Trade-Only Supplier

Our Status as a Trade-Only Supplier

The Pen Warehouse is a strictly trade-exclusive supplier. As the UK’s largest printer and supplier of promotional pens and stationery products, we only sell through a network of trusted distributor partners. That has been the case since the company’s inception and will continue to be integral to how we do business.

What Does Trade-Only Mean to Us?

We take our status as trade-only very seriously. We never sell directly to the end user. We have no affiliation with any company that sells to the end user and are not part of any group that sells direct.

While some promotional product suppliers purport to be trade-exclusive but don’t fully commit to that in practice, we are 100% committed to the supplier-distributor partnership and promise never to bypass our distributors.

Handling End User Enquiries

All enquiries we get from end users are passed on to our distributors, without exception.

When we receive telephone enquiries from an end user, we immediately explain that we cannot take their order ourselves and they must go through one of our distributor partners. If they have a distributor they already use, or if they have a preference for a particular distributor, then we pass the enquiry onto that distributor. Otherwise, we will pass the lead onto the distributor we feel are most suited to the enquiry.

If an end user finds products they are interested in on our website, they must choose a distributor to submit their enquiry to. Our distributor rating system means the best performing distributors are more likely to receive an enquiry. No transactions can be made through the website without signing into a trade account.

Online Fair Play often ranks highly in Google search results for promotional pens and related terms. Rest assured that this organic ranking is the result of the quality and quantity of the content on our website and is not an attempt by us to trump distributor websites. We don’t get involved in pay-per-click advertising and any end user enquiries we do get via are always passed on to our distributors.

BPMA Accreditationbpma trade-only

The British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) are the regulatory body for our industry. As BPMA members we agree to adhere to a strict Code of Conduct, including a commitment to doing business ethically and transparently. Our promise to be trade-exclusive is a cornerstone of our ethical business practices.

Discrete Dispatch

We send out all orders in plain packaging with no indication the order has come from us. Any samples we send to end users are also dispatched under plain cover.

Partnering With Distributors

trade-only partnerships

We appreciate the importance of the supplier-distributor model for our industry. We see this partnership as critical not just for our success, but for the success of our distributor partners. We must work together to counter the threat of the large online sellers who are moving into our sector and selling directly to the end-user.

Our mission is to empower distributors to compete with importers and direct sellers, as well as the promotional products suppliers who have no qualms about selling directly to the end user. We empower distributors through access to Europe’s widest range of promotional pens with the fastest lead times and best-in-industry pricing to allow room for distributor margins. Distributors can also take advantage of our marketing support tools, including our innovative Custom Catalogues and editable eshots.

A Successful Relationship

As specialist suppliers, we have the expertise, relationships and technology to offer high-quality products and exclusive lines with industry-leading dispatch times and ultra-competitive pricing. At the same time, distributors have the marketing expertise and customer reach that we could not achieve on our own. We print for major brands through our distributor partners and it’s a mutually beneficial relationship we are proud to be part of.

When doing business with The Pen Warehouse, distributors can rest assured that we will never undermine that relationship by selling directly to their customer base.

National Stationery Week

10 Stationery Facts to Celebrate National Stationery Week

National Stationery Week is an annual event that seeks to promote all things stationery-related and to encourage people to put pen to paper. This year it takes place on 23rd to 27th April. Check out our list of 10 fascinating stationery facts.

  1. Recycling one ton of paper saves approximately 17 trees, 26,000 litres of water and nearly 700 gallons of oil.
  2. The largest collection of pens was amassed by Angelika Unverhau in Germany. The pen enthusiast boasts over 220,000 unique pens collected from 146 countries.
  3. The world’s largest ballpoint pen weighs over 37kg and measures 5.5 metres long! The monster writing instrument was built in India and is engraved with scenes from Indian mythology.
  4. Paper was invented in China approximately 100 BC. The first industrial paper making was started by Ts’ai Lun, a government official in 105 AD during the Han Dynasty. It replaced papyrus and parchment which had been used for thousands of years.
  5. Scientists have developed a pen that can create lines just 40 nanometres wide. That’s 2,500 times thinner than a human hair!
  6. The word ‘pen’ comes from ‘penna’, the Latin word for ‘feather’. Penne pasta is so called because it resembles the tip of a quill.
  7. The ballpoint pen was patented by Laszlo Biro in 1938. The Hungarian journalist noticed that newspaper ink dried quickly without smudging so developed a pen with a rotating ball that could dispense similar ink.
  8. The first pencils were merely sticks of graphite wrapped in string. Bread was used as an eraser.
  9. The first inks were made more than 5,000 years ago with ingredients including soot and donkey skin gelatine.
  10. Scientists have observed chimpanzees in the wild sharpening sticks and then using them to scratch symbolic marks onto leaves, aping a simple form of writing.

