Bleed is when the document’s images extend beyond the trim edge so there is no white margin. When a document is created with bleed, it must be printed on a larger sheet of paper and then trimmed down.
Bleed helps a printer prepare a file for printing, to ensure that the correct area is printed. While bleed specs vary by printer, it is advisable to work with a bleed of half an inch or more.
Almost all printers ask for a project to include a bleed.
CMYK is the standard color mode for sending documents to a printer. It stands for:
• C – cyan
• M – magenta
• Y – yellow
• K – key (black)
Key means black in this instance because, in four-color printing, the cyan, magenta, and yellow printing plates are carefully keyed, or aligned, with the black plate.
Colors are then created by mixing CMYK values. Every color is represented by four numeric values. For example, royal blue is: C=71 M=53 Y=0 K=12.
A colorimeter is a device used for measuring the intensity and hue of the light emitted from a computer monitor. It enables users to emulate how a printed product will appear.
The instrument sits flat on a computer screen. It has a light-reading cell that analyzes and calibrates the monitor.
Professional printers use a colorimeter to calibrate before each printing run to compensate for changes in ambient temperature, pressure and humidity, and variations in paper stock.
Paper that is pre-cut and packaged in convenient sizes, usually 13” x 19” or smaller.
The most popular Cut Sizes in the United States are letter (8.5” x 11”), legal (8.5” x 14”), and tabloid (11” x 17”).
DPI stands for dots per inch. It is a measurement of printer resolution indicating how many ink dots the printer can place in one square inch. A higher DPI will equate to a higher printed image quality on paper.
Dye-based ink is liquid-based. It soaks into the fibers of paper to create color. Dye-based inks are known to produce vibrant colors. However, this printing takes longer to dry and can result in some color bleed. Dye-based inks can also run if exposed to water and may fade over time.
Dye sublimation printing is always on a polyester, polymer, or polymer-coated item.
Using a combination of heat, time, and pressure, dye sublimation inks are converted from a solid into a gas without ever becoming a liquid. The same high temperature opens the material’s so gas can enter. When the temperature drops, the pores close and the gas reverts to a solid state, becoming a part of the polymer.
The result is a colorful, long-lasting, and resistant image.
Finish is the feel and texture of paper. While there are almost limitless finishes, most printing falls into one of two broad categories – coated or uncoated – and styles – matte or glossy.
Coated paper includes a finish that is designed to improve or enhance the printing process. Coated paper is often very smooth and may appear to have a gloss finish.
Uncoated paper is common office paper used for letterhead, copying, and printing items like brochures.
Matte printing is crisp and detailed and does not have much reflection or glare.
Glossy finishes have a polished look and are often UV-protected so images stay sharp longer than matte alternatives.
Large format refers to anything that has to be printed using a specialty printer, commonly larger than 16” x 20”. Large-format printing is used for banners, posters, and billboards.
Often large-format projects may look somewhat pixilated or low quality when viewed from a close distance. That’s because large-format printing is designed to be viewed from far away.
Pantone is the worldwide standard of color. The Pantone Matching System is a set of standard colors that are identified by number so they can be printed consistently across different printing presses and substrates.
Pantone standards take paper into account and use a set of letters to identify paper type. A color number followed by C, U or M indicates coated, uncoated, or matte paper.
This is a measure of how accurately a printer can reproduce the standard Pantone colors. The range also depends on the type of paper used.
Pigment-based inks consist of a dry, powdery substance that is suspended in a liquid. This ink bonds to the material to which it was printed. In general, pigment-based inks are less vibrant than dye-based inks but are more durable and will not smudge when exposed to water. They are also resistant to fading when exposed to sunlight.
PPI stands for pixels per inch.
PPI describes the number of square pixels that show up in an inch of digital screen (compare this to DPI, which is the number of physical dots of ink in a printed document).
In the printing process, all the physical pixels that composed the image on screen are translated into little squares of different hues on paper. Because these “pixels” on paper have no fixed size, if you increase the size of your image, the “pixels” will become larger and result in a rough-looking image.
A soft proof is a proof on your monitor – usually a PDF file supplied by the printer before printing starts.
A hard proof is an accurate, on-paper proof of how your job will look when printed. It’s always best to ask for a hard proof from your printer.
Raster images (sometimes referred to as bitmap images) are made up of thousands of pixels that determine color and form. Photos are raster images. Photoshop is the most common raster editor, enabling you to manipulate the color and other properties of the pixels.
Because raster images are made up of a finite amount of pixels, resizing can be tricky.
Raster Image Processor – a software accessory that works as an enhanced printer driver producing the highest possible quality output for text, bitmap graphics, and vector art. An RIP is a useful add-on for large-format work.
Ink that is loaded into a printer as solid sticks instead of fluid ink or toner powder. It is then melted and used to produce images on paper.
These inks produce bright colors even when printing on low-quality stock.
Solvent inks are any ink that is not made with a water base. Like other dye-based inks they soak into and stain the medium they’re printed on.
Substrate is material that is run through a printer, such as paper, fabric, etc.
Also known as finished size, trim size refers to the dimensions of a document after it has been printed and cut down to its desired width and height from a larger sheet.
Trim size should not be confused with cut size.
Vector images are made up of points, each of which has a defined X and Y coordinate. These points join paths to form shapes. Vector images can be increased to any size without loss of quality.
Contact The Trade Group team of experts for all of your commercial graphics needs at www.tradegroup.com or 1.800.343.2005.