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Terminology Explained


The printing industry uses a number of different

terms when describing processes or

print specifications.  


Here is a list of the most commonly used terms and their meanings.

4/0 (Four Back Nothing)

4 colours printed on one side only.

4/1 (Four Back One)

4 colours printed  on one side and 1 colour on the reverse.

4/2 (Four Back Two)

4 colours on one side and 2 colours on the reverse.

4/4 (Four Back Four)

4 colours printed on both sides.

2 Part Composite (3 Part, 4 Part, 5 Part...)

The full print job combines 2 different parts

4 - Up, 3 - Up, 2 - Up

The number of items printed on one sheet of paper.

Application Tape

A low adhesive backing sheet used to pre-space cut out letters & logos and enable exact application.


All original copy, including type, photos and illustrations, for print.

Back Up

To print on the back (reverse side) of a pre printed sheet.

Binding Screws

One binding screw in the top left corner will create a booklet which fans out (like a swatch) whilst multiple binding screws can be use to create a booklet with pages that open out, in this case all pages must be pre-creased.


This is the print that goes beyond the edge of the sheet before trimming.

Colour Separation

Process by which an image is separated into the four colours for print production.

Comb Binding

The pages are bound together using a plastic comb, this type of binding enables pages to be opened completely flat.

Crop Marks

Printed lines on the edge of paper indicating where the paper should be cut to produce the correct page size.

Cut to Shape

Print is cut out to a specific shape (this includes rounded corners).

Die Cut

To cut irregular shapes in paper or paperboard using a die.


Printing both sides of a material in one pass.

Ex Works

Delivery not included.

Finished Size

Size of product after production is completed, as compared to flat size.

Flood White

A full coating of white ink acts as a base-coat for the colours printed on it, without the white background colours may not be as bright or vibrant.

Four Colour Process

Full colour printing using four constituent colours: Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y) and Key(black) (K).

FSC Mixed Credit

Substrate contains a mixture of timber or fibre from an FSC-certified forest, reclaimed timber or fibre or controlled wood.


Grams per Square Metre (gsm), is a measurement of paper thickness/density.

Kiss Cut

A shaped cut out from two layered stock – used to create peel off stickers left in the sheet.


A thin plastic film used on the covers of printed literature to give protection.  See all laminates.

Long Flute

This refers to correx, long flute is where the flute runs along the longest side of the print.


Plastics are generally measured in microns (thickness). A micron is unit of measure equal to one millionth of a metre or .00004

Output to Digital

Job is printed on a digital press.


To print one image over a previously printed image, such as printing type over a screen tint.


Printed on the (offset) litho press.

Packed Suitably in Boxes

Print will be packed into boxes (no pre-agreed box quantities).

Perfect Binding 

Pages are bound together and then attached to the spine using a flexible adhesive. This is the binding used on paperback books.

Plus White

This includes a back layer of white print to make sure colours print well onto either clear or dark substrates.


Camera work, colour separations, stripping, plate making and other prepress functions required prior to printing.

Printed in Reverse

Clear materials can be reverse printed so that the print sits behind the clear material.


A sample of work to be checked for errors in text, positioning or quality of colour reproduction.  


Refers to the degree of detail of an image. It is usually measured in dots per inch (dpi) or lines per inch (lpi).

Reversed Out

Type appearing white on a black or colour background, which is either a solid or a tint.


When the pages of a printed document (brochure) are bound together using staples.

Selective White

White ink is applied to selected areas of the print to make colours stand out on clear or dark substrates (other areas of the print are left unprinted so that the base substrate is visible).

Self Cover

The paper used inside a booklet is the same as that used for the cover.

Self Mailer

A printed item independent of an envelope that is capable of travel independently through the postage system.

Short Flute

This refers to correx, short flute is where the flute runs along the shortest side of the print.

Trimmed to Size

Once printed the sheets are cut to the specific size.

Solid Colour

An even colour, which is not shaded. Areas on a page with solid colours are known as solids.

Spot Colour (Special Colour)

A colour, which cannot be made up of the four component colours - CMYK.  These are generally pantone colours.

Spot Varnish

A clear, high gloss varnish which is applied to selected areas (spots) of the print.


Any material on which printing is done.  See all materials.

Supplied as Singles

Supplied as individual pieces of print.

Supplied on Sheets

Multiple items (labels) will be supplied on the same sheet.

Sub Surface Print 

Reverse printing onto a clear material, meaning that the print itself is not exposed to the environment.


The process of overlapping adjacent colours to eliminate the white lines that could appear between them during the print process.

Wire (Wiro) Binding

Uses a metal wire spine to hold the pages together. It enables the pages to be opened completely flat and allows for 360 degree rotation of bound pages.


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