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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

Saddle Stitch

To bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine, as compared to side stitch. Also called pamphlet stitch, saddle wire and stitch bind.

Satin Finish

A paper finish characterized by a smooth surface, intended to simulate the feel of satin.


n binding and finishing, the stamping of a crease in a sheet of paper or other substrate as a means of indicating the position of folds as well as facilitating the making of those folds.
In typography, scoring is an alternate term for underlining or underscoring.


To compress paper along a straight line so it folds more easily and accurately. Also called crease.

Screen Angles

Angles at which screens intersect with the horizontal line of the press sheet. The common screen angles for separations are black 45 degree, magenta 75 degree, yellow 90 degree and cyan 105 degree.

Self Cover

Self Cover is the cover of any book or other publication that is made of the same paper as the inside pages.

Self Mailer

A Self-Mailer is a type of continuous form that includes glued margins, cross gluing, and coatings so as to allow an inside and outside to be printed simultaneously, as well as allow a single sheet to serve as its own envelope.

Separated Art

Art with elements that print in the base color on one surface and elements that print in other colors on other surfaces. Also called preseparated art.


Usually in the four-color process arena, separate film holding qimages of one specific color per piece of film. Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Can also separate specific PMS colors through film.


In printing ink terminology, Shade means an alternate term for hue, or the primary attribute of color, namely its dominant wavelength, or place in the visible spectrum. Shade can also refer to the alteration of a color by adding small amounts of black ink.


Sheetwise is a means of printing both sides of a sheet of paper in which one side is printed, then the printed sheets are turned over and printed with another plate, the sheets retaining the same gripper edge and side guide.


In papermaking, Size is an alternate term for sizing.
In ink manufacturing, Size is an ink that retains a considerable degree of tack, or stickiness, after it has dried, allowing for the application of metallic powder (or other types of powders) to provide an additional metallic luster to the printing (a process called bronze dusting).
In binding and finishing, Size is a mixture (often containing albumen) used in gilding or foil stamping to facilitate the adhesion of the gold leaf to the book cover.

Slip Sheets

Separate sheets (stock) independent from the original run positioned between the "printed run" for a variety of reasons.


In typography, a block of type to which no leading has been added. See Set Solid.
In printing, an image area containing no halftones, comprising an unbroken film of ink.
It can also mean an area of a sheet receiving 100% ink coverage.

Soy-based Inks

A recent development in vegetable oil-based printing inks obtaining its oil-based vehicle from soybean oil. The use of vegetable oil-based vehicles has improved the printing characteristics of many inks, and soy ink has achieved excellent results when used in newsink, and helps eliminate smudging. Other types of vegetable oils used include rapeseed and linseed oils.

Spiral Bind

Spiral Bind is a means of mechanical binding in which pages are bound together by means of a wire or plastic coil threaded into drilled or punched holes along the binding edge of the pages. See Mechanical Binding. Spiral binding is also known as spine-see binding.

Split Run

A Split Run can mean different images, such as advertisements, printed in different editions of a publication, or it can refer to the printing of a book with varying bindings.


Spoilage is a term that means paper that cannot be delivered to the customer and must be thrown away due to mistakes or accidents.


In page layout and printing, any two facing pages of a book, magazine, newspaper, or other publication. When designing pages, it is important to ensure that both pages of a spread are taken into account when laying out pages and evaluating things such as typographic color. A spread in which one portion of the image is printed on the verso and the other portion of the image is printed on the recto is called a double-page spread.

Step and Repeat

In platemaking, a means by which multiple images from a single-image flat are exposed onto a plate in accurate register. For example, when printing labels, a large size stock may be used for printing which will contain several copies of the same label, which can then be cut into individual labels during finishing. Rather than create several negatives and image the plate once, a single negative can be made of the label and repeatedly exposed to the plate in different locations. Step-and-repeat can be effected manually or by a photocomposing device.

Stock Order

A Stock Order is an order for standard paper that a mill or merchant sends to a printer from warehouse inventory, as opposed to a Mill Order, which is an order for paper not of a standard size or type, manufactured by a papermill to customer specifications. Most mills impose a minimum quantity of such papers.

Stocking Paper

Stocking Paper is a term that refers to popular sizes, weights and colors of paper that are available for prompt delivery from a warehouse, as opposed to a type of paper that would be considered special order and could take more time to supply.

String Score

String Scoring is a method of scoring created by pressing a string against the paper, as opposed to using a metal edge.


In prepress, Strip means to attach a film negative to a carrier sheet (such as goldenrod) to create a flat for platemaking. Strip also means to insert an additional negative (such as a halftone) into an already assembled flat.
In binding and finishing, Strip means to attach reinforcements of muslin or other material to printed signatures, linings, or inserts.

Substance Weight

Alternate term for basis weight, usually referring to bond papers. Also called sub weight.


Substrate is a term for any surface to be printed to which ink will adhere. The substrate, also called stock, is typically paper, but can also refer to plastics, foil, metal, cloth, or any other surface to which printing ink will be applied.

Subtractive Color

Color produced by light reflected from a surface, as compared to additive color. Subtractive color includes hues in color photos and colors created by inks on paper.

Subtractive Primary Color

This term means the colorants cyan, magenta, and yellow, which can be combined to produce other colors, such as green, orange, violet, etc. Colors produced using these primaries differ from additive color primaries in that it is the selective absorption of light by these colors which produces the intermediates.

Supercalendered Paper

This is a term referring to a paper finishing operation consisting of an additional degree of calendering performed on a special machine not connected to the main papermaking machine. The supercalender gives paper a high-gloss finish, the extent of supercalendering determining the extent of the gloss. A supercalender is a vertical alternating stack of hard polished steel and soft cotton (or other resilient material) rolls. The hard roll is pressed heavily against the soft roll, compressing the material. As the paper web passes through this nip, the force generated as the soft roll struggles to return to its original dimensions "buffs" the paper, generating the additional luster and enamel-like finish typical of supercalendered paper. Supercalendering, in enhancing some paper properties, diminishes others in the same way the regular calendering does.


Surprint, or Surprinting, is an alternate term for overprinting, which is printing that is done on top of a previously printed area.
In prepress, Surprinting refers to the imaging of two separate flats on the same plate, such that there is some amount of overlap between images on the two flats.

Swash Book

Swash Book means a book produced in a variety of forms, stock, color and thickness.