Print Terminology



A/W – An abbreviation for Artwork.

Accordion fold – Bindery term, two or more parallel folds which open like an accordion.

Acetate – A transparent sheet placed over artwork allowing the artist to write instructions or indicate where second colour is to be placed.

Addendum – Supplementary material additional to the main body of a book and printed separately at the start or end of the text.

After – A print is made after an artist if the printmaker copied the image from a drawing or painting by that artist.

Against the grain – At right angles to direction of paper grain.

Air (US) – An amount of white space in a layout.

Airbrush – A mechanical painting tool producing an adjustable spray of paint driven by compressed air. Used in illustration design and photographic retouching.

À la poupée – A print is printed in color à la poupée when colored ink is applied directly to a plate’s surface and worked into the appropriate area of the design using cotton daubs called dollies, or in French, poupée.

Align – To line up typeset or other graphic material as specified, using a base or vertical line as the reference point.

Alphabet (length or width)  – The measurement of a complete set of lower case alphabet characters in a given type size expressed in points or picas.

Alteration: – Change in copy of specifications after production has begun.

Anodised plate – An offset printing plate with a specially treated surface to reduce wear during printing.

Antique print – Any print printed and published prior to 1900 is considered an antique print. A modern reproduction of an old print is not itself an antique. The cut-off date of 1900 is not firmly fixed, however, and in many circumstances original prints made before World War II are also considered to be antiques.

Apex – The point of a character where two lines meet at the top, an example of this is the point on the letter A.

Apron (US) – Additional white space allowed in the margins of text and illustrations when forming a foldout.

Area of Non-Encroachment – The area surrounding a graphic element that must be kept free of any other graphic element, typography, or field edge

Art (US) – In graphic arts usage, all matter other than text material e.g. illustrations and photographs.

Art paper – A smooth coated paper obtained by adding a coating of china clay compound on one or both sides of the paper.

Artboard – Alternate term for mechanical art.

Ascender – Any part of a lower case letter extending above the x-height. For example, the upper half of the vertical in the letters b or h.

Authors corrections – In composition, changes and additions in the copy or layout after it has been typeset; also referred to as “AAs”


Background – The area surrounding a design mark

Backing up – Printing the second side of a sheet already printed on one side.

Back slant – Letters that slant the opposite way from italic characters.

Bad Break – In composition, starting a page or ending a paragraph with a single word, or “widow”

Balloon – A circle or bubble enclosing copy in an illustration. Used in cartoons.

Banding – Method of packaging printed pieces of paper using rubber or paper bands.

Bank – A lightweight writing paper.

Banner – A large headline or title extending across the full page width.

Base artwork – Artwork requiring additional components such as halftones or line drawings to be added before the reproduction stage.

Baseline – The line on which the bases of capital letters sit.

Basis weight – Weight in pounds of a ream of paper cut to the basic size for its grade.

Bed – The base on which the Forme is held when printing by Letterpress.

Bind – To fasten sheets or signatures with wire, thread, glue. or by other means.

Bindery – The finishing department of a print shop or firm specializing in finishing printed products.

Binding – The various methods used to secure loose leaves or sections in a book; e.g. saddle-stitch, perfect bound.

Black patch – Material used to mask the window area on a negative image of the artwork prior to ‘stripping in’ a halftone.

Blanket cylinder – The cylinder via which the inked litho plate transfers the image to the paper. The cylinder is covered with a rubber sheet which prevents wear to the litho plate coming into contact with the paper.

Blanket – The thick rubber mat on a printing press that transfers ink from the plate to paper.

Bleed – Layout, type or pictures that extend beyond the trim marks on a page. Illustrations that spread to the edge of the paper without margins are referred to as ‘bled off’.

Blind emboss – A raised impression made without using ink or foil.

Blind embossing – An image pressed into a sheet without ink or foil.

Blind stamp – A blind stamp (also “chop mark”) is an embossed seal impressed onto a print as a distinguishing mark by the artist, the publisher, an institution, or a collector.

Block – A {wood} block is a piece of wood used as a matrix for a print. Wood blocks are used primarily for woodcuts or wood engravings.

Block in – To sketch in the main areas of an image prior to the design.

Blow up – An enlargement, most frequently of a graphic image or photograph.

Blueline – A blue photographic proof used to check position of all image elements.

Blurb – A short description or commentary of a book or author on a book jacket.

Board – Paper of more than 200gsm.

Board – Alternate term for mechanical.

Body (US) – The main text of the work but not including headlines.

Body Type – A type used for the main part or text of a printed piece, as distinguished from the headline

Body size – The height of the type measured from the top of the tallest ascender to the bottom of the lowest descender. Normally given in points, the standard unit of type size.

Bold type – Type with a heavier darker appearance. Most typefaces have a bold face.

Bond – A sized finished writing paper of 50gsm or more. Can also be used for printing upon.

Bond & carbon – Business form with paper and carbon paper.

Bond paper – Strong durable paper grade used for letterheads and business forms.

Border – A continuous decorative design or rule surrounding the matter on the page.

Box – A section of text marked off by rules or white space and presented separately from the main text and illustrations. Longer boxed sections in magazines are sometimes referred to as sidebars.

Break for colour – Also known as a colour break. To separate mechanically or by software the parts to be printed in different colours.

Brightness – The brilliance or reflectance of paper.

Bright White – A paper stock, particularly in reference to letterheads and envelopes, etc., of pure brilliant white; as opposed to “off-white”

Bristol board – A fine board made in various qualities for drawing.

Broadsheet (broadside) – An unfolded sheet of paper printed on one side only. A broadside is an advertisement or announcement printed on a broadsheet.

Bromide – A photographic print made on bromide paper.

Bronzing – An effect produced by dusting wet ink after printing with a metallic powder.

Bulk pack – Boxing printed product without wrapping or banding.

Bulk – Thickness of paper stock in thousandths of an inch or number of pages per inch.

Bullet – A large dot preceding text to add emphasis.

Burn – Exposing a printing plate to high intensity light or placing an image on a printing plate by light.

Butt fit – Printed colours that overlap one row of dots so they appear to butt.

Butt – Joining images without overlapping.


Calendered finish – Produced by passing paper through a series of metal rollers to give a very smooth surface.

Caliper – The thickness of sheet of paper or board expressed in microns (millionths of a metre). Also the name of the tool used to make the measurement.

Caliper – Paper thickness in thousandths of an inch.

Camera ready – Artwork or pasted up material that is ready for reproduction. Cap line – an imaginary line across the top of capital letters. The distance from the the cap line to the baseline is the cap size.

Camera-ready copy – Print ready mechanical art.

Caps – An abbreviation for capital letters.

Caps and small caps – A style of type that shows capital letters used in the normal way while the body copy is set in capital letters which are of a slightly smaller size.

Capital Height – The vertical dimension of a capital letter measured from its top to its base perpendicular to the baseline

Caption – The line or lines of text that refer to information identifying a picture or illustration.

Carbonless – Paper coated with chemicals and dye which will produce copies without carbon paper. Also referred to as NCR (No Carbon Required).

Carbonless – Pressure sensitive writing paper that does not use carbon.

Caret marks – An indication to the printer of an omission in the copy indicated as ( ) showing the insertion.

Carload – A truck load of paper weighing 40000 pounds.

Cartridge – A thick general purpose paper used for printing, drawing and wrapping.

Case bind – A type of binding used in making hard cover books using glue.

Case bound – A hardback book made with stiff outer covers. Cases are usually covered with cloth, vinyl or leather.

Cast coated – Art paper with a exceptionally glossy coated finish usually on one side only.

Cast off – A calculation determining how much space copy will take up when typeset.

Catalogue raisonné – A catalogue raisonné is a documentary listing of all the works by an artist which are known at the time of compilation. It should include all essential documentary information.

Catchline – A temporary headline for identification on the top of a galley proof.

Century Schoolbook – A popular serif typeface used in magazines and books for text setting which has a large x-height and an open appearance.

