ADHESIVE; OPAQUE – a permanent adhesive used on label materials to cover-up previously printed items. Typically black or gray in color.

ADHESIVE; PRESSURE-SENSITIVE – an adhesive that bonds to materials such as paper, plastics, glass or wood; usually through pressing or rubbing (friction).

ADHESIVE; PERMANENT – an adhesive with a relatively high, ultimate-adherence to a wide variety of surfaces. Difficult to remove.

ADHESIVE; REMOVABLE – an adhesive with a low, ultimate-adherence. Can be cleanly removed from a wide variety of surfaces with little residue.

ADHESIVE; REPOSITIONABLE – a permanent adhesive that allows the label to be removed and then re-positioned for a short period of time after it is applied. The label then becomes permanent once it has been allowed to set (left alone).


ADHESIVE RESIDUE – the adhesive remaining behind on an item’s surface (substrate) when the label is removed.

APPLICATION – the item surface (substrate) to which the pressure-sensitive label is being applied (i.e., glass, metal, plastic, wood, concrete, etc.).

APPLICATION TEMPERATURE – the temperature of the substrate (item surface) at the time the label will be applied (room temp, freezer, oven, 40° F, etc.).




BACK SLIT – a slit in the liner of the pressure-sensitive material which facilitates removal of the face-stock from the carrier (backing).

BAR CODE – a system which uses optical or digital scanning to identify data through lines and symbols by reading various line thicknesses, lengths, sizes and positions (graphic-coding). Linear or 1-Dimensional (1D) codes include UPC, EAN, ITF 2of5, Code 39, Code 128, etc., while 2-Dimensionsional (2D) codes include QR Code, Datamatrix, and others.

BLEED – a printed area that extends to (or past) the edge of a label.

BUTT-CUT (KNIFE-CUT) – labels separated by single, straight cuts with no spaces between the them. Creates square corners.





CORE – a tube onto which the paper, film or foil labels are wound for subsequent application, packing and shipment. Standard roll-cores are typically 3″ diameter but other sizes are sometimes used.

CORNER RADIUS – the measured arc (or curvature) of the rounded corners on a die-cut label.


CSA – see Label Materials.

COUPON – see Label Materials.



DEBOSSED LABEL – the image (copy) is depressed below the normal surface of the label stock.

DIE-CUT (KISS CUT) – labels are cut-out by a die which creates custom, rounded, oval, pointed or odd shapes and rounded corners.There is typically a gap (space) between labels and the matrix (waste) is usually removed from the cut-out areas.




EMBOSSED LABEL – the image (copy) is raised high above the normal surface of the label stock.



FACE SLIT – a slit in the face of the label stock which facilitates its removal from the liner (pressure-sensitive backing).

FACE STOCK – the actual label surface (substrate) on which copy will be printed or imprinted. Usually made of paper, film, foil or a combination.

FANFOLD – the process of folding label-stock into accordion-style piles while coming off the press. Usually used for data-processing applications.

FILL-IN(S) – the open portions of small type and half-tones that could become filled by the ink when printing on the press.

FISH EYES – common, round or eye-shaped formations in the lamination coating which usually disappear when the label is applied. The fine air-bubbles are created when the label-roll is being wound.


FLEXOGRAPHIC PRINTING – a high-speed printing method using flexible (photopolymer), relief plates and fast-drying inks. Rotary methods involve wrapping the plates around rollers before coating the relief-image (copy) portions with ink which are then transferred to the label surface (substrate) using heavy pressure. Not easily juxtaposed or combined.



HALF-TONE – the reproduction of continuous-tone subjects (such as photographs) using multi-lined screens. The screens convert the image into dots of varying sizes and spacing – enabling precise simulation of fine gradients, shadows and tones.



HOT-STAMP LEAF – see Label Materials.

HOLOGRAPHIC LEAF – see Label Materials.



ID (ROLL) – the inside dimension of a label roll; usually the size of the core.

ID (DIE) – the inside dimension of a die with an open center such as a doughnut or hollow rectangle; the inner dimension of an arc or other odd-shaped label; or the dimension at the base of the points on a starburst.

INITIAL TACK – a measure of an adhesive’s power to immediately grab and hold an item surface (substrate).

IMPRINTING – method of adding copy to previously printed labels. Usually done through printing but also by stamping or hand-writing.





LABEL STOCK – pressure-sensitive material consisting of an adhesive-coated face-stock and a liner (carrier or backing). The surface of the face stock (substrate) is usually printable, or imprintable, and the liner removable. Can be multi-layered as in Piggyback.

LETTERPRESS PRINTING (COMMERCIAL) – low-speed printing method using rigid, relief plates. The relief-image (copy) portions of the plates are coated with ink and then transferred to the label surface (substrate) using heavy pressure. Usually movable, the flat plates are temporarily bound to a rectangular chase (frame). Several small plates of variable sizes can be combined (juxtaposed) together to form a larger composition.

LINER (CARRIER, BACKING PAPER, RELEASE LINER) – refers to the carrier sheet which backs the pressure-sensitive material and supports the face-stock. Sometimes printable.


LAMINATION – see Label Materials.

