Printing Glossary

What is Aqueous Coating?
An aqueous coating is a fast-drying, water-based, clear protective coating which is applied in-line on press. This clear coating provides a high gloss surface which protects the surface from dirt, smudges, fingerprints and scratches. The aqueous coating is applied on brochures, catalog covers, postcards, and flyers. It is applied to the printed sheet right after the inks and it provides a great rub and scuff resistant clear coating. After the coating is applied, the sheets are sent through a heated air flow system to dry the coating quickly. The sheets can then go quickly to the finishing department. Aqueous coatings give a clear coat protection that far exceeds other varnishes. It protects the product all the way through shipping to end use. Aqueous coatings can be applied in-line or off-line, wet-on-wet or wet-on-dry. They offer a variety of finishes - high gloss, satin, matte - as well as primers for other coatings. Aqueous coatings are versatile and tough. They also have higher gloss, better clarity, higher abrasion, and more rub resistance than conventional press varnish.

What is a bleed?
Text or graphics that extends all the way to the edge of the paper it is printed on.  Bleeds are used in printing for graphic effect. We cannot print all the way to the edge of the paper, so the only way to produce a bleed is to print on paper larger than the final page size and then trim the paper. Therefore when setting up your files please include a 1/8" - .125" bleed on any image or text that you would like to extend to the edge of your project.

What is Resolution?
The resolution of an image refers to the density of the pixels (or printed dots) that make up that image or graphic. The higher the resolution, the crisper and more detailed the image will be. A lower resolution will be fuzzy, and less detailed. Image resolutions are measured in DPI (Dots Per Inch) and PPI (Pixels Per Inch). There are differences between the two – DPI refers to a printed document, and the amount and spacing of the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black dots, whereas PPI refers to the pixels on a screen.

What is CMYK? 
CMYK is an abbreviation that stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. These are the four colors used in most color printing. 

What is RGB?

Red, green, and blue light added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors. The main purpose of the RGB color model is for the sensing, representation, and display of images in electronic systems, such as televisions and computers, though it has also been used in conventional photography. Before the electronic age, the RGB color model already had a solid theory behind it, based in human perception of colors.

What is Makeready?

The combination of activities that comprise the preparation of a printing press to print a job. One of the reasons that a conventional printing job can be so expensive to keep repeating is that the makeready process is very time consuming and, therefore expensive. Obviously the shorter the print run, the larger the percentage of the price is attributable to the makeready process. Something that designers and their clients often overlook.

What is PMS?

Pantone Matching System (PMS): A popular color matching system used by the printing industry to print spot colors (colors that can be reproduced with only their own ink) but not for process colors, which need a combination of the four inks, CMYK. Each PMS color has its own name or number that helps you make sure that your colors are the same each time you print, even if your monitor displays a different color or if you change printing services.

What is Spot color?

A spot color is an ‘extra’, or ‘special’ color that is used in addition to the CMYK four color process. The extra ink is added to its own roller on the printing press, so as to more accurately print certain colors that are hard to reproduce with CMYK inks. There are a number of companies that manufacture and specify spot colors, most common of these is the Pantone color matching system. Spot colors are often also used in predominantly black and white publications, where it would be too expensive to add a CMYK graphic element. Advertising is often sold this way and a charge is made for each extra spot color. It is for these reasons that companies often have several versions of their company logo as part of their corporate identity, full color, mono and a spot color version.

What is the difference between pages and sheets?
Pages refers to the number of sides of a sheet that are printed. Sheets refer to the physical paper that pages are printed on. A document that has 100 pages but is printed double sided will have 50 sheets. If that same document is printed single-sided, there will be 100 sheets.

Standard digital printing is defined as CMYK - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black. Ink overage is defined by the color selection for the front and the back of the printed product. 4/4 signifies all four colors, full color, on the front, "over" full color on the back. This color selection can be expressed in any combination. For example, 2/0 "two over zero" indicates that there will be two colors for the front, while the back is to be left blank and will reflect the color/texture of the material the design is printed on.

Offset printing is favored for more precise color representations. It allows for a larger variety of paper types, custom finishes and inks such as metallic and Pantone colors. It also has the highest possible printing quality, with greater detail and color fidelity. Offset printing is more cost effective for larger job runs, but is often used to lay down logo graphics on print jobs that will be stored and customized digitally as needed.