This dictionary covers graphic design, prepress and print terminology
Click a letter to see more layout, printing and binding terms of this glossary
– Abbreviation for Cyan, a blueish color that is one of the primary colors in printing.
– A popular programming language.
Acronym for coated one sided paper, used for postcards, fliers or covers.
Abbreviation for Customer Alteration
Abbreviation for Computer Aided Design – using computer programs and systems to design two- or three-dimensional models of physical objects. In graphic arts, CAD software is for instance using in the packaging industry.
A pigment made from cadmium sulfide and cadmium selenide.
A strong paperboard used for calendars and displays.
A series of metal rolls at the end of a paper machine; when the paper is passed between these rolls it increases its smoothness and glossy surface.
The process of adjusting a device or process to match certain criteria. This is usually done by measuring the devices’ deviation from standard values and then, during operation of the device, applying values to compensate the deviation. In prepress, in particular, calibration is the fine-tuning of scanners, monitors, printers, and imagesetters in order to increase the accuracy of their output.
A strip of tones used to check printing quality on proofs or printed sheets.
The thickness of a single sheet of paper, expressed in units of thousandths of an inch.
In magazine and newspaper publishing, a quotation or edited excerpt from an article that is placed in a larger typeface on the same page. It leads readers to the article and can highlight a key topic. Also known as a pull quote or a lift-out quote.
A dull coated paper, which is particularly useful in reproducing halftones and engravings.
camera-ready art or camera-ready copy
Original matter from which reproduction is eventually made, complete with all necessary guide marks. Text and graphic assembled in position, ready to be photographed for film assembly.
A paperboard with a surface of simulated canvas, used for painting.
Abbreviation for a capital or uppercase letter.
In typography, the distance from the baseline to the top of the capital letters.
Synonym for uppercase. THESE ARE CAPITALS.
An imaginary horizontal line running across the tops of capital letters.
caps & lower case
Instructions in the typesetting process that indicate the use of a capital letter to start a sentence and the rest of the letters in lower case.
caps & small caps
Two sizes of capital letters made in one size of type.
The distance from the cap line to the baseline on a typeface.
In typography and page layout, a descriptive text accompanying illustrations or photographs. It is sometimes called a cutline. Text accompanying an illustration of a more explanatory nature is called a legend.
A chemical pulp paper (calcium carbonate), used mostly for the printing of magazines.
Paper coated with chemicals and dye which will produce copies without carbon paper. Also called NCR (No Carbon Required).
A small transparent grayscale made on a stripe of film. A carbon wedge increases in density from clear film to a maximum density. The minimum to maximum variation maybe in incremental steps, or it may be continuous. The scale is made using a carbon dispersion coating that has very fine grain with low light scattering characteristics. This attribute makes the carbon wedge suitable for scanner calibration. A photographic step tablet will scatter light rays and not as useful in the scanner specular optics.
– A rough finished paper used for wrapping.
– A plastic container that holds the ink or toner of a small desktop printer or a copier.
Proofreader’s mark used to indicate where corrections or additional copies are to be inserted.
The stiff covers of a hardbound book.
Books bound using hard board (case) covers.
A milk byproduct used as an adhesive in making coated papers.
The process of placing in and adhering a book to its case covers.
A coated paper that is pressured dry against a highly polished cylinder to produce an exceptionally high gloss.
In copyfitting, the process of calculating and determining the amount of space the manuscript copy will occupy when set in a given typeface within a given area.
A term to describe that period of the printing process where the non-image areas can take on ink or debris.
Abbreviation for Constant Angular Velocity, a term used in optical disks and CD-ROMs to indicate that the disk rotates at a constant speed. Also see CLV.
A linear arrangement of charge-coupled devices (CCDs). In a scanner, a straight row of charge-coupled devices, which may only be one inch long, scan and measure the light from as many as 1024 points.
A black and white or color scanner using a CCD array.
My own scanner (the CCD had a resolution of 600 dpi)
Abbreviation for Comité Consultatif International Telegraphique et Telephonique, a standardization committee that is nowadays called the ITU (now go look that one up !)
A mark originally placed beneath the letter c in French, Portuguese, Spanish and other languages to indicate that the letter is to be pronounced as an s, as in façade. It is also placed under the ‘s’ in some languages such as Kurdish and Turkish and is also called a cedilla.
