This dictionary covers graphic design, prepress and print terminology.
Stan Schwartz supplied most of the terms of this online glossary.
- Abbreviation for Blue, one of the three primary additive colors.
- Abbreviation for Bytes or Bits (usually an lower case B means bits but not everybody respects this convention)
The fixing of a material, either paper or cloth, to the back of a book before it is bound.
A term referring to the margin which lies closest to the back of the book.
back step collation
The collation of book signatures according to reference marks which are printed on the back fold of each section.
back to back
Print applied to both sides of a sheet of paper.
The back of a case bound book connecting the front and back covers, also called the spine.
That portion of a photograph or line art drawing that appears furthest from the eye; the surface upon which the main image is superimposed.
- Printing the reverse side of a printed sheet.
- Making a duplicate of data as a precaution against losing the original files.
The illumination of a subject or object (e.g. a picture or poster) from behind.
An effect in typography in which the letters slant to the left instead of to the right as in italics.
Marks printed on signatures that indicate where the final fold will occur. When gathering and initial folding is completed, these marks appear as a stepped sequence.
- An extra copy of computer work that is kept on separate disks , tape or CDs for safety’s sake in case anything happens to the original data
- The printing of the reverse side of a press sheet.
Starting a page or column of type with a widow or at the end of a hyphenated word
- A term given to the procedure of drying coatings onto papers.
- A term given to the procedure of heating printing plates in an oven to increase the run length that can be printed with them.
A term used to describe the aesthetic or harmony of elements, whether they are photos, art or copy, within a layout or design.
In an illustration, any line which encircles copy or dialogue.
The undesirable effect of waves or bands of the same colour on a digital graphic.
The capacity of a data connection expressed by the amount of data that can be conducted by it per second
An exclamation mark! Like this one! and these!!!!!
A thin uncoated stock used for making carbon copies.
banker’s flap envelope
The wallet flap has more rounded flap edges, also called a wallet flap
The primary headline of a periodical, which appears on the cover of a magazine or the first page of a newsletter. It usually spanning the entire width of the page and contains the name of the publication and serial information (date, volume, number,..).
A pattern of vertical lines of varying thickness that identify a product, conforming to the Universal Product Code (UPC).
A coating that is applied onto the non-printing side of paper to add to the opacity of that paper.
A coated stock (barium sulfate compound) used for text impressions on typesetting machines.
Metal below the shoulder of a piece of type; the metal or wood block used for mounting letter press printing plates to make them type high
In typesetting, an imaginary line on which the bottom of letters rest.The descenders, such as the tail on y and g, fall below the baseline
Weight in pounds of 500 sheets of paper cut to a given standard size
English writing master, stonecutter, letter designer, typefounder and printer (1706-1775) who worked alongside William Caslon. He is one of the people who transformed English printing and type founding. Of course there is a font named after him.
In art, an image that is pressed or engraved into the surface of the work. The opposite effect is called intaglio.
Basis or basic weight refers to the weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to a given standard size for that particular paper grade.
The original codename used by Apple for the TrueType font technology. Later they changed it to RoyalT. According to an insider, its derivation was down to the fact that a bass (fish) is scale-able.
In typesetting, any text for which the type specifications vary from those that are typically used, such as the use of an unusual point size or typeface.
German design school which influenced many type designers and graphic artists.
An optical device to redirect a beam of light in two or more directions. A color scannner splits the input light into red, green and blue light beams and directs each to a PMT. The output beam splitter separates the light into as many as ten beams, one to each modulator
The adjusting of spacing of type in order to correct the justification.
The steel flat table of a cylinder printing press upon which the type sits during the printing process.
A band or strip of paper that is wrapped around the cover of a magazine. The band is glued together at the back and carries advertising.
A method of passing down screen tone percentages on the illustrations, artwork, etc. to be photographed. These screen tints are usually on pressure sensitive plastic sheets with a release backing, and are used to create a tonal or dot pattern, and eliminate the need for an overlay.
A recycled paperboard product used for making folding cartons.
A popular format for newspapers, measuring around 470 × 315 millimeter (18.5 × 12.4 inch). It is also called ‘midi’.
A Bézier curve is a curve defined by two end-points and two control-points, which in general are not on the curve. As well as other characteristics, the control-points define the tangents of the curve as it leaves the two end-points.
Bézier curves are used in PostScript as well as many standard computer drawing packages, The curve formulation was conceived by Pierre Bézier of the Renault car company in the late 1960s for representing 3D car body forms.
Abbreviation for Boldface, used to determine where boldface copy is to be used.
Abbreviation for Binary File Transfer, scheme used to transmit bitmapped images of documents between fax machines.
A thin but strong paper (opaque), used for bibles and books.
A list of publications providing reference material on a particular subject, usually included in the endmatter of a book.
