Printing dictionary

Welcome to the graphic design, prepress & print dictionary.  Stan Schwartz supplied most of the printing and finishing terms of this online glossary. I added the publishing and computer related terminology. Click a letter to go to that page.

This dictionary covers graphic design, prepress and print terminology
Click a letter to see more layout, printing and binding terms of this glossary


Trilingual dictionary from the 17th century

Recent additions

lead paragraph – A short paragraph set in a larger font size or different typeface that opens an article. It gives readers a quick summary of the story and provides a hook to entice further reading.
acid-free paper – Paper containing no acidity or acid producing chemicals. Acid-free paper degrades less over time than acidic papers.
slug – In layout applications such as Adobe InDesign the slug is an area outside of the trim and bleed area that can be used by the designer to add comments or other information related to the publication. It is not visible in the final printed pieces since it disappears when the document is trimmed to its final size.
– Abbreviation of Digital Front End, a sophisticated workflow system capable of rendering data for output on a digital printer or press while also handling additional tasks like imposition or variable data processing. The EFI Fiery is a popular DFE.
scratch off printing – the process of applying a foil to specific areas of a document. The foil can be removed with the edge of a coin or a fingernail to reveal the information printed beneath it. The process is often used on giveaway and contest printed materials, such as lottery tickets.
Short grain web press – A web press that uses printing plates whose long dimension is along the cylinders.
Ghost bar – A ghost bar of take-off bar is a rectangular solid line or pattern that is added to a press sheet and trimmed away after printing. It helps equalize ink laydown on the sheet by extending and evening out the printed area, thus avoiding ink starvation in any one place.
American Quarto
– The name for the ‘Letter’ page size outside of North America.
Ink knife
– A tool that a pressman uses to dig the ink out of a can or mix a special color.

Other reference pages

These are popular reference pages on this site:

  • Paper sizes – list of common American and European paper sizes, including the ISO standards.
  • Character names – 70 frequently used characters, punctuation symbols and signs, their name and the keystroke that is needed to type them.
  • Interesting typefaces – short descriptions of 30 fonts that I happen to like.

Other dictionaries or reference sites that can be useful for printing or graphic arts in general:

18 March 2017

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