Chalking – A powdering effect left on the surface of the paper after the ink has failed to dry satisfactorily due to a fault in printing.

Characters – Typographic elements comprising a font or typeface, including letters and numbers

Character count – The number of characters; i.e. letters, figures, signs or spaces in a piece of copy, line or paragraph used as a first stage in type calculations.

Chase – A metal frame in which metal type and blocks (engravings) are locked into position to make up a page.

Chine appliqué (chine collé) – A chine appliqué or chine collé is a print in which the image is impressed onto a thin sheet of China (or other similar) paper which is backed by a stronger, thicker sheet. China paper takes an intaglio impression more easily than regular paper, so chine appliqué prints generally show a richer impression than standard prints. Proof prints are often done as chine appliqués.

Chrome – A term for a transparency.

Close up – A proof correction mark to reduce the amount of space between characters or words indicated as (‘).

Coated paper – Printing papers which after making have had a surface coating with clay etc, to give a smoother, more even finish with greater opacity.

Cold type – Type produced without the use of characters cast from molten metal, such as on a VDU.

Collate – A finishing term for gathering paper in a precise order.

Collateral – A form of communication frequently reissued to convey changing messages; examples: print advertising, direct mail, brochures, posters, etc.

Colour bar – A quality control term regarding the spots of ink colour on the tail of a sheet.

Colour correction – Methods of improving colour separations. Any digital or traditional method such as imaging, masking, dot-etching or retouching used to improve color rendition

Colour filter – Filters uses in making colour separations, red, blue, green.

Colour key – Colour proofs in layers of acetate.

Colour matching system – A system of formulated ink colours used for communicating colour.

Colour separations – The process of preparing artwork, photographs, transparencies, or computer generated art for printing by separating into the four primary printing colours.

Column rule – A light faced vertical rule used to separate columns of type.

Column Width – Measurement expressing the width of a single column within the layout grid of a newspaper, magazine, brochure, report, etc.

Comb bind – To plastic comb bind by inserting the comb into punched holes.

Compose – To set copy into type.

Composite film – Combining two or more images on one or more pieces of film.

Concertina fold – A method of folding in which each fold opens in the opposite direction to its neighbour, giving a concertina or pleated effect.

Condensed – A style of typeface in which the characters have an elongated appearance.

Configuration – The graphic inter-relationships of the elements of a trademark

Continuous tone – An image in which the subject has continuous shades of colour or grey without being broken up by dots. Continuous tones cannot be reproduced in that form for printing but must be screened to translate the image into dots.

Contrast – The degree of tones in a photograph ranging from highlight to shadow.

Copy – All furnished material or disc used in the production of a printed product.

Copyfitting – In composition, the calculation of how much space a given amount of copy will take up in a given size and typeface; the adjusting of the type size to make it fit in a given amount of space

Copyright – The right of copyright gives protection to the originator of material to prevent use without express permission or acknowledgement of the originator.

Corner marks – Marks printed on a sheet to indicate the trim or register marks.

Corporate Colors – The official combination of colors associated with the corporate identity:

Corporate Identity or Signature – The design mark and logotype which
visually represents Corporations and Affiliated Entities; also referred to as the Identity

Cover paper – A heavy printing paper used to cover books, make presentation folders, etc.

Crash number – Numbering paper by pressing an image on the first sheet which is transferred to all parts of the printed set.

Crimping – Puncture marks holding business forms together.

Cromalin – Trade name for DuPont colour proofs.

Crop marks – Printed lines showing where to trim a printed sheet.

Cropping – The elimination of parts of a photograph or other original that are not required to be printed. Cropping allows the remaining parts of the image to be enlarged to fill the space.

Cross head  – A heading set in the body of the text used to break it into easily readable sections.

Crossover – Printing across the gutter or from one page to the facing page of a publication.

Cursive – Used to describe typefaces that resemble written script.

Cut flush – A method of trimming a book after the cover has been attached to the pages.

Cutout – A halftone where the background has been removed to produce a silhouette.

Cyan – One of four standard process colours. The blue colour.


Dagger and double dagger – Symbols used mainly as reference marks for footnotes.

Dash – A short horizontal rule used for punctuation.

Densitometer – A quality control devise to measure the density of printing ink.

Density – The degree of colour or darkness of an image or photograph.

Descender – Any part of a lower case letter that extends below the x-height, as in the case of y and j.

Diazo – A light sensitive coating used on printing plates.

Die – A hardened steel engraving stamp used to print an inked image. Used in the production of good quality letter headings.

Die cutting – Curing images in or out of paper.

Die – Metal rule or imaged block used to cut or place an image on paper in the finishing process.

Disk Operating System (DOS) – Software for computer systems with disk drives which supervises and controls the running of programs. The operating system is ‘booted’ into the computer from disk by a small program which permanently resides in the memory. Common operating systems include MS-DOS, PC-DOS (IBM’s version of MS-DOS), CP/M (an operating system for older, 8-bit computers), Unix and BOS.

Display type – Larger type used for headings etc. Normally about 18 point or larger.

Dot gain or spread – A term used to explain the difference in size between the dot on film v paper.

Dot matrix printer – A printer in which each character is formed from a matrix of dots. They are normally impact systems, i.e. a wire is fired at a ribbon in order to leave an inked dot on the page, but thermal and electro-erosion systems are also used.

Dot – An element of halftones. Using a loupe you will see that printed pictures are made many dots.

Double burn – Exposing a plate to multiple images.

Double density – A method of recording on floppy disks using a modified frequency modulation process that allows more data to be stored on a disk.

Double page spread – Two facing pages of newspaper or magazine where the textual material on the left hand side continues across to the right hand side. Abbreviated to DPS.

Downloadable fonts – Type faces which can be stored on a disk and then downloaded to the printer when required for printing. These are, by definition, bit-mapped fonts and, therefore, fixed in size and style.

DPI (Dots Per Inch) – The measurement of resolution for page printers, phototypesetting machines and graphics screens. Currently graphics screens reproduce 60 to 100dpi, most page printers work at 300dpi and typesetting systems operate at 1,000dpi and above.

Draw-down – A sample of ink and paper used to evaluate ink colours.

Drawn on – A method of binding a paper cover to a book by drawing the cover on and gluing to the back of the book.

Drop cap – A large initial letter at the start of the text that drops into the line or lines of text below.

Drop-out – Portions of artwork that do not print.

Dry transfer (lettering) – Characters, drawings, etc, that can be transferred to the artwork by rubbing them off the back of the transfer sheet. Best known is Letraset.

Dummy – A rough layout of a printed piece showing position and finished size.

Duotone – A halftone picture made up of two printed colours.

Dye transfer – A photographic colour print using special coated papers to produce a full colour image. Can serve as an inexpensive proof.

Dylux – Photographic paper made by DuPont and used for bluelines.


Edition – An edition of a print includes all the impressions published at the same time or as part of the same publishing event. A first edition print is one which was issued with the first published group of impressions. First edition prints are sometimes pre-dated by a proof edition. Editions of a print should be distinguished from states of a print. There can be several states of a print from the same edition, and there can be several editions of a print all with the same state.

EGA (Enhanced Graphics Adapter) – A graphics standard for the PC which can be added or built into a system to give sharper characters and improved colour with the correct display device. Standard EGA resolution is 640 by 350 dots in any 16 out of 64 colours.

Egyptian – A term for a style of type faces having square serifs and almost uniform thickness of strokes.

Eight sheet – A poster measuring 60 x 80in (153 x 203cm) and, traditionally, made up of eight individual sheets.

Electronic Publishing – A generic term for the distribution of information which is stored, transmitted and reproduced electronically. Teletext and Videotext are two examples of this technology in its purest form, i.e. no paper. Desktop publishing forms just one part of the electronic publishing market.

Em – In printing terms it is a square unit with edges equal in size to the chosen point size. It gets its name from the letter M which originally was as wide as the type size.

Em dash – A dash used in punctuation the length of one em.

