Packaging & Printing Glossary

To help you to understand packaging & printing terminology,  please have a look at our glossary.  If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

4-COLOUR-PROCESS – the process of combining four basic colours (CMYK) to reproduce all colours of the spectrum when mixed in proper proportion.

AGAINST THE GRAIN – folding or feeding paper at right angles to the grain direction of the paper, as opposed to with the grain.

AQUEOUS COATING – a clear, fast-drying water-based coating that is used to protect printed pieces, typically applied to the entire printed sheet (usually by the last unit on a printing press).

BASE – the bottom piece of the package that typically contains items.

BLANK – an unfinished flat sheet of corrugated board.  In rigid boxes, blank is a diecut or scored and corner-cut flat, ready to be formed into a box.

BLEACH – a process used in paper making to whiten paper. Also a reference to the whiteness of the paper.

BLEED – an area of ink or colour that extends past the perimeter of the area to be printed.

BOXBOARD – the board manufactured from recycled paper and is often brown or grey in colour. Most of our rigid boxes are manufactured from boxboard.

BUCKRAM – a very popular covering paper with a textured finish, available in wide range of colours.

BLIND EMBOSSING – an image pressed onto a sheet without ink or foil.

BUNDLE – a small pack of boxes grouped together for shipment, usually with plastic binding.

CALIPER – the thickness of the board usually expressed in microns (1000 micron = 1mm). Rigid boxes are usually between 1000-2000 microns thick; folding cartons are usually 450-800 microns.

CARDBOARD – a generic term used for a heavy-duty paper of various strengths, ranging from a simple arrangement of a single thick sheet of paper to complex configurations featuring multiple corrugated and uncorrugated layers.

CARRIER – a package generally used for multiple packaging of cans, bottles and other unit containers, and  incorporating a handle or other  means of carrying.

CARTON – a packing which is cut from one piece of material, generally has one glue seam and can be supplied flat-packed.

CASE MADE (TURNED EDGE) – the process of precisely gluing oversized covering material to boards and turning edges over to the inside of boards and applying lining material for a finished look.

CAVITY – refers to the empty space within a box, more often referring to the custom cavity created by a die cut foam insert created to the product’s exact contours.

CLAMSHELL – a one-piece box with the ability to be entirely closed on itself to house a product.

CMYK – abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black), the 4 process colours, which combined together in varying proportions can be made to produce the full colour spectrum. In contrast, display devices, such as computers monitors or TVs, typically define colours using RGB method.

COLLAPSIBLE (FOLDABLE) BOX – a one or two-piece box made with rigid-weight board covered in a wrap that folds flat for easy shipping.

COLLATE – a finishing term for gathering paper in a precise order.

CORRUGATED BOARD (CORRUGATED FIBERBOARD) – a paper-based material consisting of a fluted (wavy) corrugated sheet and one or two flat linerboards, widely used in the manufacture of corrugated boxes and shipping containers.

COUNTER DISPLAY BOX – a box that usually sits either sits on a counter or shelf at a cash register, hold multiple units, and the top of the box folds up and inward to display information about the product.

CREASE – a score or impression in a substrate that facilitates folding and bending.

CURL – distortions of sheet due, for instance, to uneven moisture content or excessive tension.

CUTTING FORME (TOOLING) – a tool made to cut and crease the specific shape and size required for your boxes from the appropriate cardboard or corrugated board.

DEBOSSING – a process where the logo or design is slightly pressed into the paper.

DIELINE (KEYLINES, LAYOUT) – a diagram of a package design showing all events, such as folds, creases, cuts, perforations and bleeds.

DIE-CUTTING – the process of cutting the shape of the box out of a larger piece of cardboard.

DIGITAL PRINTING – a printing process that allows colour printing directly from electronic images without the need for film, colour separations or printing plates.

DIMENSIONS – the three measurements of a box, given in the sequence of length, width, and height using inside dimensions; the height is typically recognised as the measurement between the open ends.

DOUBLE WALL BOARD – a combination of two layers of corrugated board – comprises of: liner/fluting/liner/fluting/liner.

DPI – considered as “dots per square inch,” a measure of output resolution in relationship to printers, image setters and monitors.

DRAWER-STYLE BOX – the combination of a box on its side and additional base (drawer) that slides into it, with either a thumb notch or ribbon pull for opening.

DUST FLAPS – the unglued side flaps that extend and turn down into the carton upon closure to keep dust and other foreign particles out.

EMBOSSING – process of imprinting paper to create a raised pattern or design.

