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Glossary and Dictionary of Terms
Printing & Graphic Design Terms

glossary graphic

Please Note: Many of the following terms refer to equipment, processes and techniques that have been replaced with modern technology. Most modern commercial printing plants use an all-digital workflow, from prepress to plating. No mechanical artwork or film is used in the production of the printing.


  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z

Accordion (“M”) Fold - Three zigzag folds with 8 panels (3 parallel folds that go in opposite directions). Each panel of the accordion fold is the same size.

Acid-free Paper - Paper made from pulp containing little or no acid so it resists deterioration from age. Also called alkaline paper, neutral pH paper, archival paper, permanent paper and thesis paper.

Acid Resist - An acid-proof protective coating applied to the metal plates in a printing plant prior to etching.

Additive Color - Color produced by light falling onto a surface, as compared to subtractive color. The additive primary colors are red, green and blue.

A4 Paper - ISO paper used for Letterhead (size 210 x 297mm).

Against the Grain - At right angles to the grain direction of the paper being used, often making folding of the paper more difficult without scoring the paper first.

Airbrush - Pen-shaped tool that sprays a fine mist of ink or paint to retouch photos and create continuous-tone illustrations. This type of photo retouching is typically performed digitally in Photoshop in a modern printing environment.

Alteration - Any change made by the customer after copy or artwork has been submitted to the printer. The change could be in copy, specifications or both. Also called author alteration and customer alteration.

Anodized Plate - An offset printing plate having a treated surface in order to reduce wear for extended use.

Anti-offset Powder - Fine powder sprayed as a mist over the printed surface of coated paper as sheets leave a printing press. Also called dust, offset powder and spray powder.

Antique Paper - Roughest finish offered on offset paper.

Aqueous Coating - a water based sealant applied to printed paper to reduce scratching and fingerprints & enhance visual appearance. Aqueous coating (available in gloss, dull, and satin sheens) is more durable than varnish.

Artwork - All original copy, including type, photos and illustrations, intended for printing. Also called art.

Author's Alterations - At the proofing stage, changes that the client requests to be made concerning original art provided. AA's usually add an additional cost to the client.


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— B —

Back Up - To print on the second side of a sheet of paper already printed on one side.

Basic Size - The standard size of sheets of paper used to calculate basis weight in the United States and Canada.

Basis Weight - In the US and Canada, the weight (in pounds) of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to the basic size. Also called ream weight and substance weight (sub weight). In countries using ISO paper sizes, the weight (in grams) of one square meter of paper. Also called grammage & ream weight.

Bind - The joining of pages or signatures together with staples, glue, wire, plastic or other means.

Bindery - The department within a printing facility that performs folding, collating, die cutting, trimming, etc.

Blanket - Rubber-coated pad, mounted on a cylinder of an offset press, that receives the inked image from the plate and transfers it to the surface to be printed.

Bleed - A printing term referring to printing ink that goes beyond the edge of a sheet of paper after trimming. The required bleed in the artwork is a small amount of "extra" space (usually 1/8") where the art continues past the document edge to allow for small variations in paper size and equipment registration capabilities. A document without bleed can result in finished pieces showing a thin area of white on the edge or a document being trimmed slightly smaller than desired. Bleed is especially necessary for booklets or any document that folds.

Blind Folio - A page number not printed on the page. (In the book arena, a blank page traditionally does not print a page number.)

Blind Image - Image debossed, embossed or stamped, but not printed with ink or foil.

Blocking - Sticking together of printed sheets causing damage when the surfaces are separated.

Blow-Up - An enlargement, usually used with photographs or graphic images.

Blueline - Prepress photographic proof made from stripped negatives where all colors show as blue images on white paper. Because “blueline” is a generic term for proofs made from a variety of materials having identical purposes and similar appearances.

Board Paper - General term for paper over 110# index, 80# cover or 200 gsm that is commonly used for products such as file folders, displays and post cards. Also called paperboard.

Body - The main text of artwork copy not including the headlines.

Bond paper - Category of paper commonly used for writing, printing and photocopying. Also called business paper, communication paper, correspondence paper and writing paper.

Book Paper - Category of paper suitable for books, magazines, catalogs, advertising and general printing needs. Book paper is divided into uncoated paper (also called offset paper), coated paper (also called art paper, enamel paper, gloss paper and slick paper) and text paper.

Border - A decorative design or ruled line surrounding the copy on a page.

Bounce - A repeating registration problem in the printing stage of production. (see registration)

Blind Embossing - hot-stamping used to raised an images into paper using pressure and an embossing die without adding foil.

Brightness - the brilliance of a paper. The brightness of a sheet of paper measures the percentage of blue light it reflects. The brightness of a piece of paper is typically expressed on a scale of 1 to 100 with 100 being the brightest. Most papers reflect 60-90% of light. The brightness of a paper affects readability, the perception of ink color and the contrast between light and dark hues.

Bristol Paper - Paper that is 6 PT or thicker with basis weight between 90# and 200# (200-500 gsm). Used for products such as index cards, file folders and displays.

Broken Carton - Carton of paper from which some of the sheets have been sold.

Build a Color - To overlap two or more screen tints to create a new color. Such an overlap is called a build, color build, stacked screen build or tint build.

Bulk - Thickness of paper relative to its basic weight.

Bullet - A dot or other marking to emphasize or separate text, such as a list.

Burst Perfect Bind - To bind by forcing glue into notches along the spines of gathered signatures before affixing a paper cover. Also called burst bind, notch bind and slotted bind.

Butt Register - Register where ink colors meet precisely without overlapping or allowing space between, as compared to lap register. Also called butt fit and kiss register.

Buy Out - To subcontract for a service that is closely related to the business of the organization. Also called farm out. Work that is bought out or farmed out is sometimes called outwork or referred to as being out of house.


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— C —

C1S - paper that is coated on only one side of the sheet — "coated one side."

C2S - paper that is coated on both sides of the sheet — "coated two sides."

Calender - To make the surface of paper smooth by pressing it between rollers during manufacturing.

CMYK - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black) inks used for "full color" printing, usually includes color photographs.

