Print Terminology Explained

Bleeds or Bleed Area: Adding bleed means that background color or any graphics along the trim edge of your project is extended past the trim into the bleed area. Bleed is required to ensure that your image is finished properly with color or graphics that go right to the trim edge without leaving a sliver of white along the edge. Bleed will give your vendor a margin of error in case there’s a misalignment while printing, folding or cutting.

Finish Size: The size of the finished product after all production has been completed. For folded projects you may also need to specify a flat size (unfolded) and the finished size will be after the folds are in place.

Live Area, Safe Area or Margins: Live or safe areas are specified for some products as the area in which critical data such as logos and text will not be at risk of being cut off or covered by hardware. This area will also give your vendor a margin of error in case there’s a misalignment while printing, folding or cutting.

Trim Size: The cut size of a product, this size may differ from finished size as the product may cut larger or smaller to fit into hardware or if the product requires production finishing such as folds, sewn hems or pockets.

Visible Area: Visible area is the entire printed graphic area that is visible once it has been installed into hardware or finished.

Large Format Printing File Set up

CMYK: Digital or offset printing machines use CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) inks or pigments to produce printed products. Setting up your file in this color space may be required by your vendor to minimize the risk of an unacceptable color shift from a RGB file at the printer, Click Here to find out more about converting files to CMYK.

Converting Fonts to Curves, Paths or Outlines: There are more than 200,000 font styles in existence and some of those fonts do not print well, converting fonts means your print file is no longer using an editable font type but is now a graphic that is less likely to corrupt. Click Here for more information on how to convert your fonts.

Crop Marks: Many layout programs can save file types that include crop marks, these line marks appear in the four corners of your layout, they are a visual cue of where the trim edge is on your project and avoid confusion with your vendor.

Fonts are Missing: When sending your print files to a vendor you may need to include the fonts used in the layout, this all depends on what kind of file you’ve shared with your vendor.
Font file kinds are usually .ttf or .otf, however there are many kinds and without the font your vendor will see your text layout default to a standard font like Arial or Times, which is undesirable. You can convert your fonts to outlines, as explained below, save another file type such as a PDF, or find the font files and supply them to the vendor. InDesign and Illustrator will allow you to “Package” your layout so the fonts are collected into a folder.

Image Resolution: Resolution of a file is specifically speaking about raster (variable data) images which are captured photographs or illustrations created using raster image programs such as photoshop. A raster image uses pixels to create every inch of graphic, and resolution is how many pixels are used to create that inch, that is what PPI or DPI is, Pixels Per Inch or Dots Per Inch, i.e., 100dpi has 100 lines by 100 lines of pixels of information in every inch of your graphic, the more pixels the better quality of image. Pixels on your computer are converted to Dots of ink at the printer which is why the terms PPI and DPI are interchangeable. Click Here for more information on what resolution you will need for your print project.

Medium or Media: Technically medium is more accurate, however these two terms are often interchangeable to mean the kind of paper, plastic or fabric you’re printing your project on to.

Pantone or PMS Colors: The Pantone Matching System is an excellent way to get accurate color, especially for brand specific colors often assigned to your logo. Vendors will likely have a preprinted book of Pantone colors for an accurate visual representation of the color that is critical to you. Click Here for more information on Pantone books, we recommend you rely on the Coated book as most of your large format projects will print on a coated material.

RGB: RGB (Red, Green, Blue) are the primary colors of light and is a screen viewing color space used by your electronic devices and is capable of creating millions of vibrant colors. While the darker CMYK pigments may not be able to reproduce some of these colors as vibrantly, leaving your artwork in RGB can give you some benefits. RGB has a larger gamut of possible colors in the file and by keeping them you are not minimizing the range of color at the printer. Secondly, RGB file sizes are much smaller and easier to work with at large and grand format sizes, which means faster processing at the design and printing stages. Some color shifts can occur in the conversion to print, but if color saturation is the priority, a color shift may be acceptable.

Rigid Substrate: Any medium that is firm enough to be classified as a board or panel.

Banner Finishing


Grommets: Circular metal eyelets used to protect and reinforce a hole that is necessary for hanging your fabric or vinyl banner.

Hems: Folding the finished edge over and sewing along the fold will reinforce that edge.

Pole Pockets: A pocket sewn into one side of a banner to accommodate a wooden or metal pole used for hanging. You want to allow the pocket to be much larger than your pole to ensure your pole will fit easily inside.

Webbing: A woven nylon strip that can be sewn into the hem of a banner to further reinforce the durability of the project, especially if your banner will have an exterior use and exposed to a windy location.

Wind Slits: A pattern of half-moon cuts across the face of a vinyl banner, to allow for the passthrough of heavy wind without causing the banner to billow like a sail.