Invitation Maven

Glossary of Invitation Terms

Words you should know when designing your party invitations and event stationery

When I meet with clients to design their custom invitations, I use a variety of terms to describe the different elements of an invitation suite and other pieces of event stationery. There are also terms relating to different printing techniques and different types of paper. Some terms are self explanatory and most people understand what they mean. Sometimes, however, there are terms that are common in my industry that some clients don’t know. To help make sure you’re an informed consumer, I created this glossary of terms that you can use when designing or ordering your party invitations and event stationery. The terms are divided into the following categories:

  • Printing Techniques and Treatments
  • Invitation Design
  • Invitation Suite, Stationery and Event Signage
  • Typeface and Fonts
  • Paper
  • Presentation, Binding and Packaging

Use this glossary to help you understand what it is you’re getting before you place your invitation order. It’s also useful to help explain what the different elements of an invitation suite are, and whether or not you should add something to your invitation ensemble.

If you have any questions about any of the terms in this glossary, or if you want help designing and ordering custom invitations, event stationery and signage for your event, I invite you to contact me at [email protected].¬†




Aqueous Coating: A clear, quick drying, water-based coating applied to a printed piece to protect and enhance the printing underneath; provides a high gloss or matte surface that helps block dirt and fingerprints.

Blind Embossing: Embossing¬†without ink, so that the image is raised but not colored. See ‚Äúembossing‚ÄĚ below. Blind embossing is normally used for borders,¬†monograms and other design elements.

Blind Image: Image debossed, embossed or stamped without ink or foil.

C: Abbreviation for cyan in four-color process printing. Hence the ‘C’ in CMYK.

C1S/C2S: Acronyms for Coated One Side and Coated Two Sides paper stock.

CMYK: A color model (also called process color or four color) used in color printing; also used to describe the printing process itself. CMYK refers to the four ink colors used: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black).

Commercial Printer: A printer who can produce a wide range of products such as invitations, announcements, brochures, posters, booklets, stationery, business cards, booklets, magazines and more; also called job printer because each job is different.

Converter: Business that makes elements for an invitation suite such as pockets, pocket folders, folding pochettes, envelope liners, etc., by ‚Äúconverting‚ÄĚ large parent sheets of paper into these other products.

Cover: Thick paper that protects a publication and advertises its title; in invitation design, cover typically refers to any kind of thick paper used in the invitation assembly; see also ‚Äúcover paper‚ÄĚ under Paper Terms.

Coverage: Extent to which ink or toner covers the surface of a substrate.

Cutting Die: Usually a custom ordered item to cut specific and unusual sized or shaped printing projects; see also ‚Äúdie.‚ÄĚ

Cyan: One of the four process colors. Also known as process blue.

Digital Proof: Page proofs produced and sent through electronic means; often used as a way for the designer to communicate with a client regarding the design of a project. Digital proofs are more cost and time effective for indicating edits and approvals than printed proofs.

Dots-per-inch: Measure of output resolution in relationship to printers, imagesetters and monitors; abbreviated DPI.

DPI: Considered as “dots per square inch,” a measure of output resolution in relationship to printers, imagesetters and monitors.

Dull Finish: Flat (not glossy) finish on coated paper.

Debossing: The process of stamping a design into the surface of an object with a die so that it is indented.

Die: Device for cutting, scoring, stamping, embossing and debossing.

Die Cutting: The process of cutting various paper shapes from a metal die; typically the die is made from steel rules that are bent and curved into the desired shape and embedded into a piece of wood; this process is often used to create custom and uniquely shaped envelopes, invitations and pockets.

Digital Printing: Method of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media. This is a common printing method for small run jobs because there are little to no set-up fees or press charges.

Embossing: A printing technique that creates a raised area of print through the use of a die.

Engraving: A method of creating raised areas of print or images on paper. The method involves making an impression on a metal plate, filling the plate with opaque ink, and pressing the paper into the plate, creating raised and colored areas.

Foil stamping: A technique in which a metal plate is used to transfer colored inking material onto the paper or other substrate to make an impression; the image is transferred by using pressure and heat; foiling ink comes in a variety of colors and finishes, including metallic, matte, gloss, prism, and other finishes; also called heat stamping.

Four-Color Printing: Printing technique that uses cyan, magenta, yellow and black to simulate full-color images. Also called color process printing, full color printing, process printing and CMYK printing.

