This dictionary covers graphic design, prepress and print terminology
Click a letter to see more layout, printing and binding terms of this glossary
table of contents
A list of chapter titles, main headings, or other divisions of a book inserted in the preliminary pages before the main text or at its end.
A paper size that is used in the US and measures 279 x 432 millimeters or 11 x 17 inches. This is half the size of a broadsheet or twice the size of a ‘Letter’ sized page.
In typesetting, tables and charts with columns of data must be aligned.
Abbreviation for Total Area Coverage: the total build-up of ink on a given spot on the paper. An area where 70 percent cyan is combined with 50 percent yellow and 20 percent black has a TAC of 140. This site has a page with more information on TAC or TIC (Total Ink Coverage, as it is sometimes also called).
The ‘stickiness’ or adhesive quality of ink while printing.
– A dense, strong paper stock.
– In page composition systems, a notation that defines each classification of text in a publication, such as the title, subtitles and body text. Typographic styles can then be assigned to each tag. This makes it possible for a designer to change just a single tag and experiment with type changes throughout the publication.
foot or bottom of a signature
the margin from the bottom of the type area to the bottom of the page
A takeoff bar or ghost 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.
Taxonomy is the science and practice of classification. Within graphic arts, the term usually refers to the classification of images or other data in an asset management system. A taxonomy refers to a particular way in which assets are classified.
Abbreviation for TeraByte, 1000 megabyte.
A perforation made in the folder of a web press to allow the end-user to easily tear out pages of the book
A temporary background image or shape on the computer monitor into which text and artwork are inserted. A template can also be a file that contains a style sheet and master or base pages which contain recurring images or placeholders for text or images. Such a template is useful for publications in which pages share a common design.
A paper’s ability to withstand pressure.
A little device that prevents data signal reflection at the end of a conductor. The SCSI-bus needs a terminator (which is sometimes build into SCSI-devices) and on some systems, if you want to use only one processor on a dual-CPU system, a terminator has to be put on the empty processor slot.
Colors that are made up of portions of all three process ink pigments.
A computer language designed for use in typesetting, in particular for typesetting math and other technical material. (According to its inventor, professor Donald Knuth, TeX rhymes with the word blecchhh.) TeX is pretty popular in universities or at publishers handling scientific publications. TeX systems are available on all common computer platforms.
– The main body of copy in a book or on a page opposed to headings.
– A high-quality printing paper.
Impressing a pattern into the surface of a film or paper.
Grades of uncoated paper with textured surfaces.
The ability within a computer application to run text around a graphic image or another object within a document, without the need to adjust each line manually.
thermal transfer printer
A color printer using colored waxes that are heat-transferred and fused to special coated papers.
An ink that contains leuco dyes which cause it to change color due to a change in temperature.
A printing process whereby slow drying ink is applied to paper and while the ink is still wet, it is lightly dusted with a resinous powder. The paper then passes through a heat chamber where the powder melts and fuses with the ink to produce a raised surface.
A form of binding in which the pages are attached to a cover using a heat-set plastic adhesive.
The thinnest space normally used to separate words.
thirty two sheet
A paper size that is typically used for posters, measuring 3048 x 4064 millimeters or 120 x 160 inches.
A neutral gray made up of cyan, magenta, and yellow pigments in correct percentages and ink densities. However, by overprinting the process color inks in equal dot sizes, it appears brown, rather than gray, because of the ink impurities.
Color separation and reproduction using only process cyan, magenta, and yellow inks, with no black ink.
three quarter web
Type of web press that can print eight-page signatures whose flat trim size is typically 17 by 22 inches. Three-quarter Webs use rolls that are 22 to 27 inch wide.
In finishing the binding technique in which a thread or cord is used to stitch a book block together. This is often done in conjunction with using an adhesive. Thread sewing is used for hardcover books.
a type of cutting device used to trim three sides of a bound book simultaneously. This machine is typically used at the end of a binding or finishing line. A three knife trimmer is similar to a guillotine cutter but uses three knives instead of one, two parallel knives and one right-angle knife.
A reference value on a scale, to which something (like a signal while scanning) is compared.
A slower drier that dries the ink throughout without forming a hard crust.
a folded map, plan or image that is printed and bound in a book to fold out to a size larger than the page size.
A small low-resolution version of an image or page.
Abbreviation for Total Ink Coverage, the total build-up of ink on a given spot on the paper. An area where 70 percent cyan is combined with 50 percent yellow and 20 percent black has a TAC of 140. More information can be found on this page.
Envelopes used mostly for theater tickets, with no other particular usage.
Abbreviation for Tagged Image File Format, a file format used for bitmap images. Check the TIFF file format page for more information.
Abbreviation for Tag Image File Format for Image Technology, a slightly outdated file format used to exchange page data. Check the TIFF-IT file format page for more information.
Code name for Mac OS X 10.4
– The act of cutting up an image into smaller sections.
– The act of printing a page layout in sections with overlapping edges so that the pieces can be pasted together. Large format posters are often tiled.
An error that occurs when a device or application has waited too long for another device or application to send or receive data.
– A percentage of a solid ink or a halftone screen that contains all the same sized dots.
– Flat tints and spot colors are often called tints.
– A variant of a color that is created by mixing a defined amount of white with the basic color.
The separate insertion of a single page into a book either during or after binding by pasting one edge.
The right-hand page at the front of a book following the half-title page. The title page usually shows the title of the book, the author’s and publisher’s name, and the year of publication.
Typeface designed specifically for use in large sizes, such as titles. Some titling faces contain only capital letters, in which case they’re called titling caps.
The dot on a lowercase i is an example of a tittle or superscript dot. Accents, vowel marks, and other small diacritic marks are also called tittles.
