This dictionary covers graphic design, prepress and print terminology
Click a letter to see more layout, printing and binding terms of this glossary
The central part of the spine of the binding of a book.
In finishing the binding technique in which wire staples pass through the spine from the outside and are clinched in the center. Only used with folded sections, either single sections or two or more sections inset to form a single section. This type of binding is frequently used for (cheaper) magazines.
In finishing the binding technique to fasten a booklet by wiring it through the middle fold of the sheets.
A paper that shows sign of erasure so that it cannot be altered or tampered with easily.
A scanning term that indicates the number of samples taken per inch or millimeter in both scan directions on traditional drum scanners.
– Abbreviation for Storage Area Network, a technology for accessing data storage from different computers systems.
– Abbreviation for Standard Address Number, a unique identification code for each address of each organization in or served by the book industry.
A typeface that has no serifs (small strokes at the end of the main stroke of the character).
A smooth delicately embossed finished paper with sheen.
The attribute of color that describes its degree of strength and its departure from gray with the same lightness.
Abbreviation for Small Caps
The process of enlarging of reducing an image, drawing or another object.
An input device for analyzing and digitizing the content of an original.
The illuminator that is used inside the scanner to light the original during content analysis.
A proof of one single picture or a group of images made to check color and image quality.
Abbreviation for Scientific Textiles – Scitex evolved into one of the largest suppliers of prepress equipment, was bought by Creo which itself was later purchased by Kodak.
A crease put on paper to help it fold better.
Creasing paper mechanically so it will fold more easily. This is usually necessary when the paper is even moderately stiff or when the fold goes across the grain.
scratch off printing
Scratch printing or scratch off printing is 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.
Dainippon Screen, formed in 1943, is one of the largest companies supplying scanners, workflows and output devices to the graphic arts.
The position of the two rows of halftone dots relative to degrees of a circle. When outputting the four films of reproduction, the dots of each process color are placed at a distinct and different angle, one to another. Usually, the major strong colors of cyan, magenta and black are placed at a distance of 30 degrees, although some software generates other screen angles.
A graph that illustrates the relationship between the stored gray level for a pixel and the dot size that will result on output. Screen curves are established during linearization of an output device.
A photo print made by using a halftone negative; also called a Velox.
Computer files containing the bitmap outlines of digitally rendered typefaces for display on a computer monitor. Screen fonts offer high fidelity to the printed output.
An expression of the number of lines or dots per unit of length in a screen for producing a halftone screen.
Screening is the technique that is used in printing to simulate tints or continuous-tone images such as photographs using dots. Almost all printing technologies such as offset, gravure or inkjet printing simulate shades of colors using dots.
A fairly simple and inexpensive printing technique that is well suited for low volume printing on highly irregular surfaces, like binders or clothing. The colors of screen printing tend to be vibrant and long-lasting which also makes the process suitable for outdoor displays and printing on frequently used items. Billboards and t-shirts are almost always printed in this process. Due to the long time the heavy ink takes to dry as well as registration problems, screen-printing may never be a viable option for high-quality print jobs.
A measurement equaling the number of lines or dots per inch on a halftone screen.
A halftone that contains a uniform dot size over the entire area.
A typeface that resembles handwriting. Sometimes the characters are connected. The style can vary from classic to whimsical.
Script typefaces are often used for invitations, greetings, and ads.
Abbreviation for Small Computer Systems Interface, a technology to connect hard disks, scanners or other peripherals to a computer. Nowadays replaced by USB, FireWire, and Thunderbolt.
Ink that smears or comes off a printed sheet. Also known as rub-off.
Unwanted ink marks in the non-image area.
A printing problem that occurs when the non-image areas of a plate take on some ink. This often causes streaks on printed material.
Small dots that appear in areas that should be white (e.g. because of JPEG compression artifacts)
Computer applications that can be linked together without any apparent communication problems.
– A printed sheet folded to make a multiple of pages.
– A part of a book, magazine or newspaper that groups topics that cover a common subject.
A computer smallest addressable portion of data storage. The address is an identification (number or name) for the data storage location on a disk.
Paper incorporating special security features such as a watermark, special dye, a thin wire,… The paper is used for documents such as cheques or bank notes.