Gang: To reproduce two or more different printed products simultaneously on one sheet of paper during one press run.

Gilding: Gold leafing the edges of a book or invitation.

Gray Scale: Strip of gray values ranging from white to black.

Impression: Referring to an ink color, one impression equals one press sheet passing once through a printing unit.

Imprint: To impress or stamp an image or text onto a surface.

Ink Jet Printing: Printing method whereby droplets of ink are sprayed through computer-controlled nozzles.

K: Abbreviation for black in four-color process printing. Hence the ‘K’ in CMYK.

Kiss Die Cut: To die cut the top layer, but not the backing layer, of self-adhesive paper.

Kiss Impression: Lightest possible impression that will transfer ink to a substrate.

Laser Cutting: A process that uses a laser to cut out words and designs on paper and other materials such as wood, metal and plastic.

Letterpress: A printing technique in which a plate made out of metal or other material is used to transfer ink to paper. The images, text and wording are raised on the plate. After the plate is inked, the design is transferred by placing the paper against the plate and manually applying pressure. Letterpressed invitations often have a distinctive indented look from the plate being pressed into the paper.

Lithography: Method of printing using plates whose image areas attract ink and whose nonimage areas repel ink. Nonimage areas may be coated with water to repel the oily ink or may have a surface, such as silicon, that repels ink.

M: Abbreviation for magenta in four-color process printing. Hence the ‘M’ in CMYK.

Magenta: One of the four process colors.

Matte Finish: Flat (not glossy) finish or coating on paper.

Metallic Ink: Ink containing powdered metal or pigments that simulate metal.

Multicolor Printing: Printing in more than one ink color (but not four-color process).

Novelty Printing: Printing on products such as napkins, ribbons, coasters, pencils, clothing, tote bags, balloons, glassware, and other novelty items.

Offset Printing: Printing technique in which the inked image is transferred (or ‚Äúoffset‚ÄĚ) from a plate to a blanket to paper instead of directly from plate to paper.

Overprint: To print one image over a previously printed image, such as printing type over a screen tint.

Overrun: Quantities of sheets printed over the requested number of copies.

Opacity: Characteristic of paper or other substrate that prevents printing on one side from showing through the other side; characteristic of ink that prevents the substrate from showing through. The higher the opacity, the less transparent it is.

Opaque: Not transparent.

Paper Plate: A printing plate made of strong and durable paper; paper plates are more cost effective for small print runs, but may not be suitable for highly detailed designs.

Plate: Piece of metal, paper, plastic, rubber or silicon that carries an image to be reproduced using a printing press.

PMS: Obsolete reference to Pantone Matching System. The correct trade name of the colors in the Pantone Matching System is Pantone colors, not PMS Colors.

Printing: Any process that transfers an image to paper or another substrate.

Printing Plate: Surface carrying an image to be printed. Plates can be made out of a variety of materials including metal, paper, plastic, rubber, and silicon.

Process Color: The colors used for four-color process printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, and represented by the letters CMYK.

Resolution: Sharpness of an image on film, paper, computer screen or other medium.

RGB: A color model in which red, green and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors. The name of the model comes from the initials of the three additive primary colors, red, green, and blue.

Screen Printing: A method of creating an image on paper, fabric or some other object by pressing ink through a screen with areas blocked off by a stencil.

Serigraphic Printing: Printing method by which images are transferred through woven fabric, plastic or metal that allow ink to pass through some portions and block ink from passing through other portions. Serigraphic printing includes screen printing.

Soy-based Inks: Inks made with soy oils instead of petroleum as the base.

Specially Printer: Printer whose equipment, supplies, work flow and marketing is targeted to a particular category of products.

Spoilage: Paper that, due to mistakes or accidents, must be thrown away instead of delivered printed to the customer, as compared to waste.

Tint: Screening or adding white to a solid color which results in the lightening of that specific color.

Thermography: A technique that imitates an embossed appearance. The printed area is dusted with a fine powder that adheres only to the wet ink. The powder and ink are then fused to the paper with heat. The subtle difference between thermography and engraving is that with thermography, the text is slightly shiny and the back of the invitation remains smooth whereas engraving leaves an impression. Thermography is also less expensive than engraving and is often used as a substitute.

UV Coating: A very glossy liquid coating applied to a printed paper surface and cured on a printing press or special machine using ultraviolet light.

Varnish: A clear ink applied to the surface of a printed page that adds depth and protection; varnish can be applied in a gloss, satin or matte finish.

