Glossary of Printing Terms

Bleed

The term “bleed” in printing means that artwork is printed right to the edge of the page.
Example of bleed
Printing items with bleed usually costs more, because items need to be printed extra large with artwork going beyond the edge of the page, and then trimmed down. This process is necessary because if printers printed right to the edge of a piece of paper ink would get all over the press and would then make a mess of the entire print job.

Items printed with bleed are printed larger than the final item and then trimmed down

Items printed without bleed should keep all artwork a minimum of 1/8″ from the edge of the paper.

Items printed with no bleed need to have all artwork a minimum of 1/8" from the edge of the page

CMYK

CMYK is also referred to as “full colour process.” When we print in “full colour” we mix 4 ink colours on press to create all the colours you see in the final product. The four colours are Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y), and Black (K). Black is technically referred to as “key,” which is why it is represented as “K” in CMYK.

Sample of CMYK full colour process

Flat Size

Flat size refers to the size of a sheet of paper before it is folded into a finished product.

For example, if you were creating a saddle stitched (stapled) booklet that was 8.5″ x 11″ as a finished product, the flat size would be 17″ x 11″, because when you fold a 17″ x 11″ piece of paper in half it will be 8.5″ x 11″.

Another example would be a tri-fold brochure. A typical tri-fold brochure is printed on a 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper then folded in three. Therefore the flat size would be 8.5″ x 11″ and the finished size would be 2.83″ x 11″.

Finished Size

Finished size refers to the size of a finished product, once it has been trimmed and folded.

Finishing

Finishing can refer to many different processes involved in preparing printed products, and basically encompasses everything after the initial on-press printing is completed.

Examples of finishing include:

  • Trimming
  • Die cutting
  • Applying coatings, such as a UV coating or aqueous coating
  • Foil stamping
  • Folding
  • Applying a scratch off coating (i.e. for scratch & win promotions)
  • Saddle stitching
  • Perfect binding

Foil

Foil is a finishing option that is often applied to printed items either as a security measure or as an alternative way to show off a company logo.

The most common example of foil being used for security is on foil stamped cheques. Replicating this foil stamp is a difficult and expensive process, so if your cheques have foil on them it will be less likely that a potential criminal could replicate your cheques.

We have also seen foil stamping used on business cards, letterhead and other stationary items in order to showcase a company logo and to make their brand stand out from the crowd.

Ink Colour

Printed items are either printed in spot colour or full colour (CMYK) process. When we print in spot colour we use the Pantone Matching System (PMS) to ensure that colours are consistent from one print job to another. It is important to know what PMS colours are used in your logo so you can ensure it is always reproduced consistently.

With the cost of full colour process (CMYK) printing coming down in recent years we find that depending on what type of printed product you are getting it may be cheaper to print your items in full colour process, even if your logo only has 1 or 2 colours! This is definitely dependant on the product though. For example, business cards are almost always cheaper to print in full colour process, but letterhead may be cheaper to print in spot colour, even if you are using 3 separate PMS colours. Because of the complexities of print costing we often us a PMS colour bridge which helps us to find the CMYK mix that most closely matches specific PMS colours.

If you are creating a new logo or defining your PMS colours for the first time, you should utilize a PMS colour bridge during the process as only 60% of PMS colours match very closely with their CMYK equivalents. An additional 20% of PMS colours match close enough that most people won’t notice the difference, which leaves another approximately 20% of PMS colours that do not have a close CMYK equivalent at all!

Number of Sheets vs. Number of Pages

When creating a booklet or catalogue the number of sheets is very different from the number of pages in a finished product. In most instances there are 4 pages per sheet!

The reason for this is that when creating a booklet we often take a flat sheet, print it on both sides, and then fold it in half.

It is extremely important to keep this distinction in mind when planning a booklet because your finished product will always have a total number of pages that is divisible by 4 (e.g. 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, etc pages).

For a practical example, what would happen if you designed a booklet that had 22 pages? You would end up with a few choices. Either you could have a blank page at the start and another one at the end of your booklet, or you could have 2 at the end. Or, you could make use of those 2 additional pages and design something else that you would like to include. Since pricing is based on the total number of sheets and not the number of pages, there will be no price difference for any of these options. Printing a 24 page book will cost you the same as printing 22 pages!

Illustration of number of sheets vs number of pages

1 Sheet – 4 Pages


Pantone Inks

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is used throughout the printing industry to ensure that customers receive a consistent brand representation on all of their printed products. Can you imagine Coke using a different shade of red on a flyer, another on their cans and another on their website? Of course not! Big brands recognize that it is important to show your brands consistently in the same colours, regardless of where people see it.

The Pantone Matching System, along with a PMS/CMYK/RGB/Web colour bridge, will allow us to ensure that your brand is represented consistently across all of your printed and promotional items.

Parts

Parts…
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Perfect Binding

Perfect Binding…
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Raster Graphics

Raster Graphics…
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RGB

RGB colour…
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Saddle Stitched

Saddle Stitching…
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Sizing

Sizing…
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Stock

Paper stocks…
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UV Coating

UV Coating…
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Vector Graphics

Vector Graphics…
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