Art that Works
since 1972

Glossary of design and printing terms


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S/S: (Same size) - an instruction to reproduce to the same size as the original.

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 - hence the name (see serif) - and the characters are made up of lines of constant thickness.
    Common sans serif typefaces are Helvetica, Switzerland and Arial - which all have the same origins - Avant Garde, Gill Sans, Univers and Futura. There are over fifteen hundred sans serif typefaces available.

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. (See enlarge or reduce).

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.

Scanning: The process of converting a hard copy into digital data ready for editing and design. The quality of the scan is dependent on the quality of the original, the scanning equipment and software as well as the experience of the operator!

Score: A crease put on paper to help it fold better

Screen (tint): In graphic arts, a uniform dotted fill pattern, described in percentage (for example, 50 percent screen).

Screen font: Low-resolution (that is, screen resolution) bitmaps of type characters that show the positioning and size of characters on the screen. As opposed to the printer font, which may be high-resolution bitmaps or font outline masters.

Screen Printing: This is a process where the ink is transferred to the printing surface by being squeezed through a fine fabric sheet stretched on a frame. The screen carries a stencil that defines the image area. The process can be manual or mechanical but is most suitable for short runs. Screen printing is usually used for large poster work and display material. It comes into its own when printing to difficult or unusual surfaces such as clothing or plastic objects. It is often referred to as silkscreen printing although the screens are generally made from artificial fibres.

Script: Connected, flowing letters resembling hand writing with pen or quill. Either slanted or upright. Sometimes with a left-hand slant.

Section: A folded sheet that is assembled with others to make up a book. For example an A2 sheet will provide a section of eight A4 pages when folded twice. A 20-page booklet would therefore require two 8-page sections and one 4-page section. These sections are then saddle-stitched together. Larger booklets of, say, more than sixty pages could be perfect bound.

Security paper: paper incorporating special features (dyes, watermarks etc) for use on cheques.

Self-cover: The paper used inside a booklet is the same as that used for the cover and is generally printed on the same press run.

Serif: a typeface that has "hands and feet" (serifs) on the ends of the strokes and the characters are made up of both thick and thin strokes.
    Common serif typefaces include Times Roman, Garamond, Palatino, Bookman and New Century Schoolbook although there are over a thousand all together.

Set solid: (typesetting) type set without line spacing (leading) between the lines. Type is often set with extra space; egg 9 point set on 10 point.

Set width: In typography, the horizontal width of characters. Typefaces vary in the average horizontal set width of each character (for example, Times has a narrow set width), and set widths of individual characters vary in typeset copy depending on the shape of the character and surrounding characters.

Set-off: A printing fault where ink transfers from a sheet to the one below as it leaves the press creating an undesirable ghost image. This can be cured if necessary by interleaving. The machine minder should be able to correct the problem.

Sew: To fasten the sections of a book together by passing thread through the centre fold of each section in such a way as to secure it to the slips; in distinction from stitch.

Sheet Fed: A press that prints by taking up one sheet at a time. This is the system you are most likely to come across.

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

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.

Shrink wrap: Method of packing printed products by surrounding them with plastic, then shrinking by heat.

Side heading: (typesetting) 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.

Side stitching: To stitch through the side from front to back at the binding edge with thread or wire. (See stabbing).

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.

Sixteen sheet: a poster size measuring 120in x 80in (3050mm x 2030mm).

Size: a solution based on starch or casein that is added to the paper to reduce ink absorbency.

Skin packaging: Method of packaging by which thin, clear plastic is shrunk onto an object backed by printed card.

Slurring: a smearing of the image, caused by paper slipping during the impression stage.

Small caps: (typesetting) a set of capital letters which are smaller than standard and are equal in size to the lower case letters for that typesize.

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 that 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 that is only displayed when formatting of the hyphenated word puts it at the end of a line.

Solarization: A photographic image in which both blacks and whites appear black, while midtones approach white.

Solid: Lines of type with no space between the lines (unleaded).

Special Colours: This refers to colours that are produced using specially mixed inks from one of the commercially available colour ranges such as Pantone, DIC or Focoltone. They are most commonly used when using Two Colour Printing.
    To print colours outside the range of four-colour process it is necessary to use special inks. If for example the exact colour of a company logo could not be achieved from a CMYK mix then it would be necessary to print a fifth plate with the special ink. It is not unusual, where an elaborate effect is required, to print in six or more colours. There are presses that are capable of printing eight different plates in a single run through the machine.
    It is worth bearing in mind when choosing a colour for a company logo that sooner or later you will want to print a colour brochure using four-colour process. A vivid ink that you have chosen from the Pantone book may not have an acceptable CMYK equivalent. You may be forced to change the company colour or swallow the ongoing expense of a fifth plate.