A plastic sheet material, usually transparent or translucent, available clear or colored and with a shiny or matte finish. It is used as the basis for artwork and overlays and is the base material of some photographic film.
Short, straight lines outside the trimmed area, indicating the center of the job. They guide the press operation in centering the plate and sheets on the press and in registering back up printing. In some cases, they function as guides for folding.
Abbreviation for Color Electronic Prepress System: proprietary computer systems that were used for page make-up, scanning and image manipulation. CEPS systems were manufactured by Scitex, Crosfield, Hell, and others. These systems have been replaced by cheaper configurations that use standard PC or Macintosh hardware and off-the-shelf software.
A fold where a three-panel piece has both side sections folded inward, one on top of the other. Each section is approximately 1/3 the length of the piece. Also known as a letter-fold or tri-fold.
Abbreviation for Color Graphics Adapter: color display adapter used in the first PCs, allowed the simultaneous use of up to 16 colors (at a resolution of 320×200 pixels or 2 colors at 640×200)!
Abbreviation for Committee for Graphic Arts Technology Standards, an ANSI-accredited, U.S. standards organization. The primary responsibility of CGATS is to provide overall standards coordinating activities for the graphic arts input to existing standards developers. CGATS works on writing standards only where no other standards committee is already working. The committee’s activities include the development of a glossary to help standardize graphic arts terms, the definition of color measurement practices for the graphic arts, graphic arts densitometry standards, and plate dimension standards as well as a cooperative activity to move portions of SWOP to an ANSI standard.
Abbreviation for Common Gateway Interface, a scripting application that runs on a Web server and acts on information sent to it from a browser application like Netscape’s Navigator. Used to enhance the possibilities of web pages
A type of line screen – instead of round dots that get bigger and invert, you start off with round dots that grow elliptically and then turn into ‘lines’, inverting as they go through 50%. You also put the main two inks (CM) at 90 degrees apart and place the K in the middle to get a nice structure (and don’t care about the Y).
A condition resulting from the improper drying of ink. The vehicle has been absorbed too rapidly into the paper causing the pigment to dust off.
A 13th-century handwriting style which is the roots of italic design.
Any letter, number, space or mark that is used in any text
The total number of individual letters, numbers, punctuation, spaces and other characters in a section of a text
Most operating systems on the market use 1 byte to represent characters. This means that 256 different characters can be used on such a system. Unfortunately, different operating systems use different character sets. So a character that can be used on a Macintosh may not be present in the character set of a Windows computer or vice versa. Any well-designed font contains all the character shapes (glyphs) that are used in all character sets. A special table (the character encoding table) is used within the font or the operating system to map the character set used by the computer to the corresponding glyphs.
character per pica
A copyfitting system using the average number of characters-per-pica to calculate and estimate the length text copy will occupy when set in a given typeset within a given area.
The complete collections of letters, numbers, punctuation marks and special characters that comprise specific fonts.
Code name for Mac OS X 10.0
See angle quote
An aluminum silica compound used in gravure and screen printing inks. Also called kaolin.
A type of trap in which the thickness of an object (type, an image, a line,;;° is reduced. Also see trapping.
A Macintosh desk accessory used to designate a specific printer, imagesetter, or other output device as the current output device
The attribute of color that specifies the amount of saturation or strength in the Munsell color space model.
The brand name for a color electronic prepress system from the 80’s era that was marketed by Linotype-Hell Company
A slang term referring to a color transpency that is used as the original copy. Chrome is not incorrectly used as a short term for Cromalin.
Photographic color emulsion type films and papers used to make transparencies and prints. Cibachrome is manufactured by Ilford Photo Corporation
A typographic unit of length in the Didot measurement system commonly used in Europe. It is 0.1776 inchesÐslightly larger than a pica.
Abbreviation for Character IDentifier, a special type of fonts developed by Adobe
Abbreviation for Comité Internationale de l’Eclairage, a standardization committee dealing with color
Color space defined by CIE
Color space defined by CIE
Color space defined by CIE
Video compression/decompression (codec) format developed by SuperMac Technologies for use on a Mac. Later licensed to other companies as well.
