Here we have listed some basic printing terminology to help you understand our services a little better.
If there is anything that you don’t understand or are still unsure, then get in contact with us using the online chat or calling 0845 072 2778 and we will update our page accordingly.
Artwork, Pre-Press, and Files
If your document contains background colours or imagery that goes to the edge of the page, bleed should be added so the content goes beyond the edge. This excess will then be trimmed off, ensuring your artwork is printed to the edge of the page. If edge to edge printing (full bleed) is required, we recommend a 3mm bleed on your artwork. If a bleed is not added then white borders may be visible.
Crop marks/cut marks/trim marks
Crop marks, also known as cut marks and trim marks, are small lines placed in the corner of your artwork to indicate the artwork trim size. Crop marks and bleed will guide the print finisher when trimming the document.
DPI means ‘dots per inch’ – the number of little printed dots there is in an inch of your printed document. The larger the DPI, the larger the number of dots and therefore the clearer the print. Typically, printed artwork requires an output resolution of 300dpi. Digital display artwork requires an output resolution of 72dpi. If you send us artwork that is not 300dpi then there is a risk of this being pixelated when printing.
Papers and Stocks and Other Printing Terminology
FSC® certified paper
FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®) – an international, non-governmental organization who promotes the practice of responsible forestry. This paper is typically used on business cards, printed documents, and book and manual covers.
This refers to the type of paper that we print on. The standard options are gloss, matt and silk paper.
Gloss is ideal for colour printing and is commonly used for magazines, brochures and flyers. It is a smooth, shiny and reflective paper finish. Due to the reflective nature of the paper, it can show fingerprints more easily than matt paper. Gloss paper is also difficult to write on and is not recommended for diaries, workbooks, forms etc. Suitable for: magazines, brochures, flyers, photobooks, book and manual covers.
Matt paper stock is similar to your standard home or office paper. It is used for a wide range of documents, from forms and letters to essays, corporate stationery and more. It is easy to write on and does not reflect light. Suitable for: letters, forms, essays, corporate stationery and manual inner pages.
Silk is a great all-rounder, with a finish halfway between matt and gloss. It is a popular choice for documents which include a mix of text and images. Suitable for: softback books, booklets, brochures, leaflets, posters, manuals, documents, and more.
Paper weight (gsm)
Paper weight is referred to in gsm (grams per square metre). It refers to the weight of the paper. Typically, the higher the gsm, the thicker the paper.
- 100gsm is our standard white paper stock for colour printing. It is often used for letters compliment slips, forms and surveys.
- 120gsm is a better quality option offering less transparency. It is good for professional documents such as reports, presentations, and CVs.
- 150gsm is slightly thicker than the standard home or office printing paper. it is used for presentations, reports and brochures.
- 160gsm bridges the gap between paper and card. It is a thicker paper option offering extra durability. It is good for brochures and high-quality flyers.
- 170gsm silk is usually used for large posters and 170gsm gloss is a popular choice for leaflets, calendars and more.
- 200gsm is a heavier stock, making it ideal for document covers or thick sheets.
- 250gsm is ideal for document covers and commonly used for greetings cards, invitations and booklet or brochure covers.
- 300gsm/350gsm is one of our thickest available paper stocks for some products. It is perfect for business cards, loyalty cards, bookmarks, postcards and other print jobs that require a thick or luxury finish.
Pantone is a colour matching system that is universally used by many industries, including print, graphic design, paint-making and fashion. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) allows us to make sure we are printing your colours perfectly if you have a Pantone reference in your artwork. To read more about Pantone colours then have a road of our blog on our main website, here.
RGB refers to the colour model that is used to display graphics on-screen. It stands for Red, Green and Blue because these are the three main colours used to create all the colours you see on your screen.
CMYK refers to the colour model that is used for full-colour printing. It stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black). This is representative of the four colours used in printers.
Finishing and Binding
Finishing refers to all the activities that are performed on printed material after it has been printed. It includes binding, putting individual sheets together, folding, stapling, foiling, embossing, laminating, encapsulating… The possibilities are endless with print finishing and it determines how the end product will look.
Pages are fixed to a cover or spine using glue. This process is mainly used for softback books.
Pages are bound by driving staples through the centre of the spine of folded sheets. This technique is commonly used for magazines, newsletters and small catalogues, but is limited in the number of pages that can be bound.
This type of binding is less common than saddle stitching. The staples are driven through the pages, usually parallel to the binding margin. Reports are often bound this way.
Spiral binding/Wire binding
A continuous wire or plastic coil is threaded through holes drilled or punched into a stack of sheets. This is the most popular method of binding manuals and documents that are used frequently.
A set of holes is drilled in a stack of sheets which are then inserted into standard or customised ring binders. This binding technique is used for presentations, financial reports, manuals, or any other type of publication that require frequent updating.
For tips on binding methods, please refer to our blog: What type of binding should I use?
This means that the print is personalised. Each printed piece may have a different company name or address on for large mailouts or may be personalised to each person on a training course.
Embossing and debossing
Embossing is the process of adding a raised image to a book cover or other printed material. Sometimes an ink or foil is used to accent the raised image. Debossing is the opposite, creating a sunken image on the material.
Foil can be a real eyecatcher when applied to book or magazine covers. This is especially true for metallic foils which reflect light and add a silvery or golden glow. Such foils are applied using a pattern on a heated die that presses a roll of foil against the material.
The usual term for laminating would be to encase the printed sheet in a plastic cover, however, laminating in printing terms is slightly different. Laminating refers to a coat or cover that can be applied to printed matter, which means no plastic outer; it looks just like a normal print but adds a professional feel to your documents. We offer a gloss, matt, or soft-touch lamination.
Encapsulation is what we printers refer to as bonding the printed sheet between two layers of plastic material – not to be confused with lamination. A typical example of this would be menu cards for restaurants which often need to be both sturdy and waterproof.
Irregularly shaped printed matter such as coasters or labels are cut out of the material in a process called die-cutting. The die contains knives or creasing rules that have been prepared specifically for a certain shape.
Similar to our foiling method, spot UV is a high gloss coating that is applied using a pattern on a heated die that presses the UV gloss against the material. It gives an extra gloss shine to certain areas of the printing that you want to highlight.
You can request a sample pack to see what these finishes look first-hand, and to help you make a decision on your specialist finishing options.