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Promotional Products Terms - A Customization Glossary

Custom products frequently asked questions

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 that jargon that is associated with the industry. The promotional products industry has no shortage when it comes to industry-specific terms. We want to do our best to ensure that if you are just beginning your journey with promotional products that you understand the terms that are used to communicate your ideas to our promotional product experts so that your final product gets to you exactly the way that you want it to!

This glossary will fill you in on the processes used to imprint your items, the charges that you will see on your quote or on an item page as well as some of your imprint options. Scroll through the list below and let it ease some of your questions and concerns about getting started with promotional products!

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 special logo color this may mean that a special ink needs to be mixed or a special foil needs to be ordered.

Digitizing (formerly tape)

Did you know that before we embroider any item, software is needed to plot each command and every needle movement along with the color of the thread? This is digitizing. This process is not a quick one, as the computer also needs to calculate what the most efficient movement of the needle itself is. Think of this as a needlepoint pattern you would buy at a hobby store only with many more “x’s”.

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 dye-sublimation (sort of). 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 sen 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

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 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.

Ink Change

From time to time, a customer will request a couple of different imprint colors on their order for one item. We are more than happy to accommodate this request however there is a cost associated with this change. This is because we need to stop the equipment and wash all of 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 of the equipment again.

Laser Engraving

Most everyone knows what this method is, but there is an interesting twist on some of our items. 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 a 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.

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. 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.

Overs and Unders

All of our products are customized to exactly what the customer requests. This means that no two print runs are ever the same. We set up the printing equipment and start to print your item and we always print more to do our best to give you the exact quantity you ordered. We print more because during the inspection process we will almost always find some product that does not live up to our high-quality standards. If we find any drawstring bags that are smudged, for example, we throw it away and do not charge you for those. We ship you all of the ones that meet our standards up to 5% greater than you ordered (some items may be higher) or 5% less if we find too many that do not meet the standards. We only charge for any item we ship to you in order to cover the customized cost of producing these otherwise all of the products we sell would have to incur a price increase to cover this cost. It is our hope you can always use a few more if we ship them to you.

Pantone Matching System or PMS

The printing industry uses the Pantone matching system to match any imprint color you can imagine. Think about all of 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, the majority of Pantones must be made using a spot color process where inks are mixed and printed in a single pass.

Process Color imprinting process

This is like your home printer where it uses cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink to print many different colors. Some printers can even use six or more colors on some items to create an even more vibrant color palette. This process allows for a one setup option. Although the process is more expensive than one color, costs can be cut when this option is available and your logo has multiple colors. The one challenge here can be getting an exact match on color. It will be very close, but it may not be exact.

Production-Ready Art (formerly called camera-ready art)

This is what Crestline will do to your artwork before sending it to be printed. We need to take whatever file is sent and clean it up so no matter how large you zoom in on it, the edges remain crisp and clean. There are many different types of software to do this, but we utilize Adobe Illustrator and save it as a vector file with the fonts in an outline. No need to worry here as we always do this at no cost to you. Just send us whatever art you have and we will happily make it “production-ready.”

Production time

Production time is the amount of time it takes from the time we receive payment or terms and approval of your art. Once we have all of 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!


This may sound like something you put your car in to get out of your driveway, but this is something we may be able to do to your artwork which will allow a one-color imprint to look like two 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.

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 here.

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.

Set-Up (sometimes called a screen, plate or die)

This charge covers the cost of equipment set up and using your art to create the tool used for transferring your artwork to the product. Most of the time, the “screen” is a cloth material where the logo is imposed into the material itself. This allows the ink to be pushed through only the treated area and applied to the item being decorated. These screens are “washed” and reused over and over until worn out and replaced. The other part of this process is actually setting up the printing equipment. Getting the imprint location just right with just the right amount of pressure, ink, etc. is very important. Some setup charges are higher than others based upon 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 and every time.


Some items such as mugs and other cylindrical items can sometimes utilize a wrap imprint. This allows us to imprint both sides 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.

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.

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 rep, click here.

Have other words that you feel should be added to this glossary? Awesome! Tell them to us in the comments below and we will be sure to include them.