Caliper - Thickness of paper or other substrate expressed in thousandths of an inch (mils or points), pages per inch (ppi), thousandths of a millimeter (microns) or pages per centimeter (ppc). Also used as the name for a device on a sheet-fed press that detects double sheets or on a binding machine that detects missing signatures or inserts.

Camera-ready - Art (usually digital) fully prepared for reproduction according to the technical requirements of the printing process being used.

Carbonless Paper - Paper coated with chemicals that enable transfer of images from one sheet to another with pressure from writing or typing.

Carload - Selling unit of paper that may weigh anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 pounds (9,090 to 45, 454 kilos), depending on which mill or merchant uses the term. Abbreviated CL.

Carton - Selling unit of paper weighing approximately 150 pounds (60 kilos). A carton can contain anywhere from 500 to 5,000 sheets, depending on the size of sheets and their basis weight.

Case - Covers and spine that, as a unit, enclose the pages of a casebound book.

Case Bind - To bind using glue to hold signatures to a case made of binder board covered with fabric, plastic or leather. Also called cloth bind, edition bind, hard bind and hard cover.

Cast-coated Paper - High gloss, coated paper made by pressing the paper against a polished, hot, metal drum while the coating is still wet.

Catalog Paper - Coated paper rated #4 or #5 with basis weight from 35# to 50# (50 to 75 gsm) commonly used for catalogs and magazines.

Chain Dot - Alternate term for elliptical dot, so called because midtone dots touch at two points, so look like links in a chain. Also a generic term for any midtone dots whose corners touch.

Chain Lines - Widely spaced lines in laid paper. Also used to refer to blemishes on printed images caused by tracking.

Chalking - Deterioration of a printed image caused by ink that absorbs into paper too rapidly or has had extended exposure to UV or sun light.

Check Copy - Production proof copy of a publication verified by the customer as printed, finished and bound correctly. Also refers to one set of gathered book signatures approved by the customer as ready for binding.

Choke - Technique of slightly reducing the size of an image to create a hairline trap or to outline. Also called shrink and skinny.

Close Up - A mark used in proofing to indicate closing space between characters or words.

CMYK - Abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black) –the four ink colors used in full color process printing, an is colored photographs.

Coarse Screen - Halftone screen with large ruling of 65, 85 or 100 lines per inch.

Coated Paper - a coated paper stock has a surface sealant and often contains clay. Coated papers tend to minimize “dot gain” by restricting ink from absorbing into the surface of the paper allowing for crisper images, particularly photos and other halftone images. Coated stocks have coating options related to sheen: gloss, matte, dull and satin finishes.

Collate - To organize printed pages in a specific order.

Collating Marks - Specific marks on the back of signatures indicating exact position in the collating stage of a book.

Color Balance - Refers to amounts and ratios of process colors (CMYK) that simulate the colors of the original photograph.

Color Cast - Unwanted color affecting an entire image or portion of an image.

Color Control Bar - Strip of small blocks of color on a press sheet to observe ink flow features such as density and dot gain. Also called color bar, color guide and standard offset color bar. Usually evaluated with a mechanical device called a densitometer.

Color Correct - To adjust the relationship among the process colors to achieve desirable colors.

Color Curves - Adjustments in computer software that manipulate or correct colors.

CEPS (Color Electronic Prepress System) - Computer, scanner, printer and other hardware and software designed for image assembly, color correction, retouching and output onto proofing materials, film or printing plates.

Color Gamut - The entire range of hues possible to reproduce using a specific device, such as a computer screen (RGB), or system, such as four-color process printing (CMYK).

Color Key - Brand name for an overlay color proof. Sometimes used as a generic term for any overlay color proof.

Color Management - calibrating and controlling color accuracy between various devices, such as monitors, scanners, printers, and printing presses.

Color Separation - Technique of using a camera, scanner or computer to divide continuous-tone color images into four halftone negatives or printing plates. The product resulting from color separating and subsequent four-color process printing.

Color Sequence - Order in which inks are printed. Also called laydown sequence and rotation.

Color Shift - Change in image color resulting from changes in register, ink densities or dot gain during four-color process printing.

Color Space - is a concept for understanding the portion of the color spectrum that a particular device is capable of reproducing. A color spaces can show whether you will be able to retain shadow and highlight detail, as well as color saturation, and by what degree either or both will be compromised.

Color Transparency - Film (transparent) used as art to perform color separations.

Comb Bind - To bind by inserting the teeth of a flexible plastic comb through holes punched along the edge of a stack of paper. Also called plastic bind and GBC bind (a brand name).

Commercial Printer - Generally used to refer to offset printing commonly used printing technique in which the inked image is transferred (or "offset") from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. Usually refers to those facilities with larger presses rather than small “quick printing” equipment printing on smaller sheets of paper.

Composite Art - Historically, a mechanical on which copy for reproduction in all colors appears on only one surface, not separated onto overlays. Composite art has a tissue overlay with instructions that indicate color breaks. As used in a modern, digital printing environment: a file which contains all color information in one file that can be printed as a composite or separated into the individual color plates for printing.

Composite Film - Film made by combining images from two or more pieces of working film onto one film for making one plate.

Composite Proof - Proof of color separations in position with graphics and type. Also called final proof, imposition proof and stripping proof.

Composition - In typography: the assembly of typographic elements, such as words and paragraphs, into pages ready for printing. In graphic design: the arrangement of type, graphics and other elements on the page.

Comprehensive Dummy - Simulation of a printed piece complete with type, graphics and colors. Also called color comprehensive and comp.

Condition - To keep paper in the pressroom for a few hours or days before printing so that its moisture level and temperature equal that in the pressroom. Also called cure, mature and season.

Contact Platemaker - Device with lights, timing mechanism and vacuum frame used to make contact prints, duplicate film, proofs and plates. Also called platemaker and vacuum frame.

Continuous-tone - Photographs or illustrations having a range of shades not made up of dots, as compared to line copy or halftones.

Contrast - The difference in the degree of tones in an image ranging from highlight to shadow.

Converter - Facility that makes products such as envelopes, boxes and displays to finish-off a printing job.

Copyboard - Surface or frame on a process camera that holds copy in position to be photographed.

