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Promotional Products Terms - A Customization Glossary

published: September 10, 2019
Promotional Products Terms

One of the hardest parts of diving into something new is adapting to a new language. Whether you’re buying a new car or looking to hire a lawyer, in order to understand what you’re looking for, you need to understand a bit of the jargon that is associated with the industry. The promotional products industry has no shortage of industry-specific terms. We want to do our best to ensure that all our customers, new and old, understand the terms that are used to communicate with our promotional product experts so that your final product gets to you exactly the way that you want it to!

Please refer to the glossary below to learn more about the processes used to imprint your items, the charges that you will see on your quote, and other interesting industry-related terms. If you still have questions after scrolling through this list, feel free to reach out to one of our promotional products experts for more information.


Acrylic Knit

A synthetic man-made fiber that is used in fabric and yarn. It is made of many of the same elements as acrylic plastic. Browse our selection of acrylic branded apparel.

Acrylic Plastic (PVC)

A lightweight, shatter-proof plastic that closely resembles glass but is more transparent. It is also often called plexiglass. We carry a variety of acrylic products from promotional drinkware to custom awards.

Anti-Fraud Ink

Anti-fraud ink is designed to prevent methods used by those who try to check wash in order to forge their own information. Protect yourself and your associates by trying one of our custom pens with anti-fraud ink.


Material that is anti-static prevents the buildup of static electricity. Crestline offers a few apparel items with anti-static properties.


A smaller piece of fabric meant to be sewn or attached to a bigger piece of fabric, usually to decorate it. The most common example of these are patches. Including patches on products is a trend that can easily garner many impressions for your brand.

Art or Artwork

When we talk about “art” or “artwork,” more often than not, we are referring to the logo or other design that is going to be imprinted on your product. We have a great art team that would be happy to work with you to get your artwork just right.

Art Proof

An art proof is a visual representation of how your artwork will look on your chosen product. Crestline always provides an art proof to every customer before their order goes into production. As soon as you approve the art proof, we are all set to send your order into production!

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Apparel that is tagged as “biowashed” has gone through a process that removes extra fibers and pre-shrinks garments so it doesn’t shrink after their first wash. The process also makes for a softer, easier to print on fabric and a longer lasting garment. Several of our garments are pre-shrunk to guarantee their lasting power.


Also called Poplin, broadcloth is most commonly used in dress clothes. It is typically made from cotton fibers and has a plain weave which minimizes its texture and weight .


Buying from Crestline often means buying products “in bulk.” This basically means buying product in large quantities, often at a more competitive price. Typically, the more items you order, the lower the per item cost. Buying larger quantities is also desirable when you want to distribute your stock over a longer period of time.

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Camera-Ready/Print-Ready/Production-Ready Art

Camera-ready, print-ready, or production-ready is the point at which your artwork can satisfactorily be imprinted on your chosen product. Crestline won’t stop until you feel that your art meets this important requirement.


Canvas is a high-quality and durable fabric made from PVC and cotton or linen. It is often used to make custom tote bags such as our best-selling Budget Boat Tote.

Catalog Price

The catalog price is the published price of an item. Starting from this price point, extra fees are added, or discounts are deducted.


Chenille is a soft yarn often used for lining fabric products. In our case, chenille is what is used for the hair on our Moptopper™ products, which can be used to clean device screens.


Chino cloth is a light weight, twill fabric that is commonly used for making dress pants. However, Crestline carries custom caps made with chino.

Color Match Charge

Decorators can only carry a limited amount of inks, foils, threads, etc. We try to keep as many of the popular colors in stock but when a special decoration color is needed to match your logo this may mean that an ink needs to be mixed or a special foil needs to be ordered.

Corporate Gifts

Promotional corporate gifts are elegant and professional ways to represent your brand. They are a way to thank employees, customers and clients, as well as to prospect for new ones. We have an extensive variety of personalized corporate gifts on our website, check them out!

Cost Per Thousand/Cost Per Mille/Cost Per Impression

In marketing, you might hear the terms cost per thousand (CPT) or cost per mille (CPM). These terms refer to the cost that one incurs after their advertisement has garnered a thousand impressions. Cost per impression, which is used more frequently when talking about promotional products, is the cost one incurs for every impression their advertisement earns. Promotional products are a one-time expense. As time goes by and they garner more attention, their cost per impression will decrease, making them the most economic marketing method.

