A while back I wrote an article about knowing the lingo for graphic design. It was a fun topic to write so I wanted to continue on with that topic. This time around I want to talk about the terms for the print industry because that profession is closely linked with graphic design and I commonly use this lingo when working with clients. To get a printed newsletter or brochure done takes a lot of preparation and communication but it certainly has progressed and gotten easier years. Now with the evolution of the digital age printing has become easily accessible and now we can print cost effectively while also getting a full spectrum of colors without hurting the bank. Here is a list of key terms that printers and designers use in the print industry.
Pantone Matching System:
I have gone into detail about the Pantone Matching System (PMS) already in my other blog article but I will reiterate that here since this is also a common print industry term. PMS is a standardized color matching system that uses a numerical system to identify specific colors. Each color in the system also has a unique name and numerical system followed by either a C or U. These letters refer to the paper stock the color is printed on. The C stands for printing on coated paper while the U is for printing on uncoated paper.
Spot Colors are colors created without screens or dots and are found in the Pantone Matching System. Spot colors or solid colors in the PMS are created according to its own unique ink mixing formula developed by Pantone for precision printing. Spot colors are commonly used for getting colors to look exact for logos and brand pieces that rely on a specific color. An interesting fact is that both 3M and Target has developed their own unique spot color for their logo’s red and those color combinations are not found in the Pantone Matching System and they can only be used by that company.
The four-color process is the most commonly used in printing and is more cost effective than spot color printing, it is also referred to as CMYK. To print a colored photo the file is separated into four colors: (C) Cyan, (M) Magenta, (Y) Yellow and (K) Black. Process colors are represented as percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow and black and can be found in the PMS. The image is then printed using small dots that are able to fool your eye into thinking it is a continuous tone.
Printing paper is divided into two categories: coated and uncoated and also vary in their thickness and weight. Coated paper is commonly known as glossy paper and appears glossy. This paper is coated with sealants that restrict ink from absorbing into the surface of the paper. This paper type makes the ink look sharper and crisp. Uncoated paper is paper has a matte look and is not shiny. This paper type has no sealants and the ink is able to absorb into the paper and is available in different paper textures and can contain watermarks.
Paper types are also determined by their thickness and weight. Paper weight is normally determined by how many pounds 500 sheets that paper is. For example 500 sheets of bond paper has a standard paper size of 17” x 22” and if it weights 20 pounds then it would be referred to as 20lb. bond paper. 20lb. paper is equivalent to the size and thickness of paper commonly found in a copy machine. The heavier the weight the thicker the paper. Unfortunately sometimes paper weight refers to the sturdiness of the paper rather than its weight. This can make it confusing to know exactly what kind of paper you are getting. Ask for examples from your printer so you can see for yourself exactly how the paper looks and decide if its thickness will do the job for you.
Points and Picas:
If you were ever confused with the metric system in school then the concept of points and picas might not make sense at first. Points and Picas is a system of measurement used in the design and printing industry. A pica is a unit of measurement equal to 1/6th of an inch. That means that 6 picas equal 1 inch. Points are used for measuring the size of type. A point is equal to 1/12th of a pica. There are 12points to 1 pica and that means there would be 72 points to an inch.
A bleed in printing refers to a document that has graphic elements that extend to the edge of the page. They have no white border around the printed document. If you want your document to be printed without a white border around it you need to print the document on a larger sheet of paper and then trim it down to the correct size. A common bleed size is 0.125” around each side of the document; you can achieve this by adding .25” to your document’s size. For example an 8.5” x 11” sized document with full bleed would be a 0.125” bleed and will be set up on a 8.75” x 11.25” piece of paper.
There are more terms in the print industry than just these ones. You can also look online if you want to learn more about printing and the industry it is in.