I – ‘IBC’ to ‘ivory board’

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 Inside Back Cover: Also called the third cover, this is the one but last page of a publication.


Abbreviation for International Color Consortium, an organization which was established in 1993 to create, promote and encourage the standardization and evolution of an open, vendor-neutral, cross-platform color management system architecture and components. To do so, they developed the ICC profile specifications. The ICC website can be found here.


– Abbreviation for Image Color Management, the color management engine written by Heidelberg and used by Microsoft from Windows 95 till Windows XP. In Vista and Windows 7 it has been supplanted by WCS.
– Abbreviation for Image Color Matching,


In a graphical operating system, such as the Macintosh operating system or Windows, a small picture that represents an application, file, and or parts of the operating system such as a font and utility.


A symbol that primarily denotes an idea (or meaning) in contrast to a sound (or pronunciation) – for example, a symbol showing a telephone.


Abbreviation of Inside Front Cover


A popular range of Macintosh computers, spearheaded by the ‘Bondi blue’ model which was launched in 1998.

Apple iMac Bondi

image area

The portion of the printing plate that carries the ink and prints on paper.


High-resolution device for producing film from electronically generated page layouts. Nowadays these machines have mostly been replaced by CtP (computer to plate) systems. Below is an image of my favorite imagesetter, the Agfa Avantra 30 with an on-line Rapiline developer. This is a 4-up system, capable of imaging 4 imposed A4-pages on a single piece of film at resolutions up to 3600 dpi.

Agfa Avantra 30


Bringing data from one file to another. For example, a graphic in EPS or TIFF format can be imported in a QuarkXPress file.


– The correct positioning pages on a press sheet so that when the press sheet is folded to form a signature, the pages are in the correct numerical sequence.
– The positioning of various images (usually into a flat) in such a way that when the job is printed and folded, the images will be in the correct sequence and position.
– The plan and arrangement of pages in a press form so that when printed, folded, and trimmed, they appear in the correct order.


The pressure of a printing surface as it contacts the paper.


– The name and location of the publisher and the printer, which by law are required to be included in publications. Sometimes additional data such as internal ID-codes, the quantity printed, or the publishing date are added.
– To produce a mark or a pattern on a surface by pressure.
– A mark or pattern produced by imprinting.

index bristol

A relatively thick paper stock; basis size—25 1/2 x 30 1/2.

indexed color

A color system in which a limited number of colors are used. These colors are defined in a lookup table of colors. Color specified from a 24-bit palette but displayed in an 8-bit system is indexed color.


Markings pre-printed on mailing envelopes to replace the stamp.

industrial papers

A term used to denote papers such as janitorial, sanitary, or heavy packing papers.


In typography, characters set in a smaller point size and positioned below the baseline. Inferiors are typically used in chemical equations and sometimes called subscripts.

ink fountain

The device which stores and meters ink to the inking rollers.

ink holdout

A quality of paper to be resistant to ink absorption, allowing the ink to dry on the paper surface.

ink knife

A tool that a pressman uses to dig the ink out of a can or mix a special color.

ink mist

Any threads or filaments which protrude from the main printed letter body of long inks, as seen in newsprint.

ink setoff

A printing defect in which wet ink is transferred to the reverse side of the sheet lying on top of it. It is also called offsetting.

ink setting

The inertial resistance to flow that occurs to ink as soon as it is printed.


A device used to measure the tack of ink.


A term to describe components of a system that are arranged in a logical production sequence. For example, an in-line film processor can be connected to an imagesetter so that the film is output directly from the imagesetter to the processor without operator intervention. Another example is in-line finishing equipment, which is connected directly to the printing press.

in-line problem

An imbalanced difficulty that occurs when the page printing above another in the direction of travel on a printing press requires a different ink feed.

inferior characters

– Small characters, generally used in mathematical data that are usually positioned below the baseline. Called subscripts in computer usage.
– Type set below a line in a size about 20% smaller than the other text. Also called subscripts. For example, the 2 in the expression H2O.


The first letter of a block text copy set in a display typeface or size. Often used for emphasis or decoration to begin the chapter of a book.

inner caps

Mixed case format where an uppercase letter is in a position other than first in the word–for example, “M” in “iMac.” Inner caps sometimes appear in names but they were made popular by Apple and then used for a lot of software and hardware products.


A method of printing images using jets that squirt minuscule drops of ink onto a variety of surfaces. Images can be produced in single colors. For example, a subscriber’s name can be inserted into a magazine or a color image can be created by using process colors.


– Text that has been added to a body of text.
– A special advertisement, map or foldout of one or more pages, preprinted for insertion in a publication.
– A printed signature that has another signature wrapped around it.

inside focus

That part of an image forming optical system where light rays converge toward the focus


A high-quality halftone screening method developed by Optronics.