Cotton Combing

Combing is a step in the process of creating yarn and fabrics. The main difference between the two is that combing is done when one desires a smoother, more aligned yarn. Promotional apparel brand Bella + Canvas™ prides themselves on offering quality combed and ring spun products.

Cotton – Ring Spun

Ring spun cotton is one that has been through a process that twists and thins fibers. This creates strands that are stronger and more durable than regular cotton. Pieces made from ring spun cotton are also softer as a result of cutting down on loose fibers.

Cotton – All Natural, or Organic

When you are looking for a natural and sustainable choice, items made from all-natural or organic cotton are great choices. Totes and tees are examples of promotional items made with natural cotton materials.

Cover Stitch

A cover stitch is the name given to the type of stitch used to hem t-shirt bottoms and sleeves. It is a stitch that allows for maximum stretchability and durability.

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The debossing method is when a logo design or message is imprinted into your print piece, creating an indented effect. Just like embossing, you can choose to leave the debossed area as is for a subtle effect or add to it with ink or foil stamping. Debossed logos can frequently be found on leather or leather look materials as well as some fabric and wood materials. Check out our selection of custom debossed products.


Denier is a unit of measurement that is used to determine the thickness of threads used in fabrics. Fabrics with a higher denier count tend to be thicker and more durable.


Double knit fabric is one that has two layers that are usually knit simultaneously. This adds thickness, durability, and sometimes adds to the look of a piece.

Drop Shipping

Drop shipping is the technical term used to describe Crestline’s business model. Essentially, you, the customer, buy products from us. Once your order has been finalized, we send your order info to a supplier who imprints and ships your items directly to you. This method is often used in wholesale and custom product industries which makes it ideal for a promotional product company like us!

Dyed Garment

Garment dyeing is a clothing coloring option that occurs after a garment has been completed. This method gives clothing a softer, more distressed look and feel. It also helps to prevent shrinking.


Dyeing refers to the addition of dyes to fabric in order to change its color. There are several ways to achieve this including garment and yarn dyeing.

Dye Sublimation

Dye Sublimation is much simpler than it sounds. This process changes the color of the actual material we are imprinting upon. This is a method of decorating an item that will never wear off. If you have ever owned a Tie Dye T-Shirt then you have owned an item that utilizes a form of dye-sublimation. This method offers many benefits including full-color imprinting and high amounts of detail. It even allows for photographic elements! An example of this can be seen on the Economy 3-Sided Table Throw. For more information on the various imprint methods available for our large selection of promotional table covers, please see our Guide to Ordering Custom Trade Show Table Covers.

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Earth Tones

Earth tones are colors that mimic colors found in nature. Colors included in this palette are browns, greens, grays, yellows, and oranges.


The opposite of debossing, embossing is a method used to create a raised logo and design. Embossed logos can frequently be found on promotional paper products, apparel, and pens. Our embossed logo items can be found here.

Employee Incentive/Appreciation

An employee incentive is positive reinforcement for a job well done, otherwise known as employee appreciation. Recognizing the efforts and achievements of your employees can serve to motivate and boost morale within your company. Promotional products are perfect for this. Learn more about incentives in our “4 Fun Employee Appreciation & Team Building Ideas for the Workplace” article. 


Engraving is the carving of text or a design into a piece of material using a specialized cutting tool. This is most commonly done on metals, specifically trophy name plates. Many of our items are available with an engraved or laser engraved imprint.

EPS File

Also known as Encapsulated PostScript, EPS files are a graphic file format. It is used and exported within Adobe Illustrator, a popular vector graphic software. EPS is one of our preferred artwork file formats because it offers a high-quality image of your logo.

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Fill In

This occurs when a small area within your logo is just too small for the ink or foil to lie down correctly. An example of what can happen when an area fills in is when the circle in a lower case “p” no longer has the hole in the top and now looks more like a hammer than a “p”. To correct this, we may ask you to increase the font size or remove some detail in your logo.

