Colorful Language: Perplexing Print Lingo Defined

Communicate with your printer like a pro for spot-on results and smoother workflows. 

Vamoose. Widdershins. Non-sequitur. Cattywampus. Will using big words make you a better person? No. But will it change the trajectory of your business and catapult your career to another level? Also, probably no. However, familiarizing yourself with some key print-related jargon will make you sound like a whiz in verbal exchanges with your printer. More importantly, understanding common lingo involved in the creation of your projects means you can better communicate your goals and expectations – ultimately resulting in a more buttoned-up final product, the best bang for your buck, and overall less-stressful communication along the way. 

Below we’ve compiled a short list of uber-useful print production terms and their definitions. However note that the following is just one of three lists we have yet to unveil – the others pertaining to Graphic Design and Brand Development. If awkward innuendos are your thing, be sure to check out the wild n’ wacky terms used in Specialty Graphics installations here.


Remember the primary and secondary color wheels you learned about in your elementary school art class? Blue + yellow = green? This is roughly the same concept. CMYK is an acronym that refers to the 4 color ink plates used in the color printing process: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (usually black). Different combinations of the 4 are used to create the full range of colors, with the key plate being used to print the detail – a tidbit you might recall if you’ve been following along with our monthly Trivia questions.

Offset Printing 

The most commonly used commercial print method, offset involves transferring an inked image from a metal printing ‘plate’ to a rubber cylinder, then rolling the image onto a sheet of paper. All of this of course happens inside a massive, state-of-the-art machine. Offset produces the highest-quality prints, with the most accurate color reproduction and clean, crisp images. However this method is more cost effective when used for larger press runs. 

Digital Printing 

That small laser or inkjet printer you have hooked up to your laptop at home? That’s a digital printer. However the ones used for commercial printing purposes are larger, faster and more precise. Unlike offset that utilizes plates, digital printing transfers ink directly onto the paper. Digital is often seen as more cost effective, and a better option for shorter press runs. 

G7 Certification 

A three-tiered certification system that indicates a printer’s ability to accurately reproduce colors and maintain color consistency across their various substrates and print processes. That means the red on your logo will match the red on your website, your packaging, your store signage, and so on. Color consistency has a significant impact on consumers’ overall impression of a brand, learn more about the science of color management here

Digital Proof 

Not to be confused with a pdf proof (viewed on screen), a digital proof is a physical copy of a project printed on a digital printer (see above). Digital proofs are a cost effective way to check things like fonts, graphics, lines, copy, and page layout with excellent accuracy. However, since digital uses process colors, it is not always an accurate representation of the actual pantone colors that may be specified for your job. 


The detail or visual sharpness of an image. If an image appears very crisp and clear, it has high resolution. If it appears blurry, low resolution. The resolution of an image in the graphic design world is measured in pixels per square inch (PPI) or dots per inch (DPI). 


The trim size represents the actual dimensions of your project. In other words, the trim marks where the paper will be cut, or trimmed away, from the surrounding border. In order to avoid potential white slivers from being visible around your piece after it has been cut, your graphic designer will typically extend the background beyond the trim (see below). 


Far less violent than it sounds, bleed is the extra ⅛” border of background color extended beyond the trim (see above). The bleed prevents accidental white slivers from showing up around the edges after a piece has been cut and ensures a polished final product. 


In the realm of direct mail, an ‘in-dee-shuh’ is essentially a printed postage stamp. They save time and money associated with having to manually stamp each individual piece, however they must adhere to a strict set of USPS formatting guidelines. It is generally the responsibility of your graphic designer to ensure these requirements are met and incorporated into the design. 


Sorry, no kittens involved. However, kitting is extremely beneficial for cutting costs and streamlining your work flows. Kitting (or kit packing), is assembling multiple related items into a single package and shipping them to a list of recipients. Commonly kitted items include signage resets for retail stores, promotional products for trade shows, and folders stuffed with pre-sorted documents. 


The department within a commercial printer which handles any finishing processes involved in a project, including scoring, cutting, stitching, stickering, foiling, assembling, embossing, and of course, binding. Bindery ensures your project looks polished and professional, and applies the final touches that make your printed piece stand out from the rest. 