Abbreviation for Committee for the Integration of Prepress, Press and Postpress, replaced by the CIP4 committee who manages the JDF standard.
This is the successor of the CIP3 committee. The abbreviation stands for ‘International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress‘. The CIP4 organization defines and promotes the JDF standard for exchanging job-related information between systems, from the creation of jobs to the finished product.
A book given as a reward to subscribers or for renewing the subscription to a newspaper or magazine.
abbreviation for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. A variant, CJKV, means Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese.
A strong easily folded boxboard with clay coating used for making folding boxes.
A Microsoft technology that improves the appearance of TrueType fonts on LCD displays by individually addressing the red, green, and blue subpixels of the display (The system provides much less of a benefit on CRT screens.) Microsoft claims it is a breakthrough technology even though Apple implemented a similar technique in 1976 for the Apple II computer
client A computer that receives information from a server or a piece of software that is doing the job of communicating with a remote server, (e.g. an FTP application or an e-mail program).
Copyright-free illustrations, characters, figures, cartoons, photographs, and designs that can be purchased in printed form, or digitally on floppy disks and optical discs for use in artwork. The digital files are also called click art
A part of memory where blocks of text or graphics are temporarily stored after they are cut or copied. Anything stored in the clipboard can be copied from there and pasted into another document. The clipboard feature is standard on the Macintosh and with Windows software.
An image processing function that is used to duplicate a pixel or many pixels from one area of a picture to another picture area. This pixel manipulation may add or remove detail. Some manufacturers call this function pixel swapping.
A proof correction mark to reduce the amount of space between characters or words, indicated as (‘).
Abbreviation for Color Layout System, the Crosfield (DuPont) Lightspeed software program of the 1980’s.
Abbreviation for Color LookUp Table, stored computer information that is used to translate from one color space to another. Rather than recalculating in each instance, preset values are referenced.
Abbreviation for Constant Linear Velocity: term used in optical disks and CD-ROMs to indicate that the rotational speed of the disk varies depending on what track is being read.
Graphics file format that is the property of LEAD Technologies and is used by Corel (.crd files) among others. It provides better compression than JPEG at comparable quality.
– Abbreviation for Color Management System
– Abbreviation for Content Management System
Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black – The four process colors used in color printing
Abbreviation for Cyan Magenta Yellow Overcoating – The names of the dyes used in many dye-sublimation printers. Next to the 3 process colors cyan, magenta, and yellow these printers use a clear overcoating; This is a thin laminate to protect the print from discoloration from UV light and the air. The overcoat, which may be named differently by each manufacturer, also renders the print water-resistant.
Abbreviation for Chapter Opening
In inkjet printing coalescence is an image defect that causes images to appear blotchy or ‘puddled’, resulting in non-uniformity in solid fill areas.
coarse data file
A digitized image file of an original scene that was sampled at the resolution of a video monitor, approximately 512 x 512 or 1024 x 1024 pixels, and used to make a judgment about such things as the scanner setup or the quality of the original copy – also called a low-resolution file or a view file. It contains less picture information than a high-resolution picture file that is sampled at a minimum of four pixels per output halftone dot.
Halftone screens commonly used in newsprint; up to 85 lines per inch.
Paper which after making has had the surface coated with clay, white pigments, and a binder to give a smoother, more even finish with greater opacity. Better for printing because there is less picking.
coated art paper
Printing papers used for printing projects that require a special treatment of detail and shading.
Any paper that has a mineral coating applied after the paper is made, giving the paper a smoother finish.
An electrical cable that is a single-center, copper wire surrounded by a woven metal shield. The shield acts as the second single carrier to complete a loop. Coaxial cable is used for some types of EtherNet networks.
The wrinkling of paper in areas with a high ink coverage.
Compression/decompression, enCOder/DECoder scheme that reduces the number of bits required to represent data during transmission and storage. The compressed data can, later on, be restored for an accurate representation of the original. The MPEG codec, for example, can compress video for transmission and storage, and then decompress it for on-screen display.
A six-digit code used to identify various types of printed publications. It was mainly used in the scientific community for citations and as a search tool in bibliographic catalogs. Meanwhile, it has been replaced by ISSN.
