The PRINTING United Alliance Glossary serves as an excellent industry terminology resource. It is the language by which we all communicate. Without it, universal understanding would be impossible.

To keep our constituents well informed about changes to the increasingly complex industry terminology, PRINTING United Alliance has developed this glossary of terms. Definitions are for general reference only. Usage may vary between companies, individuals, or national and country customs. The information presented is as accurate as the authors and editors can ascertain and PRINTING United Alliance assumes no responsibility for the use of information presented herein.
  • Color OK sheets
    The printed colors that have been approved for ink/color-matching.
  • Color overlay
    Transparent film overlay usually made of acetate, which are superimposed over each other to represent each color in a reproduction.
  • Color oxide
    Material used to impart color to a glass enamel.
  • Color profile (device profile)
    This term refers to the relationship between the color models of the system devices.
  • Color proofs
    (1) First prints pulled before the production run to check selection, placement, and register of all colors in the composition to be printed, used to determine need for final correction or acceptance of print quality; (2) A representation of how the final printed composition will appear.
  • Color retention
    The property of a color to resist fading or other deterioration on exposure to light.
  • Color saturation
    Color strength. A measure of color purity, or dilution by a neutral.
  • Color separation (seps)
    (1) Separating the areas of a piece to be printed into its component spot and process ink colors; (2) A process using red, green, and blue filters to divide the colors of a multicolored original into the process colors of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black; (3) A photographic technique involving photographing original continuous tone colored art through a series of filters, each to provide negatives representing the colors used in rendering the original.
  • Color sequence
    The order in which colors are printed onto a substrate.
  • Color space
    A three-dimensional geometric representation of the colors that can be seen and/or generated using a certain color model.
  • Color specification
    Tristimulus values, chromaticity coordinates, luminance value, or other color scale values used to designate a color numerically in a specific color system.
  • Color standard
    A printed ink sample, proof, or press sheet to which another similar material is compared.
  • Color strength
    In printing ink, the concentration of coloring pigment per unit of weight or volume.
  • Color swatch
    Any piece of paper or cloth, printed or unprinted used for color matching or measurement of color.
  • Color system
    A concept that relates colors for description or reproduction. Models in imaging include CIE, PMS and Photo YCC, among others.
  • Color temperature
    (1) A measure of the energy distribution over the visible spectral range of a light source with a continuous spectrum, expressed in degrees Kelvin (K); the temperature at which an object emits its specific wavelength of light in degrees Kelvin (K); (2) Manufacturer’s method of indicating the color of a light source in degrees Kelvin (K) (2700K yellow/white, 4100K white, 5500K blue/white).
  • Color toner
    An ink formulation intermixed with another formulation to control the appearance of the final imprint. (Toner colors are not intended for printing alone as compounded), also refer to tinter.
  • Color transparency
    (1) A full color photograph on transparent film; (2) Full color manually drawn design rendered in transparent colors to permit light transmission through the film and color layers, can be used in displays by back lighting, or as a photographic subject by transmitted, rather than reflected light; (3) A transparent film screen printed with translucent inks.
  • Color variation
    (1) A changes in a color that occur in density of color during printing; (2) Changes in the density of color caused by variations in the amount of ink accepted by the substrate or by the amount of ink delivered to the substrate.
  • Color volume
    The ink-holding capacity of all the mesh openings in one square meter of stretched screen mesh.
  • Color wheel
    The visible spectrum’s continuum of colors arranged into a circle, where complementary colors such as red and green are located directly across from each other.
  • Colorant
    A substance used to create colors, dyes, pigments, toners, waxes, and phosphors.
  • Colorimeter
    A device for measuring color values; an optical measurement instrument that responds to color in a manner similar to the human eye by filtering reflected light into its dominate regions of red, green, and blue.
  • Colorimetric purity
    The ratio of the luminosity of the spectrum color to the luminosity of the mixture of illuminate and spectrum color that matches the color of the specimen viewed by the illuminate alone.
  • Combination densitometer
    Measures both reflection and transmission densities.