Print Jargon Buster

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Unsure of some of the terms used within the print industry?

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See below for our guide to some of the most commonly used print jargon and their meanings


Digital graphics for placing on print material.

Artwork Labels
Text placed on a Keyline to indicate the orientation of artwork or if a part/face of KL will be unseen, therefore does not require ink coverage.

Plastic connector, similar to a nut and bolt.

The thickness of a substrate, with tolerance for humidity.

Concept Design
Preliminary idea for P.O.S. unit.

Plastic connector with male and female parts, used for securing heavy shelves.

Fold line.

Counter Top Display Unit.

Die Cut / Forme / Knife / Die
This is when a printed sheet of substrate is cut to shape on a Konsberg machine, or cut using a manufactured Forme on the Platen. KL laser cut into Plywood board, blade of varying styles inserted to create a die cut.

DS Tape
Double Sided Tape.

Fluting (Grain Direction)
Direction which internal channels run in substrate (corrugated board only, visible on edge as waves). This determines the strength of material. Long Grain = Fluting running along longest distance of substrate, e.g. 1,850×1,350×4.2mm EB flute. Short Grain = Fluting running along shortest distance of substrate, e.g. 1,350×1,850×4.2mm EB flute.

Free Standing Display Unit (or On Floor Display / Floor Unit).

Pressurised slicing machine, (square cuts only).

Keyline (KL)
Line drawing showing rule types, substrate, grain direction, job number, glue areas and rule lengths. This is the outline shape (including cuts and crease/folds) for the die cutting of a printed sheet of substrate for a simple outline or for a unit to be glued and assembled.

Light Emitting Diode = small low energy consumption light.

3D visualisation with artwork.

Pressurised plate cutting machine (high volume jobs, limited to certain substrates).

Point Of Sale items.

Print Ready KL
100%, 50% or 25% scale Keyline showing all glue areas and annotated with artwork labels for Studio to place artwork into.

Quality Control (QC )
checking that all slots, tabs, inserts, grain direction, cuts, creases, are up to standard before job/sample goes ahead.

Registration Marks (Reg Marks)
6mm diameter black dots (min. 3 per layout) printed on substrate with artwork, for Konsberg machine to align KL to when cutting via iCut Camera device on Konsberg machine.

Type of blade on Forme or KL (e.g. Cut, Crease, Perforation).

Two-sided Floor Display, with headboard for stacked product.

The ratio at which a Keyline is exported to PDF.

Upright cut-out (e.g. person or product)

Part glued to back of unit to allow it to stand.

Material that is printed on. Substrate = material which is printed onto (corrugated board {EB, FE, E, B, etc.}, MDF, Falcon, Foamex, Vinyl, PVC, Boxboard, Print Board, Multibond, Perspex, etc.).

Triangular or curved free standing display.

White Sample / Prototype
When a blank unprinted version of a Keyline design for a unit is die cut and assembled to structurally test the viability of a new design, prior to artwork design & print production.



Application software carries out a specific task such as the creation of documents. Examples include industry-standard commercial applications such as Quark XPress and Adobe Photoshop.

Substandard rendering of a graduated tint by some systems can produce a banding effect. Unless intentional the result is always undesirable.

Bleed refers to printing that goes beyond the edge of the sheet after trimming.

CMYK is the abbreviation for the four, base colours – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key [Black]. When combined, these process colours produce standard full-colour lithographic print and most colour digital print.

Coated Stock
Coated paper generally provides a better printing surface, producing less dot gain and better highlight definition and stronger colours.

Digital Print
Digital printing systems are generally used for short or customised print-runs. They don’t need film or plates as they image using data fed directly onto the press.

Dithering techniques compensate for a restricted colour gamut by simulating colours from adjacent dots of other colours in a bit-image.

Dot Gain
Dot gain describes the spread of ink outside the original circumference of each of dot making up the image.

DPI (Dots Per Inch)
DPI is a measurement of resolution of a printed image as determined by the number of dots that fit into one inch. The higher the concentration of dots per inch, the sharper the image.

The colour gamut of a system defines the limits of the shades and hues that can be displayed or rendered on screen or in print.

Each pixel on a greyscale monitor can display gradations from white to black. This is important for the quality display of halftone black and white images.

The space between the printed area and the binding edge (often known as the margin).

Imposition is a technique for arranging sets of separations into the required print layout required by the printer.

Margins are the unprinted area around the edges of a page.

Page Picking
A digital printing technique which allows the printer to select pages from a database for inclusion in an individual document.

Perfect Binding
Perfect binding is a method where all pages are trimmed to a single sheet, clamped together, glued and a cover wrapped around the spine.

Page Picking
A digital printing technique which allows the printer to select pages from a database for inclusion in an individual document.

PostScript is the page description language (PDL) developed by Adobe as the common standard for the printing and publishing industries.

Registration marks
Marks on film separations to allow them to be lined up accurately. Registration marks also appear on proofs to show the trim area of the page.

Trapping software creates a small overlap between colours to allow for registration errors which could show fine white lines between adjacent colours.

UCR (Under Colour Removal)
UCR describes a method of replacing elements of cyan, magenta and yellow with black to avoid an undesirable build up of ink on a printed sheet in dark areas.

Variable Data Printing
The ability to vary text and image elements on a Digital printing press.

Vector Graphics
The use of geometrical algorithms (such as points, lines, curves, and polygons) to represent images in computer graphics. By contrast, the term raster graphics is the representation of images as a collection of pixels (dots).


The technique used in digital printing systems to create numerous versions of a basic document – typically, different language versions.

Still not sure? Is there any aspect of digital print – or any other print-related matter – that you’d like to know more about? Just give us a shout and we’ll fill you in

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