Spot UV 

A fancy finishing technique that makes certain areas on a printed piece appear high-shine and glossy. Spot UV treatments are particularly eye-popping on a matte background, adding depth and visual contrast. This is a great finishing option to make certain elements of your piece stand out, such as your company logo on a business card for example. 


Ever wonder how greeting cards get those clean, crisp folds in the center? In the print world, scoring means to press or emboss a crease-line onto a substrate to allow for easier folding. Fold lines are especially beneficial for thicker substrates like cardboard. Pieces that require scoring should be designed so that the crease line runs in the same direction as the grain of the paper. Substrates should also be carefully selected to avoid the possibility of cracking. 

While we hope you spend some time familiarizing yourself with the terms above, we also recognize that becoming a human commercial print dictionary doesn’t always fall high on the priority list (that’s our job!). The great news is that Thysse’s team of graphic designers and production specialists have conversations about this stuff on the daily, and they’re always happy to break down any unfamiliar terms throughout the process. Got a print project in mind? Head to our contact page and drop us a line or check out our Print Services page to explore more on your own.

Thysse is a G7 Master Qualified Printer – How Does That Help Your Brand?

Color consistency is kind of our business, and we’ve got a shiny new badge to prove it

Even before the first purchase, your brand meets your customer in a variety of ways: packaging, store signage, mailers and vehicle wraps – all creating a perception of your company, its offerings, and, perhaps most importantly, its quality. If these are all working in harmony, that’s a great representation of your brand, and creates strong awareness.

Now imagine each asset, each physical manifestation of your company, being produced in a different facility, with different standards. Each requires different inks, substrates and print processes and variation in each can lead to significant color inconsistencies across the range of materials. We’re not trying to scare you, a small variation here and there is typically within an acceptable margin of error, and likely won’t be noticed by your consumers or prospects. 

So why the hue and cry over color inconsistency? For starters, color is one of the most emotional attributes of a brand. It’s an important part of why consumers decide to embrace (or reject) your message. Color consistency reinforces trust, and inconsistency of colors associated with a brand subconsciously diminishes it – eroding brand loyalty and your products’ perceived value. 

In plain English? Stringent color management is essential to your brand’s credibility. 

The good news however, is that vendors can be assessed on their printers’, processes’, and people’s ability to achieve color consistency, and Thysse just happens to be an expert in all three. Only a printer of the highest compliance level may be classified as a G7® Master Facility Colorspace (Ahem – that’s us).

So, what the heck is a G7® Master Certification?

First things first, it’s a 3-tiered qualification system verified by Idealliance®, a worldwide provider of industry standards in graphic communications. G7 certification at every level ensures your brand is produced with exceptional quality, color matching, and color consistency, regardless of where you do your printing or what device materials are printed on.

G7 is aptly named, as it includes evaluation of Grayscale + seven colors (CMYKRGB); it is a set of global specifications for achieving visual similarity across all print processes. For those who don’t dream in Pantone® Super Swatches however, all this color lingo may be, well, a bit of a gray area. 

Here’s the gist of what G7 allows your printer to do:

  • Align all processes to create a strong, consistent visual identity for your brand
  • Preserve the integrity of your brand standards to the highest degree
  • Consistently match and replicate provided color targets 
  • Make it look like you dropped some serious cha-ching on your advertising 

Can it get any better? Why yes, actually. It can.

In addition to exceptional color consistency, G7 can reduce pain points and make communication with your printer easier by providing a foundation for less subjective conversations about color. Increased efficiency in production and process control also have their perks, including reductions in: 

  • The physical and actual cost of proofing and shipping prior to print 
  • Waste and make-ready overhead time during press runs 
  • Design times which means fewer revisions and quicker turnaround
  • The need to travel onsite for press checks

What exactly does it take for a printer to get certified?

This is the section that usually involves a lot of jargon, Delta E’s and indescript acronyms. Don’t worry, we won’t get too technical – we’ll leave that to our in-house color management team. In simplest terms, for a facility to become G7 Master Certified, each device must be calibrated to a set of independently verified and globally-approved color specifications. Next, the machine’s color files are inspected using a serious instrument with a Mary-Poppins-of-a-name;  a spectrophotometer. Finally, the output is compared to a G7 data set and performance overall is evaluated.

