Glossary of Terms

Bleed - Printing that extends to the edge of a sheet or page after trimming.

CMYK - Abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black), the four color process.

  • Cyan - Also known as process blue.

  • Magenta - Also known as process red.

  • Yellow - Also known as process yellow.

  • Key - Also known as process black.

Cutting Die - Usually a custom ordered item to trim specific and unusual sized printing objects.

Digital Proof - a pdf file representative of the final product as printed on a commercial press.

DPI - Considered as “dots per inch” a measure of output resolution in relationship to printers and image setters.

EPSON proof - A color accurate match proof.

Flood - To print a sheet completely with an ink or varnish.  Flooding with ink is also called painting the sheet.

Fonts to outlines - means changing the text to vector shapes. The advantage to this is that you no longer need the actual font to print the file, but the disadvantage is you can no longer edit the text.

JPEG - A form of image compression that reduces the size of a graphic file by discarding some image data. JPEG compression can make a file very small, but image quality is lost when the image is compressed. JPEG compression is generally suitable only for use on the internet; it is not generally considered appropriate for print images. LZW compression is preferable for high-quality images that must be reduced in size. (JPEG stand for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the industry body that created it.)

Lamination - A laminated product is a piece of plastic or paper stock with a piece of lamination film over the front and back of a keycard.

Layered files - Usually refers to the “native” document. Layering in a file allows editing of certain elements without affecting everything else. Flattened files refer to layered documents that have had all the layers merged into one.

Links- are independent files that are placed into a graphics document. For instance, someone creates an InDesign document with some text in it but wants to add a company logo. They can obtain the logo file then place it into the InDesign document, establishing a “link” to the logo file. Because it’s a link, the logo file has to be present to export a PDF of the InDesign document.


Magstripe - This is the darkened stripe across the back of a keycard that is used by swiping or inserting into the keycard reader. Information is stored on this stripe.

Make-ready - (1) All activities required to prepare a press or other machine to function for a specific printing or bindery job, as compared to production run. (2) Paper used in make-ready process at any stage in production.  Make-ready paper is part of waste or spoilage.

Mil - 1/1000 inch-the thickness of plastic as printing substrates is expressed in mils.

Native file(s) - simply means the originating document(s) as opposed to an exported PDF, for instance.   Native files can be modified, non-native generally cannot.

Offset printing - Printing technique that transfers ink from a plate to a blanket to paper instead directly from plate to paper.

Overage - The nature of printing necessitates slight overruns. However, we will not ship more than 10% over your order quantity. Our billing reflects the actual quantity shipped. If you desire exact quantities, quoted prices will have to be reviewed and additional charges may be applicable.

Pixel - Short for picture element, a dot made by a computer, scanner or other digital device.  Also called pel.

PMS - Reference to Pantone Matching System.  The correct trade name of the colors in the Pantone Matching System is Pantone colors, not PMS colors.

Press Check - Event at which make-ready sheets from the press are examined before authorizing full production to begin.

Press Proof - Proof made on press using the plates, ink and paper specified for the job.  Also called strike off and trial proof.

Printing Plate - Surface carrying an image to be printed. Quick printing uses paper or plastic plates, letterpress, engraving and commercial lithography use metal plates, flexography uses rubber or soft plastic plates.  Gravure printing uses a cylinder.

Resolution - Sharpness of an image on film, paper, computer screen or other medium.

RFID - this stands for “radio frequency identification” and works via the proximity to the card reader.

RGB - Abbreviation for red, green, blue, the additive color primaries.

Roll-On Stripe - This is when a finished laminated keycard requires a magnetic stripe to be rolled on one keycard at a time.  You feel the stripe on the back.

TIFF - Tagged Image File Format.  A file format widely used for its flexibility and compatibility with almost any system.  TIFF files can store raster and vector data along with information regarding compression, image dimensions and many other variable.

Vector - is a term for art created with lines, curves or shapes that are mathematically calculated by the graphics software. That means it can be scaled to any size without loss of quality, unlike a photograph which has a fixed resolution based on the number of pixels per inch.

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