LASER (PAPER & FILMS) – see Label Materials.




MATRIX (LABEL) – the combination of the labels (and their parts) on a roll or sheet after they have been cut into shapes.

MATRIX (DIE) – the combined die-setup used by the press for cutting a label matrix.

MATRIX (WASTE) – the surface material (face-stock and adhesive) removed from the label matrix after die cutting. Only the desired labels, their parts and their supportive liner are left intact.

MIL – unit of measurement (1 mil = 0.001 inch = 100 gauge) used for defining the thickness of thin materials. i.e., 2-Mil thickness film is 0.002 inch or 2-thousanths of an inch.

MATERIAL (MEDIA) – any kind of stock that is going to be printed and/or cut to determined shapes while on a press. Includes pressure-sensitive adhesive label stock, tag, bond, metal, films, etc.



MIRROR-IMAGE PRINTING – printing the image (copy) backwards on a clear material thus creating the illusion of printing on the adhesive. Typically used in clear-packaging and on glass doors or windows. The label is placed on the inside of the clear surface which functions as a protective barrier. The observer then reads the label correctly while viewing it from outside the package or window..

MIDDLE-IMAGE PIGGYBACK – see Label Materials.



NAME BADGE – see Label Materials.

NAMEPLATE FILM – see Label Materials.



OD (ROLL) – outside diameter of a label roll.

OD (DIE) – The outside dimension of a die with an open center such as a doughnut or hollow rectangle; the outer dimension of an arc or other odd-shaped label; or the dimension at the peak of the points on a starburst.

OVERRUN – manufactured production in excess of the specified quantity ordered (industry standard is +/- 10%.)

OXIDATION – the chemical reaction between plastizers and the adhesive; which causes color changes (yellowing), deterioration, or the labels to fall off the substrate (item surface) too early.



PADDING – binding sheets of labels or tags together by applying flexible glue or stapling one end.

PASS – one trip of the label material through a production piece of equipment (such as a press). Some label constructions require additional passes to complete the production (i.e., printing multiple layers or on two sides, special die-cutting procedures, pre-tinting or special varnish treatments).

PATTERN OR SPOT VARNISH – varnish applied by a printing plate onto a label in specific areas rather than coating the entire label material (flood-coating the web).

PERFORATIONS (PERF) – a series of consistent, tiny and precise incisions made in labels and/or liners in order to facilitate tearing along predetermined lines, or used as an aid fan-folding.

PLATE – the carrier used to transfer an image to the material when printing with non-digital methods.

PLATE (Flexographic) – Photopolymer Relief material that is etched by exposing image areas to light, which hardens them for printing. The non-image areas are washed away with water. The plate is then wrapped around a cylinder and prints (transfers) onto the substrate (label surface) by rolling.

PLATE (Letterpress) – Metal – Copper, magnesium, sometimes steel or zinc. Relief.

PLATE (Offset Litho) – Aluminum, polyester. Planographic.




PROCESS PRINTING OR MULTI-SCREEN – printing from a series of two or more halftone plates to produce various color shades and gradations. Often combined with Spot-Color printing.

PROCESS PRINTING (4-COLOR or CMYK) – printing from a series of four specialized halftone plates to produce variable color shading and tonalities. The specially-formulated process colors (cyan, magenta, yellow & black) allow optimal blending and adjustments. Principal method used for printing color photographs and painting-style images.


PROOF; COLOR (DIGITAL) – a computer generated printed image simulating the completed impression made by the printing press.

PROOF; PRESS – a computer generated printed image simulating the completed impression made by the printing press.

PAPER FOIL – see Label Materials.

PIGGYBACK – see Label Materials.

PIGGYBACK (MIDDLE-IMAGE) – see Label Materials.



REPEAT – the distance between the top of one label to the top of the next label in the label matrix.

REVERSE PRINTING (KNOCKOUT) – a plate technique in which the (lighter) image-copy is dropped-out while the (darker) background is printed (solid or patterned) making the image-copy appear the same color as the face-material. This allows two colors for one plate, rather than one plate for each color. An example is white text on a black label. The white text is actually the color of the label’s face-material and the black background is the printed ink.




SCORE (SCORE-CUT) – to make an impression or partial cut in the material for the purpose of bending, creasing, folding or tearing.

SHELF LIFE (STORAGE LIFE) – the period of time which a product can be stored under specific conditions and still remain suitable for use. Most manufacturers recommend 1 year.







TINTS – even-toned areas of a solid (spot) color.

TOOLING (DIE) – usually refers to die cutters, butt cutters, print cylinders and embossing dies

THERMAL (DIRECT) – see Label Materials.

THERMAL (TRANSFER) – see Label Materials.



UNDER-RUNS – manufactured production or delivery of labels in a quantity less than specified as per order (industry standard is +/- 10%.)

UNITS OF MEASURE IN COSTING – x/c = per hundred; x/m = per thousand; x/mm = per million



VARNISH – a thin, clear coating made from mixtures of: natural and/or synthetic resins, and drying oils. It is applied to printed copy for protection (durability) and to improve appearance. Can be applied in portions using plates or flood-tinted over the entire web.