Promotional Industry Terminology:

Decorating Process and Terms:

Debossing: depressing an image into a material’s surface so that the image sits below the product surface

Embossing: impressing an image in relief to achieve a raised surface

Hot Stamp: setting a design on a relief die, which is then heated and pressed onto the printing surface

Laser or Foil Stamp: applying metallic or colored foil imprints to vinyl, leather or paper surfaces

Personalization: imprinting an item with a person's name using one of several methods such as mechanical engraving, laser engraving, hot stamping, debossing, sublimation, or screen printing, to name a few.

Die-casting: injecting molten metal into the cavity of a carved die (a mold)

Die-striking: producing emblems and other flat promotional products by striking a blank metal sheet with a hammer that holds the die

Etching: using a process in which an image is first covered with a protective coating that resists acid, then exposed, leaving bare metal and protected metal. The acid attacks only the exposed metal, leaving the image etched onto the surface.

Engraving: cutting an image into metal, wood or glass by one of three methods--computerized engraving, hand tracing, or hand engraving.

Pantone Matching System (PMS): a book of standardized color in a fan format used to identify, match and communicate colors in order to produce accurate color matches in printing. Each color has a coded number indicating instructions for mixing inks to achieve that color.

Colorfill: screen printing an image and then debossing it onto the vinyl’s surface

Embroidery: stitching a design into fabric through the use of high-speed, computer-controlled sewing machines. Artwork must first be "digitized," which is the specialized process of converting two-dimensional artwork into stitches or thread. A particular format of art such as a jpeg, tif, eps, or bmp, cannot be converted into an embroidery tape. The digitizer must actually recreate the artwork using stitches. Then it programs the sewing machine to sew a specific design, in a specific color, with a specific type of stitch. This is the process known as digitizing.

Printing Terms:

Screen Printing: an image is transferred to the printed surface by ink, which is pressed through a stenciled screen and treated with a light-sensitive emulsion. Film positives are put in contact with the screens and exposed to light, hardening the emulsion not covered by film and leaving a soft area on the screen for the squeegee to press ink through. (Also called silk screening)

Pad Printing: a recessed surface is covered with ink. The plate is wiped clean, leaving ink in the recessed areas. A silicone pad is then pressed against the plate, pulling the ink out of the recesses, and pressing it directly onto the product.

4-color Process: a system where a color image is separated into 4 different color values by the use of filters and screens (usually done digitally). The result is a color separation of 4 images, that when transferred to printing plates and printed on a printing press with the colored inks cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black, reproduces the original color image. These four colors can be combined to create thousands of colors.

Heat Transfer Imprinting:

Camera-ready: artwork that is black and white and has very clean, crisp lines that make it easy to scan and suitable for photographic reproduction.

Bleeds: printers cannot print right to the edge of a paper sheet. To create that effect, the printer must use a sheet, which is larger than the document size. Then the printer prints beyond the edge of the document size (usually 1/8”), then cuts the paper down to the document size.

Imprint Area: the area on a product, with specific dimensions, in which the imprint is placed.

Artwork Terms:

Mechanical artwork: the traditional standard for acceptable mechanical artwork that is “camera-ready black and white” material

Electronic/Digital artwork:

  • Vector files: sometimes called a geometric file, most images created with tools such as Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw are in the form of vector image files. Vector image files are easier to modify than raster image files (which can, however, sometimes be reconverted to vector files for further refinement)
  • Bitmap files: images are exactly what their name says they are: a collection of bits that form an image. The image consists of a matrix of individual dots (or pixels) that all have their own color (described using bits, the smallest possible units of information for a computer).
  • Page Layout Documents: the font files and document preferences that need to be supplied for use on the supplier’s operating system.
  • Metafile: a collection of structures that store a picture in a device- independent format. Device independence is the one feature that sets metafiles apart from bitmaps. Unlike a bitmap, a metafile guarantees device independence. There is a drawback to metafiles, because they are generally drawn more slowly than bitmaps. Therefore, if an application requires fast drawing and device independence is not an issue, it should use bitmaps instead of metafiles.
  • Adobe® Portable Document Format (PDF) files: preserve the visually rich content of original files, and are easier to read than HTML content that appears in a Web browser. Adobe PDF files print cleanly and quickly, and anyone can share Adobe PDF files, regardless of their platform or software application.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) file: a file format for exchanging bitmapped images (usually scans) between applications.