Celebrate your love of pens, stationery and writing by getting involved in National Stationery Week. Visit to find out more.

To explore Europe’s widest range of printed and engraved pens, visit

Advantages of Promotional Products

10 Advantages of Promotional Products

A number of studies have found that promotional products and branded merchandise offer key benefits over other forms of advertising. We take a look at the top 10 of these benefits based on recent research. Why are promotional products so popular with marketers and so widely used to promote brands and businesses?

1. Brand Exposure

The PPAI Consumer Survey 2017 found that around 90% of respondents can recall the messaging from a promotional product they have received. A promotional product reminds existing customers of a brand while also advertising it to potential clients. A printed name on a valued gift will imprint that name on a customer’s thoughts, even if it is just subliminally, whenever that product is used or noticed.

2. Longevity

Promotional products that recipients find useful are more likely to be kept and regularly used. This means prolonged exposure to the advertising message compared to a magazine advert which might be flicked past or a leaflet that might be instantly dismissed. The BPMA found in their 2017 survey that “usefulness” was considered the most important quality of a promotional gift. The more a product is used, the more likely branding is to be noticed, and this effect is amplified by the product being kept for a long time.

Electra Noir from The Pen Warehouse

3. Cost-Effective

All marketers must consider the return on investment (ROI) of their advertising endeavours. It’s obvious to say that promotional products are significantly cheaper than TV advertising, for example, particularly with entry-level options such as stationery and shopper bags, but the key aspect to measure is the cost per impression (CPI). This is the amount of money spent on a campaign divided by the number of times the advertising is seen. Promotional products offer a larger number of impressions versus their initial cost, and this is why they are considered to have a good return on investment.

Research by the BMPA in 2013 found that 50% of respondents had taken action after receiving a promotional product, versus 19% for costly TV advertising and just 10% for print advertising.

4. Integrated Marketing

Branded merchandise are not just standalone advertising media but can be incorporated into the wider marketing mix. Smaller promotional products can be used as part of a direct mailing, while tradeshow giveaways can effectively support exhibitions. These days, marketers recognise that an integrated approach using a variety of channels is the most effective way to promote a brand.

5. Tactile

This point is more psychological than objectively measureable, but we can all appreciate that a physical object is more appealing and creates more of an impression than a fleeting printed image or onscreen advert. People love to get their hands on tactile objects and haptic media fall into this category perfectly.

 6. Recognising Staff

According to 2017 research by the BPMA, an incredible 79% of respondents said they feel appreciated when receiving a promotional gift. This makes promotional gifts a cost-effective way to reward staff and boost morale. Budget-friendly items could be given to all employees, while premium products and branded awards can be used to recognise top-performing staff or to mark employment milestones.

7. Rewarding Customer Loyalty

Promotional gifts can be used to thank loyal customers and help cement relationships with them. The BPMA found that, second only to trade shows, customer recognition is the most common use for promotional merchandise, while the PPAI discovered that 83% of those surveyed said they were more likely to do business with brands they had received promotional products from.

8. Resonance

Branded merchandise helps to create an emotional relationship between brands and consumers. 71% of people in the PPAI Consumer Study said they felt happy when receiving a promotional product. More importantly, 83% agreed that their impression of a brand positively changed as a direct result. Establishing emotional resonance means that the consumer is more likely to buy into a brand and have a positive impression of it.