Corporate Identity - the “personality” of a corporation which is visually manifested by way of branding including the company's name, logo, typeface, colors, slogan, etc. — each are elements that help comprise its corporate identity.

Cover - The thicker, outer paper that protects a books' inner pages.

Coverage - Ratio and density that ink covers the surface of the paper. Ink coverage is usually expressed as light, medium or heavy.

Cover Paper - Thick paper used for postcards, posters, folders and covers of paperback books.

Crash - Coarse cloth embedded in the glue along the spine of a book to increase strength of binding.

Creep - Phenomenon of when the inner pages of a book or of a folded signature extend slightly beyond outside pages. Also called feathering, outpush, push out and thrust.

Crop Marks - Lines near the edges of an image indicating the final trim edges of the printing. Also called cut marks and tic marks.

Crossover - Copy or graphics that continues from one page of a book or magazine across the gutter to the opposite page.

Crop - to cut off part or parts of an image or graphic.

Cure - To dry inks, varnishes or other coatings after printing.

Cutoff - Circumference of the impression cylinder of a web press, therefore also the length of the printed sheet that the press cuts from the roll of paper.

Cut Sizes - Paper sizes used with office machines and small presses, i.e. cut paper sizes of 8½″ x 11″ (letter), 8½″ x 14″ (legal) and 11″ x 17″(ledger).

Cutting Machine (cutter) - A machine that cuts stacks of paper to desired sizes.

Cutting Die - Printing that is custom ordered to trim specific and unusual shape.

CWT - Abbreviation for hundredweight using the Roman numeral C=100.

Cyan - One of the four process colors. Also known as process blue.


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Data Compression - Technique of reducing the amount of storage required to hold a digital file to reduce the disk space the file requires and allow it to be processed or transmitted more quickly. Also known as file compression or zipping.

Deboss - To press an image into paper so it lies below the surface. Also called tool.

Deckle Edge - Edge of paper left ragged as it comes from the papermaking machine instead of being cleanly cut. Also called feather edge.

Densitometer - Instrument used to measure density. Reflection densitometers measure light reflected from paper and other surfaces; transmission densitometers measure light transmitted through film and other materials.

Density - Regarding ink, the relative thickness of a layer of printed ink. (2) Regarding color, the relative ability of a color to absorb light reflected from it or block light passing through it. (3) Regarding paper, the relative tightness or looseness of fibers.

Density Range - Difference between the darkest and lightest areas of copy. Also called contrast ratio, copy range and tonal range.

Desktop Publishing - Technique of using a personal computer to design images and pages, and assemble type and graphics, then using a laser printer or imagesetter to output the assembled pages onto paper, film or printing plate.

Device Independent Colors - Hues identified by wavelength or by their place in systems such as developed by CIE. 'Device independent' means a color can be described and specified without regard to whether it is reproduced using ink, projected light, photographic chemistry or any other method.

Die - Device for cutting, scoring, stamping, embossing and debossing.

Die Cut - To cut irregular shapes in paper or paperboard using a die.

Die-cutting - cutting custom shapes out of a piece of paper using a "die" made with sharp metal-edged rules that have been mounted onto wood.

Digital Proofing - Page proofs produced through electronic memory transferred onto paper via laser or ink-jet or provided as a digital proof (such as PDF) for review.

Direct Digital Color Proof - Color proof made by a laser, ink jet printer or other computer-controlled device without needing to make separation films first.

Direct-to-Plate - digital printing plates created using data sent from a computer to a direct-to-plate device making traditional film unnecessary.

Dog Ear - A letter fold at the side of one of the creases, an indentation occurs.

Dot Gain - dots of ink are absorbed into the paper in the printing process, spreading out somewhat as it transfers. Dot gain causes an image to look less crisp and can also darken an image. Paper types (coated or uncoated), inks and press type effect the amount of dot gain.

Dots-per-inch - Measure of resolution of input devices such as scanners, display devices such as monitors, and output devices such as laser printers, imagesetters and monitors. Abbreviated DPI. Also called dot pitch.

Double Bump - To print a single image twice so it has two layers of ink.

Double Burn - To expose film or a plate twice to different negatives and thus create a composite image.

Doubling - Printing defect appearing as blurring or shadowing of the image. Doubling may be caused by problems with paper, cylinder alignment, blanket pressures or dirty cylinders.

DPI - Considered as “dots per inch,” a measure of output resolution in relationship to printers, imagesetters and monitors.

Drawdown - Sample of inks specified for a job applied to the substrate specified for a job. Also called pulldown.

Dropout - Halftone dots or fine lines eliminated from highlights by overexposure during camera work.

Dropout Halftone - Halftone in which contrast has been increased by eliminating dots from highlights.

Dry Back - Phenomenon of printed ink colors becoming less dense as the ink dries.

Dry Offset - Using metal plates in the printing process and transferring to paper without the use of water.

Dry Trap - To print over dry ink, as compared to wet trap.

Dual-purpose Bond Paper - Bond paper suitable for printing by either lithography (offset) or xerography (photocopy). Abbreviated DP bond paper.

Dull Paper - Flat (not glossy) finish on coated paper which is slightly smoother than matte. The sheen of a dull coated paper falls between matte and glossy paper.

Dummy - Simulation of the final product. Also called mockup, a folded sample used to show finished size, shape,page layout and binding.

Duotone - a two color photo or illustration (halftone) of the same image created with two different ink colors. A duotone one color photograph is reproduced using two halftone negatives, each shot to emphasize different tonal values in the original.

Duplex Paper - Thick paper made by pasting highlights together two thinner sheets, usually of different colors. Also called double-faced paper and two-tone paper.

Duplicator - a small offset press made for quick printing or cut sheet sizes.

Dylux - Brand name for photographic paper used to make blue line proofs. Often used as alternate term for blueline.


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— E —

Embossing - using a hot metal die to press a raised image into an area of paper. Embossed images can be "blind," with foil, or applied to an image already printed with ink.

Emulsion - Casting of light-sensitive chemicals on papers, films, printing plates and stencils.

End Sheet - Sheet that attaches the inside pages of a case bound book to its cover. Also called pastedown or end papers.

