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Glossary of design and printing terms.


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Egyptian type: Originally, from 1815 on, bold face with heavy slabs or square serifs.

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 the internet 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 space: A space as wide as the point size of the types. This measurement is relative; in 12-point type an em space is 12 points wide, but in 24-point type an em space is 24 points wide.

Emboss: Embossing a graphic image adds dimension to it by making the image appear as if it were carved as a projection from a flat background.

Embossing: Stamping a design into the paper to produce a raised effect. See Blind Embossing.

En space: A space half as wide as the type is high (half an em space)

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

Enlarge or reduce: to increase the size of an image either photographically or digitally. Usually expressed as a percentage of the original size (same size = 100%). Reductions are less than 100%; enlargements are more than 100%. (See scale).

Expanded (font): A font in which the set widths of the characters are wider than in the standard typeface. (Note: not the intercharacter space - that is accomplished through letterspacing - but the characters themselves).

Expanded type: (typesetting) a typeface with a slightly wider body giving a stretched appearance

Export: Exporting allows the user to save the file in another format to be opened in other programs.

Extended type: typefaces that are wide horizontally - Hellenic, Latin Wide, Egyptian Expanded, Microgramma Extended, etc.

Eye Mark: a printed line or block at the edge of a printed reel highlighting print repeat. Used to trigger a 'magic eye' on converting machinery.

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Facing pages: In a double-sided document, the two pages that appear as a spread when the publication is opened.

Fanfold: Continuous stationery typically used for computer printouts and invoices. Holes running down both sides allow the use of pin or tractor feeds.

File format: The system by which data is held in a particular type of computer file.

Filler: extra material used to complete a column or page, usually of little importance.

Films: Films are produced by an imagesetter from the artwork and they can be either positive or negative. They are used to produce the printing plates by a photochemical process. There is one separated film for each ink used. See four-colour process printing.

Finishing: Any process that follows the actual printing. Can include folding, creasing, stitching, binding and the like.

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

Flash: Vector graphic animation software developed by Macromedia that creates browser-independent graphics (graphics that look the same across all browsers). An advantage of Flash animation is that their download time are relatively fast.

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

Floating accent: (typesetting) an accent mark that is set separately from the main character and is then placed either over or under it.

Flush left: (typesetting) copy aligned along the left margin.

Flush right: (typesetting) copy aligned along the right margin.

Flyer: an inexpensively produced circular used for promotional distribution.

Focoltone: The brand name of a colour matching system produced by Focoltone International Ltd. A range of inks are specified and identified by number to produce standard results across the industry.

Folding or fold types: A letter fold is a paper folded in thirds. A 'Z' fold differs in that the panels do not overlap but form a Z shape. A parallel fold is a sheet folded in half, double parallel folds in half and then half again (at a right angle, where the second fold is done at 90 degrees to the first). Accordion fold is similar to the Z but with more folds. A gate fold is where the two ends of the sheet meet in the center and a double gate fold is folded in half again after the initial gate fold.

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 stamping: A metallic finish, or other embossed finishes applied by specialist equipment.

Folio: Printer's jargon for what the rest of the world calls a page number.

Font matching: A sometimes undesirable process used when a chosen font is not available, the closest possible match is made, sometimes causing reflow of the text or other errors.

Font: (or fount) - a complete set of characters in a typeface.

Four-colour line printing: As below but the CMYK inks are replaced with the colours of your choice.

Four-colour process printing: The most common system for producing full colour print. Originally the artwork and originals were separated using filters and four printing plates were produced.
    The four ink colours are Cyan (Blue), Magenta (Red), Yellow and Black - often referred to as CMYK. Because the inks used are translucent, they can be overprinted and combined in a variety of different proportions to produce a wide range of colours.
    The vast majority of magazines and colour books are produced using four-colour process.  

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

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g/m2: Abbreviation of grams per metre. A method of indicating the substance of paper or board (whatever the size of the paper/board or number of sheets in the package) on the basis of weight in grams per square metre.

Galley proof: (typesetting) proofs taken from the galleys before being made up into pages.

Galleys: (typesetting) old printing term for long metal trays used to hold lead type after it had been set and before the press run. Typesetting before it's been assembled into pages.

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.

