Common Printing Terms

The print industry is full of confusing jargon, so we’ve put together a cheat sheet of key terms that you may hear when you next place an order with us.


CMYK, is a term that’s always used in printing but you’ll be surprised how many people don’t know what it actually means! It refers to ink colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (Key) – these are the four process colours used in full colour printing.


RGB is short for Red, Green and Blue, it also relates to the colours of light on a computer monitor  One of the most difficult aspects of desktop publishing in colour is colour matching – properly converting the RGB colours into CMYK colours so what is printed looks the same as the visual on the monitor.

Spot Colour

Refers to a method of specifying and printing colours in their own ink rather than a composite of the process colours (CMYK). Spot colour printing is effective when the printed matter contains only one to three different colours, and are used when you want to print a specific shade, metallic or a fluorescent colour.


PMS stands for Pantone Matching System used by the printing industry to print spot colours. It is not always possible to match PMS colours using CMYK.


The sharpness and clarity of an image. The term is most often used to describe monitors, printers, and bit-mapped graphic images. To ensure the best reproduction of images in printed jobs, images are usually required to be 300dpi at the size they are to be printed.


Abbreviation of dots per inch, which indicates the resolution of images. The more dots per inch, the higher the resolution.


Printers cannot print to the edge of a sheet. In order to have colours printed to the edge of a page, the printer uses a sheet which is larger than the document size. It is then cut down to the correct size.

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