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Terminology of Commercial Printing

Printing is a critical aspect of any successful business, and it involves much more than just putting ink on paper. From offset printing to digital printing, there are numerous processes involved in creating high-quality prints that represent your brand and message effectively. But before diving deeper into the world of commercial printing, it’s essential to first understand the terminology used in this industry. In this blog post, we’ll be breaking down some of the most common terms you might come across when dealing with commercial printers – so buckle up and get ready for an informative ride!

What is commercial printing?

Commercial printing is a process of printing text, images or other information onto paper or another medium. Commercial printing typically uses large format printers and high-speed production machines to print large quantities of material quickly and efficiently. The finished product can be used for a variety of purposes, including marketing collateral, point-of-purchase displays, signage, and more.

The different types of commercial printing

Commercial printing comes in many different forms. The most common type of commercial printing is offset printing, which is used for the majority of printed materials like magazines, newspapers, books, and more. Other types of commercial printing include digital printing, gravure printing, flexography, and screen printing.

Offset printing is a traditional method that uses plates to transfer images and text onto paper. This is the most cost-efficient, high-volume way to print large quantities of materials. Digital printing is an increasingly popular form of commercial printing due to its affordability and fast turnaround time. It’s used for smaller print runs such as business cards, flyers, signs, or labels.

Gravure printing is also known as rotogravure and is used for long print runs of magazines, newspapers, or catalogs with a lot of detail or color. Flexography is similar to offset printing but uses flexible plates instead of metal plates. It’s frequently used for packaging like boxes and bags due to its ability to handle large volumes quickly. Lastly, screen printing is ideal for custom t-shirts and other specialty items that require bold colors or intricate designs.

The benefits of commercial printing

Commercial printing has many benefits that make it the perfect choice for businesses of all sizes. For one, commercial printers have the latest technology and equipment to produce high-quality prints. They also have the experience and expertise to handle large printing projects quickly and efficiently.

Additionally, commercial printing services are often more affordable than in-house printing. And because commercial printers typically offer a wider range of services than in-house printers, they can help you save time and money by handling all of your printing needs in one place.

From business cards and flyers to banners and signage, commercial printers can help you create professional-looking marketing materials that will make a lasting impression on your customers. So if you’re looking for quality prints at an affordable price, be sure to use a commercial printer.

The process of commercial printing

Commercial printing is a process of printing large quantities of high quality documents. It generally involves the use of specialized equipment and techniques to produce large runs of prints. The process can be broken down into a few key steps:

  • Pre-press: This is the stage where the design and layout of the document are created and finalized. This is also where any color correction or retouching is done.
  • Proofing: Once the pre-press stage is complete, a proof is created to check for errors and to make sure that the final product will look as intended.
  • Printing: This is the actual process of printing the document. Commercial printers generally use offset lithography, which involves using plates to transfer ink onto paper.
  • Post-press: After the document has been printed, it may undergo further finishing processes, such as binding or trimming.
  • Shipping: The final step is shipping the product to the customer. This involves carefully packaging and labeling the product for safe delivery.

The different terminologies used in commercial printing

There are many different terminologies used in commercial printing, and it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Here is a quick guide to some of the most common terms:

  • Pantone: A color matching system used by printers to ensure accurate color reproduction.
  • CMYK: The four colors used in traditional offset printing – cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.
  • Spot Color: A term used to describe printing with one or more colors in addition to CMYK. These colors are usually printed as a separate layer on top of the CMYK image.
  • Bleed: Printing that extends to the edge of the paper after trimming. To achieve a bleed, you will need to print your artwork slightly larger than the final trim size.
  • Die-Cut: A printing process in which shapes are cut out of paper using a die. This is often used for business cards or labels. 
  • Folds: The term used to describe the types of folds available for folded printed products. Commonly used folds include half fold, tri-fold, z-fold and gate fold.
  • Binding: The process of attaching the pages of a booklet or book together. Different types of binding are saddle stitch, perfect binding and spiral binding.
  • Lithography: A printing technique in which images are chemically transferred from a plate to paper using a roller. This is one of the most popular methods of offset printing.
  • Embossing/Debossing: A special printing effect that creates raised (embossed) or depressed (debossed) areas on paper or cardstock. This is often used to create logos or emphasise text on business cards and other printed materials.
  • Dot Gain: The term used to describe the increase of ink dots on paper as they are printed. This can lead to a loss of detail or an overall darkening of the image.
  • UV coating: A glossy finish applied to printed pieces, usually for protection and/or an aesthetic effect.
  • Vector files: Vector graphics that can be scaled up or down without losing quality. These are the preferred type of files used by commercial printers.
    These are just a few of the many terms used in commercial printing. It’s important to be familiar with them so you can communicate effectively with your printer and ensure that you get the best results for your project.


As you can see, commercial printing terminology is quite vast and complicated. Knowing the different types of terms and definitions used in this industry can not only help you understand what processes are involved but also help you make informed decisions when working with a print service provider. Take some time to get familiar with all these terms so that your next project goes off without a hitch!

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