Vellum Finish: A somewhat rough, toothy finish.

Y: Abbreviation for yellow in four-color process printing. Hence the ‘Y’ in CMYK.



A-Style Envelope: Most commonly used for announcements, invitations, cards, brochures or promotional pieces, A-style envelopes typically have square or Euro (rounded pointed) flaps and come in a variety of sizes. See also Envelope Size.

Artwork: The original physical materials, including photos, graphic images, text and other components needed to produce a printed piece; also refers to the electronic or digital components needed for preparing a printed piece for production on a press.

Baronial Envelope: More formal and traditional than the A-style envelopes, baronial envelopes are deeper and have a large pointed flap. They are popular for invitations, greeting cards, and announcements. Abbreviated as #-Bar, where the # refers to the size and dimensions (e.g., 4-Bar, 6-Bar). See also Envelope Size.

Bleed: The portion of a document that extends past the borders of your page; designing with bleeds ensures that the background color and images print to the edges of the paper without leaving unprinted slivers along the edges when cut to size; an image printed in this manner is said to ‚Äúbleed off the edge.‚ÄĚ

Backer:¬†A piece of paper that your invitation is displayed on top of that often matches or complements the color scheme of your invitation; often referred to as an additional layer. It’s a way to add a design element to a simpler invitation.

Clipart: graphic images, designs, artwork, and symbols that can be used in a digital document; sometimes referred to as graphics.

Composition: The arrangement of type, graphics and other elements on the page.

Crop: To reduce the size of an image.

Crop Marks: Lines near the edges of an image indicating where an image is to be trimmed, or cropped.

Drop Shadow: A shadow image positioned behind and offset from another image; this technique creates the effect of the image lifting off the page.

Dummy: Simulation of the final product. Also called mockup.

Edge Painting: Painting or inking the edge of thicker card stock; most often done on an invite with a beveled edge.

Envelope Size: The dimensions of an envelope; the most common envelope sizes used for invitations in the United States are:

A1 or 4-Bar                   3 5/8 in. x 5 1/8 in.
A2 or 5¬Ĺ-Bar¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†4 3/8 in. x 5 3/4 in.
A6 or 6-Bar                  4 3/4 in. x 6 1/2 in.
A7 or Lee                      5 1/4 in. x 7 1/4 in.
A8                                  5 1/2 in. x 8 1/8 in.
A9                                  5 3/4 in. x 8 3/4 in.
A10                                6 in. x 9 1/2 in.
Monarch                       7 1/2 in. x 3 7/8 in.
No. 10 or Business      9 1/2 in. x 4 1/8 in.

Euro Flap: Refers to an envelope where the edge of the flap is pointed.

Finish: Surface characteristics of paper; also the general term for trimming, folding, binding and all other operations that take place after items are printed.

Finished Size: Size of product after production is completed, as compared to flat size. Also called trimmed size.

Format: Size, style, shape, layout or organization of a layout or printed product.

For Position Only: Refers to inexpensive copies of photos or art used during the design phase to indicate placement and scaling, but not intended for reproduction. Abbreviated FPO.

GIF/.gif: a lossless format for image files that supports both animated and static images; also: an image stored in this format.

Graphic Arts: The crafts, industries and professions related to designing and printing on paper and other substrates.

Graphic Design: Arrangement of type and visual elements along with specifications for paper, ink colors and printing processes that, when combined, convey a visual message.

Graphics: Visual elements that supplement type to make printed messages more clear or interesting; sometimes referred to as clipart.

Image Area: The portion of a printing plate that carries ink and prints on paper.

JPEG/.jpeg: a computer file format for the compression and storage of usually high-quality photographic digital images; also: an image stored in this format.

Landscape: Artistic style in which the width is greater than the height; when a design is laid out on a surface where the horizontal dimension is greater than the vertical dimension; opposite of Portrait.

Layout: A rendition that shows the placement of all the elements, images, thumbnails etc., of a final printed piece.

Leading: Amount of space between lines of type.

Logo (Logotype): A recognizable and distinctive graphic design, stylized name, unique symbol, or other device for identifying an organization; also a specific and unique combination of letters and art work to create a symbol of an event. Often created and used throughout the pieces of an invitation suite, event stationery and event signage to present a consistent theme or appearance.

Margin: Imprinted space around the edge of the printed material.

Mark-Up: Instructions written usually on a “dummy.”

