Print Terminology

No matter what wording printers use: bleed, crops, rgb, cmyk process, spot, leaf, page, pur, saddle-stitch or varnish etc it’s important for you to get to know and understand the printers language so you can converse with confidence.


Scodix is a print finish that adds a tactile effect to your finished product. Scodix’s versatility means that you can create any texture you can think, from the smooth feel of leather to the slight roughness of scales.


That part of the design / text which extends beyond the trim-line of the page. Since the bleed area will be trimmed off during the cutting process, there should be no text or other important information in the bleed area. Should your design require to ‘bleed’ off the page or in other words extend beyond the cut lines, then your design must extend to a minimum of 3mm beyond the final fold/cut size.

Live Copy

Other than items intended to bleed, it is a good idea to make sure any ‘live copy’ items are at least 5mm from the trim edge. This will ensure that critical copy/images are not cut off during the trimming process.

Image DPI / Quality

To produce a sharp appearance an image should be supplied at 300ppi and its size should be at least 85% of the actual physical size it will be used at. For example, a 20mm x 20mm 300ppi image enlarged to 60mm x 60mm will have an effective resolution of only 100 ppi. Vector art uses mathematical equations to describe the shapes that make up an image. Because of this, vector art can be sized (larger or smaller) without any resolution loss. Drawing programs like Illustrator also create vector art. Bitmapped/Rasterised images are defined by a grid of pixels. Each pixel is assigned to it’s own colour or tonal value and when combined with other pixels they form a colour or grayscale image. Because of this raster images have a fixed resolution and resizing will result in the losss or gain of resolution. If the resolution is reduced too much the image will appear pixelated or jagged. Photoshop is the most commonly used program to create and/or edit rasterised art.

Portrait vs. Landscape

In Portrait orientation the height is greater than the width.

In Landscape orientation the width is greater than the height.


The arranging of pages in a press form to ensure the correct order after the printed sheet is folded and trimmed.


A method of gathering sheets or sections in a certain sequence. E.g.: After a book is printed in sections and folded, these sections are combined (collated) to have all the pages sequential in order to bind and cut.

Process Colours

CMYK process colours use a combination of four ink colours (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) to create thousands of colours. Process colours are used for printing that contains full-colour photographs or when more than a few specified ink colours are used in a design.

Spot Colours

Spot colour inks are premixed to ensure an exact match of a colour. Spot colours should be used when colour accuracy is critical, (eg. Corporate logo) or when large solid areas are required. Pantone is the dominant spot colours printing system in South Africa.

Metallic Inks

A spot colour ink in which the normal pigments are replaced by very fine metallic particles, typically gold or silver in colour.


A sheet of paper containing two (2) pages. E.g.: A4 sheet printed both sides = 2 pages but is 1 leaf.


One side of a leaf of paper.


‘Grams per square meter’ refers to a method of indicating the weight of paper. Written as ‘gsm’.


Extent to which ink covers the paper. Ink coverage is usually expressed in percentage terms.

Uncoated Paper

Paper that has not been treated with either a gloss or a matt coating such as your ordinary 80gsm bond (an uncoated paper used by most photo copiers).

Coated Paper

Paper or board covered with a matt or gloss coating by the manufacturer. E.g.: Magno, Hi-Q, Neo, Power.

PUR Binding

Single pages or printed sections are collated into book blocks, a synthetic adhesive, polyurethane, is applied along the spine and a cover is drawn on. This method of binding is extremely strong and flexible in its use. It is slowly but is steadily replacing section sewing as a high quality binding option for both Litho and Digital print. It does however need between 12 and 24 hours to cure fully.

Perfect Binding

Single pages or printed sections are collated into book blocks, hot melt glue is applied along the spine and a cover is drawn on.


A saddle stitch is appropriate for small booklets and, in general, for volumes with only a few pages. Most magazines that are not glued are saddle stitched: that is that the pages are folded and inserted into a folded cover, then stapled through the fold along the spine. A normal guide is to not saddle stitch more than 96 pages together depending on the weight/grammage of paper used.

Thread Sewn

Printed sheets are folded and collated into signatures. These signatures are then individually sewn and hot melt glue is applied along the spine and a cover is drawn on. Because of the sewing this method has more durability.

Digital Printing

In digital printing, an image is sent directly to the printing press imaged by electrical charges onto a pip and blanket. With each revolution the image charged may change. This eliminates the need for a printing plate, which is used in litho offset printing. Without the need to create a plate, digital printing has brought about fast turnaround times and printing on demand. As little as one print can be done digitally.

Litho Printing

Litho printing is geared for long runs. It can produce better vinettes/gradients of colour and is the only option for very specific spot or metalic colours. When overprinting on a office laser printer litho is the only option to produce those ‘shells’ eg: over-printing letters onto company letterheads


A thin transparent plastic layer applied to paper or board, either on one side or on both sides to provide protection and strength. Lamination is normally applied to products that have large solid ink areas to avoid most scratching and cracking, eg. folders, book covers and menus. (It is advisable to only laminate coated paper and not to laminate paper under 150gsm due to curling ) As paper comprises of fibres, it is understandable that folding and scoring against the fibre could result in cracking. The heavier the stock the more chance of cracking. To strengthen the score/fold we recommend lamination.


A partial cut or indentation through paper or board to allow bending. E.g.: A folder or book cover requires scoring to allow for the folder or cover to open easily.


A protective wrapping consisting of a clear plastic shrink film that is wound about the articles and then shrunk by heat to form a sealed, tight-fitting package.


A process where you can cut a shape out of a sheet of paper. This is usually done after printing. A die is needed to make a ‘Stencil’ which is pressed out of the paper (similar to a cookie cutter).


Process producing raised images on paper. Embossing requires a block to be made as does foiling.

UV varnish

A UV varnish or ultraviolet coating, is either a glossy, shiny coating or a matt coating applied to the printed paper surface and cured on a special machine using ultraviolet light. These special UV coatings harden, or cure when they receive ultra violet radiation.

Machine Varnish

A machine varnish is a liquid coating applied to a printed surface to add a clear glossy or matt finish. Machine varnishing is carried out on the printing press, in line with the inks being applied. The varnish is applied directly after the last ink is put on the paper. A varnish increases colour absorption and speeds up the drying process. By ‘locking in’ the ink under a protective coat, the varnish helps to prevent the ink rubbing off when the paper is subjected to handling. Varnishes are used most frequently, and successfully on coated papers and is more cost effective than UV Varnish.