Any color that moves toward the blue side in the color spectrum.
A web offset printing process in which ink is allowed to dry naturally through evaporation and absorption. The alternative technology is heatset, in which an oven is used to dry the ink.
A variety of inks that are in solid form originally but are melted in a hot press and then solidify when they contact paper.
In finishing the assembly of sheets of paper in the correct reading sequence for binding.
Black step-marks printed on the back of folded sheets, to facilitate collating and checking of the sequence of book signatures.
A characteristic of a beam of light from a point source an infinite length away such that every light ray in the beam is parallel to each other
A printers or publishers identifying symbol or emblem.
A color test strip which is printed on the waste portion of a press sheet. It is a standardized (GATF-Graphic Arts Technical Foundation) process which allows a pressman to determine the quality of the printed material relative to ink density, registration, and dot gain. It also includes the Star Target, which is a similar system designed to detect inking problems.
An overlay color proofing system. A proof is made by exposing the negatives to this proofing material, processing, then reassembling on a sheet of paper. The colorant is on the sheet, so one needs one of each for a CMYK proof. Some spot colors are available as well. The name is a trademark currently held by KPG.
An instrument for measuring the tritimulus values of color with a precise and defined response that is similar to the human eye. A densitometer can measure color strength, but is not a reliable indicator of color hue. Densitometers measure through separation filters which do not match the human visual response.
The science of color measurement
A software program for the Macintosh that was used for image capture, retouching, color correction and color separation, published by Letraset in the late 1980s, early ’90s..
The physiological sensation of different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum on the eye (the effect is actually a lot more fun than its description)
Maintaining the ratio of cyan, magenta, and yellow ink during printing. This will keep all color hues consistent and produce a picture with the desired color, one without an unwanted color cast or color bias.
Carried on all four-color process jobs to show the amount of ink used, the trapping, and the relative densities across the press sheet. A guide for the platemaker and the pressman.
The process of dividing a monochrome representation of a page so that the appropriate areas will proof or print in the appropriate color.
A procedure to standardize a video monitor, input scanner or output color printer to standard set of values so that WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get).
An unwanted overall discoloration of an original copy, color proof, or reproduction caused by an overabundance of one color pigment or light. Color casts result in bluish-red, pinkish-blue, etc. reproduction. The color cast can be digitally altered during or after scanning by using gamma correction.
A printed array of color patches that are used to choose, communicate, and match colors. The color of each patch varies, one from another, and is made to given amounts of cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks or of premixed colors.
– The shrinking of the color gamut of an original copy to a color gamut reproducible with a given ink, selected paper, and printing press configuration.
– A technique to reduce the amount of data in a color image file by removing large amounts of redundant data.
A deliberate change of certain colors in the original when it is reproduced. The customer may have requested the modification, or it may be needed because of the colorants that were used to reproduce the image. Inks for process color are not pure colors; each appears as though it is contaminated with the other two colors and has a hue error that requires the compensation in the separation images. The changes can be made electronically, photographically, or manually so that the separation films produce the desired result.
The complete range of hues and strengths of colors that can be achieved with a given set of colorants such as cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink printed on a given paper and given printing press. Although it can represent strength, it usually represents hues.
color management system
A suite of software utility programs capable of making the necessary color transforms from one color space to ensure calibrated color
A system for describing every color in a full gamut of color within a color space, such as HLS (hue, saturation, and lightness), RGB (red, green, and blue) or CIELAB (lightness, redness, and blueness).
color negative A color photographic film that was made from an original scene and is used to make a color print or separation. Hues appear reproduced as the complementary values of the original hues
The range of colors available within a software program or within the computer operating system
The ability to transfer color images or files from one device to another without significantly changing their appearance
A visual impression of the expected final reproduction produced on a substrate with inks, pigments or dyes, or on a video screen.
color references A standard set of process inks that were printed to standard densities or strengths on standard paper and are used for color control.
The process of making a separate electronic or photographic record of the amounts of each process color of cyan, magenta, yellow or black needed to reproduce an original copy. The record may be a photographic film made through red, green and blue separation filters or a computer file. A set of four separations, cyan, magenta, yellow and black, are required to reproduce an original color image since each of the four process colors must be represented. The separations may be made photographically using traditional methods or digitally using scanners and software. The original copy may be a transparency, reflection photographic print, drawing, painting, or printed reproduction.
