The Ultimate Glossary of Design & Packaging Terms You Should Know [Part 2]


Business head
October 27, 2020

Here's a comprehensive glossary of A-Z design & packaging terms, that will come in handy on your next big project. Bookmark this guide now and share this guide with your teams!

Packaging can make or break your product and brand. So, when involved in design projects, understanding the packaging terminology can help you communicate better with other teams.   

After exploring A-K in Part 1, let's dive into Part 2 of the ultimate guide of packaging terminology:


Lamination: A thin plastic film (either glossy or matte) used on the covers of a printed board to give protection.

Length: Dimensions of a label across the web direction.

Linerless Label: Made without any liner, this is a single piece of material that is both a label and a liner. It is applied similarly to the standard self-adhesive labels. They are commonly used on fresh meat & poultry products as a replacement for sleeves.

Liners (also known as backing paper or carrier): The material in which the label will be adhered to when delivered to the customer, ready for automatic application.

Lead Time: The amount of time necessary for certain stages within a supply chain to be fulfilled, such as packaging production or product delivery.

Landscape (orientation): A page or layout that is wider than its height.

Line Art: Black-and-white artwork with no gray areas. Pen-and-ink drawings, most graphic images produced with desktop publishing graphics programs, and positive halftones are treated as line art.

Lid or Cover: The top, or covering a portion of a set-up or rigid box.

Label Panel: That portion of the body of a container to which labels are affixed or printed.

Labels, Types of: Self-sticking, bar code, UPC, IBM, mylar, cloth, color, aluminum, wrap-around, spot, cling, sleeve, pressure sensitive, heat transfer, DOT, in-mold, expanded content, holographic, rotating, inverted vertical hanging, medical, shipping, international wordless, paper, booklet, production, inventory, and shrink labels. They can be customized with printing and decorating options.

Logo: A symbol, type, or design adopted by an organization to identify itself. Logos can be product-centric such as the Baskin-Robbins logo representing their 31 flavors, or experience-centric such as the Amazon logo that ensures customer satisfaction to buy everything from A to Z.

Logotype: A typography/font based logo brands adopt to represent its story and vision.


Matt Emulsion: A water-based finish that creates a flat finish with minimal sheen.

Matte Finish: A dull paper finish without gloss or luster.

Metalized Polyester Board (Metpol Board): Refers to a film that is laminated into a folding boxboard. The board can be printed and formed to create premium high-end cartons.

Master Packs: A type of packaging designed to ship retail products to stores in shelf-ready packaging, typically made of corrugated fiberboard.

Master Carton: A carton used to pack and ship smaller cartons.

Masstige: Mass-produced and relatively inexpensive goods marketed as luxurious or prestigious.

Master Design: Main design composition with all visual elements as per the packaging design checklist adapted for various sizes or formats. A master design usually includes front of pack and back of pack designs both.

Mood board: An arrangement of images, materials, and text intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept.

design terms
Mood boards

Material Palette: Similar to the concept of a color palette, a material palette is a collection of various materials used in a packaging output.


Nesting: Placing trays or covers of the same size, generally for shipping, or boxes of varying sizes, one within another.

Neck: A tray or collar inserted in a base to form a shoulder box, attached by adhesive, and extending above the base into the lid when the box is closed.

Nomenclature: The devising or choosing of names for a brand/ product representing brand vision.

Negative Space: In design, it is the space where there are no elements placed, and in artwork, it is the background.


Offset Lithography: A printing process where a to-be-printed inked image is transferred (offset) first to a rubber layer before coming into contact with the board that takes up the inked areas.

Organoleptic Assessment: The test involves the assessment of flavor, odor, and appearance of a material. 

Origination: All the graphical or text elements that are needed to put together and print the job. E.g, artwork, photography, and typesetting.

Outline: Tracing of the outer edge of text or a graphic image. If the outline is feathered, then the effect is generally referred to as a glow.


