Prep Like A Pro

Important Paper Lingo Explained

Kyle Irwin

You’ve reached the point where your print design is ready to be submitted to your local commercial printer — congratulations! The best way to make your print order process go as smoothly as possible is to familiarize yourself with the basic printing language. Without knowing the common printing lingo, you may receive a quote or invoice that you don’t fully understand, and can result in a product that doesn’t meet your needs.

Know Your Printing Jargon

QTY (Quantity)

When asking for a certain amount of a print, make sure to tell your printer the quantity or QTY. It’s important to keep in mind that if you are ordering more than one print item, to include a QTY for each item. For example, if you are ordering business cards for your office, and each employee gets a certain amount, make sure to include a QTY for each employee business card.

Size (Dimensions)

In the United States, printing size is typically written in inches, and expressed as width followed by height. For example, if you are looking for postcards that are four inches wide and six inches tall, you would ask for a 4 x 6. Similarly, if you needed a poster printed that is eleven inches wide by 17 inches tall, you’d ask for an 11 x 17.

Image depicting difference in size of 11 x 17 and 4 x 6 sizes.

Paper Weight

At Printworks, we express paper weight with a number, followed by either “text” or “cover”.

Examples from lightest to heaviest:

60# Text

80# Text

100# Text

80# Cover

100# Cover

Text weight refers to a thinner paper stock weight, and gets its name for the thickness of the interior pages of a book. It’s most practically used for items such as posters, flyers, booklets, and letterheads.

Cover stock weight is heavier, like that of the cover of a paperback book, and is generally used for the likes of postcards, business cards, and invitations.

Other print shops may use different paper weight terminology. In our paper weight resource, we go into further detail about different terminology, in addition to why different terms are used regarding paper weight.

Paper Finish

In addition to weight, paper comes in a variety of finishes as well. At Printworks, we carry gloss, satin, and uncoated, however other paper finishes exist as well. Gloss and satin stocks are considered coated paper, and have a thin layer of compressed clay that the print toner is fused to. Satin is a bit less shiny than gloss, but with more sheen than a matte stock. Uncoated doesn’t have the clay coating, making it perfect for writing on without fear of smearing pen ink. It’s considered our most matte-like stock at our print shop.

Double Sided or Single Sided

Will your project require printing on both sides of the sheet, or do you prefer single sided? When receiving a quote from Printworks, we’ll express it one of four ways:

1/0 = Black and white (grayscale), single sided

1/1 = Black and white (grayscale), double sided

4/0 = Color, single sided

4/4 = Color, double sided

Putting it All Together

When placing an order for printing, make sure to always include the QTY, Size, Paper Weight, Finish, and double/single sided preference. After you’ve become familiar with the above printing terms, it’s easy to both submit a print order, as well as double-check that your local print shop is on the same page as you before sending to the printer.