Mock Up: A reproduction of the original printed matter and possibly containing instructions or direction.

Monogram: A combination of names, initials, and graphic elements to represent a person or couple’s names. A monogram can be used as a graphic element on invitations and other event stationery; similar to a logo.

Motif: A reoccurring theme, image or design used throughout your invitation details, including on your invitations, event stationery and signage. A motif can be comprised of text, graphic images, and specific colors.

Natural Color: Very light brown color of paper. Also called antique, cream, ivory, or off-white.

Orphan: Abandoned text at the beginning of a paragraph. From a design standpoint, orphans are not visually appealing and should be avoided; see also Widow.

Perforations: Small holes in the paper used to create a design or effect.

Pixel: Short for picture element; a dot made by a computer, scanner or other digital device.

PNG: PNG refers to Portable Network Graphics; a PNG is a raster graphics file format that supports lossless data compression. PNG was created as an improved, non-patented replacement for Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), and is the most widely used lossless image compression format on the Internet; also: an image stored in this format.

Point: The thickness of paper or size of type. Regarding paper, a unit of thickness equating 1/1000 inch; regarding type, a unit of measure equaling 1/12 pica and .013875 inch (.351mm).

Policy Flap Envelope: Policy flap envelopes have the opening along the short end of the envelope.

Portrait: Artistic style in which the height is greater than the width; when a design is laid out on a surface where the vertical dimension is greater than the horizontal dimension; opposite of Landscape.

Prepress: Camera work, color separations, stripping, plate making and other functions performed by the printer, separator or a service bureau prior to printing.

Prepress Proof: A sample of printing before the print job is started. When the final work is bring printed via offset or other printing technique that has high set-up costs, a prepress proof is typically made using an ink jet or digital press in order to provide an inexpensive printed proof. This provides a pretty close representation of what the finished product will look like without incurring expensive set up charges.

Preprint: To print portions of sheets that will be used for later imprinting.

Press Check: When a client visits a printing company to view actual printed sheets of their project before a full production press run is started.

Press Proof: Proof made on press using the plates, ink and paper specified for the job. Also called strike off and trial proof.

Press Time: (1) Amount of time that one printing job spends on press, including time required for makeready. (2) Time of day at which a printing job goes on press.

Price Break: Quantity at which unit cost of paper, printing or invitations drops.

Production Run: Press run intended to manufacture products as specified, as compared to makeready.

Proof: Test sheet made to reveal errors or flaws, predict results on press and record how a printing job is intended to appear when finished; also refers to the process of making sure all elements of a design are correct before it is printed. The client is ultimately responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the design before a job is printed.

Proofreader Marks: Standard symbols and abbreviations used to mark up manuscripts and proofs. Also called correction marks.

Quality: Subjective term relating to expectations by the customer, printer and other professionals associated with a printing job and whether the job meets those expectations.

Quotation: Price offered by a printer to produce a specific job.

Raster Image: A raster image, also called a bitmap image, is made of millions of tiny squares, called pixels. Raster graphics typically have larger file sizes than their vector counterparts. Higher DPI (dots per inch) and PPI (pixels per inch) settings also contribute to larger files because software must keep track of and be able to render each pixel.

Register: To place printing properly with regard to the edges of paper and other printing on the same sheet. Such printing is said to be in register.

Register Marks: Cross-hair lines on mechanicals and film that help keep flats, plates, and printing in register. Also called crossmarks and position marks.

Satin Finish: Alternate term for dull finish on coated paper.

Score: To compress paper along a straight line so it folds more easily and accurately. Also called crease; the resulting line is called a score line.

Shade: Hue made darker by the addition of black, as compared to tint.

Solid: Any area of the sheet receiving 100 percent ink coverage, as compared to a screen tint.

Specifications: Complete and precise written description of features of a printing job such as type size and leading, paper grade and quantity, printing or binding method. Abbreviated specs.

Spine: Back or binding edge of a publication

Spread: Two pages that face each other and are designed as one visual or production unit.

Square Flap: Refers to an envelope where the edge of the flap has a straight edge.

Step and Repeat: In design, where a graphic and/or text is repeated in a pattern on a surface; often used to create a banner or backdrop for event photography and printed with a repeating pattern such that brand logos or emblems are visible in photographs of the individuals standing in front of it.

Stock Images: Professional photographs of common places, landmarks, nature, events or people that are bought and sold on a royalty-free basis and can be used and reused for commercial design purposes.

