5 Print Design Terms Every Designer Should Know

September 20, 2013

5 Print Terms Every Designer Should Know

Web design will usually go hand in hand with some form of print work, usually business cards and maybe a letterhead. None the less it is still a good idea for every designer familiarize  themselves with some important print terms. Here are some  important terms you should know.


1. Bleed

Probably the most important term. Bleed is artwork that extends past the live print area, usually about 1/2 an inch. It provides a bit of wiggle room for the printer so that you don’t get any unintentional white boarders around your project.



CMYK is the term used for the four colour print process. It is the most widely used process for print. Each letter represents a colour plate: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. Combining these four channels in varying degrees will produce any colour needed. Documents should be converted to this mode before submitting them for printing.


3. DPI

It stands for “dot per inch” and is a measure of printing quality. More dots means more detail. For most high quality print jobs you will use either 300 or 600 DPI. That being said it only affects print design, in digital terms DPI merely increase or decreases the number of pixels in the document.


4. Overprint

Means exactly as it sounds, printing another channel over a section of paper that already has ink present. Creating a rich black is a process of overprinting. The CMYK values are 75, 68, 67, 90 respectively.


5. Pantone Colour

It is very difficult to maintain consistent colours across different printers and paper types. The Pantone company has solved this problem by making an extensive library of colours that print consistently no matter where or how they are printed.


The rabbit hole that is print design goes much deeper. There are many more in-depth articles floating around out there. One such article was written by a Carrie Cousins over on Design Shack.


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