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because there's a lot to know!

The business forms industry, like many other industries, has a language all its own. You should understand this language in order to effectively communicate within the industry.

Learning the language of the business forms industry is similar to learning a foreign language. Because there are so many people involved in the process of ordering and producing a form, opportunities for misunderstanding occur frequently. Mastering this language improves communication between Factor Forms and our dealers, and ensures that both parties involved in an order are speaking on the same level. Accurate and effective communication minimizes reruns, saves time and phone calls, speeds up order processing and production, creates goodwill, and ensures that the product delivered to the ultimate user is the one ordered. With that in mind, it's time to proceed with an overview of the language of the business forms industry.


The glossary provides a brief overview of some of the most commonly used industry terms. Please read through this section so the terms and concepts become familiar.


Back Printing: the printing on the reverse side of a sheet or web. It is often produced with a lighter screen or in gray ink so the print will not show through to the front.


Bar Code: a system of symbols, used to identify data through length, position, size or thickness of lines or symbols. Codes are normally both printed and read by machines.


Bindery Operations: manufacturing operations normally performed after the press and collators. These can include booking, shrink wrapping, drilling, consecutive and MICR numbering, trimming.


Bleed: the extension of the printed image beyond the area to be trimmed. Once trimmed the ink appears to "bleed" off the edge of the paper.


Blockout: a printed pattern that obscures image transfer on selected areas of a form or other printed piece.


Bottom Stub: a snap set in which printing or writing is oriented so that the stub is at the bottom rather than at the top or side.


Bug: a registration mark used to line the form to paper. On continuous and snap set forms our bug is a circle that encloses one of the line holes. As long as that bug stays in that position for all parts you know that copy will register part to part.


CMYK - cyan, magenta, yellow, black: a combination of these colors combine together to make a color for printing. Using files saved this way can create errors when trying to convert to spot color. (see process color printing)


Caliper: a measure of a paper's thickness expressed in thousandths of an inch (mils)


Carbon paper: paper to which a carbon coating has been applied used to make duplicate copies with pencil, pen, or typewriter.


Carbon interleaved form: any continuous or snap set form employing carbon paper for image transfer. Forms manufacturers use one-time carbon (OTC) paper designed to be used for just one writing and then discarded.


Carbonless Paper: any paper stock coated, manufactured, or treated to provide part-to-part imaging under pressure without the use of carbon interleaves. Chemical-mated systems require contact between two paper surfaces, each with a different, relatively colorless coating that reacts under pressure to form a visible image on one surface. Chemical self-contained carbonless paper has the two coatings manufactured onto the same sheet.


CB: abbreviation for "coated-back." Chemical-mated carbonless systems require the contact of two paper surfaces, each with a different coating. Under impact or pressure, the coating on the coated-back surface reacts with the coating on the coated-front surface to produce an image.


CF: abbreviation for "coated-front." Chemical-mated carbonless systems require the contact of two paper surfaces, each with a different coating. Under impact or pressure, the coating on the coated-back surface reacts with the chemical coating on the coated front sheet to produce an image.


CFB: abbreviation for "coated-front-and back." A coated-front-and-back sheet reacts under impact or pressure to form an image on the coated-front side, and the chemicals on the coated-back surface of the paper react to form an image on an adjacent coated front surface.


Clean Perf: a perforation having many cuts (teeth) per inch and a very small tie. When the perforation is torn, the resulting edge resembles an edge that was cut with a knife. Trade names may include micro perf, razor cut, laser cutor keen edge.


Collator: in forms production, a machine used to assemble the parts of a form, either from sheets or from rolls. Operations such as fastening, perforating, and folding can often be performed on the collator, too.


Composition: the prepress assembly of the components of a printed piece. Composition may include typesetting, paste-up, production of negatives, image assembly, or plate making.


Consecutive Numbering: on forms, numbers printed in a series to allow for control by the form user. The numbers are usually printed by a numbering machine or machines mounted on a press or collator.


Continuous Form: a form manufactured from a continuous web and fan - folded. A continuous form may be carbon-interleaved or carbonless.


