Print Production Lingo and What You Should Know

Like many fields, the digital and print marketing industry use acronyms and other industry-specific terms for certain concepts and ideas.

If you don’t work in this field, these terms might be foreign to you.

Below are some of the most common vocabulary used in the digital and print marketing industry:

Accordion Fold – a fold with four panels or more, with folds alternating on each panel; an attractive design for some applications but can spring open during the insertion process.

Buck Slip – a buck slip is a direct mail component part, generally used in combination with a form or generic letter, indicating the special value of the offer in the letter with graphics and few words. It’s intended to hook the end user into reading the form.

C1S – means coated one side, often used for cards in which the outside is coated, and the inside is left uncoated. The type of paper may require scoring depending on thickness and folding grain direction.

C2S – means coated two sides, which is usually common across all coated paper.

CMYK – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black. These are the four process colors required for process color printing.

Collate – collation, as it refers to a direct mail piece, means that all sides have been trimmed and sheets are slit loose.

Continuous Forms – continuous forms are commonly purchased for use at letter shops. The forms, which can be fan folded or rewound on rolls, have a generic image and message that repeats throughout the run. The letter shop then runs these forms through lasers to “personalize” the letter with information like offer rates, dates, names, and more. Continuous forms are a cost-effective way to personalize direct mail packages.

Continuous Feed Folder – also called an over-under folder, these folders have a feed boards that are continually fed at a slight angle, ensuring the folder will never have to stop.

Die Cut – die cutting is a finishing operation that uses a steel die to cut a predetermined pattern in the paper. Small die cutting jobs can be done inline on some presses while more complicated die cutting jobs require dedicated die cutting machines.

Fan Folded Forms – fan folded forms, a type of continuous form, is a never-ending accordion fold stretch of forms, folded on a perforation at each repeat. They are generally packed in cartons.

Flat size – the flat size of a piece refers to the full size it should be before it is folded or finished otherwise.

Four Color Process – 4CP is the process of laying Black, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow in the proper order to create a full color image. Four color process requires four print units for each side of the paper and is very common in the print industry.

FSC – Forest Stewardship Council – an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.

FSI – Free-Standing Insert – an advertisement, intended to be loosely inserted or to stand alone.

Fugitive Glue – fugitive glue is a non-abrasive adhesive used to bind two substrates together, without causing damage when pulled apart. Also referred to as “booger glue.”

Gloss – a gloss coated stock is indicative of a shiny printing surface. Gloss stocks are smooth and highly “calendared.”

Gripper Edge – in sheet fed printing or envelope folding, the lead edge of the sheet that is fed into the machine.

Half Fold – a commonly used fold for greeting cards, 6×9 envelopes, and more.

Indicia – an indication of postage payment printed directly on self-mailers.

Inkjet – an output device that forms a printed image by expelling tiny drops of ink arranged in pattern to create an image.

Laser Cut Sheets – designed for use with a sheet-fed laser printer, this type of printing uses laser-guaranteed paper and inks and requires flat delivery for perfect laser application.

Matte – this is a type of paper coated that is calendared very little and has a very dull rough feeling for a coated paper. It offers the least shiny coating surface but benefits from being glare-free.

Perforation – an operation which creates a series of small holes in a pattern so that a portion of the printed material can be detached easily.

Pharmaceutical Fold – a small format fold, generally used for printing in IFU’s, PI’s and other packing insertion – extremely small folds to be inserted into retail boxes.

PI – short for “Product Insert,” this type of printing is found in many retail packages and is used to further promote the products for the manufacturer.

Plate Change – required to change copy on a job with similar images.

PMS Color – Pantone Matching System – a numbered color that has a specific formula based on Pantone Mixing Bases or even process colors.

Press Check – a pre-arranged client site visit to ensure that the color and quality of the product they are paying for meets their exact specifications.

Reply Card – a special paper, often referred to as “hi-bulk”, made not only to caliper to minimum postal standards, but to be a very cost-effective method for return mail.

Roll Fold – a multiple panel fold with all folds in the same direction.

Saddle Stitching – affixing multiple pages together, generally with the binding material shown on the outside and center of the finished product.

Score – an indentation on a printing substrate to allow the piece to fold easily without the paper or coating cracking.

Spot Color – another word for a PMS (pantone matching system) color, used to print exact color without overlaying any other colors.

Trim Marks – these are marks used in the bindery for cutting and folding operations, usually printed in non-image areas. They give a guide to bindery operators to make sure that cutting and folding is set up precisely.

Varnish – a coating applied in a print unit intended to protect from ink smudging in the handling process; this coating comes in different finishes such as matte and gloss.

Water Mark – imbedded in a paper, a water mark is intentionally applied at a mill as a security feature on the paper.

Z Fold – a type of fold that produces four panels with opposite folds.

We hope this helps you to better grasp direct marketing and print solutions vocabulary.

If you have any questions or to find out more about these terms, please contact or call us at 973.808.4500.