Spine: the binding edge at the back of a book.

Spoilage: planned paper waste for all printing operations.

Spot colour: Spot colour is not made using the CMYK process colours - instead the colour is printed using a separately mixed ink - each spot colour needs its own separate printing plate. Spot colours do not apply to digital printing as the printing devices can only reproduce from the four process colours; cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Spread: Two or more adjoining pages that would appear in view on 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.

Stabbing: to stitch with wire through the side of gathered work at the binding edge.

Standing elements: In page design, elements that repeat exactly from page to page, not only in terms of style, but also in terms of page position and content. The most commonly used standing elements are page headers or footers, with automatic page numbers.

Standoff: the amount of space between a clock of text and a graphic, or between two blocks of text that wrap.

Step and repeat: A term used to describe the positioning of documents several times onto the same sheet of paper to avoid paper wastage.

Stet: used in proof correction work to cancel a previous correction. From the Latin 'let it stand'.

Stitch: to staple, sew or otherwise fasten together by means of thread or wire the leaves or signatures of a book or pamphlet.
    The different styles of stitching are; double stitch, where two loops of a single thread are fastened in the centre of the fold. Machine stitch, where a lock stitch is made; saddle or saddle-back stitch, where the centre of the fold is placed across the saddle in the machine and wire staples are driven through and clenched on the inside, side stitch, where the thread or wire is stitched through the side of the fold; single stitch, where a single loop is drawn through the centre and tied; wire stitch, in which staples are made, inserted and clenched by a machine from a continuous piece of wire, as in the saddle back stitch; as distinct from sew.

Stochastic screening: also known as FM (Frequency Modulated) screening. With conventional halftone screening, the variable dot size formed creates the optical illusion of various tonal values; however, the dot centre pitch distance is constant.
    In the case of FM screening systems, the dots are randomly distributed to create this tonal change illusion. The greater the number of dots located within a specific area, the darker the resultant tone.
    The dots produced in this way are usually smaller than conventional halftone dots, resulting in improved definition, although greater care and attention to detail is required in plate-making stage.

Stock: A general term for any paper or board that is used as a printed surface.

Strawboard: a thicker board made from straw pulp, used in bookwork and in the making of envelopes and cartons. Not suitable for printing.

Stress: In a typeface, the axis around which the strokes are drawn: oblique (negative or positive) or vertical. Not to be confused with the angle of the strokes themselves (for instance, italics are made with slanted strokes, but may not have oblique stress).

Strike-through: the effect of ink soaking through the printed sheet.

Stroke weight: In a typeface, the amount of contrast between thick and thin strokes. Different typefaces have distinguishing stroke-weight characteristics.

Style sheet: In desktop publishing program, style sheets contain the typographic specifications to be associated with tagged text. They can be used to set up titles, headings, and the attributes of blocks of text, such as lists, tables, and text associated with illustrations. The use of style sheets is a fast and efficient way to insure that all comparable elements are consistent.

Subhead: A secondary phrase usually following a headline. Display line(s) of lesser size and importance than the main headline(s).

Subscript: (typesetting) the small characters set below the normal letters or figures.

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: (typesetting) the small characters set above the normal letters or figures.

Swatch: a colour sample.

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Tabloid: A page that measures 11' x 17' - most often used in portrait orientation for newspapers. Not to be confused with an 11' x 17' spread, which is made up of two letter-sized pages.

Tagged Image File Format (TIFF): a type of bitmap. A common format for interchanging digital information - usually photographs or illustrations.

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.

Template: In page design, a file with an associated style sheet and all standing and serial elements in place on a master or base page, used for publication following the same design.

Text wrap: see Runaround.

Thermography: a print finishing process producing a raised image imitating die stamping. The process takes a previously printed image that 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.

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

Threaded or Chained: see Pipelining.

Three Colour Printing: Theoretically it is possible to produce an adequate range of colours using just Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. In Four Colour Process Printing the black plate adds shade and depth reducing the amount of ink required. Today this system is very rare.
    Three-colour printing may also refer to the use of three special inks or black combined with two specials.

Thumbnails: the first ideas or sketches of a designer noted down for future reference. Also small low resolution pictures used to speed up the design process. When the design is finalized they're replaced with high resolution (much larger) files prior to printing.

TIF or TIFF: Acronym for Tagged Image File Format. A type of bitmap. Pictures can be black-and-white line art, greyscale or colour. This is a widely used format for image/photographic files but is unsuitable for text unless its is created at a very hi-resolution.

Tiling (tile): Printing a page layout in sections with overlapping edges so that the pieces can be pasted together.

Tints: An area of tone made by a pattern of dots, which lightens the apparent colour of the ink with which it is printed. Normally available in 5% steps from 5% to 95%.