English Finish - Smooth finish on uncoated book paper; smoother than eggshell, rougher than smooth.

Engraving - Printing method using a plate, also called a die, with an image cut into its surface.

EPS - Encapsulated Post Script, a known file format usually used to transfer post script information from one program to another.

Equivalent Paper - Paper that is not the brand specified, but looks, prints and may cost the same. Also called comparable stock.

Etch - To use chemicals to carve an image into metal, glass or film.


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— F —

Face - Edge of a bound publication opposite the spine. Also called foredge. Also, an abbreviation for typeface referring to a family of a general style.

Fake Duotone - Halftone in one ink color printed over screen tint of a second ink color. Also called dummy duotone, dougraph, duplex halftone, false duotone, flat tint halftone and halftone with screen.

Fast Color Inks - Inks with colors that retain their density and resist fading as the product is used and washed.

Feeding Unit - Component of a printing press that moves paper into the register unit.

Felt Finish - Soft woven pattern in text paper.

Felt Side - Side of the paper that was not in contact with the Fourdrinier wire during papermaking, as compared to wire side.

Fifth Color - Ink color used in addition to the four needed by four-color process.

Film Gauge - Thickness of film. The most common gauge for graphic arts film is 0.004 inch (0.1 mm).

Film Laminate - Thin sheet of plastic bonded to a printed product for protection or increased gloss.

Fine Papers - Papers made specifically for writing or commercial printing, as compared to coarse papers and industrial papers. Also called cultural papers and graphic papers.

Fine Screen - Screen with ruling of 150 lines per inch (80 lines per centimeter) or more.

Finish - (1) Surface characteristics of paper. (2) General term for trimming, folding, binding and all other post press operations.

Finished Size - Size of product after production is completed, as compared to flat size. Also called trimmed size.

Fit - Refers to ability of film to be registered during stripping and assembly. Good fit means that all images register to other film for the same job.

Fixed Costs - Costs that remain the same regardless of how many pieces are printed. Copyrighting, photography and design are fixed costs.

Flat Color - (1) Any color created by printing only one ink, as compared to a color created by printing four-color process. Also called block color and spot color. (2) color that seems weak or lifeless.

Flat Plan (Flats) - Diagram of the flats for a publication showing imposition and indicating colors.

Flat Size - Size of product after printing and trimming, but before folding, as compared to finished size.

Flexography - Method of printing on a web press using rubber or plastic plates with raised images. Also called aniline printing because flexographic inks originally used aniline dyes. Abbreviated flexo.

Flood - To print a sheet completely with an ink or varnish. flooding with ink is also called painting the sheet.

Flush Cover - Cover trimmed to the same size as inside pages, as compared to overhang cover. Also called cut flush.

Flyleaf - Leaf, at the front and back of a casebound book that is the one side of the end paper not glued to the case.

Fogging Back - Used in making type more legible by lowering density of an image, while allowing the image to show through.

Foil Emboss - To foil stamp and emboss an image. Also called heat stamp.

Foil stamping - using a foil stamping die to applying a very thin surface of one or more of various foil colors (often gold or silver) or pigments to create an image onto paper.

Folder - A bindery machine dedicated to folding printed materials.

Fold Marks - With printed matter, markings indicating where a fold is to occur, usually located at the top edges.

Foldout - Gatefold sheet bound into a publication, often used for a map or chart. Also called gatefold and pullout.

Folio (page number) - The actual page number in a publication.

Form - Each side of a signature. Also spelled forme.

Format - Size, style, shape, layout or organization of a layout or printed product.

Form bond - Lightweight bond, easy to perforate, made for business forms. Also called register bond.

Form Roller(s) - Roller(s) that come in contact with the printing plate, bringing it ink or water.

For Position Only (FPO) - the placement of a placeholder or a temporary low-resolution image placed in the desired location and size on the artwork to indicate where an actual image is to be placed. FPO images are commonly used when images need to be scanned, drawn, photographed or for any other reason are not yet available.

Forwarding - In the case book arena, the binding process which involves folding, rounding, backing, headbanding and reinforcing.

Fountain - Trough or container, on a printing press, that holds fluids such as ink, varnish or water. Also called duct.

Fountain Solution - Mixture of water and chemicals that dampens a printing plate to prevent ink from adhering to the non-image area. Also called dampener solution.

Four-color Process - full-color printing or CMYK. Combining dots of cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and black (K) to simulate the various colors in a color photo or illustration.

Free Sheet - Paper made from cooked wood fibers mixed with chemicals and washed free of impurities, as compared to groundwood paper. Also called woodfree paper.

French Fold - A printed sheet, printed one side only, folded with two right angle folds to form a four page uncut section.

Full-range Halftone - Halftone ranging from 0 percent coverage in its highlights to 100 percent coverage in its shadows.

Full-scale Black - Black separation made to have dots throughout the entire tonal range of the image, as compared to half-scale black and skeleton black. Also called full-range black.


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— G —

Gang - To reproduce two or more different printed products simultaneously on one sheet of paper during one press run. Also called combination run.

Gate Fold - A sheet that folds where both sides fold toward the gutter in overlapping layers.

Gathered - Signatures assembled next to each other in the proper sequence for binding.

Gaussian Blur - a widely used effect in graphics software typically to reduce image noise and reduce detail or applied to re-screens to eliminate a moiré effect. A Gaussian Blur blurs an image to apply a softening effect.

Ghost Halftone - Normal halftone whose density has been reduced to produce a very faint image.

Ghosting - An unintended faint image appearing on a printed sheet. Chemical ghosting refers to the transfer of the faint image from the front of one sheet to the back of another sheet. Mechanical ghosting refers to the faint image appearing as a repeat of an image on the same side of the sheet. Also may refer to a printed image appearing too light because of ink starvation.

Gilding - Gold leafing the edges of a book.

Gloss Paper - a gloss paper is a coated paper that has a high sheen (most magazines use gloss paper) as it is made with a surface sealant and often contains clay. Coating papers restrict ink from absorbing into the surface of the paper which allows for crisper images, particularly photos and other halftone images. Gloss papers are less opaque and have less bulk and are less expensive than Dull & Matte papers.