A connection between two pieces of equipment that allows the transmission or reception of data in either direction.
Large format outdoor advertising, usually placed in high traffic areas for maximum exposure of their message.
A plate which is used in long print runs; the printing image is copper or brass, and the nonprinting area is aluminum or stainless steel.
A heavy paperboard with a cloth covering that is used for hardback binding of books.
The place where printed jobs undergo their final treatment including trimming, folding, drilling and packaging. This is either a designated part of a printing facility or a separate company.
In finishing binding refers to all the processes that are needed after a job was printed to fasten the individual sheets together. This includes cutting, folding, trimming, gathering (or collating), stitching,…
Abbreviation for BInary digiT – the smallest unit of information used in computers. A bit is either a 1 (or ‘on’) or a 0 (meaning ‘off’). Since ‘on’ and ‘off’ are of little significance to us mere humans, computers bundle a series of 8 bits into a byte which can contain actual characters or color information or other meaningfull stuff.
The number of bits used to represent each element in an image. A bit depth of 8 means that 256 colors or gray levels are used for every pixel.
A digital image that uses a grid of picture elements (pixels). Every pixel uses a number of bits to determine its color. A 1 bit bitmap only contains black-and-white pixels, a 24 bit bitmap is a picture that can contain up to 16 million different colors.
Reinforced sheet of rubber used on one of the rollers of an offset press to transfer the to-be-printed data from the plate onto the paper.
The cylinder on a press that is used to transfer the image from the inked litho plate to the paper. This cylinder is covered with a rubber sheet, called the blanket. It prevents wear to the litho plate coming into contact with the paper.
- The absence of reflected light caused by printing an ink whose colorant gives no apparent hue
- One of the four inks in four color process printing
A conversion that accepts input data and alters it for output.
Darkening of a portion of a press sheet due to the excessive pressure of the calendar roll.
Class of typefaces that are very ornate and complex. They are sometimes refered to as Old English, Text, or Gothic. It is the style of text used by scribes throughout Latin Christendom during the Middle Ages. In Germany they were used until World War II.
Blackletter typefaces can be difficult to read which is why they are only used for stuff like invitations, announcements, diplomas, certificates, or initial caps at the beginning of chapters.
- the practice of lawyers underlining changes in contracts.
- a type of monochrome one-sided proof, also called a Dylux.
The plate made during the prepress printing process that is used with the cyan, magenta and yellow printers to enhance the contrast and to emphasize the neutral tones and the details in the final reproduction shadow areas
a rubber surface cylinder on offset presses that receives and transfers the inked image from plate to paper
- extending an image beyond the finished trim size so that the image runs right to the end of the printed sheet after trimming and binding
- image areas of a sheet or page. When trimmed, the image ‘bleeds’ off the page or sheet
Smooth transition from one colour to another or from one tint to another.
An impression of an uninked image
A strong letterpress impression of an uninked image on the front surface of a sheet of paper. The image is recessed.
A design which is stamped without metallic leaf or ink, giving a bas-relief effect.
A page number that is not printed on the page.
An image that has lost its ink receptivity and fails to print.
- In offset printing blinding is the problem of printing plates losing their ink receptivity. This is typically caused by an excessively acidic fountain solution that damages or eats away the image areas of the plate.
- In editorial workflows blinding refers to the process of making sure that a reviewer does not see who the author of an article or book is. This can be important to guarantee objective reviewing of scientific publications.
Although seemingly dry, paper does contain approximately 5% moisture. In cases where there is excessive moisture, and the paper is passed through a high heat-drying chamber, the moisture within the paper actually boils and causes a bubble or blistering effect.
- In computers, a group of characters, digits or words that can be handled as a unit.
- Illustrations or line art etched onto zinc or copper plates and used in letterpress printing.
To sketch the primary areas and points of reference of an illustration in preparation for going to final design or production.
An ancient relief printing technique, also called woodcut or xylography.
The resistance of coated papers to blocking
The adhesion of one coated sheet to another, causing paper tears or particles of the coating to shed away from the paper surface.
To mask a section of an art layout before reproduction.
A long quotation (four lines or more lines) within body text, that is set apart in order to clearly distinguish the author’s words from the words that the author is quoting.
A card that is not bound into a printed publication but that is loose or ‘blown into it’. Such cards typically contain adverts or subscription information.
An enlarged image
- Describes the colour of a clear sky
- A primary color of light
- A portion of the color spectrum aligned between green and violet
- In printing, a secondary color resulting in over printing dots of cyan and magenta process color inks.
A monochrome proof that is generated from film and used to check the layout and positioning of pages on a signature. The blue color was originally chosen to prevent reproduction or use for something besides a proof.
A short description or commentary of a book or author on the book jacket.