Axis Spinner Ballpen from The Pen Warehouse

9. Deep Reach

Not only do promotional products make an impression on recipients, evidence suggests that they go on to make impressions beyond their initial audience. PPAI research found that 8 out of 10 consumers give a promotional product to someone else if they don’t want to keep it for themselves. This organically furthers the brand’s reach in a way that non-haptic advertising cannot do.

 10. Variety

One reason for the appeal of promotional products is the sheer variety of forms they take. Branded merchandise encompasses everything them budget pens through to the latest technology. This means there is literally something for every budget and every occasion. Premium products are ideal for promoting high-end brands or for giving in small quantities as corporate gifts, while entry-level merchandise is perfect for large-scale campaigns where the items are likely to be considered more disposable. Recent advances in technology allow almost any surface to be digitally printed, whether its via transfer film, doming or direct digital, and this has considerably increased the variety of imprintable products available to marketers or those wanting to give personalised gifts.


Of course, the above points are just some of the reasons branded merchandise is considered such an integral part of the marketing mix. They help explain why, even in our digital age, recipients still love to get their hands on a printed freebie. has Europe’s widest range of promotional writing instruments, including many in-house designs not available from any other supplier.


  • BPMA Research 2013
  • BPMA Research 2017
  • Mapping Out The Modern Consumer – 2017 PPAI Consumer Study
Fashion Writing Instruments

The Parallel Evolution of Fashion and Writing Instruments

From the very first textile production and crude written communication, to recent fashion trends and the latest in writing instrument technology, we take a look at the parallel development of clothing and pens.

Fashion Writing Instruments
30,000 BC

Evidence of flax fibres that were spun, knotted and dyed to produce colourful textiles, most likely for clothing.

35,000 BC – 10,000 BC

Earliest evidence of communication by means of symbolic pictographs.

5500 BC

Ancient Egyptians wore light clothing made from linen or cotton. Men wore a loincloth and a kilt and women wore shoulder strapped dresses. Egyptians shaved their hair, wore wigs and were fond of jewellery.

5000 BC

Inscriptions discovered in what is now Sudan and Southern Egypt are thought to be the world’s oldest form of written language.

4000-3500 BC

The Chinese started producing silk for use as paper and clothing. The colour of the wearable silk became an indication of social class during the Tang Dynasty.

4000 BC

The surface of a moist clay was scratched with a stylus-like tool made from either bronze or bone.

3300 BC

The remains of Ötzi, Tyrolean Iceman, suggest sophisticated clothing. He wore a cloak made of woven grass and had a coat, belt, leggings, loincloth, bearskin cap and waterproof shoes made from animal hide.

3000 BC

Egyptians developed hieroglyphics.

2697 BC

Chinese Philosopher Tien-Lcheu perfected ‘Indian Ink’ from a mixture of soot, pine smoke, musk, lamp oil and donkey gelatine.

2000 – 1400 BC

The Minoans have the earliest example of sewn clothing. Men wore brightly coloured loincloths made from linen, leather and wool. Minoan Woman wore low-cut blouses and flared skirts to emphasise their figures, comparable with 19th century women’s fashion.

2000 BC

Earliest evidence of Egyptians writing on papyrus.

2000-1580 BC

Hieroglyphic script adopted by Minoans.

1450 BC

Minoans develop Linear Script B, still legible today as it’s very close to ancient Greek.

1700-1500 BC

Pictographs or hieroglyphics were replaced by the alphabet.

1300 BC

The Romans used a metal stylus to mark thin sheets of wax on wooden tablets. The flat end of the stylus was used to erase mistakes. In Asia, scribes typically used a stylus made from bronze.

1200 BC

The ink formula previously invented by Tien-Lcheu was now considered the norm.

800 BC – 500 BC

Ancient Greek woman wore rectangular woollen clothes called peplos, which were folded, pinned and tied at the waist with holes for the arms and head. They would not cut their hair unless they were in mourning.

400 BC

Egyptian scribes used the first reed pens. A reed pen is dipped into ink with a split in its point retaining the ink.

200 BC

Quill pens were developed as a more flexible and durable alternative to reed pens.