Gloss Ink - Ink used and printed on coated stock (mostly litho and letterpress) such as the ink will dry without penetration.

Grade - General term used to distinguish between or among printing papers, but whose specific meaning depends on context. Grade can refer to the category, class, rating, finish or brand of paper.

Graduated Screen Tint - Screen tint that changes densities gradually and smoothly, not in distinct steps. Also called degrade, gradient, ramped screen and vignette.

Grain - the fibers in a sheet paper have a grain direction similar to like the muscle fibers in the human body. Paper folds best “with the grain,” parallel to the paper's grain direction. Sometimes a paper needs to be folded against the grain, which results in a more irregular fold with cracks along the crease. This effect is more noticeable as the paper thickness increases and “scoring” the paper becomes a requirement for a smooth looking fold.

Grain Direction - Predominant direction in which fibers in paper become aligned during manufacturing. Also called machine direction.

Grain Long Paper - Paper whose fibers run parallel to the long dimension of the sheet. Also called long grain paper and narrow web paper.

Grain Short Paper - Paper whose fibers run parallel to the short dimension of the sheet. Also called short grain paper and wide web paper.

Grammage - Basis weight of paper in grams per square meter (gsm).

Graphic Arts - The crafts, industries and professions related to designing and printing on paper and other substrates.

Graphic Arts Film - Film whose emulsion yields high contrast images suitable for reproduction by a printing press, as compared to continuous-tone film. Also called litho film and repro film.

Graphic Design - Arrangement of type and visual elements along with specifications for paper, ink colors and printing processes that, when combined, convey a visual message.

Graphics - Visual elements that supplement type to make printed messages more clear or interesting.

Gravure - Method of printing using metal cylinders etched with millions of tiny wells that hold ink.

Gray Balance - Printed cyan, magenta and yellow halftone dots that accurately, reproduce a neutral gray image.

Gray Component Replacement - Technique of replacing gray tones in the yellow, cyan and magenta films, made while color separating, with black ink. Abbreviated GCR. Also called achromatic color removal.

Gray Levels - Number of distinct gray tones that can be reproduced by a computer.

Gray Scale - Strip of gray values ranging from white to black. Used by process camera and scanner operators to calibrate exposure times for film and plates. Also called step wedge.

Grind Edge - Alternate term for binding edge when referring to perfect bound products.

Grindoff - Approximately 1/8 inch (3 mm) along the spine that is ground off gathered signatures before perfect binding.

Gripper - an area at the edge of a sheet of paper that the printing press or copier uses to pull the paper through the machine. It is not possible to print in this area. Also called feeding edge and leading edge.

Groundwood Paper - Newsprint and other inexpensive paper made from pulp created when wood chips are ground mechanically rather than refined chemically.

GSM - The unit of measurement for paper weight (grams per square meter).

Gutter - In the book arena, the inside margins toward the back or the binding edges.

Guts - the inside pages of a multi-page publication that has a separate cover.


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— H —

Hairline (Rule) - Subjective term referring to very small space, thin line or close register. The meaning depends on who is using the term and in what circumstances.

Halftone - the use of dots to simulate the tones between light and dark. A halftone image that is produced by simulating continuous tones with equally spaced dots of varying size used in the commercial printing industry. The eye "sees" an optical illusion, blending these tiny dots into smooth tones. Full color printing is made possible by repeating the halftone process for each subtractive color, most commonly using what is called the "CMYK color model."

Halftone Screen - Piece of film or glass containing a grid of lines that breaks light into dots. Also called contact screen and screen.

Halo Effect - Faint shadow sometimes surrounding halftone dots printed. Also called halation. The halo itself is also called a fringe.

Hard Dots - Halftone dots with no halos or soft edges, as compared to soft dots.

Hard Copy - a printed, physical copy of text or a page layout, in contrast to a "soft copy" that is viewed on a computer monitor.

Hard Mechanical - Mechanical consisting of paper and/or acetate and made using paste-up techniques, as compared to electronic mechanical.

Head(er) - At the top of a page, the margin.

Head-to-tail - Imposition with heads (tops) of pages facing tails (bottoms) of other pages.

Heat-set Web - Web press equipped with an oven to dry ink, thus able to print coated paper.

Hickey - Spot or imperfection in printing, most visible in areas of heavy ink coverage, caused by dirt on the plate or blanket. Also called bulls eye and fish eye.

High-fidelity Color - Color reproduced using six, eight or twelve separations, as compared to four-color process.

High-key Photo - Photo whose most important details appear in the highlights.

Highlights - Lightest portions of a photograph or halftone, as compared to midtones and shadows.

Hinged Cover - Perfect bound cover scored 1/8 inch (3mm) from the spine so it folds at the hinge instead of, along the edge of the spine.

HLS - Abbreviation for hue, lightness, saturation, one of the color-control options often found in software, for design and page assembly. Also called HVS.

Hot Spot - Printing defect caused when a piece of dirt or an air bubble caused incomplete draw-down during contact platemaking, leaving an area of weak ink coverage or visible dot gain.

House Sheet - Paper kept in stock by a printer and suitable for a variety of printing jobs. Also called floor sheet.

Hue - A specific color such as yellow or green.


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— I —

ICC profile - In color management, an ICC profile is a set of data that characterizes a color input or output device, or a color space, according to standards promulgated by the International Color Consortium (ICC). Profiles describe the color attributes of a particular device or viewing requirement by defining a mapping between the device source or target color space and a profile connection space (PCS).

Imagesetter - Laser output device using photosensitive paper or film.

Imposition - Arrangement of pages on mechanicals or flats so they will appear in proper sequence after press sheets are folded and bound.

Impression - (1) Referring to an ink color, one impression equals one press sheet passing once through a printing unit. (2) Referring to speed of a press, one impression equals one press sheet passing once through the press.

Impression Cylinder - Cylinder, on a press, that pushes paper against the plate or blanket, thus forming the image. Also called impression roller.

Imprint - To print new copy on a previously printed sheet, such as imprinting an employee's name on business cards. Also called surprint.