Pantone Reference: An international system that designates colors for printing reference.

design terms glossary
Pantone Reference

Pearlescent Finish: A type of finish that creates a shimmering effect. It's achieved by dispersing iridescent material into UV or water-based varnishes often used for luxury, high-end products.

Perforation: Running a series of cuts (often small and close together) into the board to allow the two sides to be separated.

PMS: Pantone Matching System; see Pantone Reference definition.

Polyethylene (PET): Used for high-speed applications and to provide a ‘no label' effect on Filmic labels

Printing Plate: An anodized aluminum plate which has a light-sensitive coating applied. Once exposed (to the image) and developed, the image area is sensitized to receive ink. It's essential to realize that each color in a printing job requires a separate plate.

Proof: A printed sample of work to be checked for errors in the text, positioning, or quality of color reproduction.

POP Display: Point of Purchase displays are used for product promotion. 

PVC: Poly Vinyl Chloride is a clear plastic used for making lids.

Partitions or Dividers: Slotted or folded pieces of boxboard fitted together to form compartments placed in a base without being attached or glued to the base to isolate sections.

Pad Printing: Direct transfer of ink utilizing a pad where the operation is similar to that of a rubber stamp. It is used on small areas and to decorate points on odd-shaped containers.

Pouches: Films are joined together for stock and custom pouches to create a flexible package for liquids, including chemicals, food products, and beverages.

Pre-Fill: Containers filled in advance before applying labels to them.

Packaging Architecture: A formula of various ratios of the design elements which constitute the signature element for the package that will relate with users.

Packaging Composition: The layout of all the design elements in a particular style and ratio, represented with line diagrams and shapes for initial stages of exploration.

Primary Packaging: Primary packaging is the packaging in direct contact with the product itself. The main purpose of primary packaging is to protect and preserve, contain, and inform the consumer.

PDF: Portable document format is a file type often used to send print materials to a print shop. It is also useful for the web when there are multi-paged documents, reports, and forms. 

Adobe Photoshop: A design program used to create/edit raster (bitmap) images developed by Adobe Inc.

PNG: Portable network graphics format used for lossless compression and displaying images on the web. The advantage of .png is that it supports images with millions of colors and produces a transparent background without jagged edges. 

Principles of Design: The principles of design are unity, balance, contrast, economy, direction, emphasis, proportion, and rhythm.

PSD: Adobe Photoshop document/file extension.


Resolution: Refers to the degree of detail of an image. It is measured in dots per inch (DPI) or lines per inch (LPI). A high resolution gives an excellent quality image and vice versa.

Reversed-Out: White text appearing on a black or color background that is either a solid or a tint.

Render: In design, rendering is a process of generating an image through a software program. That image is called as a render.  

RGB: The RGB color model is an additive color model in which red, green, and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors.

Royalty-Free Photos or Images: Photos, graphic images, or other intellectual property that are sold for a single standard fee and may be used repeatedly by the purchaser. 


Sleeves: A printed or plain sleeve that will slide over products to provide brand and product information. 

packaging terms
Product Sleeves

SKU: Stock Keeping Unit generally refers to different packaging versions of related products.

Small Run: A limited order of packaging, the minimum amount of which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Soft Touch Finish: A water-based product that achieves a matte finish that is soft to touch.

Special/Spot Color: In offset printing, a spot color is a special premixed ink that requires its printing plate on a printing press. E.g, a corporate logo contains a special blue and included in a Pantone brochure with photographs and text. This is termed as a five-color job. (CMYK (pictures + text) + special blue = 5 colors)

Stripper Unit: As part of the cut and crease process, a stripper unit helps remove the waste board left after the die has punched the design through the board sheet. 

Substrates: In printing, the substrate is the base material on which the designs will be printed on.

Shrink-Wrapped: Products are wrapped in thin clear plastic. Then heat is applied, shrinking the plastic tightly over whatever it is covering.

common packaging terms
Shrink Wrapped Products

Scoring: Making an impression or crease in a box to facilitate bending, folding, or tearing.

