Gadzooks! It's the winningest promo team in the biz Universal Links: Promo All-Stars
resources Glossary
Let us tackle your promo needs

In-field, out-field, up-rink, down-rink. Benday, die-cut, hickey, pad print. Just like a professional sports league, the business gifts and promotional items industry uses some pretty unique terms and phrases. Getting caught up in the jargon? Use this glossary to clear up the court.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y| Z


Acetate: A thin, flexible and transparent plastic sheet used for making overlays.

Against the grain: Folding a paper at right angles to the grain direction of the paper. In this direction, the strength of the paper is less and it is more flexible.

Airbrush: Pen-shaped ink sprayer typically used by artists and modelers to retouch photographic prints and create illustrated designs.

Back to top


Bas relief: A sculpting method in which a flat piece of metal or stone is carved or etched such that the design comprises of the raised or indented sculptural patterns.

Benday: A synonym for screen tint.

Bind: To fasten sheets or signatures and class together typically with glue, wire or thread. Other means could also be used to bind.

Bindery: A print shop department or separate business that performs all the finishing operations following post printing, such as trimming, folding and binding.

Bleed: Printing that extends to the edge of a sheet or page after trimming.

Blind emboss: A technique in which the impression of an image/design is embossed without the use of ink or foil.

Blow up: An enlargement of a photograph or an image.

Bronzing: Applying bronzing powder over a surface printed with sizing ink, while still wet. This produces a metallic luster.

Business gift: A gift to a customer, stockholder, employee or other business friend as an expression of appreciation.

Back to top


Casting: A method of creating a statue, jewelry or other object by injecting molten metal into a rubber or plastic mold.

Chrome: A color transparency produced on film with a positive photographic image.

Clip art: High-contrast graphic images, designs and artwork that come in both electronic and digital format. The images can be used extensively for decorating both personal and commercial gift items.

Cloisart: A hot-stamp procedure where the desired logo or copy is foil hot stamped on a solid brass or metal base and then covered by an epoxy dome. Often used in jewelry and pins, this is a cloisonné look-alike for a fraction of the cost, although its quality is generally not considered to be as fine as that of cloisonné.

Collateral: An ad agency term used for printed pieces, such as brochures, that are not directly involved in advertising.

Collotype: Also called a photo gelatin print or heliotype, it is an ink reproduction of a photograph created photomechanically from a prepared printing plate.

Color break: In multicolor printing, the point or line at which one ink color stops and another begins.

Color key: An overlay color proof with just one color per sheet of acetate (a 3M trade name).

Color separation: The breakdown of full-color copy into primary color plates – yellow, cyan, magenta and black. These when printed separately, one on top of the other, produce a full-color illustration.

Color swatch: A sample of an ink color.

Continuous-tone copy: Photographs and illustrations that have a range of shades.

Contract decoration: A process of embellishing a product with one of the many decorating processes. Here, the client supplies the goods and the decorator provides and charges only for the decoration or embellishment.

Contrast: Range of gradations in tones between lightest white and darkest black in continuous-tone copy or the abrupt change between light and dark in line copy.

Copy: For a graphic designer or printer, copy refers to everything that will be printed, including graphics, words, art and photographs.

Copyright: Exclusive rights granted to the creator, who could be a writer, a photographer or an artist, of an original work.

Crash printing: Letterpress printing on carbon or carbonless forms so that an image prints simultaneously on all sheets in the set.

Crop: To eliminate parts of an illustration or photograph in order to highlight or fit the remainder in a layout.

Back to top


Debossing: Stamping an image on a material, such as cloth, vinyl or leather, in such a manner that the image is depressed below the surface of the object.

Decal Transfer: A water-soluble decal, printed on an offset or letterset press, is submerged in water and slid onto the product to be imprinted.

Die: A specialized tool used to cut and shape various forms of materials in order to create a wide variety of products and components, such as pen barrels or rings.

Die casting: Also called injection molding, this method involves injecting molten metal into the cavity of a carved die. In cases requiring double-sided impression, two dies are placed together with carved sides facing inside and the molten metal is injected between them.

