Glossary of Paper and Printing Terminology

  • Abrasiveness
    • The level wear, resulting from friction, that paper, ink and coatings
      cause on dies, cutting blades, plates, etc.

  • Adhesive
    • Cold Temperature (Cold Seal) Adhesive that will create a bond when
      applied to a cold surface in a cold environment.

  • Adhesive Pressure Sensitive (Peel & Seal)
    • It is called pressure sensitive because when the adhesive comes in
      contact with a surface and pressure is applied to the label, the
      adhesive will allow the face-stock to stick.

  • Basis Weight
    • The weight in pounds per ream (500 sheets) in the basic size for a
      specific grade of paper.

  • Beater Dyed
    • a type of paper that is dyed in the manufacturing process when the
      material is still a slurry, resulting in a paper that is a solid color
      all the way through the paper (if cut or ripped, the inside of the sheet
      or fiber is colored the same as the outside).

  • Bleed Through
    • When printing from one side of the sheet is visible on the other side
      due to ink problems opposed to show through where the problem results
      from lack of opacity in the paper.

  • Broke
    • Machine trim or undesirable paper that is returned to the beaters.

  • Bursting Strength
    • The amount of uniform pressure required to pull a sheet of paper apart.

  • Calendering
    • A general term meaning pressing with a roll. The last operation on the
      drying machine before the paper is wound on reels. Machine calenders are
      stacks of vertical cast steel rolls that have polished ground surfaces.
      The paper enters the stack at the top and is compacted and smoothed
      progressively as it travels down the stack.

  • Close Register
    • When two colors fit tightly together with little or no trap allowance.
      This requires precise alignment when printing.

  • Die Cutting
    • The main method or standard means of die cutting involves the use of
      metal dies to give paper or substrate products specific shapes or
      designs that cannot be accomplished by a straight cut on a web press or
      a guillotine cutter.

  • Flat Bag
    • A bag that has no side or bottom gussets.

  • Flexography
    • A printing process using a raised surface on a flexible plate, often
      made of a rubberlike material, mounted on a rotary letterpress.
      Flexographic inks are very thin, watery inks that dry very quickly.

  • Flooding
    • Printing an entire sheet with ink or varnish.

  • Foil Stamp (Hot Stamp)
    • A printing process where a heated die is stamped onto a sheet of foil,
      causing the foil to release from the backer onto the material being

  • Font
    • A complete set of upper and lower case characters, numerials,
      punctuation marks, and symbols of one specific typeface, size, and

  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
    • An independent, international, environmentally and socially oriented
      forest certification organization. It trains, accredits and monitors
      third-party certifiers around the world and works to establish
      international forest management standards.

  • Full Bleed
    • Printing that goes to the edge of all four sides of the page.

  • Glassine
    • Translucent, smooth, grease-resistant paper made from highly beaten
      chemical pulps, subsequently super-calendered.

  • Halftone Screen
    • A transparent material consisting of evenly spaced lines that is placed
      between a photograph and the film to be exposed. The number of lines to
      the inch controls the coarseness of the final dot formation; the more
      lines used, the higher the quality. The screen that is used depends on
      the paper and the type of printing process used. In electronic systems,
      the screen is simulated by software.

  • Hard Copy
    • The printed output of an image that is displayed on a monitor. It may be
      output on paper or film.

  • Hickey
    • A spot on a printed sheet that appears as a small white circle with ink
      in the center, caused by particles such as dirt, dust, or bits of paper.

  • Hot Stamping
    • A printing process where a heated die is stamped onto a sheet of foil,
      causing the foil to release from the backer onto the material being

  • Hot-Melt
    • Adhesive A solid thermoplastic material that liquefies when heated and
      then when it cools it re-solidifies to form a bond.

  • Ink Holdout
    • The ability of the paper to keep ink from absorbing into it.

  • Knockout
    • An opening, left in a printed area, in which a figure or photograph may
      be placed. Reversing type or art out of the background so that when the
      type or art is printed in that area it will not interfere with the color
      you are trying to achieve.

  • Kraft Paper
    • A sturdy brown paper with a high-pulp content used for wrapping paper,
      grocery bags, and some varieties of envelopes.

  • Kraft Process
    • A chemical pulping process that cooks down the tree to remove lignin,
      retaining the fibers for paper making.

