Inkjet Printing Defined

Part of our series where we seek to uncover unfamiliar terms in the world of print.

Canon Oce VarioPrint i300

The new Canon Océ VarioPrint i300 at our Grand Island facility features 100% variable print capabilities.

We’ve already covered offset, web, and digital presses, but the recent installation of one Oce VarioPrint i300 inkjet color digital press and two Xerox Rialto 900 inkjet presses for color inkjet printing at our Grand Island facility prompts a discussion around another type of printing: inkjet.

Below are some terms you may encounter when working with inkjet printing.

Inkjet Terms to Know

  • Aqueous Ink: Water-based inks.
  • Bleed: Once trimmed, printed images that extend to the edge of a sheet or page are known as bleeds.
  • CMYK: The four main primary colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and key/black). They combine to form a full-color image. Every color that comes out on the final copy is a combination of these four colors.
  • Coated Stock: Paper whose surface, prior to printing, has been applied with a coating that produces a glossy or silky finish. This type of stock is often shiny, and produces a glare when held up to the light.
  • Color Bleed: When ink absorbs so deeply into a media that it shows through on the other side of the media.
  • Color Gamut: The full range of colors that are available to and can be reproduced on a device (such as a printer). It is important to note that not all colors are available on every device – these are considered out of gamut and result in imperfections such as blue printing as purple.
  • Color Laser: A type of printing that uses a 4-Color (CMYK) process.
  • Color Profile: A set of data that characterizes a color space or gamut.
  • ColorGrip: Inkjet ink tends to absorb deeply into a media and spread out unevenly through a paper’s fibers (think: water on a paper towel). ColorGrip is a clear liquid that is applied to standard uncoated and offset coated media before printing to minimize the impact of ink penetration and bleed on the media. Applying ColorGrip limits the amount of inkjet penetration and ensures that the ink will not spread out when it hits paper.
  • Continuous Rolls: Large rolls of paper used in web presses that are fed through the printer as one continuous sheet, cut after they are printed.
  • Digital Printing: A digital based method of printing uses toner to apply images to media. It is different from traditional methods of printing, such as offset, that apply layers of CMYK ink to metal plates which are then “offset” onto rubber rolls and pressed onto paper. Learn more.
  • Duplex: Double sided printing.
  • Feathering: A fuzzy edge. This occurs when ink is absorbed into paper and spreads unevenly through the paper’s fibers.
  • Flood Coat: When ink, varnish, or other coatings are applied only to the entire print media.
  • ICC Profile: The standard for color profiles set forth by the International Color Consortium (ICC).
  • Image or Print Resolution: The density of the printed dots that make up an image. When resolutions are high, images are crisp and show clear detail.
  • Ink Coverage: The amount of ink used on a document.
  • Ink Penetration: How deeply ink sinks into a media.
  • Inkjet Printing: A type of printing that uses liquid-based (aqueous) inks. This type of ink sinks into the media and does not give a reflective finish. ColorGrip must be applied to minimize the impact of the ink sinking into and spreading out in the media.
  • Media Catalog: A list of various media types that are available for use.
  • Media Centric: Inkjet printing is known as “media centric,” meaning that the type of media used is the most important part of the inkjet process. Inkjet printers can only handle certain types of media based on their weights, finishes, etc., so it’s essential to ensure that you are correctly using the right media for the job.
  • Media Family: A group of media (paper, envelopes, and other stocks) that are grouped together based on certain similiarities and characteristics.
  • Media: Paper, envelopes, and other stocks that you print on.
  • Mixed Media: The use of a variety of media in a print project (different sizes, weights, etc.)
  • Mixplex: A job that is run with some duplex sheets and some simplex sheets (not recommended).
  • Moire/Rosette Patterns: Formed by cyan, magenta, and black halftone patterns. The overlap of these colors often forms unwanted patterns on the printed piece.
  • Monochrome Laser: A type of printing that only prints in black and white. In the direct mail industry, it is common to print full color offset pieces and then “inkjet” the address block on separately, later (our new color inkjet presses eliminate that step).
  • Mottle: A type of uneven ink distribution that results in imperfections on a piece.
  • Offset Printing: A type of printing that uses paste-like ink. This type of inks stays on the surface of the media, allowing for good reflectivity and a more glossy finish. Think: honey consistency. Learn more.
  • Pantone Matching System (PMS): System of color swatches that shows availability of color options. Colors are standardized by Pantone to ensure color consistency across all projects.
  • Pantone: A company that sets the standards for color communication systems and color technologies for the graphic design, printing, publishing, textile and plastics with its proprietary color matching system, PMS.
  • Plexity: Whether a not a job is single sided (simplex) or double sided (duplex).
  • Print Gap: The amount of white space around the edges of a media. With inkjet printing, there will always be a 1mm print gap, even when the pages bleed to the end. This is hardly noticeable and can be overcome in the design phase.
  • Sheet Fed: When paper is cut down prior to printing and fed through a press as individual sheets.
  • Show/Strikethrough: Similar to color bleed, this happens when too much ink is applied to a media and causes it to penetrate to the other side.
  • Simplex: Single sided printing.
  • Spot Coat: When ink, varnish, or other coatings are applied only to a small area of the print media.
  • Spot Color: A color generated and printed by an ink.
  • Toner Printing: A type of printing that uses a powder-based ink. This type of ink, as with offset, stays on the surface of the media. Think: melted wax consistency.
  • Total Area Coverage (TAC): How much ink is applied to paper.
  • Total Ink Capacity (TIC): How much ink can be applied to paper.
  • Uncoated Stock: Paper whose surface, prior to printing, has not been applied with any coating. Uncoated paper is duller and feels slightly rougher than coated paper. There is no glare when held up to the light.
  • Variable Data Printing: The process of integrating customer data with variable messages and images to create pieces that are 100% unique and personalized to a person’s exact tastes and interests (Download Compu-Mail’s eBook: Achieving Personalization Through Variable Data Messaging to learn more)

Top Takeaways on Inkjet Printing

  • Offset and toner go on paper, inkjet sinks into paper.
  • Inkjet printing is highly media centric.
  • Quality of output depends on media selection.

What has been your experience with inkjet printing? Comment below!

Download our free eGuide: Printing Defined: The Comprehensive Guide to Unfamiliar Terms in the World of Print

About Dual Print & Mail

Dual Print & Mail ( provides high quality, green printing solutions for all your commercial print and mail needs. Headquartered in Cheektowaga, NY, Dual Print & Mail’s specialties include magazine, publication, and inline foil printing. Dual Print & Mail can be reached at 800.358.4348 or
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