Tagged Image File Format: Computer file format used to store images from scanners and video devices. Abbreviated TIFF; also: an image stored in this format.

Template: A standard layout.

Trim Size: The size of the printed material in its finished stage.

Typo: A spelling mistake in printed material resulting from an error in typing or setting type. The client is ultimately responsible for checking that the designer has not made any errors before the designs are printed. Typos and other errors should be corrected during the proofing process.

Up: Term to indicate multiple copies of one image printed in one impression on a single sheet. “Two-up” or “three-up” means printing the identical piece twice or three times on each sheet.

Universal Copyright Convention (UCC): A system to protect unique work from being reproduced without knowledge of the originator. To qualify, one must register their work and publish a (c) indicating registration.

Vector Image/Vector Graphic: Vector images are made of thin lines and curves known as paths. Vector images can be easily scaled (enlarged or reduced). High-resolution, high-quality clip art is often developed and sold as vector images. Vector images are generally more flexible compared to other high-DPI formats. Type and fonts are also created as vector images, allowing you to change the size while maintaining quality.

Watermark: Translucent logo in paper created during manufacturing by slight embossing from a dandy roll while paper is still approximately 90 percent water. Designs can also be printed in the background of an image to resemble a watermark.

Wax Seal: A very traditional form of sealing your envelopes; a wax seal is created by melting special wax and creating an imprint in the soft wax with a metal seal; the wax dries and hardens and forms a seal on the envelope; any graphic design can be made into a custom seal for any occasion.

Widow: A single word or two words left at the end of a paragraph, or a part of a sentence ending a paragraph, which loops over to the next page and stands alone. Also, the last sentence of a paragraph, which contains only one or two short words. From a design standpoint, widows are not visually appealing and should be avoided; see also Orphan.



Accommodations Insert: A printed card included in the invitation suite that contains information about local hotels and room blocks. If you create a block of rooms at a local hotel, be sure to indicate the release date; see also Release Date and Room Block.

Activities Insert: A printed card included in the invitation suite that contains information about other events happening in conjunction with the main event, e.g., Rehearsal Dinner or Sunday Brunch.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Project Insert: A printed card that explains a bar/bat mitzvah child’s bar/bat mitzvah project. Often, in conjunction with his or her studies, a bar or bat mitzvah child may undertake a special project that helps the community. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Project card can be used to share the details of the project with guests and to solicit donations for the charity or help with the project.

Belly Band: A piece of material that wraps around your invitation suite to hold it all together; this can be as simple as a ribbon or as fancy as laser-cut paper or a piece of lace.

Directional: A sign indicating where people should go or where an event is taking place.

Directions Insert: A card printed with a map and/or directions where the event(s) will take place; see also Map Card.

Donation Insert: A card that indicates where directed donations can be made; often included so the host can indicate where guests can make donations in lieu of gifts.

Drink Sign: A sign placed at the bar or on the guest tables that indicate the name, ingredients and meaning behind a signature drink.

Envelopes: The most traditional way of packaging invitations. Envelopes can be classic (white or off-white), or in a color that complements your event colors. They are usually made out of paper, but can also be made of burlap, vellum or silk.

Escort Card: Escort cards tend to be used primarily at semi-formal weddings; they typically assign guests to a table but not to a specific seat. They are often set up in an area near the entrance to the venue so the guests see them immediately upon entering. Escort card is often used interchangeably with place card or seating card.

Event Stationery: The complete ensemble of printed work for an event; typically includes the Invitation, Response Card, Reception Card, and other inserts, as well as Thank You Notes, Seating/Escort/Place cards, and other printed work for the event; see also Wedding Stationery.

Inner Envelope: An envelope inside the outer envelope that holds the entire invitation ensemble. On the cover of the inner envelope, you will put the title and last names of each individual guest you are inviting. These envelopes are not printed with the mailing addresses of your guests and are not printed with your return address.

Insert: Any printed card included in an invitation suite that is not the main invitation; inserts are typically used to impart information you would like your guests to know; common inserts include Reception Cards, Response Cards, Accommodations Cards, Transportation Cards, Donation Cards, Bar/Bat Mitzvah Project Cards, etc.

Liner: A decorative piece of paper used to line the inside of an envelope.

Map Insert: A card printed with a map and/or directions where the event (s) will take place; see also Directions Card.

