Four printing terms you need to know

Offset printingWhen working on marketing collateral, it’s important to understand a few key terms so that you can communicate more effectively with the person or agency designing and printing your products. You will surely hear the following terms at some point in your business marketing endeavours:


An offset press is your basic printing press that’s been in use for more than a hundred years; however, most modern offset presses are integrated with digital technology. In offset printing, a separate printing plate is created for each ink colour. The term, offset, comes about due to the fact that the ink is offset from the plate to a rubber roller before being applied to the paper. This method of printing, rather than quick digital prints, is much cheaper when you are making a large number of prints, and it’s still the most popular technique used by commercial printers.

Pantone matching system or PMS colours

Pantone colours are specific, formulated colours used in offset printing. Also known as spot colours, Pantone formulas are used along with black and white printing to enhance specific areas of the print with a single colour. Pantone swatch books are used by designers and printing press operators to ensure that the colour you choose exactly matches what’s produced. You might choose to use Pantone colour if you do not want full-colour printing, but you would like to use one or more colours to add interest to your printed materials. Specialty Pantone inks are also available in metallic and fluorescent hues.


A stock is simply the material that you are printing on. Paper stocks can differ widely in weight, and the unit of measurement for identifying the weight is pounds. From lightweight bond paper to super-heavy cover stock, many variations are possible. In addition, depending upon the printing method you choose, stocks may be textured or even be something other than paper. Canvas, plastic, vinyl, vellum, linen and more may be used as your printing surface.


A print run has nothing to do with a race. Simply put, it is the number of copies you are making. Commercial printers will often talk in terms of small or large print runs. You may also hear printers call a small number of copies a short run versus a long run. Other terms you may come across are a single run, which means you are printing this set of materials only once, or multiple runs, which means that you will be printing the same image again in the future.

Are there any print-related terms that you’d like to see here? Let us know!

One thought on “Four printing terms you need to know

  1. Really amazing post!! I love the stuff and want to give you a huge thumb up for this wonderful post. I am learning the different kinds of printing technologies and this blog proves really helpful to me!!

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