Have you ever been confused by all the terminology used in the design world, especially when it comes to the technical world of Print Design? The following glossary gives a short explanation to the print design worlds terminology from acronym’s such as RIPs and DPIs to explaining the difference between Dye-based and Pigment-based inks in printers.

01. Colorimeter


A colorimeter is device that is used for calculating the hue and intensity light reflected from a computer screen. The device is placed flatly on the screen, and has a cell, which analyzes the light in its underbelly. The information gathered is evaluated to build a profile that calibrates the screen.

Most professional printing devices have a built-in color calibration, which creates an instant profile by measuring and testing the outcome of combining ink and paper.

02. DPI


DPI is an acronym for “dots per inch”. The higher the DPI, the better the quality.

Between different technological tools, DPI values usually do not differ. Inkjet printers generally print around 2560dpi for very high quality, 1440dpi for general output and 700dpi for basic proofing. Higher DPI values usually take longer to print and use up more ink, but the outcome is somewhat smoother.

03. Dye-based inks


In contrast to dry pigment-based inks, Dye-based inks are generally water-soluble and colors produced are brighter than pigment inks, but also tend to fade faster. Dye-based inks also stain the prints directly.

04. Dye sublimation


An alternative printing tool, ‘Dye-sub’ is used for printing on fabric and other specific outputs. Some inkjet models, in particular inkjet printers by Epson can use dye-sub inks. These prints can be applied directly onto transfer paper or fabric, and then embedded into the fabric using a heat press.

05. Large format

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The term Large format is also known as ‘wide format’, is the name given to large industrial printers. The biggest large format printer models can print up to 64 inches wide on roll paper, and the smaller models can print up to A2 on rolls or sheets. The price range for these printers is typically from around £2,000 to more than £20,000. Although they usually use the same tools and technology as desktop printers, large format are bigger and more reliable for important projects.

06. Pantone coverage


Pantone coverage is a standardized Color Matching system, which is used in the design industry. This system accurately measures a printer to analyze how accurately it can reproduce the Pantone swatch colors. Although it usually depends on the paper used, most modern printers can output 98 perfect of the Pantone color range.

07. Pigment-based inks

With 12 distinct colors, most inkjet printers use pigment-based inks. In contrast to a dye-based output, the colors in pigment inks are usually less saturated, but are more resilient to color fading and ultraviolet light. Pigment inks are commonly used for black-and-white or less saturated color photography as well as for archival art printing.

08. RIP

RIP is an acronym for “Raster Image Processor”. This is a software tool, which works as an advanced printing driver, working towards delivering the highest quality output possible for vector art, bitmap graphics and vector art. A RIP system is a useful addition for large format prints.

09. Solid ink

Essentially used for Xerox rather than photography and art printing, Solid Ink is mostly used for basic proofing and quick office output. This type of ink is produced in solid form but melted into a wax like substance before printing.

10. Solvent inks

Solvent inks are essentially used by Epson printers, usually by its most expensive GS6000 model. Just like other dye-based inks, solvent inks stain and soak into the paper or material they’re printed onto. These are effective dye-based inks with UV stability for printing onto canvas, vinyl and fabric.

11. Cut sizes

Using commercial printing presses, Cut sizes are the smaller sizes of paper such as A4, secondary to their “parent sizes”.

12. Finish

The finish of a print is the texture and feel of any medium or paper. Matte papers usually have a duller surface, embossed finish creates a pattern on the surface of the paper and laid finish is a machine-made paper, which imitates hand-made quality.

13. Trim size

In contrast to cut size, Trim size is the dimensions of a printed-paper after cutting away the excess edges.

14. Saddle stitching


Saddle stitching is the method of folding sheets in half by stitching in the middle or by using staples.

15. Perfect binding


This is the process of gluing a paper block into wrap-around cover, just as any paperback book. PUR binding is a modification which uses temperature-resistant glue.