Do You Speak Printer?
Every industry has its own language. If you are an attorney you use words like torts, writs, and injunctions. If you are a medical practitioner you use words like subdural hemotoma, tibia, and oxygen saturation. To the initiated these words are perfectly clear and immediately understandable. To the layperson, they can be intimidating and frustrating.
The printing business is full of its own words too. I wouldn’t expect a reader of this blog to get completely up-to-speed on printer talk by reading this, but I’m going to list some printing terms and attempt to describe them in such a way that you will be a little more comfortable with them.
In a previous blog Printing Dots and CYMK http://www.billprintbroker.com/?p=336 I discussed four color process printing. Here are some words associated with color printing that you will hear spoken:
- Dots Printing is done with dots. Not all printing dots are round, some are elliptical and others square (Stochastic).This one is easy to demonstrate.. If you look at any printed piece under magnification you’ll see the dots. People’s faces are very interesting because all the colors of dots are there.
- Screen A screen is a pattern of dots. Each color is angled differently to avoid some unintended Moire` patterns, which could show as wavy lines or blobs.
- Registration When the colored dots are aligned perfectly on the printed sheet they are in register. If they are off they are called out of register. The easiest way to see if printing is in register is with magnification, or if your short range vision is very good, or the registration is horribly off, you’ll see blurry edges. Usually this can be corrected on press by moving the printing plates into better alignment.
- Ghosting This term is more difficult to explain. Once you see it you’ll understand. You’ll recognize it most often when solid color borders are used on a page. Imagine a picture frame. It has four sides and an empty place where the picture goes. The frame is like a printed border. On the sides the border is continuous but in the middle there is for all intents and purposes nothing. When the paper passes through the press there is an ink buildup, when it comes around again the ink buildup has to go somewhere. Your printed image will show a distinct color variation from one side of the ghost line to the other.
- Digital Proof Most printers use digital proofs for color printing. These proofs come from the computer and are intended to be a close approximation of what you should see on press. As of this writing there is not a proofing system that will exactly replicate the image you are printing. Close is all we can do.
- High Res Proof and Low Res Proofs: Many printers will produce two proofs for your color job. The high res proof is more expensive to make, but is more color accurate. Low res proofs are excellent for booklets and any folded piece, and cost less. It is always a good idea to see a folded example of your job, otherwise it could be backed up wrong (upside-down) or have page numbers out of sequence.
- Press Check: I’ve discussed press checks in previous blogs such as: http://www.billprintbroker.com/?p=709. If the printer doesn’t offer a press check and the piece is critical, be sure to request one yourself. It is the last opportunity for you to check it and gives you the chance to meet those who are producing it. I firmly believe that if they associate a face with a name you’ll generally get better work. It’s best not to be invisible. Plus with each press check you will learn something new.
This list is in no way comprehensive, but if you can these seven terms and use them correctly you will get more respect from the printer. They will feel like they are dealing with someone who has some understanding of what they do. I’ll drop in other terms on future blogs, so you can keep learning.