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Graphic Arts Terms


Absorption: The property which causes paper to take up liquids or vapors in contact with it.

Accordion Fold: Term used for two or more parallel folds which open like an accordion.

Against the grain: Folding or feeding paper at right angles to the grain direction of the paper.

Art: All illustration copy used in preparing a job for printing.

Backbone: The back of a bound book connecting the two covers; also called the spine.

Backing up: Printing the reverse side of a sheet already printed on one side.

Basis Weight: The weight in pounds of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to a given standard size for that grade.  For example, 500 sheets 25 x 38 in. of 50-lb. book paper weighs fifty (50) pounds.

Bitmap: The electronic representation of a page, indicating the position of every possible spot (zero/ one).

Blanket: A rubber-surfaced fabric, which is clamped around a cylinder, to which the image is transferred from the plate, and from which it is transferred to the paper.

Bleed: An extra amount of printed image which extends beyond the trim edge of the sheet or page.

Blind embossing: A design, which is stamped without metallic leaf or ink, giving a bas-relief effect.

Bond paper: A grade of writing or printing paper where strength, durability and permanence are essential requirements; commonly used for letterheads, business forms, etc.

Burn: A common term used for a plate exposure.

Caliper: The thickness of paper, usually expressed in thousandths of an inch (mils).

Camera-ready: Copy which is ready for photography.

Cast coated: Coated paper dried under pressure against a polished cylinder to produce a high-gloss enamel finish.

CD-Rom: Acronym for Compact Disc-Read-Only-Memory.  A CD-ROM drive used the CD format as a computer storage medium.

CMYK: Acronym for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black subtractive primary colors.  Printing colors for process color reproduction.

Coated paper: Paper having a surface coating which produces a smooth finish.  Surfaces vary from eggshell to glossy.

Collate: The gathering of sheets or signatures.

Color correction: Any method such as masking, dot-etching, re-etching and scanning, used to improve color rendition.

Color separation: The process of separating color originals into primary printing color components in negative or positive form.

Crop: To eliminate portions of copy, usually on a photograph or plate, indicated on the original as cropmarks.

CTP: Acronym for computer-to-plate.

Cyan: Hue of a subtractive primary and a 4-color process ink.  It reflects or transmits blue and green light and absorbs red light.

Densitometer: Equipment used to measure and control the density of color inks on the substrate.

Density: The degree of darkness (light absorption or opacity) of a photographic image.

Die-cutting: The process of using sharp, steel rules to cut specials shapes from printed sheets.

Digital color proof: An off-press color proof produced from digital data without the need for separation films.

Dot: The individual element of a halftone.

Dot gain: A defect in which dots print larger than they should, causing darker tones or stronger colors.

Dummy: A preliminary layout showing the position of illustrations and text as they are to appear in the final reproduction.  A set of blank pages made up in advance to show the size, shape, form and general style of a piece of printing.

Duotone: A term for a two-color halftone reproduction from a one-color photograph.

Embossing: Impressing an image in relief to achieve a raised surface; either overprinting or on blank paper.

Emulsion side: The side of the film coated with the silver halide emulsion.

Enamel: A term applied to coated paper or to a coating material on a paper.

Flat: The assembled composite of negatives on goldenrod paper or positives on film, ready for platemaking.

Folio: The page number

Font: A complete assortment of letters, numbers, punctuation marks, etc. of a given size and design.

Format: The size, style, type page, margins, printing requirements, etc. of a printed piece.

Galley proof: A proof of text copy before  being made into pages.

Grain: The direction in which most fibers lie which corresponds with the direction the paper is made on a paper machine.

Gray scale: A strip of standard gray tones, ranging from white to black, placed at the side of original copy during photography to measure tonal range and contrast obtained.

Gripper edge: The leading edge of paper as it passes through the printing press.  Also, the front edge of a lithographic or wraparound plate that is secure to front clamp of plate cylinders.

Gripper margin: Unprintable bland edge of paper on which grippers bear, usually or less.

Gutter: The blank space or inner margin from printing area to binding

Hairline Registration: Register within +/- row of dots.

Halftone: The reproduction of continuous-tone images, through a screening process, which converts the image into dots of various sizes and equal spacing between centers.

Hard copy: The permanent visual record of the output of a computer or printer.  Also, the material sent in typed form for conversion into typeset material.

Hickey: Spot or imperfection in the printing due to various conditions, including: dirt on the press, dried ink skin, paper particles, etc.

Hue: The main attribute of a color which distinguishes it from other colors.

Jog: To align sheets of paper into a compact pile.

Keyline: An outline drawing of finished art to indicate the exact shape, position and size for such elements as halftones, line sketches, etc.

Laid paper: Paper with a pattern of parallel lines at equal distances, giving it a ribbed effect.

Lamination: A plastic film bonded by heat and pressure to a printed sheet for protection or enhanced appearance.

Layout: The drawing or sketch of the proposed printed piece.

M: Abbreviation for a quantity of 1,000 sheets of paper.

Magenta: Hue of a subtractive primary and a 4-color process ink.  It reflects or transmits blue and red light and absorbs green light.

Makeready: All work done to set up a press for printing.

Matte Finish: Dull paper finish without gloss or luster.

Negative: Film containing an image in which the values of the original are reversed so that the dark areas appear light and vice versa.

Opacity: The property of paper, which minimizes the show-through of printing from the back side or the next sheet.

Pagination: The process of performing page makeup automatically.

Positive: Film containing an image in which the dark and light values are the same as the original.

Ream: Five hundred sheets of paper.

Register: Fitting of two or more printing images in exact alignment with each other.

Resolution: The quantification of printout quality using the number of spots per inch.

RGB: Red, Green, Blue – additive primary colors.

Right-angle fold:  A term used for two or more folds that are at 90æ angles to each other.

Scaling: Determining the proper size of an image to be reduced or enlarged to fit an area.

Score: To impress or indent a mark with a string or rule in the paper to make folding easier.

Self-cover: A cover of the same paper as inside text pages.

Sheetwise: To print one side of a sheet of paper with one plate, then turn the sheet over and print the other side with another plate using same gripper and opposite side guide.

Signature: The name given to a printed sheet after it has been folded.

Spiral binding: A book bound with wires in spiral form inserted through holes and punched along the binding side.

Stock: Paper or other material to be printed.

Tagged image file format (TIFF):  A file format for exchanging bitmapped images (usually scans) between applications.

Text: The body matter of a page or book, as distinguished from the headings.

Varnish: A thin, protective coating applied to a printed sheet for protection or appearance.

Vellum finish: A toothy finish which is relatively absorbent for fast ink penetration.

Wash-up: The process of cleaning the rollers, or plate, and sometimes the ink fountain of a printing press.

With the grain: Folding or feeding paper into a press parallel to the grain of the paper.

Work and turn: To print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn it over from left to right and print the second side using the same gripper and plate, but opposite side guide.

Wove paper: Paper having a uniform unlined surface and a soft, smooth finish.

Yellow: Hue of a subtractive primary and a 4-color process ink.  It reflects red and green light and absorbs blue light.