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 the problem can be seen developing immediately after printing the sheet, other times the problem occurs while drying. However the problem occurs it is sometimes 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).

GIF: (Graphic Interchange format) GIF images display up to 256 colours. GIF images generally have very small file sizes and are the most widely used graphic format on the web. The low quality resulting from compression makes them unsuitable for professional printing.

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

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. Traditionally a ratio of 1 to 1.6.

Gradient: A function in graphic software that allows the user to fill an object/image with a smooth transition of colours, for example a dark blue, gradually becoming lighter or red, gradually becoming orange, then yellow.

Grain: the direction in which the paper fibres lie.

Graphic design: Visual representation of an idea or concept. The term is used as a collective name for all activities relating to visual design, including web design, logo design etc.

Graphics file: General term used for a computer file containing a picture: photographic image, illustration etc.

Gravure: A not very common printing process where the image area is etched below the surface of the plate (An intaglio process). Gravure is most often used for either very high quality or long run printing. The web version is sometimes referred to as rotogravure.

Grayscale image: A 'deep' bitmap that records with each dot its gray-scale level. The impression of greenness is a function of the size of the dot; a group of large dots looks dark and a group of small dots looks light.

Greeked text: In page make-up programs, text that appears as gray bars approximating the lines of type rather than actual characters. This speeds up the amount of time it takes to draw images on the screen.

Greeking: where a designer produces layouts using lines/areas of grey to simulate lines or blocks of text.

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.

Gripper: device on a printing machine for holding the sheet during the printing or finishing process.

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.

Gusset: Expandable portion of a pocketed folder or envelope.

Gutter: the central blank area between left and right pages.

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Hairline rule: the thinnest rule that can be printed.

Hairlines: the thinnest of the strokes in a typeface.

Half up: artwork one and a half times the size which it will be reproduced.

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: 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.

Hanging indent: (typesetting) where the first line of a column of type is full width and all subsequent lines are indented.

Hanging punctuation: (typesetting) punctuation that is allowed to fall outside the margins instead of staying within the measure of the text.

Hard hyphen: A non breaking hyphen, used when the two parts of the hyphenated word should not be separated. As opposed to a soft (or normal) hyphen, on which the word-wrapping function of a program will break a line.

Hard return: A return created by the Return or Enter key, as opposed to a word-wrap, or soft return, which will adjust according to the character count and column width.

Hardback: a case bound book with a separate stiff board cover.

Head margin: The white space above the first line on a page.

Head: A line or lines of copy set in a larger face than the body copy.

Heat-set drying: Drying a web or sheet of paper or board by passing it through a drying unit that forms part of the machine. Special heat-setting inks have to be used.

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

Hot-foil: a printing technique using very thin aluminium foil in a variety of metallic colours, such as gold, silver, red and blue. The metallic foil is released from carrier base onto a substrate by the application of heat and pressure from a metal printing plate that bears the image to be hot-foiled.

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

HSWO: heat set web offset. A rotary printing process using heat to set the in. A cylinder transferring the image from the printing plate to blanket to paper at speeds of 30,000 or more impressions per hour.

Hue: The main attribute of a colour that distinguishes it from other colours.

Hyphenation zone: For ragged-right text, an arbitrary zone about 1/5 to 1/10 of the length of the line; if a long word is not hyphenated and leaves a gap within that zone, discretionary hyphens are used to fill the line.

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Image area: Portion of paper where ink appears.

Imagesetter: Output device used to produce separated films from digital artwork. It can be thought of as a very high-resolution printer. Most systems use the Postscript page description system.

Import: To bring a picture or text file into and application ready for editing or design work.

Imposition: The layout of pages on the printed sheet so that they are in the correct order when the sheet is folded up and trimmed.
    Imagine a 16 page A5 leaflet printed on a single A2 sheet. The sheet is folded in half three times before trimming and stitching. If you look at the printed, unfolded sheet you will see that, for example, page 2 is adjacent to page 15 and half the pages are upside down! There are many different imposition layouts - some of them very complex.

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

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.

Inkjet: A non-impact printing process in which droplets of ink are projected onto paper or other material, in a computer-determined pattern.

Insert: A loose piece of paper or card inserted between the leaves of a publication and not secured in anyway.