  • Line Art
    • In traditional graphic arts, line art refers to pictures that use no
      halftones techniques and no mid-tones, just black and white. Also called
      line copy.

  • Liner-board
    • Kraft paperboard, generally unbleached, used to line or face corrugated
      core board (on both sides) to form shipping boxes and various other

  • M (Unit of measure)
    • Abbreviation for a quantity of 1000 units.

  • Machine Direction
    • The direction parallel to the forward movement of material through the

  • Machine Finish (MF)
    • Finish that is obtained while the paper is on the paper machine.
      Different finishes are obtained by the number of times the paper is
      passed through rollers, either dry or wet.

  • Machine Glaze (MG)
    • Known as MG papers, these are paper that appear to have a glazed finish
      on one side and a rough finish on another. Process occurs on a Yankee
      dryer when wet paper comes into contact with a steam-heated, smooth
      roller. Pressure is applied by the roller to the paper.

  • Mis-register
    • A problem in multiple color printing when the different color images do
      not line up properly as the successive colors are printed on the page.

  • Mixed Office Waste
    • Wastepaper generated from offices, such as letters, memos, invoices,
      etc. which are collected and sorted for paper qualities.

  • Moisture Resistance
    • The ability of a material to resist taking on moisture and breaking down
      when exposed to it.

  • Mullen Test
    • A test used to measure the bursting strength of paper. Also referred to
      as pop test.

  • Negative
    • A photographic image on film which reverses the black and white areas of
      the original. The black areas on the original are clear on the negative
      and the white areas of the original are black on the negative. The
      negative film is used in the platemaking process.

  • Negative Image
    • A reversed image where the image that is usually black on a white
      background is reversed to be white on a black background.

  • Non-Image
    • Area Any area, on an art-board, negative or plate, that is not to have
      any printing.

  • Opacity
    • The amount of “show through” in a sheet from one side to the other. The
      higher the opacity the less likely that the printing on one side will be
      visible from the other side.

  • Out-of-Register
    • When an image is not printing in the exact location that it is suppose
      to. When printing more than one color, if the colors do not line up
      properly, they are out of register.

  • Pantone Matching System (PMS)©
    • A registered name for an ink color matching system used to compare,
      match and identify specific colors.

  • Paper Grade
    • The quality of paper as determined by the ingredients of the stock such
      as wood or cotton fiber and the method of manufacturing. All papers fit
      into a group or type of paper which is its grade.

  • Post-Consumer Waste
    • Waste paper that has passed through the enduser, such as newspapers,
      office papers, paper bags and cartons.

  • Post-Printed Bags
    • Any bag that is printed or hot stamped after the bag has been
      manufactured. Allows for small quantities to be printed with faster lead

  • Pre-Consumer Waste
    • Waste paper that has been disposed of during the converting process.
      This may consist of paper trim, die clippings from die cutting of
      envelopes and corrugated boxes, or waste off the printing press. This is
      waste that has not passed through the end user.

  • Pre-flight
    • A procedure used to be sure all digital files have been prepared
      properly before putting them into production. They are checked for
      correct type fonts, completeness, composition, and compatibility.

  • Proof
    • A copy of the artwork representing the finished product. It is used for
      review and approval.

  • Raster Image
    • Also called bitmap image, is a reproduced graphic (text or image) which
      is displayed on a video monitor as pixels or on paper as an array of
      dots. It is identified in terms of resolution, such as dots per inch or
      pixels per inch. Raster images are produced by scanners, digital cameras
      or software editing programs.

  • Raster Image File Format (RIFF)
    • An expanded version of the TIFF file format used for graphics, which is
      used by many scanners.

  • Register
      1. Aligning the images of each color so that they are printed in the
        proper location on the paper.
      2. Aligning one part of a form with the next so that all parts are
        aligned. All parts must be in register so that when the form
        isimprinted or filled out, the impression will transfer to the
        proper location on each part.


  • Release Liner (Peel & Seal)
    • The backer material or carrier sheet of a pressure sensitive material.
      It protects the adhesive until time of use. Generally has a release
      coating applied to allow the adhesive to release easily. Also referred
      to as the backing or liner.

  • Repeat Length
    • On a web press, it is the circumference of the impression cylinder.

