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Glossary of Printing and Substrate Terms

The printing and substrate industry definitely has its share of confusing acronyms and terms. Some of our favorite head-scratchers include kiss cut, grammage, and hickey. Below we have compiled a brief list of some common printing and specialty substrate terms. We’ll continue to add to this list and if you have any questions about printing substrates, our Digital Material Specialists are here to help. Just call 636-349-6401 or email us.

Aqueous CoatingCoating in a water base and applied like ink by a printing press to protect and enhance the printing underneath.
BleedPrinting that extends to the edge of a sheet or page after trimming.
Broken CartonCarton of paper from which some of the sheets have been sold.
C0SAbbreviation for no coating.
C1S and C2SAbbreviations for coated one side and coated two sides.
Caliper(1) Thickness of paper or other substrate expressed in thousandths of an inch (mils or points), pages per inch (ppi), thousandths of a millimeter (microns) or pages per centimeter (ppc). (2) Device on a sheetfed press that detects double sheets or on a binding machine that detects missing signatures or inserts.
Coated PaperPaper with a coating of clay and other substances that improves reflectivity and ink holdout. Mills produce coated paper in the four major categories cast, gloss, dull and matte.
CoverageExtent to which ink covers the surface of a substrate. Ink coverage is usually expressed as light, medium or heavy.
Crop MarksLines near the edges of an image indicating portions to be reproduced. Also called cut marks and tic marks.
CureTo dry inks, varnishes or other coatings after printing to ensure good adhesion and prevent setoff.
Finish(1) Surface characteristics of paper. (2) General term for trimming, folding, binding and all other post press operations.
FloodTo print a sheet completely with an ink or varnish. Flooding with ink is also called painting the sheet.
Ghosting(1) Phenomenon of a faint image appearing on a printed sheet where it was not intended to appear. Chemical ghosting refers to the transfer of the faint image from the front of one sheet to the back of another sheet. Mechanical ghosting refers to the faint image appearing as a repeat of an image on the same side of the sheet. (2) Phenomenon of printed image appearing too light because of ink starvation.
GlossConsider the light reflecting on various objects in the printing industry (e.g., paper, ink, laminates, UV coating, varnish).
GrammageBasis weight of paper in grams per square meter (gsm).
Gripper EdgeEdge of a sheet held by grippers on a sheetfed press, thus going first through the press. Also called feeding edge and leading edge.
GSMThe unit of measurement for paper weight (grams per square meter).
HickeySpot or imperfection in printing, most visible in areas of heavy ink coverage, caused by dirt on the blanket. Also called bulls eye and fish eye.
House SheetPaper kept in stock by a printer and suitable for a variety of printing jobs. Also called floor sheet.
Kiss Die CutTo die cut the top layer, but not the backing layer, of self-adhesive paper. Also called face cut.
Matte FinishFlat (not glossy) finish on photographic paper or coated printing paper.
Mil 1/1000 InchThe thickness of plastic films as printing substrates are expressed in mils.
O1S and O2SAbbreviations for digital printing optimized coating one side and two sides.
Parent SheetAny sheet larger than 11' x 17' or A3.
Perfecting PressPress capable of printing both sides of the paper during a single pass. Also called duplex press and perfector.
PickingPhenomenon of ink pulling bits of coating or fiber away from the surface of paper as it travels through the press, thus leaving unprinted spots in the image area.
PolycarbonatePrinting substrate also known by abbreviation PC.
PolyesterPrinting substrate also known by abbreviation PET.
Price BreakQuantity at which unit cost of substrate drops.
Rigid VinylPrinting substrate also known by abbreviation PVC.
ScoreTo compress paper along a straight line so it folds more easily and accurately. Also called crease.
Sheetfed PressPress that prints sheets of substrates, as compared to a web press which prints rolls.
StyrenePrinting substrate also known as Polystyrene (abbreviated PS).
SubstrateAny surface or material on which printing is done.
Synthetic PaperPrinting substrate also known as Polypropylene (abbreviated PP).
UV CoatingLiquid applied to a printed sheet, then bonded and cured with ultraviolet light.

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