Adhesion A measurement of the force required to remove a label from a substance.

Adhesive – Substance (glue or gum) used to allow label/tag to adhere to substrate.

Adhesive Types

  • Permanent – High adhesion – usually cannot be removed without destroying label.
  • Cold/Freezer Temperature – Enables a pressure-sensitive label to adhere when applied to refrigerated or frozen substrates generally +35 F or colder.
  • Textile – An adhesive that removes cleanly from fabric. If left on the fabric for extreme periods of time, staining may occur. Should not be used on velvet, furs, suede, leather or plastic.
  • Removable – Low adhesion – usually can be removed from the substrate without pieces remaining on the surface. May cause damage the surface of some materials. After a period of time or exposure to weather, the removable label will become permanent.
  • Ultra Removable (Repositional) – Adhesive that allows a label to be reapplied in another area and is not limited to the number of times it can be repositioned. Repositionable adhesive does not gain permanency over time.

Adhesive (Pressure Sensitive) A type of adhesive, which in a dry form is aggressively tacky at room temperature. It has the capability of promoting a bond to dissimilar surfaces on contact, with pressure.

Backing see Carrier/Liner

Bar Code – A pattern of vertical bar and spaces which represent characters of data that are readable with optical scanning devices.

Bleed – When the printed image extends beyond the trim edge of the labels, it is called bleed.

Butt Cut Labels – Rectangular labels in continuous form separated by a single knife cut to the liner across the web.

We do not recommend printing reverses on butt cut labels as there will be a gap where the plate meets together on the print cylinder and will show a line on the final printed piece. See illustration below: 


Butted Rectangles – Die Cut rectangles butted to each other with no around and/or across matrix to remove.

Carrier/Liner (Backing) Refers to the backing material the pressure sensitive labels are carried on, also known as liner.

Continuous Label – Fan-folded labels manufactured form a continuous web of label stock which is not cut into units prior to execution. Continuous labels are mostly used for data processing applications. (See illustration under “pin-feed”)

Corner Radius – Describes the arc or curvature of the die blades where they meet so that they can impart a rounded corner to a die cut label.

Die Cut Label Pressure sensitive labels mounted on a release liner form which the matrix has been die cut and usually removed.

Die Cutting – The process of using dies or sharp steel rules to cut any shape for labels. Die Lines – A hand drawn or computer generated layout of the die cut shape or shapes.

Embossed – Condition in which the image is raised above the surface.

Eyemark A small rectangular printing area usually located near the edge of the web or design, to activate an automatic electronic position regulator for controlling register or the printed design with subsequent equipment or operations.

Face Stock (Material) – Any paper, film, foil, vinyl material suitable for converting into pressure sensitive label stock. In the finished construction, this web is bonded to the adhesive layer and becomes the functional part of the construction.

Face Slit (also known as peel tab) – A slit in the face material of a pressures sensitive product to facilitate removal for the liner/carrier.

Feed Slots – Round or rectangular holes or slits put in pressure sensitive label stock to maintain the register of pressure sensitive labels while they are being printed or imprinted.

Film – Acetate, polyester, polyethylene, polypropylene, vinyl and other polymeric materials used as face stocks.

Finish – The surface property of a paper or film determined by its texture and gloss. A gloss finish, for example, can be shiny and highly reflective, while a matte finish is generally dull (like notebook paper) and reflects little light.

Flexographic Printing – Method of rotary printing which employs flexible plates, rotary die cutting, rapid-drying inks, in-line lamination and other converting operations.

Flood Coat – The coating of the entire surface with ink or other substances, such as varnish.

Fluorescent Paper – Papers that have had fluorescent dyes added when they were manufactured. The fluorescent dyes produce a brilliance that appears brighter in natural daylight.

Foil – A very thin metal sheet that can be used as a face stock material in label production.

Foil Paper Laminate – Paper that has a foil sheet laminated to it. There is generally a top coating added to improve printability. Used for face stock on labels.

Four-Color Process – The process of reproducing full color printed images. The image must be converted to a set of halftone screened negatives which are a series of dots of various sizes. A halftone negative is made for each of the separate color components of the image (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). These color separations are made into printing plates, one for each color and when printed, the overlapping dots of the color components reproduce a full color image. Also called full-color printing.

Four-Color Process Printing


Spot Color Printing

Halftone – A continuous tone image that has been photographed or scanned and then converted into tiny dots whose variations in size create the appearance of variations in tone. Light areas, or highlights, have small dots and darker areas, or shadows, have larger dots.

Heat Seal (Heat Activated Labels) – Label paper that has a plastic coating which melts under heat to form the bonding agent.

Hot Melt Adhesives – Thermoplastic materials with 100% solids that liquefy when heated and re-solidify on cooling to form a bond with the face sheet the adhesive was applied to and a pressure sensitive lamination which includes a release coated backing sheet.

Hot Stamping – A printing process in which the image is transferred to a label material by a combination of heat and pressure.

I.D. – Inside diameter.

Imprinting – A technique which applies variable copy to blank or pre-printed labels with a secondary device such as Thermal and Direct Thermal Printers.

Ink Jet – A method of printing using liquid ink projected a drop at a time against a substrate. Also called bubble jet.

Kiss Cut – A die-cutting operation which cuts through the face sheet to a liner but not through the liner.

