Industry Terms

Industry Terms

For your reference, we have included a comprehensive list of industry terms. They are listed in alphabetical order for ease of use. Should you have any additional questions or required clarification, please contact one of our Account Managers who will gladly assist you. Contact Us

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P    Q    R    S    T    U    V    W    X    Y    Z


Absolute Minimum:

The smallest quantity a supplier will manufacture at one time – usually one-half the minimum quantity printed in their catalogs. A less-than-minimum charge is usually added for such small quantities.

Advertising Specialty:

see Promotional Product.

Antique Finish:

A term describing surfaces, usually on book and cover papers, that has a natural, rough finish. Also, a dark stain that is wiped on a metal surface and wiped off the raised areas, to give the product an aged appearance.


All illustration copy used in preparing a job for printing or imprinting.

Art Proof:

Artwork submitted for customer approval. It is usually a single compilation of all the black-and-white camera-ready art. A tissue overlay displays the colours of the components. If the advertising copy or design is in a creative stage, the art proof could be a sketch, rough art or a comprehensive rough.

ASI Number:

A number assigned by the Advertising Specialty Institute to advertising specialty suppliers and distributors, used for identification, ordering and record-keeping.



Artwork that runs off the edge or edges of a page or product. Since the art must be printed on a larger paper or product and trimmed to the appropriate final size, an additional cost is usually imposed for bleeds.

Blind Embossing:

A design which is stamped without metallic foil or ink, creating a bas-relief effect.

Blind Stamping:

Stamping an image on leather so that the image sits below the material. This process does not burn as deeply as embossing or debossing, so it will not burn the leather. It is more closely related to hot stamping, but without the colour foil.


A photographic or artwork enlargement.

Bold-Face Type:

A name given to type that is heavier (such as the previous word) than the surrounding text type with which it is used.


Manufacturer’s union identification mark printed on a product, usually in an inconspicuous area, to denote that the product was manufactured by a factory utilizing union workers.


Camera-Ready Artwork

Finished artwork or printed material with very high black-and-white contrast that needs no further touch-up, design or rearranging before use. When more than one colour is required, black-and-white art for the additional colours is mounted on acetate overlays, properly registered to the first board and marked for screen percentages and colours. Electronic camera-ready artwork may be files, documents, or digital images created by computer and delivered via e-mail, floppy disk, ZIP cartridge or CD. These electronic files should always be accompanied by a “hard copy (print-out) that displays what is in the file and how it should look.


A letter, number, punctuation mark or space in printed matter.

Clean-Up Charge:

Factory charge added for labour cost involved in cleaning the printing press after using a non-standard ink colour. Also called a Wash-Up Charge.


The gathering of sheets or printed signatures in their proper order for the purpose of binding.

Colour Break:

The designation of where specific colours are to be applied on finished artwork.

Colour Separation:

The separation of multi-coloured original art by camera or laser-scan techniques, into four separated colours – yellow, magenta (red), cyan (blue) and black – for full-colour printing.

Condensed Type:

A narrow or slender typeface.

Consumer Promotions:

Consumer promotions provide incentives to reward customers for making purchases above and beyond their normal consumption patterns (e.g., inserting custom toys into cereal boxes). In most cases, the items used as incentives are products with high consumer desirability that are exclusive to the program. Such exclusivity and limited distribution increase the intrinsic value of the product.


The written content – or text – of anything printed.

Cover Paper:

A term applied to a variety of papers used for the covers of catalogs, brochures, booklets and similar pieces that is usually of a heavier weight than the inside text stocks.


To eliminate unwanted portions of a photograph or other art by placing lines (called crop marks) in the margins to indicate the finished dimensions of the art. (Marks should never be made directly on the art itself.)

Crop Marks:

Indicator marks in the margins of artwork to show where a photograph or design is to be cut or sized. Also called trim marks.


A broad term encompassing all plates associated with letterpress and hot-stamp printing.

Cut Charge:

A factory charge for producing a cut. (Customers who have their own cuts in the correct size can avoid this charge.)