Main Invitation: A printed card that provides the details of the event. Included on the main invitation should be the type of event, the name(s) of the honoree(s), the name and location of the venue, the date, including the month, day and year, the start time of the event, the name(s) of the host(s), and the expected attire.

Menu Card: A card with the details of the meal, which can be provided on the table or at each seat. A menu will let your guests know what is coming up next as well as the ingredients. If your guests are selecting from various entrees on the menu at the event rather than indicating their preferences ahead of time on the RSVP cards, menu cards at each place setting are helpful so they know what their choices are. Menu cards also add a beautiful touch to each guest’s place setting.

Outer Mailing Envelope: This envelope is used for mailing and includes the names and addresses of your guests as well as your return address. This is the envelope where you place your postage.

Place Card: Technically, a place card is set up at the table and indicates which seat a guest should sit at. Also referred to generally as a seating card, but is often used interchangeably with escort card.

Reception Card: A printed card with information about where the reception is taking place; typically only required when the ceremony and reception are taking place at separate venues or when there is a large gap of time in between the ceremony and reception. You can also use a separate reception card when a smaller subset of the guest list is invited to the reception, although this is not recommended if the reception takes place immediately after the ceremony.

Release Date: The date the hotel will release blocked rooms if they are not reserved under the block.

Response Card: A printed card used to indicate a guest’s response to an invitation. This card should provide a place where the guest can indicate his/her name and whether or not they plan to attend the event. A response card can also allow a guest to indicate a meal preference. For more formal events, a reception card includes a pre-addressed and pre-stamped response envelope, but can also be designed as a postcard.

Response Envelope: An envelope included in the invitation suite that is addressed back to the hosts. Guests place their completed response cards into the response envelopes to mail back to the hosts. Response envelopes should always include return postage.

Room Block: a group of hotel rooms that a hotel puts on hold at a specially negotiated rate for a group of people. If you’re creating an Accommodations Card for your invitation suite, be sure to note the name the room block is reserved under as well as the release date; see also Accommodations Card and Release Date.

RSVP: RSVP¬†refers to a process for a response from the invited person or people. It is derived from the first letters of the French phrase R√©pondez s’il vous pla√ģt meaning “Please respond.”

Seating Card: Technically, a seating card is set up at the table and indicates which seat a guest should sit at. Also referred to generally as a place card, but is often used interchangeably with escort card.

Seating Chart: A chart that indicates where guests should sit; may be used in lieu of individual escort cards, place cards or seating cards.

Signature Drink: A one-of-a-kind drink created especially for a specific event; a signature drink can contain special ingredients or just have a special name in honor of the guest(s) of honor.

Sign In Book or Sign In Board: A way for guests to indicate they are in attendance at your event.

Table Name or Table Number: Each table should be identified with a unique table name or table number, to indicate where guests will sit at an event.

Transportation Insert: A printed card included in the invitation suite that contains information about transportation that the host may be providing for guests. Often, for a bar or bat mitzvah, hosts charter private busses to transport friends of the bar or bat mitzvah child from the ceremony site to the celebration venue. For a wedding, a host may provide a shuttle from the guest’s hotel(s) to the venue.

Wedding Stationery: The complete ensemble of printed work for a wedding; typically includes the Invitation, Response Card, Reception Card, and other inserts, as well as Thank You Notes, Seating/Escort/Place cards, and other printed work for the event; see also Event Stationery.



Alignment: Used to describe the position of your invitation text in relation to the margins. Text can be centered, aligned left, aligned right, or text can contain a combination of alignments. More traditional invitations have the text centered on the card. Modern invitation designs often play with the positioning of the text.

Boldface: a typeface with thick strokes; a boldface type appears heavier and darker; also referred to as bold.

Calligraphy: Artistic, stylized handwriting. Traditionally, a calligrapher uses ink and a quill or steel nib pen and hand writes the text of an invitation or addresses on an envelope. Calligraphy can be used on other pieces of the invitation suite as well. Many fonts are designed to resemble calligraphy and are more cost effective than hand calligraphy services.

Flourishes: Ornate calligraphic details and scrollwork.

Font:¬†The style and appearance of a letter or character; font usually refers to the name of the typeface, e.g., Arial, Helvetica and Times New Roman; see “Typeface.”

Hands: The various script and lettering styles a hand calligrapher can create.

Initial Cap:¬†A term for the exaggerated, oversize first letter of a word sometimes used in lavish calligraphy or as a decorative typeface. Also known as a “drop cap.”

