Trading Card Glossary



So like any other hobby we have our own language with its own terminology and abbreviations. For a new collector it can be hard to know and understand what everything mean so I figured I’d make this dictionary, where I list and explain the various terminology and abbreviations used in this hobby.



Series – A group of cards that are a part of a larger set and released together at a specified time.

  • Set – Usually referred to synonymously with Base Set.
  • Sub-Set – Can be used to refer to a themed number of trading cards within a product’s base set or to be used synonymously with insert set.
  • Update Sets – The addition of cards depicting post or late season highlights, statistical standout performances and record breaking achievements or transfers
  • Master Set – An entire print run of cards from a product including all base, parallel and insert cards including autographs


Limited Edition Card (LE) – A term used to imply scarcity of a card

  • Numbering – The card number affixed to the back or front of a trading card indicating its order in its respective set.
  • Serial Numbering – Number on the card indicating its exact print run and represented as xx/xxx, with the first set of numbers indicating the exact card’s serial number and the second set of numbers showing the total number of cards of that type printed. Serial numbering is most commonly used on parallels and insert cards.
  • Numbered Card – Term used for a trading card with a serial number.
  • One-of-One (1/1) – A one-of-a-kind trading card, typically serial numbered as such with the designation 1/1, meaning that there is only one of that exact trading card in existence.
  • 1/1 Jersey Number – Term for a card with a serial number that is equal to the player’s jersey number.  E.g. A LFC card of Steven Gerrard with a serial number of 8/XX.
  • Short-Print (SP) – A base-set card that is printed in lesser quantity than other cards in the set.
  • Double Print (DP) –  A trading card that has two-times more cards than that of the other cards in the set
  • On-Demand Card – A trading card or set that is available for purchase during a given amount of time (usually 24 hours). Once this time is up the number of orders placed is produced. Once this is donate card or set is retired from the line never to be made again, hence making the total orders its print-run.
  • Print-Run (PR) – The number of copies of a particular trading card that are printed and released at one time.
  • High-End – Term that refers to expensive and exclusive trading cards and sets.
  • Low-End – Term that refers to cheap and affordable trading cards and sets.



Autograph Card/Autographed Card/Auto –  A trading card accompanied by the signature of an athlete, entertainer, celebrity or other personality.

  • Cut Signature (or Cut): Is an autograph on a small piece of paper, or one that has been “cut” from a larger document.
  • In-person Auto (or IP auto) – A trading card signed by an athlete, entertainer, celebrity or other personality acquired directly in person by a collector.
  • Hard-signed/On-Card – A term used to describe an autographed card whose signature is directly on the card and not on a sticker label affixed to the card.
  • Sticker Auto/Sticker Autograph – An autographed trading card that has a sticker or label signed by the card subject affixed to the card.

Base cards (Base) – The main cards that comprise a sports card or non-sport product’s base set.

Booklet Card (Booklet) – A trading card that combines two trading cards into one by attaching them with a hinge, or spine like a book.

Die-Cut: A trading card that has had part of the card stock removed to create a specific shape, design or function, such as a stand-up.

  • Stand-Ups –  A type of card that was die-cut allowing the player’s picture to be separated from the background section. The card can then be folded in half, so the card could “stand up”.

Digital Trading Cards – Trading cards people collect in apps and store in a virtual collection. (It is stupid as f#ck).

Error Card – A trading card that contains a mistake that is applicable to all prints of that particular card. Some of the more common errors include misspelled names, inaccurate statistical information or the wrong photograph.

  • Deviation Card – An error card where the error is only applicable to one or a very limited number of cards in that print.

Gem (or Jewel) Card – Trading card with embedded actual genuine gemstones.

Gum (or Bubblegum) Card – Term for trading cards that came with bubblegum packs.

Hit Card (Hit) – Term referring to higher-valued cards or those perceived to be of having a higher value than other cards pulled from a box of trading cards. These cards are typically those that are autographed, contain a piece of memorabilia or are significantly short-printed.

