Print Jargon Uncovered: Part 1

We’ve all probably found ourselves in situations where we can’t understand the words, terms, and conversations amongst individuals in different professions. If you’re inquisitive by nature, it can be very frustrating to hear phrases that go straight over your head, leaving you none the wiser.

Have you ever come across a leaflet folded in a really cool way and thought ‘I wonder what the name of that fold is?’. No, me either! Joking aside, there are genuine names for different types of leaflet folds. We’ll attempt to share those with you below to get you genned up on the lingo. Knowledge is power as they say…

Types of Folding



Common Print terms



Some people love a good acronym, some people can’t stand them. Have you heard the word ‘CMYK’ banded about the print and design industry and wondered what it meant? CMYK stands for the colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. These are the 4 process colours that are used in four-colour printed reproduction.


Despite what you might think, this doesn’t mean paper that’s wearing a coat to keep warm. Coated Paper is usually coated with clay and other substances that improves ink resilience and reflectivity. Coated paper types usually fall under the 4 different categories:


  • Gloss – gloss coated paper has a high sheen, less bulk, and is typically less expensive than dull or matte paper. Ink absorption is reduced, which gives the sheet an excellent colour definition
  • Satin – Colours are sharp and vivid but less glossy than gloss coated paper
  • Matte – Matte coated paper has very little sheen but contains greater bulk and is usually higher in cost
  • Dull – Dull coated paper can fall between matte and glossy paper and has a smooth surface that is low in gloss


The opposite of coated is… you guessed it, uncoated paper! Uncoated paper doesn’t have any surface sealant and inks dry by absorbing into the paper. This paper type can dull the colours and is often used for letterheads, notepads and novels.



This is a process where a varnish is applied to specific areas of a sheet to highlight images and text and is then dried using ultra-violet light. Spot UV looks really cool on business cards because the process makes certain aspects of the design ‘pop’ off the paper with a glossy finish that’s in direct contrast with the rest of the card.


Weird and wonderful print meanings!


Just when we thought print jargon couldn’t get any more confusing, we’ve found some rather abstract terms below!


DINGBAT – a general term for typographic ornaments such as bullets, fists and stars

CROMOLIN – a full colour proof produced using powders rather than inks

FUGITIVE – colours or inks which fade when exposed to strong sunlight

ORPHAN – a single word or short line which stands at the top of a type area

RIVERS – streaks of white space appearing in a block of type matter when spaces in consecutive lines coincide.


Hopefully you’ve learnt something new today!


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