The segment of the printing industry that handles printing banknotes, passports, identity documents, driver’s licenses, vouchers, lottery tickets but also packages for luxury or pharmaceutical products.
self cover or self-cover
The cover of a book or booklet that is printed using the same paper grade and weight as the inside pages. This can be done to assure that a slim booklet can lay flat but is is also a good way of reducing cost.
– Thin lines added to the end of a letterform’s stem and stroke.
– A typeface that uses serifs. According to most typographers, serif typefaces are ideal for large blocks of text because the serifs improve readability.
An organization that provides output from digital files, usually to a PostScript imagesetter. Service bureaus are contrasted to trade shops, which ordinarily use a combination of manual and electronic prepress equipment to output and assemble film.
A printing problem that occurs when wet ink from the printed side of the sheet transfers to the back of the sheet above it.
A dry or liquid spray attachment on presses to prevent ink from transferring from the top of one printed sheet to the bottom of the next. It is also called anti-offset spray.
The width of the type body of a given point size.
To set lines of type without any additional vertical space between them. When a 12 point typeface is set on 12, it is set solid. The letter descenders of the line above will often appear to touch letter ascenders from the line below.
In typography, the horizontal width of characters.
Abbreviation for Shop Floor Data Collection (or Capture). In the printing industry, this refers to the process of monitoring job progress, machine utilization, paper consumption, and other production data using bar code readers, data entry in terminals, automatic measuring devices,… The captured data are forwarded to and processed by an ERP system, MIS system or planning application.
Abbreviation for Standard Generalized Markup Language, a standard that was used to code the attributes of text files for subsequent formatting or archiving. SGML is the precursor of both HTML and XML.
To change the brightness or color of parts of a graphic image to simulate a three-dimensional depth.
The darkest part of an image, usually with the density at or near maximum density.
An attribute of an image that gives it the three-dimensional appearance. For example, the cyan separation gives an apple its three-dimensional appearance by printing a minimum amount of cyan in the front and an increasing amount of cyan around the side of the apple.
To make halftone printing dots smaller. Using negative separations, sharpening is accomplished with dot etching. Over exposure will also sharpen the negative films. When positive working plates are made using positive transparencies, sharpening happens automatically and the size of the printing dots are reduced by 5%. This sharpening is called negative dot gain.
The term that describes the appearance of the image edges in a picture, photograph, video display, proof or anywhere images are seen. As the image edges are sharpened, more detail will be visible. Unsharpened image edges are fuzzy and appear ‘out of focus’. The clearer cut the image edge, the sharper and ‘in focus’ the image is. Edge sharpness can be increased with unsharp masking.
A single piece of paper.
A printing press that feeds sheets of paper, rather than a continuous paper roll or web. Sheets of different sizes can be printed on the same press.
– The layout of images in a way that requires the use of separate plates to print the front and back of a sheet.
– The printing of two different images on two different sides of a sheet of paper by turning the page over after the first side is printed and using the same gripper and side guides.
A technique used to prevent creep or push-out in a saddle stitched (or to a far lesser account perfect bound) book made up of a great number of pages of thick paper.
The above drawing demonstrates the problem: once a publication has been trimmed, the inner pages are narrower than the outer pages. This makes the layout shift towards the outer edge and things like page number may actually disappear. To compensate for this inevitable fact, the content of the pages is gradually moved towards the spine for the inner sections.
Ink that is smooth and creamy but does not flow freely.
A pointer file that actually represents another file. This word is only used on Windows systems. On Macs, the same pointer file is referred to as an ‘alias’.
short grain web press
A web press that uses printing plates whose long dimension is along the cylinders. For long grain web presses the long dimension is around the cylinders. With web presses, the paper grain is always parallel to the direction of the movement of the paper. This means short grain cylinders are smaller than long grain cylinders.
Four-color print runs of 1000 or fewer copies.
The effect of one side of a sheet of printed paper showing through to the other side. This usually occurs on thin newspaper or magazine printing paper. An ‘off-white’ type of paper is often used to help reduce this in thinner paper stocks.
– Abbreviation for Solid Ink Density – A measure of how much complementary light is absorbed by a solid patch in a color control bar as measured with a reflection densitometer.
– Abbreviation for Standard Ink Densities: In the US, GRACoL recommends the following values: C: 1.40, M:1.50, Y: 1.05, K: 1.70.
