An actual misprint results from a malformed printing plate. Usually, the printing plate contains a design error made before the plates were manufactured. Plates are inspected and, if necessary, discarded before card production begins. Unfortunately, malformed printing plates pass inspection on occasion, and some cards print with this error. Once the mistake is identified, the defective plate is discarded and replaced by a new one, and misprinted cards are destroyed before they are packaged. These misprints must escape this last quality assurance also, and their rarity gives them their collectible value.
However, if the printing plate is not destroyed and substituted by a new one, the error cannot be considered as a defect, since production took the conscious decision to continue printing with a malformed plate. Misprints are supposed to happen by a combination of accidental errors before the production starts, and by definition, are supposed to be extremely rare. If production continues while the problem is acknowledged and no intervention occurs, there is no accidental error and cannot be considered defected.
During production, cards are sometimes printed with flaws. In some cases, these printing errors add no value to the card. Cards, for example, that are printed when the press runs out of ink are not official misprints. Printing presses cannot be easily stopped, so it's very common that cartridges run out of ink before they can be refilled. While quality control usually prevents this situation, it can happen with some regularity since a press needs time to refill properly. Cards that have chopped edges or unevenly cut borders are not misprints. After card sheets are printed, precisely aligned blades cut the sheet into individual cards. At some point, the cutting blades become dull or misaligned, and this results in imprecise cuts and irregular edges.
To be considered as an official misprint, a card must be printed from an unacknowledged defective plate. Once the error is reported, the defective plate must be discarded and substituted by a new one which does not contain the same error. The defective plate must be destroyed, so the same problem does not persist in the same production run. In most cases, misprints are located and destroyed or are subject to substituted quality controls before they can reach the streets, so the amount of available misprints in the market is very limited.
Any card with incorrect text:
- The first printing of Nomi monster "Ocean Dragon Lord - Neo-Daedalus" from Structure Deck: Fury from the Deep with an effect allowing it to be Normal Summoned.
- "Elemental HERO Wildedge" from Duelist Pack: Jaden Yuki 2 listed one of its fusion material monsters as "Elemental Hero Edgeman" instead of "Elemental HERO Bladedge". "Edgeman" is the literal translation of Bladedge's name from Japanese.
- "Book of Moon" from German Legendary Collection 3 Mega-Pack printed with the effect of "Creature Swap".
- "Kaiser Glider" from Italian Duelist Pack: Kaiba printed with the effect of "Different Dimension Dragon".
- "Trial of Nightmare" from Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon 1st edition with its name written as Trial of Hell.
- "Dark Assailant" from Starter Deck: Kaiba 1st edition with its name written as Dark Assassin.
- "The Agent of Force - Mars" from Italian Dark Revelation Volume 2 with "Venere" instead of "Marte" written in its name.
- "Two-Mouth Darkruler" from Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon printed as a Dragon instead of a Dinosaur.
- "Chaos Necromancer" from German Dark Revelation Volume 2 printed as a Beast instead of a Spellcaster.
- "Gearfried the Swordmaster" from French Flaming Eternity printed as a Dragon instead of a Warrior.
- "Amazoness Fighter" from Magician's Force with 1300 ATK instead of the correct 1500 ATK.
- "Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon" from Gold Series with 3000 DEF instead of the correct 3800 DEF.
- "Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon" from Japanese Structure Deck: Deluxe Set printed as an effect type Fusion Monster.
Any card with incorrect Card Type symbol:
- "Counter Counter" from Tactical Evolution 1st Edition with no Counter Trap Card symbol on it. This was later added in later runs of the First Edition pack.
- "Metalmorph" from Premium Pack (TCG) with a Continuous Trap Card symbol instead of being a Normal Trap Card.
Any card with incorrect Attribute:
- "Goblin Attack Force" from Pharaoh's Servant Unlimited Edition with the EARTH Attribute meshed with a Level Star.
- "Kinetic Soldier" from Champion Pack: Game Four has the monster's Attribute mistaken as LIGHT instead of the correct EARTH.
- "Nitro Warrior" from Duel Terminal 1 has the monster's Attribute printed as WIND instead the correct FIRE.
- "Metal Dragon" from Japanese Volume 3 has the monster's Attribute printed as DARK instead the correct WIND.
- "Fireyarou" from Japanese Volume 3 has the monster's Attribute printed as DARK instead the correct FIRE.
Any card with incorrect Level stars:
- "Morphing Jar" from Italian Champion Pack: Game Two is misprinted as a Level 3 monster. The correct Level should be 2.
- "Blackwing - Ghibli the Searing Wind" from Japanese Duelist Pack: Crow is misprinted as a Level 4 monster. The correct Level should be 3.
Any card with incorrect Art:
- "Fiend Reflection #2" from Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon reprinted in Legendary Collection with a part of the art shifted to the side.