Insert Card (Insert) – In general, can be used to describe all non-base and non-parallel cards in a trading card set. These cards typically have their own themes, names, designs and numbering.

Intruder Card – Term referring to a card which unintentionally depicts a player or team along with the intended player or team. This usually occurs when in-game photos are used in the making of the card.

Oddity/Oddball – A non-traditional but related item that doesn’t fall into a typical category like normal cards. Examples include, but are not limited to; stamps, postcards, coins and other unique collectibles.

Parallel Card (Parallel) – A card that is similar in design to its counterpart from a base set but offers a distinguishing quality. This can be in the former of border color, texture, card material, printing technology employed among other characteristics.

  • First Of The Line (FOTL) – A Panini America program that will give buyers from its website early arrivals as well as exclusive parallels. The “Panini 1st Off The Line” program will include a small volume of extras and cards will arrive between 24 and 48 hours before the traditional release date if buyers use the company’s website.
  • Rainbow – The complete series of all the possible parallel colors of a player’s specific card.

Printing Plate – The actual plates used in the printing process. Each trading card in a set is made using four individual plates in the following colors: Black, Cyan, Magenta & Yellow. These plates are often inserted into packs and are serial numbered 1/1.

Promotional Card (Promo Card) – A card produced by a manufacturer and distributed free to collectors through various methods to promote an upcoming trading card release. They have a smaller print run.

Redemption (Card) – A program established by multiple card manufacturers that temporarily substitutes a card that should be in the product for the right to redeem that card when it is available from the manufacturer.

Relic Card – A card that contains a piece of player related equipment, DNA, venue item or other authentic items in some way related to the player or subject depicted on the card. The item is actually embedded in the card. They are also referred to as Memorabilia Cards.

  • Jersey Card – A trading card that contains a piece of jersey material.
  • Guernsey Card (or just Guernsey) – synonym for jersey card used in Australia.
  • Jumper Card (or just jumper) – synonym for jersey card used in Australia.
  • Patch Card – A jersey card containing a section of a multi-color portion of a player’s jersey. These are often from logos, numerals, name plates or other sections of the jersey.
  • Jumbo (Relic Card) – An over-sized jersey swatch or patch that typically takes up the majority of the trading card’s landscape.
  • Game-Used: A piece of memorabilia that has been used in a professional sporting event.
  • Game-Worn: A piece of memorabilia that has been worn by a player in an actual game.
  • Player-Worn: A piece of clothing or memorabilia that has been worn by a player but not in a game.

Rookie Card (RC) – Designates a player’s first officially licensed base trading card/cards during the season of the first release. Also referred to as a “True Rookie”.

  • Extended Rookie Card (XRC) – Designate a player’s card that was issued along with his rookie card but not as part of a standard base set. E.g insert, relic, parallel etc
  • First Of Card (FOC) – Refers to a player’s first card in any category after the rookie year. This could be a first card in a new team, first card in particular cup, first autograph card, first relic card etc.

Tobacco Card/Cigarette Card – A card that was issued with packs of cigarettes. It’s purpose was two-fold. It was used as a marketing tool but also had the physical benefit of serving as a stabilizer within the pack, which would help prevent the cigarettes from being crushed.

Uncut Sheet – A printed sheet of trading cards that has not been cut into individual cards by the manufacturer.

Variation Card (VAR) –  A card that is, in someway, subtly different from the same cards in any set. These variations can include, but are not limited to characteristics such as: a different color background or lettering, a corrected error, a name misspelling or photo variation.

Vintage Card or Retro Card –  A subjective term used to describe older sports cards and entertainment trading cards. Usually refer to anything printed before the early 1970’s.

XL Card – Term for trading cards that are larger in size than the standard cards. These cards can also be referred to as “cabinet cards” or “postcard size cards“.



