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Glossary of Terms Related To Label Printing

As a premier label printing company, there is a variety of technical terms and industry jargon we may use when strategizing on the optimal way to meet our clients’ label printing goals.

We are pleased to partner with Avery Dennison and share this valuable glossary with our customers. Here you will find definitions of frequently-used terms, as well as other resources related to label printing.

M-P Terms


Machine Coated: Paper which is coated one or two sides on a paper machine.

Machine Direction: The direction of paper parallel to its forward movement on paper machine.

Machine Finish: The finish applied on the paper machine. The finish is in a wove or laid design and is between Vellum and English finish in smoothness. The finish is commonly referred to as MF (machine finish).

Magenta: One of the four primary colors for printing. One of the subtractive primaries the hue of which is used for one of the four color process inks. It reflects blue and red light and absorbs light.

Mandrel: The core around which paper, fabric, or resin-impregnated fibrous glass is wound to form pipes or tubes. In extrusion, the central finger of a pipe or tubing die.

Mandrel Hold: The ability to adhere to a curved or tight radius surface. Mandrel hold is the resistance to “Fflag” or “wing up”.

Mass: Sometimes used as another name for the adhesive.

Matrix: Ladder, skeleton, waste. The face and adhesive layers of a sensitive construction surrounding a die-cut label which have been removed after die-cutting.

Matte Finish: A dull finish. A deglossed surface.

MD: Medium Durability

MDO: Machine Direction Oriented

Mechanical Pulp: In papermaking, groundwood pulp produced by mechanically grinding logs or wood chips. It is used mainly for newsprint and as an ingredient of base stock for lower grade publication papers.

Memory: The property of a material that attempts to return to its original dimensions after being distorted.

Metallized Film: A plastic or resinous film that has been coated on one side with a very thin layer of metal.

Migration: The movement of one or more of the components of a pressure-sensitive adhesive to either a substrate or face material; the movement of one or more of the components of either or both the face material and the substrate into the adhesive and ink.

Mils: Used in describing adhesive coat weights, thickness. The term means thousandths of an inch.

Minimum Application Temperature: The lowest temperature at which an adhesive will function.

Moisture Content: Percent moisture. The moisture present in a material, as determined by specified methods.

Moisture Resistant: That property of a sheet which resists uptake or passage of moisture. Usually achieved by adding sizing.

Monomer: The basic building block from which a polymer chain is made. Many monomer molecules are chemically joined to make up the polymer.

Mottle: Non-uniform coloring, coating or printing of a face material.


NA: Non-Adhesive

Natural Colored: Applied to papers whose colors result from the nature of the stock used when no bleach or coloring has been added. In the case of kraft, its natural color is a tan or light brown.

Natural Resins: The products obtained from the exudations of trees and sometimes used as adhesive, coatings or sealer bases. Common natural resins are the copals, damar, shellac accroides, sandarac, rosin and mastic.

Natural Rubber: Derived from the latex of rubber trees. It imparts tack and adhesion properties to pressure-sensitive adhesives.

NIS: Non-Infrared Scannable

NK: Natural Kraft (Brown)

Non-Blocking: Pertaining to an applied adhesive to itself and or other surfaces under normal stacked storage conditions.

Non-Impact Printing: This encompasses various print processes including Thermal (direct and indirect), Ink Jet and Toner.

Non-Oriented Film: Film which has not been subject to stress to align the polymer chains and improve properties.

Non-Woven Materials: Random interlocked paper tissues or synthetics bonded to each other with heat pressure or resinous materials.

NTC: Non-Topcoat

Nylon: A strong plastic which can be used as a film with high oil and gas resistance, or used as filament in strapping tapes, with high impact resistance.


Offset: Set-off. A defect characterized by the partial transference of ink from a freshly printed surface to an adjacent surface as that of another sheet of paper.

Offset Printing: A process of indirect printing in which an impression of type or a design on a flat plate is printed on a rubber blanketed cylinder from which it is impressed.

Olefins: A group of unsaturated hydrocarbons of the general formula CnH2n and named after the corresponding paraffins by the addition of “ene” or “ylene” to the stem. Examples are ethylene and propylene.

Oozing: A “squeezing out” of the adhesive from under the backing, occurring when the tape is in roll form, the edges of the roll become tacky.

Opacity: That property of a paper or film which prevents “show through” of dark printing on or in contact with the backside of the sheet. This is opposite of transparency.