Die Cutting: The use of sharp steel blades to cut special shapes from printed sheets.

Die Stamp: Steel or copper plate engraved with desired image. Usually used for developing letterheads and business cards.

Digitizing: The process of scanning printed text or logos into a digital form that can be used by a computer. This is also the process in which a design is plotted in a computer language that an embroidery machine can read in order to reproduce an embroidered design.

Drop shadow: A graphic art effect designed to simulate the shadow cast by three dimensional shapes.

Back to top


Electronic retouching: Using a computer to enhance or correct a scanned photograph.

Embellishment: Color substance, stone or dome used to enhance or protect the design of an imprint.

Embossed finish: Paper with a raised or depressed surface resembling wood, cloth, leather or any other pattern.

Embossing: Stamping an image on a material, such as paper and leather, so that the image is raised above the surface of the material.

Embroidery: A design stitched onto a material through the use of high speed, computer controlled sewing machines. The design is reproduced with tightly-stitched thread. Embroidery is most commonly used on logo patches and wearables. Difficult to achieve fine detail.

Engraving: The cutting or etching of designs or letters on metal, wood, glass or other materials. Engraving, which is performed with a diamond point or rotary blade cutting into the surface of the product, offers a permanent imprint that will not wear off because it is cut into the metal base.

Etching: A process of marking the surface of glass or metal to form an image by either physically scraping or using an acid-resistant technique.

Back to top


Flexography: A rotary letterpress process printing from rubber or flexible plates and using fast drying inks. As the paper moves under the plate, it is pressed against it by another roller, and the ink is transferred onto the paper. Mainly used for packaging. As compared to screen printing, flexography is typically used on less expensive materials and its inks are very thin and not as durable.

Flocking: An electrostatic spraying process on a point-of-sale piece to simulate a velvety finish.

Flop: To reproduce a photograph or illustration so that its image faces the side opposite to the original one.

French fold: A sheet printed on one side, folded first vertically and then horizontally to produce a four-page folder.

Back to top


Generation: Used for images. A first generation image is the original; a second generation one is made from the original and a third generation is one that is made from the second generation.

Ghost halftone: A light halftone overprinted with solid copy.

Glass etching: A process of etching a template image onto glass.

Grade: A level to the right gradient.

Grain: The direction, texture, or pattern of fibers found in wood or leather or stone or in a woven fabric.

Graphic: A logo, chart, illustration, drawing, cartoon or photograph used in a layout.

Grayscale: A piece of art whose original colors are represented by varying shades of gray.

Back to top


Hickey: Donut-shaped spot or imperfection in printing, most visible in areas of heavy ink coverage.

Heat transfer printing: Also called the direct transfer process, the image is screened on a transfer substrate; then laid directly on the material to be imprinted. The image is transferred from the substrate to the material through the use of heat and pressure. Works best on cotton and cotton blends.

Heat transfer printing: Also called the sublimation process, it involves the transfer of a design to a synthetic fabric by heat and pressure. The heat causes the ink to turn into a gas in order to penetrate the fabric and form a permanent imprint.

Hologram: A unique photographic printing that provides a three-dimensional effect on a flat surface. With the advent of new techniques, holograms have become more durable and can create a long-lasting imprint.

Hot Stamping: A dry imprinting process in which a decorative image is transferred from a carrier to a material via pressure exerted onto a heated die by the hot stamping machine. It is used to decorate fabric, leather, paper, wood, hard rubber, coated metal and all types of plastic.

Hot type: Type composed by machine, made from molten metal.

Hue: Color such as red or blue.

Back to top


Imposition: The arrangement of pages in a press form to ensure the correct order after the printed sheet is folded and trimmed.

Indicia: Postal permit information printed on mailed objects and accepted by USPS in lieu of stamps.

Intaglio: The process of incising a design beneath the surface of a metal or stone. Intaglio prints are made from forcing ink through these images onto the paper in a press under extreme pressure.

Back to top


Keyline drawing: An outline drawing on finished art to indicate the exact shape, position and size for such elements as halftones and line sketches.