FEFCO CODES – FEFCO stands for the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers – an official system to substitute long and complicated verbal descriptions of box and packaging constructions with simple codes that are internationally understood by all.

FINISHES – printed paper or board can be coated using machine varnish (matt or gloss), UV varnish (high gloss) or film laminate (high gloss or matt).

FINISHING – any of a variety of processes performed to document or publication after printing. Finishing can include diecutting, trimming, folding and binding, as well as decorative operations as embossing, foil stamping, and laminating.

FLAP – extension of the side wall panels that, when sealed, close the remaining openings of a box, usually defined by one scoreline and three edges.

FLEXOGRAPHY – type of rotary printing using flexible plates and fast drying, water based inks.

FLUSH FIT – a term that refers to a base and lid having the same length and width, creating smooth sides where the lid rim does not extend past the outside perimeter of the base.

FLUTE  (FLUTING) – the wavy, rippled sheet that fits between two linerboards of a piece of corrugated fiberboard. The most popular are E-flute (1.5mm approx), B-flute (3mm approx) & C-flute (5mm approx).

FOAM INSERT – custom foam piece that is often die-cut to hold any size object safe and securely in a custom box.

FOIL STAMPING – the application of pigment or metallic foil, often gold or silver, to paper  where a heated die is stamped onto the foil, making it adhere to the surface leaving the design of the die on the paper.

FOIL STAMPING BLOCK (DIE) – a blunt metal stamp, usually heated, to apply a layer of foil to paper or other material.

FOLDING CARTON – a generic term for any style of pack which can be supplied flat.

FULFILLMENT – collating, inserting and loading materials into a package for bulk shipping or mailing.

GLUE FLAP – the flap on the end of a carton that is applied with glue and adhered to the opposite end to form the carton.

GRAIN – the direction of the majority of the fibers in the board.

GSM – it stands for Grams per Square Metre and gives the density of the board or paper.

HICKEY – an unplanned spot or imperfection on a printed sheet, usually from dirt or bits of paper getting stuck on the printing plate or blanket.

HINGE – a component that attaches two pieces of the package together but allow movement of one or both pieces along its axis.

HINGED LID – lid attached to a box on one side.

IMAGE RESOLUTION – the sharpness of an image; the number of pixels per unit area in an image expressed as dpi (dots per inch).

INSERT – any construction of cardboard or other material placed or sometimes glued in a box to locate and secure product.

KITTING – the process by which a specific product is paired with other items, such as pamphlets, souvenirs, compact discs, or flash drives, to turn a singular product into a boxed collection or kit.

KRAFT – a paper or board containing unbleached wood fibers (brown in colour).

LAMINATE – to cover with film; to bond or glue one surface to another.

LETTERPRESS – a printing method in which ink is transferred from a metal plate directly to a sheet of paper or board.

LID (COVER) – the upper portion of the box that fits on top of the base of the box.

LIFTS – pieces of ribbon, cloth or paper attached to trays or below a product to aid inconvenient removal.

LINING – the term applied when the inside of a box or platform is laminated with paper or other material.

LINER (LINERBOARD)a thin cardboard used for the flat facings of corrugated board.

MAKEREADY – the work associated with set-up of equipment before running a job.

MANUFACTURER’S JOINT – the part of the box where the ends of the scored and slotted blank are fastened through by gluing.

MEDIUM – paper used to make the fluted layer of corrugated board.

NECK (COLLAR) – an additional box part placed inside a base and extending above its height to allow lid to fit over it and sit flush with the base when closed (see: SHOULDER BOX).

OFFSET PRINTING (LITHOGRAPHY) – a printing method in which ink is transferred from a plate to a smooth rubber “blanket” roller that transfers the image to paper (or cardboard).

OVERS – the extra printed products delivered to a customer over and above the net amount ordered.

PAD – a corrugated or solid fiberboard sheet, used for extra protection or separating layers of products when packed.

PANEL – a face, side, top or bottom of a box.

PANTONE COLOUR – a library of printing industry standard colours which can be matched and reproduced accurately. Please note that lamination can distort final colour finish.

PAPERS – various substrates used as wraps in the manufacture of rigid boxes.

PARTITIONS (DIVIDERS) – slotted cardboard pieces fitted together or creased and folded to form a series of compartments in a base.

POP (POS) DISPLAY – the abbreviated name of the Point of Purchase (Point Of Sale) Displays, promotional displays often made of sturdy corrugated board, they have very visible signage and shelve the products they are advertising.

PRESS CHECK – an opportunity for the customer, graphic designer, brand manager etc. to witness the printing of their product and give feedback to the Printing and Pre-press Departments if necessary.