Emboss – Pressing an image into paper so that it will create a raised relief.

Embossing – Relief images formed by using a recessed die.

Emulsion – Light sensitive coating found on printing plates and film.

En – A unit of measurement that is half as wide as an em.

En dash – A dash approximately half the width of an em dash.

End papers – The four page leaves at the front and end of a book which are pasted to the insides of the front and back covers (boards).

Epson emulation – The industry standard control codes for dot matrix printers were developed by Epson and virtually all software packages and most dot matrix printers either follow or improve on these codes.

Eurobind – A patented method of binding perfect bound books so they will open and lay flatter.

Exception dictionary – In word processing or desktop publishing this is a store of pre-hyphenated words that do not conform to the usual rules contained in the hyphenation and justification program (H & J).Some programs, PageMaker for example, only use an exception dictionary.

Expanded type – A typeface with a slightly wider body giving a flatter appearance.

Express – A printer control language developed by OASYS.


Face – An abbreviation for typeface referring to a family in a given style.

Facsimile transmission – The process of converting graphic images into electronic signals.

Field – The total available area in which elements of the identification, such as corporate trademarks, are placed.

Fine Art & Historical Prints – Prints can be separated into two general types, fine art prints and historical prints. These types can best be understood through a differentiation of their emphasis. The distinction between the two types of prints is not clear-cut nor is it understood by all experts in the same way, but generally a fine art print is one conceived and executed by an artist with as much or more concern for the manner of presentation of the print as for its content, whereas the concern of the maker of an historical print is focused more on the content of the image than on its presentation.

Filler – Extra material used to complete a column or page, usually of little importance.

Film rip – See Rip film.

Flag – The designed title of a newspaper as it appears at the top of page one.

Flat – An assembly of negatives taped to masking materials for platemaking.

Flexography – A rotary letterpress process printing from rubber or flexible plates and using fast drying inks. Mainly used for packaging.

Floating accent – An accent mark which is set separately from the main character and is then placed either over or under it.

Flood – To cover a printed page with ink, varnish, or plastic coating.

Flop – The reverse side of an image.

Floppy disk – See disk

Flush Left (or Right) – A typographic term referring to lines of type that align vertically at a left margin (or right)

Flyer – An inexpensively produced circular used for promotional distribution.

Flush Paragraph – A paragraph with no indention

Foil blocking – A process for stamping a design on a book cover without ink by using a coloured foil with pressure from a heated die or block.

Foil emboss – Foil stamping and embossing a image on paper with a die.

Foil stamping – Using a die to place a metallic or pigmented image on paper.

Foil – A metallic or pigmented coating on plastic sheets or rolls used in foil stamping and foil embossing.

Folio – The page number

Font (or fount) – A complete set of characters in a typeface.

Form letter – Used in word processing to describe a repetitive letter in which the names and addresses of individuals are automatically generated from a data base or typed individually.

Forme – Type and blocks assembled in pages and imposed in a metal chase ready for printing.

Four colour process – Printing in full colour using four colour separation negatives – yellow, magenta, cyan and black.

French fold – A sheet which has been printed on one side only and then folded with two right angle folds to form a four page uncut section.

French fold – Two folds at right angles to each other.

Full measure – A line set to the entire line length.

Full point – A full stop.


Galley proof – Proofs taken from the galleys before being made up into pages.

Galley proof – Text copy before it is put into a mechanical layout or desktop layout.

Galleys – The printing term for long metal trays used to hold type after it had been set and before the press run.

Gang – Getting the most out of a printing press by using the maximum sheet size to print multiple images or jobs on the same sheet. A way to save money.

Gatefold – An oversize page where both sides fold into the gutter in overlapping layers. Used to accommodate maps into books.

Gathering – The operation of inserting the printed pages, sections or signatures of a book in the correct order for binding.

GEM – Digital Research’s Graphics Environment Manager. A graphical interface designed both to make the operation of software simpler for the non-expert and to allow programs to communicate with one another. Two key desktop publishing packages, Ventura and DR’s own GEM Desktop Publisher operate under this environment.

Generation – Stages of reproduction from original copy. A first generation reproduction yields the best quality.

Ghost bars – A quality control method used to reduce ghosted image created by heat or chemical contamination.

Ghosting – A faint printed image that appears on a printed sheet where it was not intended. More often than not this problem is a function of graphical design. It is hard to tell when or where ghosting will occur. Sometimes you can see the problem developing immediately after printing the sheet, other times the problem occurs while drying. However the problem occurs it is costly to fix, if it can be fixed. Occasionally it can be eliminated by changing the colour sequence, the inks, the paper, changing to a press with a drier, printing the problem area in a separate pass through the press or changing the racking (reducing the number of sheets on the drying racks). Since it is a function of graphical design, the buyer pays for the increased cost.

Gloss ink – For use in litho and letterpress printing on coated papers where the ink will dry without penetration.

Gloss – A shiny look reflecting light.

Golden ratio – The rule devised to give proportions of height to width when laying out text and illustrations to produce the most optically pleasing result.

Gothic – Typefaces with no serifs and broad even strokes.

Grain – The direction in which the paper fiber lie.

Graphic Standards – Set of guidelines outlining a corporate identity system and its proper use

Gravure – A rotary printing process where the image is etched into the metal plate attached to a cylinder. The cylinder is then rotated through a trough of printing ink after which the etched surface is wiped clean by a blade leaving the non-image area clean. The paper is then passed between two rollers and pressed against the etched cylinder drawing the ink out by absorption.

Greeking – A software device where areas of grey are used to simulate lines of text. One of desktop publishing’s less clever methods of getting round the slowness of high resolution displays on the PC.

Greyscale – A range of luminance values for evaluating shading through white to black. Frequently used in discussions about scanners as a measure of their ability to capture halftone images. Basically the more levels the better but with correspondingly larger memory requirements.

Grid – A systematic division of a page into areas to enable designers to ensure consistency. The grid acts as a measuring guide and shows text, illustrations and trim sizes.

Grippers – The metal fingers on a printing press that hold the paper as it passes through the press.

GSM – Grams per square metre. The unit of measurement for paper weight.

Guard – A narrow strip of paper or linen pasted to a single leaf to allow sewing into a section for binding.

Gum arabic – A secretion of the acacia tree. Used on the surface of some antique hand-colored prints to add depth/texture to the image. Can be seen by holding the print at an angle to the light.

Gutter – The central blank area between left and right pages.


Hairline rule – The thinnest rule that can be printed.

Hairline – A very thin line or gap about the width of a hair or 1/100 inch.

Half up – Artwork one and a half times the size which it will be reproduced.

Halftone – An illustration reproduced by breaking down the original tone into a pattern of dots of varying size. Light areas have small dots and darker areas or shadows have larger dots.

Halftone screen – A glass plate or film placed between the original photograph and the film to be exposed. The screen carries a network of parallel lines. The number of lines to the inch controls the coarseness of the final dot formation. The screen used depends on the printing process and the paper to be used, the higher the quality the more lines can be used.

Halftone – Converting a continuous tone to dots for printing.

Hanging punctuation – Punctuation that is allowed to fall outside the margins instead of staying within the measure of the text.

Hard copy – The output of a computer printer, or typed text sent for typesetting.

Hard disk – A rigid disk sealed inside an airtight transport mechanism. information stored may be accessed more rapidly than on floppy disks and far greater amounts of data may be stored. Often referred to as Winchester disks.

Hardback – A case bound book with a separate stiff board cover.

Head – The margin at the top of a page.

Helvetica – A sans serif typeface.

Hickey – Reoccurring unplanned spots that appear in the printed image from dust, lint, dried ink.

Hickies – A dust particle sticking to the printing plate or blanket which appears on the printed sheet as a dark spot surrounded by an halo.

High-bulk paper – A paper made thicker than its standard basis weight.

Highlight – The lightest area in a photograph or illustration.

Highlight – The lightest areas in a picture or halftone.

