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The bluffer’s guide to printing terminology

As print experts we don’t expect our clients to know all about printing because, frankly, that’s our job. But there are some straight-forward terms it’s always good to know to make creating a brief and understanding what you’re asking for a little easier.


There are plenty of technical terms you don’t need to know, but understanding some of the basics will give you a great start on producing an accurate brief. And if you’re still not sure, our friendly team is always on the end of the phone to advise.


Here’s our guide to some of the common terms you need to know. If you have any others you want jargon-busting, just get in touch.


Litho printing – based on the original method of printing, using large printing plates which are clamped around heavy cylinders then rolled with ink to transfer the image on to paper


Digital printing –an electronic way to create a printed image, it can be very cost-effective, especially when you don’t need to print a lot of something. This is the technology that facilitates the personalisation of programmatic mailing (see last month’s blog)


Bleed – don’t panic, this is simply the term for making a design slightly bigger than the final size so it goes all the way to the edge of the paper when finished. We will let you know the size of the bleed required on any artwork when we’re discussing your requirements


Stock – a generic term for paper (also cattle, but we don’t deal in those). We’ll talk to you about the feel you’re looking for (which will lead us to recommended either matt, gloss, silk or uncoated) as well as the weight (heavier equals thicker paper) to make sure you’re getting the result you want. This is also one of the key elements we can adjust to help match your aspirations to your budget


Die-cutting – the process of creating print in different shapes using a template – a great tool when trying to make your marketing stand out. Commonly used to create flaps and pockets on folders, if your chosen shape doesn’t already exist as a template there could be a fee to create it, but the process means the only limit on shape is your imagination


Are there any terms we haven’t covered that you’d like explaining? Drop us a line and we’d be pleased to chat them through with you. We might even be able to do another blog!

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