Post Press Finishing – Episode III: Scoring, Die-Cutting, Folding and Gluing

So far, we’ve covered binding methods such as stitching and perfect binding, and then last week we covered coating options.  This week, let’s look at some other methods of finishing off a press sheet that can really impact how your printed piece looks: scoring, die-scoring, die-cutting, folding and gluing.


Scoring is the process of creating a crease in the sheet, using two different methods: rollEF-36-FIXED-2 scoring or die-scoring (also known as a letterpress score).  Scoring is primarily done to prevent press sheets from cracking as they fold along the spine on heavyweight text papers, or for enabling ease in folding on cover-weight papers.  Roll scoring involves running the finished piece through a folder-type of machine that has both a male and female pair of rollers – one wheel with a deep V groove, and the opposing wheel has a Λ to apply the score.  As the sheets feed through, the Λ runs along the sheet, and depresses the paper into the opposing V groove, which creates the score.  Die-scoring, or letterpress scoring, is where a steel-rule die is pressed into the sheet evenly, which creates the score channel.  Sheets are run through a die-cutter to apply this type of score.  Die-scoring (or letterpress scoring) has its advantages over roll-scoring in that the die, being pressed into the sheet, minimizes cracking, even on digitally printed sheets.  Roll-scoring is a process where the sheet feeds through, and the roller can actually break into the fine layer of ink or toner, which can allow for cracking when the final folding is done.  However, if there is no image on the spine or fold, roll-scoring is sufficient.


webdieandcps1You’ve all seen die cut pieces, whether it’s a bottlenecker, or presentation folder, or a unique package for that $5 razor – all of it is die-cut, die-scored, glued and folded into a final piece.  The process begins with creating a steel-rule die, with specific steel rules for scoring and specific steel rules for die-cutting.  The sheets are fed through either a stream-fed die cutter or a clamshell-like die-cutter.  The sheets are pressed against the die, which (depending upon the type of steel rule) will either cut the sheet or score the sheet.  To prevent the die-cut piece from dropping out of the sheet completely as it finishes the process, little “ticks” are engineered into the die, which will allow the sheet to remain adie_cutting_machine1 single piece, until it is stripped out of the whole sheet.  In some cases, the process ends here (for example, bottleneckers, or flat sheets with any kind of die but are flat.)  The next step is to fold and  glue the piece into a single final unit, or run it through a folder/gluer, which applies glue to the tabs or flaps, and then folds the piece until it is the final, finished folder or package.  Sometimes, the fold is too complex for an automated process, so teams of hand finishers are required to hand-fold, glue and assemble the final piece.

Whatever your planned finish piece is, it is advisable that you meet with your print services provider and work up various mock-ups or white samples to envision how your final piece will look, before you get into the final design process.

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About John Prothero

John Prothero is a print professional with over 30 years experience in the print industry. Starting out as a driver delivering jobs, he worked in bindery, proofing, plating, traditional prepress (camera and stripping), scheduling, job planning, job management, account management and digital job production. His skills also run in the area of blog authorship, social media management, and lead generation and qualification of prospective clients. John is also a contributor to Rhode Island Creative Magazine, a digital publication that highlights the creative spirit of the state of Rhode Island. You can read their online issues at
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