Back to top


Laminated: Coated with a clear plastic or two separate sheets of paper joined together as a single sheet to provide a special thickness or varying colors from one side to another.

Laser engraving: A process through which an optically-read or stenciled art copy is engraved (burned) into a material by a laser beam. Wood is the most common lasered material, but acrylic, some plastics, marble, leather and paper are also used. Metal requires specialized lasers.

Back to top


Matte finish: Dull paper finish without gloss or luster.

Merchandise proof: A product imprinted with the specified design and copy of an issued purchase order. Its purpose is to clarify the appearance of the product and the imprint prior to manufacturing.

Moire: Undesirable pattern in halftones and screen tints made with improperly aligned screens.

Monogramming: Process used to engrave initials, names, titles and positions on textiles - generally done through the embroidery process.

Mounting and finishing: A process involving manufacturing of a display, application of litho, die cutting and assembly.

Back to top


Nonimage area: A portion of mechanical, plate or negative that will not print.

Back to top


Offset lithography: A printing method in which an inked image on a flat plate is transferred to a rubber surface before being pressed on the printing surface. The plate surface is treated to accept greasy ink in image areas resisting water and to accept water in non-image areas while resisting ink.

Back to top


Pad printing: A method of printing for imprinting small, unusually-shaped objects when screen printing is not practical. Small watch dials and cylinder shapes are some examples. However, screen printing is better for large areas of ink coverage. Used in glassware, plastics, ceramics, paper, wearables, vinyl and leather.

Pantone Matching System (PMS): Pantone is a company known for their standardized color reproduction system. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another. Most company colours can be reproduced by mixing a certain combination of the CMYK inks - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black - and colours are listed with the amount of each ink needed in the Pantone colour guides.

Paper proof: Printed copy of the design as it will appear on the product. A paper proof includes type and artwork correctly positioned and sized for the image area of the product.

Pellon: A thin, felt-type material used by screen printers and embroiderers to do strike offs and sample images for testing and review.

Photo etching (metal): A process in which an illustration and/or copy is imprinted into metal, usually aluminum, by acid and then sealed by an anodizing process. This is popular for awards and plaques.

Personalize: A process of engraving the recipient's name, either company or individual, on a promotional product, premium or award.

Phantom: A transparent image superimposed on an object.

Promotional product: A useful item bearing an advertising imprint or logo and distributed freely with no strings attached.

Puff prints: A screening process that uses “puff inks.” After screening, the product, usually a cotton weave material, is exposed to heat. A chemical additive in the ink causes it to rise as it is heated to dry. The process cannot be used on nylon. Used on wearables, such as caps, hats and t-shirts.

Back to top


Retouching: A process improving or highlighting necessary details in a picture, photograph, print or drawing.

Back to top


Saddlestitch: A method of binding less-than-96-page publications with the help of stapling pins through the centerfold. Saddlestitching allows magazines to lie flat when opened and is an inexpensive method of binding.

Screen printing: Screen printing, or silk screening, is the process of making an imprint by transferring ink through a stenciled screen with a squeegee.

Screen tints: A process adding shading and tinting to a line reproduction. Tints are made in a wide variety of patterns applied to the line artwork.

Script: Style of printed letters resembling handwriting.

Back to top


Themography: A process for imitating copperplate engraving by dusting the freshly printed ink surface with resin powder fusing with the ink to form a slightly raised surface. Although the finished product is similar to embossed printing in feel and appearance, it is less expensive.

Back to top


Velox: A Kodak trade name for high-contrast photographic paper. Also refers to a positive made by contact printing a negative on to such a paper.

Vignette: An illustration in which the background fades gradually to blend completely into an unprinted paper.

Back to top


Wove finish: Relative smooth finish on paper achieved by moderate calendaring.

Wrong reading: Backward image compared to the original.

Back to top


Xerography: A formation of pictures or copies of graphic materials by the action of light on an electrically charged surface in which the image is usually developed with powders. A generic process but predominately associated with the Xerox

Questions? Call us! 1-800-981-9788