  • Resolution
    • The measurement of output quality expressed in pixels (dots) per inch on
      a computer monitor or dots per inch on printed media. For example, a
      monitor displaying a resolution of 800 by 600 refers to a screen capable
      of displaying 800 pixels in each of 600 lines, which translates into a
      total of 480,000 pixels displayed on the screen. When referring to
      printed media, a 300 dpi (dots per inch) printer for example, is capable
      of outputting 300 dots in a one-inch line, which means that it has the
      ability of printing 90,000 distinct dots per square inch (300 x 300).

  • Reverse
    • To produce an image that is white on a solid background. When printing,
      the reverse area will be the color of the stock being printed on.

  • Reverse Type
    • The background is printed instead of the type. The type will be the
      color of the stock being printed on.

  • Rub-Off
      1. Ink on printed sheets, after sufficient drying, which smears or
        comes off on the fingers when handled.
      2. Ink that comes off the cover during shipment and transfers to other
        covers or to the shipping carton or mailer; also called Scuffing.


  • Sans Serif Type
    • A typeface without serifs, the cross strokes on the ends of the letters.

  • Screen Printing
    • A printing method where a squeegee is used to force ink through a mesh
      fabric that has a stenciled image area that allows the ink to pass
      through the mesh to create the image.

  • Screen Tint
    • A screen pattern that consists of dots that are all the same size and
      create an even tone.

  • Serif Type
    • A typeface that has the cross strokes on the ends of the letters.

  • Single Wall Bag
    • Manufactured from a single layer of paper.

  • SOS Bag
    • Self Opening Style. Four bag sides and the bottom, with no handle, and a
      serrated-top edge. Generally know for use as lunch bags and grocery
      style bags in a variety of sizes.

  • Soy Based Ink
    • Inks whose pigment vehicles contain soybean oils instead of petroleum
      products. Soybean inks are a good alternative to petroleum base inks
      because of their ease of use and because of their environmental

      • Periodically we are asked if our bags can be printed with soy inks.
        Soy based inks have a very limited role in flexographic printing. We
        only print flexographically.
      • Offset litho inks are thick and pasty. The materials within which
        pigments are dispersed are petroleum based compounds. It is these
        thick, pasty compounds that soy oil is designed to replace in offset
        litho inks.


  • Substrate
    • The material or stock that serves as the base onto which another
      material, chemical or solution is applied. Materials such as paper,
      plastic, film and acetate can all be the base substrate that may have
      ink, adhesive, photosensitive emulsion or a laminated material applied
      to one or both sides.

  • Supercalendered
    • An additional papermaking process where the paper runs through a set of
      alternating steel and fiber covered rollers. Supercalendering produces a
      very smooth thin sheet.

  • Tack
    • The stickiness of ink required to adhere properly to the type of
      substrate being printed on. To much tack can cause the fibers to be
      pulled off the paper causing picking.

  • Tagged Image File Format (TIFF)
    • A graphics file format developed by Aldus, Adobe, and Apple that is
      especially suited for representing large bitmaps, such as scanned black
      and white or color images.

  • Tear Strength
    • Paper’s ability to resist tearing while going through various stages of
      production such as printing, folding, book binding and miscellaneous
      bindery operations.

  • Tensile Strength
    • The ability of the paper to withstand the stress and strain applied to
      it before breaking down and pulling apart.

  • Tint
      1. The addition of white to a color.
      2. Also, when printing a color in any type of screening that causes the
        ink coverage to be less than 100%.

  • Trapping
    • The overlapping of adjoining colors or ink to help prevent the
      possibility of a fine white area showing between colors due to
      mis-registration of color negatives or due to normal variations on the

  • Turn-top Bag (Folded top)
    • A style of bag construction where the top of the bag is folded to the
      inside yielding a more finished look than the “saw tooth” style.

  • Uncalendered
    • Paper Paper that has not been sent through the stack of polished steel
      rollers used in the calendering process which smooths the surface of the

  • Vector Graphics
    • Graphics and pictures represented by lines and curves rather than using
      dot or pixels as used on bitmapped or raster images. Vector graphics are
      infinitely scalable without loss of quality.

  • Virgin Paper
    • Paper manufactured from new pulp. Does not contain any recycled

  • Wet-Strength
    • Papers Once wet, ordinary papers lose most of their original
      dry-strength properties. Wet strength papers possess properties that
      resist disintegration and rupture when saturated with water. Papers are
      classified wet strength when they retain 15% or more of their
      dry-tensile strength. Superior quality wet strength papers may retain as
      much as 50%.