In this, our wonderful world of creative marketing, design and production, there are a lot of buzzwords and terms in everyday use. So we thought we’d compile the most commonly heard, queried by clients and used at Ellis Smeaton, to try and provide a decent foundation – a good tool we think, especially if you are new to the industry.

This is by no means exhaustive, and we’ve barely started on the endless number of acronyms, so we’ll be sure to add to it as needs be.

If any of the terms that follow need a bit more explaining, or you are looking for a creative agency to help you out with any of them, get in touch, we’d love to help.


DPS – double page spread

SP – single page

CMYKCyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black) – colours used for printed items

RGB – Red, Green and Blue – used for digital artwork

Pantone/Spot colour – a specific colour generally used for logos and text for consistency in brand identity

gsm – grams per square metre, paper weight

Coated/uncoated – paper/card stock with a smooth or shiny finish (colours will look different and duller on uncoated stock)

Proof – a one off digital print of the final design for approval before a print run

Mask – part of the artwork that identifies the area you want to UV or Foil

Digital printing – great for short print runs and economic up to a few hundred copies

Litho printing – more economic for long print runs and special or spot colours can be used

Saturation – too much ink due to layers of dark texture and images can cause printing problems

Mock-up – a one off printed item made up, often by hand e.g. packaging for sign off

Cutter guide – shows the printer where to cut and crease for 3D items like boxes and POS

Print Finishing

Spot UV – varnish over print to add high shine to specific areas

Foiling/Foil stamping  – add a metallic finish to any area – often headline text or logos

Deboss – recessed copy/images

Emboss – raised copy/images

Gloss/matt lamination – a shiny or velvety finish to the printed items

Die cut – specific images/areas cut out completely of a sheet

Kiss cut – a light impression cut, perfect for stickers – only goes part way through a sheet

Stitched/Saddle stitch binding – stapling on the spine to assemble a brochure

Perfect binding – gluded sections along the spine for thicker documents

PUR binding – A form of perfect binding using a durable, flexible Polyurethane Reactive adhesive.

Screw bound – use of metal screws to assemble a thick prestigious booklet

Hard cover/Case bound – glued in rigid cover like a book


DPI – Dots Per Inch, 300 is ideal for print and 72 is considered acceptable for on-screen

Bleed – carrying the image/ background over the specified dimensions. Used to help the printer when trimming

Crop marks – show the printer where to cut

Gradient – fade from one colour to another, great for giving the impression of metallic finishes

Vignette (PhotoShop) – fade from one colour to another, great for giving the impression of metallic finishes

Shadow – helps an image to appear more realistic or stand out against a background

Ghosted image/text – the opacity is reduced to give a layered effect

3D render – a computer generated image – commonly used for packaging proposals and interior presentations

Web safe fonts – fonts that the vast majority of devices support, so they will display correctly on screen/online


Serif fonts –  small lines attached to the end of each stroke  e.g. Times New Roman

Sans serif fonts –  no small lines on the end of each stroke – e.g. Arial

Ampersand – & – meaning ‘and’

Kerning – space between each individual character in a word

Tracking – space between all letters in a word or sentence

Leading – space between rows of text

Widow/orphan – a single word left on its own on a new line of text – proofreaders are not fans of this!

Justified text – squared off copy on all outside edges to form a full column (often causes spacing problems)

File types

JPEG/JPG – (Joint Photographic Experts Group) an image file everyone can open
PNG – an image file – best for web
INDD – an InDesign file – contains all the formatting, content, styles linked files* that have been used to create an artwork

EPS – for Vectors, best for Logos
PSD – (PhotoShop Document) PhotoShop file – used for layered images
Ai – (Adobe Illustrator) Illustrator file – used for images that are not layered

PDF –  (Portable Document Format) a document file for proofing and printing
Vector –  an image file that doesn’t pixelate when you zoom in


*Linked files – all of the images used to create the artwork

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