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You know sometimes, you’re talking to people and their eyes start to glaze over and they get that confused look? Doesn’t happen to us too often but when it does it’s usually because we’ve used some specific printing term that the person’s never heard before let alone knowing what it means.

Printing terminology is specific to the commercial printing industry. You’re not expected to know what everything means. But if you fancy showing off next time you stop by, here are a few bits of lingo to get you started:

Airshaft: Is used in commercial printers as a device that is fitted on to winding reels in printing presses to enable the processing of web-fed materials.

Anilox: Is a roll that provides a certain measure of ink on to the printing plates or cylinders.

Bleed: This is a term used when the ink goes beyond the edge of the printed sheet. It is an area surrounding the printed document that accounts for any movement of the paper.

Camera-ready: This term is often used in the commercial printing industry that means a document or image is ready to be printed.

Card Stock: Is paper that is thicker and therefore more durable than normal printing paper. It is used in the production of business cards, post cards and gift cards.

CMYK: Is a colour printing model and the initials stand for the order that the colours are placed on to the paper, for example, cyan, magenta, yellow and key or black.

CcMcYK: This is a six colour printing process that is used in photo printing to optimise the colour.

Colophon: Is a printer’s mark.

Colour Printing: The mixing of two colours in two adjacent dots before they have become absorbed.

Computer to Film: Is used in lithographic printers and the offset printing process. The CTF is a workflow that involves the printing from a computer straight to film.

Computer to Plate: Is an updated version of the computer to film process, where an image is outputted directly to a printing plate.

Continuous Tone: The most common form of continuous tone prints, are digital photographs. It is an image where each individual colour is produced as a single tone.

Contone: Is usually found in laser printers. It is a method of improving the quality of a print. The dot sizes vary to achieve a continuous tone.

Dot Gain: Is a principle that occurs in offset lithography where a printed image has turned out darker than was intended. A printer should adjust an image to take into account for dot gain.

Dots Per CN and Dots Per Inch: These are units of resolution or dot density.

Duplex Printing: This is a feature of some printers, typically commercial ones, where printing on both sides of a sheet of paper is automatic.

Edition: Is set number of prints or copies struck from one printing plate.

Foil Stamping: Is used in commercial printing and it is the application of metallic foil.

Gang Run Printing: Is a certain printing method where multiple projects are put on a common paper sheet, thus reducing printing costs and waste.

Halftone: Is a technique which simulate continuous tone images through the use of dots that vary in size or shape.

Hot Stamping: Is a method of dry printing that is used in lithographic printing. Pre-dried inks are transferred to a surface by heat.

Inkometer: Is a measuring instrument that is used to measure the adhesiveness of an ink.

Key Plate: Is a specific plate that prints the detail into an image.

Over Printing: Is the process where one colour is printed on top of another colour.

Preflighting: This is used in the printing industry to confirm that all the digital files that are required for the printing process are all there and correct.

Prepress: This term is used in the printing industry for the procedures that occur between the initial creation of a print layout and the final print.

Printing Press Check: This takes place after a printing press is set up but before the printing starts.

Registration Black: Is the 100% coverage of the four process inks, cyan, magenta, yellow and also black.

Rich Black: Is an ink of solid black colour that covers one or more of the CMYK colours.

Set Off: Is when there is unwanted transfer of ink from one print to another.

Spot Colour: Is in offset printing when any colour generated by ink is printed using a single run.

Not sure if you’ll ever get to use a lot of these in regular conversation but you might just strike it lucky in a quiz someday (feel free to share your prize when that happens). If you want to talk about trying some of these out on your next bit of marketing, give us a shout and we’ll be happy to help.