105 BC

Wood-fibre paper invented in China but not widely used in Europe until paper mills were built during the 1400s.

196 BC

The Rosetta Stone was written in the three scripts used in Ancient Egypt at the time: Hieroglyphic, Demotic and Greek.

400 AD

Tunic and trousers with attached socks were found in the Thorsberg Moor in Germany.

400 AD

A stable form of ink was developed using iron-salts, nutgalls and gum. It became the commonly used formula for centuries to follow.

1000 AD

Fancy fabrics such as silk were becoming increasingly popular for those who could afford them. Women commonly wore ankle-length tunics.

500 – 1500 AD

As well as writing on parchment, Anglo-Saxons used a metal or bone stylus on tablets filled with wax.

1600 AD

High-heels were adopted by Western European aristocrats. Theses became a status symbol and are believed to be where the phrase ‘well heeled’ originates.

600 – 1800 AD

Europeans wrote on parchment with a quill pen originating from Seville.

1600 – 1750

The Consumer Revolution saw fashionable clothes made available at lower cost, no longer just for the elite.


Pencil lead was invented independently in France and Australia.

1800 – 1850

With the Romantic Era, clothing designs became more complex and featured padded hems, twills and other decorative additions.

1800 – 1850  

A metal pen point was patented in 1803 but was not commercially exploited. Steel nibs came into common use in the 1830s and replaced quill pens. The quality of steel nibs was improved by tipping them with Iridium, Rhodium and Osmium alloys.

1850 – 1890s

Victorian fashion was characterised by the iconic bloomer dress, large structured petticoats and steam moulded corsets.


Insurance broker Lewis Edson Waterman invented the first commercially viable fountain pen.

1914 – 1918

Wartime clothing was practical with subdued colours and without lavish decoration. Footwear was generally made from wool gaiters to save leather for military uses.

1888 – 1916

The principle of the ballpoint pen was introduced in patents by John Loud and Van Vechten Riesberg but was not commercially exploited.


WW2 saw a clothing ration in Britain. Clothing production was focused on efficiency and utility.


The modern ballpoint pen was invented by Josef Lazlo Biro and his brother Georg. The first commercial models were made in 1943 and launched in the US in 1945 to immediate success.


Pierre Cardin opened his first womenswear boutique.


Pierre Cardin was expelled from the Chambre Syndicale as his ready-to-wear clothing was seen as a threat to the traditional fashion world.


Bic developed an industrial process for manufacturing ballpoint pens, dramatically lowering the unit cost. By 1957, the ballpen had become the most widely used pen in the world.


Advances in fabric technology allowed Pierre Cardin to incorporate metallic fabrics and vinyl into his space-age designs.


The Tokyo Stationery Company developed fibre-tipped pens or ‘felt-tips’.


Mary Quant invented the mini skirt.

1980s – 1990s

Rollerball pens were developed, employing a mobile ball and using gel or water-based ink for smoother writing.


Bic sold their 100 billionth ballpoint pen.


Brightly coloured clothes and dip-dyed hair characterised European fashion trends.

2010 – 2012

Fountain pen sales rose in a worldwide resurgence that continues to this day.

2017 – 2018

Ripped clothes dominate fashion, including shredded jeans, jumpers and tops.

2017 – 2018

The Pierre Cardin Writing Collection is launched in the UK offering an exclusive collection of premium pens and notebooks.

The Pierre Cardin Writing Collection represents the pinnacle of fashion design and writing instrument development. Explore the range here.

blog Image for Promotional Products Week 2017 – Say “Thank You” With Personalised Gifts

Promotional Products Week 2017 – Say “Thank You” With Personalised Gifts

Promotional products are extremely effective tools in the marketing of companies and brands. Research by the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) found that 84% of respondents said that receiving a branded promotional item increased their awareness of that brand.

Promotional Products Week

Promotional Products Week is a nationwide campaign aimed at celebrating and promoting branded merchandise. It seeks to raise the profile of promotional products while demonstrating their value in propagating brand awareness. It was launched by industry body the BPMA in 2013 and has increased in scope and popularity each subsequent year.