In publishing, a term for information placed adjacent to an article in a printed publication, or web page.
The guides on the sides of the sheet fed press that position the sheet sideways as the paper is led towards the front guides.
In packaging, a side lock is a simple box design that the user can put together using the box’s locking mechanism, without the need for glue.
In finishing the binding technique in which wire staples pass through the pile of sections or leaves gathered upon each other and are clinched on the underside.
– Printed sheet (or its flat) that consists of a number of pages of a book, placed so that they will fold and bind together as a section of a book. The bigger the press is that is used to print a job, the more pages the signature contains.
– The printed sheet after folding.
Short for silhouette, which itself is another word for a clipping path. Clipping paths are created in image editing applications like Adobe Photoshop to cut a product shot, person or another object from the surrounding background. This is done to make the object stand out.
single sheet proof
A proof made by placing layers of toners, dyes or pigments on a single substrate without the intermediate thin membrane carrier sheets as used for an overlay color proof. Some common types of single sheet off-press proofs are Color-Art, Cromalin, Matchprint, Pressmatch, and signature.
A paper size that is typically used for posters measuring 3050 x 2030 millimeters or 120 x 80 inches.
A treatment of paper to make it resistant to moisture.
A black separation that adds detail and contrast only in the darkest area of the four-colour reproduction from the quarter tones to the shadows.
Option found in many prepress applications to slant an object (text or image) by a prescribed degree. Below is an example of a skewed picture.
A pallet of paper stock or folded signatures.
A term to describe the process of cutting of printed sheets by the cutting wheels of a printing press.
A part of a computer where an extra circuit board can be inserted to extend the function of the machine.
The mechanism in a sheetfed offset printing press that slows down the paper traveling through the press to avoid damage to the press sheets. These are also called slowdown wheels. A Heidelberg XL105 has a set of five wheels.
– 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.
– In typesetting, a slug was a line of type in one piece, as produced by a Linotype or other typesetting machine from the 19th or 20th century,
The smearing of the halftone dots on the press sheet in the direction of the travel through the press. Slurring is caused by paper slipping during the impression stage. It makes the dots look like little comets and causes dot gain.
Synonym for lowercase
That quality of paper defined by its levelness which allows for pressure consistency in printing, assuring uniformity of print.
Algorithm used in PostScript 3 and the PDF file format to define blends (transitions from one color or tint to another).
Acronym for the Specification for Non-heat Advertising Printing, a set of production specifications developed for uncoated and newsprint paper for separations, proofing, and printing in the United States.
A situation in which no true network is used: files are transferred from one computer to another by copying them to a floppy disk or removable drive, then walking over to another computer and copying them to it.
Code name for Mac OS X 10.6
A book bound with a paperback cover.
The density of the dot on film or plate is greatest at the center and trails off more gradually to the edge. Often, if you look at a soft dot under very high magnification (on the film, of course), it looks slightly “fuzzy,” like it has a fringe around the edge. The opposite of a soft dot is, of course, a hard dot in which density of the dot on film is constant right up to the edge of the dot, and drops sharply at the edge.
A general term given to fonts that can be added or downloaded to a printer or other output device.
A specially coded hyphen which is only displayed when formatting of the hyphenated word puts it at the end of a line. Also known as a discretionary hyphen.
A RIP that resides on a standard, non-specialized, off-the-shelf computer.
A generic term for computer programs or applications.
In photography, the effect caused by overexposing an image
Unleaded type. Lines of text with no space between the lines.
A general standard for media advertising in North America using the ANSI X12 formats. It was developed in 1991 and transformed to an XML-based standard in 1992.
A separately printed, unbound broadsheet that is folded around a newspaper, magazine or other periodical. The spadea can also be wrapped around one of the publication’s sections, such as the sports section of a newspaper. This page is not as large as the other pages of the publication, so it appears as a partial page or flap over the front and back. Spadeas are used for advertising and work well since they immediately draw the attention to the reader. This special sheet is also called a spadia, spadea fold or spadea wrap.
A printer who specializes in unusual services that require special equipment (e.g. printing on plastic bags).
In printing, this refers to the precise description of a print order.
A device that very accurately measures a color sample at many wavelengths and plots the reflectance at each wavelength on a spectrophotometric curve. It can also compute colorimetric attributes.