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

Tombstoning: In multicolumn publications, when two or more headings in the same horizontal position on the page.

Track: In typography, to reduce space uniformly between all characters in a line. As opposed to kerning, which is the variable reduction of space between specific characters.

Transparency: A type of photograph. Transparencies generally have sharper images and better colour than photographic prints. The three most common sizes are 'five-by-four', 'two-and-a-quarter' (both in inches) and 35mm - the same size as your holiday slides.

Trapping: A slight overlapping between two touching colours that prevents gaps from appearing along the edges of an object because of misalignment or movement on the printing press.

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.

Twin wire: paper that has an identical smooth finish on both sides.

Two Colour Machine: A press that prints two colours during one pass through the machine. It is possible to print four-colour process by printing Cyan and Magenta, changing the plates and then sending the sheets through again to print the Yellow and Black.

Two Colour Printing: Two-colour printing is commonly used for stationery because of its cost-effectiveness. The typical design includes a special colour such as a Pantone ink along with black. The special ink is for the 'company colour' for use on the logo and the black is for text. In addition, tints of both inks could be used to produce variations of the colour and greys respectively.
    For example, if a strong blue is chosen as the main colour then the opportunity exists to have a pale blue tint, perhaps as a background 'ghost' image. A range of greys is also available from tints of black.
    Two-colour printing can be an economic way of producing brochures and catalogues if full-colour images are not required. There are creative options such as duotones that can be considered if the subject matter is suitable.

Type alignment: The distribution of white space in a line of type where the characters at their normal set width do not fill the entire line length exactly. Type maybe aligned left, right, centred, or right-justified.

Type families: A group of typefaces of the same basic design but with different weights and proportions.

Typeface: (typesetting) a complete set of characters forming a type family (or font) in a particular design or style.

Typo: an abbreviation for typographical error. An error in the typeset copy.

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u/lc: Abbreviation for upper and lowercase.

Unit: In typography, divisions of the em space, used for fine-tuning the letterspacing of text type. Different typesetting systems and desktop publishing software use different unit divisions: 8, 16, 32, and 64 are common. One unit is a thin space or a hair space.

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 Varnishing: A method of adding a gloss finish to printed surfaces. The advantage of UV varnishing is that it is similar to printing an extra colour and can be applied to selected areas to produce special effects. The UV refers to the Ultra-Violet lamp under which the varnished sheets pass for rapid drying.

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Varnishing: to apply oil, synthetic, spirit, cellulose or water varnish to printed matter by hand or machine to enhance its appearance or increase its durability.

Vector Graphics: A vector is a mathematically calculated method of plotting accurate lines and curves. Unlike bitmap images, it is resolution independent and allows graphics images to be enlarged to any size, without any loss of quality.

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

Verso: Left handed page of an open publication.

Vignette: where an image fades-out at the edges. This term usually refers to a single dot pattern that may start at 50% dot and gradually decrease to say 5% in a smooth graduation.

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Watermark: an impression incorporated in the paper making process showing the name of the paper and/or the company logo.

Web Offset: Reel-fed offset litho printing. Three main systems of presses exist blanket-to-blanket in which two plate and two blanket cylinders per unit print and perfect the web of paper or board; three-cylinder system in which plate, blanket and impression cylinders operate in the usual manner to print one side of the paper or board; and satellite or planetary systems in which two, three or four plate and blanket cylinders are arranged around a common impression cylinders to print one side of the web in several colours.

Web: a continuous roll of printing paper.

Weight: (typesetting) the degree of boldness or thickness of a letter or font.

Weight: Denotes the thickness of a letter stroke, light, extra-light, 'regular,' medium, demi-bold, bold, extra bold and ultra bold.

White space: In designing publication, the areas where there is no text or graphics -- essentially, the negative space of the page design.

Widow: In a page layout, short last lines of paragraphs - usually unacceptable when separated from the rest of the paragraph by a column break, and always unacceptable when separated by a page break.

Wire stitching: Stapling. See saddle or side stitching.

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

Wire-o binding: A method of wire binding books along the binding edge that will allow the book to lay flat. 

Woodfree paper: made from chemical pulp only with size added. Supplied calendered or supercalendered.

Word wrap: (typesetting) 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 assembled 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 assembled together. One side is then printed and the sheet is then turned over and printed from the other edge using the same form. The finished sheet is then cut to produce two complete copies.

Wove Paper: Uncoated paper often used for business stationery that has no obvious surface texture or pattern. Compare to Laid Paper.

WYSIWYG: what-you-see-is-what-you-get - 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.

x height: The height of the lowercase 'x.' Sometimes referred to as 'body height.' More generally, the height of the lowercase letters.

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