Intaglio: A printing process where the image is engraved below the surface of the printing plate such as gravure.

Interleaving: Introducing alternate sheets of blank paper between the printed sheets as they come off the press to prevent set off.

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.

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

ISDN: this is an acronym for Integrated Services Digital Network - a telephone network service that carries data, voice transmissions by digital means, not analogue.

ISO9000: international quality standard for industry defining the structure of an organisation, its obligations and authorisations, the structure of production and its ability to manufacture products or to produce services at a continuous quality level (in conformity with the standard).

Italic: Any slanted or leaning letter designed to complement or be compatible with a companion roman typeface.

Ivory board: a smooth high white board used for business cards etc.

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Jog: To shake a stack of papers, either on a machine or by hand, so that the edges line up. Also referred to as knocking-up.

JPEG: A common compression method that shrinks a file’s storage size by discarding non-important picture detail. Excessive jpeg compression can cause poor image quality.

Justify: (typesetting) 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.

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Keep standing: to hold type or plates ready for reprints.

Kern or Kerning: (typesetting) 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 indicating size and position of an illustration or halftone. Keyline may be printing or non-printing.

Kicker: A brief phrase or sentence lead-in to a story or chapter; usually set smaller than the headline or chapter title, but larger than text type.

Kiss cut: to cut the top layer of a pressure sensitive sheet and not the backing.

Knockout: A shape or object printed by eliminating (knocking out) all background colours.

Knockout: In printing, when one colour is to be printed immediately adjacent to another colour; actually they are printed with a slight overlap.

Kraft paper: a tough brown paper used for packing.

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Laid Paper: Uncoated paper often used for business stationery which has a textured pattern of parallel lines similar to hand made paper. Compare to Wove Paper.

Lamination: A plastic coating, which protects the printed surface and usually gives a high gloss finish. Most paperback books have laminated covers.

Landscape: The orientation of the page so that the long edge is along the bottom. Sometimes referred to as horizontal. The opposite of portrait.

Lap register: Used with knockouts, images of different colours are slightly overlapped, to avoid the appearance of a white line between the two inks.

Large format printing: Prints that require larger than standard paper sizes – such as window or exhibition displays.

Laser 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.

Laser: Light Amplification by Simulated Emission of Radiation. A fine beam of light, sometimes with considerable energy, used in image-setting, colour scanning, copy scanning, plate-making, engraving and cutting and creasing form-making.

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

Layout file: The file created by computer application software which contains all the imported elements and where all the design and layout of a document are performed.

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

Lead or Leading: (typesetting) 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 that used to be inserted between lines of metal type.

Leader: A line of dots or dashes to lead the eye across the page to separated copy.

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.

Letterforms: In typography, the shapes of the characters.

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.

Library picture: a picture taken from an existing library and not specially commissioned.

Ligature: In typography, characters that are bound to each other, such as 'oe' and 'ae.' In professional typefaces, the lowercase 'f' is also often set as a ligature in combination with other characters such as 'fi' and 'fl.'

Light (font): A font that is lighter than the roman (normal, plain, or book) version of the typeface.

Light box: (light table) a table with an illuminated top used for preparing and checking alignment of page layouts and paste-ups.

Limp cover: A flexible book cover, as distinct from a stiff board cover.

Line artwork: Black-and-white artwork with no gray areas. Pen-and-ink drawings are line art, and most graphic images produced with desktop publishing graphics programs can be treated as line art. For printing purposes, positive halftones can be handled as line art.

Line block: a letterpress printing plate made up of solid areas and lines and without tones.

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

Line-up 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.

Lithography: A printing process based on the principle of the natural aversion of water to grease. The areas to be printed receive and transfer ink to the paper; the non-printing areas are treated with water to repel the ink. By far the most common type of commercial printing.

Logo or Logotype: A symbol, mark, or identifying name.

Look-through: The appearance of paper or board when held up against a strong light.

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

Low-res or Lo-res: A low-resolution image is a low-detail scan made from, for example a photograph.

Lpi: Lines per inch: refers to the quality of a halftone screen. It is important to distinguish it from dpi which refers to the resolution of a device or image. Commonly lpi is used at exactly half of the dpi of the device or image, i.e. 300dpi would equal 150lpi.

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© - Last Updated 23 Oct, 2019

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