Slide Box: A type of box with a shell-formed lid into which the base is inserted at the other side or end.

Seamless: Made in one piece without a joint.

Secondary Packaging: A type of packaging that serves branding and logistical purposes along with protecting and collating individual units during storage. Commonly used by beverage, food, and cosmetic sectors for displaying primary packs on shelves.

Size Adaptation: Adaptation of design from one size (For example Label for 200ml) to another (For example, a label for 500ml) is considered to be a size adaptation which includes a rearrangement of design elements and change of scale and ratios.


Tint: A mixture of a color with white that reduces darkness.

Thumbcuts/Thumbholes: A semi-circular or other shaped cut made in the sides or ends to facilitate the removal of the lid from the base or the contents from the base.

Tooling: Physical equipment used to create custom packaging elements such as a die or mold.

Trapping: When preparing digital artwork, it is the process of overlapping adjacent colors to eliminate the white lines that could appear between them during the print process.

Tag Line: A short, memorable phrase used with the brand logo and for marketing purposes. 

Typography: The technique of arranging letters and text for printing upon a package. The study of the design of typefaces and how the type is laid out on a page to achieve the desired visual effect and convey the meaning of the reading matter is a part of typography.

Target Audience: A target audience is a group of people identified as likely customers of a brand.

Tertiary Packaging: Packaging that protects the product and the secondary and primary packaging. For example, when one orders an item from an online shopping site, the sealed cardboard box is the tertiary packaging.

Telescope Box: A box in which the sides and ends of the lid are cut the same depth as the sides and ends of the base. Also, the lid fits over the base. Thumbcuts are recommended to avoid a loose fit.

Tamper Resistant Seal: A seal that cannot be opened without partially destroying the cap or otherwise showing evidence of tampering.

Tolerance: A specified allowance for deviations in weighing and measuring.

Translucent: A material or substance letting through some light, but not clear enough to be seen through.

Transparent: A material or substance capable of a high degree of light transmission (e.g., glass, some polypropylene films, and acrylic moldings)


UV Gloss: A gloss service treatment that is cured using ultraviolet radiation. This finish is a high-level gloss that dries instantly under UV lamps and is suitable for use on all board types.

UV: A high gloss liquid coating that is applied offline as a screened process. Although UV coating appears quite glossy, it is not as durable as film lamination.

UPC: Universal Product Code is a code printed on containers and other forms of packaging that provides information about the product for purposes of inventory control and retail pricing.

USP: Unique Selling Point is a feature or characteristic of a product, service that distinguishes it from others of a similar nature and makes it more appealing.


Varnish: A coating that applied for protection to a printed sheet. Varnish is available in different finishes and tints. It's applied to specific areas to create subtle effects or to coat the entire sheet. 

Visual: A preliminary layout, indicating the general design and the position of the various elements.

Virgin Board: A brown board that has not been bleached white or dyed another color.

Variant Adaptation: Designs adapted according to flavor, fragrance, or taste variants. It involves rearrangement of design elements and change of scale and ratios in addition to the creation of fragrance/taste/flavor related visual elements in a similar style as that of the master.

packaging terms
Variant Adaptation

Vector Graphic: A graphic image drawn in shapes and lines called paths. Images created in illustrator and freehand (graphic design software) are vector graphics. They are scalable and usually exported as bitmap images.


Web: An unbroken sheet of paper or paperboard.

Web Direction: Direction of the web on the machine (always running from left to right)

White Lined Chipboard: A grade of paperboard made from layers of waste paper and recycled fibers, it is composed of recycled grey matter with white coating layers over the top.

Width: Dimension of a label across the web direction.

The Takeaway

Now that you have a good grasp of design and packaging terminologies, you can study them and commit to memory. Or better yet, just bookmark this page (and part 1). So, the next time you are unsure about a design or packaging terminology, use them as your cheat sheet. 

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