To eliminate any potential for a VW-level cover up, this process is repeated a second time with added specifications. Once targets are achieved within a certain tolerance, the results are sent to an independent agency for review. This final test determines whether a printer passes or fails the G7 certification, and if attained, remains valid for one year. 

So… do I need to fire our printer?

We’ll leave that up to your best judgement, but know that not all G7 Facilities are [qualified] equal. A printer’s compliance determines which of the three levels Idealliance will award. Splitting up the 4-color process into color (CMY) and black (K), the base level (Master Grayscale), notes that a printer can consistently define and reproduce standard curves referred to as the neutral tone ramp. When these are produced well, then all other colors tend to fall in line more easily. A great first step in achieving color stability but evaluation doesn’t stop there.

A Master Targeted Facility takes it a step further by ensuring that, in addition to those neutral tones, its devices are able to print consistently across primary color targets (CMY), and secondary color targets (RGB) as well. Seems reasonable, but we’re not done yet.

The third level and final level of compliance is the most stringent: the G7 Master Colorspace Certification. (Spoiler, we have it!) In order to obtain this title, a facility must demonstrate it can consistently reproduce the entire spectrum of colors. 

That’s the neutrals, the primary and secondary solids, and everything in between – which is about 1,620 patches (about 1,300 more than the level before it).

Also unique to this level, is that the standards are assessed separately for both printing and proofing, with proofing being even more stringent.  

Thanks for the enlightenment, now what?

When it comes down to it, the best way your printer can help your brand is to be a proactive partner. Thysse’s people, processes and yes, even our printers, will ensure that the world always sees your brand in the best possible light. Your brand’s visual integrity is upheld by adherence to your unique brand standards, and G7 or no G7, we take that responsibility seriously. 

But hey, that top-tier, world-wide accreditation of G7 Master Colorspace Facility definitely tells us we’re still where you go with your brand.

Interested in a brighter future for your brand? Head on over to our contact page and ask us for more details.

Why is Color Management Needed in Print Projects?

Why is Color Management Needed in Print Projects?

Most marketers expect print vendors to produce your brand colors accurately and consistently. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and when your printer doesn’t provide color management, it can hurt your brand and your bottom line. 

Color management is a crucial service, and it begins with an understanding between you and your printer about what your color expectations are. 

Printers may say they do color management. But how do you know it’s not just lip service? 

It starts by understanding the basics of color management. In this post, we’ll provide you with an overview so you can ensure your printer is keeping your brand colors accurate and consistent.  You’ll learn:

  • What is color management?
  • Why is color management important?
  • How does a printer provide color management?
  • How does a printer show that color management is a priority? 
  • Why should color management be a big deal to your printer’s entire staff?

What is color management? 

Color management is what a printer does to accurately reproduce your brand colors across all print media. It requires thoroughly understanding your brand colors and logo, includes procedures to verify accurate color output, and involves adhering to industry standards for color accuracy.

Why is color management important?

Your clings and brochures, banners and flyers, labels and signage—all of these require different devices, substrates, and print processes when they’re produced. Unfortunately, that can lead to inconsistent colors across your print assets. 

In fact, significant color variation can even occur within the same item. For example, Thysse once had a customer whose previous printer was producing inconsistent package colors. How did they find out? They went to a big-box store and saw that their red brand color varied widely from one package to the next. 

“The customer not only viewed that as a poor representation of their brand. They viewed it as a loss in revenue. When people see inconsistent packaging, it can negatively affect their perception of a product,” says Thysse’s Ole Allen, Research & Development, Prepress Specialist.

That’s just one glimpse of why color management is crucial. Without it, you’re at much greater risk for:

  • Inconsistent representation of your brand, which can cheapen your image. 
  • More color mistakes and last-minute corrections (if mistakes get caught).
  • Print delays and lost revenue.
There are several methods typically employed by printers who take color management seriously.

How does a printer provide color management?

The following methods are typically employed by printers who take color management seriously. Note that their uses will vary based on print vendor protocol, customer expectations, and project complexity. 