Graded Card – A trading card that has been examined by a third-party service grading specialist for condition and assigned a specific numerical grade, that corresponds with the card’s physical condition.

  • Grading Company – An independent, third-party service that specializes in examining cards for physical condition and assigning the card a corresponding numerical grade for the card. Example of grading companies include among others; Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA), Beckett Grading Services (BGS) and Sports Card Guaranty (SGC).
  • Gem Mint: A term used by PSA to describe the highest possible grade, a 10
  • Pristine: A term used by BGS to describe the highest possible grade, a 10



Emboss, Embossed, Embossing – A printing process that actually presses an imaged, design or text into the paper of the card leaving an indentation.

Hologram: A printing technology that creates a reflective, 3D-like effect. It can also refer to a specific hologram used in the authentication process.

Refractor – A card that utilizes a printing technology that produces a visual effect that refracts and disperses light in a manner that produces a prism or rainbow-like effect.

Prism – A card that displays a metallic like quality with a bright and shiny design that creates an appearance that refractors or disperses light.



Box – Typically used in reference to a packaging of  a specific trading card product. Boxes contain a various number of packs.

  • Hobby Box: A box of trading cards, exclusively packaged for distribution through approved online retailers and traditional card shops, hobby Boxes, typically, having better insert odds and sometimes different content altogether
  • Retail Box: Packaged for sale and distribution at large retail outlets and chains like Wal-Mart, Target, Tesco etc.

Case – Typically used in reference to a packaging of  a specific trading card product. Cases contain a various number of boxes.

Pack – A group of cards packaged for sale by a manufacturer.



Break – Term used to describe the process of opening a box or case of trading cards.

  • Box break – Used as a term for the process of opening a box of sports cards.
  • Case Break – Used as a term for the process of opening a case of sports cards.
  • Random Break: All teams are given a spot, for example in the Premier League there are 20 teams, so for a Premier League Random Team Break there would be 20 spots. Each spot purchased equals one Premier League team. Once all 20 spots are filled, a list of all 20 Premier League teams and a list of all 20 participants are randomized. The resulting lists are then paired so that each numbered team and participant are matched.
  • Razz – A  group break where more team slots are allocated than actual teams.



Binder – Used for storing cards in pocket sleeves.

One-Touch – Magnetic case for storing and protecting trading cards.

Penny Sleeve – A thin plastic pocket used as the first level of card protection. They can then be inserted into a sleeves or top loaders.

Pocket Sheets/Sleeves: A protective sheet that holds trading cards. These sheets are archival quality with no acids or PVCs and provide ultra-violet protection. They can be purchased in configurations to hold standard cards, exhibit cards, tobacco cards, 8×10 photographs and other additional sized ephemera. They are designated as 9-pocket sheets for standard cards.

Team Bag – A small plastic bag with a sealed strip used to store trading cards.

Top-Loader – A hard plastic holder for storing single trading cards. They are available in rigid and semi-rigid varieties and a multitude of thicknesses.



Case Hit – A specific type of high-value or short-printed card guaranteed in a trading card case

Checklist – A listing of all of the cards contained in a product’s base, insert and subsets.

Completist – A term used to describe a collector who pursues every example of a particular trading card or collectible.

Junk Wax: A term used in reference to the majority of trading cards manufactured between the late 1980s and early 1990s. This was an era of over-production in the trading card industry, the likes of which the hobby had not seen up until that time or since. The cards from this era have little, if any, monetary value.

Or Best Offer (OBO) – Term used in sales listings of cards when a seller names a price for the card on sale but can however accept other offers, going with the best of them.

Personal Collection (PC) – A term used in the modern hobby to describe cards that a collector is typically not willing to sell or trade. These cards belong to the focus of a person’s collection.

Trading Card Game (TCG) – A trading card product designed for use in playing a game.

Want List – A list kept by a collector designating cards he or she “wants” for their personal collection.