Ink Balance - Relationship of the densities and dot gains of process inks to each other and to a standard density of neutral gray.

Ink Fountain - Reservoir, on a printing press, that holds ink.

Ink Holdout - Characteristic of paper that prevents it from absorbing ink, thus allowing ink to dry on the surface of the paper. Also called holdout.

Ink Jet Printing - Method of printing by spraying droplets of ink through computer-controlled nozzles. Also called jet printing.

Inner Form - Form (side of the press sheet) whose images all appear inside the folded signature, as compared to outer form.

In-Plant Printer - Department of an agency, business or association that does printing for a parent organization. Also called captive printer and in-house printer.

Inserts - Within a publication, an additional item positioned into the publication loose (not bound in).

Intaglio Printing - Printing method whose image carriers are surfaces with two levels, having inked areas lower than noninked areas. Gravure and engraving are the most common forms of intaglio. Also called recess printing.

Integral Proof - Color proof of separations shown on one piece of proofing paper, as compared to an overlay proof. Also called composition proof, laminate proof, plastic proof and single-sheet proof.

Interleaves - Printed pages loosely inserted in a publication.

ISBN - A number assigned to a published work and usually found either on the title page or the back of the title page. Considered an International Standard Book Number.


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— J —

Jogger - A vibration machine with a slopping platform to even-up stacks of printed materials.

Justified Type - alignment of type in which each line length is identical: type is aligned on both the right and left margins. Type is justified by changing the spacing between individual words in each line.


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— K —

K - Abbreviation for black in four-color process printing. Hence the “K” in CMYK.

Key - (1) The screw that controls ink flow from the ink fountain of a printing press. (2) To relate loose pieces of copy to their positions on a layout or mechanical using a system of numbers or letters. (3) Alternate term for the color black, as in “key plate.”

Keylines - Lines on a mechanical or negative showing the exact size, shape and location of photographs or other graphic elements. Also called holding lines.

Key Negative or Plate - Negative or plate that prints the most detail, thus whose image guides the register of images from other plates. Also called key printer.

Kiss Die Cut - To die cut the top layer, but not the backing layer, of self-adhesive paper. Also called face cut.

Kiss Impression - Lightest possible impression that will transfer ink to a Substrate.

Kraft Paper - Strong paper used for wrapping and to make grocery bags and large envelopes.


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— L —

Laid Finish - Finish on bond or text paper on which grids of parallel lines simulate the surface of handmade paper. Laid lines are close together and run against the grain; chain lines are farther apart and run with the grain.

Laminate - A thin transparent plastic sheet (coating) applied to usually a thick stock (covers, post cards, etc.) providing protection against liquid and heavy use, and usually accents existing color, providing a glossy (or lens) effect.

Landscape - Artist style in which width is greater than height. (Portrait is opposite.)

Lap Register - Register where ink colors overlap slightly, as compared to butt register.

Laser Bond - Bond paper made especially smooth and dry to run well through laser printers.

Laser-imprintable Ink - Ink that will not fade or blister as the paper on which it is printed is used in a laser printer.

Lay Flat Bind - Method of perfect binding that allows a publication to lie fully open. (Also known as Lay Flat Perfect Binding.)

Lay Edge - The edge of a sheet of paper feeding into a press.

Layout - A sample of the original providing (showing) position of printed work (direction, instructions) needed and desired.

Leading - Amount of space between lines of type.

Leaf - One sheet of paper in a publication. Each side of a leaf is one page.

Ledger Paper -Strong, smooth bond paper used for keeping business records. Also called record paper.

Left Justified Type -(Ragged Right) - columns of type are aligned with the left margin.

Letter fold -Two folds creating three panels that allow a sheet of letterhead to fit a business envelope. Also called barrel fold and wrap around fold.

Letter Paper - In North America, 8½″ x 11″ sheets. In Europe, A4 sheets.

Legend -Directions about a specific matter (illustrations) and how to use. In regard to maps and tables, an explanation of signs (symbols) used.

Letterpress -Method of printing from raised surfaces, either metal type or plates whose surfaces have been etched away from image areas. Also called block printing.

Lightweight Paper - Book paper with basis weight less than 40# (60 gsm).

Lignin - Substance in trees that holds cellulose fibers together. Free sheet has most lignin removed; groundwood paper contains lignin.

Line Copy -Any high-contrast image, including type, as compared to continuous-tone copy. Also called line art and line work.

Line Negative - Negative made from line copy.

Linen Finish - a paper finish similar to the texture of linen fabric.

Lithography - Method of printing using plates whose image areas attract ink and whose nonimage areas repel ink. Nonimage areas may be coated with water to repel the oily ink or may have a surface, such as silicon, that repels ink.

Live Area - Area on a mechanical within which images will print. Also called safe area.

Logo (Logotype) - A company, partnership or corporate creation (design) that denotes a unique entity. A possible combination of letters and art work to create a "sole" entity symbol of that specific unit.

Looseleaf - Binding method allowing insertion and removal of pages in a publication (e.g., trim-4-drill-3).

Loose Proof - Proof of a halftone or color separation that is not assembled with other elements from a page, as compared to composite proof. Also called first proof, random proof, scatter proof and show-color proof.

Loupe - Lens built into a small stand. Used to inspect copy, film, proofs, plates and printing. Also called glass and linen tester.

Low Key Photo - Photo whose most important details appear in the shadows.


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— M —

Machine Glazed (MG) - Paper holding a high-gloss finish only on one side.

Magenta - One of the four process colors.

Makeready - (1) All activities required to prepare a press or other machine to function for a specific printing or bindery job, as compared to production run. Also called setup. (2) Paper used in the makeready process at any stage in production. Makeready paper is part of waste or spoilage.

Making Order - Order for paper that a mill makes to the customer's specifications, as compared to a mill order or stock order.

Male Die - Die that applies pressure during embossing or debossing. Also called force card.

Manuscript (MS) - An author's original form of work (hand written, typed or on disk) submitted for publication.

Margin - Imprinted space around the edge of the printed material.

Mark-Up - Instructions written usually on a “dummy.”

Mask - To prevent light from reaching part of an image, therefore isolating the remaining part. Also called knock out.

