Glossary of printing terms

graphic print terminology

While digging through the mountain of my archived study notes and projects from my diploma, I dug up a little reference guide I was given with some of the more detailed printing terms involved with professional printing.

I thought I’d share this for any up-and-coming designers who might still be a little unsure on what’s what. If you’ve taken an interest in this post I’ll assume you know the basics such as bleed, trim, process colour etc…

1P, 2P, 4P : 1 page, 2 page, 4 page.

4CP : 4 colour process.

4CP + 1 special : A 4 colour process job + an emboss or die-cut etc. The special may also be a Pantone colour, though this is typically referred to as a 5 colour job.

GMV / MMV / SMV : Gloss, matte or satin machine varnish, respectively.

Spot GMV / MMV / SMV : Spot gloss, matte or satin machine varnish, respectively.

UV varnish : Screen needed as a separate screen print process, may be UV lithography.

Celloglaze : Plastic film coating applied with heat and pressure.

Trim to guillotine : Straight edge cut made with a guillotine.

Knife cut : The same as a die cut.

The following terms are likely to only be useful if your providing your own impositions to your printer, otherwise this would all likely be handled at their end.

Image area : The maximum area that can be printed, this is smaller than the sheet of paper.

Sheet size : The total size of the paper sheet to go through the press.

Finished size : The final size of the job once trimmed or knife cut, this can still need folding at this stage.

Grip : Leading edge of the sheet where the grippers pick up and handle the sheet.

Colour bars : Added for the printed to check the quality of his print. You might be tempted to add these to your job yourself but your printed knows his equipment best, I’d suggest leaving this to him.

Stripping bars : Added at the tail of the sheet where possible to ensure an even ink coverage.

Imposition : The layout of pages in a multiple page document.

1 up complete : Front and back to view (whole job to view) imposed together, usually head to head for a work and turn job.

2 up complete : Similar to 1 up complete, except there are 2 whole jobs to view, 2 fronts and 2 backs. Can also be 4 and 6 to view if simple.

Work & turn : The job turns from left to right to flip the sheet.

Work & tumble : The job turns from top to bottom to flip the sheet.

Long or short grain paper : The direction of the paper grain in the sheet.

To see an example of this, take a regular sheet of paper and tear it left to right, and then top to bottom. One direction will tear awkwardly, while one should tear in a near straight line, this is the direction of the grain.

You’ve likely also heard terms such as set-off regarding excess ink being transferred from sheet to sheet, this occurs when either too much ink is used, or when sheets are trimmed while still being too wet. This falls entirely to your printer however and isn’t something you’ll need to manage yourself.

Printers do however have a coverage % limit, usually somewhere about 300%. This means between your 4 process colours you don’t exceed a total of 300% ink coverage.

For example, printing 100% magenta and 100% yellow forms red at 200% coverage. To print a rich black you might use 100% black 80% cyan, 60% magenta and 40% yellow totalling 280% ink coverage.

Did you find this helpful?

Hopefully you’ve gained some useful information from this, if you have any other terms you think should be included or any questions let me know.