- "Turtle Tiger" from Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon reprinted in Legendary Collection with a part of the art shifted to the side and printed with incorrect colors.
- "Mausoleum of the Emperor" from Turbo Pack: Booster Two has the art out of place.
- Some copies of "Book of Secret Arts" from Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon & Starter Deck: Yugi were printed without the feather above the book.
- Some copies of "Sword of Dark Destruction" from Starter Deck: Yugi were printed without the electric aura around the sword and with a different background color.
- "Dark Paladin" from the 1st Edition release of Magician's Force which featured an alternate art intended exclusively for the Duel Masters Guide. The art was corrected in the unlimited edition. Also for a limited period after the release of Magician's Force Upper Deck Entertainment replaced the misprinted "Dark Paladin" for anyone who sent it back to them with the 1st Edition corrected art version which is very hard to find because of the limited amount produced.
Any card with incorrect colors:
- "Neos Wiseman" from Korean Premium Pack Vol.6 is printed with purple color as a Fusion Monster, instead of a regular Effect Monster.
- Few copies of "Colossal Fighter" from Starter Deck: Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's were printed with red color POKER challenge logo and backside card pattern print over the original artwork.
Any card of incorrect Rarity:
- Some copies of all Super Rares and Ultra Rares from Duel Terminal 7 don't have the Shatterfoil film over the card.
- Few copies of all Super Rares from Champion Pack: Game Six were printed as Ultra Rares.
There's a small group of cards that initially were considered as misprints, since they contain an official error accidentally generated before the production began, but once the problem was informed, the company which produces the cards decided it was so insignificant that continued the production using the same plate. As a result, the entire run of this printings contains the same error so they don't count as defects. These cards usually only have one or two letters misplaced, which in most cases are not noticeable. Since all of these cards in circulation have this small mistake, hardly any can be considered to be valuable misprints. Note this same criteria is also used when printing books, newspapers, advertising, etc.
- "Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End" from The Lost Millennium: Special Edition with the word "your" spelled "yoru" in its lore's effect.
- "Exodia the Forbidden One" secret version from the Master Collection Volume 1 has "you" instead of "your" in its Lore box.
- "Koa'ki Meiru Gravirose" has "you" instead of "your" in its effect.
- "Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV8" from Soul of the Duelist has 3 m's in the word "Summoned".
- "Riryoku Field" from Starter Deck: Kaiba Evolution has 3 l's in the word "Spell" in the lore.
- "Hot Red Dragon Archfiend has "destoy" instead of "destroy" in its effect.
- The "Twin-Headed Behemoth" from Structure Deck: Rise of the Dragon Lords has an extra 0 in its card number (SDRL-EN0010).
- The 1st Edition of "Baxia, Brightness of the Yang Zing", from Duelist Alliance, has "Syncro" instead of "Synchro" on its Type text.
Unofficial misprints (production printing defects):
Due to the nature of the printing process, the press needs to be constantly supervised and re-calibrated. The printing plates are supposed to be perfectly aligned to respect each others position. From time to time, due to the printing press vibrations, one of the plates loses its proper alignment, producing cards with their names, artwork or texts out of their original positions. These cards can be considered as a production failure, but not as official misprints, since the printing plates are not defective. The plates just need to be re-aligned.
Also note a massive press cannot be easily stopped. Once it starts to run, it moves very fast. Stopping a press in the middle of production is an unlikely situation. If the press runs out if ink, the production is not stopped. Usually, the press continues its work while being refilled. For this reason, several sheets can be partially printed with parts of their artwork or texts missing. These sheets are usually located and separated from the rest before being cut and packed, but from time to time few of these cards may reach the streets. Refilling the press can cause the exact opposite situation, cards printed with excess of ink. Both of these situations can be considered as bad quality printings, but not official misprints.
Similar as the ink filling problem, the press is fed with several different paper rolls of different weight. The paper rolls are also mixed with an Aluminum foil roll to produce the Yu-Gi-Oh! foil cards. Sometimes, one of the rolls runs out and is later replaced, producing as a result cards thinner or thicker than usual, cards that have the foil on top or back of the card, or cards without any foil at all.
Any card with text (title or lore) or art out of place:
- "Ring of Destruction" has the name out of the card name box.
- "Destroyersaurus" has the name over the level stars.
- Many copies of Ghost/Gold Rares from Gold Series: Haunted Mine have the art out of place.
Any card that has no ink on its name or lore, or an inappropriate amount of color in some parts of the art (ink flaw):
- "Many Ultra Rare copies of "Sylvan Snapdrassinagon" and "And the Band Played On" from Primal Origin: Deluxe Edition have no ink on the title name.
- A "Raigeki" from Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon printed black instead of white.
- A "Jinzo" from Pharaoh's Servant with no ink on its head.
