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Visual Print and Design’s glossary of printing terms

26 April 2022

Have you ever sat down to discuss your latest project with a print company and asked yourself…

“What are they on about?! GSM? Crop marks? Die-cut? They are just saying words!”

Well, there are many terms that we, as a print company use daily, but unless you work within the print or creative industry you are probably not aware of them.

So, let us help you!

Here are just 10 keywords that are commonly used within the printing industry that you might come across:

  • GSM – This stands for ‘grams per square meter’. This symbolises the thickness of the paper and the higher the GSM number, the heavier the stock. For example, business cards are anything between 350 – 450gsm, whereas a leaflet could be around 120 – 250gsm.
  • CMYK – Stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and black – these are the colours used in the printing process. A printing press uses dots of ink to make up the image from the four colours.
  • Crop marks – These are lines put in each corner of a page to show where the document or print will be trimmed. If you are supplying us with artwork, crop marks would be applied before sending it over.
  • Bleed – The bleed is where your background extends past the artboard – this is so there is no white border when trimmed to size. Just like crop marks, before you send your design, we would ask you to apply the bleed.
  • Die-cut – Die cutting is the fabrication process of cutting, forming and shearing materials, as it’s used to create custom shapes and designs. Die-cut is great for being creative with brochures or leaflets in specific shapes.
  • Pantone – Pantone is a standardised colour system that is used widely around the world to assist in colour matching and identification. It is comprised of nearly 2000 solid colours with the majority assigned a three or four-digit identification number followed by the letters U, C, or M.
  • Quiet Zone (no this isn’t when we have a nap!) – This is the area between the edge of your trimmed sheet and potentially any important imagery/text. Production tolerances mean that the sheet can move up to 3mm during trimming – it is why having a bleed is so important and it is a good idea to not text too close to the edge of your page.
  • Binding – This is the term for the finish that is used to hold the pages of a book, brochure or notepad together.
  • Coated – Coated paper has a layer of gloss, semi-gloss or matte finish which can protect the paper and improve its smoothness.
  • Lamination – Lamination is the process of applying a thin layer of plastic to paper to enhance and protect the print. Common types of laminations are gloss, matt and silk.

Fancy learning more exciting print terms?

Or do you need some expert advice for your next print project? We’d love to help you bring your ideas to life through print.

Drop us an email or call us on 01522 300222 to discuss your requirements… or pop into our office for a chat, coffee and cake.

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