Master - Paper or plastic plate used on a duplicating press.

Match Print - A form of a four-color-process proofing system.

Matte Finish - Flat (not glossy) finish on photographic paper or coated printing paper.

Matte Paper - is a non-glossy, flat-looking coated paper has a smooth surface. Matte coated paper is made with a surface sealant which often contains clay. Coating papers restrict ink from absorbing into the surface of the paper which allows for crisper images, particularly photos and other halftone images.

Mechanical - Camera-ready assembly of type, graphic and other copy complete with instructions to the printer. A hard mechanical consists of paper and/or acetate, is made using paste-up techniques, and may also be called an artboard, board or paste-up. A soft mechanical, also called an electronic mechanical, exists as a file of type and other images assembled using a computer.

Mechanical Bind - To bind using a comb, coil, ring binder, post or any other technique not requiring gluing, sewing or stitching.

Mechanical Separation - Color breaks made on the mechanical using a separate overlay for each color to be printed.

Mechanical Tint - Lines or patterns formed with dots creating artwork for reproduction.

Merge/Purge - merging two or more mailing list files into one file and purging the file of duplicates.

Metallic Ink - Ink containing powdered metal or pigments that simulate metal.

Metallic Paper - Paper coated with a thin film of plastic or pigment whose color and gloss simulate metal.

Midtones - In a photograph or illustration, tones created by dots between 30 percent and 70 percent of coverage, as compared to highlights and shadows.

Mil - 1/1000 Inch - The thickness of plastic films as printing substrates are expressed in mils.

Misting - Phenomenon of droplets of ink being thrown off the roller train. Also called flying ink.

Mock Up - A reproduction of the original printed matter and possibly containing instructions or direction.

Modem - Mostly used over phone lines, a device that converts electronic stored information from point a. to point b.

Moiré - Undesirable pattern that occurs when rescreening an already halftoned (printed) image, which results in a wavelike or checkered pattern. The pattern is caused by the two dot patterns overlaping, resulting in a moiré. The pattern, looking somewhat like in a chain-link fence, can be eliminated by the proper application of a Gaussian blur.

Monarch - Paper size (7″ x 10″) and envelope shape often used for personal stationery.

Mottle - Spotty, uneven ink absorption. Also called sinkage. A mottled image may be called mealy.

Mull - A specific type of glue used for books binding and personal pads needing strength.

M Weight - Weight of 1,000 sheets of paper in any specific size.


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— N —

Natural Color - Very light brown color of paper. May also be called antique, cream, ivory, off-white or mellow white.

NCR Forms(carbonless forms) - an acronym for “No Carbon Required,” NCR papers are available in up to 6 parts and usually padded into "sets." The NCR paper is coated with a colorless dye. Writing or other pressure produces visible color making "copies" automatically to the other sheets.

Nested - Signatures assembled inside one another in the proper sequence for binding, as compared to gathered. Also called inset.

Neutral Gray - Gray with no hue or cast.

News Print - Paper used in printing newspapers. Considered low quality and “a short life use.”

Newton Ring - Flaw in a photograph or halftone that looks like a drop of oil or water.

Nipping - In the book binding process, a stage where air is expelled from it's contents at the sewing stage.

Nonheatset Web - Web press without a drying oven, thus not able to print on coated paper. Also called cold-set web and open web.

Nonimpact Printing - Printing using lasers, ions, ink jets or heat to transfer images to paper.

Nonreproducing Blue - Light blue that does not record on graphic arts film, therefore may be used to preprint layout grids and write instructions on mechanicals. Also called blue pencil, drop-out blue, fade-out blue and nonrepro blue.

Novelty Printing - Printing on products such as coasters, pencils, balloons, golf balls and ashtrays, known as advertising specialties or premiums.


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— O —

Offset Printing - Printing technique that transfers ink from a plate to a blanket to paper instead of directly from plate to paper.

Opacity - a paper's opacity is determined by its weight, ingredients and absorbency. A paper's opacity determines how much printing will show through on the reverse side of a sheet. Opacity is expressed in terms of it's percentage of reflection. Complete opacity is 100% and complete transparency is 0%.

Onion Skin - A specific lightweight type (kind) of paper usually used in the past for air mail. Seldom used today (in the typewriter era).

Opaque - (1) Not transparent. (2) To cover flaws in negative with tape or opaquing paint. Also called block out and spot.

Open Prepress Interface - Hardware and software that link desktop publishing systems with color electronic prepress systems.

Outer form - Form (side of a press sheet) containing images for the first and last pages of the folded signature (its outside pages) as compared to inner form.

Outline Halftone - Halftone in which background has been removed or replaced to isolate or silhouette the main image. Also called knockout halftone and silhouette halftone.

Overlay - Layer of material taped to a mechanical, photo or proof. Acetate overlays are used to separate colors by having some type or art on them instead of on the mounting board. Tissue overlays are used to carry instructions about the underlying copy and to protect the base art.

Overlay Proof - Color proof consisting of polyester sheets laid on top of each other with their image in register, as compared to integral proof. Each sheet represents the image to be printed in one color. Also called celluloid proof and layered proof.

Overprint - To print one image over a previously printed image, such as printing type over a screen tint. Also called surprint.

Over Run - Additional printed matter beyond order. Overage policy varies in the printing industry. Advance questions avoid blind knowledge.


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— P —

Page - One side of a leaf in a publication.

Page Count - Total number of pages that a publication has. Also called extent.

Page Proof - Proof of type and graphics as they will look on the finished page complete with elements such as headings, rules and folios.

PDF (Portable Document Format) - a self-contained cross-platform document that will look the same on the screen and in print, regardless of what kind of computer or printer someone is using or what software the document was originally created with. A file format created by Adobe Systems in 1993 for document exchange. READ MORE

Pagination - In the book arena, the numbering of pages.

Painted Sheet - Sheet printed with ink edge to edge, as compared to spot color. The painted sheet refers to the final product, not the press sheet, and means that 100 percent coverage results from bleeds off all four sides.

Panel - One page of a brochure, such as one panel of a rack brochure. One panel is on one side of the paper. A letter-folded sheet has six panels, not three.