Holdout – In printing, a property of coated paper with low ink absorption which allows ink to set on the surface with high gloss

House style – The style of preferred spelling, punctuation, hyphenation and indentation used in a publishing house or by a particular publication to ensure consistent typesetting.


Icons – Pictorial images used on screen to indicate utility functions, files, folders or applications software. The icons are generally activated by an on-screen pointer controlled by a mouse or trackball.

Image area – Portion of paper on which ink can appear.

Imposition – Refers to the arrangement of pages on a printed sheet, which when the sheet is finally printed on both sides, folded and trimmed, will place the pages in their correct order.

imPRESS – A page description language developed by Imagen and supported by over 60 software products including Crystal , TeX , Superpage and AutoCAD. Almost certainly the first commercially available PDL.

Impression cylinder – The cylinder of a printing machine which brings the paper into contact with the with the printing plate or blanket cylinder.

Impression – An impression is a single piece of paper with an image printed on it from a matrix. The term as applied to prints is used in a manner similar to the term “copy” as applied to a book.

Imprint – The name and place of the publisher and printer required by law if a publication is to be published. Sometimes accompanied by codes indicating the quantity printed, month/year of printing and an internal control number.

Imprint – Adding copy to a previously printed page.

Indicia – Postal information place on a printed product.

Ink fountain – The reservoir on a printing press that hold the ink.

Insert – An instruction to the printer for the inclusion of additional copy.

Intaglio – An intaglio print is one whose image is printed from a recessed design incised or etched into the surface of a plate. In this type of print the ink lies below the surface of the plate and is transferred to the paper under pressure. The printed lines of an intaglio print stand in relief on the paper. Intaglio prints have platemarks.

Interface – The circuit, or physical connection, which controls the flow of data between a computer and its peripherals.

International paper sizes – The International Standards Organisation (ISO) system of paper sizes is based on a series of three sizes A, B and C. Series A is used for general printing and stationery, Series B for posters and Series C for envelopes.

Interpress – Xerox Corporation’s page description language which was the first such product to be implemented. At present the language still has to be adopted commercially by a third party.

ISBN – International Standard Book Number. A reference number given to every published work. Usually found on the back of the title page.

Italic – Type with sloping letters.

Ivory board – A smooth high white board used for business cards etc.


JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group (also abbreviated jpg). JPEG is a compression technique for colour images and photographs that balances compression against loss of detail in the image. The greater the compression, the more information is lost (this is called Lossy compression).

Justify – The alignment of text along a margin or both margins. This is achieved by adjusting the spacing between the words and characters as necessary so that each line of text finishes at the same point.


K (Kilobyte) – 1024 bytes, a binary 1,000.

Keep standing – To hold type or plates ready for reprints.

Kerning – The adjustment of spacing between certain letter pairs, a and V for example, to obtain a more pleasing appearance. Not all DTP systems can achieve this.

Keyline – An outline drawn or set on artwork showing the size and position of an illustration or halftone.

Keylines – Lines on mechanical art that show position of photographs or illustrations.

Kiss die cut – To cut the top layer of a pressure sensitive sheet and not the backing.

Knock out – To mask out an image.

Kraft paper – A tough brown paper used for packing.


Laid – Paper with a watermark pattern showing the wire marks used in the paper making process. Usually used for high quality stationery.

Laid finish – Simulating the surface of handmade paper.

Laminate – A thin transparent plastic coating applied to paper or board to provide protection and give it a glossy finish.

Laminate – To cover with film, to bond or glue one surface to another.

Landscape – Work in which the width used is greater than the height. Also used to indicate the orientation of tables or illustrations which are printed ‘sideways’. See Portrait.

Laser printer (see also Page printer) – A high quality image printing system using a laser beam to produce an image on a photosensitive drum. The image is transferred on to paper by a conventional xerographic printing process. Currently, most laser printers set at 300dpi with newer models operating at up to 600dpi.

Lateral reversal – A positive or negative image transposed from left to right as in a mirror reflection of the original.

Layflat – See Eurobind.

Layout – A sketch of a page for printing showing the position of text and illustrations and giving general instructions.

Lead or Leading – Space added between lines of type to space out text and provide visual separation of the lines. Measured in points or fractions thereof. Named after the strips of lead which used to be inserted between lines of metal type.

Legend – The descriptive matter printed below an illustration, mostly referred to as a caption. Also an explanation of signs or symbols used in timetables or maps.

Letraset – A proprietary name for rub-down or dry transfer lettering used in preparing artwork.

Lettering – The lettering of a print refers to the information, usually given below the image, concerning the title, artist, publisher, engraver and other such data.

Letterpress – A relief printing process in which a raised image is inked to produce an impression; the impression is then transferred by placing paper against image and applying pressure.

Letterset – A printing process combining offset printing with a letterpress relief printing plate.

Letterspacing – The addition of space between the letters of words to increase the line-length to a required width or to improve the appearance of a line.

Library picture – A picture taken from an existing library and not specially commissioned.

Ligature – Letters which are joined together as a single unit of type such as oe and fi.

Lightface – Type having finer strokes than the medium typeface. Not used as frequently as medium.

Limited Edition – A limited edition print is one in which a limit is placed on the number of impressions pulled in order to create a scarcity of the print. Limited editions are usually numbered and are often signed. Limited editions are a relatively recent development, dating from the late nineteenth century. Earlier prints were limited in the number of their impressions solely by market demand or by the maximum number that could be printed by the medium used. The inherent physical limitations of the print media and the relatively small size of the pre-twentieth century print market meant that non-limited edition prints from before the late nineteenth century were in fact quite limited in number even though not intentionally so. German printmaker Adam von Bartsch, in his 1821 Anleitung zur Kupferstichkunde, estimated the maximum number of quality impressions it was possible to pull using different print media.

* Engraving: 500 (and about the same number of weaker images)
* Stipple: 500 (and about the same number of weaker images)
* Mezzotint: 300 to 400, though the quality suffers after the first 150
* Aquatint: Less than 200
* Wood block: Up to 10,000

It was only with the development of lithography and of steel-facing of metal plates in the nineteenth century that tens of thousands of impressions could be pulled without a loss of quality. These technological developments led to the idea of making limited edition prints, by which printmakers created an appearance of rarity and individuality for multiple-impression art.

Line block – A letterpress printing plate made up of solid areas and lines and without tones.

Line copy – High contrast copy not requiring a halftone.

Line gauge – A metal rule used by printers. Divided into Picas it is 72 picas long (11.952in).

Linen tester – A magnifying glass designed for checking the dot image of a halftone.

Lines per inch – The number of rows of dots per inch in a halftone.

Lineup table – A table with an illuminated top used for preparing and checking alignment of page layouts and paste-ups.

Lining figures – Numerals that align on the baseline and at the top.

Linotype – Manufacturers of a range of high resolution phototypesetting machines such as the 100, 202, 300 and 500. The 100, 300 and 500 series are capable of processing PostScript files through an external RIP and typesetting desktop publishing files direct from disk at 1270dpi and beyond.

Lithography – A printing process based on the principle of the natural aversion of water to grease. The photographically prepared printing plate when being made is treated chemically so that the image will accept ink and reject water.

Logo – Short for logotype. A word or combination of letters set as a single unit. Also used to denote a specially styled company name designed as part of a corporate image.

Logotype – The primary name element of the identity and the font specified for it, Times New Roman

Loose leaf – A method of binding which allows the insertion and removal of pages for continuous updating.

Loupe – A magnifying glass used to review a printed image, plate and position film.

Lower case – The small letters in a font of type.


M (Megabyte) – One million bytes.

M – Abbreviation for a quantity of 1000 sheets of paper

Machine glazed (MG) – Paper with a high gloss finish on one side only.

Macro – A series of instructions which would normally be issued one at a time on the keyboard to control a program. a macro facility allows them to be stored and issued automatically by a single keystroke.

Magenta – Process red, one of the basic colours in process colour.

Magnetic ink – A magnetized ink that can be read both by humans and by electronic machines. Used in cheque printing.

