I’ve been a graphic designer since 1997 and have worked for both a local newspaper and a small local magazine, and, since 2008, in my own business. I am a liaison between business owners and print shops. I’ve learned some of the print industry’s lingo and thought I would share some of these terms on my blog so readers are more aware of what they mean.


Any change made by the client after the artwork has been sent to a printshop or service bureau. It’s sometimes referred to as AA, which means Author (client) Alteration.

Base Art

This refers to copy that is pasted (not overlayed) to the mounting board of a mechanical.


In layman’s terms, printing off the edge of the paper. In short: printing (usually color, sometimes typography) beyond the trim edge.

Boiler Plate

Repetitive blocks of text and/or art used over and over. The term “template” could also apply.

Color Correct

Adjusting the relationship between the print colors to get the color you want.

Color Key

Basically, overlay color proof. 

Composite Art

This is the mechanical that hosts copy for reproduction in all colors and appears on only one surface. There is a tissue overlay with instructions that state where the color breaks will be.

Desktop Publishing

Abbreviated as DTP. The process or technique of using a personal computer and software to design art (images), text (copy), and pages. A laser printer is then used to combine everything together on paper, a plate, or film.

Digital Proof

Page proofs provided via laser-jet or inkjet printer via computer or electronic memory.

Dull Finish

This is a flat finish on coated paper, not shiny, a bit smoother. Not to be confused with matte finish.


A simulation of the finished product. Also referred to as a mockup.


A process that presses either lettering/typography or an image to raise (or set) above the surface.

Farm Out

Also known as buy out. Basically, to subcontract a service that’s related to the business. For example, print shops may sometimes farm out their graphic design work to subcontractors when they are busy in order to get client work done on time.


A singular piece of paper, not necessarily letter-size, that is put loosely inside a publication. Think of your Sunday newspaper, and all the advertisements in the middle.


Check back for more terms to be posted soon. Please refer to our FAQs webpage for additional information. If you need a print project done and would like a quote, request a quote – we’d like the opportunity to work with you and earn your business.

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  • Lisa Raymond

    Lisa Raymond is the owner and creative genius of Visibly Media. She has been in graphic and website design for over 25 consecutive years, social media management & marketing since 2007, married over 30 years, 4 children, 4 grandbabies, and Queen in her organized realm of chaos! Lisa & Visibly Media do not use any AI in the creation of marketing strategies, posts, and graphics.