Basic Print Design Vocabulary Everyone Should Know

If you’ve done any work with print design, chances are pretty high that you’ve run into some interesting terms. Like ‘slugs’, and ‘gutters’, and ‘bleeds’. But what exactly do these terms mean?

Here’s a list of some common print vocabulary that will be helpful if you’re looking to have something printed professionally or are planning to hire a designer to creat your next brochure!


Live Area– The live area of the page contains the most important text and photo space. This is where your content goes.

Trim line– This line shows the final page size—it marks the line where the page will be trimmed down to after printing.

Margin– The margin is the space between the live area and the trim line. It’s like a safety zone for all the important information, making sure it doesn’t get cut off the page.

Bleed– Used by professional printers, a bleed is what allows images and text to go right to the edge of the page. The document will be printed on an oversized piece of paper and then trimmed down to the document size, as marked by the trim line. The bleed is the area of the document that will be trimmed off after printing.

Gutter– The gutter can have two possible positions on the page. (1) If you have a document with two columns of text or images, it is the space in between the columns. (2) On folded documents (like brochures) or bound pieces (like books or magazines) the gutter is the area of the page that will be in the fold or binding.

Slug– The slug is the area of the page which is not intended to be printed and is used for leaving notes. You’ll use this space if you choose to include copyright information, document identification, design notes, etc.

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