On a printing press or color proof, the order of applying the yellow, magenta, cyan, and black inks to the substrate.
A three-dimensional space or model into which the three can be attributes of a color can be represented, plotted or recorded. Although not always called by the names hue, value and chroma, these are the three color attributes represented.
A term referring to the relative amount of pigmentation in an ink.
The temperature in degrees Kelvin to which a black object would have to be heated to produce a certain color light. 2900K is representative of a tungsten lamp. 5000K is close to the temperature of direct sunlight and is considered the most critical attribute of standard viewing conditions for color evaluation.
Transparent film containing a positive photographic color image.
The space between two or more columns of type on a page.
A light faced vertical rule used to separate columns of type.
In finishing a binding technique in which the teeth of a plastic ‘comb’ are inserted into a series of slits drilled or punched into a stack of sheets. This process is often used for reports and presentations.
color registration measured within plus or minus one row of dots.
– A preliminary sketch or mock-up of a design. It is also called a composite.
– A proof that includes all the text, images, and artwork as they will appear on the final printed piece.
Low-resolution image that is temporarily used in a layout to check if it fits the style and content of the document.
The process of combining typographic elements with graphics and photos that result in pleasing page layouts for print or web content.
comprehensive (or comp)
A layout or dummy that is carefully drawn or proofed to size showing all elements in the correct size and position. Rendered to present a close approximation of the finished printed piece.
The variation between the centerline and rotational axis of the rotating member.
A method of folding in which each fold opens in the opposite direction to its neighbor, giving a concertina or pleated effect.
In typesetting, the compression of font character width without reducing their height – the opposite of extended.
A narrow, elongated typeface in which the set-widths of the characters are narrower than in the standard typeface.
Material that gets used up in the process of creating printed materials, like film, paper, or ink.
A photographic print made with a film positive or negative on presensitized paper, film or printing plates
Any photograph or illustration that contains a range of tones or gradation of tones in black and white or color. Must be converted by a halftone screen or digitizing process for printing.
A narrow strip of film with an orderly progression of grey densities, ranging from zero to maximum density, without definite steps
Jargon for continuous tone. Examples of continuous tone originals are black and white photographs or pencil sketches.
A tendency of pixels with similar values to clump together when output. The effect in reproduction looks like spots of darker density or color. When it appears as streaks across the image, it is called banding contract.
Proof that is capable of giving an accurate representation of the colors and content of the printed result.
The relation between the lightest and the darkest areas of an image.
Taking a picture with the camera lens facing the light source.
All of the finishing operations which transform a printed piece into another physical form. This includes bag making and box making but more general processes such as bookbinding, waxing, coating, laminating, folding, gluing or die-cutting are also considered converting operations.
A technology used in certain Adobe applications (Indesign, the latest versions of Illustrator) that allows them to render their own fonts, rather than relying on the font rasterizer of the operating system.
A color that elicits a psychological response or impressions of coolness – a hue in the range from violet through blue to green. A color reproduction is considered cool if the color balance or gray balance is adjusted to be slightly bluish rather than pinkish or gray.
Manuscript text from a word processor or typewriter, artwork, photos, and drawings to be used in a publication. Usually copy only refers to the text and not to all source materials.
A board upon which the copy is pasted for the purpose of photographing.
The production step in the publishing process during which an editor reviews a manuscript and marks both language and content-related errors.
The process of adjusting the size and spacing of type to make it fit within a defined area of the page.
Marks on a final printed sheet that indicate the trim lines or register indicators.
In typography, an enclosed area within a letter. Also called the aperture. The small dot in the ‘e’ character is a counter.
Courier was originally a typeface that was designed for the IBM Selectric typewriters. It is a typical fixed pitch design, monotone in weight and slab serif in concept. On computers, it is used to emulate typewriter output for reports, tabular work, and technical documentation. Many output systems use Courier as a substitution font when fonts are missing in a document or on a system. This explains its ‘popularity’ in prepress. This site has a dedicated page about the Courier typeface.
A term describing a general type of papers used for the covers of books, pamphlets, etc.
