Bindery – A shop, or part of a shop, where paper is bound into books or otherwise finished by trimming, laminating or mounting, for example.
Bleed – Printing that extends to the edge of a sheet or page after trimming. The file should be set up so that there is at least 3mm bleed all around, and the trim area clearly marked.
Computer-to-Plate (CTP) – A printing technology in which digital files are output directly to the printing plate. This compares to older technology using photographic film to create the plate. CTP eliminates the need for film and the chemicals associated with it.
Die-cutting – The process of cutting irregular shapes in paper using a die, or shaped cutting tool.
DPI – Dots per inch used to express the resolution of a printer, that is, the number of individual dots of ink within a linear one-inch space.
FTP – File Transfer Protocol, a means to transfer data from computer to computer over the Internet or a network.
Imagesetter – A very high-resolution output device that produces film which is used to expose printing plates. Imagesetters can also be used to expose images directly to plate material in CTP printing.
Inkjet – A type of computer printer that works by propelling miniscule droplets of ink onto the paper. Large format professional inkjet printers can print on wide, continuous rolls of paper to create banners and posters.
Laser Seps – Individual black-and-white laser prints containing only the information for each color plate. In a full-color job, for example, you would have 4 laser prints: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.
Line Screen – Refers to the fineness of a halftone screen used to reproduce photos when printing. For example, most newspapers print with an 85-lines-per-inch screen. Higher-quality printing uses a finer line screen, such as 150 lpi.
Offset printing – Also called “offset lithography,” this is a widely-used printing technique in which the inked image is transferred to a rubber blanket, which in turns transfers it to the paper or other printing material.
Plate – The piece of paper, metal, plastic or rubber that holds the ink and the image to be reproduced using a printing press.
Platemaker – A machine with a vacuum frame used to expose plates through film. Becoming obsolete with the advent of CTP processes.
Postscript – A page-description language developed by Adobe Systems. Most files are converted to PostScript before being sent to an output device. PostScript fonts consist of two files: One contains the fonts in vector outlines (the printer font) and the other is a bitmap representation of the font for display on screen.
Preflight – The first step in prepress, preflighting ensures that all files needed for a print job (fonts, scans, et al) are present and properly formatted. The term originates from the pre-flight checklists used by pilots.
Prepress – The steps taken to prepare digital files for final printing on a printing press. These may include preflight, color correction, imagesetting and platemaking.
Press Check – The press is stopped after a few impressions are made so the designer can see the actual output before okaying the completion of the job. This is used when color accuracy is critical.
Proof – Any kind of print that is used to preview the job before final printing starts.
RIP – Raster Image Processor. This usually refers to a piece of hardware that converts PostScript data to a high-resolution raster image, although every PostScript printer has a RIP as part of its built-in firmware. The term is also used to describe the process, as in, “That file won’t RIP.”
Rush Charge – An extra fee added to your print job if it needs to be done faster than normal turnaround time. Often the printer will have to put other jobs on hold and incur overtime to complete a rush job, and this fee is to compensate for that.
Screen and Printer Fonts – See “Postscript,” above.
Short-run – Refers to the number of copies printed and often, the type of printshop used. Some printers have a minimum number of prints they will produce for a particular type of document, for example, 500 business cards. Short-run is usually fewer than this number.
Soft Proof – A proof that is viewed on a computer monitor which is adjusted to simulate printing variables such as paper color.
Spot Color – Refers to an extra single color ink. Spot color can be used as a second color on an otherwise black-and-white piece, or can be a varnish that is applied in addition to a full-color job.
Trim Marks – Small lines that indicate the size of the printed material in its finished stage.
Vector – A way of creating and displaying graphics which are all based upon mathematical equations to represent the image. As such, these graphics are resolution independent, that is, they can scale to any size without loss of quality. By contrast, a raster image is described as a collection of pixels.
Web Press – A press that prints from rolls of paper, usually cutting it into sheets after printing.