PLATFORM – cardboard insert designed to raise the floor of the base of a presentation box or with cut-out to hold items in place.

PMS – the abbreviated name of the Pantone Colour Matching System.

PROMOTIONAL PACKAGING – a special packaging used to introduce a new product or stimulate sales of an existing product. May be of special design and may contain a premium gift, or special offer. Usually produced in limited quantities.

PROOF – any method of testing and verifying artwork prior to production of plates, dies and tooling.

PULLS – pieces of ribbon, tape or other material attached to a tray or box part to form a handle that opens the box.

REAM – a unit of 500 sheets of paper.

RECYCLABLE – packaging materials or packages that may be reprocessed into raw materials for subsequent re-conversion into packages or for secondary purposes.

REGISTRATION – the positioning of one process onto another. Registration can affect how the printed sheet looks if the colors do not line up correctly. Registration can affect the die cutting, if the die does not line up correctly to the print.

RETAIL PACKAGING – a packaging suitable for retail distribution of consumer units of a product.

REVERSE OUT – print that is cut out of the background print revealing a different colour or the board/paper colour behind.

RGB – stands for the colours red, green, and blue. In web design, colours are defined in terms of a combination of these three colours. In contrast, print designers typically define colours using CMYK model.

RIBBON – a decorative item that can be placed around a box to keep it shut.

RIGID BOX – a box that is manufactured and shipped in its final configuration, ready for use, without further unfolding or assembly by the end user.

SATIN – material used extensively in the base of gift and presentation boxes as well as covering platforms. Cardboard fitments can be used under satin to hold items in place.

SBS – stands for Solid Bleached Sulphate – a type of paperboard material commonly used to make box packaging. It is the highest quality and most expensive paper board substrate produced from bleached virgin wood pulp.

SCORE – a groove cut into, but not all the way through, cardboard, along which the board is folded.

SHELF-READY PACKAGING – packaging that goes straight from the factory to point of sale without being unwrapped.

SHIPPER – a box for transporting goods.

SHOULDER BOX – a box with a base, lid and neck (collar) that allows the top and bottom to join either flush or with a gap.

SINGLE FACE BOARD – one piece of fluting glued to one liner only.

SINGLE WALL BOARD – a board combination comprising of: liner/flute/liner.

SLEEVE – material creased and glued to create a four-sided, rectangular tube that slides over a rigid box.

SLIDE BOX – box in which the lid is the form of a shell into which the base is inserted at the side or end.

SLIP CASE – an open-ended case into which book(s) or other printed materials are inserted.

SLOT – a wide cut or pair of closely spaced parallel cuts including removal of a narrow strip of material made in a fiber board sheet, usually to form flaps without bulges caused by thickness of the material.

SPINE – the back of a slipcase / binder / book connecting the two covers.

STAY (STAY TAPE) – a reinforcing tape applied to the corners of a component.

STOCK BOXES – cartons produced in larger quantities in advance and broken down into smaller quantities for sale.

STRAP (STRAPPING) – a flexible strip of material used for closing or reinforcing transport packages or for securing unit loads. Either non-metallic (nylon, polypropylene, polyester) or metallic straps can be used; both types are usually joined with metal clips or heat welding.

STRIPPING – the removal process of the excess board created by windows or the nesting of cartons during die-cutting process.

SUBSTRATE – material onto which the print ink is ultimately applied, such as paper, board etc.

TELESCOPE BOX – describes a a two-piece box in which the sides of one part fit over those of the other; often the lid height is the same as the base height (full telescope box).

TEXTURED PAPERS – papers that have an embossed pattern rather than a smooth finish, often used for gift boxes. Most popular includes buckram, chamois and linen.

THUMB NOTCH (THUMB CUT) – a semi-circular cut made in the sides of the lid to facilitate its removal from the base of the box.

TRAY – just the base of the box.

UV COATING – a high gloss liquid coating bonded and cured with ultraviolet light.

VARNISH – a clear ink applied on-press to printed surfaces for looks and protection.

WEB – a roll of paper or other flexible material as it moves through a machine in the process of being converted.

WEB PRINTING – the production of printed goods such as flexible packaging from rolls of paper that are passed through the press as one continuous web.

WINDOW – a die-cut opening in a carton that allows the contents of the packaging to be seen, often covered by transparent film.

WITH THE GRAIN – folding and feeding papers parallel to the grain of the paper.

WRAP – a sheet of material that is glued to the outside of a structure formed by cardboard to finish a box.

WRAPPING – process of covering base, lid or tray with paper on wrapping machine or by hand.