7 Printing Acronyms Every Marketer Should Memorize

Printers speak in a language all their own. If you’re a marketer with little or no experience working with printers, it pays to learn the language. Here’s a cheat sheet of a few common acronyms you’re likely to hear.

  1. VDP stands for Variable Data Printing (also known as Variable Data Publishing). Years ago it was also known as one-to-one (or 1:1) printing, or simply personalized printing. VDP is a powerful and popular digital technology that creates personalized print materials by marrying a database with a design template. Digital presses are required for VDP. Bonus tip: find a company that has bona fide VDP experts on staff.


  1. pURL stands for personalized URL. Commercial printers can help you create pURLs for marketing campaigns when you want to engage your audience and attract them to a web page. The pURL typically includes a person’s name, and when someone visits that page, he or she is shown additional content not available elsewhere. It’s a unique way to track responses and capture new data about your audience.


  1. PMS stands for Pantone Matching System®. PMS is the standard ink color system used in the printing industry. Printers and customers both use one of the business’ primary tools, the PMS swatch book, which shows every color available on both coated and uncoated stock. It’s the color bible, so make sure you get one – you’ll need it.


  1. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK. This represents the four process colors used in full-color printing (also known as 4-color printing). C (Cyan) is blue; M (Magenta) is red; Y (Yellow) is, yup, yellow; and K is for blacK.


  1. RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. These represent the primary colors used on a computer monitor and other digital devices. (So commercial printers speak in CMYK while computers speak in RGB.)


  1. RIP stands for Raster Image Processor. This describes a computer system (both software and/or hardware) that prepares your file for printing by translating the page description commands into bitmaps. You’ll hear printers talk about “RIPping a file.”


  1. AA stands for Author’s Alterations. These are changes that you, the customer (author), make to a job that’s already been sent to a printer for production. Changes made to the original file are shown as AA’s and the printer has the right to charge you for making them.

Familiarize yourself with these 7 little acronyms and commercial printing won’t seem so intimidating anymore.

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