Stamping an image on a material, such as paper, vinyl or leather, so the image sits below the surface of the material. Ink may or may not accompany the stamp. This process is not available on leather. This process must be done to raw vinyl prior to assembly of the piece, thereby lengthening production time.

Desktop Publishing:

Electronically designing, laying out, editing, and producing a document or artwork using a computer and word-processing, graphics, and page-layout software.


A tool made of very hard material used to press a special shape into or onto a softer material, such as coins, emblems, etc. Also, a mold into which molten metal, plastic or other material is forced to make a special shape, such as pen barrels or rings.

Die Charge:

A one-time charge by manufacturers for creating a die from artwork to be used for imprinting products.

Die Cutting:

The use of sharp metal blades to cut special shapes from sheets of various materials.


A die is used to press an image into a softer metal, such as brass or gold, on such products as belt-buckles, coins or medals. The die is put into a press, and the press is released and actually squeezes the metal into the recess of the die, making the imprint on the metal. The height of detail is not as deep as casting, and the letters and images are shorter. Fine detail and deep images cannot be achieved because the lines and gullies in the die may break during the striking process. Also called Die-Stamping.

Drop Shadow:

A graphic device through which type or another elements are reproduced with an offset “shadow image that creates a three-dimensional design illusion.

Drop Shipment:

The total order is produced and shipped by the supplier all at one time to multiple destinations. Additional per-destination charges are usually imposed after the first destination.


A preliminary layout that shows the position of the illustrations and text as they are to appear in the final reproduction. A dummy is often a set of blank pages made up in advance to show the size, shape, form and general style of a catalogue.


A term for a two-colour halftone reproduction from a continuous tone colour or black-and-white photograph.



Stamping an image on a material, such as paper or vinyl, so the image rises above the surface of the material. As in debossing, ink may or may not accompany the stamp. This process must be done on raw vinyl prior to assembly of the piece, thereby lengthening the production time. (Embossing cannot be utilized on leather products.


A design – often a logo patch – that is stitched onto a fabric through the use of high-speed, computer-controlled sewing machines. Fine details or type that is smaller than a quarter-inch do not produce high-quality embroidered results.

End Quantity:

The largest quantity shown in a supplier’s catalogue, which is also the lowest pricing.


The cutting or etching of designs or letters on metal, wood, glass or other materials. Engraving is performed with a diamond point, rotary blade or laser that cuts into the surface of metals, wood, glass or plastics. Engraved products – such as awards, nameplates, pens, plaques or trophies – feature a permanent imprint that will not wear off because it is cut into the product.


A protective coating that resists the acid. An image is exposed on the resist, usually photographically, leaving bare metal and protected metal. The acid attacks the bare metal, thus leaving the image etched in the surface of the metal. Very fine lines can be reproduced by this process. (Since the only tooling is a piece of film, “spec samples can be made easily.)



A common abbreviation for the term “freight on board”. Completion of this statement determines who pays freight charges.

F.O.B. Destination:

The seller pays freight charges from the factory to the destination.

F.O.B. Factory:

The customer pays freight charges from the factory to the destination.

Flush Left:

Type set to line up at the left margin. Also called Left-Justified.

Flush Left, Ragged Right:

All text aligns on the left side of the column, but the right side of each line ends up in a random location, depending on the number of characters in a line.


The collection of letters, numbers and special characters in a unified typographic design. Also referenced as Type style.



A line, oval, rectangle, square, circle, logo, chart, illustration, drawing, cartoon, or photograph.


A metal-protected hole, punched into a board or towel, that is used to take threaded rope, wire or clip for hanging purposes.



A pattern of varying-sized dots that, when viewed from a distance, resembles the values, shades and tones of the original photo or illustration from which it was converted for the purpose of printing.

Hard Copy:

The permanent visual record of the output of a computer or printer. Also, the material sent to a typesetter in typed form, for conversion into typeset material.

Hot Stamping:

A method in which type or design in the form of a relief die are impressed with heat and pressure through metallic or pigmented foil onto the printing surface. It is used to decorate fabric, leather or vinyl, paper, wood, hard rubber, coated metal and all types of plastic.



A reward for performance of some kind, such as meeting a sales quota, working accident-free, offering suggestions, etc.