Italic: Text that is emphasized by slanting the type body forward.

Ligature: A ligature is a character made by connecting or combining two or more characters. They may be combined into one continuous letterform, or just designed to ‚Äúnest‚ÄĚ together. An example is the character √¶ as used in English, in which the letters a and e are joined.

Point Size: Unit of measure indicating the size of an individual letter or character.

Serif Font: In typography, a serif is a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol. This line is sometimes referred to as a foot. A typeface with serifs is called a serif font or serif typeface.

Sans Serif Font: In typography, a¬†serif is a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol. This line is sometimes referred to as a foot. A typeface without¬†serifs¬†is called sans-serif¬†or sans¬†serif, from the French word sans,¬†meaning¬†“without.”

Script Font: Script typefaces are based upon the varied and often fluid strokes created by handwriting. They are generally used for display or decorative printing such as the names of the honorees, rather than for the body of an invitation.

Stroke: Bold outlines that can be added to a font or graphic to give it a heavier appearance.

Typeface:¬†The style and appearance of a letter or character; often referred to as the “font.”

Type Classifications: Most typefaces can be classified into one of four basic groups: those with serifs, those without serifs, scripts and decorative styles.

Typography: Refers to the art of arranging typefaces, point size and line length into a cohesive and readable language.

Underline: A line under a word or phrase to give emphasis or indicate special type.



#: Symbol for pound, a reference to the basis weight of the paper, e.g, 80#, 100#, etc. See also Basis Weight.

A4 Paper: ISO standard paper size 210mm x 297mm or 8.3 inches by 11.7 inches; this is the common paper size used outside of the United States in place of 8.5 inches by 11 inches. See also Letter Paper.

Acid-Free Paper: Paper made from pulp containing little or no acid so it resists deterioration from age. Also called alkaline paper, archival paper, neutral pH paper, permanent paper and thesis paper.

Bamboo Paper:¬†An eco-friendly paper made from bamboo. It’s very soft and thick, and is ideal for letterpress printing.

Basis Weight: The weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to a given standard size for that particular paper grade. See also #.

Beveled Edge: The slanted edge of heavier stocks that shows the thickness and dimension of the invitation; oftentimes, its edges are painted (see Edge Painting under Design Treatment Terms).

Board Paper: General term for paper over 110# index, 80# cover or 200 gsm that is commonly used for products such as file folders, displays and post cards. Also called paperboard.

Corrugated: Thick wrinkles, ridges and grooves that give paper a cardboard look.

Cotton Fiber: A type of paper most often made from 100 percent cotton; perhaps the most traditional choice for wedding invitations.

Cover Paper: Category of thick paper used for products such as posters, menus, folders and covers of paperback books; also called cover stock.

Deckle Edge: Irregular, torn-looking edge of paper left ragged as it comes from the papermaking machine instead of being cleanly cut.

Duplex Paper: Thick paper made by pasting together two thinner sheets, usually of different colors. Also called double-faced paper and two-tone paper.

Equivalent Paper: Paper that is not the brand specified, but looks, prints and may cost the same. Also called comparable stock.

Felt Finish: Soft woven pattern in text paper.

Fine Papers: Papers made specifically for writing or commercial printing, as compared to coarse papers and industrial papers.

Glassine: A very thin, waxy paper similar to vellum (see below), with a slick, shiny surface. Glassine paper is best suited for envelopes or liners rather than actual invitations because of its delicate nature.

Handmade Papers: Paper made from natural materials including cotton, rag, hemp and plant fibers. Handmade papers generally have an uneven or rough texture so are generally not suitable for digital printing.

Industrial Papers: Often made from recycled fibers, industrial papers have a rugged, hip look. Corrugated cardboard and brown kraft paper are examples.

Jacquard: Screen-printed (see Printing Techniques and Terms) paper that creates an illusion of layering.

Kraft Paper: Strong paper used for wrapping and to make grocery bags and large envelopes.

Laid Finish: Finish on bond or text paper on which grids of parallel lines simulate the surface of handmade paper.

Laminate: A thin, transparent plastic sheet (coating) applied to usually a thick stock (covers, post cards, etc.) providing protection against liquid and heavy use, and usually accents existing color, providing a glossy effect.

Laser Bond: Bond paper made especially smooth and dry to run well through laser printers.