Abbreviation for Back Matter – special pages at the end of a book including the appendixes or the index.
Abbreviation for BitMaP – A graphic file format for Windows that is not really suitable for prepress use.
Abbreviation for Back Order.
Paper of more than 200 gsm.
Abbreviation for Books On Demand – a printing technology and business process in which a single book or a small set of books are only printed when they are actually needed, either because they are ordered (single-copy printing) or to maintain a small stock (‘top-up’ printing).
- The main shank or portion of the letter character other than the ascenders and descenders.
- A term used to define the thickness or viscosity of printer’s ink.
The height of a lowercase letter ‘x’, also called the x-height.
The point size of a particular type character. Sometimes instead of the point size the x-height is used.
Generally 6 to 14 point size type is used for regular reading matter, depending on the readability of the typeface
boldface or bold type
- A heavier weight version of typeface, generally used for emphasis, indicated as “BF”
- A type style that is heavier, thicker and blacker than the regular typeface, generally used for emphasis. Bold can be in italic format as well as roman.
The edges of folded sheets of paper, which are trimmed off in the final stages of production.
Paper of a higher quality finish often used for business correspondence. It has a standard size of 17×22 inches.
- A general classification to describe papers used to print books; its standard size is 25×38 inches.
- A printed work which contains more than 64 pages.
A term given the unfinished stage of bookmaking when the pages are folded, gathered and stitched-in but not yet cover bound.
A continuous decorative design or rule surrounding the matter on the page.
- A registration problem, usually on copiers, where the image appears to bounce back and forth. A bounce usually occurs in one direction depending on how the paper is passing through the machine. This is
usually accented by card stock (especially if it’s over the machine’s spec).
- When a customer refuses a job for whatever reason.
In a page description language, such as Postscript, the defined rectangular area within an image is contained
An image distortion caused by misalignment of the scanner head scanning axis with respect to the cylindrical drum axis
A section of text marked off by rules or white space and presented separately from the main text and illustrations. A sidebar in a magazine is a type of box.
box cover paper
A lightweight paper used expressly for covering paper boxes.
box enamel paper
A glossy coated paper used to cover paper boxes.
A coated paper used on the inside of boxes, which are used for food.
Also called a curly bracket.
Characters used to connect or embrace lines;
break for color
In layout design, the term for dividing or separating the art and copy elements into single color paste-up sheets.
- The amount of light being reflected from a surface
- In a printed reproduction, the lightness value regardless of the hue or saturation. Brightness is affected by the reflectance of the paper.
- term for reflection density
The subjective expression of brightness
A term given to the fold whereby paper is folded with the short side running with the grain.
The largest format that is used for printing newspapers. The dimensions are slightly different per country or region. A full broadsheet spread measures around 749 × 597 millimeter (29.5 × 23.5 inch). After being folded this results in long vertical pages. Many newspapers who initially used broadsheet have now switched to smaller handier formats such as Berliner.
A heavily embossed paper.
A pamphlet that is bound in booklet form.
This glyph or character shape is also called the piping symbol.
Applying bronzing powder over a surface printed with sizing ink that is still wet, to produce a metallic effect.
A board paper of various thickness; having a smooth finish and used for printing and drawing.
A writing system using a series of 64 or 256 raised dots that are read with the fingers by people who are (nearly) blind.
In finishing a binding machine with rollers that folds paper.
A coarse sized cloth used in the bookbinding process.
- The thickness of paper or cardboard relative to its weight.
- The thickness of a book excluding its covers.
newspaper copies sold for a nominal fee to be handed out on airlines and in hotels.
A dot or other character that is placed at the left of items in a list, to show that they are individual, but related points.
A spot or imperfection in printing caused by dirt or hardened specks of ink. The problem is most visible in areas of heavy ink coverage. A bulls eyeis also called a hickey or a fish eye.
A term used in platemaking to describe the amount of plate exposure time.
A term used for the process of “rubbing down” lines and dots on a printing plate, which darkens those rubbed areas.
Creating a polished finish on paper by rubbing with stone or hand smoothing a surface.
A binding technique that entails nicking the backfold in short lengths during the folding process, which allows glue to reach each individual leaf and create a strong bond.
Register refers to the process of aligning colors (plates) properly during printing. With butt register the ink colors meet perfectly without overlapping or gaps. With lap register the colors do overlap slightly.
Abbreviation for Black and White
Abbreviation for Bar Width Reduction – When a barcode is printed, the bars are usually slightly wider than in the original artwork. To compensate for this print gain or ink spread, a bar width reduction is applied when making the original barcode.
Abbreviation for BuY General Motors CaRs: a simple rule to remind you about the complimentary colors: Blue versus Yellow, Green versus Magenta and Cyan versus Red.
In magazine and newspaper publishing, a line added to an article to identify its author(s).