the world, however, sophisticated print services now take an image and go directly to a huge digital print press.  By removing this process, printing has come down in price of the years.  

  Crop Marks - A very fine, small line on the edges of an image showing the printer where to cut and trim the final size of the printed product. See margin.

  CMYK - All full color art work or images must be in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) color mode.  CMYK are the four colors used during the printing process.  Do not send RGB files,   see RGB below.

  Cyan - This is one of the four standard process colors, blue in color.  See Four Color Process.

  Dot per Inch (dpi) - Printing is made up of dots on a page.  The closer the dots are together the higher the quality product.  Dots per inch are measured by the total number that can fit into a one inch square. For quality printing, 300dip images to print from is the minimum we suggest you use. Generally, the more dots per inch, the more detail is captured, and the sharper the resulting image. Most nationwide color magazines are only printed at 150 dots per inch or less.  Also see resolution.  

  Formats / Files - The following file formats are accepted.

  • Tagged Image File Format (.tiff)

  • Acrobat Portable Document Format (.pdf)

  • Encapsulated PostScript (.eps)

  • JEPG Image Format (.jpg)

  • Adobe Photoshop Document (.psd)

  • Adobe Illustrator (.ai)

  • QuarkXpress Document (.qxd)


      Four Color Process (4) - By combining the four basic colors, cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black, these colors are needed to create a full color picture or colors composed from the basic four colors.  Thus the term "4 over" is born, meaning one side of the printed material will contain all four basic colors allowing you to make any color image you desire.  In print terminology you will see this written as 4/0 = meaning full color on one side and no printing on the reverse side of the paper.  Also, there is 4/1 = meaning full color on one side and only one color used for printing on the reverse side of the paper.  An then there is 4/4 = meaning full color printing on observe and reverse sides of the paper.  

      Image Area - This is the portion of paper on which ink can appear.

      Lines per inch -  This is the number of rows of dots per inch of printing.  Once again, like Dot per inch, the higher the number the better quality printed product

      Magenta - This is one of the four standard process colors, red in color.  See Four Color Process.

      Margin - The safe margin is an imaginary line inside the document from the edge of the document size, usually 1.125".  The safe margin can contain pictures, but should not contain text.  If images, text, logos, etc. are too close to the safe margin, they may be cut off during trimming. Also see Bleed.

      Resolution - Minimum resolution recommended is 300dpi or better.  72dpi, 150dpi, and 200dpi are not acceptable resolutions for printing.  Printing with low resolution files causes pixilation and distortion to occur, significantly affecting the quality of the finished product.

      Reverse - The other side of a printed product.  Printed products comes in Obverse (front) and Reverse (back). 

      RGB - RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue.  These colors are the primary colors of light, or what you see on your monitor.  RGB is an incorrect color mode and should not be used.  If RGB values are used, you may experience a color shift or washed out colors.  See CYMK for correct art work or images.

      Rotation - Rotation refers to how your job will print in regards to the front matching up to the back.  It is especially important when printing fold-over cards or business cards that have a horizontally aligned front and vertically aligned back, or vica-versa.  Always make sure you indicate which panel is the front and back of your fold-over card.  

      Score -  This is a process where a small crease is put on paper to help it fold better.

      Transparency -  Transparency problems occur when using the final image used to print has not been flattened.  For example, if using Illustrator to view your image, an incorrect transparency will usually show a white empty box where the image or type should be.  You can check by "selecting all" and going to "Objects" then "Flatten Transparency.  Make sure you check the Preview setting box to preview the problem.  If the problem above occurs with an object(s) disappearing, make sure you double check your transparency settings and also properly flatten all transparent objects.

      UV Coating - This is a liquid laminate bonded and cured with ultraviolet light to the printed surface.  Environmentally friendly, this process is one of the best ways to produce a very high gloss shine to paper.