This is the mother of all packaging terminology posts!
We hope you find it useful when you’re designing packaging for your brand or for your clients. Feel free to email us if you have any questions about any of the terms, email@example.com.
Against the Grain
Folding or feeding paper at right angles to the grain direction of the paper.
Board that is made with a low sulfur content to help prevent silver from tarnishing.
Paper or board in which dye has been added into the beaker producing a sheet with consistent color throughout its thickness.
The unfinished cardboard base or lid of the box still flat.
Made from recycled paper products and virgin Kraft. Material is ground and combined with other materials in a beater to form pulp. The pulp is then spread on a screen to remove excess water.
Chipboards which have two or more lightweight boards glued together to form a thicker sheet.
A board in which stain is applied to only one side.
Chipboard to which a layer of bleached (white) pulp has been added. Can be applied to both sides.
A design which is stamped (raised) without metallic leaf or ink, giving a bas-relief effect.
A design which is pressed without metallic leaf or ink, giving an indented effect.
A process similar to hot stamping where a pattern or design is slightly pressed into the paper with hot stamping foil.
A process similar to hot stamping where a pattern or design is slightly raised on the paper with hot stamping foil.
A printing method in which metalized or pigmented foils are applied to a sheet with a heated metal die or plate.
Thumbcuts or Thumbholes
A semi-circular or other shape cut made in sides or ends to facilitate removal of lid from base or contents from base.
Acronym for Computer Assisted Design/Computer Assisted Makeup or Manufacturing.
Camera Ready Art
Original artwork which is ready for photography; or artwork prepared on computer with all necessary files.
Acronym for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black – subtractive primary colors. Printing colors for “4-color process” color reproduction.
The weight in pounds of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to a given standard size for that grade; e.g. 500 sheets 25 x 38 in. of 50 lb. text paper weighs fifty pounds.
The degree of thickness of paper. In book printing, the number of pages per inch for a given basis weight.
Paper or Board in which dye has been added into the beaker producing a sheet with consistent color throughout its thickness.
The thickness of paper, usually expressed in thousandths of an inch (mils) and written in decimals.
Paper with a surface coating which produces a smooth finish. Surfaces vary from eggshell to glossy.
In paper, the distortion of a sheet due to differences in structure or coatings from one side to the other, or due to absorption of moisture on an offset press.
In papermaking, the width of the wet sheet as it comes off the wire of a paper machine. The Deckle Edge is the untrimmed feathery edges of paper formed where the pulp flows against the deckle.
A texture applied to paper or lightweight board after the manufacturing of the sheet. Textures often resemble another material such as leather.
A process in which paper is pressed between metal dies to create an image in relief. Used as overprinting, with foil, or on blank paper (called Blind Embossing).
In papermaking, the direction in which most fibers lie which corresponds with the direction the paper is made on a paper machine.
A paper or board containing unbleached wood pulp (brown in color). Usually not recycled.
Dull paper finish without gloss or luster.
Commonly used as wraps in the manufacture of Set-Up or Rigid Boxes. They could be hand-made, stock purchased from a Paper Mill, printed 4-color process, coated or uncoated.
A roll of paper or other flexible material as it moves through a machine in the process of being converted.
The covering material that is glued to the chipboard base and/or lid of a set-up box. Material may be paper, book cloth, bonded leather, plastic, vinyl, etc.
Poly Vinyl Chloride: a clear plastic used for making lids.
On a printed sheet, an extra amount of printed image which extends beyond the trim edge of the sheet or page break for color. In artwork and composition, to separate the parts to be printed in different colors.
Chokes and Spreads
In printing, overlap of overprinting images to avoid color or white fringes or borders around image detail (also called “trapping”).
A protective layer added to a printed sheet including varnish, u.v. coating, peroxylin, nitro cellulose, acrylic, etc.
This is the finest coating applied to printed board or fine paper. Although it is not recommended for textured stocks, film lamination adds durability to the printed sheet and allows for constructions that would not be possible with unlaminated paper. There are several different degrees and weights of matte and gloss film laminations available.
A water-based coating that is applied to seal the entire sheet, creating a smooth finish that is available from matte & satin to gloss.
A coating that is applied for protection to a printed sheet. Varnish is available in different finishes & tints and can be applied to specific areas to create subtle effects or to coat the entire sheet. Clients should note that varnish has a tendency to slightly yellow a printed sheet.
A high gloss liquid coating that is applied off line as a screened process. Although UV coating appears quite glossy, it is not as durable as film lamination.
This process is an application of an acid-based varnish to a gloss laminated product that introduces areas of matte to the glossy product.
Printing by plateless imaging systems that are imaged by digital data from pre-press systems.
In inkmaking, a term used to describe ink chemist’s method of roughly determining color shade. A small glob of ink is placed on paper and drawn down with the edge of a putty knife spatula to get a thin film of ink.
