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Approval proof (contract proof, match print, or propriety names like “cromalin” or “Fuji”): a full color proof shown to approve a project before making printing plates, and used to check color accuracy while on press.

Aqueous coating: a liquid coating applied to a sheet as it comes off the press. This protects the page from scuffing, and immediately seals the ink, allowing for immediate bindery. Normally available in mat, satin and gloss finishes. Aqueous coating is normally a flood coating.

Bindery (also called finishing): the act of completing any printed material after it comes off the printing press, this may include folding, gluing, stitching, binding and collating.

Bleed: design elements extend to the edge of the page after it is trimmed. Requires additional image beyond final size on pre-trimmed art.

Bleed (2): the extra image needed to safely reproduce an image to the edge of the publication. This will be larger than the trim size.

Blue Line: a blue-print made directly from the film or digital printing files, intended to check the accuracy of page layout more than color. Often folded into a mock up of the finished & trimmed piece.

Caption: the text related to a photo or illustration. A caption is often positioned under or to the side of the photo or illustration. In the case of a photo, it is called a “photo caption”. For an illustration, it is usually just called the “caption”.

Circulation: the number of copies of an edition of a magazine or newspaper sold or distributed. This determines the advertising rates the publication charges, the greater the circulation, the greater the rates.

Copy: the text in an advertisement, brochure, magazine article or other promotion piece.

Cropping: excluding part of a photo or illustration. This is often done to make the photo or artwork fit on a page, or to remove a portion of the photo or illustration not to be shown.

CTP/DTP: computer to plate, direct to plate. The latest in printing technologies, where printing plates are imaged directly from a digital file without making film first.

Die Cut: trimming a printed document with a metal-edged press to a specific shape, like a pocket folder.

Digital Printing: any printing process which uses toner inks (from a laser printer) or liquid inks (from an ink jet), rather than lithographic printing.

DPI: dots per inch, the effective resolution of an image at a specific size. For printing, resolution of a minimum 300 dpi (or 120 ppcm) is required.

Drum scan: a high resolution laser scanner, where images are placed in a rotating drum for maximum quality and accuracy. Far superior to a desktop, flatbed scanner.

Dry trap (also off line): putting printed materials in the press a second time for additional finishing. This allows a lot more flexibility and creative potential, but costs more and takes much longer than in-line processes.

Dummy: a mocked-up brochure in development, often trimmed and bound to show how the finished piece will appear.

Duotone: a two color process, where the image is printed with carefully tinted combinations of two colors (normally black plus another color), to suggest a tone or mood. Tri-tones and quad tones are also used, with both spot and process colors.

Editorial calendar: a list of the primary topics for the coming months in a publication. This allows advertisers to place their ads in the issues that will interest their target audience most.

Flood coating: applying a finishing coat (aqueous, UV or varnish) to an entire press sheet as one flat coating, regardless of the design. The opposite would be spot coating, where a coating would be applied to specific parts of the page only (like a gloss coating on photographs).

Form: the paginated press sheet, with printer spread artwork on both sides. Also called folio or flat.

Frequency discount: a discount publications provide advertisers if they run more than one advertisement in a given year. Discounts are often provided at various rates, such as “3x”, “6x”, “9x”, “12x”, etc.

Gatefold: this refers to an advertisement that is folded down to match the publication’s size.

Gutter: in the book arena, the inside margins toward the back or the binding edges. Also the inside margins of a two page ad at the center of the publication.

In-line: anything done to a printed piece while it is one the press. This saves money since everything can be done in one operation, but not all finishing techniques can be done in-line.

Layout: the initial idea of how an advertisement, brochure or other sales promotion piece would look. This is often a rough sketch.

Lithographic printing: traditional high speed printing, which is either sheet fed or web (also see web printing definition). This can be anywhere from one color to the four process colors to more. the inks are normally petroleum or water based. also called offset printing.

Live area: the area considered safe to include key imagery in an advertisement, given some variance in how the publication will be trimmed. this is normally 12mm (1/2”) smaller than the trim size.

Make-good: an advertisement run by a publication at no charge to the advertiser as a form of compensation for a mistake or error the publication made. Such mistakes or errors usually involve scheduling or reproduction problems. The “make-good” is a common form of compensation in these instances.

Media kit: and advertiser’s toolkit provided by publications on a annual basis. They normally include an editorial calendar, a rate card, and the mechanical/digital specifications for advertisements. Media kits also often include statistics and demographics to give a profile of their readership.

Pagination: the service of orienting a multi-page document into printer spreads.

PANTONE® colors: special colors purchased from the PANTONE company, and not mixed by using process inks. Also called “spot” or “special” colors.

Preferred position: a desired page in a magazine for which a premium is usually charged. An example of a “preferred position” is the back cover of a magazine.

Pre-press: refers to any printer service up until the time the project goes on the printing press. This includes checking the digital files for accuracy and problems, pagination, and preparing the plates and proofs.

Print on demand: workflow systems that allow users to select digital documents (normally Adobe Reader PDF files) from a library, and print them in small quantities as needed. Also called distribute and print, which is the opposite of the traditional print and distribute model.

Printer spreads: the pages of a multi-page document organized by how they will print. These normally are in a different order than the reader sees them.

Process inks: the four process colors, cyan (blue), magenta (pink), yellow and black, which are used in traditional printing.

Rate card: a sheet providing the prices a publication charges for different size ads and number of colors used in the advertisement.

RGB: red green and blue, the color space for anything appearing on-screen.

Saddle stitch: to bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine, as compared to side stitch. Also called pamphlet stitch, saddle wire and stitch bind. This is the most common method of binding brochures from 8 pages up to 48 pages.

Sheet fed press: a press printing on precut sheets of paper.

Space: the amount of area on a page or pages an advertisement will utilize. Advertisers are charged by publications based on the space the advertisement uses.

Spot color: using any color beyond the four process colors on press. This might include a special color (PANTONE) for accurate logo reproduction, or metallic inks.

Spread: a two page, side-by-side advertisement. Also called a “double truck”.

Tear sheet: an advertisement taken from a magazine or newspaper and sent to the advertiser as proof the advertisement appeared as scheduled. The tear sheet usually accompanies the invoice.

Trim: the physical size of the printed and trimmed magazine. Always smaller than the bleed.

UV coating: liquid applied to a printed sheet, then bonded and cured with ultraviolet light. This give a durable, very high gloss finish, but is an expensive process.

Variable printing: printing individual, personalized content in a single press run, like a direct mail letter with a different recipient’s name on each of 500 copies.

Varnish: a liquid coating applied to a sheet, either in-line or off-line. Varnishes can be gloss or mat, they can also be tinted with printing inks for interesting effects. Although they protect the sheet from scuffing, varnish do tend to yellow over time.

Web press: a press printing directly to large rolls of paper, normally for very large quantities. The quality is not quite as good as a sheet fed press.

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2 thoughts on “Glossary Of Common Visual Identity Terms

  1. Thank you very much for all these terms,
    I admitt that I don’t know many of them and I would love is I could see an images that represent examples of those terms, anyway thank you a lot,

    About the DPT, I heard a lot about it but I never tried, I know some people asked for help with it but I really didn’t know alot about it,

    Thank you,

  2. Thank you very much for all these terms,
    I admitt that I don’t know many of them you really explained the nitty grities in detail, truly a knowledgeable article

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