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A few useful hints for your print terminology

20th January 2014

A few useful hints for your print terminology:

Business owners, print buyers and marketing personnel will at some stage be conversing with their print suppliers and designers.  Below are a few alphabetical ‘terms’ that could crop up and will help give you a good understanding of their meanings.  This can range from logos, web page designs, online banner ads, email designs and various items of printed stationery that you buy.

You will be communicating your ideas and input with graphic designers and print specialists. In order to understand the terminology when you speak with them, below is a list of a few useful terms that you want to get acquainted with.


Asymmetrical: This occurs when images and text are not identical on both sides of a central line.


Bind: The way a multi-page booklet is held together, usually by wire, glue or stitching.


CMYK: This stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. It is the industry standard for producing colour work by printing. Whenever you want to order or have your work designed, please make sure that your designer is using this colour mode.

CSS: Code that is used to create the look and feel of a webpage, that is separate form the content.


Drop Shadow: An effect that gives the impression that there is a shadow behind a design element.

Dummy: This is a proof that is made by your designer or printer to show how the finished design will look, most commonly used for print designs. It is also called a mock up.


Element: Any specific part of a design project such as the logo, text, and images. 


Font: A specific style and size for text.


GIF: An image file format that is best suited for small files with few colors and simple design. One bonus feature of Gif’s is that they can be animated.

Gradient: A technique that enables the designer to create elements featuring a smooth transition of colors.

Grayscale: An image that consists of black, white, no color, and about 256 shades of gray.


HTML: The computer language that is used to display elements on a webpage such as text, images, and links. 


JPEG: The most common file format for compressing images. There is a little loss of quality. Usually this is the best file that should be used for photographs.


Noise: This occurs when an area of pixels contain random colors. Usually this is unwanted.


Opacity: Adjusting the opacity in an image or design element will make it transparent.

Outline: This refers to the outside edge of a font or the outer edge of a vector image. In order to replicate a specific font on a printing job, such as a business card, make sure to let your designer outline the text before they hand in their files to you.


Pixel: A dot made by a computer, scanner or other digital device, which is also the smallest possible element on a computer screen.

PNG: A compressed image file. This format displays images without jagged edges and also keeps the file size small. Great for websites and anything web related.

PDF: This is a file format that is best used to present documents and presentations.


Resolution: This is an important factor of how an image will look. The higher the resolution of an image, the less pixilated it will look and the better quality you will end up with.

RGB: This stands for red, green, and blue. This is the color model that televisions screens and computer monitors use. If your designer is in RGB mode and you need to order printing, make sure to ask that the files are converted to CMYK.


Saturation: The intensity of a color.


Thumbnail: A considerably smaller version of an image.

Text Warp: Text wrap is the way that text can be shaped around the edge of an image. 

Typeface: This is a collection of characters such as numbers, letters, and punctuations.


Vector Graphic: A vector graphic or vector image allows the designer to shrink or enlarge the graphic without any loss of quality to the image. 


White Space: This is the empty space that surrounds a design element. Too much white space will may make your design piece empty, not enough of it will make your design cluttered.