Promotional Products Week 2017 has the theme of “Thank You”. It takes place between 2nd and 6th October 2017.

To tie in with this year’s theme, we look at the ways you can say “Thanks!” with promotional merchandise and personalised gifts.

Thank You Staff Red

Thank Your Colleagues and Staff

Your workmates will appreciate being recognised for their recent promotion, continued hard work or years of loyal service to the company. A personalised gift is a great way to show they are valued.

A multitude of studies has found that staff are more motivated when they feel valued by their manager. Show your team you appreciate them with a branded gift they can keep and use every day. If you can include the company logo alongside your message of thanks, then all the better.

Thank them with: an aluminium ballpen with a beautifully engraved message.

Thanks You Customer Blue

Thank Your Customers

Giving your customers appealing and practical promotional products is a great way to reward them for their loyalty. At the same time you will be reminding them of your brand, of course, so it really is a win-win situation.

Research shows that customers respond well to receiving printed or engraved gifts. According to the BPMA’s findings, recipients are more likely to respond to promotional products than any other form of advertising.

Why not thank customers for placing a recent order, for referring you to a new client or for stopping by your stand at a trade show? They’ll love getting a branded freebie and you’ll promote your business, initiative or special offer at the same time.

Thank them with: an inexpensive plastic pen with full colour print.

Thank Your Friends Green

Thank Your Friends and Family

Printed and laser engraved products are not just for promotional use. They also make thoughtful personalised gifts for friends, loved ones and family members. Web-to-print platform offers all products from just a single piece with no setup charges. You can select from a huge range of digitally printed or engraved products that might otherwise not be viable as one-off customised gifts.

Thank your friends for house-sitting, your kids for good behaviour, or simply show your partner you care. Whoever you wish to thank and whichever item you choose, just visit to create the perfect personalised gift quickly and easily.

Thank them with: a premium Pierre Cardin-branded rollerball with a personalised message


As well as raising the profile of branded and personalised merchandise, this year’s Promotional Products Week is also raising money for Alzheimer’s Society, so there has never been a better time to get involved.

To find out more, visit or, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ThankYouPPW on social media.

Go to for Europe’s most comprehensive range of printed and engraved pens.

Psychology of Colours in Branding

The Psychology of Colour Choice in Branding

Many studies have sought to measure the influence of colour on our emotions and responses. The psychology of colour choice in branding is a much-debated topic and numerous infographics on the subject can be found in all corners of the internet. However, the link between colour and response to a brand or marketing message is not as simple as such infographics might lead you to believe. It is likely that factors such as personal experiences, subjective preference, context and cultural upbringing have a considerable impact on how we respond to a colour.

However, it is clear that colours do have a degree of emotional impact on us, and that companies spend a lot of money and effort choosing the colours they want to represent their brand.

How might some of the most popular colour choices impact our responses?


Use of Blue in Branding

Symbolises trust and strength. It conveys a sense of dependability and trustworthiness. Blue is most often used by conservative and corporate brands.

Example brands – IBM, Facebook, Volkswagon, NASA


Impact of Colour Red in Branding

Associated with excitement and youthfulness. Red can be seen as bold and confident. It can also be used to create a sense of urgency, such as with a call to action, and this is why it’s often used for sales and special offers.

Example brands – Coca-Cola, Lego, Virgin, Nintendo


Use of Yellow in Branding

Associated with warmth and optimism. Yellow is used by brands who want to convey cheerfulness and happiness, although some argue that too much yellow can cause feelings of anxiety. Commonly used in shop windows to attract impulse buyers.

Example brands – McDonalds, Ikea, Yellow Pages, Chupa Chups


Impact of Orange in Branding

This is a friendly and confident colour. It can be thought of as combining the happiness of yellow with the impact of red. Orange is the choice of brands wanting to be seen as fun and energetic and it is likely to instil a sense of positivity and warmth.

Example brands – Fanta, Amazon, Firefox, Harley Davidson


Branding with Colour Purple

Conveys an impression of wisdom, creativity and imagination. Brands also use purple to represent luxury or mystery. Some claim it stimulates the creative and problem-solving parts of the brain.

