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"Understanding the Language Can Make a World of Difference"
[Column #67, 7/00]

Some things are worth repeating. I recently came across an article written by a friend of mine, Norm Beange, President of Specialties Graphic Finishers Ltd., in Toronto, Ontario, and decided to dedicate this column to its contents. The topic was “Finishing School” and its intent was to explain some common misunderstandings in the post-press world related to misused terminology between printers and trade binders.

Printers and trade binders often miscommunicate information during the quoting and estimating stages because of confusion over technical terminology. This communication gap can spell trouble down the road as the job is being handled. This article touches on some common problems and gives direction for getting us all on the same page, so to speak.

Pages and Leaves

When it comes to providing specs for a quotation, pages and leaves are by far the most misused terms in the post-press sector. We’ve seen more cover spines inaccurately figured than I care to admit—often resulting in reprinting the covers. You may have heard me say this before, but here goes: One leaf equals two pages, whether they are printed or not. For example, a 160-page book has 80 leaves of paper. The term leaves, on the other hand, usually refers to the number of sheets of paper in a pad or a calendar.

The Double-Gate Folder

One commonly mislabeled brochure is the double-gate folder—often simply referred to as a gate folder. A double-gate folder has four nearly equal-sized panels, but you should use caution when planning for double-gate folders because gutter size can vary depending on the run length, stock, and piece size. Consult your trade binder ahead of time to find out how much gutter your job requires. It usually ranges from 1/16" to 1/4". At one time, double gate folders required significant handwork; however, I learned at DRUPA that Stahl folders now have a gatefold attachment that can allow the two center panels to be closed with no gutter.

The Tail and Foot

The terms tail and foot both refer to the bottom of the signature and mean the same thing. They are often used interchangeably and are usually understood by anyone in the finishing industry.

Punching and Drilling

Confusion over punching and drilling is common. In the post-press world, drilling always refers to a round hole. The drills are hollow and operate by spinning and moving downward through a stack of paper. The holes are formed from the paper that passes through the drill. These holes can range from 1/8" to 1 ½" and can be done in lifts or piles up to three inches high depending on paper stock and hole size. Punching, on the other hand is done with a solid punch tool passing into a matching female die and refers to a rectangular- or oval-shape, or multiple, small round holes. Punching is usually done with only single sheets or in very small lifts of paper (up to 3/32").


Laminating is an abused term in the finishing industry. Because the word is used so loosely, it is imperative that printers describe exactly what they want done for each “laminating” job. The following processes are often referred to as laminating:

Gluing two thin sheets of paper together (often called duplexing).
Gluing paper to a point-of-purchase piece.
Gluing two boards together to produce a thicker board. (For example, during three-ring binder production, we may achieve 120-point board thickness by gluing or laminating the typical 100-point stock to a 20-point pad backer.)
Applying a liquid such as UV coating to a printed surface to produce a gloss or matte finish.
Adding film to one or two sides of a sheet of paper in thickness of 1.5, 3, 5, 7.5, and 10-ml plastic in a process called heat seal film laminating.
Buckle, Knife, and Plow Folding

The folders used in trade binderies include buckle, knife, and plow. Each variety uses a different folding process to produce specific results and advantages. Buckle folding is very common in the United States and Canada and involves rollers and stops that buckle the sheet into opposing rollers thus forming the fold. In the knife-folding process, which is very common in Europe, a knife creates the fold by pushing the paper through two opposing rollers. Plow folding is used extensively in the printed carton industry and is found in trade binderies that automatically convert pocket folders.

While miscommunication based on terminology certainly occurs in any industry, printers and post-press operators should take special care because the price for even a simple misunderstanding can be very high.

"Understanding the Language Can Make a World of Difference"
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