Abbreviation for Table Of Content
In typography, a hollow or filled rectangular or square character that is used to indicate the end of an article in a magazine. It is also referred to as a halmos (in mathematics) or end of proof mark.
The maximum range of tones in an original or reproduction.
The character of a color, it’s quality or lightness. The verb tense, to tone, means to change or modify color.
The reduction of an original’s tonal range achievable through the reproduction process.
The relationship between each original density and each reproduction density that can be plotted on a graph.
Powder or liquid ink used to print. Toner is used in laser printers as well as a lot of digital presses.
A printing defect that is caused by ink printing where it should not print. Toning is the weak color in non-image areas of the reproduction that gives the visual appearance of more color everywhere
tone value increase
See dot gain – a numerical value to indicate the physical and optical enlargement of halftone dots during the printing process.
The rough surfaced finish of papers such as vellum or antique.
The total amount of printing dot in a given area on a press sheet or on separation films. The term is misleading because the total amount of printing dot should not be specified as a density. The correct term is total printing dot.
See TAC or TIC
Abbreviation for Total Quality Management
A portion of a disk surface that is used to organize the information stored. When the disk is initialized, the operating system separates the disk surface into circular tracks and divides each track into sectors.
Decreasing or increasing the amount of space between letters in a word or a line of text.
A printer who does printing for other companies in the business, usually print brokers.
A company that specializes in scanning images and delivering color separated films
A slang term for a transparency. The term is mainly used in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
The printing of bank statements, bills, insurance portfolios, payroll slips, mailings,…
A mathematical function that defines how data should be modified. In many software applications, it is visualized as a curve with the input on the horizontal X-axis and the required output on the vertical Y-axis. The example below is a transfer curve in PhotoShop, used to brighten an image. It shows that a 50% tint should become a lighter 40% tint.
A peel and stick tape used in business forms
A transparent original, such as a 35mm slide or transparency. In general, transmissive originals produce higher-quality scans than reflective originals.
The ratio of transmitted light to incident light. It is measured with a transmission densitometer and expressed as a percent.
The photographic color positive film that represents a color image such as Kodachrome, Fujichrome, or Agfachrome. Also called by the slang terms: tranny and chrome. Standard sizes are 35mm, 2″ x 2″, 4″ x 5″, 5″ x 7″, and 8″ x 10″. Transparencies are the preferred original for color scanning because the film offers a higher resolution than photographic print material.
A small box containing a 5000K light that is used for viewing transparencies.
An ink that does not block out the colored inks that it prints over, but instead blend with them to create intermediate colors.
In printing, transpromo refers to transactional documents such as phone bills, invoices or event tickets that also contain promotional messages or advertising.
– In prepress trapping is a technique that minimizes the effects of misregistration in print by slightly overlapping abutting colors.
– In printing, trapping refers to the reaction of various colors of ink to each other when they are printed wet on top of each other.
The family of thermal CtP systems developed and sold by Creo/CreoScitex/Kodak.
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 C-fold or letter-fold.
– The edge of a printed page.
– In finishing, trim refers to the cutting of the finished product to the correct size.
Marks in the form of short, straight lines outside the trimmed area. At the corners where they are perpendicular to each other (but not touching), they may be called corner marks. They guide the press operator in aligning the press sheet and the cutter operator in trimming to size.
The final size of a printed image or page after the last trim is made.
An image that consists of three different colors of ink to produce a subtle range of tone. Usually black is one of these colors and it is often combined with 2 Pantone spot colors.
A PostScript-compatible graphics system that was developed by Microsoft. They cross-licensed it to Apple in exchange for their TrueType technology, which once again proves that Microsoft are better businessmen than Apple. TrueImage was buggy and inferior to PostScript. The only application that ever used it was Aldus TrapWise.
A font format created by Apple Computer. More information can be found on the font pages.
A color matching system that is similar to Pantone;
System that is ready to be used right out of the box without any additional purchases
Abbreviation for Tone Value Increase (dot gain) – Numerical value to indicate the physical and optical enlargement of halftone dots during the printing process.
– Abbreviation for Technology Without An Important (or Interesting) Name, a nowadays outdated application communication protocol for MacOS and Windows developed by Aldus, Caere, HP, Logitech, and Kodak. TWAIN drivers allowed applications like Photoshop, PageMaker or CorelDraw to directly import data from devices such as scanners, video capture boards or digital cameras.
twin wire machine
Fourdrinier papermaking machines with two wires, instead of a wire and felt side. This assures higher quality when two sides are used for printing.
The difference in feel and appearance of either side of a sheet of paper due to the papermaking process having a felt and wire side.
Abbreviation for TWentIeth of a Point, 1/1440th of an inch
Letters of the alphabet and all the other characters used to create words, sentences, paragraphs, etc.
The art and craft of designing typefaces. Designers of typefaces are called type designers, font designers or typographers.
type 42 font
Type 42 fonts are TrueType fonts with a rather trivial PostScript “wrapper” around them so they can be processed by a PostScript RIP. Most PostScript Level 2 printers support type 42 fonts.
– A set of characters created by a type designer, including uppercase and lowercase alphabetical characters, numbers, punctuation and special characters. A typeface contains many fonts, at different sizes and styles. This distinction between a font and a typeface is nowadays not made by most people who consider both words to be synonyms.
– The style and design of a particular alphabet.
– A single style variation in a type family, such as light, bold or condensed, for example, Times Roman Italic.
Abbreviation for Typographical error – an error in text.
A specialist in the art of typography.
The art (and craft) of setting type so as to enhance the text. “If it’s done well, no one will notice”.