Basic Printing Terms Guide
A guide to basic printing terms.If you are not part of the printing industry, and graphic design is not your profession, then terms like CMYK, watermarks, and emboss, might fly over your head. Advertising has become a large industry, which has either taken over or overlapped practically every other industry. It is often presumed that those common terms, such as DPI, are part of person''s general knowledge, but often this is not the case.
DTP stands for Desk Top Publishing. This can refer to the process/profession of design or the programs involved, such as FreeHand, Quark, InDesign and Photoshop. People involved in DTP are designers that do layouts mostly for magazines and advertising.
DTP is not to be confused with DPI, which stands for Dots Per Inch. DPI refers to the resolution of input devices, display devices and output devices. The more dots per inch you have, the higher the quality of the image, or the sharper the image. Input devices are your scanners; display devices are monitors; and an output device would be a printer..
The two colour methods of printing are CMYK and RGB, although you also get a process called Pantone colours. Pantone Colours are premixed colours for hi-tech printers. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (black). RGB is an abbreviation for Red, Green, and Black.
In a graphics programme, such as PhotoShop, you can choose the mode you want to use, for example CMYK. The image will then go according to that colour chart, using only those colours. During the printing process, the printer will print with combinations of those colours only.
There are special techniques or options that printing companies may offer you. Embossing is the process where an image is pressed into paper so it lies above the surface, like a bump. It is also called cameo and tool. Engraving is similar, but instead of being pressed into the paper, the image is cut out.
Lamination involves a thin transparent plastic sheet applied to the end copy. This gives the paper/cardboard a plastic covering, which protects it from liquid or heavy use. The plastic layer also enhances the existing colour underneath and gives the paper a glossy feel.
A watermark originally was a design created in paper during manufacturing. When held against the light, the watermark image would shine through. Today watermarks can also refer to an image that has been placed in the centre of the paper. The image generally has been adjusted with low contrast and high brightness to not intervene with the text on top.
Other common printing terms are landscape and portrait. It you had a piece of paper that was 20cmX30cm, and held it with the 30cm at the bottom and the 20cm at the side, it would be landscape. Once you turn the paper 90 degrees, so the 20cm is at bottom and the 30cm the side, it would be portrait. Fold marks are little blue crosses printed on the paper to give designers a guideline to where a folding must occur in the finished product.
Staff members at the printing shop are probably more than happy to help you with any terms or techniques that you are unclear about. There are numerous options to choose from to get that perfect design, and there are loads of ways to do it. Printing has changed a lot from the old days when it was just black ink. Today there are different styles of paper and designs. So get creative and learn what each term has to offer you and your printing.