Art that Works
since 1972

Glossary of design and printing terms.


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A sizes: main series of finished printing trimmed sizes in the ISO international paper size range.

A0    841mm x 1189mm
A1    594mm x 841mm
A2    420mm x 594mm
A3    297mm x 420mm
A4    210mm x 297mm
A5    148mm x 210mm
A6    105mm x 148mm
A7      74mm x 105mm

Accordion fold: Two or more parallel folds which open like an Accordion or Concertina. (See Folding).

Acetate: a transparent sheet placed over artwork allowing the artist to write instructions or indicate where 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.

Adhesive binding: style of threadless binding in which the leaves of a book are held together at the binding edge by glue or synthetic adhesive and suitable lining.

Adobe Acrobat: Suite of applications to create and view PDF files.

ADSL: Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. A service offering a faster internet connection than a standard dial-up or ISDN connection.

Against the grain: Paper is made up of fibres aligned in one direction (the grain). Against the grain means at right angles to the grain direction of the paper.

Air: the amount of white space in a layout.

Airbrush: a mechanical painting tool producing an adjustable spray of paint driven by compressed air. Also a digital painting tool in photo editing software. Used in illustration, design and photo retouching. 

Aliasing: The term is commonly applied to spatial aliasing, which appears as visible pixelation - a blocky or jagged effect - especially with near horizontal or near vertical lines of high contrast.

Align: quotient of the grammage of a paper and its thickness in micrometers.

Alley: The space between columns within a page. Not to be confused with the gutter, which is the combination of the inside margins of two facing pages.

Alpha channel: A special 8-bit grayscale channel that is used for saving a selection.

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

Anodised plate: an offset printing plate with a specially treated surface to reduce wear during printing.

Anti-alias: The blending of pixel colours on the perimeter of hard-edged shapes, like type, to smooth undesirable edges (jaggies).

Application: A computer programme designed for a particular use, such as a word processor or page layout programme.

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

Artwork: Originally the physical art (sometimes referred to as paste-up, camera-ready artwork or Mechanical) prepared by the designer and including type, graphics and other originals. This was used by the printer to produce the printing plates.
    Today the artwork exists almost wholly in electronic form. Photographs and illustrations are input to the computer using a scanner. All the elements are assembled using page layout software. Proofs can be made using colour laser or inkjet printers. The computer then separates the 'artwork' and either produces high-resolution films from which the printing plates are made or is output directly to an automated platemaker (see computer-to-plate or CTP).

Ascender: In typography, the parts of lowercase letters that rise above the x-height of the font, e.g. b, d, f, h, k, I, and t.

ASCII: American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This is a standard coding system within the computer industry to convert keyboard input into digital information. It covers all of the printable characters in normal use and control characters such as carriage return and line feed. The full table contains 127 elements.
    Variations and extensions of the basic code are to be found in special applications.

Authors corrections: Corrections made by the author on proofs, that alter the original copy. The cost of making such alterations is charged for, in contrast to printer's errors or house corrections.

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B sizes: ISO International sizes intended primarily for posters, wall charts and similar items. Intermediate between the A series of sizes.

Back: The back of a book is the binding edge. To back a book is to shape the back of a previously rounded book, so as to make a shoulder on either side against which the front and back covers fit closely.

Backing up: to print the reverse side of a printed sheet.

Bank: A lightweight paper, usually less than 60gsm.

Banner: The title of a periodical, which appears on the cover of the magazine and on the first page of the newsletter. It contains the name of the publication and serial information, date, volume, number.

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

Baseline: (typesetting) the line on which the bases of capital letters sit.

Bed: the base on which the Form is held when printing by Letterpress.

Bevel: Adding a bevelled effect to a graphic image gives the image a raised appearance by applying highlight colours and shadow colours to the inside and outside edges.

Binding: Process of fastening papers together.