Example brands – Cadburys, Hallmark, Yahoo, FedEx


Impact of Colour Green in Branding

Associated with nature and health. It can convey a sense of peace and tranquillity. Green is favoured by brands who want to be seen as eco-friendly or aligned with nature.

Example brands – BP, Tropicana, Land Rover, Starbucks


Use of Colour Black in Branding

Symbolises power, strength and authority. It can also be used by brands to convey sophistication and formality. Black is a good choice for high contrast and legibility, although overuse of black can lead to feelings of negativity.

Example Brands – Telegraph, Puma, Gillette, Wikipedia


Blue & Purple Pen Warehouse Logo

At The Pen Warehouse, we Pantone match your colours for screen or pad printing, while our high-quality digital printing will recreate your colours beautifully.

You might also notice that we’ve chosen blue and purple for our logo. We hope this conveys our dependability and wisdom!

Pens Jargon Buster

Promotional Pen Jargon Buster

So you know which end of the pen to use. And you can sharpen a pencil without losing too many fingers. But if you want to know more about the writing instruments we all take for granted, our promotional pens jargon buster is here to help.

Glossary of Pen Terminology

ABS – a thermoplastic polymer used in the construction of some plastic pens and chosen for its toughness and durability.

Anodising – an aluminium pen is placed into an acid electrolyte bath and an electric current is passed through. The aluminium is oxidised resulting in a bright and durable finish.

Ballpen – another term for ballpoint pen. See definition below.

Ballpoint pen – a rotating metal ball is suspended beneath an ink reservoir. As the ball point is applied to the writing surface, the ink flows from the reservoir, coating the ball and being deposited as it rotates.

Barrel – this is the central component of a pen and is the hollow tube that house the refill and pen mechanisms. A pen barrel is usually a slightly tapered cylinder in shape.

Base metal – sometimes called the ‘substrate’, this is the metal underneath the outer layer of a metal pen. When a metal pen is engraved, the outer layer is removed and the base metal is revealed.

Biofree™ – this is an anti-bacterial additive that can be found in some plastic pens, such as the Vogue Biofree Ballpen. It suppresses the growth of bacteria, fungus and mould, making it ideal for the healthcare, pharmaceutical and catering industries.

Breather hole – some pens have small holes drilled into the cap to equalise pressure and prevent ink from seeping out.

Chromark™ engraving – available on selected Pen Warehouse metal pens, this is engraving with a vivid mirror finish.

Cap – a cover that goes over the top of the pen to stop the ink from drying out or escaping, and to stop the tip from getting damaged.

Clip – the pen clip was originally introduced by the Waterman pen company, designed to clip to a pocket to prevent the pen falling out, and has been a standard feature of plastic and metal pens ever since.

Dokumental – a German ink manufacturer renowned for its high-quality and durable inks.

Dry wipe marker – a marker pen suitable for using on a whiteboard as it is non-permanent and can be removed with a dry cloth.

EcoAllene – an eco-friendly material made from recycled artificial materials, such as Tetra Pak cartons.

Ferrule – the metal ring at the top of a pencil used to house the eraser. The pencil ferrule is usually made from brass or aluminium.

Fountain pen – a pen which contains a reservoir of liquid ink which is drawn into the nib and deposited onto the paper through a combination of capillary action and gravity.

Frosted – this refers to a fine sand surface texture on translucent plastic. The finish can be moulded or spray coated.

FSC™ certified – the Forest Stewardship Council promotes responsible management of the world’s forests and will only lend certification to products made from sustainable wood.

Gloss finish – a shiny finish such as that found on a polished plastic pen or painted wooden pencil.

Grip – the section of the pen towards the tip that is held when writing. This is usually distinct from the barrel as a different colour, material or texture, such as the rubberised grip found on the Spectrum Max Ballpen.

Injection moulding – a manufacturing process commonly used for plastic pens. Heated material is injected into a mould where it cools and solidifies. Most pen barrels are not perfect cylinders and actually have a tapered shape so they can be removed from the mould.

Inkredible™ – smooth-flow ink technology available in a number of The Pen Warehouse’s products

Lacquering – a lacquer coating is sprayed onto a metal, providing a hard layer with a gloss finish.

