Guide to Common Print Packaging Terms

There are countless terms that our team at Professional Images uses on a daily basis to communicate the needs of a particular project. We understand that it may seem overwhelming to grasp them, so we’ve collected a list of some of the most common terms that you’ll hear us use as we discuss your project.

As always, we’re just a phone call or email away to help explain these terms as they relate to your project!

Packaging Types and Accessories

  • Auto Lock Bottom Auto bottom boxes are specially produced in with a combination of pre-creased seams and glued portions that allow the box to automatically assemble and lock on the bottom portion. 

  • Double Wall Tray – Also known as the Crandall Tray, double wall trays are known for strength and durability. 

  • Folding Carton – Folding carton boxes are one of the most common types of packaging for baked goods, chocolates, and candies. To make them, we print the package’s design on a large sheet of thick paper. Then, we use a die to cut, perforate, and add creases to the individual boxes. Folding cartons are shipped flat, and assembly is required. The assembly process is as simple as folding and tucking along the creases. 


  • Four-Corner – Need more info. (Top on bottom? Two pieces?)
  • Houghland Snap Lock Bottom – Also known as the 1-2-3 closure, and use almost exclusively for bottom closures. Top tucks are often used for the package’s other end. Ideal for light-weight products. Requires more assembly time than an auto-lock bottom.
  • Kwikset Tray – Also referred to as a Simplex Style Tray or a Firforme. This tray has pre-glued sidewalls. This tray is durable due to its glued sidewalls.
  • Reverse-Double Tuck – Similar to the straight double-tuck, except the bottom larger flap tucks towards the back and the top larger flap tucks towards the front.
  • Rigid Set-Up – Rigid set-up boxes are used when a more durable, luxurious package is needed. Unlike folding cartons which are printed on directly, rigid boxes are wrapped in premium papers or fabrics. Many also include windowing, bows, or ribbons.
  • Seal End – Folding cartons with a seal end are pre-glued along the depth dimension. Top and bottom flaps may be glued after being filled with product.
  • Six-Corner – Need more info. (Hinged with top coming over bottom?)
  • Sleeve / Belly Band – A narrow strip of printed packaging wrapped into a tubular shape that surrounds a product’s primary packaging. Custom printed sleeves are a simple way to add a decorative accent to a package or to affordably create options based on different markets or seasonal needs.  


  • Straight-Double Tuck – A very common box style. Each end of the box has two small side flaps and larger flap that tucks over the smaller flaps.


  • Tuck Top Locking Tab – Tuck Top Locking Tab refers to a simple closure design common in paperboard boxes. The box’s top panel has a portion that overlaps one side of the box when close. This overlapping portion has one tab on each side that inserts into the package’s side walls. 


Printing Process Terms

  • Bleed – Bleed is simply allowing graphics and colors to extend beyond the range of the template. The die-cutting process is pretty exact, but occasionally there are slight variances. Having proper bleed means that the graphics will cover the finished product rather than there being empty white space. 


  • CMYK – CMYK refers to the primary colors for all printed materials–Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. 


  • Coated vs. Uncoated Paper Stock – Coated papers have a treatment agent added to the surface which can allow for specialty finishes like gloss, semi-gloss, and matte finishes. Uncoated paper tends to have a more rugged look, with visible paper fibers. 


  • Die (Dieline) – In printing, a die is a template that’s used to cut, perforate, and add creases to paperboard. A die is a series of arranged metal blades and rubber bumpers attached to a wooden board. Every folding carton is created with a die.


  • Folding and Glueing – Folding and glueing is the final stage of folding carton package assembly. This process uses a finely tuned machine to automate the process of folding and glueing large quantities of packages in a matter of minutes. 


  • Gang-Run Printing – Gang-run printing refers to printing multiple projects on the same sheet of paper in order to maximize efficiency, reduce cost, and reduce waste. The time and cost of setting up and calibrating the printer is spread across the jobs included in the gang-run. 


  • GSM – GSM stands for Grams per Square Meter. This measures the density of the fibers in the paper. A higher GSM rating means a heavier paper.


  • Pantone and PMS – PMS refers to Pantone Matching System, a proprietary color space created by Pantone to standardize printing. PMS processing offers greater tonal range and color consistency. This increased accuracy can also result in cost savings because colors are always accurate. 


  • Paper Weight – The paper’s weight refers to its thickness. It’s common in the U.S. to measure this in pounds (ex. 20 lb. bond), however we prefer the more precise metric standard of GSM.


  • Print Imposition – All paperboard folding cartons are created from large sheets of paperboard. Print imposition is the the process of laying out the project in the most efficient way possible. Utilizing all the available space on a sheet of a paper reduces cost and time required to run the print job. 


  • Prototype – Prototypes are used in both custom packaging and first runs of any new design. The prototype is a single printed package that is assembled by hand to perform final checks before a package is mass-produced. 


  • Safe Area – Safe area is the area that all critical graphics and text should be within. This ensures no critical components are placed where a cut will occur. 


  • Sustainability – We offer several types of paperboard including many eco-friendly and recycled options. 


  • Windowing – Windowing refers to packages with clear polyester film (Mylar) on their lids and/or sides. Windowing is used when you want to showcase the contents of a package. 


Finishing Techniques

  • Embossing and Debossing – Embossing and debossing techniques are used to create a 3D reliefs in paper stock. This adds an extra tactile element as well as visual appeal. Embossing is when the pattern is raised and debossing is when the pattern is recessed. 


  • Hot Stamping (Hot Foil) – This process uses heat to transfer a pattern onto a packaging using metallic foil.


  • Lamination – Lamination is a finishing process that adds a very thin layer of plastic to paper stock. In addition to adding a professional touch, it adds durability. The most notable feature of lamination finishes are the way the package feels to the touch. 


    • Gloss
    • Matte
    • Satin
    • Scuff-Free
    • Velvet Lamination


  • Perforation – Perforation is the process of using a die to partially cut paper stock. This is used when the intent is for the end user to fold then tear to remove a portion of the paper stock.
  • Specialty Coatings – The numerous types of UV coatings add a premium aesthetic to any package’s design. A liquid coating is applied to the paperboard then dried using UV light. These are often used to accent a feature like a logo. 


    • UV Glitter
    • UV Raised
    • UV Satin
    • UV on Uncoated Paper
    • UV Tinted
    • UV Textured
    • UV Matte 


  • Scoring – Scoring is the process of using a die to apply pressure to a portion of paper stock in order to aid in the folding and assembly process. 

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