We've included here a range of terms used in print and graphic design. If you want any help with any of these terms or something we've not covered, please feel free to contact us.


A4 Paper

Paper size 210 x 297mm.

Accordion Fold

A paper fold achieved by bending each fold in the opposite direction of the previous fold creating a pleated/accordion effect.


A compressed air spray tool that ejects a fine mist of paint or ink, used in illustration and photo retouching. Also now digitally recreated in applications such as Photoshop.

Ampersand ‘&’

A ligature character representing ‘and’. It comes from the combination of ‘e’ and ‘t’ forming the word ‘et’ in Latin.


The process of averaging between pixels of different colours to achieve a smoother, blended transition between the edge of two areas rather than a jagged appearance.


Any part of a lower case letter which rises above the main body of the letter such as in "d", "b" and "h".



Back Up

How an image on one side of a printed sheet lines up with the image on the other side.


The line upon which sit capitals, lower case letters, punctuation, etc.

Bible Paper

A thin but strong paper, used for bibles and some books.


A separate business or a department within a print firm that does the cut, fold, collating, drilling and other finishing techniques used on printed projects.

Bitmap Image

An image made up of pixels, each with a colour and luminosity value. See also Vector Image.


The rubberised material on a cylinder onto which ink is transferred from the plate and then on to the paper.


The amount by which any on page element extends past the edge of a printed page.

Blind Emboss

An impression that is made in to the material without using inks or foils.

Body Copy

The main section of text on a printed page or website.


A grade of durable writing and printing paper.

Book Paper

Types of paper usually used for printing books. Book paper is offered in uncoated or offset paper, and coated paper (matte or gloss coating).


A boldface square or dot used before a sentence to emphasise its importance.



Caps Height

The distance between the baseline and the top of uppercase letters.

Case Binding

Books bound using hard board, or case, covers.

Centre Spread

The two pages that face each other in the centre of a publication.


The four colours of the colour print process (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black). They are also used in art to reproduce most colours.

Coarse Screen

Halftone screens commonly used in newsprint.

Coated Stock

A paper that has a coating applied after the paper is made, thereby giving it a smoother finish.

Coil (Spiral) Binding

A metal or plastic wire is spiralled through holes punched along the side of the paper. Documents bound with a coil can lay flat and can rotate 360 degrees.

Colour Balance

The relative amounts of colours used to reproduce an image, either digitally or when printed.

Colour Bars

A colour test strip that is printed on the side of a press sheet. It helps the printer monitor and control the quality of the printed material relative to ink density, registration and dot gain.

Colour Cast

A colour tone or overall shade that distorts the normal colour balance of a photographic image. These can be unwanted or part of the desired finish.

Colour Correction

Adjusting a colour image, such as retouching, adjusting colour balance, colour saturation, contrast, etc.

Colour Gamut

The full spectrum of hues possible to reproduce via a specific system (e.g. computer screen, four-colour printing press). See CMYK and RGB.

Colour Separations

The processes of separating the primary colour components (CMYK) prior to printing.

Condensed type

A narrow and therefore vertically elongated typeface.


The extent to which printing ink covers the surface of a printed sheet.


Zooming in on, and re-framing an image.

Crop Marks

The small printed lines around the edges of a printed piece showing where it is to be cut out from the sheet.


An image, rule or text on one printed page that carries over to a facing page of a bound or folded piece.


A shade of light blue used in four-colour process printing. Also referred to as process blue.



Deckle Edge

The rough, feathered edge of paper when left untrimmed.


The degree of tone, weight of darkness or colour within a photograph or image measured by a densitometer.


The part of a lower case letter that extends below the baseline/main body of the letter (as in "y").

Die Cut

The process of cutting paper or card into a shape by the use of a wooden die in which are placed steel rules in the desired pattern.


The averaging between pixels of different colours for smoother, more blended transition between the edges of two areas.


The smallest individual element of a halftone.

Dot gain

A term that’s used to describe dots printed larger than they should be.


Double page spread. How two pages are viewed next to each other.

Drop shadow

A shadow effect placed behind an image to create the affect of the image coming off the page.


The pre-production assemblage of copy and graphic elements that will be reproduced in the desired finished product.


A two-colour halftone image generated from a single colour photo.




The moulding/shaping of paper with the use of metal dies, heat, counter dies and pressure, to produce a raised shape on a surface.


Encapsulated Post Script. A file format.


The registration of the various print colours (CMYK) on a printed sheet.


A thin metal sheet that is applied using the foil stamping process. Often gold or silver coloured, but also available in wide range of colours.


The font is the delivery mechanism of a typeface.

Free Sheet

Any paper type free from wood pulp impurities.



Gate fold

A three or four panel fold where the two outside panels fold inward to meet in the centre.

Graphic Design

The discipline where creative thoughts and ideas are translated into a visual communication medium ready to be printed or presented digitally on websites etc.


A printing process that uses recessed areas on a metal cylinder that hold the ink.


The blank space between type columns or the gutter in the spine of a book or publication.



Small dots that produce the impression of an image. By varying the dot size and the number of dots the light and dark areas of the image are created.


The lightest tones of a photograph or illustration.




The leading industry standard vector image application. See Vector Images.

Image area

That part of a printing plate that carries ink.


The sequential arrangement of pages that are to be printed prior to producing the plates for printing.


