Pre-Press and Print Production Terms, Four


This is the fourth post in a series of posts that collect terms relating to Pre-Press and Print Production though there are one or two that might, strictly speaking, be called design terms. Many of the terms contained here, if you do any print design, should be familiar to you already, however, you will eventually come across most them as you interact with the printing industry. I have tried to make this list comprehensive, but it is nonetheless not exhaustive.

As much as possible I have tried to give definitions for the terms as I understand them to be used in Australia at the present time. Also, there are a few terms that are redundant or outdated because they refer to technologies and/or processes that are no longer in use. I have included these because one day, like letterpress, they make come back into use and because older printers may still refer/use these terms as part of conversation, so it will help to know what they are talking about.

This list was updated in November 2018

The terms are spread over this and another six posts.

A–C, D–F, G–L, M–O, P–R, S–U, V–Z.

In the last post there is also a list for useful books on the subject of Pre-Press and Print Production.


Machine Varnish. See Varnish.

Magazines. Similar in physical composition to brochures and/or booklets, but appear frequently and regularly and usually relate to a particular topic or subject matter. Quality of paper used varies greatly but tends to be lower to middle range as magazines often have a short informational life expectancy.

Magenta. See CMYK. Also known as process red.

Makeready. The initial paper fed through the press used to get the Ink flow and the plates/colour Registration correct. This paper is used to make the press ready for printing the job, hence the term.

Margin. The area between the edge of the layout and (normally) the text area of a layout.

Matt Finish. Dull non-reflective surface of Coated paper.

Metallic Inks. Inks containing bronze or aluminium powder in a varnish base which produce the appearance of gold, silver, copper or bronze. Now also available mixed with coloured pigments that extend the colour range.

Mill Broke. The off-cuts/waste from the paper manufacturing process. The main component of the Pre-consumer waste in recycled paper.

Mill Pack. The standard paper packages of pre-cut paper for Sheet-fed printing. Often 250 sheets and frequently the minimum order volume.

Mock-up. A handmade version of a design job usually made by the designer to show what the final outcome will look like.

Moiré Pattern. When Dot Screens are correctly angled and the printing is truly in register (see Registration) there should be visible on the surface of a multi-coloured page as series of evenly spaced rosettes. If results are not optimum an interference effect is created called a Moiré pattern. Moiré patterns can also occur in printed images with fine detail that repeats at a frequency similar to the Dot Screen (or a factor of the Dot Screen) such as reproductions are made from halftone screen artwork. Moiré patterns are to be avoided where possible.

Mono(tone). One colour. Often refers to using only black ink.

Mottle. In printing, spotty, mottled, or uneven areas, especially noticeable in printed Solid colours.

Multi-page. Any document with more than one printed page. However, tends to refer to documents of four or more pages.


Newspapers. Printed at very high speed on relatively low-grade paper. Usually appear daily and are designed to be read over a day or two then discarded.

Newsprint. Papers used for newspaper printing. These papers are low weight (less than 70gsm). There are two grades of uncoated (different weights and whiteness) and one coated, equivalent to A3 in quality (see Paper).

Numbering. Printing consecutive numbers on invoices, tickets, etc. with a numbering machine. Some Offset press set-ups allow this to be done in-line, otherwise may need to be done letterpress.


Offset press. A kind of printing press on which the printing plate does not come into direct contact with the material which is being printed. See also Offset Printing, Sheet-fed Offset and Web Offset.

Offset Printing. Mechanical printing process in which the paper does not come into contact with the Printing Plate (hence offset). The ink from the Ink Fountain is distributed onto the Printing Plate. The ink is then transferred to a rubber Blanket. The ink is transferred from the Blanket to the Paper. Chief benefits of offset printing are speed – the plate can be being inked up again while the Blanket is transferring an Impression to the paper – and longevity of the plate – even the smoothest paper is abrasive to some extent, with the paper not coming into contact with the plate that plate lasts much longer before surface is destroyed. The combination of Ink Fountain, printing drum, blanket and paper delivery mechanism is called a ‘tower’. Contemporary offset presses can have up to twelve towers placed In-line allowing for up to twelve colours (and certain varnishes) to be printed at a single Pass either single side or Perfected.

One-up, two-up, etc. Making one, two, etc. impression(s) of a job at a time. For two-up and so on artwork is stepped and repeated, this can improve the efficiency of the press use for long-run jobs.

Opacity. Refers to the amount off light will show through paper when held up to the light. Higher bulk papers tend to have greater opacity. Higher opacity papers have less show-through.

Over-inked. Using too much ink, that is, the press has too much ink on its rollers. This will exacerbate any issues with Trapping and Dot Gain. This is not the same as too high an Ink Weight.

Overs. Additional copies of a job over and above the ordered run. Different from Run-ons in that they are often unintentional and come about because of the speed of offset printing presses.

Overprinting. To print again over printed paper, usually after the first printing has dried.

Optical Centre. A point about 10% above the mathematical centre of a page or layout.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Combination of software, computer and Scanner that can scan and process printed (and handwritten) text into editable electronic text.

Oxidising Inks. Fast drying inks used especially when printing on substrates such as plastics.


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