In type, letter forms that slope to the right – as in the following word: Italics.



The removal of all colour from a specified shape or area, which results in the practical design illusion of using “white ink.



A plastic film that is bonded by heat and pressure to a printed sheet for protection or appearance.


A design cut into a material by a laser beam. Wood is the most commonly layered material, but acrylic, glass, some plastics, marble, leather, and paper are also used. Metal requires specialized lasers. (Laser is an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.)


A design, drawing, sketch or arrangement showing how final artwork will work.


See Flush Left.

Less-Than-Minimum Charge:

A special charge assessed on most orders for any quantity lower than the smallest quantity printed in a supplier’s catalog.

Line Art:

High-contrast black & white or colour graphics or copy that is of reproduction quality. Does not need conversion into a halftone dot screen.


A firm’s symbol, outline, drawing, picture, brand, abbreviation or unusual typestyle of letter, word or brand name that may be registered or licensed, and becomes recognized as synonymous with that particular company, brand or service.


Make-Ready Charge:

A one-time charge that covers all preparatory work done prior to final production.


A sheet of stiff paper on which type and/or artwork has been pasted for making a printing plate. Also called a Paste-Up.

Merchandise Proof:

A product imprinted with the specified design and copy covered by a purchase order, the purpose of which is to clarify the appearance of the product and the imprint prior to manufacturing, and to gain final customer approval.


On-Line Store:

A technology-enabled vehicle for presenting corporate promotional merchandise catalogs electronically via the Internet that also streamlines and automates the information-inquiry, ordering, distribution and inventory processes.


The property of paper or products which minimizes the “show through of printing from the back side or the next sheet.


An additional number of products in excess of what was originally ordered. Five to ten percent is generally considered customary and acceptable.


Pad Printing:

A recessed surface is covered with ink. The plate is wiped clean, yet the ink remains in the recessed area of the plate. A silicone pad presses against the plate and pulls the ink out of the recesses. The pad then moves and presses directly against the products. Pad printing is excellent for imprinting small, unusually-shaped objects for which screen printing is not practical (for example, small watch dials, golf balls and cylindrical shapes).

Paper Proof:

A printed copy of the design as it will appear on the product. A paper proof includes type and artwork correctly positioned and sized for the image area of the product, usually shown on a drawing of the product itself.


See Mechanical.


The customized embroidering, engraving, imprinting, or silk-screening, of a recipient’s individual name or initials – or any non-common copy – on a promotional product or premium.

Photography Samples:

Actual samples with the final imprint that are used for photographic purposes on catalog programs.


A black-and-white photographic reproduction of original art. Photostats are often used in creating camera-ready artwork.


Printers unit of measurement used in typesetting. One pica equals approximately .6 of an inch.


An image carrier of rubber or metal, which transfers the ink to the printing surface.


A typesetting measurement used to designate type size. A point is equal to 1/72 of an inch, or 1/12 of a pica.


A product or service offered free, or at a reduced price, if the recipient performs some task, such as purchasing an item, meeting a sales quota, etc.

Pre-Press Proofs:

Samples produced for approval prior to burning the printing plates to ensure colour quality and overall accuracy of colour separations. Also commonly known as

Pre-Production Proof:

A test run that creates a sample of the product printed with the actual artwork. This is requested on the actual purchase order prior to production of the entire run.

Production Time:

The amount of time the factory needs to produce the order, usually calculated from the day it receive the orders and camera-ready artwork until the day it ships the order. Pre-production proofs may delay this schedule.

Promotional Mailings:

A direct-mail campaign technique that includes promotional merchandise in order to boost response rates to the mailing.

Promotional Merchandise Management:

The comprehensive strategic, creative, and operational management of a promotional merchandise program – as well as its effective integration into a company’s overall marketing and purchasing program. Promotional merchandise management programs can centralize purchasing, maintain quality control, monitor compliance with logo and graphic standards, improve service, and leverage economies of scale to generate cost savings.

Promotional Product:

Also called an advertising specialty, a promotional product is a useful or interesting item of merchandise, usually carrying an imprinted advertising or promotional message that is given with no obligation. (A promotional product becomes a premium when the recipient must perform a task, such as purchasing an item, meeting a sales quota, etc., in order to receive an item.)


