11 Print Terms All Professionals Should Know

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Listening to print design professionals talk can sound intimidating. Yet, for office managers and anyone else who needs to communicate with designers and printers, understanding printing terminology is an important skill that can help you make the most of your printing projects. To make sure your printing projects turn out exactly as you imagined, here are 11 print terms to add to your vocabulary.

1. Bleed

A bleed is any design element that extends beyond the perimeter of the paper. It can also refer to ink that runs over the edges of the paper after it has been trimmed. Most printers set up the document with a bleed mark that allows the images to run right to the edge after trimming.

2. Binding

If your printed document has multiple pages, most printers will suggest binding. There are many different bind styles including perfect bind, which is the style used in most glossy magazines. Another popular bind is the saddle stitch, where the sheets are folded in half and stitches or staples are used to secure them down the center.


CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and blac(k). This is the combination of colors used in most digital printing processes. If documents are designed in other color formats, they must be converted to CMYK format before being printed.

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4. Crop Marks

Crop marks are placed onto a document to show the printers where to cut the design to its final size. They are also an important component for determining bleed.

5. Digital Printing

Digital printing is also called four-color printing. Digital printing is typically used for smaller print jobs of less than 1,000 pieces as it is more cost-effective for your company. This type of printing uses only CMYK format and not Pantone color matching.

6. Finish

The finish is the quality of the paper used to print the document. There are different varieties of finish including glossy, matte, luster or textured. Each type can be used to achieve a specific look for your printed projects.

Finishing also includes techniques such as embossing, letterpress and foiling, which can give your projects an edge over your competitors.

7. Pantone Color Matching System

Another color format is the Pantone Color Matching System. This system consists of a set of colors that are used universally and can be replicated by all printers. Each Pantone color comes with a set of codes corresponding to other printing formats such as CMYK, which allows printers to ensure the colors are consistent across their printed materials.

8. Offset Printing

Offset printing refers to a printing technique that uses a different color plate for each individual color on the document and then runs every print through each different color to create the final product. This allows printers to use both CMYK format and Pantone colors in a single document. It is mostly used for large print jobs over 1,000 pieces.

9. DPI and PPI

DPI refers to a printed image and stands for “dots per inch.” PPI is used to measure digital printing standards and stands for “pixels per inch.” In both cases, the higher the number, the better quality the resolution of the image will be.

These are important terms to understand when using your laserjet printer at the office as well as when printing larger projects. For in-house printing, you can often use lower PPI/DPI values and still achieve a quality print. Print jobs for wider distribution or client usage should have higher resolution images.

10. Proof

After finalizing the design, the printer will send a client a proof. This is a preliminary digital copy of the final document design. Proofs are vital to ensure that both the printer and the client are in agreement on how the final design should look and catch any errors before the design is printed.

11. RGB

RGB stands for red, green and blue. These are the colors that make up all possible color combinations on a computer screen. RGB is used for viewing digital documents; however, for printing these documents, RGB files must be converted to the CMYK first.

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Final Thoughts

When you know printing terminology, you can make more informed decisions for all of your printing projects. Never be afraid to ask your graphic designers and printers about the print design terms they use so your projects can always turn out perfect.

For printing perfect projects in-house, call Inkjet Superstore at 888-745-4316 to talk to our experienced staff about the inkjet and laserjet printers and accessories we have available. Let us help you find the best deals on ink and toner.