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Printing Terms from a Faraway Planet

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Printing Terms from a Faraway Planet

by Margie Dana

Believe me when I tell you that some of the terminology I learned as a new print-buyer gave me pause. Work-and-turn? Work-and-tumble? What was this, a circus?

Printing has a language all its own, and print customers need to jump on board the lingo train if they want to know what’s what.

In no particular order, here are some printing terms that seem to come from a whole other planet:

Bleeds. When printing extends all the way to the edge of the paper, as in “the ink bleeds off the sheet.” Any job that bleeds can cost you more.

Choke. To reduce a printing image slightly so you don’t have a darker overlapped border on a lighter background.

Creep. Also called “push out,” it happens when the middle pages of a folded signature extend a little bit beyond the outside pages. Your printer has to compensate for it during layout and imposition. Otherwise you’ll be stuck with a little creep. And who needs that?

Dummy. A preliminary mockup of the final piece, showing images and text. Sometimes it’s just blank pages or paper, made up in advance to simulate the final size and format of a print project.

Hickeys. These are small spots or imperfections that occasionally show up in printing, due to dirt on the press. Hickeys are bad news no matter where they show up.

Kiss cut. A die cut that just barely cuts through the paper. Also, there’s the kiss impression, one that’s light enough to leave a mere hint of itself.

Moiré. No, it is not when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie. A moiré is an undesirable pattern that might make you think your vision’s in trouble. Such a pattern is caused by incorrect screen angles for printed colors.

Scum. A film of ink printing in the non-image areas of a plate where it shouldn’t print. I take offense that scum is part of printing’s lexicon. The cluck who thought of it probably came up with creep and dummy, too.

Verso is the left-hand and recto is the right-hand page of a book or magazine. Latin makes everyone sound smarter. Use these terms and impress your friends.

Web printing. Sorry, it has nothing to do with the World Wide Web. Web presses are massive presses used to print jobs from rolls (or webs) of paper, as opposed to paper precut into sheets.

Can’t you tell that printing is a fun business? These give just a hint of the wild and wonderful terms that connect all of us who buy it.

© 2008 Margie Dana. All rights reserved.

Margie Dana, an independent marketing specialist who focuses on improving the printer-buyer relationship, was a corporate print buyer for 15 years. Her free weekly e-newsletter,HYPERLINK “http://bostonprintbuyers.com/printtips.html” Print Tips, comes out every Monday. To learn more, visit bostonprintbuyers.com or email mdana@bostonprintbuyers.com.

Keep That Glossary Growing

We recently added a Print Buyer Glossary to our Web site (see bostonprintbuyers.com, under our Resources tab). It’s seeded with hundreds of traditional printing terms, and every now and then I’ve been adding terms that print buyers use and/or really need to start using.

This Glossary is a work in progress. You are invited to add terms using our online form. Think of it as a wiki for printing. Please submit words you think print buyers need to know, and we’ll fold them into the glossary on a regular basis.

A sub-glossary on green printing terms is next in line now that the industry’s green printing and sustainability movement is developing as a major long-term trend.



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