Bitmap: A grid of pixels or printed dots generated by computer to depict photographs and images. TIF, JPG, GIF are examples of bitmaps.

Bitmapped (mode): The Paint graphics mode describes an image made of pixels where the pixel is either on (black) or off (white).

Black (font): A font that has more weight than the bold version of a typeface.

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: Thick rubber sheet that transfers ink from plate to paper on an offset-litho press.

Bleed: layout, type or pictures that extend beyond the edge of a page and are trimmed off. Illustrations that spread to the edge of the paper without margins are referred to as 'bled off'.

Blend: A smooth transition between two colours, also known as a graduated tint.

Blind Embossing: A type of embossing where no ink is used. The design or text is only visible as a raised area on the paper.

Blind: term applied to a litho plate that has lost its image; also to book covers that are blocked or stamped without the use of ink or metallic effect.

Blister packaging: method of packaging in which an object is placed in a pre-formed, clear plastic tray and backed by a printed card.

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

Block quote: A long quotation - four or more lines - within body text, that is set apart in order to clearly distinguish the authorís words from the words that the author is quoting.

Block: in binding, to impress or stamp a design upon the cover. The design can be blocked in coloured inks, gold leaf or metal foil (see blind). In printing, a letterpress block is the etched copper or zinc plate, mounted on wood or metal from which an illustration is printed.

Blow up: see Enlarge or reduce.

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

Board: paper of more than 200gsm.

Body or body copy: (typesetting) the main text of the work but not including headlines.

Body size: (typesetting) 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.

Body type: Roman, normal, plain, or book - type used for long passages of text, such as stories in a newsletter, magazine, or chapters in a book. Generally sized from 9 point to 14 point.

Bond: A basic paper often used for copying or laser printers. The better quality bond papers, with higher rag content, can be used for letterheads.

Bound Book: a book in which the boards of the cover have first been attached to it, the covering of leather, cloth, or other materials being then affixed to the boards. Bound books are more expensive to produce and much stronger than cased books.

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.

Bristol board: a fine board made in various qualities for drawing.

Broadsheet: any sheet in its basic size (not folded or cut); also denotes a newspaper size.

Broadside: an original term for work printed on one side of a large sheet of paper.

Bromide: a photographic paper used in graphic reproduction, phototypesetting on which a photographic image is created.

Bronzing: an effect produced by dusting wet ink after printing with a metallic powder.

Bulk: relative thickness of a sheet or sheets, for example, a bulky paper and a thin paper both of the same weight display different "bulk".

Burst binding: a type of adhesive binding in which the back of the book block is not sawn off but is slit in place to allow glue to penetrate.

Byline: In newsletter/magazine layout, a credit line for the author of an article.

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C sizes: the C series within the ISO International paper sizes range which is mainly used for envelopes or folders suitable for enclosing stationery in the A series.

Calendered Paper: Paper that has passed through hardened rollers during manufacture to produce a smooth surface.

Calliper: is the thickness of a single sheet. The results are expressed in microns, 1000 microns equals 1 millimetre. The instrument used is the Micrometer.

Callout: An explanatory label for an illustration, often drawn with a leader line pointing to a part of the illustration.

Camera ready: artwork or pasted-up material that is ready for reproduction.

Cap height: In typography, the distance from the baseline to the top of the capital letters.

Caption: An identification (title) for an illustration, usually a brief phrase. The caption should also support the other content.

Carbonless: Paper coated with chemicals that enable transfer of images from one sheet to another with pressure from writing or typing. See NCR (No Carbon Required).

Cartridge: a thick general-purpose paper used for printing, drawing and wrapping.

Case binding: the binding of printing books, which include leather, cloth and other forms of covering.

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

Cast coated: art paper with an exceptionally glossy coated finish usually on one side only.

Cast off: a calculation determining how much space copy will take up when typeset.

Catchline: (typesetting) a temporary headline for identification on the top of a galley proof.

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.

Character count: (typesetting) 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.

