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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

M Weight

A means of describing the basis weight of paper in pounds of 1,000 sheets cut to a specific size. Paper is commonly identified using basis weight: 20-pound bond paper, 80-pound coated paper, and so on.


Magenta is one of the four CMYK colors. C stands for cyan, Y for yellow and K for black.


Collective term for all of the operations necessary to set up a printing press for printing, including inking and ink adjustment, dampening solution adjustment, ink and dampening roller adjustment, plate and blanket cylinder adjustment, and other procedures performed to preclude the need for wasted time and paper once the job itself has started.
Makeready also involves the printing of color proofs, and ends with the client or customer signing an OK sheet.

Male Die

Male Dies are for embossing and stamping are made of brass, magnesium, or copper. Brass is especially useful for long runs. A brass die used in the stamping of book covers is called a binder's brass or, when made from other metals, a binder's die.


A Margin is any deliberately unprinted space on a page, especially surrounding a block of text. Margins are used not only to aid in the aesthetics and the readability of a page, but also to provide allowances for trimming, binding, and other post-press operations. (See Bind Margin.) Although margin most commonly is used to refer to the blank space to the left and right of a text passage (but not usually the space between columns of text on a single page; see Gutter), there is also a head margin and a foot margin, which refer to the blank space at the top and bottom of a page, respectively.


In printing and duplicating, Master refers to any original image-bearing copy used for making reproductions.
Similarly, in media and multimedia, an original copy of an audio or video recording or an interactive presentation from which copies will be made.

Matte Finish

Matte Finish refers to any surface characterized by a rough, dull, and/or unshiny appearance, produced by the surface reflecting more light back toward the eye. Colors printed on matte surfaces appear less dense.
In papermaking, matte refers to a paper surface that has a low level of gloss and which does not appear shiny. Paper that has a high degree of gloss reflects the light rays that hit its surface back nearly all in the same direction, while paper that has a low degree of gloss reflects the light back more diffusely, or in different directions, which imparts a dull surface to the paper. Whether a paper's surface is glossy or matte is related to the paper's smoothness. Increasing calendering, supercalendering, or coating tends to increase a paper's gloss.
A paper's level of gloss is measured using a glossmeter and the value obtained is compared to a "perfect" gloss of 100 gloss units. Matte papers tend to register less than 20 gloss units.

Metallic Paper

A paper which has been coated with a layer or layers of metallic materials.


A condition generated on high-speed presses by rapidly moving ink rollers that spray out filaments and threads of ink. Ink misting more commonly occurs when excessively long ink is used. Ink misting is also called flying, spitting, spraying, and throwing.

Mock Up

A detailed sample page layout indicating the approximate position and style of the various page elements such as text, line art, photos, etc.


Moire is an undesirable pattern that occurs when halftones or screen tints are made with improperly aligned screens. It can also be caused when a pattern in a photo, such as plaid, interfaces with a halftone dot pattern.


Monarch is a paper size, 7.25 x 10.5 inches, which is often used for personal stationery.

Multicolor Printing

Multicolor Printing refers to the process of printing in more than one ink color, but not utilizing the four-color process.