Lead – the lead of a pencil is actually a piece of graphite. When this substance was first discovered it was thought to be a type of black lead and was initially called ‘plumbago’ which comes from the Latin for ‘lead’.

LogoClip – exclusive to The Pen Warehouse, LogoClips are pen clips available in a wide range of shapes and styles which can be printed with a full colour design.

Matt finish – a non-shiny finish, the opposite of gloss. Might also be written as ‘matte’.

Mechanical pencil – a pencil with a propelling lead that doesn’t require sharpening. These pencils are usually made of metal but can also be plastic.

Nib – the writing tip of a fountain pen which uses capillary action to deposit ink on the page. Fountain pen nibs are usually made from stainless steel or gold alloys.

Nose cone – the cone-shaped component of a pen that houses the tip of the refill. The nose cone has a hole in the centre for the tip to extend from.

Push-button – this is the mechanism used in most ballpens to extend the refill and involves pushing a button at the top of the pen.

Refill – the component of a ballpen or rollerball that contains the ink, so called because it can be replaced when the ink runs out.

Rollerball – a pen that uses a similar ball bearing mechanism to a ballpoint pen, but which uses lower viscosity water-based liquid or gel inks for smoother writing.

Rubberised – coated in a thin layer of rubber, often used for the grip of a pen to give a soft feel with slight padding.

Satin finish – an increasingly popular finish on pens, this has more sheen than a matt finish but is not as shiny as a gloss finish.

Stylus – a device used to make inputs on a touchscreen phone or tablet. A resistive touchscreen responds to the pressure made by a stylus, whereas a capacitive screen uses current from the human body and therefore requires a conductive stylus.

Substrate – this is the material beneath the outer layer of a pen. An aluminium pen might have a brass substrate, for example, and this will be revealed when it’s engraved.

Twist-action – a mechanism found in some metal and plastic pens. The barrel is split into two pieces, with one piece rotated in relation to the other to extend or retract the refill.

UV marker – a type of marker that deposits ink that can only be seen under Ultraviolet (UV) light. It is often used to mark objects for security purposes.

blog Image for Printing Terminology – Promotional Products Jargon Buster

Printing Terminology – Promotional Products Jargon Buster

Don’t know your ‘screen printing’ from your ‘pad printing’? Thought that ‘debossing’ was your manager getting the sack? Can’t even spell ‘MOQ’? Our handy glossary of commonly used printing terminology is here to help. You can bookmark this page for future reference or please feel free to share with your colleagues.

Glossary of Printing Terminology & Acronyms:

AI file – this is an Adobe Illustrator file and has ‘.ai’ at the end of the name. This format is usually requested for spot colour artwork as the colours can be separated into distinct layers for individual printing.

CMYK – this is the colour format used in printing and refers to the cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks that are combined to create a printed image. If an RGB display image is converted to CMYK for print, some colours may be subtly modified in the process.

Cropping – the process of trimming artwork so that it occupies a smaller area or removing unwanted elements from the around the edges of artwork. It is not the same as resizing as it involves removing some of the image.

Debossing – a design is stamped into a surface using a metal die to leave an indentation. This is the opposite of embossing.

De-Doming – initially uses the debossing process with the addition of a Resin Domed Label inside the debased area.

Digital printing – an ink jet printer fires microscopic droplets of ink onto the product surface. This allows photographic-quality prints in an almost limitless spectrum of colours, gradients and shades.

Doming – full-colour images are digitally printed onto self-adhesive labels which are then coated in a thick layer of resin. This creates a raised 3D effect.

DPI – stands for ‘Dots Per Inch’ and refers to the number of dots that make up a printed image. A higher DPI will mean higher quality printing. We recommend 600dpi for printing standard-sized artwork.

Dye sublimation – a design is digitally printed onto a transfer paper and then heat transferred onto the product surface, resulting in great adhesion and quality. Due to the high heat and pressure involved only certain materials are suitable for this process.

Embossing – this is a raised design on the surface of a product and therefore the opposite of debossing. Ink or foil may be applied to the relief area or it can be left as a ‘blind emboss’.