Letter Paper: In North America, standard paper size is 8.5 inches by 11 inch sheets. In Europe, the standard size is an A4 sheet, which is 8.3 inches by 11.7 inches. See also A4 Paper.

Lightweight Paper: Book paper with basis weight less than 40# (60 gsm).

Lignin: Substance in trees that holds cellulose fibers together.

Linen Finish: Embossed finish on text paper that simulates the pattern of linen cloth.

Marbled Paper: Decorative paper marked with swirling patterns, similar to the surface of marble.

Matte: Paper with a flat, non-reflective finish.

Metallic Paper: Paper coated with a thin film of plastic or pigment whose color and gloss simulate metal; often refers to paper that has a shimmer.

Monarch: Paper size of 7 inches by 10 inches and envelope shape often used for personal stationery.

Mylar: Foil-like paper with a shiny, reflective finish.

News Print: Paper used in printing newspapers. Considered lower quality.

Onion Skin: A specific lightweight paper usually used in the past for air mail.

Parchment: a stiff, flat, thin material made from the prepared skin of an animal and used as a durable writing surface in ancient and medieval times; a type of stiff translucent paper treated to resemble parchment and used for invitations. Resembles wax paper, but without the wax coating.

Parent Sheet: A sheet that is larger than the cut stock of the same paper; typically. any sheet larger than 11 inches by 17 inches or A3 size.

Ream: 500 sheets of paper.

Recycled Paper: New paper made entirely or in part from old paper.

Rice Paper:¬†A thin, soft paper that isn’t actually made from rice but from other fibers, including mulberry and hemp.

Stock: Used to describe the thickness and heaviness of paper.

Stock Order: Order for paper that a mill or merchant sends to a printer from inventory at a warehouse, as compared to a mill order.

Stocking Paper: Popular sizes, weights and colors of papers available for prompt delivery from a merchant’s warehouse.

Substrate: Any surface or material on which printing is done.

Text Paper: Designation for printing papers with textured surfaces such as laid or linen. Some mills also use ‚Äútext‚ÄĚ to refer to any paper they consider top-of-the-line, whether or not its surface has a texture.

Tooth:¬†Refers to the paper’s feel‚ÄĒthe more tooth a paper has, the rougher and more textured it is; some papers with a heavy tooth are not suitable for digital printing because the toner doesn‚Äôt lay down on the paper well.

Variegated: A term that describes the look of certain paper that has discreet hints of different colors.

Vellum: Paper made from a cotton blend, with a translucent, frosted appearance and a smooth finish. Some vellum papers are sturdy enough to be printed on and can be used for the actual invitation. When using vellum papers in digital printing, be sure the paper is made to withstand the high heat of digital presses.

Virgin Paper: Paper made exclusively of pulp from trees or cotton, as compared to recycled paper.

Uncoated Paper: Paper that has not been coated with clay. Also called offset paper.



Accordion Fold: Folding paper by bending each fold in the opposite direction of the previous fold creating a pleated or accordion effect.

Bifold:¬†An invitation that’s folded in half so it resembles a greeting card. It’s sometimes referred to as a “folder” because you can add a pocket on the left panel for response cards and other enclosures.

Collate: To gather sheets together in their correct order.

French Fold: A printed sheet, printed one side only, folded with two right angle folds to form a four page uncut section.

Gatefold: An invitation with two panels that meet in the center and open up like doors to reveal the wording. It may include folders on one or both panels as well.

Letter Fold: Two folds creating three panels that allow a sheet of letterhead to fit a business envelope; also called barrel fold and wrap around fold.

Looseleaf: Binding method allowing insertion and removal of pages in a publication (e.g., trim-4-drill-3).

Parallel Fold: Method of folding; two parallel folds to a sheet will produce 6 panels.

Perfect Bind: To bind sheets that have been ground at the spine and are held to the cover by glue. Also called adhesive bind, cut-back bind, glue bind, paper bind, patent bind, perfecting bind, soft bind and soft cover.

Perforating: Creating a line of small dotted wholes for the purpose of tearing-off a part of a printed matter.

Saddle Stitch: To bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine, as compared to side stitch; also called pamphlet stitch, saddle wire and stitch bind.

Side Stitch: To bind by stapling through sheets along, one edge, as compared to saddle stitch; also called cleat stitch and side wire.

Spiral Bind: To bind using a spiral of continuous wire or plastic looped through holes; also called coil bind.

Trifold: Card stock that is folded into three panels, accordion style; this is a common type of fold for programs.