Copy: manuscript and text for reproduction. Also, "copy" can be a synonym for part (please see that definition) or ply.


Crash Numbering: consecutive numbering on forms using carbon or carbonless materials for image transfer. Usually performed on a collator, the number is struck upon the first ply and is transferred to the other plies by the carbon or carbonless material. Sometimes referred to as security numbering.


Crash Printing: the use of relief pressure to impress an image onto the second and subsequent parts of a form through the use of carbon or carbonless materials.


Crimp: a temporary forms fastening consisting of fingers of paper cut through the plies being fastened. The strength of the crimp depends on the depth of the cut and on the number of prongs (fingers) - three or four being the most common. Crimping is done on the collator.


Crop Mark: in design, the lines drawn on an overlay or in the margins of an illustration to define the portion of the image to appear in the reproduction.


Cross Perforation: on continuous forms and snap sets, a perforation cut at right angles to the web direction.


CTP: abbreviation for Computer to Plate. The computer file is send directly to the output device to make a plate.


Desensitize: the process of coating the CF surface of a carbonless paper with a material (ink) that inhibits image transfer. It also refers to the ink used in this process. Desensitizing is used for blockouts, copy changes, etc.


Designation: information printed on a form to describe the use or routing of a particular part. This information is "stamped" on the form in red ink and changes form part to part.


Drilling: in production, punching through an entire lift of forms as a final bindery operation.


Jog: to straighten or align sheets of paper in a stack. It also refers to the inching of a piece of machinery.


Justify: to place lines of type in an orderly fashion. Left justify all lines of text line up on the left side. Right justify all lines would line up on the right side.


Kleenstick: a double sided tape with a removable liner usually added at the collator stage to a form. The removable liner allows the form to be stuck to another object.


Length: on continuous forms, the dimension measured between set perforations (preferably referred to as depth). On snap sets, it is the dimension running perpendicular (i.e., at right angles) to the stub.


Line Holes: the series of holes running parallel to the edge of the paper web and used to control paper in a manufacturing machine (press or collator) or forms writing machine, burster, or other end-user equipment. Typical specifications for line holes are 5 /32" (3.97 mm) diameter, 1/2" from center to center, and 1/4" from the center to the edge of the paper.


M: abbreviation for the quantity of 1000. Forms are usually priced on a "per M" (i.e. per thousand) basis.


Magnetic ink: ink made with particles (usually iron oxide) that can be magnetized after printing to enable the printed matter to be scanned and recognized by electronic sensing (reading) or MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) equipment. It is widely used by banks for both printing and processing cheques.


Make ready: in production, the complete process involved in getting presses ready to run. Make ready includes roll mounting, plate mounting, inking, and registering and adjusting.


Margin: the unprinted space around the periphery of a form or page.


MICR: abbreviation for "Magnetic Ink Character Recognition." It is an automatic data entry system using characters printed according to strict specifications and read by a device that responds to the magnetic flux imparted by each character. MICR is used extensively on cheques and other documents in the banking industry.


MICR Clear Band: on a cheque, the area where the MICR characters appear. It is an area 5/8" wide along the bottom edge of the cheque and extending the entire length of the cheque. No extraneous MICR ink can appear in the clear band.


Padding: the process of adding glue to the edge of forms so that they can be made into pads. This process is done in the Bindery department.

Pantograph: a printed pattern that creates an overall background tone on documents such as cheques and gift certificates for increased security. A pantograph is generally reproduced from screened patterns placed at different angles.

Pantone Matching System: trade name for a color matching system used by printers to specify ink for printing. A specific formula is used to produce each shade and each shade is assigned a specific number. Often referred to as "PMS".

Padding: gluing the end of a stack of paper. Some snap sets are carbonless paper with one end padded (fan-apart).

Part: one ply or copy within a snap set or continuous form.

Pattern carbon: carbon applied to a tissue stock in a pattern that is not related to the paper web direction. The pattern is used to withhold information.

Perfect Bind: similar to stitching, this mechanical process adds glue to the edge of a pack of forms to make books.