Any technology that reproduces pages without the use of traditional ink, water or chemistry.hairline register
In printing, register within plus or minus 1/2 row of dots.
In offset lithography, spots or imperfections in the printing due to dirt on the press, dried ink skin, paper particles, etc.
Brand name for a type of color proof.
A printing method in which ink is transferred from a metal plate directly to a sheet of paper or board.
Stacks of paper which are separated as they come off a printing press to prevent off-setting. Or stacks which are cut together.
A type of color proof for offset printing in which film positives for each of the printing plates are fused together.
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 paperboard).
Proofs made by photomechanical or digital means in less time and at lower cost than press proofs.
In color reproduction, a proof of a color subject made on a printing press, in advance of the production run.
Any of a number of ways of testing artwork and/or structure before final plates or tooling is made.
A coating applied to give a smooth glossy or matte finish.
Wrapping a number of finished boxes together in paper for shipment or storage.
Machine used to produce turned edge panels or folders.
A plate or die which applies foil and embosses at the same time.
Removing the waste material from a scored board blank or wrap blank which is typically all four corners.
In die-cutting, a sharp-edged knife, usually several thousandths of an inch lower than the cutting rules in a die, made to cut part way into the paper or board for folding purposes.
The process of using sharp steel rules to cut special shapes for labels, boxes, and inserts from printed sheets or embossed papers. Die-cutting can be done on flatbed or rotary presses. Rotary die-cutting is usually done inline with the printing.
A procedure used to test the safety of package contents during shipping; determines the resistance of a filled box to shocks caused by dropping it during rough shipping and/or handling.
*See corner cut (wraps only).
Placing trays or covers of the same size, generally for shipping, or boxes of varying sizes, one within another.
Making an impression or crease in a box blank to facilitate bending, folding, or tearing; feeding boxboard sheets through a scoring unit.
A surface blank.
Material used for reinforcing corners of a base, lid or tray. This may be made of paper, cloth, a combination of paper and cloth, wire or metal.
Steel Rule Die
A die in which a steel rule for cutting, creasing, or scoring is held in place by grooves cut in plywood.
The lower portion, or the receptacle portion of a set-up box.
Support attached to a box or other items (i.e. picture frames, display cards) to sustain an upright position for display.
A protruding rim, edge, rib or collar, as on a wheel or a pipe shaft, used to strengthen an object, hold it in place, or attach it to another object.
A lid that has no sides or ends and is hinged to the box base. Also called a panel lid.
Folder or Panel
A panel is a flat piece of board without folds. A folder is a group of two or more panels hinged together.
The method used to attach a lid to a base. Also refers to area that bends on a folder.
Any construction of chipboard or other material (Vac Form, Foam, etc.) placed or attached into a box to hold product.
Lid or Cover
The top, or covering portion of a Set-Up or Rigid Box.
Lid Support or Ribbon Stop
Tape or ribbon that is used to hold hinge lid in position when box is open.
Process of covering a lid with paper on a wrapping machine or by hand, with the adhesive applied so as to adhere to the edges only.
A carton that is used to pack and ship smaller cartons within
A tray or collar inserted in a base to form a shoulder box, attached by adhesive, and extending above the base into the lid when box is closed.
Partitions or Dividers
Slotted or folded pieces of boxboard fitted together to form a series of compartments to be placed in a base without being attached or glued into a base to isolate a section.
A setup base or lid which is not wrapped.
A tube with both ends open. It could be plain or wrapped.
Box in which the lid is the form of a shell into which the base is inserted at the side or end.
The back of a bound book connecting the two covers or in box making, the back of a slipcase.
A box in which the sides and ends of the lid are cut the same depth as the sides and ends of the base and the lid fits over the base (“full telescope”). When the depth of the lid is more or less than the height of the base, the lid depth should be stated separately. Thumbcuts are recommended unless it will be a loose fit.
This is the process of covering the base, lid or tray with paper on wrapping machine, or by hand, wraps usually being in one piece and with the entire surface covered with adhesive.
A rectangular wrap applied to finish wrapping a box or to cover the turn-in of a folder.
A receptacle to which no lid is made. turn in The part of the wrap which ends up on the inside of the box.
A folder, tray, or case on which the edges of the board are covered by the wrap vs. raw edge.
The portion of the paper which wraps on the inside of the box.
Universal Product Code (UPC)
A printed code on containers and other forms of packaging that provides information about the product for purposes of inventory control and retail pricing.
Rigid Paper Box
A chipboard paper box of rigid construction formed, or “set-up”, ready for use. A Rigid Paper box is usually wrapped, unlike a folding carton or a corrugated shipping container.
A case into which a book or binder slides into usually significantly deeper than its width. Receptacles for other purposes of similar proportions and structure.