Makeready – All the activities required to prepare a press for printing.

Make-up – The assembling of all elements, to form the printed image.

Making ready – The time spent in making ready the level of the printing surface by packing out under the forme or around the impression cylinder.

Manilla – A tough brown paper used to produce stationery and wrapping paper.

Manuscript (MS) – The original written or typewritten work of an author submitted for publication.

Marginal words – Call outs for directions on various parts of a business form.

Margins – The non printing areas of page.

Mark – The stylized character or characters that identifies Corporations, Affiliates, Services and Centers; always appears with the logotype as part of the identity

Mark up – Copy prepared for a compositor setting out in detail all the typesetting instructions.

Mask – Opaque material or masking tape used to block-off an area of the artwork.

Mask – Blocking light from reaching parts of a printing plate.

Masthead – Details of publisher and editorial staff usually printed on the contents page.

Matchprint – Trade name for 3M integral colour proof.

Matrix – A matrix is an object upon which a design has been formed and which is then used to make an impression on a piece of paper, thus creating a print. A {wood} block, {metal} plate, or {lithographic} stone can be used as a matrix.

Matt art – A coated printing paper with a dull surface.

Matte finish – Dull paper or ink finish.

Measure – Denotes the width of a setting expressed in pica ems.

Mechanical binding – A method of binding which secures pre-trimmed leaves by the insertion of wire or plastic spirals through holes drilled in the binding edge.

Mechanical separation – Mechanical art overlay for each colour to be printed.

Mechanical tint – A pre-printed sheet of dots, lines or patterns that can be laid down on artwork for reproduction.

Mechanical – Camera ready art all contained on one board.

Memory – The part of the computer which stores information for immediate access. Nowadays this consists exclusively of RAM, random access memory, which holds the applications software and data or ROM, read only memory, which holds permanent information such as the DOS bootstrap routines. Memory size is expressed in K or M.

Menu-driven – Programs which allow the user to request functions by choosing from a list of options.

Metallic ink – Printing inks which produce an effect gold, silver, bronze or metallic colours.

MG (Machine glazed) – Paper with a high gloss finish on one side only.

Micrometer – Instrument used to measure the thickness of different papers.

Middle tones – The tones in a photograph that are approximately half as dark as the shadow area.

Mixed Method – A mixed method print is one whose design is created on a single matrix using a variety of printmaking techniques, for example: line engraving, stipple, and etching.

Mock-up – The rough visual of a publication or design.

Modem (MOdulator-DEModulator) – A device for converting digital data into audio signals and back again. Primarily used for transmitting data between computers over telephone lines.

Modern – Refers to type styles introduced towards the end of the 19th century. Times roman is a good example of modern type.

Moire pattern – The result of superimposing half-tone screens at the wrong angle thereby giving a chequered effect on the printed half-tone. Normally detected during the stage of progressive proofs.

Monospace – A font in which all characters occupy the same amount of horizontal width regardless of the character.

Montage – A single image formed from the assembling of several images.

Mounting board – A heavy board used for mounting artwork.

Mouse – A handheld pointing device using either mechanical motion or special optical techniques to convert the movement of the user’s hand into movements of the cursor on the screen. Generally fitted with one, two or three buttons which can control specific software.

MS (Manuscript) – The original written or typewritten work of an author submitted for publication.

Mutt – A typesetting term for the em space.


Negative – The image on film that makes the white areas of originals black and black areas white.

Newsprint – Unsized, low quality, absorbent paper used for printing newspapers.

Nipping – A stage in book binding where after sewing the sheets are pressed to expel air.

Non-reproducing blue – A blue colour the camera cannot see. Used in marking up artwork.

Numbered Print – A numbered print is one which is part of a limited edition and which has been numbered by hand. The numbering is usually in the form of x/y, where y stands for the total number of impressions in this edition and x represents the specific number of the print. The number of a print always indicates the order in which the prints were numbered, not necessarily the order in which the impressions were pulled. This, together with the fact that later impressions are sometime superior to earlier pulls, means that lower numbers do not generally indicate better quality impressions. As with signed prints, the numbering of prints is a development of the late nineteenth century.


Oblique stroke – /

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) – A special kind of scanner which provides a means of reading printed characters on documents and converting them into digital codes that can be read into a computer as actual text rather than just a picture.

Offprint – A run-on or reprint of an article first published in a magazine or journal.

Offset lithography – (see Lithography) a printing method whereby the image is transferred from a plate onto a rubber covered cylinder from which the printing takes place.

Offset paper – Term for uncoated book paper.

Offsetting – Using an intermediate surface used to transfer ink. Also, an unpleasant happening when the images of freshly printed sheets transfer images to each other.

Ok sheet – Final approved colour inking sheet before production begins.

Oldstyle (US) – A style of type characterised by stressed strokes and triangular serifs. An example of an oldstyle face is Garamond.

Onion skin – A translucent lightweight paper used in air mail stationery.

Opacity – The amount of show-through on a printed sheet. The more opacity or the thicker the paper the less show-through. (The thicker/heavier the paper the higher the cost.)

Optical centre – A point above the true centre of the page which will not appear ‘low’ as the geometric centre does.

Optical Disks – Video disks on which large amounts of information can be stored in binary form representing characters of text or images. The disks cannot be used to view the information using a modified compact disk player and TV. Mainly used for reference works such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.

Original Print – An original print is one printed from a matrix on which the design was created by hand and issued as part of the original publishing venture or as part of a connected, subsequent publishing venture. For fine art prints the criteria used is more strict. A fine art print is original only if the artist both conceived and had a direct hand in the production of the print. An original print should be distinguished from a reproduction, which is produced photomechanically, and from a restrike, which is produced as part of a later, unconnected publishing venture.

Orphan – Line of type on its own at the top or bottom of a page.

Outline – A typeface in which the characters are formed with only the outline defined rather than from solid strokes.

Outline halftone – Removing the background of a picture or silhouetting an image in a picture.

Overlay – A transparent sheet used in the preparation of multi- colour artwork showing the colour breakdown.

Overprinting – Printing over an area already printed. Used to emphasise changes or alterations.

Overrun or overs – Copies printed in excess of the specified quantity. (Printing trade terms allow for + – 10 % to represent a completed order.)

Overs – Additional paper required to compensate for spoilage in printing. Also used to refer to a quantity produced above the number of copies ordered.

Overstrike – A method used in word processing to produce a character not in the typeface by superimposing two separate characters, eg $ using s and l.

Ozalid – A trade name to describe a method of copying page proofs from paper or film.


Page count – Total number of pages in a book including blanks.

Page Description Language (PDL) – A special form of programming language which enables both text and graphics (object or bit-image) to be described in a series of mathematical statements. Their main benefit is that they allow the applications software to be independent of the physical printing device as opposed to the normal case where specific routines have to be written for each device. Typical PDLs include Interpress, imPress, PostScript and DDL.

Page Printer – The more general (and accurate) name used to describe non-impact printers which produce a complete page in one action. Examples include laser, LED and LCD shutter xerographic printers, ion deposition, electro-erosion and electro-photographic printers.

Page proofs – The stage following galley proofs, in which pages are made up and paginated.

PageMaker – The software program from Aldus Corporation that everyone associates with desktop publishing due to its immense success on the Apple Macintosh. Now available on both the Macintosh and the PC it is still used as a benchmark product although certain aspects of its design are coming under attack from other, more recent, products.

Pagination – The numbering of pages in a book.

Pantone – A registered name for an ink colour matching system.

Paper – Laid paper is made by hand in a mold, where the wires used to support the paper pulp emboss their pattern into the paper. “Laid lines” are made by the closely laid wires running the length of the frame; these are crossed at wider intervals by “chain lines,” which are made by the wires woven across these long wires to hold them into place. This pattern of crossing lines can be seen when the paper is held up to light. Laid paper often has a watermark. Wove paper is made by machine on a belt and lacks the laid lines. False laid lines can be added to machine-made paper. Though wove paper was invented in the eighteenth century and laid paper is still produced, the majority of prints made prior to 1800 are on laid paper and the majority of prints made subsequently are on wove paper. China paper is a very thin paper, originally made in China, which is used for chine appliqué prints.