Foil Stamp/Hot Stamping

Also called hot stamping, foil stamping is when a dried ink or foil is impressed onto an item with heat. A die is used for the design and a roll or sheet of foil is set up on top of the item to be imprinted. When the heated die is pressed onto the foil, it leaves an impression of the desired design on the product. Our foil stamp imprinted products offer a regal look that is sure to make your logo shine.


What do Times New Roman, Arial, and Helvetica all have in common? They’re all fonts, which are styles of text. How text looks all depends on what font you choose. Size, bolding, italicization, and the like are also considered when talking about fonts. The font styles you choose can have a big impact on how your logo will look when it’s imprinted on your items. If you need help choosing the perfect font to represent your brand, contact us! We would be happy to help.

Four Color Process (CMYK)

Four color processing is a printing method where four variations of an image are printed one at a time in different color shades, cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK), to generate process colors and display a full color image. In their purest form, these colors can combine to make only three more colors, red, green, and blue. However, using shades of these colors allows for printing of just about any color you can think of.

Free On-Board Shipping Point (FOB)

The location where a particular item is shipped from. Crestline notes this information on every product page to make it easier to calculate shipping costs.


Order fulfillment refers to the processing from the time you order to the time you receive your items. For more information about Crestline’s fulfillment process, see the entry for “drop shipping.”

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Garment Wash

Garment wash refers generically to several methods that are used to give garments a specific look or feel. Stone washing, acid washing, and even dyeing are just a few examples of the many types of garment washes that exist. If an item looks “distressed,” it has most likely been through some type of garment wash. Many of our caps feature this type of distressed look.


The Graphics Interchangeable Format (GIF) is a file format used for raster images (images composed of pixels). They offer the unique ability to become animated. Each frame in a gif is limited to 256 colors, which does not lend the format to being used for photographs. For graphics with fewer colors though, it works great.

Gift with Purchase or Donation

Promotional products make a perfect customer loyalty gift, as well as a great free gift with purchase or a thank-you gift in return for a donation. See our articles about how promotional products can boost your brand as well as promotional product ideas for social causes.


Giveaways are items given away for free to potential and current customers, clients, and employees.  Giveaways are physical and visual reminders of your company or organization and popular giveaway ideas include personalized cups, branded keychains, desk accessories, and tech accessories.

Glass Etching

Glass etching uses chemicals or other processes to create designs within glass. These etched designs have a frosted, translucent look and feel rougher than unetched glass. This is a great way to give a subtle, yet noticeable look to your logo when it’s imprinted on glass items.


Also called eyelets, grommets are the metal or threaded rings used to reinforce holes in fabric. Drawstring bags, for example, often feature grommets in both bottom corners to prevent tearing the holes that the drawstrings go through.


Gussets are added pieces of fabric that are meant to expand or reinforce a piece. Here at Crestline, we offer gussets as a feature on many of our custom tote bags to ensure that the product you receive can carry as much as possible.

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Halftone printing occurs when a bunch of black dots of varying sizes are screen printed in order to simulate different shades of gray. This is done because many printers are only capable of printing solid black. To the naked eye though, these dots can appear as a shade of gray. The bigger and closer together the dots are, the darker a color will appear.

Halftoning is also used in four color process printing. Each of the four colors gets its own set of microscopic dots that vary in size and move in different angles. By doing this, any process color can be reproduced in print.

Heat Transfer Printing

Have you ever ironed a design onto a t-shirt? Heat transfer printing works in a very similar way to get a crisp imprint of your logo onto a variety of products. Your design is printed onto transfer paper, and then pushed onto the product using a heat press. Once the transfer paper is peeled off, you’re left with a clean imprint. This imprint method is often a much more cost-effective option compared to screen-printing, because not as much set up is required.

Henley Shirt

A Henley shirt is one that has no collar, but instead features a short row of buttons, snaps, or other such fasteners that start at the neckline, but don’t reach the bottom of the shirt.


Herringbone is a pattern comprised of rectangles arranged in various ways. This pattern can create a zigzag, striped, or crosshatch look. It is mostly used in tiling but can be used in fabric as well. This trucker hat with herringbone pattern is one such example.

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Imprinted Products

Products that are imprinted have some sort of artwork printed onto them. Here at Crestline, we specialize in imprinted products that help you to promote your business.


