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Printing Glossary

This glossary of printing terms was created by people working in today's printing industry and is brought to you by It has been revised and edited and we have rewritten some technical descriptions in every day language to help the non technical person. Any suggestions that you may have on how we can improve this glossary will be carefully considered. Please send your comments and any new definitions to us at


The term Face can mean the edge of a bound publication opposite the spine, also called a foredge. It may also refer to Typeface, which usually pertains to the visual appearance or style of a set of one or more fonts.

Fake Duotone

A Fake Duotone, also referred to as a dummy duotone or dougraph, is a halftone in one ink color printed over a screen tint of a second ink color.

Feeding Unit

A Feeding Unit is a component of a printing press that moves paper into the register unit.

Felt Finish

A Felt Finish is a paper finish characterized by a wool or felt-like texture, produced at the wet end of the papermaking machine by pressing woven wool or patterned synthetic felts into the forming paper web during wet pressing to impart the texture of the material to the paper. Felt finish paper is also called felt mark, genuine felt finish, and felt marked finish.

Felt Side

The Felt Side is the top side of a sheet or web of paper, or the side that has not formed in contact with the papermaking machine's forming wire, as opposed to the wire side. As water drains down through the wire mesh belt from the papermaking furnish, small fibers (called fines), fillers, and sizing are lost through the mesh. Consequently, the felt side contains more fines, fillers, and sizing than the wire side. The paper's grain is also less pronounced on the felt side, and the felt side also has a less "wild" formation. Since the felt side contains more filler, it is somewhat weaker than the wire side, and is often not the preferred side for printing. Paper that is to be folded also has a greater tendency to crack when the felt side is on the outside of a fold. Since it also has more fines, many of which remain as loose particles, printing on the felt side results in greater piling of paper debris on the blanket. However, the felt side of paper is preferred for other printing applications, especially for writing with a pen and ink, as feathering is minimal on the felt side. Letterheads are typically printed felt side up, and envelopes folded felt side out. A watermark will read forward from the felt side.

Fifth Color

A Fifth Color is any color used in addition to the four-color process, and usually refers to the creation of custom colors or non-reproducible colors such as fluorescents or whites.

Fine Papers

Fine Paper refers to a wide variety of high-quality paper used for writing or printing. The quality can be determined by a variety of factors, including weight, gloss, composition and color.


Finish refers to the surface smoothness of paper, which differs greatly according to variations in one or more aspects of the papermaking process, including use of and the design attached to a dandy roll in the forming section, the degree of wet pressing in the press section, and the use of felts, calenders and supercalenders, embossing rolls, or coatings applied to a paper surface.

Common paper finishes include Antique, Calender, Cockle, Crash, Dead, Dry, Dull-Coated, Eggshell, Embossed, English, Felt, Granite, Handmade, High, Kid, Kromecote, Laid, Linen, Low, Mottled, Natural, Pebble, Plate, Ripple, Satin, Smooth, Suede, Vellum, Water, and Wove.

Papers with varying smoothness have varying degrees of printability, ink receptivity, and absorbency.

Flat Color

Flat Color is a form of color printing in which color dots are not printed on top of each other; each colored ink is printed as is, as opposed to process color in which dots of one color are overprinted on dots of one or more other colors to produce blends.

Flat Size

Flat Size refers to the size of a product after printing and trimming, but before it has been folded.


Flexography is form of printing that uses flexible rubber relief plates and highly volatile, fast-drying inks to print on a variety of substrates, commonly used in package printing.


Flood, or Flooding refers to coating the surface of a screen fabric with ink without forcing the ink through the screen or making an impression.

Flush Cover

A Flush Cover is any book cover that is trimmed to the same size as the body pages, as on a paperback book.

Fogging Back

Fogging Back can refer to a technique used in making type more legible by lowering the density of an image while allowing the image to show through. Fogging can also refer to a defect of gravure printing, characterized by accumulating ink on the non-printing areas of the gravure cylinder.

Foil Emboss

Foil Embossing is a finishing operation combining embossing (the stamping or pressing of images or patterns into a substrate) with foil stamping (the application of a layer of foil in a particular design or pattern to a substrate).


A Folder is a bindery machine that folds printed materials with perfect accuracy.


A Foldout is a printed insert which is designed to be bound into a book or other publication, but printed separately. The width of a foldout is wider than the page of the publication in which it is to be bound. Consequently, one or more folds are needed to ensure that it doesn't protrude beyond the edge of the book. Foldouts are usually bound by the process known as tip-in.

Folio (page number)

The term Folio refers to a page number, commonly placed outside the running head at the top of the page. Folios are also commonly set flush left on verso pages and flush right on recto pages. They can also be centered at the top of the page. A folio that appears at the bottom of a page is called a drop folio. A folio counted in page numbering but which is not actually printed is called a blind folio. A folio that is printed is also called an expressed folio.


Format is a generic term which has several meanings. In typography, any combination of point size, line spacing (leading), line length, typeface, placement, and style that contributes to producing a specific typographic appearance. This may relate to a character, word, line, paragraph, section, page, group of pages, or an entire publication. In computerized typesetting, a format can be stored as a series of codes (which can be used repetitively). When those previously stored codes are to be used, the format is "called" or invoked by its given name or number. In computers, the term format refers to the exact arrangement and orientation with which file data or computer command codes are stored. The term format, when used as a verb, also means to create a specific typographic appearance for typeset copy by specifying the typeface, point size, spacing, etc. When used as a verb, format also means to set up a floppy disk (or other type of computer storage media) to receive data in the form used for a particular system or device. For example, a floppy disk used to store Macintosh files needs to be formatted for a Macintosh computer.

Four-color Process Printing

Four-Color Printing refers to the printing of process color by means of color separations corresponding to the four CMYK process colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Combinations or overprinted dots of these four colors are what create the wide range of colors discernible to the human eye that can be reproduced. Flat color is used to refer to multi-color printing using these four process colors but without overprinting them, so that each color only is reproduced as itself.

French Fold

A French Fold is a type of fold in which a sheet printed on one side is folded first vertically, then horizontally, to produce a four-page folder.