Online Photo Printing: Printing Terminology 101

If you’ve ever found yourself googling DPI or any of the terminology that pops up in the print process, you’re not alone! We realise that a lot of these terms aren’t used in everyday life, so we’ve come up with the ultimate online photo printing guide to help you master your print-speak so your next order will be a breeze!

Here at Print For Fun, we’ve made it our mission to help everyone create photo prints that look amazing – no matter what your experience or skills are. Here’s our quick, one-stop printing jargons so you’ve got all the definitions you might need all in one place:


Area around your artwork where you extend your design. The printer can then trim the paper to the right size, trimming off the bleed area so there are no white borders left on your finished design where the cutters might be 1mm off here or there.

What Is Full Bleed Printing?
Source: Printing Center USA


CMYK stands for the combination of ink colors most commonly used in 4-color process or digital printing: cyan (blue), magenta, yellow and black (represented by the “K”). Images in print documents are always printed in CMYK, and must be converted from other color formats to CMYK before printing.

Printing Shop Companies in Brooklyn | Digital Copy Center in Sunset Park &  Industry City, NY | Rush Printing in Brooklyn | Park Slope Copy Center:  Help Center

Colour Correction

Colour correction is the process using lighting that used color gels and filters to alter the overall color of the light or pigment.

Colour Gamut

Colour gamut describes the range of color within the spectrum of colors visible to the human eye. The way that different devices reproduce color varies from device to device including digital cameras, scanners, monitors, printers, tablets, and projectors.

Crop marks

Printers typically fit multiple prints onto one large sheet of paper. Crop marks indicate where the printer should make cuts to the final printed piece. They are also used to cut and separate the excess paper and other prints.


PPI stands for “pixels per inch”; DPI for “dots per inch.” Both are used to communicate the resolution of images, and since they refer to the same measurement can be used interchangeably. There are two standard DPI measurements, with 72 DPI referring to the optimal resolution for a computer screen, and 300 DPI referring the typical optimal resolution for printed images.

Print document images should always be at 300 DPI before sending to print; otherwise they will look blurry and pixilated. If 300 DPI images are printing blurry, it means they are too small for the image print area, and a larger image is needed. Making the photo larger in Photoshop will not resolve the pixilation problem.


This refers to the surface quality of the paper used for the printed piece. Different types of paper have different finishes, such as matte, luster, satin, glossy or textured finish. Commonly used finishes include glossy, semi-glossy (satin) and matte.

Glossy vs. Matte Photographic Prints • Persnickety Prints
Source: Pinterest


Grams per square metre is the most popular way of measuring the weight of paper. The higher the GSM number, the heavier and thicker the paper.

Paper Thickness and Weight Explained | Action Press
Source: Alamy Stock Photo

To learn more, check out our previous blog: ONLINE PHOTO PRINTING – GUIDE ON PAPER TYPES AND WEIGHTS


The smallest distinguishable part of any image. Closely related to resolution, which determines how many pixels are in an image. The actual size of a pixel is screen-dependent, and varies according to the size of the screen and the resolution being used.

How to Understand Pixels, Resolution, and Resize Your Images in Photoshop  Correctly
Source: Digital Photography School


After prepping the final design files, the printer sets up a printing proof, which is typically a digital file in PDF format. Viewing a printing proof is essential for identifying any design or content-related issues before the piece gets sent for printing.


Raster or “Bitmap” images are made up of pixels in the grid. All these pixels come together to form an image on the display screen. They are resolution-dependent. They cannot scale to another resolution with loss of apparent quality.


Resolution is simply the level of detail in a printed image. Higher resolution means higher detail, and can be measured in dots per inch (DPI). The higher the DPI, the higher the resolution of the image. Hence, this result in a sharper and clearer image.

Source: Graphic Wallet

To learn more, check out our previous blog: HOW DO I KNOW IF MY PHOTOS ARE GOOD ENOUGH TO BE PRINTED?


RGB is an acronym for “red, green and blue”, the colours that make up all the colour combinations seen on a computer screen. Documents and images set for screen viewing are usually in RGB. To use the images for print, they must be converted to CMYK in Photoshop. Also, it helps to make sure they’re at 300 DPI, as images taken from the Internet are usually set to 72 DPI and may not be large enough to print.

To learn more, check out our previous blog: RGB OR CMYK FOR PHOTO PRINTING? – KNOW THE DIFFERENCE


The means to reduce or enlarge the amount of space an image will occupy. Some programs maintain the aspect ratio between width and height whilst scaling, thereby avoiding distortion.

How to Resize Images for Print with Photoshop
Source: Photoshop Essentials


A vector is constructed using mathematical formulas that establish points on a grid rather than individual coloured pixels. Therefore, they are not affected by size or resolution because all of the information resides in the structure.

Raster vs. Vector: what's the difference? | Blog | Sticker Mule

To learn more, check out our previous blog: RGB OR CMYK FOR PHOTO PRINTING? – KNOW THE DIFFERENCE

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a better understanding of the arcane world of print jargons, you’ll find it easier to print the photos you want. If there’s anything we’ve missed or if you need help get in touch with us!

Till next time, cheers!