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Glossary of printing terms you need to know.

Updated: Apr 13, 2022

Here are some common printing terms you need to know when creating artwork for your direct mail campaign or print marketing.

If this is your first time preparing artwork for print there might be a lot of print terminology and acronyms you haven't come across before. As a printer, we use these terms on a regular basis when discussing projects. We have pulled together the most used terms and created a printing terms glossary to help see you through.

Glossary of printing terms


Artwork is the finalised print-ready file work that will be printed. It is in the correct layout and format with all images and text.


Binding is how several pages are held together such as spine glue, stitched or spiral wire bound depending on the item.


Bleed is space (usually 3mm) over the intended document size that images and colour continue out into. This gives enough leeway for when the product is trimmed so there is no white space where the image should be.

Colour in print


Colour refers to CYMK, Pantone, RGB or Spot. It refers to the different ways colours can be referenced and made up to ensure a consistent colour on all types of project whether it's distributed online or in print.


Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (or Key) represent the 4 main colours that can make up any other colour in printed materials. this is achieved by by changing the ratio of each CMYK colour used.

Crop Marks

Crops marks can be added to artwork when saving your artwork ready for print. They are small marks on your document that indicate to production staff where your work should be trimmed to.


is used to describe the resolution number of dots per inch in a digital or hard copy print.


A die-cut is typically custom made. It is a cutting tool to cut specific shapes out of printed materials.

Digital printing

Digital printing

Digital printing uses toners much like an office printer. An individual file can be created for each printed piece lending itself to personalised print on large scale.


Short for Encapsulated Postscript File, a type of high-resolution file.

EPS is a file extension for a graphics file format used usually used in vector-based images. An EPS file can contain text as well as graphics.


Stands for File Transfer Protocol. A method of sending files. You may also come across STFP which stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol. Always ensure you send your files via secure channels.

Gloss paper

Gloss paper has a high surface shine and smooth finish. It absorbs the ink well creating vibrant, crisp images. It reflects the light making it catch the eye. It lends itself to printing Images and photographs.

Gloss Lamination

Produces a high shine finish with richer colours and cleaner lines. Repels surface dirt, although scuffs and scratches are more visible.

GSM Grams per square meter


Meaning Grams per square meter this refers to the weight of the paper. The higher the number the heavier the weight of the paper is.


Foiling is an additional layer of material that can only be used in conjunction with Matt or Gloss lamination. It can be used to enhance elements of your digital print creating a high-end finish.


A popular choice of format for print. Jpeg stands for JOPint Photographic Experts Group.


Laminating is an optional process that happens to the paper after being printed on. Adding a gloss lamination will give your product a high shine reflective surface. Matt lamination will give it more durability and a textured finish. There is a variety results lamination can achieve.

Litho printing

Litho printing uses printing plates and a wet ink process to print your artwork. Typically used in high volume runs of identical items.


Within your margins is your safe area, ensure you keep important text and images within this. Margins are typically set to 3mm, margins are set to ensure if there is any movement at any stage pf printing or trimming no important information will ever be lost.

Matt Paper

Offers a softer, glare-free finish that’s ideal for type-heavy items. It has a lower colour gamut capability offering a more muted subtle ascetic than gloss.

Matt Lamination

Creates a professional velvety-textured finish with more muted colours. Absorbs small scratches, although fingerprints can show.


Pantone Matching System® the standard ink colour system to get the perfect match in your print


This stands for Portable Document Format. One of the most commonly used formats to save files for sending electronically.


Proofing is an essential stage of checking your artwork prior to printing. This is where you check the document or sample as this is the final product that will be printed.

Perfect binding

Perfect binding is where pages and cover are glued together at the squared spine

Recycled Paper

Made from 60-100% recycled paper pulp, ideal for those looking to reduce their environmental impact. Off-white in colour with a coarse texture. It gives a flatter, modern ascetic being more absorbent than coated papers.


Red Green and Blue (RGB) represent the colours that can be used make up any other colour for digital channels. Different ratios of each of these 3 colours are used for anything seen via a screen

Soft Touch Lamination

Delivers a luxuriously textured finish similar to a soft peach. More durable as absorbs most scuffs and fingerprints don’t show.

Silk Paper

Silk has a low surface sheen that is smooth to touch. It offers excellent ink to paper contrast. Creating bright and defined prints with great readability. Ideal for those looking for something in between Gloss and Matt.


This is the area outside of the printing area and bleed. It is often used to give further printing instructions, such as a fold mark or identification number prior to trimming.

Speciality paper for print

Speciality Paper

There is no limit to speciality papers from synthetic paper which is waterproof and durable to self-adhesive or carbonless. Each with their own unique qualities to make them stand out.


Spiral-bound is a type of binding where holes are punched through, then held in place with a plastic coil.

Spine Glue

Spine glue is a type of binding. it is where glue is placed on the centrefold of each page binding it together, it is only ideal for small page counts.

Square Back Stitching

Squareback stitching is a binding that is similar to straight stitching but it has a square spine so it lays flatter.

Straight Stitch

Straight stitch is a binding where folded sheets have wire staples on the crease through to the centre.


Trim is the cut line of your artwork to get it into its intended finish size.

True Black / Rich Black

C 75 / M 68 / Y 67/ k 90 These values create a rich black that is deeper and richer in colour than c 0 / m 0 / y 0 / k 100. True black uses all the colour to create a richer colour and a darker black then if just using black alone.

Uncoated Paper

It has a slightly soft feel as you are touching the paper fibres directly. Excellent for ink receptivity and absorbency. An ideal choice for stationary and postcards, as it is easy to write on.

We hope this print terms glossary helps gives some clarity into what these terms mean exactly. If you are looking at creating artwork for print we have a range of art specifications with the exact requirements to ensure you set up your artwork correctly. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to be in touch, 0115 939 7979.