Ragged Left:

A typesetter’s term for type that is justified on the right margin and ragged on the left.

Ragged Right:

A typesetter’s term for type that is justified on the left margin and ragged on the right. See also Flush Left / Ragged Right.

Recognition Awards:

These are gift items or awards that are used as components of employee-retention strategies to train new employees, recognize employee performance, or commemorate longevity.


The correct alignment of colour and other components of an imprint with each other, as well as to the item on which they are to be imprinted.

Reverse Type:

The copy or type, which normally prints in a colour, appears white (or the colour of the product) against a printed coloured background.

Rush Charge:

An assessment – either a lump sum or a percentage of the total order – to cover expenses incurred in order to accommodate a rush order.


Sans Serif:

A typeface that does not have the tiny cross-lines (“serifs) at the end of the main strokes.


A series of varying-sized dots used to reproduce halftones or blended colours. As the dot size on the screen increases, the colour is printed heavier and appears more intense.

Screen Charge:

A one-time charge by suppliers for creating a screen from artwork to be used for printing or for imprinting products.

Screen Printing:

See silk screening.

Screen Tints:

A pattern of consistently-sized dots, specified as a percentage of the solid colour, that is used to achieve a shade or a value of colour.


A type font that resembles handwriting, as the individual letters appear to join. Script typefaces are often difficult to read in large quantities, and should not be used in all-caps, small-point sizes, or in a reversed background.


A cover of the same paper as the inside text papers.

Set-Up Charges:

A set-up charge is usually assessed per colour to cover the cost of preparing the artwork for the press.

Silk Screening:

A method by which an image is transferred to the surface to be printed by means of ink squeezed by a squeegee through a stenciled screen stretched over a frame. Screens are treated with a light-sensitive emulsion and then the file positives are put in contact with the screens and exposed to strong light. The light hardens the emulsion not covered by the film, leaving a soft area on the screen for the squeegee to force ink through. Screen printing is capable of imprinting irregularly-shaped objects made of glass, plastic, fabric and wood. Most imprinted T-shirts are produced by silk screening.

Spiral Binding:

A book bound with wires in spiral form inserted through holes punched along the binding line.


The same image is printed continuously in a specific pattern across a product.


A proofreader’s mark, written in the margin, to signify that copy marked for corrections should remain as it was originally.


Paper or other material to be printed.

Straight Line Copy:

Words only (not pictures or graphics) set on a straight line (not curved) set in a standard typestyle.


A process by which a design is transferred to a synthetic fabric through heat and pressure. The heat causes the inks to turn into a gas so that they penetrate the fabric and combine with it to form a permanent imprint.

Swatch Proof:

A sample of the material of the product ordered in the colours specified with the artwork applied.


Tape Charge:

A one-time fee assessed for a digitized embroidery tape or disk for custom artwork. This charge is usually calculated based upon the number of stitches in the art.


See Copy.


Various even-tone areas (strengths) of a solid colour.


Pre-printed card sheet or letter that is bound, or partially bound, into a magazine or book.

Tissue Overlay:

A thin translucent paper placed over artwork (mostly mechanicals) to protect it and also to indicate colour breaks and corrections.

Trim Marks:

See Crop Marks.


General term used to describe the styles of lettering available in typesetting.


To create type, electronically or mechanically, that is of a quality suitable for reproduction.


See Font, Typeface.


Abbreviation for “typographical error within the text.



A quantity of products less than what was originally ordered. Five to ten percent is generally considered customary and acceptable. The customer is charged only for the amount shipped.

Upper Case:

Capital letters. Example: UPPER CASE.



A thin, protective coating applied to a printed sheet for protection or appearance.


A “positive photoprint” with a halftone dot pattern (in place of a continuous tone) that is ready for reproduction as line art. A velox is sharper than a photostat.


An illustration in which the background fades away gradually until it blends into the unprinted paper.


Warm Colour:

In printing, a colour with a yellowish or reddish cast.

Wash-Up Charge:

See Clean-Up Charge.

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