Printing lingo explained

Do you ever feel like the team at your local print and design studio are speaking a foreign language? Are you bamboozled by terms like bleed, crop marks and offset printing? 

Like all industries, the printing industry has its own set of lingo which can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the printing process. To help decipher your RGB from your CMYK, the Burleigh Print & Design team have compiled a list of the most common printing terms explained. 


While outside the printing industry artwork is literally a piece of art, we refer to artwork as the original copy that you provide to us for printing, which includes any design elements, copy, graphics and images. 


This is when some of the design element or image extends over the trimming edge of the page. It helps to ensure there won’t be any unsightly white edges. Normally we recommend a minimum 3mm bleed. 


This is the process of joining pages together to make a brochure, book or magazine. There are many types of binding, including glue, saddle stitch (staple) or wire and which one you use will depend on the number of pages and the finished product you require. 


This will definitely come up in conversation before you send us your print job. CMYK stands for cyan (blue), Magenta, yellow and key (black). They are the 4 colours that are used in digital printing. Images should always be printed in CMYK. If images are saved in RGB format, you will need to be converted to CMYK to make them print ready. 

Crop marks

These are the two little thin black lines in each corner of your document. They show us where the page will be trimmed. 

Die cutting

Die cutting is used when your printing job requires shapes, holes or corners. This is common for business cards, stickers,  invitations and other printing jobs and adds a point of difference. 

Digital printing

Also known as the 4-colour process printing, digital printing is recommended for smaller print jobs. Files are sent directly from a computer to the printer. At Burleigh Print & Design we offer both 4-colour digital printing, offset printing and premium, large format fine art and vinyl printing. 


Finishing is the description for anything that happens after printing including trimming, folding, binding and celloglazing. 


Gradient is when a colour changes gradually from darker to lighter or vice versa. The colour often fades away to nothing. 


Also known as black and white or monochrome, greyscale images have no colour and only shades of grey. 


The gutter is the inside margin of a brochure or book where the binding is. No text should be inside the gutter.

High/low resolution

High and low resolution refers to the sharpness of your image or text. A resolution of 300 dpi is considered good quality and high resolution and the minimum resolution for printing. For example, a resolution of 72 dpi will be pixelated and blurry for printing.  

Offset printing 

Offset is an alternative to digital printing and is better for larger printing jobs. It’s more complex than digital printing and uses both CMYK and Pantone colours. We need to create a plate for each of the four main colours and the ink is transferred from the plate to a blanket to the paper. 

Pantone colours

The PMS (Pantone Colour Matching System) was created in 1963 and is a standardised range of colours recognised around the world. Pantone colours have a specific code which helps clients, designers, printers and manufacturers ensure colour consistency. 


This is the abbreviation for ‘pixels per inch’ and ‘dots per inch’ and relate to the resolution of an image. Higher PPI/DPI means a better quality resolution. For printing you require a minimum of 300dpi, whereas for digital images a resolution of 72dpi is enough. 


A proof is what you get to see before your job is printed. Once your job enters production we will create a PDF proof and send it to you for approval.


The abbreviation for red, green and blue, these are the colours used for digital images on a screen. When looking at an image on a screen they will be set to RGB, so to print you’ll need to convert them to CMYK to ensure the colours are printed correctly. 

At Burleigh Print & Design we have a team of industry experts who have worked for some of the most successful design and print companies in Australia. We’re here to help and are always available to answer any questions you may have about the printing process or to help you understand printing lingo. 

If you have any questions, or need a quote for an upcoming print job, contact us today

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