Fine Print School: An online guide for Printing, Prepress & Graphic Design

A Brief History of Printing

Learn about the humble roots of a time-honored tradition in this deep dive into printing's past, present and future.

Planning and Strategy

A great print job begins long before ink touches paper. In order to ensure success one must have an overall understanding of the printing process and a clear vision of what they need.

Design Tips

In order to design effectively for printing applications, you must first become intimately familiar with your tools.


A proof is a quality control tool that is used to communicate the overall concept of a project between a client and the printer.

Color Management

Color is the range of electromagnetic energy that is visible to the human eye. All colors are actually composed of white light.

File Submission

Consider this fact – Roughly half of all files sent to the printer cannot be output as expected. The reasons run the gamut from missing fonts and images to the use of incompatible software.


Printing plates are used to transfer an image to paper or other substrates. The plates may be made of metal, plastic, rubber, paper, and other materials.

Materials and Stocks

Substrate is a term used to describe the base material onto which images will be printed. Base materials include (though are not limited to) papers, fabric, plastics, foils and films.


Ink ingredients fall into three main categories: pigment, vehicle, and additives. The ingredients used in these three categories vary widely.

Offset Lithography

Offset Lithography is the most common form of commercial printing, due to advantages in quality and efficiency in high volume work.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is generally defined as any type of print process that utilizes electronic files from a computer to output a printed piece from dots of ink, toner, or dye.


Gravure is a high quality printing process capable of producing printed images which have a continuous tone effect similar to a photograph.

Screen Printing

Screen printing is a printing process where ink is pushed through a stencil-covered fabric or wire mesh which has been mounted in a sturdy frame.


The letterpress process is referred to as a 'relief' process because the printed image is produced from a plate in which the image area is slightly raised above the non-image surface of the plate.

Large Format

Large-format printers (also known as wide-format) are generally accepted to be any printer with a print width between 17 and 100 inches.


Thermography also known as raised ink, is the process using thermal inks that expand with heat which raises the printed area above the printed surface.


Printed works can be treated with specialized coatings which are often applied in the same fashion that inks are.


Binding is generally considered to be the process of fastening the sheets of a publication in the proper order and most often within a protective cover.


A variety of different folds are now being accomplished on many different shapes and sizes of printed materials using sophisticated machinery.

Die Cutting

Die cutting is the process of cutting shapes from sheets of plastic by pressing a shaped knife edge into one or several layers of sheeting.


Scoring is the term applied to the process that places a crease in paper stocks and other substrates allowing the material to be folded.


Embossing is a process that applies pressure to the backside of a material to alter the surface, giving it a three dimensional or raised effect.

Foil Stamping

Foil stamping or hot stamping requires a metal plate with an engraved image. The plate strikes a foil film, transferring the foil coating from the roll film onto the substrate.


Perforations or 'perfs' are generally classified for printing applications that either feature a detachable medium or pages designed for use with a coil binder.

Green Printing

Green Printing refers to any printing process that utilizes environment-friendly materials and production methods in order to reduce or eliminate its ecological impact.


Promotional Printing utilizes many different printing methods in order to create branding and marketing solutions to reach the masses.

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