Paper plate – A short run offset printing plate on which matter can be typed directly.

Paper Stock – Term used to describe specifications for paper, often designated by the manufacturer or mill’s name and weight

Paragraph mark – A type symbol used to denote the start of a paragraph. Also used as a footnote sign.

Parallel fold – A method of folding; e.g. two parallel folds will produce a six page sheet.

Paste up – The various elements of a layout mounted in position to form camera-ready artwork.

Pattern carbon – Special carbon paper used in business forms that only transfers in certain areas.

Perfect bind – A type of binding that glues the edge of sheets to a cover like a telephone book, Microsoft software manual, or Country Living Magazine.

Perfect binding – A common method of binding paperback books. After the printed sections having been collated, the spines will be ground off and the cover glued on.

Perfecting press – A sheet fed printing press that prints both sides of a sheet in one pass.

Perfector – A printing press which prints both sides of the paper at one pass through the machine.

Photogravure – (see Gravure) a printing process where the image is etched into the plate cylinder. The main advantage of this method of printing is the high speed, long run capability. Used mainly for mail order and magazine work.

Pi fonts – Characters not usually included in a font, but which are added specially. Examples of these are timetable symbols and mathematical signs.

Pica – A printing industry unit of measurement. There are 12 points to a pica, one pica is approximately 0.166in.

Picking – The effect of ink being too tacky and lifting fibres out of the paper. Shows up as small white dots on areas of solid colour.

Picking – Printers nightmare that occurs as the surface of a sheet lifts off during printing. Generally a paper manufactures quality control problem.

Pin register – A standard used to fit film to film and film to plates and plates to press to assure the proper registration of printer colours.

Pipelining – The ability of a program to flow automatically text from the end of one column or page to the beginning of the next. An extra level of sophistication can be created by allowing the flow to be re-directed to any page and not just the next available. This is ideal for US-style magazines where everything is ‘Continued on…’!

Planographic – A planographic print is one whose image is printed off a flat surface from a design drawn on a stone or plate using a grease crayon or with a greasy ink. In this type of print the printing ink is absorbed by the greasy design on the stone and is transferred to the paper under light pressure.

Plate – A {metal} plate is a flat sheet of metal, usually copper, steel or zinc, used as a matrix for a print. Metal plates are used for intaglio prints and for some lithographs.

Plate gap – Gripper space. The area where the grippers hold the sheet as it passes through the press.

Platemark – A platemark is the rectangular ridge created in the paper of a print by the edge of an intaglio plate. Unlike a relief or planographic print, an intaglio print is printed under considerable pressure, thus creating the platemark when the paper is forced together with the plate. Some reproductions have a false platemark.

PMS – The abbreviated name of the Pantone Colour Matching System.

PMT – Abbreviated name for photomechanical transfer. Often used to make position prints.

Pochoir – Hand-printed image using a stencil. Sometimes used to apply color to a printed image.

Point – The standard unit of type size of which there are 72 to the inch (one point is approximately 0.01383in). Point size is the measured from the top of the ascender to the bottom of the descender.

Portrait – An upright image or page where the height is greater than the width.

Positive – A true photographic image of the original made on paper or film.

PostScript – A page description language developed by Adobe Systems. Widely supported by both hardware and software vendors it represents the current ‘standard’ in the market. John Warnock and Chuck Geschke of Adobe both worked for Xerox at the Palo Alto Research Centre where PDLs were invented and set up their company to commercially exploit the concepts they had helped develop.

PostScript – The computer language most recognized by printing devices.

Press number – A method of numbering manufacturing business forms or tickets.

Pressure-sensitive paper – Paper material with self sticking adhesive covered by a backing sheet.

Preview mode – A mode where word processing or desktop publishing software which doesn’t operate in WYSIWYG fashion can show a representation of the output as it will look when printed. The quality ranges from acceptable to worse than useless.

Primary colours – Cyan, magenta and yellow. These three colours when mixed together with black will produce a reasonable reproduction of all other colours.

Print – A single print is a piece of paper upon which an image has been imprinted from a matrix. In a general sense, a print is the set of all the impressions made from the same matrix. By its nature, a print can have multiple impressions.

Print Cabinet – A term used for a print collection in a museum or library. In French, Cabinet des estampes; in German, Drucke kabinett

Print engine – The parts of a page printer which perform the print-imaging, fixing and paper transport. in fact, everything but the controller.

Printer Command Language – A language developed by Hewlett Packard for use with its own range of printers. Essentially a text orientated language, it has been expanded to give graphics capability.

Process blue – The blue or cyan colour in process printing.

Process colours – Cyan (blue), magenta (process red), yellow (process yellow), black (process black).

Progressives – Colour proofs taken at each stage of printing showing each colour printed singly and then superimposed on the preceding colour.

Proof – A proof is an impression of a print pulled prior to the regular, published edition of the print. A trial or working proof is one taken before the design on the matrix is finished. These proofs are pulled so that the artist can see what work still needs to be done to the matrix. Once a printed image meets the artist’s expectations, this becomes a bon à tirer (“good to pull”) proof. This proof is often signed by the artist to indicate his approval and is used for comparison purposes by the printer. An artist’s proof is an impression issued extra to the regular numbered edition and reserved for the artist’s own use. Artist’s proofs are usually signed and are sometimes marked “A.P.”, “E.A.” or “H.C.” Commercial publishers found that there was a financial advantage to offering so-called “proofs” for sale and so developed other types of proofs to offer to collectors, generally at higher prices.

* Proof before letters (Avant les lettres): An impression pulled before the title is added below the image.
* Scratched letter proof: An impression in which the title is lightly etched below the image.
* Remarque proof: An impression pulled before the remarque is removed.

Proof correction marks – A standard set of signs and symbols used in copy preparation and to indicate corrections on proofs. Marks are placed both in the text and in the margin.

Proportional spacing – A method of spacing whereby each each character is spaced to accommodate the varying widths of letters or figures, so increasing readability. Books and magazines are set proportionally spaced, typewritten documents are generally monospaced.

Pull-down menus – Developed from Xerox research (like just about everything else we take for granted in desktop publishing) these are a method of providing user control over software without cluttering up the screen with text. Using the mouse or cursor keys the user points to the main heading of the menu he or she wants and the menu pulls (Windows) or drops (GEM) from the heading. When the required function has been selected the menu rolls back up into the menu bar leaving the screen clear.

Pulp – The raw material used in paper making consisting mainly of wood chips, rags or other fibres. Broken down by mechanical or chemical means.


Quadding – The addition of space to fill out a line of type using en or em blocks.

QuarkXpress – Page layout desktop publishing software.

Quire – 1/20th of a ream (25 sheets).


Rag paper – High quality stationery made from cotton rags.

Ragged – Lines of type that do not start or end at the same position.

Ragged left – Type that is justified to the right margin and the line lengths vary on the left.

Ragged right – Type that is justified to the left margin and the line lengths vary on the right.

Ranged left/right – Successive lines of type which are of unequal length and which are aligned at either the right or left hand column.

Raster Image Processor (RIP) – The hardware engine which calculates the bit-mapped image of text and graphics from a series of instructions. It may, or may not, understand a page description language but the end result should, if the device has been properly designed, be the same. Typical RIPs which aren’t PDL-based include the Tall Trees JLaser, the LaserMaster and AST’s TurboLaser controller. A basic page printer comes with a controller and not a RIP which goes some way to explaining the lack of control.

Ream – 500 sheets of paper.

Recto – Right-hand page of an open book.

Reference marks – Symbols used in text to direct the reader to a footnote. Eg asterisk (*), dagger, double dagger, section mark ( ), paragraph mark ( ).

Reflective copy – Copy that is not transparent.

Register – The correct positioning of an image especially when printing one colour on another.