Character: Any letter, figure, punctuation, symbol or space

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

Cheque Paper: chemically treated in order to betray any tampering with the writing on the cheques.

Clip art: Ready-made artwork sold or distributed for clipping and pasting into publications. Available in hard-copy books, and in electronic form, as files on disk.

Clipping path: An outline, embedded into the file that tells an application which areas of a picture should be considered transparent.

CMYK: Shorthand for the colours used in 4-colour process printing. Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black, which combined together in varying proportions, can be made to produce the full colour spectrum.

Coated: Paper that has received a coating to achieve a special finish. See Art Paper.

Cold type: (typesetting) type produced without the use of characters cast from molten metal, such as on a VDU.

Collating: The process of assembling the various sections or sheets of a document in the correct order.

Colour proofing: this term describes a wide range of techniques which have been developed to reproduce full colour images from film or digital data available, prior to the actual print run; thus allowing the client, colour separation house and printer to view the "proofed" result, prior to the actual print run.

Colour separations: the division of a multi-coloured original or line copy into the basic (or primary) process colours of yellow, magenta, cyan and black. These should not be confused with the optical primaries, red, green and blue.

Colour spacing: The addition of spaces to congested areas of words or word spacing to achieve a more pleasing appearance after the line has been set normally.

Column centimetre: a measure of area used in newspapers and magazines to calculate the cost of display advertising. A column centimetre is one column wide by one centimetre deep.

Column gutter: The space between columns of type. See Alley.

Column rule: a light faced vertical rule used to separate columns of type.

Comprehensive layout (comp): A blueprint of the publication, showing exactly how the typesetting will be positioned, and the treatment, sizing, and placement of illustrations on the page.

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 font: A font in which the set-widths of the characters is narrower than in the standard typeface. (Note: not the inter-character space -- that is accomplished through tracking).

Continuous stationery: Forms that are produced from reels of paper and then fan folded. These can be either single or multi-part forms.

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.

Contract proof: a coloured, hard copy representation of the printed image, made from the films, or digital data, which will be used to make the final printing plates.
    The word 'contract' comes from the fact that, when signed by the client, a contract is formed, which states that the final printed job should be a close match to the contract proof.

Copy: (typesetting) the written word, any written material intended to be typeset. 

Copyfitting: The fitting of a variable amount of copy within a specific and fixed 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.

Counter: In typography, an enclosed area within a letter, in uppercase, lowercase, and numeric letterforms.

Crease: A printed job can be creased mechanically to make folding easier. There are times when you might want a printed piece delivered flat for ease of storage and then do the folding yourself, manually.

Creep: Phenomenon when middle pages of a folded section extend slightly beyond the outside pages.

Cromalin: The brand name of a colour proofing system produced by Du Pont.

Crop marks: Lines near the margins of artwork or photos indicating where to trim, perforate or fold.

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: (typesetting) a heading set in the body of the text used to break it into easily readable sections.

CTP: (Computer to plate) - a process of printing directly from a computer onto the plate used by a printing press. Overall a CTP plate is cleaner, of better image quality and will provide faster run-up on press with better quality printed copies.

Cursive: used to describe typefaces that resemble written script.

Curves: See Outlines.

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

Cut-in index: style of index in which the divisions are cut into the edge of the book in steps: step index.

Cutlines: Explanatory text, usually full sentences, that provides information about illustrations. Cutlines are sometimes called captions or legends; not to be confused with title-captions, which are headings for the illustration, or key-legends, which are part of the artwork.

Cutter guide: an outline drawn on artwork indicating size and position for die-cutting. The cutter will be manufactured to fit this guide. May be printing or non-printing.

Cyan: The blue colour used in four-colour process printing.

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Dagger and double dagger: (typesetting) symbols used mainly as reference marks for footnotes.

Deboss: Image pressed into paper so it lies below the surface.