One of the leading layout applications used in graphic design.

Ink Dry-Back

When printed ink colours lighten when they have dried on the paper.


A printed piece inserted into another piece of printed material (a leaflet inserted into a magazine or newspaper for example).


Forward slanting text.




The paper cover on a book that is also called a dust cover of a hardbound book.


Adjusting the spacing and/or hyphenation of words to fill a given line of text to the extremes of the column width.




The adjusting of space between two letters. See also Tracking.



A thin transparent plastic sheet applied to a sheet of paper, providing wear resistance and some water-resistance. Laminates can be gloss or matte.


A page or document layout where the width is greater than the height. See Portrait.


The placement of all the elements of a final printed piece.


The space between lines of type.


Printing that uses inked, raised surfaces to create an image or typeface.


A print method that uses flat or curved inked surfaces to create the printed images.


A text based logo for a company or product.. See also Logogram.


A company or product logo based mainly around a graphical element. See also Logotype.




One of the four print process colours, or CMYK, the M is for magenta.


The paper that is used in the press set-up process before the print run begins and/or the process of setting up the press including setting paper size, ink density, image alignment, fold sizes and so forth.

Matte Finish

A flat appearance on a coated paper.

Metallic Ink

Ink that appears to be metallic when printed. Available in a wide range of colours but requires a press with more than four colours.

Moiré Pattern

Often seen when scanning a previously printed image.




A low-cost, unbleached paper made for newspaper printing.



Offset printing

The most common print process. Printed material does not receive ink directly from a printing plate but from a ‘blanket’ that takes ink from the plate before transferring it to paper.

Opaque ink

Ink that completely covers any ink under itself.


A paragraph-opening line that appears by itself at the bottom of a page/column. Or a word, part of a word, or very short line that appears by itself at the end of a paragraph.


Any printing that is placed onto an area already printed.




The number of pages in a multi-page document.


A range of pre-defined colours in a colour book under the brand Pantone.


An updated set (2007 onward) of colour books produced by the Pantone brand.

Perfect Binding

A binding where the book pages are held together by a flexible adhesive. This form of binding can be identified by it’s square spine profile.


The industry standard photographic image manipulation application.


An abbreviation of the Pantone Colour Matching System.


A measurement equal to 1/72 of an inch. 12 points to a pica, 72 points to the inch.


A document layout in which the height is greater than the width. See Landscape.

Press Check

An opportunity for a client to see actual printed sheets of their project before a full production press run is started.

Process Printing

A print process where colour images are separated out into four different colour values (see CMYK). The image is transferred to printing plates and printed on a press, reproducing the original full colour image.




QuarkXPress, is one of the main applications used in graphic design, along with industry standard applications such as Illustrator and Photoshop.

Rag paper

Papers contain a complete or partial content of cotton fibre.

Ragged Left

Right-justified type that is uneven on the left.

Ragged Right

Left-justified type that is uneven on the right.


Two or more printed images in perfect alignment with each other.

Register Marks

Any marks used on a press sheet to ensure correct registration.


The are the primary colours of light that computers use to display images on a screen. RGB has a wider gamut, so more colours can be reproduced in RGB than CMYK for instance.

Running Head

A title at the top of a page that appears on every page of a book.



Saddle stitch

A binding process of stapling the pages on the folded spine.


Creasing paper with a metal rule to make folding the paper easier.

Self Cover

A cover that uses the same paper stock as the inside sheets.


When the printing on one side of a sheet is seen from the other side, a problem exacerbated by thin papers.

Spiral Bind

A type of binding where a metal (or sometimes plastic) wire is run through holes drilled along the binding side of a document.


A term used to describe unprinted paper.




A print process where slow drying ink is applied to the paper and is dusted with a resinous powder. The paper is then exposed heat where the powder fuses with the ink to create a raised surface.


The adjusting of letter spacing across whole words or lines. See also Kerning.


The overlapping of one colour over another to ensure no white space is visible where the two colours meet.

Trim Marks

Marks on the printed sheet to show where the sheet should be trimmed to final size.


The ‘safe’ space on a page to allow variation in the trimming process. For instance you would normally not place anything critical in the 5mm at the edge of the printed page.


A spelling mistake resulting from a mistake in typing.




A term used to describe how many pieces can be printed on a full sheet (i.e. two up, four up).

UV Coating

A shiny, durable gloss coating applied as a liquid and set with ultraviolet light. UV coating can increase the contrast of images, or create patterns by itself.




A clear coating added as a protective layer for improved scuff resistance and a higher gloss finish.

Vector Images

Images that are created and described using mathematical statements rather than by dots (see bitmaps). Vector images can be reproduced at almost any size as they are not constrained by resolution in the way bitmap image are.


The darkening of the areas at the edges of an image, usually in an oval shape.


Volatile Organic Compounds. Petroleum based chemicals used in some printing inks and coatings who's high vapour pressure allows for rapid evaporation.



Warm Colour

A colour with a red tone rather than a cool blue tone.


A mark/image that is embedded during the paper-making process.

Web Press

A print press that is feed by large rolls of paper passed through the press in one continuous piece.


A paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page/column. See also Orphan.




One of the four print process colours, or CMYK. The Y is for yellow.



Zip File

A Zip file is a method of compressing one or more files into a small single file.


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