Understanding different types of trading cards


Bench Warmer
Hi! I'm just starting to collect trading cards, but I'm a bit confused by the variety of them. I've gone through multiple resources several times, but I still have some doubts. Can someone help me to understand the following things?
  1. According to Wikipedia, a parallel card is considered an insert. However, the definition from Topps states that an insert is a non-base and non-parallel card. What is the truth?
  2. Let's use the Panini Prestige Football Cards set as an example (checklist here). In this set, what can be considered a base card and what an insert card? Is the Distinctive Ink set, for instance, an insert set? How can one differentiate between base sets and insert sets?
  3. Are memorabilia, autograph, serial numbered, etc., cards always considered inserts and not base cards?
Thanks in advance!
First of all, use Wikipedia ONLY as a surface guide, not as an authority on anything whatsoever. Topps makes the cards, they are the authority.
Base is base, no embellishments or variations at all. Parallels are embellishments and variations of the base. They will have the same card numbers as base.
Inserts are subsets of the overall set printing and have different card numbering.
Autos and relics can be base, parallels, inserts or something totally different and have the additional bonus of the auto or relic (many variations on these) on the card. Yet again these will be numbered differently than any others.
Last edited:
Thank you! That really helps. If I could ask the last question. How can the Distinctive Ink section in this checklist be named? Is it subset, checklist section or something else?
I would classify the Distinctive Ink cards as an insert or subset in my opinion. It is not part of the main base set, but a separate group of cards. Subsets or inserts are usually limited in how many are in the box, sometimes they can be only 1 in multiple boxes depending on the rarity of the insert set.