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Glossary of Printing Terminology


Pantone Colour
Also known as the PMS, ie Pantone Matching System. This is an ink system where eight primary colours are mixed in defined ratios to achieve a specific colour, ie if asked for PMS 357- this is a reference for specific colour, achieved by mixing three or four of the Pantone primary colours to achieve a particular shade.

Paper and Board Sizes
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A term sometimes used for lightweight boards (below 300 g/m2).

A mark placed in the paper after it has been made and not during the papermaking process. The mark can be produced through printing, chemical application or embossing. Some marks are good imitations of a watermark but are imitations.

A sheet of writing material made from animal skin, nowadays usually used to denote vegetable parchment, or parchmentised papers. These have a high resistance to the penetration of grease and atmospheric humidity.

PDF (Portable Document Format)
A cross-platform, graphically rich and self-contained document file format based on PostScript technology. PDF is increasingly becoming the file format of choice when submitting documents for press output.

An industry standard (ISO 19005-1:2005) for the long term archiving of printable documents, based on the Adobe PDF 1.4 file format.

The PDF eXchange data for mats restrict the characteristics of a PDF to production specific criteria. There are several iterations of PDF/X which are recognised international standards, and some of which are endorsed by graphic organisations, but are not official standards.

Printing both sides of the substrate at the same pass through a printing machine.

Perfect Binding
Means of binding books or magazines using adhesive.

Permanent Paper
Paper free from mechanical wood pulp or unbleached fibre, generally neutral or alkaline sized and containing calcium carbonate filler. It is made to controlled pH value and alkali reserve, and is used for printing of projects for posterity.

Peroxide Bleaching 
The bleaching of wood pulp using hydrogen peroxide. It is believed to be more environmentally friendly than chlorine bleaching and many pulp producers have adopted it.

Personalised Printing
The ability of a digital press or printer to individually personalise each sheet within a run. This can take the form of changing text, graphics or images, altering colours or typeface, and personalising the content through variable data printing.

Phantom Image
See Ghosted image.

Phosphorus Emissions
Emissions causing eutrophication, most of them from agriculture, but also from the pulp and paper industry. Phosphorus enters pulp mills in the wood; some of it is emitted in debarking and some in the bleaching of the pulp. A biological treatment plant requires phosphorus in order to function and thus removes phosphorus from effluent.

Photo Setting
The process of composing text matter directly on to a photographic or other light sensitive material.

The rupture of the surface of paper during manufacture or printing, which occurs when en external tensile force applied to the surface (eg from an ink that is too tacky) is greater than the cohesion of the paper.

Build up of ink on transfer surfaces.

A defect in reels, consisting of ridges running around the circumference, due to moisture take up by the surface layers.

A contraction of the term picture element, a single coloured dot in a computer- based image.

Plate Break
The non-print area where the two ends of flexographic plate butt together after being wrapped around the plate cylinder on the press.

Plate Cylinder
The cylinder in a printing unit to which printing plates are fixed.

Machine that outputs plates from printing from digital data.

A chemical compound whose molecules are formed from many repeated units of one or more compounds. A plastic compound from which a particular type of printing plate is made.

Post Consumer Waste
Waste paper that comes from the end user such as that collected from business and homes.

Poster paper A grade with a quick drying surface used for outdoor poster work. The rough underside lends itself to rapid pasting.

The PostScript language was developed by Adobe founders John Warnock and Chuck Geshke, to provide a means of describing integrated text and graphic data as a single data stream. Together with Apple’s Macintosh computer, the LaserWriter print engine and Aldus’ PageMaker page layout software, PostScript was one of the foundation technologies of the desktop publishing revolution.

PPI (Pixels Per Inch)
While ‘dpi’ (dots per inch) concerns printed dots, ‘ppi’ refers to dots in a digital image on a computer screen.

Pre Consumer Waste
Waste paper that has left the mill, but not reached the end user. This consists of printer’s and converters’ off cuts and rejects, as well as some damaged paper. It does not include mill broke.

Pre-Flight Checking
Software that allows inspection of a file to ensure that all information included is correct (i.e. fonts, image resolutions, imposition).

All the functions that take place before a job is printed such as artwork, proofing, make up.

Primary Colours
Fundamental colours which form the basis of all other colours within a colour model. Primaries cannot be broken down or produced by mixing other colours in the same model.

A coating applied to a material (usually a film or foil) before printing to assist adhesion of ink.

A general term used to describe a wide variety of papers and boards to which print is intended to be applied in one form or another.

Print On-Demand
The ability to print the exact number of documents necessary at any required time.

Process Printing/Process Colours
Fine colour reproduction of photographs or artists work is printed via the ‘process’ method. Described simply, each photographed through red, blue, yellow and grey filters. This produces four images, which in turn leads to the production of four printing plates, one each of which will print a red, blue (cyan), yellow and black image. Each colour is superimposed, on the other, to achieve a full colour effect, I colour process printing is the reproduction of artwork via four colours only.

Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification
A neutral organisation that promotes good forestry management and practice. The organisation has developed a set of strict environmental criteria to which forest owners and managers must work. A certification system means that PEFC products have been made to the highest environmental standards.

Process Colours
The subtractive primary ink colours of printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

A data file which describes the measured colour capability of a digital device according to the ICC’s industry definitions of visible colour.

A pre-production print made for purpose of checking the accuracy of layout, type matter, and tone and colour reproduction.

Adobe Photoshop’s native file format. Keeping images in this native format may offer benefits (layers, editable type, transparency etc) when placing them in documents created with other Adobe software.

The generic term for the cellulose fibre material used in papermaking.