Talk the Talk: Packaging Lingo Explained

Whether you are a savvy retail purchaser or a “power shopper” curious to know more about the industry, the following list of packaging terminology will ensure you can talk sensibly and smartly about packaging – to your vendors for your next promotion or to your friends at your next happy hour!

Here goes the list:

Paper

  • Natural Kraft – a type of natural paper that has no coating and has not gone through a chemical bleaching process; normally brown in color.
  • White Kraft – a type of natural paper that has no coating and has gone through a bleaching process.
  • Testliner – a type of natural paper that has one side white and one side brown; also called “flip side” or “dual color kraft.”
  • Beater Dyed – a type of paper that is dyed in the manufacturing process when the material is still a slurry, resulting in a paper that is a solid color all the way through the paper (if cut or ripped, the inside of the sheet or fiber is colored the same as the outside).
  • Woodfree – a lightweight paper made with fibers that do not contain any wood.
  • PCW – a type of paper that contains a certain amount of post-consumer waste content. More on PCW Papers
  • FSC – a designation for paper from the Forest Stewardship Council that certifies that the paper has followed a documented chain of custody.
  • GSM (grams per square meter) – measurement by which the weight / thickness of paper is specified.

Printing

  • CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) – the 4 standard colors used in 4-color process printing; when mixed, they achieve all other colors.
  • Process Printing – the printing process that uses CMYK colors.
  • Spot Color – a custom mixed color used to achieve precise results.
  • Line Printing – the printing process that uses spot colors.

Bag Styles

  • Shopper Bag – a type of bag usually containing a twisted paper, rigid handle and a serrated top.
  • Turn Top Bag – a type of bag usually containing a turned over top edge, handle reinforcements, bottom board and ribbon or rope handles knotted through the turned over top.

Handle Styles

  • PP Rope –a type of handle made from woven polypropylene with thickness/diameter usually measured in millimeters.  Available in these styles:
    • Braided
    • Twisted (two ropes twisted together)
    • Cotton-like – a synthetic material that has the look and feel of natural cotton but is less expensive and the ends can be heat cut to avoid fraying.
  • Stiff Loop Cotton – a type of handle that has a twisted paper core and woven cotton exterior, resulting in a rigid, cotton handle.
  • Ribbon Handle – a type of handle made from any type of ribbon, organza, grosgrain (heavy, ribbed fabric), velvet, etc.
  • Heat Cut – a process of cutting a handle with a heated instrument, resulting in ends that are sealed and resistant to fraying.

Reinforcements

Handle Reinforcement – when card stock is placed inside the turn top to reinforce where the handles are inserted.
Bottom Board Reinforcement – when card stock is placed in the bottom of a bag to offer reinforcement.

Paper Finishes

  • Coating
    • C1S – a type of paper that is manufactured with a coating only on one side.
    • C2S – a type of paper that is manufactured with a coating on both sides.
  • Lamination
    • Gloss – a BOPP* film applied to paper after printing, resulting in a glossy finish.
    • Satin – a BOPP film applied to paper after printing, resulting in a semi-gloss finish.
    • Matte – a BOPP film applied to paper after printing, resulting in a matte finish.

*BOPP stands for “biaxially oriented polypropylene.” It is a popular coating option for packaging as a result of its efficient processing qualities and versatility.

Fancy Finishes

  • Embossing – a treatment used on paper where the logo or other design is raised above the field of the bag.
  • Debossing – a treatment used on paper where the logo or other design is pressed into the paper, leaving it below the field of the bag.
  • Hot Stamp – a film, usually shiny in appearance, transferred to paper using heat.  Usually in the form of a logo or a specific design.
  • Spot Varnish – applying a high-gloss varnish to a specific area, usually a logo or other design element,  to create an effect that is glossier than the rest of the design.

Curious about something not on this list? Comment below to let us know.

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