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What Did They Say?: Commercial Print Industry Lingo

Commercial Print Vocabulary

If you want to make a good first impression, you need to pay particular attention to the type of paper you are using. However, picking out the correct paper for your project can be confusing and overwhelming. It doesn’t help that the industry jargon can confuse many business owners and entrepreneurs. Not understanding what you are hearing or looking at can cost you money, and you can end up making the wrong decision.

To help you understand some of the vocabularies of the print world and make better decisions, read on to learn some of the essential commercial print vocabulary words:

A4 Paper – 8.3 x 11.7″ ISO standard paper size.
Acid-Free Paper – A paper that will degrade less in time. This is because it contains no acid-producing chemicals.
Anti-Aliasing – This is the process of smoothing and blending the transition between pixels of different colors. Anti-aliasing eliminates a jagged appearance.
Bleed – Elements that extend past the edge of a page.
Blind Embossing – This is when an image is embossed into the paper without using foil or ink. The embossed image is the same color as the paper.
CMYK – The four color model that is used in four-color process printing. CMYK refers to the inks used: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.
Coated – This type of paper has a matte or shiny, waxy finish. While this choice is not meant to write on, it will give the printed piece a classy, elegant finish. Here are the different types of coating:

1. Aqueous: Aqueous is a clear, water-based coating that deters scuff, dirt, and fingerprints. This coating provides a medium-gloss surface that is perfect for protecting business cards, brochures, and postcards.
2. Coated One Side (C1S): When you want the outside to pop, and the inside to be writable, choose C1S paper. This cover stock paper is coated on one side and is dull on the reverse side.
3. Coated Two Sides (C2S): When you don’t want writability, and want to protect both sides, choose C2S paper. This option is perfect for booklets, brochures, flyers, and other handouts.
4. UV Coating: This solvent-free coating provides a hard finish that is highly protective. In fact, the finish is abrasion and chemical resistant. With it’s shiny, glossy finish it makes details and logos pop.

Cover – Cover stock paper is a thick, rigid paper that cannot be easily folded. Cover stock often comes in two finishes, coated and uncoated. Choose this paper type for folders, business cards, postcards, publication covers, and greeting cards.
Crop or Cut Marks – Indicator marks on a printed piece that visually show where to cut.
Deboss – When an image is pressed into the paper. Deboss is the opposite of embossing.
DPI – DPI stands for dots per inch. The higher the DPI, the better. Images are smoother looking at a high DPI.
Duplex Printing – Printing done on both sides of the paper.
Enamel – Another way of saying a gloss coated paper.
Finish – The surface quality of paper.
Foil Embossing – When an embossed image has foil, usually gold foil, applied to it. The foil can be any color, and can help make images pop out.
Font – Characters that make up a typeface.
Gloss – This finish produces a shiny surface, and can make logos and colors visually appealing. Gloss finish also protects the ink from moisture and fading. This finish is not appropriate for text, as the glare can make reading difficult.
Ink Dry Black – Term for when printed colors become lighter in appearance after the ink dries.
Kerning – The reduction of the space between letters.
Letterpress – Inked raised surfaces printing.
M Weight – The weight of 1000 sheets of paper.
Magnetic Paper or Magnetic Stock – A thick, high-quality print that sticks to most metal surfaces.
Matte – A muted, smooth finish that eliminates fingerprints, matte paper is an excellent choice for soft colors and text. Also, matte finishes provide easy readability for documents.
Metallic Ink – Ink made with special pigments that give it a metallic look once printed.
Mottle – Uneven or spotty ink absorption.
Newsprint – Used for printing newspapers, newsprint is a low-cost, light paper.
Pica – A typesetting unit of measurement that equals 1/6th of an inch.
PMS – Pantone Color Matching System
Point – Another measurement unit that is equal to 1/72 of an inch. There are 12 points to a pica and 72 points to an inch.
Pound – A pound in the print industry is defined as the weight of a 500-sheet ream of basic-sized paper. So 500 sheets of 20# paper would weigh 20 lbs, as the # symbol represents pounds.
PPI – Stands for pixels per inch.
Press Check – When you view actual printed sheets to give the OK before the full production is started.
Ream – 500 sheets of paper.
RGB – The primary colors of light, red, green and blue. RGB has to be converted to CMYK before it is printed on a printing press.
Satin – Satin falls in between matte and gloss, as it gives off a slight sheen. If you need readability but want to enhance your images, go with a satin finish.
Uncoated – This type of paper is untreated, so the surface is absorbent, unreflective and dull. Uncoated paper is perfect for writing and taking notes on. This paper choice is suitable for envelopes, letterheads, and for notepads.
24# and 28# Uncoated – The 28# is heavier and thicker than 24#. Also called White Wove, this is the standard stock for envelopes.
70# Uncoated Text – Non-glossy, uncoated stocks that are guaranteed to be safe for desktop laser printing.
80# Gloss Text – Popular choice for inserts, brochures, flyers, catalogs, and posters. This paper stock has a standard glossy finish and provides an opaque base.
80# Dull/Matte Text – Has an opaque base for crisp typography and easy readability.
80# Gloss Cover – Stiff as a baseball or a postcard, the glossy finish makes images stand out. An excellent choice for heavy-duty brochures, spec sheets, and catalog covers.
100# Uncoated Cover – This smooth, bright white cover stock is 14pt in thickness. An excellent choice for bookmarks and business cards.
100# Gloss Text – 25% heavier and thicker that the 80# gloss text.
120# Gloss Cover – A thick, high-quality 14pt stock with a beautiful glossy finish.

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