Abbreviation for Characters Per Inch
– Abbreviation for Characters Per Minute
– Abbreviation for Copies Per Minute
Abbreviation for Content Protection for Recordable Media, a mechanism for controlling the copying, moving, and deletion of digital media on a host device, such as a personal computer, or another digital player. It’s already used for specific removable media
abbreviation for Configurable PostScript Interpreter, the name that Adobe used for its PostScript and PDF-based RIPs. Adobe actually sells its RIP-code to various companies who add a user interface, screening system, manual,… to sell the combination as a RIP. The Adobe PDF Print Engine or APPE which was released in 2006 is the successor of CPSI.
Abbreviation for Carriage Return
abbreviation for Cyclic Redundancy Checking, an error detection technique.
abbreviation for Color Rendering Dictionary
The result of added thickness of folded sheets being behind one another in a folded signature. Outer edges of sheets creep away from back most fold as more folded sheets are inserted inside the middle. It is also called shingling.
A standard file format that is designed to handle classified advertising and focuses on categorizing and formatting the content. The standard does not concern itself with the business transaction rules. It has been adopted by a number of US publishers.
A type of single sheet proof that is used for verifying the colors, checking register, obvious blemishes, and size of images. Cromalin is a trademark of Dupont.
To eliminate a portion of the art or copy as indicated by crop marks.
Markings (usually thin lines) that show where a page or image has to be trimmed. Don’t forget to use the color ‘registration’ (most applications have such a color) if you create your own crop marks.
The process of using only a part of a photograph. Cropping is done to enhance the focus of a photograph or to allow a designer to fit a photo in the layout.
Change in position of axes when position changes in another axis, also known as crosstalk.
Marks of fine lines, which intersect to indicate the accurate alignment of art elements.
– An illustration that covers part of two facing pages in a book or magazine. It gets its name from the fact that it crosses over the binding edge. It is important that both parts of a color illustration line up on both pages when the book is assembled and the colors match on both halves of the reproduction.
– In printing, the crossover denotes the number of impressions at which there is a cost advantage to switching a job from one process to another.
Abbreviation for Cathode Ray Tube, the tube used in old computer monitors
Abbreviation for Customer Supplied Material
Abbreviation for Customer Service Representative
Abbreviation for Continuous-Tone
Abbreviation for Computer To Plate
Abbreviation for ConTRoL, refers to both the control character as well as the key on the keyboard.
Paper can curl because of difference in coatings on opposite sides of a sheet, or due to absorption of moisture. The concave side of a sheet is called the curl side.
Writing style in which the letters of a word are connected
A press plate curved to fit the printing press cylinder.
cut and paste
A built-in function in the Macintosh operating system and Windows with which a user can designate a portion of an image in one file, delete(cut) that portion, and copy it exactly (paste) into another file.
A method of trimming a book after the cover has been attached to the pages.
An explanatory text that provides information about an illustration. Also called a legend.
The cut or print length relating to the circumference of the plate or cylinder on the rotary press.
A halftone or image where the background has been removed to produce a silhouette.
In finishing a machine for accurately cutting stacks of paper to desired dimensions…can also be used to crease. Also trims out final bound books’ top size (softcover).
Sharp-edged device, usually made of steel, to cut paper, cardboard, etc., on a printing press.
A file format for defining spot colors. The XML-based specifications were originally created by GretagMacbeth, who was later bought by X-Rite. The CxF 3.0 specifications might eventually become a true industry standard. The detailed definition of colors in a CxF file can be based on spectral data.
A standard file format to handle financial transactions. It comes from the business-to-business world and is one of many standards that have emerged from EDI and similar initiatives over the years. cXML is based on Ariba technology and has some unique aspects that help support interactive synchronous messaging over the web. It has been widely adopted in other industries besides graphic arts.
Blueish color that is part of the CMYK process colors that are used in 4-color printing. Cyan is obtained by mixing equal amounts of green and blue light. Red is the complementary color of cyan: cyan ink absorbs red light. Cyan is also called process blue.
The additional quantity of cyan that is needed to create a neutral gray using the CMY process colors. In theory, equal measures of cyan, magenta, and yellow are needed to produce neutral gray, but in practice an additional amount of cyan is necessary.