Register marks – Used in colour printing to position the paper correctly. Usually crosses or circles.

Register marks – Cross-hair lines or marks on film, plates, and paper that guide strippers, platemakers, pressmen, and bindery personnel in processing a print order from start to finish.

Register – To position print in the proper position in relation to the edge of the sheet and to other printing on the same sheet.

Relief – A relief print is one whose image is printed from a design raised on the surface of a block. In this type of print the ink lies on the top of the block and is transferred to the paper under light pressure.

Remarque – A remarque is a small vignette image in the margin of a print, often related thematically to the main image. Originally remarques were scribbled sketches made in the margins of etchings so that the artist could test the plate, his needles, or the strength of the etching acid prior to working on the main image. These remarques were usually removed prior to the first publication of the print. During the etching revival, in the late nineteenth century, remarques became popular as an additional design element in prints and were also used in the creation of remarque proofs.

Reproduction – A reproduction is a copy of an original print or other art work whose matrix design is transferred from the original by a photomechanical process. A facsimile is a reproduction done to the same scale and appearance as the original.

Resolution – The measurement used in typesetting to express quality of output. Measured in dots per inch, the greater the number of dots, the more smoother and cleaner appearance the character/image will have. Currently Page (laser) Printers print at 300, 406 and 600dpi. Typesetting machines print at 1,200 dpi or more.

Rest in Proportion (RIP) – An instruction when giving sizes to artwork or photographs that other parts of the artwork are to be enlarged or reduced in proportion.

Restrike – A restrike is a print produced from the matrix of an original print, but which was not printed as part of the original publishing venture or as part of a connected, subsequent publishing venture. A restrike is a later impression from an unrelated publishing project.

Retouching – A means of altering artwork or colour separations to correct faults or enhance the image.

Reverse out – To reproduce as a white image out of a solid background.

Reverse – The opposite of what you see. Printing the background of an image. For example; type your name on a piece of paper. The reverse of this would be a black piece of paper with a white name.

Revise – Indicates the stages at which corrections have been incorporated from earlier proofs and new proofs submitted. E.g. First revise, second revise.

RGB – Red, green, blue- additive primary colors; designation for most computer monitors

Right reading – A positive or negative which reads from left to right.

Rip film – A method of making printing negatives from PostScript files created by desktop publishing.

Roman – Type which has vertical stems as distinct from italics or oblique which are set at angles.

Rotary press – A web or reel fed printing press which uses a curved printing plate mounted on the plate cylinder.

Rough – A preliminary sketch of a proposed design.

Royal – A size of printing paper 20in x 25in (508 x 635mm).

Ruler – Rulers displayed on the screen that show measures in inches, picas or millimetres.

Runaround (see also Text wrap) – The ability within a program to run text around a graphic image within a document, without the need to adjust each line manually.

Running head – A line of type at the top of a page which repeats a heading.


S/S (Same size) – An instruction to reproduce to the same size as the original.

Saddle stitch – Binding a booklet or magazine with staples in the seam where it folds.

Saddle stitching – A method of binding where the folded pages are stitched through the spine from the outside, using wire staples. Usually limited to 64 pages size.

Sans serif – A typeface that has no serifs (small strokes at the end of main stroke of the character).

Scale – The means within a program to reduce or enlarge the amount of space an image will occupy. Some programs maintain the aspect ratio between width and height whilst scaling, thereby avoiding distortion.

Scaling – A means of calculating the amount of enlargement or reduction necessary to accommodate a photograph within the area of a design.

Scamp – A sketch of a design showing the basic concept.

Scanner – A digitising device using light sensitivity to translate a picture or typed text into a pattern of dots which can be understood and stored by a computer. To obtain acceptable quality when scanning photographs, at least 64 grey scales are required.

Score – A crease put on paper to help it fold better.

Scraperboard – A board prepared with black indian ink over a china clay surface. Drawings are produced by scraping away the ink to expose the china clay surface.

Screen angles – Frequently a desktop publishers nightmare. The angles at which halftone, duo tones, tri tones, and colour separation printing films are placed to make them look right.

Section – A printed sheet folded to make a multiple of pages.

Security paper – Paper incorporating special features (dyes, watermarks etc) for use on cheque’s.

Self-cover – Using the same paper as the text for the cover.

Serif – A small cross stroke at the end of the main stroke of the letter.

Set off – The accidental transfer of the printed image from one sheet to the back of another.

Set size – The width of the type body of a given point size.

Set solid – Type set without leading (line spacing) between the lines. Type is often set with extra space; e.g. 9 point set on 10 point.

Shadow – The darkest areas of a photograph.

Sheet – A single piece of paper. In poster work refers to the number of Double Crown sets in a full size poster.

Sheet fed – A printing press which prints single sheets of paper, not reels.

Sheetwise – A method of printing a section. Half the pages from a section are imposed and printed. The remaining half of the pages are then printed on the other side of the sheet.

Show-through – See opacity.

Show-through – Printing on one side of a sheet that can be seen on the other side of the sheet.

Side guide – The mechanical register unit on a printing press that positions a sheet from the side.

Side heading – A subheading set flush into the text at the left edge.

Side stabbed or stitched – The folded sections of a book are stabbed through with wire staples at the binding edge, prior to the covers being drawn on.

Sidebar – A vertical bar positioned usually on the right hand side of the screen.

Signature – A letter or figure printed on the first page of each section of a book and used as a guide when collating and binding.

Signed – A signed print is one signed, in pencil or ink, by the artist and/or engraver of the print. A print is said to be signed in the plate if the artist’s signature is incorporated into the matrix and so appears as part of the printed image. Proof prints were originally signed as “proof” that the impression met the artist’s expectation. Later proof prints were signed in order to add commercial value to these impressions. In the late nineteenth century, in response to the development of photomechanical reproduction techniques, fine arts prints were signed by the artists in order to distinguish between original prints and reproductions. Seymour Haden and James McNeil Whistler are usually credited with introducing this practice in the 1880s.

Signature – A sheet of printed pages which when folded become a part of a book or publication.

Silhouette halftone – A term used for an outline halftone.

Sixteen sheet – A poster size measuring 120in x 80in (3050mm x 2030mm).

Size – A solution based on starch or casein which is added to the paper to reduce ink absorbency.

Skid – A pallet used for a pile of cut sheets.

Slurring – A smearing of the image, caused by paper slipping during the impression stage.

Small caps – A set of capital letters which are smaller than standard and are equal in size to the lower case letters for that type size.

Snap-to(guide or rules) – A WYSIWYG program feature for accurately aligning text or graphics. The effect is exercised by various non-printing guidelines such as column guides, margin guides which automatically places the text or graphics in the correct position flush to the column guide when activated by the mouse. The feature is optional and can be turned off.

Soft back/cover – A book bound with a paper back cover.

Soft or discretionary hyphen – A specially coded hyphen which is only displayed when formatting of the hyphenated word puts it at the end of a line.

Specifications – A precise description of a print order.

Spell check – A facility contained in certain word processing and page makeup programs to enable a spelling error check to be carried out. Dictionaries of American origin may not conform to English standards and the option should be available within the program to modify the contents. Dictionaries usually contain between 60,000-100,000 words.

Spine – The binding edge at the back of a book.

Split fountain – Putting more than one ink in a printing fountain to achieve special colour affects.

Spoilage – Planned paper waste for all printing operations.

Spot varnish – Varnish used to hi light a specific part of the printed sheet.

SRA – A paper size in the series of ISO international paper sizes slightly larger than the A series allowing the printer extra space to bleed.

Stamping – Term for foil stamping.

Stat – Term for inexpensive print of line copy or halftone.

State – A state of a print includes all the impressions pulled without any change being made to the matrix. A first state print is one of the first group of impressions pulled. Different states of a print can reflect intentional or accidental changes to the matrix. States of a print should be distinguished from editions of a print. There can be several editions of a print which are the same state, and there can be several states of a print in the same edition.

Stem – The main vertical stroke making up a type character.

