glossary of printing terms


AO, A1, A2, A3, A4, A5 and A6 - trimmed European paper sizes as defined by the ISO 216 standard.

ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR - Software used for the creation of vector images producing .ai and .eps files.

ADOBE PHOTOSHOP - Software used for the manipulation of graphic and photographic images.

A.D.S - artwork delivery system - a software used for sending digital advertisements, designed to get around the problem of font copyrights.

ALIGNMENT - horizontal position of type to place characters in line and/or regulation of typesetting to range lines of characters within a column boundary.

AMERICAN QUARTO - The USA equivalent of A4 sized paper measuring 11" x 8.5" (279x216mm)

AMPERSAND - type character used in place of 'and'.

ART PAPER - a paper coated with china clay and size to leave a very smooth surface. Finish can be matt or gloss.

ARTWORK - final copy/material (normally supplied mounted on board to avoid creasing) ready for scanning, or for plate making with any special colour separation instructions marked-up on an attached overlay. This is seldom used since the introduction of computer generated artwork files.

ASCENDER - the top part of a lower case letter that rises above the x-height e.g. upper stroke in "h'.



BO, B1, B2, B3, B4, B5 and B6 - trimmed paper sizes as defined by the ISO 216 standard (larger than A sizes).

BANK - lightweight papers (under 60 gsm)

BLANKET - drum covered with rubber surface in an off-set litho press which transfers the ink from the plate to the paper.

BLEED - printed area outside of trim marks. The bleed ensures edge to edge ink coverage after trimming.

BLIND EMBOSSING - a design stamped/pressed into paper without ink creating a raised surface.

BOLD FACE - type thicker than normal type.

BOND - heavier papers often used for letterheads.

BRE - Business Reply Envelope.

BROMIDE - a photographic quality paper that is water proof, seldom used now due to digital copy.

BULK - the degree of thickness of paper.

BULLS EYE - printing defect caused by a foreign particle holding the paper away from the inked printing surface.



CAPS - capital letters.

CHOKE - small increase to inside edge, usually applied to a lighter colour enclosing a darker colour, to force an overlap. A form of trapping.

CI - Copy Instruction - a sheet of paper containing all the booking details that normally accompanies the material sent to the publication.

CMYK - short term for four colour process referring to Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black).

COLLATE - sort separate pages into correct sequence.

COLOUR SEPARATION - separation of copy or artwork into the four process colours.

CONCERTINA - alternating folds in a single sheet.

CONTINUOUS STATIONERY - generally used on computer printers, where each sheet is joined to the next.

COPY DATE - the date a publication requires the advertisement material to guarantee printing on time. This varies from the day before the insertion date on a national newspaper to 6 weeks prior on some magazines.

CROMALIN - an off-press proof (made direct from the film separations). See Matchprint.

CUTOUT - area/shape removed from within trim area. Image without a background.

CUTTER - used to cut pre-determined shapes in paper.

CYAN - one of the 4 process colours ("Blue").



DESCENDER - part of a lower case letter that falls below the base-line of the character e.g. lower stroke in 'q".

DOT GAIN - enlargement of half-tone dot during printing which needs to be allowed for in reproduction.

DPI - Dots Per Inch, Measure of resolution, i.e. how many separate dots a printing device can produce per linear inch.

DUO-TONE - two colour halftone produced from a single colour original to produce a subtly coloured image.

DYE-SUBLIMATION - a one-off printing process transferring process colour dyes instead of ink to achieve realistic colour portrayal. See Iris and Rainbow 3M.



EMBOSS - raised lettering or impression rising above the flat paper/material.

EPS - file format used for images and graphics - short for Encapsulated Postscript File.

EXTRA BOLD - extra thick character strokes.



FILM - copy supplied as separation film for plate-making.

FIT - refers to exact register of each colour used on film, proof or plate.

FOOLSCAP - paper measuring 13 by 8 inches.

FOUR COLOUR SET - 4 pieces of acetate film, one for each process colour, i.e. cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

FULL COLOUR - four colour process print using Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK).



GATEFOLD - page in magazine which folds out.

GLOSS ART - shiny art paper (as opposed to matt art).

GRAVURE - process where the printing areas are below the non-printing surface. The recesses are filled with ink and the surplus is cleaned off with a blade before the paper contacts the whole surface and lifts the ink from the recesses. Generally used for very large print runs.

GRAPHIC DESIGN - Synonymous with Creative Line design, the art of producing creative material for the promotion of business.

GSM - short for "grams per square metre", defining the weight of paper.

GUTTER - the inner, binding margin of a book, or space between printed areas.



IMAGESETTER - high resolution output printer used for producing bromide, final film or even plates containing graphics, text and scanned images (e.g. Linotron).

INSERT (Loose/Bound-in/Tip-in, etc.) - a page, booklet, or other item inserted into a magazine which is not printed as part of it. Usually pre-printed, can be inserted either loose, bound into the spine, or stuck onto a page of the publication.

IRIS - manufacturer name for a colour proofing system which produces finished image straight from computer (i.e. without separation film). See Dye-Sublimation.

ITALICS - version of type font with sloping characters.



JPEG - Joint Photographic Experts Group - A medium for compressing picture file sizes to reduce transmission time.

JUSTIFY - spacing words to a predetermined width.



KERNING - spacing letters of a word so that they are either closer together or further apart.

Key - one of the 4 process colours ("Black").

KEYLINE - used as a positioning guide for placement of an image or tint - and can be printed or deleted before printing.



LAID - a form of paper with marks through the paper, as opposed to wove which is smooth.

LEADING - spacing between lines of text, depth of which measured in points.

