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Our customer care reps tell us a lot of people have questions about print tips and terms. Today we’re going to define some of the most common terms, and throw in a few label printing tips as well.

Dead Front Black

The first time I heard the term dead front black, I wanted to know more. And the reality is just as cool as the term. Labels using dead front black appear to be solid black – until a light shines behind them. Then a hidden image appears.

The example here has three hidden icons; I put a dim light behind one, and presto, a fan appeared.

These sorts of labels are used most often on control panels or graphic overlays in order to display warning messages. There’s additional information about these features and types of labels in our Laminating Adhesives post.

Have a use for this and want to check it out before ordering? You can get samples of dead front black labels, as well as control panel labels with colored transparencies and cutouts, by going to our control panel product page and clicking the blue “Free Samples” button.

White Backing Ink

We frequently recommend that customers ordering clear labels add white backing ink to them. We add a layer of white ink over the clear material, in the shape of the text or graphic, prior to adding the text or graphic. Many people don’t understand why we recommend that, but it can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your labels. The pictures below really make it clear (pun intended) as to why you may want white backing ink!

I laid one of our clear “print term” samples over a number of different colored materials. As you can see, the white backing ink adds to the overall clarity of the label, and provides a even color tone to graphics regardless of the surface material. Always take your background, or the contents of your clear bottles and jars, into consideration when planning your labels.

In these samples, the two light-colored text and the two series of small color squares are exactly the same top colors. The only difference is that one set has white backing ink behind it. To look at any individual sample, just click on the image. Check out the sample on the green background – you can’t even see the light text without the white backing, but with the white backing, it really pops out at you.

Knockout Text

The samples above also show knockout text in a black background. The text that appears is not printed, it’s “knocked out” of the black area. On a clear label, this allows your surface or product color to come through. It looks particularly nice against light surfaces, like the cardboard or the yellow samples shown above. You can knock out text or graphics.

Reverse Printing

Print term - reverse print

Reverse printing is also a technique used on clear labels. In this case, the labels are destined for the inside of a glass or clear plastic window. When the label is still on the liner, the printing looks backwards. When you remove the label from its liner and put it on the window, though, the text can be read from the other side.

Want samples of clear labels with any of these characteristics? Go to our process color or window decals page and click the blue “Free Samples” button. Note that the “printing techniques” sample used in the above images is on clear removable material. You can place it anywhere and safely and easily remove it when you’re done.

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