Label Stock – Pressure-sensitive laminate from which labels are produced, usually refers to roll stock. Common label stocks include matte, matte opaque laser matte, gloss, semi-gloss, semi-gloss opaque, kraft, vinyl, laminated foils, fluorescent, direct thermal, thermal transfer, clear poly.

Laminate –  1. To bond a plastic film to a printed sheet with pressure for protection and give it a glossy finish. 2. The fusing of one or more layers of paper to achieve the desired thickness and quality.

Laser Paper – Paper that has been manufactured to provide optimal performance when running through a laser printer or copier. It has low moisture content to prevent the paper from curling when exposed to the high heat from the laser printers.

Lay Flat – A label material with good non-curling characteristics making it suitable for automatic over wrapping, insertion or any other form of further processing requiring a flat sheet (stay flat).

Linersee Carrier

Material – Refers to unconverted stock, pressure sensitive or tag.

Matrix – The face material and adhesive surrounding a self-adhesive label, usually removed after die-cutting.

Memory – The property of a material that causes it to attempt to return to its original dimensions after being distorted.

Mil – Unit of thickness measurement used for thin materials. 1 mil=0.001 inch =100 gauge.

Mylar – Dupont’s trademark for clear, tough polymeric polyester film.

O.D. – Outside diameter of a cylinder, roller or roll of labels.

Opacity – The measure of the amount of light that can pass through a material. The hiding property of an ink film; property of film allowing printed material to show through in varying degrees.

Opaque Ink – flexographic inks are NOT opaque

Overlaminating – Applications of a clear film to a labels stock for the purpose of protection or to enhance graphic quality, usually done in-line on the press.

Pantone (Pantone Matching System or PMS Colors) – An international system of matching color for printing, designating unique colors by standard Pantone Matching System (PMS) numbers. The Pantone name is known worldwide as the standard language for color communication of color from designer to manufacturer to retailer or customer.

Pattern Adhesive – Adhesive that is applied to the back of the face stock in a pattern opposed to an all over coat of adhesive. The adhesive coated areas can run parallel or perpendicular to the web direction.

Piggyback – Multi-ply P.S. laminate consisting of a face stock; a layer of adhesive; a standard release liner; a layer of adhesive; and a standard release liner. This type of product provides a single label that can be applied to a substrate using the adhesive on the middle liner; then the top ply is removed and applied to a different substrate using the adhesive on the face stock.

Process Printingsee Four Color Process

Peel/Pull Tab – Area on a face stock that facilitates easy removal of the label, usually a cut area on a sheeted label. Also called tear tab.

Pin Feed – Evenly spaced holes that are punched into the left and right margins of a continuous form, used at the collator to guide the paper through and align each part. They are also used to guide the form through a continuous printer.

Plate – Flexible polymer material with raised surface used to pick up ink and transfer to face stock.

Pressure Sensitive Label Stock – The combination of face material, pressure-sensitive adhesive and release liner form which pressure-sensitive labels are manufactured.

Prime Label – Label that acts as the main identification of a product. Often designed to attract attention and contains information to appeal to a buyer and is usually applied at the time of its manufacture.

Residue – Adhesive left on substrate when a label is removed.

Roll Labels – Pressure-sensitive labels that are produced in a continuous roll form.

Score – To make an impression or a partial cut in a material for the purpose of bending, creasing, folding or tearing.

Screen Printing – Method of printing in which the ink is forced through a design on a tout screen and onto the object to be printed. This process results in a heavy ink deposit that provides excellent outdoor durability.

Sheeting – Process whereby rolls of pressure-sensitive base stock are converted into sheets of finished labels by cutting them to the desired length in the sheeting stations on a rotary press.

Shelf Life (Storage Life) – The period of time during which a product can be stored under specified conditions and still remain suitable for use (normally one year).

Spot Colors – refers to a method of specifying and printing colors in which each color is printed with its own ink. In contrast to process color printing which uses four inks (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) to produce all other colors. (See examples of both spot and four-color process under “Four-Color Process”) 

Static Cling – An induced property of a film which enable it to grab onto a smooth clean surface without using a pressure-sensitive adhesive. Static cling is a phrase applied to grabbing by electrical static.

Substrate – The surface to which the finished label is applied.

Tag – A label attached to a product without the use of an adhesive.

Tamper-Evident Label – A pressure-sensitive construction made of materials which will partially destruct upon removal, indicating that a package, label or container has been tampered with.

Thermal Printing – Direct Thermal – A printing method that does not require a ribbon to create an image. The thermal material is heat sensitive. The print head is heated as in thermal transfer and when it comes in contact with the special direct thermal stock, it causes a chemical reaction which creates the image.

Thermal Transfer – A printing process where the print head is heated and then comes in contact with a special ribbon material that is running on top of the sheet. The heat from the print head causes the coating from the ribbon to be transferred to the sheet, creating an image.

Tie – A term used to denote the uncut portion of a perforation.

Tooling – Rotary dies used to cut out shapes of labels.

Tractor Feedsee pin-punched

U.L. – Underwriters Laboratories.

Ultra-Violet (UV) Resistance – The ability of a material to withstand extended exposure to sunlight (ultra-violet) without degradation, hardening, or excessive discoloration.

Varnish – A thin, liquid protective coating, either matte or glossy, that is applied to the product. It adds protection and enhances the appearance of the product. It can be applied as an all over coating or it can be applied as a spot coating.

Vinyl – A film that is highly durable and resistant to chemicals and moisture. It is high in conformability Excellent for outdoor use.

Wind Direction – Position of the printing as it comes off the finished roll.