LITHO - lithography. A method of printing whereby the ink transferred from a chemically treated flat plate to paper Can be direct or off-set, sheet or web-fed.

LOWER CASE - small letters as opposed to capitals.

LPI - lines per inch (see DPI). Measurement of definition (halftone screen to be applied).



MAGENTA - one of the 4 process colours ("Red").

MATCHPRINT - an off-press proof (made direct from the film separations). See Cromalin.

MATT ART - dull finished paper (as opposed to gloss art).

MICRON - 1/millionth of a metre, 1/thousandth of a millimetre

MINDER - print machine operator.

MOIRE - undesired pattern on scanned image resulting from incorrect use of screen.

MONOCHROME - single colour.



NCR - "No Carbon Required". Paper impregnated with dye which transfers image to sheet below.

NEGATIVE - film with image in reverse.



ORIGINATION - all the processes involved in the reproduction (Repro) of all copy/material up to platemaking.

ORPHAN - single word on a line at end of a paragraph.

O/S/E - Outside Edge - position of space booked on the page.

OVERLAY - transparent sheet with captions or instruction covering artwork.



PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM (PMS) - colour matching system specifying ink mixes to achieve consistent colour

PORTABLE DIGITAL FILE (PDF) - a digital file that compresses, InDesign files, Quark files, pictures, etc. into smaller size files for digital transmission over both Mac and PC platforms.

PERFORATE (PERF) - make series of holes in order to ensure straight-line tear.

PICA - 1/6", 12 point, standard unit of print measure.

PLATE - printing plate carrying inked image.

POSITION GUIDE - marked-up copy of the artwork specifying where images need to be placed.

POSITIVE - film with image resembling original.

PRE-PRESS - film and plate-making operations.

PRESS - printing machine.

PROCESS COLOUR - 4 standard colours used in full colour print (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black).

PROGRESSIVES - proofs taken from each plate to demonstrate build up of colour in a print run.

PROOF - printed sheet for checking type and colours.



RAINBOW 3M - a proofing system. See Dye-Sublimation.

REAM - 500 sheets of paper.

REGISTER - exact position of overlaid film separations c printed colours to achieve sharp image.

REPRO-HOUSE - company specialising in production C plate-making and/or film for printers.

RESOLUTION - definition of image by number of dots. More dots per inch mean higher resolution.

RGB - Red, Green, Blue: These are "additive" colours (100~, of each produce white).

RIVER - white line/area appearing in consecutive lines of set type as result of letter-space alignment or gaps in text.

R/R E/D - Right Reading Emulsion Side Down - the image is black on the clear acetate and is legible (not the wrong way around like a mirror image) when the black emulsion is on the bottom.



SADDLE-STITCH - a form of binding a publication by stapling the spine.

SANS-SERIF - no cross-line finishes to letter strokes.

S.E.A - Self Extracting Archive. A digital file for sending graphics over both Mac and PC platforms. Compresses a number of files into one compressed file which saves on download time.SEAL - varnish to protect printed, coloured image.

SEPARATIONS (SEPS) - series of films (pos or neg.) corresponding to each colour to be used.

SERIF - cross-line finish to the strokes of a letter.

SHEET-FED - printer or press fed with single sheets of paper, rather than a roll of paper (see Web Offset).

SHEETWORK - to print each side of the sheet from a sepa-rate set of plates, as distinct from work and turn.

SMALLCAPS - small capital letters the size of lower case.

SPECIAL COLOUR - a printing ink colour mixed specially for a job rather than made out of the process colour set.

SPOT COLOUR - each single additional colour.

SPREAD - small increase to outside edge, usually applied to a lighter colour enclosed by a darker colour, to force an overlap. A form of trapping. Also: two facing pages in book or magazine.

STEPCUT - pages trimmed to different heights.

STET - proof readers instruction meaning "ignore the marked correction".




THROW-OUT - a page which folds out of a book or maga-zine to a larger size than the book trim.

TIFF - computer file format used for colour and mono images and graphics - short for Tagged Image File Format

TINT - percentage of a solid colour.

TINT LAYING - using films and screens to create a mechanical shading.

TIP-IN - a method of gluing or sticking on a burster or insert in a publication.

TRACKING - proportional spacing between letters.

TRAPPING - control of overlap where different colours touch or abut. See Choke and Spread.

TRANSPARENCY - positive (usually colour) photograph on transparent film for viewing with transmitted light

TRIM - the actual size of the finished page when cut

TRIM MARKS - cutting guides marked outside intended print area to establish the final size of the page.

TYPE AREA - this is the area of a page that is guaranteed to print. Another term meaning the same thing is 'live matter area'. It is the safe area that will mot be altered if the page is guillotined badly.

TYPESET - produced by typesetting process, not type-written or hand-written.

TYPOGRAPHY - defining the form of typeface and style and format of text



ULTRA VIOLET VARNISH (UV) - high gloss varnish dried by exposure to UV light.



VARNISH - to apply an oil, water or synthetic varnish to printed matter to enhance appearance. Can be applied to specific areas (spot).

VIGNETTE - a graduated tint.



WEB-OFFSET - reel-fed offset litho printing.

WET-PROOF - proof produced from final plates on intended paper showing exact colour reproduction.

WIDOW - a single word carried on from a paragraph which appears in the next column or on the next page.

WORK AND TURN/WORK AND TUMBLE - printing on both sides of a sheet from a single set of plates.

WOVE - paper with smoother, more uniform finish than laid paper.



X-HEIGHT - the main body of a lower-case character without ascenders or descenders.



YELLOW - one of the 4 process colours..


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