An option in word processing and layout applications to check the spelling of all the words in the document.
The backbone or bound edge of a publication that has a square back. The square back is a result of binding by perfect binding or by side-wire binding.
In finishing a binding technique whereby a wire or plastic is spiraled through holes punched along the binding side.
Putting more than one ink in a printing fountain to achieve special color effects.
A job with one single frontside but two or more different backsides, such as a datasheet with a product picture on the front and the specifications in two different languages on the back.
Abbreviation for Simultaneous Peripheral Operation On Line – I never knew this was an acronym!
The smallest diameter of light that a scanner can detect or an imagesetter or film plotter can expose. ‘Spot’ should not be confused with ‘dot’, which is the individual element of a halftone.
Localized color assigned to a graphic or block of text, prepares with a color break and printed without the use of color separations. Usually, process color is not assigned to the spot color areas. Spot colors are frequently printed with non-process color inks, although process inks can be used well.
The physical size of a recording or scanning spot. The smaller the spot size, the higher the resolution.
A varnish that is used to highlight a specific part of the printed sheet.
– Two facing pages in a publication such as a magazine or newspaper.
– In trapping a spread is a type of trap that is created by extending the foreground object into the background object.
A set of ISO-certified paper sizes. The full list can be found here.
A typeface with serifs the same weight or heavier than the main strokes.
In the screen printing process, a squeegee is a blade of rubber set on a handle and used for pushing ink through the mesh. The image below shows a Blick 50-55 Durometer squeegee. In lithography, a squeegee is used to distribute ink as well but then it can also refer to a small roller.
Slang for compressing data for storage or on-line transmission.
Abbreviation for Same Size
To bind a series of pages with wire staples such that staples enter from the front and back simultaneously, neither side being long enough to exit the opposite side.
The quality of paper to maintain its original size when it undergoes pressure and moisture changes.
A process of cutting many sheets from the same parent sheet in which the smaller sheets have different grain directions; also called dutch or bastard cutting.
In layout, these are elements that repeat exactly from one page to another, both in style or content and page position. Headers and footers are typical examples of standing elements.
standoff or stand-off
The amount of space between two text or image blocks.
A device on a printing press that minimizes the amount of static build up on paper as it passes through the press.
Abbreviation for straight tuck end box
The main vertical stroke making up a type character.
A proofreader’s mark, written in the margin, to indicate that copy marked for corrections should remain as it was.
Short name for a step-and-repeat machine: a device used to expose the same film image multiple times on a film or plate, most commonly used in packaging and label applications.
A type of electric motor that moves a very precise distance at the command of a computer. For example, a stepping motor drives an imagesetter’s lead screw.
A narrow strip of film consisting of orderly variable progression of increasing differences of neutral gray densities ranging from clear film to maximum density.
A proofreader’s mark meaning ‘let it stand’, do not make indicated change, copy should remain as is.
A combination of static and moving frictional forces observed as a non-linear and non-repeatable jump when motion begins.
Al screening algorithm that composes an image with very fine randomly placed microdots, rather than a grid of halftone cells.
A term for unprinted paper or other material to be printed.
Body text copy set in simple rectangular columns.
In packaging, an STE box is a type of end opening box that is glued on one side. The top and bottom flaps close on the same side of the box, whereas with reverse tuck end boxes the opposite ends tuck in opposite directions. At the company that packages goods, they pop open the box and close the bottom and top flaps after inserting the product. Since the flaps can close at the back of the box, the front or face of an STE box is better looking and more visually appealing to consumers. It may have a window to display the goods it contains.
A subheading used above the main headline in a newspaper article.
– A newspaper headline that runs across the full page
– A quote in a magazine that runs across the width of a column, added to attract the reader’s attention and visually make the page more interesting
In typography, stress refers to the variation of stroke thickness in the shape of characters, how the strokes in the individual glyph or character shape go from thick to thin.
The effect of ink soaking through a printed sheet and showing up on the back of the sheet.
A sequence of keyboard characters or codes to be processed as a group.
To add an element, such as copy that is shot separately, and then stripped into place on a goldenrod flat.
It means what you think it means but it also refers to the preparation and assembling of film in order to create a printing plate of the entire page
– Slash character (/).