By using procedures and tools to verify colors 

To verify the color accuracy of your printed items, at a minimum you want printer staff with a trained eye to compare your printed items’ colors with the standard they’re being held to. 

Note that color accuracy verification can also involve a scientific process requiring high-end equipment and a high degree of print color sophistication—for both the vendor and customer. 

Spectrophotometers check a color’s accuracy.

For example, a printer may use an instrument called a spectrophotometer to check a color’s accuracy. A printed color control strip is inserted in the spectrophotometer to derive its Delta-E, a metric indicating how close the color is to the established standard. In this scenario, the printer and customer agree on acceptable color tolerance levels. 

Do you need to understand print colors at this advanced level to have reliable color reproduction? No. You should, however, be confident that your printer adheres to formal standards. 

By printing to methodology standards

The print industry has established standards for superior color performance. For example, G7 is an industry-recognized methodology that printers can adhere to “for achieving visual similarity across all print processes.” (Source.)

Printers who adhere to standards like G7 frequently calibrate all of their printing devices so they meet color standard outputs. 

On the other hand, some printers don’t print to any formal standards. As a result, they will have variances across all of their equipment. This creates a greater likelihood for color inaccuracy and inconsistency.

“Given how color so radically increases brand identification (which, in turn, can boost sales and engagement), it’s crucial that color remain consistent across all expressions of the brand,” writes Janet Odgis, president of Odgis + Co, an award-winning branding firm in New York City.

See more on the importance of color consistency below. 

By color-managing your files

When color management is integral to your printer’s process, they won’t just hit print when you send files. Instead, print production specialists will examine your files to confirm that they’re set up correctly from the outset. 

And when your printer catches color problems in your files early, it can help:

  • Avoid expensive reprints.
  • Give you (or your printer) a chance to truly remedy file problems rather than be forced to make quick-fixes in a rush. 
  • Keep you on track for achieving speed-to-market goals.  

By including a color control strip

According to Thysse’s Ole Allen, if you want one good indicator that your printer takes color management seriously, look for a color control strip.

“When you ask for a production proof,” says Allen, “it should have a color control strip on the bottom. That’s the tool in place to prove the accuracy. Without that, it’s just a ‘Here you go!’ There’s no accountability behind it, and the printer likely doesn’t take color management seriously.” 

How does a printer show that color management is a priority?

When your printer asks numerous color-related questions up front—before anything ever goes to print—it shows that consistent, accurate brand color reproduction is a priority.

“Some print vendors may actually be afraid of having open conversations about your color expectations. In essence, they’re hoping they can print your files and the results will be good enough,” says Mark Traver, a business development specialist at Thysse with almost 40 years of print industry experience.

Partner with a printer who wants to have a conversation about color expectations.

Traver says to look for a printer who makes it clear they want to have a thorough conversation about your color expectations. That means from the get-go they should be asking you questions like:

  • What are the color standards or branding guidelines we need to adhere to?
  • What do you expect from the files that you give us?
  • Are we matching to a previously printed sample or contract proof?
  • Are we matching to a pantone color?
  • Do you have specific logo concerns? 
  • What kinds of color issues have you encountered in the past?
Color management should be on the minds of every one of your print vendor’s staff.

Why should color management be a big deal to your printer’s entire staff? 

Color management shouldn’t just be the concern of a few people. The printing process has multiple points for potential error. That’s why color management should be on the minds of every one of your print vendor’s staff.

That doesn’t mean they all need to be print color Einsteins. But it does mean that staff members—from sales and customer service to production and fulfillment—should have training on the value of color management.

And there are real-world customer benefits to this. For example, with a sales rep schooled in color management, you have one more vigilant professional who understands your color expectations—and who’s looking at your printed colors to make sure they’re good to go.

Next steps: Enact color management with your printer

If your printer is employing color management techniques like those above, that’s great. But if you don’t know, here are your next steps:

  1. Set up a meeting with your printer to discuss color management.
  2. Review your color standards together.
  3. Ask about their color management process.
  4. Establish your expectations with help from the points made above. 

Ultimately, you want a printer who takes color concerns off your plate and helps ensure your brand colors are everything you want them to be. 

That’s really what color management is all about.

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