Opaque Ink: An ink that conceals all color beneath it.

Orange Peel: A pebbled appearance of a surface. Small, rounded hills and valleys caused by uneven liquid flow in coating or printing.

Orientation: The alignment of the crystalline structure in polymeric materials so as to produce a highly uniform structure. Can be accomplished by cold drawing or stretching during fabrication.

Outgas: Vaporization of a solid or liquid under heat. Outgassing can occur in some plastics and insufficiently dried plants, resulting in adhesive failure of films applied over them.

Overcoating: In extrusion coating, the practice of extruding a web beyond the edge of the substrate.

Overlaminating: Application of clear film to a graphic for the purpose of protection or to enhance the graphic quality.

Overlap: Wrap-around labeling of a container in which one end of the label overlaps the other.

Oxidation: The chemical reaction involving the process of combining with oxygen to form an oxide; the deterioration of an adhesive film due to atmospheric exposure; the breakdown of a hot melt adhesive due to prolonged heating and oxide formation.


Pallet: A portable platform device onto which paper can be loaded for storage and/or transporting.

Paper: A homogeneous formation of primarily cellulose fibers which are formed in water suspension on the machine wire and bound together by weaving of the fibers and by bonding agents.

Pattern Coating: Refers to the width and spacing arrangement of adhesive laid down parallel to machine direction, across the width of a pressure-sensitive stock, during its manufacturing.

Pattern Gum: An adhesive coating that alternates strips of adhesive/no adhesive parallel to the machine direction. The areas of no adhesive are frequently used as “lift-tabs” for order-picking type labels.

Pattern Release: Selectively applying alternating strips of release coating/no release coating in a machine direction pattern that results in a permanent facestock/release liner bond in the non-release coated areas.

PCW: Post Consumer Waste

PE: Polyethylene

Peel Adhesion: Adhesion strength. Peel adhesion is the force required to move a pressure-sensitive label from a standard test panel at a specified angle and speed after the label has been applied to the test panel under specified conditions.

Penetration: Bleed through. Change of appearance of the face material due to movement of one or more components from the adhesive or the substrate.

Perforation: Series of small cuts made in labels and/or their release liner to facilitate tearing along a predetermined line.

Permanent Adhesive: An adhesive characterized by having relatively high ultimate adhesion to a wide variety of surfaces.

PET: Polyester

Pick: That quality of paper as it relates to the tendency of fibers or particles to be pulled away from the sheet surface when removed from tacky surfaces such as printing plates.

Picking: The lifting of the paper surface during printing. It occurs when pulling force (tack) of ink is greater than surface strength of paper.

Pigment: In printing inks, the fine solid particles used to give color, body or opacity.

PK: Poly Kraft

PLA: Polylactic acid

Plastic: One of many high-polymeric substances, including both natural and synthetic products, but excluding the rubbers. Plastic is capable of flowing and pressure or tensile stress, if necessary, into the desired final shape.

Plasticizer: Softener. A substance added to materials to impart flexibility, workability and elongation.

Plasticizer Migration: Loss of plasticizer from an elastomeric compound that is absorbed into the adhesive. The result is a softening of the adhesive to the point of adhesion failure.

Plate Cylinder: The cylinder of a press on which the plate is mounted.

Pli-A-Print: Latex-impregnated, flexible stock suitable for exposure to moisture.

Polyester: A strong film having good resistance to moisture, solvents, oils and many other chemicals. It is usually transparent.

Polyethylene: An extruded, tough stretchy film having limited temperature resistance but good moisture barrier properties.

Polymer: A complex, relatively large, molecule produced by the reaction of a simpler compound with itself. Usually refers to synthesized organic resins, but may also refer to natural materials, such as starch, sugar, cellulose, and natural rubber.

Polymerization: The chemical reaction by a catalyst, heat, light or electron radiation in which relatively small molecules link up to form a macromolecule.

Polypropylene: A polyolefin plastic similar in properties to polyethylene but with higher temperature capability and greater strength.

Polystyrene: A water-white thermoplastic produced by the polymerization of styrene. The electrical insulation properties of polystyrene are outstandingly good and the material is relatively unaffected by moisture.

Polythene: Trade name for polyethylene available in films or as custom molded articles.

Porosity: The density of the adherent surface, the property of adhesive absorption by the adherent surface.