EPS – an Encapsulated Postscript file. This is another format used by Adobe Illustrator and allows individual elements to be edited and colours split into separate layers.

Full colour – artwork that is photographic, has gradients or shading, or has a complex composition. This would have to be digitally printed as it could not be printed as separate layers of colour.

JPEG – this is the standard format used to save bitmap artwork. It is primarily suitable for web and onscreen display but can also be digitally printed if the resolution is high enough and saved as CMYK. Not suitable for spot colour printing.

Laser engraving – concentrated light energy is applied via crystal rod. This removes the surface metal of a product to reveal the base metal. Only suitable for metal products.

Layers – an Adobe Illustrator file or PDF can be made up of a number of layers meaning elements can be edited independently of one another. This is ideal for spot colour printing as colours can be printed as separate layers.

Lead time – the period of time from a supplier receiving a signed-off order to dispatching the final printed products, usually measured in working days.

Line colour – Adobe Illustrator files are usually composed of vectors, meaning a number of distinct lines and shapes. This might be referred to as ‘line colour’ artwork and allows elements to be edited and colours printed individually.

MOQ – stands for Minimum Order Quantity and is the smallest order size for a printed or engraved product, usually governed by the cost of setting up the print run.

Origination – this is the process and associated cost of setting up a print run. The term origination tends to refer to digital and laser engraving setup, while ‘screen’ refers to setting up spot colour printing. The term ‘setup’ might also be used to generically describe any of these setup processes and costs.

Outlined fonts – an artwork file with typed text uses fonts to display that text. If the artwork is sent to a printer or a colleague who does not have those fonts, the text will not display correctly. Therefore fonts should be converted to outlines before submitting artwork. This turns fonts into vectored shapes. Note that text cannot be edited once converted to outlines.

Pad printing – a silicone rubber pad is used to transfer the artwork from an etched metal plate. This is ideal for printing to curved surfaces such as the Contour Ballpen.

Pantone colours – the Pantone Matching System (PMS) is the industry standard set of colours. While it is possible to match spot colour printed artwork to Pantone colours, it is not possible with digital printing.

PDF – Adobe’s Portable Document Format has become the industry standard way of saving print files. A PDF will usually be editable in Adobe Illustrator and therefore suitable for spot colour printing.

PNG – similar to a JPEG but can have a transparent background. A PNG can be digitally printed if high enough resolution and in CMYK format.

Print area – the area of the product that can be printed. The size of this area depends on the shape of the item and the printing method used. Most pens from The Pen Warehouse have multiple print areas to choose from.

Proof – this is a visual representation of artwork, used to approve it prior to print. Once the proof is signed off by the customer the go-head to print is given.

Registration – when multi-colour designs are pad or screen printed, each colour is printed as a separate layer. Registration refers to lining up these layers to form the complete design. Close registration means all the elements are accurately aligned.

RGB – this is the colour format used for online and onscreen display and refers to red, green and blue coloured pixels. It will need to be converted to CMYK for printing and this may result is some colours changing appearance.

Screen charge – creating a screen for printing and setting up a screen print job is a time-consuming process. Most printed product suppliers will charge for this setup.

Screen printing – a woven mesh is stretched over a frame to create a screen. A stencil is placed under the screen and ink forced through onto the product. This is a cost-effective print method, particularly for large jobs.

Spot colour – this is artwork that will be printed as separate colours using methods such as pad or screen printing. Acceptable artwork file formats, .eps and .pdf.

TIFF – these are bitmap images like JPEG and PNG but tend to be more suited to print, assuming they are high enough quality to begin with.

Transfer printing – artwork is digitally printed onto a specially formulated film and heat transferred directly onto the product. This method offers high adhesion and is suitable for a wide variety of materials.

Transfer wrap – digital transfer printing is used to wrap an image around a 3D object, such as the entire barrel of a pen, as in the case of the Contour Wrap Ballpen and System Ballpen range.

Vector image – this is artwork that is made up of lines and shapes, meaning elements can be removed or modified and colours separated into layers prior to print. Fonts must be converted to outlines.