Densitometer: a device for measuring the closeness of substance at a specific location on film or printed product, either by reflected or transmitted light. Densitometers vary in their sophistication and the number of features provided, such colour, black-and-white, read-out memory, computer printout etc.

Descender: In typography, the part of the letterform that dips below the baseline; usually refers to lowercase letters and some punctuation, but some typefaces have uppercase letters with descenders.

Desktop publishing: a generic title given to the introduction of computers to typesetting, page composition and image handling. The combination of all these gives electronic control within a single system of what was traditionally a specialist and segmented operation.

DIC: The brand name of a colour matching system produced by Dainippon Ink & Chemicals, Inc. A range of inks are specified and identified by number to produce standard results across the industry.

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

Die-cutting: Process of using sharp metal rules on a wooden block to cut out specialised shapes such as pocket folders or unusual shaped flyers etc.

Digital page composition: DPC, also known as EPCS (electronic page composition system) or CEPS (colour electronic page system). A system designed to take a range of page elements (text, line-work and images) and integrate them into a user-specified format. Image and text input to the system arrive on magnetic tape, by direct system interconnection or directly from an input scanning system.

Digital Printing: These systems work directly from electronic data and avoid the intermediate stage of films. Because these systems use an inherently four-colour process there is no cost saving to be made from using one- or two-colour designs.
    Benefits are for very short runs or for personalised print. Some feel that the quality is not yet to the standard of offset litho, however, some feel that it is.

Digital: describes the use of digital pulses, signals or values to represent data in computer graphics, telecommunications systems and word processing.

Dingbat typeface: A typeface made up of nonalphabetic marker characters, such as arrows, asterisks, encircled numbers.

Discretionary hyphen: A hyphen that will occur only if the word appears at the end of a line, not if the word appears in the middle of a line.

Display type: (typesetting) larger type used for headings etc. Normally about 18 point or larger.

Dither: For digital halftones, the creation of a flat bitmap by simply running dots off or on. All dots are the same size there are simply more of them in dark areas and fewer of them in light areas - as opposed to deep bitmaps used in grayscale images.

Document sizes: As confusing as it may seem, paper size do follow a straightforward system. Try this, take a piece of A4 paper and fold it in half and cut along the fold, you now have two pieces of A5.

Dot gain: A printing defect in which dots print larger than intended, causing darker colours or tones; due to the spreading of ink on stock. The more absorbent the stock, the more dot gain.

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.

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: (typesetting) type faces that can be stored on a disk and then downloaded to the printer when required for printing.

DPI: (dots per inch) - the measurement of resolution for page printers, phototypesetting machines, scanners and graphics screens. The greater the DPI, the finer the print but also the larger the file size.

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.

Drawn-on cover: A paper book cover that is attached to the sewn book by gluing the spine.

Drilling: Making the holes in paper for use in a ring binder. Drills can neatly perforate a much greater thickness of paper than can the kind of hole punch you have in the office.

Drop cap: (typesetting) a large initial letter at the start of the text that drops into the line or lines of text below.

Drop shadow: Drop shadows are those shadows dropping below text or images which gives the illusion of shadows from lighting and gives a 3D effect to the object.

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 make is Letraset.

Dummy (1): A plain white mock-up of a booklet or brochure - not printed but made up using the intended stock. Most printers will make up a dummy if you ask nicely. This is the best way to get a feel for the finished product.

Dummy (2): A mock-up produced by the designer to show how the finished job will look. This will usually involve colour prints from various sources and will therefore not be on the intended stock.

Duotone: A two-colour halftone sometimes used in two-colour printing. Produces a tinted effect using a black and white original.

Duplex Cutting: operation of converting a web paper into sheets on a cutting machine equipped with two cross-cut knives so that two different lengths of sheet can be cut simultaneously.

Duplex Printing: printing both sides of the sheet. Usually associated with laser printers and photocopiers.

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© - Last Updated 23 Oct, 2019

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