– The essential lines which make up a character
In graphic software, a process of building lines of varying thickness around objects, usually to create spreads for trapping.
Impressing book covers, etc., by means of hot die, brass types or blocks.
A series of typographic format stored so that they can be quickly applied to blocks of text. Style sheets should also include some graphic information, such as rules and colors. Using style sheets is easier than manually formatting large sections of text.
A pen shaped pointer that is connected to a computer and used on a digitizing tablet to position images and locate functions on a menu.
A secondary phrase usually following a headline. It displays line(s) of lesser size and importance than the main headline.
In typography, characters set in a smaller point size and positioned below the baseline. Subscript is typically used in chemical equations and sometimes called inferiors.
– Any material that can be printed on, such as paper, film, plastic, fabric, cellophane or steel.
– The paper, board, metal, etc.to be printed, or the coating; such as film.
subtractive color primaries
The process ink colors, cyan, magenta and yellow. Each absorbs or subtracts its complimentary color, red, green or blue, from the light reflecting off the paper. Cyan, magenta and yellow produce a three-color black which is slightly brownish because of the unwanted hue error of the inks.
subtractive color theory
The principle surrounding the printing of cyan, magenta and yellow inks on paper for the purpose of absorbing portions of the red, green and blue light that is illuminating the surface, to prevent it from reflecting back to the observer’s eye. Different combinations cyan, magenta, and yellow are what create the appearance of the visible spectrum on the paper.
A set of rolls used in paper production to increase the gloss and smoothness of the paper.
A machine procedure that produces a high finished paper surface that is extremely smooth and exceptional for printing.
In digital halftone screening, a supercell is an aggregate of halftone dots which are manipulated as a single group.
The process merging two or more images into one.
Type that is set above a line in a size generally 20% smaller than the other text. Also called superscripts.
Type that is slightly smaller than the rest of the font and set above the baseline. Superscript is used for footnote markers and sometimes as the numerator of fractions. Also called superior characters.
– Printing over a previously printed area of either text or graphics.
– The combining of two negatives on one printing plate. One negative superimposed over another.
Abbreviation for Scalable Vector Graphics: a fairly new file format that can be used to publish vector based drawings and animations on the world wide web. SVG has been defined by the W3C organization so it is a vendor independent standard, as opposed to the competing and popular Macromedia Flash file format. SVG is based on XML tags and is only supported by the latest generations of browsers.
A decorative glyph (character shape) that use elaborate ornamentation, making it look like calligraphy. OpenType fonts can include swash characters.
A color sample.
A booklet containing paper samples and paper specifications for a line of paper.
An evaluation technique that is used mainly in gravure printing to verify that the films and proofs furnished will, in fact, produce the expected results for a given printing system. The color proofs are compared to swatches with values of density and dot area already known to be achievable with the printing system.
A network device that creates a faster point-to-point connection between computers or devices that want to communicate with each other. A hub, its cheaper counterpart, doesn’t create point-to-point connections but instead broadcasts all communication to all the connected devices or computers.
Abbreviation for Standard Web Offset Press, sometimes referred to as US SWOP because it is a standard that is prevalent in the US. According to other sources, SWOP stands for Specifications for Web Offset Publications. SWOP refers to a specific set of CMYK printing inks and printing and proofing specifications. The competing standards are Eurostandard (popular in Europe and the Far-East) and TOYO (Japan). All three systems use slightly different types of cyan, magenta, and yellow ink.
The sale of all or a portion of an original work to a number of publications, often newspapers, that will usually print the material more or less simultaneously.
A typeface that is created by distorting another typeface. Some applications allow users to select type styles such as bold or italic even it no corresponding typeface exists. Such a ‘fake’ font is created by adding an outline to the regular typeface or by slightly slanting the characters.
Any petroleum based waterproof papers with a high tensile strength.
Manufacturer of a series of removable disk systems that were very popular in prepress in the early nineties. The media (mostly 44 MB 5.25 inch cartridges) were referred to as SyQuest cartridges.
A color method developed by Felix Brunner for the purpose of color optimization, as well as printing and printing control, focusing on the influence and control of dot gain.
The actual configuring and connecting of different hardware and software components into a complete computer system.
Any company that specializes in assembling other manufacturers’ hardware and software components into harmonized production units.