In the design world, there are many terms and phrases that get thrown around but are important to know and understand. If you’ve ever worked with a designer or printer, it may seem like they’re speaking a foreign language. Don’t worry. We’ve put together a short list of important terms to know to ensure your projects are printed as intended.

Bleed – The bleed is any design element that extends past the edge of the paper, typically measuring 0.125 inches past the trim area of the printed document.

Crop Marks – Crop Marks (also called Cut or Tic Marks) are lines near the edges of a printed document used to indicate where the printer should make cuts to the final piece. 

CMYK – CMYK is a color format that is used for printing. It stands for the combination of ink colors most commonly used in 4-color process or digital printing: Cyan (blue), Magenta, Yellow, and Black (represented by the “K”). Print documents are always printed in CMYK and must be converted from other color formats to CMYK before printing (unless using Pantone Colors).

Finish – The Finish refers to the feel and texture or surface quality of the paper used for the printed piece. There are many different types of paper with different finishes, such as matte, embossed, or glossy.

FPO – FPO stands for “For Placement Only” and is used to designate a design element as temporary while it is still being determined or finalized.

Pantone Colors – Pantone colors, or PMS (Pantone Color Matching System), is a color format used for consistency across print and digital material. It’s a set of universal colors that every printer in the world can replicate.

PPI and DPI – PPI stands for “Pixels Per Inch” and DPI for “Dots Per Inch.” They both indicate the resolution of an image and can be used interchangeably. 72ppi is the standard measurement for the optimal resolution for a computer screen while 300ppi is the standard measurement for the optimal resolution for printed images. Images in a printed document should be 300ppi to avoid looking blurry and pixelated when printed.

Proof – A Proof represents the final design, typically in PDF format, and is used for review purposes to identify any design or content issues before the document is printed. Once a proof is approved, further changes cannot be made.

Resolution – Resolution is the amount of detail or sharpness an image has. The higher the resolution, the better quality the image will appear. Low resolution images will appear blurry or pixelated.

RGB – RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue and is used for digital purposes. RGB makes up all the color combinations that can be seen on a computer screen. If an RGB document is to be printed, the color mode must be converted to CMYK in Photoshop or another image editing software.

Saddle Stitching – Saddle stitching is the process of folding a document’s spreads in half, with staples or stitching in the middle. This requires the final page count to be divisible by 4.

Spreads – A spread represents a pair of facing pages side by side on a single sheet of paper in a printed document, such as a brochure or magazine.

Trim Marks – Trim Marks indicate the size of the printed piece in its final state, after any excess edges have been cut way.

Knowing these basic terms will help you ensure your projects are printed as desired. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to answer any questions or provide help with your design needs.

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