An incentive is something that is meant to motivate someone to do something. This could be motivating employees to work hard, encouraging clients to do business with you, or giving students a reason to do well in their academics. Promotional product giveaways make great incentives for any purpose .

Ink Change

From time to time, a customer will request multiple imprint colors on their order for one item. We are more than happy to accommodate this request, however usually, there is an additional cost associated with this change. This is because we need to stop the equipment and wash all the ink off everything before we can change the ink or foil, etc. This process is always better than placing two orders for additional items since we can still give the combined quantity pricing because we do not have to set up all the equipment again.


Inkjet printing is provided by your at-home and in-office printers. Basically, this print method takes a digital image and prints it onto paper or another single-sheet material by shooting dots of ink onto the item. Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks are used to print any color that might be found in the image. For more information on this, see the entries for “four color process” and “halftone.”

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Jewel Tones

The jewel tones color palette contains colors that resemble those of gemstones. These include sapphire, emerald, ruby, amethyst, topaz, and other gemstones. This color palette offers a classy yet fun look. We carry many promotional products in jewel tone colors to make your branding look polished.


A JPEG is an image format used when a file needs to be compressed in order to save space. It is most commonly used for photos that are comprised of pixels. The higher the compression rate of a JPEG file, the worse the quality of the photo will be. Although it is possible to have high quality JPEG images, it is also very easy to lose a lot of that quality. If you have a JPEG of your logo that could use a bit of touching up before it is imprinted, send it to us, and our art services team would be happy to help you make it camera ready.

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Lamination occurs when an item is covered with a layer of plastic. You may have laminated paper products before to protect them or make them erasable. But did you know that many bags are also laminated? This is done to strengthen the fabric, add water resistance, and make it easier to clean.

Laser Engraving

Here is a fun fact about laser engraving. In many cases, items that are laser engraved have a thin film over it to create the color of the item. We utilize the laser to cut through this top layer to show the color under it. For instance, you may see a blue metal pen that has a film or paint over gold metal. We cut through the blue and let the gold show through. That is the reason we cannot really change the imprint color. On some items, we can take a silver imprint and “oxidize it” which turns the metal underneath the item to black.

Leave-Behind Items

A leave-behind is any item you might give to someone after visiting them for a meeting, conference, or other event. It can be something as small as a business card or as big as a high-end corporate gift. Providing a leave-behind whenever you meet a client or business partner will ensure that you remain at the forefront of their minds and increases the possibility that they will do business with you.

Less than Minimum (LTM)

The minimum quantity is the amount of a specific product one is required to buy. Many of these minimums are set in stone, however, some items can be done in lower quantities by paying a “less than a minimum” charge to cover these costs. Alternatively, we can also try to find a similar product with a lower minimum. Our customer service team at Crestline would be happy to discuss these options on a product by product basis and provide you with all the information to help you make the decision.

Logo/Trademark/Service Mark

Your logo is the visual image or text that distinguishes you from other businesses. Imprinting it on a promotional item works well because it makes your company name recognizable. A trademark, however, is anything used to distinguish the products you offer. A service mark is the alternative used for services. These can include logos, brand names, product names, slogans, mascots, and other similar distinguishing marks. Trademarks are protected by law, with the highest level of protection given to those who register their trademarks. If a trademark is registered legally, no other person or business can use it without permission, except in a few specific instances.

Lumpy Mail

According to Small Business Trends, a lumpy mail object in your direct mail campaign leads to a nearly 100 percent open rate, as “People are curious what’s inside, and the curiosity gets them to open it. Now your job is to make it personal, relevant and captivating to get your piece read.” Add a promotional product to a direct mailing to create your own “lumpy mail” effect.

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Pantone Matching System (PMS)

The printing industry uses the Pantone matching system to match any imprint color you can imagine. Think about all the shades of blue there are in the world. You show it to us, and we can match it. This is much like the small paint cards you will see at your local hardware store when you are choosing the perfect color to paint your living room. Some imprint shades are “process colors” meaning that they are produced through the four-color CMYK printing process. However, most Pantones must be made using a spot color process where inks are mixed and printed in a single pass.

Pre-Production Proof/Spec Sample

A pre-production proof is a test sample of how your logo will look on an item. Doing this often involves a set-up fee.