Several different printing plates are used to produce one sheet of cards. A plate set for a specific run of cards is usually composed of four plates - one for each color, plus one or two extra plates for the special finish of some cards (gold or silver lettering, shining cover for parallel rares, etc). Sometimes, one of the printing plates does not belong to the same set. By mistake, one of the plates is mounted on the press from a different sheet set. As a result, several sheets are printed with their names switched with other cards, sometimes of different rarity. In these cases, once the error is discovered, the wrong plate is switched back with the correct one and the production continues. In fact, in most cases, this type of error is easily detected during the initial test run of a sheet and immediately fixed, but few cards can be missed and accidentally packed, hence the reason why mismatches can be easily found on the streets. These cards do not count as official misprints for two reasons: the plates aren't defective and there's no need to create a new one and the correct plate simply is placed back on its correspondent position, and in most cases the mismatch was produced as part of an initial test printing. Cards printed during the initial test are supposed to be discarded before the main production begins (see below Production test prints).
Any card whose name does not correspond with the card's artwork or code (plate mismatch):
- All 30 Rares from the Dark Beginning 1 set reprinted in the English language European 2005 Collectors Tins have their names swapped with the names of the Rares from Dark Beginning 2 like "Magic Drain" with the name of "Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer".
- "Black Magic Ritual" from Premium Pack (TCG) with the wrong name "Marshmallon".
- "Dragon Ice" from the 1st edition Gladiator's Assault with the wrong name "Super Vehicroid - Stealth Union".
- "Elemental HERO Chaos Neos" Ghost Rare from the 1st Edition Gladiator's Assault with the wrong name "Rainbow Dragon".
- "Rainbow Dragon" Ghost Rare from the unlimited edition Tactical Evolution: Special Edition with the wrong art of "Elemental HERO Chaos Neos". This effect monster misprint is much harder to find than its misprinted Fusion monster counterpart.
Any card whose lore does not correspond to the card's artwork, name or code (plate mismatch):
- A "Winged Sage Falcos" from Spanish Tournament Pack 5 with its name in Portuguese, but the rest of the card is in Spanish.
Any card whose title name has a different rarity of the one originally intended to be (plate mismatch):
- All 18 Rares from the unlimited edition Tactical Evolution set reprinted in the 2007 Collectors Tins have the title name printed in Secret Rare lettering foil.
- Both "Tri-Horned Dragon" and "Gaia the Dragon Champion" from the unlimited edition Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon set reprinted in the 2002 Booster Pack Tins have the title name printed in Ultra Rare instead of Secret Rare lettering foil.
Any card with a foil finish different from the one originally intended to be (paper sheet mismatch):
- "Maximum Six" from the unlimited edition Light of Destruction printed without the Ultimate Rare foil finish.
- The early print of 1st Edition German Cosmo Blazer had all of the Secret Rares printed with foil sheet of the other Secret Rares instead of their own. For example "Diamond Dire Wolf" that uses the background foil finish of "Mystical Fairy Elfuria".
- A "Raigeki" from Dark Beginning 1 printed with the Attribute symbol with foil covering.
Some cards are printed in 1st Edition, but instead of the golden square at the bottom right corner they have the silver square, like an Unlimited Edition card. Some cards are printed in Unlimited Edition, but instead of the silver square at the bottom right corner have the golden square, like a 1st Edition card.
Production test prints
Since preparing the press to print a specific set of cards is a labor that takes several hours, prior to the main run, several test sheets are printed to determine if the printing press has been properly calibrated. This production test includes all possible variations a card may have. The most common is a series of CMYK stripes initially printed to corroborate if the press has the appropriate amount of ink all over the printing roll. Once it has been tested, these production tests are discarded and trashed. However, since cut and packing is part of the entire production line, sometimes few of these test cards can be packed by accident, and are included in few boosters. Few of these Test Prints have significant value, since they are have no actual purpose except for being a curiosity.
- A blank card with no face, any rarity.
- A blank card with no back, any rarity.
- A card partially blank with a misplaced face (off set front side).
- A card with regular CMYK color stripes, any rarity.
- A card with reversed order CMYK color stripes, any rarity.
- A card with horisontal CMYK color stripes, any rarity.
- A card with one of the elements missing (no lore).
- A card with only one of the elements present (just the artwork).
- A card with the text SAMPLE printed on the back side.
Defects not considered as misprints:
Any card with a foil sheet all over the front or stamped through the back of the card (paper flaw):
- A Super Rare "Don Zaloog" from Dark Beginning Series with foil all over the card's front.
Any card cut off center, cards with irregular edges or corners (miscut):
- A "Mirror Force" from Gold Series (TCG-EN) cut off center.
- An "Imperial Order" from Pharoh's Servant cut in half.
Asian-English cards: English language cards with a Japanese back are not misprints, they are Asian-English cards intentionally printed that way. Those are produced in limited amounts exclusively for Asian countries outside of Japan, China and South Korea.