EPS (encapsulated postscript) file: an alternative picture file format that allows PostScript data to be stored and edited and is easy to transfer between Macintosh, MSDOS and other systems.

Industry Terms:

Paper proof: Impression of type or artwork on paper so the correctness and quality of the material to be printed can be checked. The least expensive is a regular black and white faxed paper proof.

Pre-production Proof: an actual physical sample of the product itself produced and sent for approval before an order goes into production.

Drop Shipment: an order shipped to more than one location will be charged a fee for each additional destination. Less than Minimum: the fee charged by a supplier for ordering 50% fewer items than the quantity listed in the minimum or first column. This option is not always available on all products.

Production Time: the amount of time needed to produce and ship an order, once a confirmed order has been received and approved. Some order will require payment before being processed. Most products are usually ship within 5-7 working days. Custom products and those with multi-color imprints require longer production time.

Overruns/Underruns: the number of pieces that were printed in excess of the quantity specified/ the production run of fewer pieces than the amount specified. The industry standard on most products is +/-5%, with the exception being on paper and plastic bags. They can range from +/-10% to +/-25%. Suppliers bill on the actual quantity shipped.

Set-up Charge: a fee charged on deocration preparation process such as film, digitiging and screen.

Copy Change: a fee charged for changing the imprint copy on a product either at time of the original proof approval or upon a re-order.

Exact Rerun: usually there is no set-up charge on exact reruns of an order.

Bags Terms:

What is GSM for fabric and clothing?

GSM (also known as gm/2) = grams per square metre and is the metric measurement of the weight of a fabric.

Metric measurements are generally the most common place but some clothing items are still marked in Imperial weights (OZ or oz/yd2 = ounces per yard squared)

The important thing to state here is that all of the terms above are measurements of weight, specifically the fabric weight when talking clothing. For example a T Shirt may be listed as 185gsm and another may be listed as 5.5oz the outcome is that these are basically the same as 5.5oz = 186 gms

You can work out any conversion of OZ & GSM by using the following calculation

5.5oz x 33.906 = 186.48 gsma
185gsm / 33.906 = 5.45oz

What is a good weight to buy?

That will depend on what you need from your garment or other product, fabric weight is in almost all cases a definition of the thickness of the garment itself. If you want a nice thick T Shirt then a 180-200gsm item is generally at the very top end of a t shirt weight but if you want a nice light weight summer T Shirt to pack for your holidays a 130-150 is also great. Likewise if you are looking for a cheap promotional T shirt that may not be worn more than a few times a 100-110gsm T shirt can be more than adequate.

Hoodies & Sweatshirts work on the same basis a thick winter hoodie can be 300-400gsm but a nice all year round weight can be 250-300gsm and a summer weight hoodie can be 200-250gsm.

Will a heavier weight T shirt / hoodie / sweatshirt last longer or be better quality?

The answer to that really depends on you and what you want from your T shirt, will you wear it regularly (2-3 times a week)? If yes then certainly I'd expect a heavier weight to last longer with all the extra washing and drying regular wear will mean. But I have many T Shirts that are 130-150gsm that I've had for years as they only have occasional wear.

As for the quality that is such a wide ranging term that is always a matter of individual perspective. A designer t shirt may cost £90+ but only be 130gsm in weight and a "no brand" T shirt may cost £10 and be 190gsm - is the designer one better quality as it's 9 times more expensive? Or are you paying a premium price for a brand you like? Personally I'd suggest you are.

But in general terms the higher the fabric weight most people would interpret to be better quality.

Does the higher the weight effect the price?

Yes; without a doubt. The higher the weight the more raw materials are used to weave the fabric in to its finished state ready for cutting and sewing.

There is an easy way to convert gsm to oz/yd2.
Divide the gsm by 33.906 - really that is all.
To determine gsm from oz/yd2 you do the reverse - multiple by 33.906.
If it helps, this is what the formulas are based upon:

  • 1 oz = 28.3495231 grams
  • 1 yard = 0.9144 meters
  • 1 yard squared = 0.9144 m x 0.9144 m = 0.83612736 meters squared


  • 1 oz/yd2 = 28.3495231g/.83612736 m2 = 33.90574744 g/m2
  • Rounded up to three decimal places it is 33.906

Question : If a fabric is 5.5oz/sq yard, how many the weight is in grams/sq meter ?
Answer : 5.5 oz/sqyd x 33.906 = 186.483 gm/sqm