Type of press or printing technique that uses engraved plates (pronounced “in-TAL-ee-oh”). The image on the plate is engraved into the plate’s surface; then, ink is spread across the plate and wiped off, and the plate is pressed into the paper with great force. The result is a “raised” printing on the surface of the paper. Paper money and postage stamps are often printed on intaglio presses. Also called ‘gravure’.

integral proof

A proof made by exposing each of the four color separations to an emulsion layer of primary colors. These emulsion sheets are stacked in register with a white sheet of paper in the background. Types of integral proofs are Chromalin, Matchprint, Ektaflex, and Spectraproof. This type of proofing has been superseded by inkjet proofs.


A font technology that is used by HP but that was originally developed by Agfa. It is a scalable font format in which the character data are stored as mathematical outlines. This enables a single font to be used for all sizes as the outline data can be scaled to any required size. The other benefit of using a scalable outline is that as it does not have a specific resolution, the printed image is always produced at the maximum resolution of the printer. The Intellifont font format is supported by all HP LaserJet printers from the HP LaserJet III onwards.


An expression of a light source illuminance.


– The point of connection and communication between two independent devices.
– An intermediate device, sometimes referred to as a black box, that is used to connect one device to another when the devices have different connectors, data streams, formats, or protocols.
– A user interface is the characteristics of the interaction between the computer system and the user, sometimes called the human/computer interface.
– Any hardware or software device that allows information to be shared between two computerized devices, such as a modem


An extra blank page inserted loosely into printed pieces or in between plates.


– Abbreviation for the International Phonetic Alphabet
– Abbreviation for the International Phonetic Association, which defines and maintains the International Phonetic Alphabet.
– Abbreviation for International Prepress Association, a nonprofit professional trade association comprised primarily of color separators.

IPA Standard Color Reference

Printed samples of SWOP inks used for publication proofing and printing. The Hi-Lo Reference illustrates the high and the low density for each ink. The Single Level Color Reference is printed at the optimal standard density.


A page description language used by IBM for their printers


Abbreviation for in-Plant Printing


Abbreviation for International Press Telecommunications Council, an organization that develops and publishes industry standards for the interchange of news. They are best known for their specification for embedding metadata such as the name of the photographer, copyright, caption,… in images.


Abbreviation for Infrared – the region of the spectrum with a wavelength just greater than that of the red end of the visible light spectrum but less than that of microwaves. Infrared radiation has a wavelength from about 800 nm to 1 mm and is emitted particularly by heated objects.

irrational screen angles

Screen angles whose tangent is an irrational number. (In trigonometry a tangent is computed as side opposite over side adjacent.) Irrational numbers cannot be expressed exactly; they must be rounded off. PostScript has difficulty calculating irrational screen angles and uses instead a rational screen method.

iridescent paper

A coated stock finished in mother-of-pearl.


Abbreviation for In-Rip Separation, the technology used in most RIPs to perform color separations. (I think the abbreviation is also used for another wildly popular service provided by the US government.)


Abbreviation for In-Rip Trapping


Abbreviation for International Standard Book Number, a reference number used to identify commercial books. It can usually be found on the back of the title page.


Abbreviation for Integrated Services Digital Network, a high-speed remote communication protocol. In Europe, ISDN was pretty popular in prepress because it offers 2 data channels of 64 Kb/s each and a classic telephone line in one package.

island spread

A multiple-page spread: 3 or more pages next to each other, such as for example magazine pages with a foldout.


– Abbreviation for International Standard Organization, a standardization committee. Many standards used in graphic arts are managed by ISO, including the ISO 216 paper sizes, the ISO 32000 PDF standard and the ISO 12647 print standard.
– A copy of the content of a CD or DVD disk, stored as a single file


Abbreviation for International Standard Serial Number, an ISO-standard that uses a unique eight-digit number to identify a magazine or other print or electronic periodical publication. Fortune magazine, for instance, has 0015-8259 as its ISSN code.

IT8/WG11 committee

A group of people striving to pursue color communication and control specifications focusing on standards for RGB, CMYK, color transforms, scanning targets, and multivendor system calibration. This working group is under the IT8/SC1 technical subcommittee of the ANSI IT8 committee.


A type style in which characters slope to the right. Italic is an effective alternative to using boldface for emphasis.


Abbreviation for International Telecommunication Union, a standardization committee

ivory board

A smooth high white board (thick paper) used for business cards.

One thought on “I – ‘IBC’ to ‘ivory board’

  1. This is one of the best graphic design glossaries I have come across. However, it would be even better, more comprehensive if it included the definition of illustration.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *