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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


One side of a sheet of paper. Two pages make up a leaf. Page is abbreviated p or pg. The plural, pages, is abbreviated pp, or pgs.
In computing, the term page refers to a segment of a program or application. A computer system (especially one utilizing virtual memory) will subdivide a program into several pages of a certain length, and load as many as will fit into memory. The rest it will save on a dedicated portion of the hard disk.

Page Count

A page count is the total number of pages that a project or publication contains. Also called the extent.


In typography, the assembly of type into pages. Typesetting is the process of setting type; pagination is the process of putting pages together with that type and other graphic elements.


In the book arena, the numbering of pages.

Painted Sheet

A Painted Sheet is a sheet printed with ink edge to edge, resulting in a 100% bleed off of all four sides.


A Panel is typically one page of a brochure.
In finishing, a solid color of ink or foil applied to all or part of the cover of a casebound book to provide a background for additional foil stamping or die-stamping.

Paper Plate

A Paper Plate is a printing plate made of strong and durable paper, usually used for short printing runs.

Parallel Fold

Any fold made in a sheet of paper (or other substrate) which is oriented in a direction parallel to a previous fold.

Parent Sheet

This term means the original sheet from which press size sheets are cut, and any sheet larger than 11' x 17' or A3.


A Pasteboard is typically a clipboard with another piece of paper pasted to it.


The composition of a page by assembling the disparate page elements, either manually or electronically, into a mechanical or other form of camera-ready copy. For many years, paste-up was performed manually, by means of sheets of output text and graphics which were litrerally pasted into position on a paste-up board, which could then be photographed by a process camera to make negatives for platemaking. Increasingly, however, paste-up is performed digitally, either on a desktop publishing system or a CEPS. Paste-up is also known as page makeup which is becoming the dominant term, as digital systems are rendering the term "paste"-up obsolete.

Perfect Bind

Perfect binding, also known as adhesive binding, applies an adhesive to the spine of gathered pages which, when dry, keeps them securely bound. Commonly, a soft paper or paperboard cover (or paperback) is attached over the binding adhesive. Perfect bound publications have rectangular backbones. Publications bound by perfect binding include paperback books, telephone books, catalogs, and magazines. (About 40% of national magazines are perfect bound.)

Perfecting Press

A printing press, especially one used in offset lithography, that allows the simultaneous printing on both sides of a sheet of paper in one pass through the press. There are two basic configurations of offset perfecting presses. In a convertible perfector, special transfer cylinders between successive printing units flip the paper over after it leaves the first impression cylinder, allowing the second unit to print on the reverse side of the sheet. Such presses have the advantage of being able to be used for single-side multi-color printing, simply by adjusting the transfer cylinders to keep them from flipping the sheet over. A second type of perfecting press, used primarily in web offset lithography, is called a blanket-to-blanket press, and utilizes one printing unit in which the impression cylinder is replaced by a second blanket cylinder directly below the first. As the sheet or paper web passes between the two blankets, images are printed on both sides at the same time.


The term picking refers to a printing problem occurring in multi-color flexographic printing in which the plates of successive colors remove bits of the first printed color, commonly caused by printing on still-wet ink. Flexographic picking can be alleviated by ensuring that the first down color has the most rapid drying time.


Shorthand term for picture element, or the smallest point or dot on a computer monitor. Any computer display is divided into rows and columns of tiny dots, which are individual points at which the scanning electron beam has hit the phosphor-coated screen. The pixel is the smallest indivisible point of display on a monitor. The dot pitch is the measure of the diameter of an individual pixel; a monitor with a dot pitch of .28, for example, is composed of pixels .28 millimeter in diameter. The number of pixels per inch or lines of pixels per inch is a measure of screen resolution. It is commonly expressed as the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the pixel array; for example, a monitor described as 640 x 480 possesses 640 pixels across by 480 pixels down. The greater the number of pixels per inch, the better the resolution. The measure of the number of bits used to describe a pixel is known as color depth. A pixel is also known as a pel, which is also short for picture element.
The term pixel is also used to refer to the smallest point that a scanner can detect, or is synonymous with the sampling rate of the scanner. A scanner that takes 500 samples per inch (or, in other words, 500 discrete points of imaging each inch) can be said to have a resolution of 500 pixels per inch (also known as dots per inch. The resolution at which a scanner will capture an image can be varied.
The term pixel is also used to refer to the individual printer spots that make up an image produced on a laser printer or imagesetter or other digital output device. These pixels are more commonly down as "dots" or, more correctly, "spots."

Planographic Printing

Referring to a printing process, in particular lithography, in which the image area of the plate carrying the image to be printed is the same height (or on the same plane) as the non-image areas. Planographic printing processes use the principle of chemical repulsion between oil-based inks and water to keep image areas and non-image areas separate.


The basic image-carrying surface in a printing process, which can be made of a variety of substances, such as various metals (as those used in letterpress and lithography), rubber, or plastic (such as those used in flexography). The image areas of a printing plate may either be raised above the non-image areas (such as in letterpress or flexography) or on the same plane as the non-image areas (as in lithography). The exact nature, composition, and method of platemaking depend on the printing process to be utilized.
Plates used in the various printing processes are detailed below. Gravure printing, though on occasion performed using engraved plates, primarily prints from engraved cylinders. See Gravure Cylinder. In screen printing, a screen with a mounted stencil is also known as a plate.


In quick printing, a process camera that makes plates automatically from mechanicals.
In commercial lithography, a machine with a vacuum frame used to expose plates through film.

Pleasing Color

Pleasing Color is defined as color that the customer considers to be satisfactory, even though it may not precisely match the original sample.


A page format in which the correct reading or viewing orientation is vertical; the height of the page is greater than its width.

Post Bind

A Post Binder is used in loose-leaf binding which uses metal (or plastic) posts inserted through punched or drilled holes in the pages to hold sheets together, in contrast to a ring binder which uses metal rings to bind pages together. An advantage of post binders is the ability of the post to be lengthened as the size of the binder contents increases.


Generally speaking, the term prepress includes all the steps required to transform an original into a state that is ready for reproduction by printing. Prepress includes the following steps: art and copy preparation (including typesetting), graphic arts photography (i.e., shooting negatives), image assembly and imposition (stripping), and platemaking. Depending on the nature of the original, other included aspects of prepress may also include halftone photography, color separation, or other procedures. Prepress should not be confused with makeready, which is the preparation of the printing press.
Also called preparation.


Preprint papers are mostly offset papers pre-printed in the printshop (e.g. with company logo), which are then processed further by the end-user on office printing equipment. Preprint paper is manufactured drier than standard offset paper to ensure that it does not lose its original flatness when it is processed on laser or copying equipment.

Press Check

A Press Check is an opportunity for the designer to review the proof before it goes out to be printed, particularly to check for color and production quality.

Press Proof

A color proof, typically prepared photographically or digitally, by exposing a negative or positive to light sensitive materials, or generating color output from a computer, respectively, designed to simulate the appearance a printed piece.

Press Time

Press Time can refer to the amount of time that a job spends on press, including time required for makeready, or the time of day at which a job goes to press.

Price Break

A Price Break is the point at which the cost of a type of paper or printing drops, usually due to quantity ordered.

Printing Plate

Any surface that carries an image that will eventually be used to transfer printed impressions to a substrate. Each printing process requires plates of particular formulations and orientations.
Quick printing uses paper or plastic plates; letterpress, engraving and commercial lithography use metal plates; flexography uses rubber or soft plastic plates. Gravure printing uses a cylinder.

Printing Unit

The portion of a printing press where printing actually takes place, consisting of image carrying surfaces (plates, blankets, gravure cylinders, etc.), impression cylinders or rollers.
Also called color station, deck, ink station, printer, station and tower.

Process Color (Inks)

The printing of "full color" images utilizing a photographic color separation process in which each of three primary colors, cyan, magenta, and yellow, plus black, are separated from the original art and given their own printing plate.


Any early copy of to-be-reproduced material produced as a means of checking for typos or other similar errors, as well as positional errors, layout problems, and color aspects.

Proofreader Marks

In typography, uniform marks are used to identify corrections on manuscript or typeset copy. Proof marks are standardized so as to facilitate clear understanding among all the parties that may be involved, such as authors, clients, line editors, copy editors, and typesetters.

Proportion Scale

A device used in graphic arts photography and platemaking to determine the percentage reduction or enlargement an image requires, based on a ratio of the size of the original to the size it needs to fit. A proportional rule may, in one configuration, be two attached movable disks, the size of the original on disk, the size of the reproduction on he other. When the original size is lined up with the reproduction size, a window in the middle of the scale indicates the percentage required to achieve the reproduction.

Publishing Paper

A type of paper made for weights, colors and surfaces that are suited to books, magazines, catalogs and free-standing inserts.