Perforation: a series of cuts or holes manufactured on a form to weaken it for tearing. A perforation can be described by how it is made (press perforation, machine perforation), by the cutting device used (blade perforation, wheel perforation), by its direction on the finished form (cross perforation, rotary perforation), or by its function (stub perforation, between-set perforation).

Per M: the standard reference for "per thousand," a common method of pricing forms. ("M" is the Roman numeral or 1000.)

Phantom: a screened image printed on a form for decorative or protective purposes. It is usually light so that it can be clearly written over.

Plate: the surface from which a print is made and that bears the image to be reproduced. A plate may be made of metal, rubber, synthetic rubber, photo polymer, or plastic, and it is treated to carry an image to the printing surface on the press.

Plate gap: on a printed piece, the image-free area resulting from the need to lock the ends of the plate to the cylinder. Plate gap is normally 3/8" (though it may vary), and the intervals for it are determined by the press cylinder circumference. Plate gap runs across a continuous form and runs the length of a snap set. Also called gap, lockup space, cylinder gap, gap space, and plate lockup.

Press depth: determines the possible form depths that can be produced on a press. For example, a cylinder with a 22" circumference (called a 22" press) can print one 22" form, two 11" forms, three 7 1/3" forms, four 5 1/2" forms and six 3 2/3" forms.

Press Proof: a proof copy taken from the actual production run on the press.

Proof: a sheet of printed copy that is a representation of a printed piece. Both appearance and composition accuracy are examined and corrections are marked on the proof itself. Can also be in a PDF format sent via the internet.

Printout: hard copy generated by a computer printer.

Process color printing: the method of reproducing the entire visible spectrum by overprinting yellow, magenta, cyan and black. Four printing plates are used, one for each color. Our web presses are not good at "holding" the dot to dot registration necessary for most applications.


Encoding: In the banking industry, encoding is the imprinting of MICR characters on cheques, deposits, or other bank documents. It also refers to the magnetized recording of data on the magnetic strip on a bank card.


Extraneous ink: ink that shouldn't but does appear. Also described as splatter, smear, tracking, toning, offset.


Face: the "front side" of a form, normally that which contains printing or the most important information.


False Stub: a stub that will be trimmed off once the form is printed.

Fan-A-Part Glue: special glue used in edge padding carbonless paper. Since this glue does not adhere to uncoated surfaces, individual sets can simply be "fanned" apart. Note: carbonless paper on rolls have a different chemistry makeup than sheets, therefore does not work with traditional fan apart glue...we will trim off the snap stub to make the form appear as a fan apart set.


Fastening: a device or technique for holding together elements of a form (normally continuous forms). Fastening processes may be performed on the collator or as a final bindery operation. Also, fastening may be described in terms of type (staple, glue, sewing, crimp), positioning (marginal, corner, perforation), or function (permanent, flexible, temporary).


Feather-edge carbon: on a snap set, a carbon with an uncoated edge opposite the stub. The carbon is often also perforated at the "stub" end to remove easily from the form. The uncoated portion normally extends 1/2" beyond the open end of the set.


File hole punching: punches made near an edge of a form to permit it to be placed in a binding or filing device. File holes may be punched on the press or drilled in bindery.


Flat Charge: in forms pricing, the charge that remains constant regardless of the quantity ordered. It is a one-time charge covering preparation, plate make ready, and other costs.


Fold marks: short lines printed on a form to show where it should be folded.


Folder: in production, the device at the delivery end of the press or collator for folding continuous forms.


Form: the basic business tool (whether printed or electronic) for collecting and transmitting information. It is a catalyst or getting things done and a record of what was done.


Gap/Gap Space: another term for plate gap space (please see that definition). 3/8”


Grain Direction: paper fibres lie in a similar direction in a sheet of paper. This direction is called the grain. Printing is usually done so that if folding is required, the fold is done parallel to the grain.


Gripper Edge: in sheet-fed printing, the leading edge of a sheet of paper as the paper passes through the press.


Gripper Space: in sheet-fed printing, the amount of space needed for grippers (devices that pull the paper through the press) to grasp the leading edge (gripper edge) of the paper.


Hard copy: a printed or written document that can be read without the aid of a computer screen.