Step-and-repeat – A procedure for placing the same image on plates in multiple places.

Stet – Used in proof correction work to cancel a previous correction. From the Latin; ‘let it stand’.

Stock – The material to be printed.

Stone – A {lithographic} stone is a slab of stone, usually limestone, used as a matrix for a print. Lithographic stones are used to make lithographs and chromolithographs.

Strap – A subheading used above the main headline in a newspaper article.

Strawboard – A thicker board made from straw pulp, used in book work and in the making of envelopes and cartons. Not suitable for printing.

Strike-through – The effect of ink soaking through the printed sheet.

Stripping – The positioning of film on a flat prior to platemaking.

Style sheet – A collection of tags specifying page layout styles, paragraph settings and type specifications which can be set up by the user and saved for use in other documents. Some page makeup programs, such as Ventura, come with a set of style sheets.

Subscript – The small characters set below the normal letters or figures.

Substance weight – A term of basis weight when referring to bond papers.

Substrate – Any surface on which printing is done.

Supercalendered paper – A smooth finished paper with a polished appearance, produced by rolling the paper between calenders. Examples of this are high gloss and art papers.

Superscript – The small characters set above the normal letters or figures.

Surprint (US) – (see Overprinting) printing over a previously printed area of either text or graphics.

Swash letters – Italic characters with extra flourishes used at the beginning of chapters.

Swatch – A colour sample.


Tabloid – A page half the size of a broadsheet.

Tabular setting – Text set in columns such as timetables.

Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) – A common format for interchanging digital information, generally associated with greyscale or bitmap data.

Tags – The various formats which make up a style sheet- paragraph settings, margins and columns, page layouts, hyphenation and justification, widow and orphan control and automatic section numbering.

Template – A standard layout usually containing basic details of the page dimensions.

Text – The written or printed material which forms the main body of a publication.

Text paper – Grades of uncoated paper with textured surfaces.

Text type – Typefaces used for the main text of written material. Generally no larger than 14 point in size.

Text wrap – See Runaround.

Thermography – A print finishing process producing a raised image imitating die stamping. The process takes a previously printed image which before the ink is dry is dusted with a resinous powder. The application of heat causes the ink and powder to fuse and a raised image is formed.

Thin space – The thinnest space normally used to separate words.

Thirty two sheet – A poster size measuring 120in x 160in (3048mm x 4064mm).

Threaded or Chained (US)  – See Pipelining.

Thumbnails – The first ideas or sketches of a designer noted down for future reference.

Tied letters – See Ligature.

Tint – The effect of adding white to a solid colour or of screening a solid area.

Tints – A shade of a single colour or combined colours.

Tip in – The separate insertion of a single page into a book either during or after binding by pasting one edge.

Tissue overlay – Usually a thin transparent paper placed over artwork for protection uses for marking colour breaks and other printer instructions.

Tone line process – The process of producing line art from a continuous tone original.

Toolbox – An on screen mouse operated facility that allows the user to choose from a selection of ‘tools’ to create simple geometric shapes- lines, boxes, circles etc. and to add fill patterns.

Transfer tape – A peel and stick tape used in business forms.

Transparency – A positive photographic slide on film allowing light to pass through.

Transparent copy – A film that light must pass through for it to be seen or reproduced.

Transparent ink – A printing ink that does not conceal the colour under it.

Trapping – The ability to print one ink over the other.

Trash can (US) – The icon selected for the deleting of files or objects.

Trim – The cutting of the finished product to the correct size. Marks are incorporated on the printed sheet to show where the trimming is to be made.

Trim marks – Similar to crop or register marks. These marks show where to trim the printed sheet.

Trim size – The final size of one printed image after the last trim is made.

Turnkey – A system designed for a specific user and to work as an integrated unit. Usually has built-in contractual responsibilities for hardware and software maintenance.

Twin wire – Paper which has an identical smooth finish on both sides.

Typeface – The raised surface carrying the image of a type character cast in metal. Also used to refer to a complete set of characters forming a family in a particular design or style.

Typescript – A typed manuscript.

Typo (US) – An abbreviation for typographical error. An error in the typeset copy.

Typographer – A specialist in the design of printed matter, and in particular the art of typography.

Typography – The design and planning of printed matter using type.


U&lc – An abbreviation for UPPER and lower case.

Under-run – Production of fewer copies than ordered. See over run.

Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) – Gives protection to authors or originators of text, photographs or illustrations etc, to prevent use without permission or acknowledgment. The publication should carry the copyright mark c, the name of the originator and the year of publication.

Up – Printing two or three up means printing multiple copies of the same image on the same sheet.

UV coating – Liquid laminate bonded and cured with ultraviolet light. Environmentally friendly.


Varnishing – A finishing process whereby a transparent varnish is applied over the printed sheet to produce a glossy finish.

Vellum – The treated skin of a calf used as a writing material. The name is also used to describe a thick creamy book paper.

Ventura Publisher – The desktop publishing package marketed by Xerox. The Ventura approach is a document-oriented one working on the basis that each page will have a similar format. The package with its lends itself to the production of manuals and directories.

Verso – The left hand page of an open book.

Vertical justification – The ability to adjust the interline spacing (leading) and manipulation of text in fine increments to make columns and pages end at the same point on a page.

Vignette – A vignette is an image that does not have a definite border around it. This term also applies to a small image that is part of a larger print.

Vignette halftone – A halftone whose background gradually fades to white.


Washup – Removing printing ink from a press, washing the rollers and blanket. Certain ink colours require multiple washups to avoid ink and chemical contamination.

Waste – A term for planned spoilage.

Watermark – A distinctive design created in paper at the time of manufacture that can be easily seen by holding the paper up to a light.

Web – A continuous roll of printing paper used on web-fed presses.

Web press – The name of a type of presses that print from rolls of paper.

Web – A roll of printing paper.

Weight – The degree of boldness or thickness of a letter or font.

Wf – An abbreviation for ‘wrong fount’. Used when correcting proofs to indicate where a character is in the wrong typeface.

Widow – A single word left on the last line of a paragraph which falls at the top of a page.

Windows – A software technique that allows a rectangular area of a computer screen to display output from a program. With a number of programs running at one time, several windows can appear on the screen at one time. Information can be cut and pasted from one window to another. The best known version of “windows” is that developed by Microsoft.

Wire – The wire mesh used at the wet end of the paper making process. The wire determines the textures of the paper.

Wire O – A bindery trade name for mechanical binding using double loops of wire through a hole.

Wire stitching – See saddle or side stitching.

Wire-O binding – A method of wire binding books along the binding edge that will allow the book to lay flat using double loops. See Wire O.

With the grain – Folding or feeding paper into the press or folder parallel to the grain of the paper.

Woodfree paper – Made from chemical pulp only with size added. Supplied calendered or supercalendered.

Word break – The division of a word at the end of a line.

Word wrap – In word processing, the automatic adjustment of the number of words on a line of text to match the margin settings. The carriage returns set up by this method are termed “soft”, as against “hard” carriage returns resulting from the return key being pressed.

Work and tumble – A method of printing where pages are again imposed together. The sheet is then printed on one side with the sheet being turned or tumbled from front to rear to print the opposite side.

Work and turn – A method of printing where pages are imposed in one forme or assembled on one film. One side is then printed and the sheet is then turned over and printed from the other edge using the same forme. The finished sheet is then cut to produce two complete copies.

Wove – A finely textured paper without visible wire marks.

WYSIWYG – What-you-see-is-what-you-get (pronounced “wizzywig”) – used to describe systems that preview full pages on the screen with text and graphics. The term can however be a little misleading due to difference in the resolution of the computer screen and that of the page printer.


Xerography – A photocopying/printing process in which the image is formed using the electrostatic charge principle. The toner replaces ink and can be dry or liquid. Once formed, the image is sealed by heat. Most page printers currently use this method of printing.

X-height – The height of a letter excluding the ascenders and descenders; e.g. ‘x’, which is also height of the main body.



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