Printing Lingo: What does “Up” mean…as in 2-Up, 3-Up, Multiple-Up?

In printing, terms like Two-Up, Three-Up, Four-Up, Multiple-Up etc. refer to the way artwork files and/or printing plates are designed, so that the printing press can apply more than one image to the paper at the same time.

Example of an image printed 2-Up

A Two-Up format creates two images per press impression, a Three-Up format creates three images per press impression, a Four-Up format creates four images per impression and so on.

In its purest sense, the term “Up” refers to multiple impressions of the same image at the same time. However, the term “Up” is also sometimes used to designate impressions of different images made at the same time. For example, it is common practice in book printing to print several different pages together in one press impression. This is why you may hear book printers refer to pages being printed as 16-Up or 32-Up.

Some Simple Examples

Let’s say you needed 1,200 printed flyers with a finished size of 8.5” x 11” each. If the artwork and/or printing plate was designed to print 2-Up, then two 8.5” x 11” flyers could print side-by-side on a larger sheet with each press impression. Once 600 of these larger sheets cycle through the press and receive the 2-Up ink impression, they are cut apart to yield 1,200 flyers measuring 8.5” x 11” each.

Example of an image printed 3-Up

Another example of “Multiple Up” printing is promotional rack cards, which are commonly designed 3-Up so that three cards print on one sheet of 8.5” x 11” cardstock. To produce 1,200 rack cards like this the press would only need to cycle 400 times, because the cards are being printed three at a time.

Likewise, the sheets of a 4.25” x 5.5” notepad could be designed to print 4-Up on 8.5” x 11” paper. This would allow four notepad sheets to print at one time, so the press would only need to cycle 300 times to produce 1,200 sheets. Or, the same 4.25” x 5.5” notepad sheet could be designed to print 8-Up on 11”x 17” paper. This 8-Up scenario would only require 150 press cycles to produce 1,200 of the notepad sheets, since eight notepads sheets are printed at the same  time.

Example of an image printed 4-Up

Why Print Multiple-Up?

As you probably gathered from the above examples, the main reason for printing images “Multiple Up” is to reduce the amount of press time needed for a given production run.

This extra efficiency results in cost savings for the production facility, which in turn allows them to charge less for the printing. Other benefits of printing “Multiple Up” include more cost-effective paper usage and reduced wear on printing plates.

Is Up always Up ?

By nature, the term “Up” implies a vertical arrangement of images. However, in printing and artwork design, that is not necessarily the case. For example, the term 2-Up could describe two images that are designed to print side by side as well as two images that print one above the other.

Basically, Multiple Up images could print in a horizontal row, a vertical column or any combination of rows and columns that provides efficient placement on the paper. It is also common for just a single image to print at a time, which would be referred to as 1-Up.

The main goal at Formax is to make printing simpler for you. In fact, this year Formax is celebrating 25 years of providing easy, worry-free printing services! So give us a call with any printing related questions or upcoming projects you’d like to discuss.

Take care!  Keith

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About The Author
Keith Beaty is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of traditional and on demand printing services, including project management and layout assistance. Specialty areas include full color printing (digital and offset), all types of soft cover books, laminated printing, plus fulfillment and mailing services. If you ever have a printing related question or project you would like to discuss, Keith is always happy to help. He can be reached at 314-434-5500 or 866-367-6221. Keith and Formax have been providing worry-free printing and related services for 25 years.

One Response to “Printing Lingo: What does “Up” mean…as in 2-Up, 3-Up, Multiple-Up?”

  1. Joe Luedtke says:

    Nice simple explanation for a non-printer like me. Thank you!

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