Head-to-Foot: orientation of back printing as related to front printing on a form. In head-to-foot orientation, the top of the copy on the backer is directly opposite the bottom of the copy on the face of the form.


Head-to-Head: orientation of back printing as related to front printing on a form. In head-to-head orientation, the top of the copy on the backer is directly opposite the top of the copy on the face of the form.


Hickeys: spots or defects caused by foreign matter on the printing plate or on the blanket. Ink hickeys appear as dark specks with a white ring around them. Paper hickeys appear as white specks.


Hologram: a foil stamp feature on cheque that provides a high level of protection against fraudulent activity.


Impression: in production, one revolution of the printing cylinder. The term impression refers to the pressure created by the type, plate, or blanket as it contacts the paper and produces printed copy.


Impression Cylinder: in a rotary printing press, the cylinder that presses the paper against the image to be offset (i.e., transferred). In both wet offset and dry offset, the impression cylinder presses the paper against the blanket cylinder (which has received the image from the plate wrapped around the plate cylinder).


Quotation: a statement of price, terms of sale, and description of goods or services by a vendor to a prospective purchaser.


Raster (Bitmap): a dot matrix data structure that represents a generally rectangular grid of pixels. It cannot be scaled up without losing quality. Conversion to vector may be time consuming or impossible.


RGB - the color language of computers. Red, green, blue: a combination of these color combine together to make one color for computer screen. We do not accept files in RGB because when converting to spot color, the converted color is not a true reflection of the original.


Register Form: continuous forms folded in a zig-zag manner that fit into a counter top "register" machine. It is controlled by special punches at the head of each form and usually not carbon interleaved.


Registration: with forms, the alignment of one element of a form in relation to another. It may refer to the relation of the printer to the paper, of a perforation to the form edge, or of one ply to another.

Resolution: the measure of detail in an image usually expressed in dots per inch (dpi). (i.e. computer screen views at 72 dpi, most business forms are printed at 300 dpi and most magazines print at 800 dpi. Photographs print in 1200 dpi or higher)


Reverse: any material printed so the original background becomes the inked image and the copy itself is left unprinted (showing the color of the paper). Examples of a reverse are the column headings (Quantity, Item Number, Description, Discount, Net Price, and Amount) on most invoices.


RIP - Raster Image Processor: the hardware/software which converts data which has been stored in a computer into a series of lines of tiny dots which are output on film or photographic paper. In line work, the dots can be groupedto create solid areas.


Rule: any line on a form (rule is the term preferable to line). Rules are usually classified as hairline (thin), medium, or bold (heavy).


Running Charge: the charge directly related to the variable costs of production, such as length of the press run. It is normally charged on a per thousand ("per M") basis.


Score: an indentation on paper to aid folding. A heavyweight paper that is not scored will not fold evenly especially if folded against the grain.


Sheeter: a converting machine that cuts a web of paper into individual sheets.


Shrink Wrap: the plastic coating wrapped around forms to protect them before they are used.


Snapset: a form set with glued stub construction designed for rapid form separation and removal of carbon (if any) in one operation. A snap set is non-continuous, and it may use carbonless paper rather than being carbon-interleaved.


Spot color - A specific color in a design: usually designated to be printed with a specific matching ink, rather than through process CMYK printing


Step-and-Repeat: in the graphic arts, a technique to produce multiple images with extremely close tolerances on a film or plate. It also refers to a pantograph that has symbols or logo types repeated over and over.


Stitch (staple): using wire staples to bind forms into a book.


Stub: the fastened portion of a snap set. It is separated by a perforation, and separating the stub usually removes the carbon interleaves, too. Stubs are described by their location on a form (top stub, bottom stub, side stub)


Stub Depth: on snap sets, the distance from the edge of the stub to the stub perforation usually 5/8".


Tint: a general shading applied to a form. A tint is usually a low-percentage flat screen or an extremely light-colored printed solid.


Torn-out Size: the size of a form after removing the stub(s).


Vector: images that are made of mathematical calculations that form objects and lines. They can be scaled to any size without losing quality. Can be printed at any resolution and the number of colours can be easily increased or reduced to adjust to printing budget.

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