Production time

Production time is the amount of time it takes from when we receive payment or terms and approval of your art to when the factory ships out your items. Once we have all the things needed to complete your order, the production clock starts ticking. Production time varies by item, but typically takes about 4-5 days plus a few extra days for shipping. We can be flexible on many items, but a rush charge may occur. Production time only includes Monday through Friday and excludes holidays. Crestline has items to fit every customer expectation, so please ask and we will be glad to find the perfect item to arrive in time to fit your needs. We will make it happen!

Promotional Products

Promotional products are items that one uses to market their business or nonprofit. They often involve imprinting the companies’ logo and giving them away for free. Research has shown that promotional products are the most memorable, preferred, and highly regarded of all the advertising methods.

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Random Sample

At Crestline, we offer free samples of many of our products so that you can try before you buy. These samples come pre-printed with a random logo. Also, although we try our best to send requested color samples, we can’t always guarantee stock on every product color. This is where planning ahead becomes extra beneficial.

Reverse Processing

Reverse processing is something we may be able offer which will allow a one-color imprint to look like a two-color imprint at no additional charge. This process is done by our graphics team to allow the product color to appear as part of the imprint. If a part of your logo utilizes the color of the item, our graphics team may be able to get creative and allow the product color to create this effect. The sample image used for our best-selling custom PopSockets® uses this method to make the soccer ball artwork look the way it should while only printing in black.

Running Charge

Running charges are extra fees meant to help with the costs associated with printing your items. The cost of production can include materials, equipment set up, time spent on the project and more.

Rush Charge

This covers the cost associated with breaking into the production run and moving one order ahead of all the rest. It also covers additional changes to create a setup charge quickly. If you need an item faster than our normal production time, please ask if a rush charge is available. At times, it can be less expensive than expedited shipping! Check our selection of 24-hour rush service eligible items.

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Screen Printing (Silkscreen)

Screen printing involves using a heat sensitive photo emulsion screen to imprint products. A clear film with your logo printed on it is used to remove emulsion from the screen in the shape of your design. When a squeegee is used to brush this design onto your product, you are left with a detailed and clean imprint. The ink is heated to cure it, which allows several imprint colors to be done rather quickly. In speeding up the process further, technologies have been developed to automatize the silk-screening process. The setup charges for this print method are often a bit pricier than others, but it is well worth it for the quality product you receive.

Shipping Date

The shipping date is the day that your order is out of the factories’ hands and on its way to you. Based on this shipping date, we can make an estimate as to when your items will arrive.

Second Location Run

Most items will need an additional run charge if you want to put your logo in two locations. A great example of this is a customer wanting their logo on the front and back of a t-shirt. The good news is that if the imprint is the same in both locations, you may not need additional setup.


This charge covers the cost of equipment set up. Getting materials ready and making sure the imprint location is just right with just the right amount of pressure, among other things, is very important when custom printing an item. Some setup charges are higher than others based upon the imprint method and the amount of time it takes to get every setting just right to produce the quality imprint expected. For each traditional color of your logo, you can expect to incur a setup charge.

Spot Color Imprinting Process

As simple as it sounds. This is where one color is printed at one time. Your item may very well need multiple spot colors to create your logo and each color would mean that we need to create a set-up for each color. This process allows us to perfectly match your logo color each time.

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Woodtone (otherwise known as Woodgrain) is a popular, patterned finish available on items such as journals, drinkware, and even sunglasses. Consider woodtone and woodgrain items to portray a trendy image, or if you are looking for a wood-themed-giveaway for your real estate, building, or carpentry business.

Wrap Imprint

Some items such as mugs and other cylindrical items can sometimes utilize a wrap imprint. This allows us to imprint the full diameter of the items with one set up. The secret here is that in most cases, the screen stays stable and we rotate the item. Next time you get a mug, take a look at the bottom. If it has a small notch in it, this item can probably utilize a wrap imprint.

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If you have made it through this list and you still do not understand what we call “promo speak”—feel free to reach out to us! Our promotional products experts are always available to you to answer any questions you may have or clear up any areas of confusion. To get in touch with a knowledgeable promotional products expert, click here. To learn more about what promotional products can do for your business, school, or organization, read our piece on What Are Promotional Products and Why Do They Work?