Paper Plate - A printing plate made of strong and durable paper in the short run offset arena (cost effective with short runs).

Parallel Fold - Method of folding. Two parallel folds to a sheet will produce 6 panels.

Parent Sheet - Any sheet larger than 11″ x 17″ or A3.

Pasteboard - Chipboard with another paper pasted to it.

Paste-up - To paste copy to mounting boards and, if necessary, to overlays so it is assembled into a camera-ready mechanical. The mechanical produced is often called a paste-up.

PE - Proofreader mark meaning printer error and showing a mistake by a typesetter, prepress service or printer as compared to an error by the customer.

Perfect Binding - book binding in which pages are glued together and then adhered directly to the cover of the book.

Perfecting Press - Press capable of printing both sides of the paper during a single pass. Also called duplex press and perfector.

Perf Marks - On a "dummy" marking where the perforation is to occur.

Perforating - Taking place on a press or a binder machine, creating a line of small dotted wholes for the purpose of tearing-off a part of a printed matter (usually straight lines, vertical or horizontal).

Pica - A unit of measure in the printing industry. A pica is approximately 0.166 in. There are 12 points to a pica.

Photoengraving - Engraving done using photochemistry.

Photomechanical Transfer - Brand name for a diffusion transfer process used to make positive paper prints of line copy and halftones. Often used as alternate term for photostat. Abbreviated PMT.

Photostat - Brand name for a diffusion transfer process used to make positive paper prints of line copy and halftones. Often used as alternate term for PMT.

Picking - Phenomenon of ink pulling bits of coating or fiber away from the surface of paper as it travels through the press, thus leaving unprinted spots in the image area.

Pickup Art - Artwork, used in a previous job, to be incorporated in a current job.

Pinholing - Small holes (unwanted) in printed areas because of a variety of reasons.

Pin Register - Technique of registering separations, flats and printing plates by using small holes, all of equal diameter, at the edges of both flats and plates.

Pixel - Short for picture element, a dot made by a computer, scanner or other digital device. Also called pel.

Planographic Printing - Printing method whose image carriers are level surfaces with inked areas separated from noninked areas by chemical means. Planographic printing includes lithography, offset lithography and spirit duplicating.

Plate - Piece of paper, metal, plastic or rubber carrying an image to be reproduced using a printing press.

Platemaker - (1) In quick printing, a process camera that makes plates automatically from mechanicals. (2) In commercial lithography, a machine with a vacuum frame used to expose plates through film.

Plate-ready Film - Stripped negatives or positives fully prepared for platemaking.

PMS (Pantone Matching System) - a color choices chart; a color space used primarily in printing, but also a variety of other industries including advertising specialties, paint, fabric and plastics.

PMT - Abbreviation for photomechanical transfer.

Point - (1) Regarding paper, a unit of thickness equating 1/1000 inch. (2) Regarding type, a unit of measure equaling 1/12 pica and .013875 inch (.351mm).

Portrait - An art design in which the height is greater than the width. (Opposite of Landscape.)

Position Stat - Photocopy or PMT of a photo or illustration made to size and affixed to a mechanical.

Positive Film - Film that prevents light from passing through images, as compared to negative film that allows light to pass through. Also called knockout film.

Post Bind - To bind using a screw and post inserted through a hole in a pile of loose sheets.

Prepress - Camera work, color separations, stripping, platemaking and other prepress functions performed by the printer, separator or a service bureau prior to printing. Also called preparation.

Prepress Proof - Any color proof made using ink jet, toner, dyes or overlays, as compared to a press proof printed using ink. Also called dry proof and off-press proof.

Preprint - To print portions of sheets that will be used for later imprinting.

Press Check - Event at which makeready sheets from the press are examined before authorizing full production to begin.

Press Proof - Proof made on press using the plates, ink and paper specified for the job. Also called strike off and trial proof.

Press Time - (1) Amount of time that one printing job spends on press, including time required for makeready. (2) Time of day at which a printing job goes on press.

Price Break - Quantity at which unit cost of paper or printing drops.

Printer Pairs - Usually in the book arena, consecutive pages as they appear on a flat or signature.

Printer Spreads - Mechanicals made so they are imposed for printing, as compared to reader spreads.

Printing - Any process that transfers to paper or another substrate an image from an original such as a film negative or positive, electronic memory, stencil, die or plate.

Printing Plate - Surface carrying an image to be printed. Quick printing uses paper or plastic plates; letterpress, engraving and commercial lithography use metal plates; flexography uses rubber or soft plastic plates. Gravure printing uses a cylinder. The screen printing is also called a plate.

Printing Unit - Assembly of fountain, rollers and cylinders that will print one ink color. Also called color station, deck, ink station, printer, station and tower.

Process Camera - Camera used to photograph mechanicals and other camera-ready copy. Also called copy, camera and graphic arts camera. A small, simple process camera may be called a stat camera.

Process Color - the CMYK color model, referred to as process color (or four color, or four-color process) is a subtractive color model used in full-color printing. CMYK refers to the four inks used in process color printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Production Run - Press run intended to manufacture products as specified, as compared to makeready.

Proof - Test sheet made to reveal errors or flaws, predict results on press and record how a printing job is intended to appear when finished.

Proofreader Marks - Standard symbols and abbreviations used to mark up manuscripts and proofs. Also called correction marks.

Proportion Scale - Round device used to calculate percent that an original image must by reduced or enlarged to yield a specific reproduction size. Also called percentage wheel, proportion dial, proportion wheel and scaling wheel.

Publishing Paper - Paper made in weights, colors and surfaces suited to books, magazines, catalogs and free-standing inserts.


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— Q —

Quarto - (1) Sheet folded twice, making pages one-fourth the size of the original sheet. A quarto makes an 8-page signature. (2) Book made from quarto sheets, traditionally measuring about 9″ x 12″.

Quick Printing - Printing using small sheet-fed presses, called duplicators, using cut sizes of bond and offset paper.


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— R —

Rag Paper - Stationery or other forms of stock having a strong percentage content of “cotton rags.”

Ragged Right(Justified Left) - ragged right type aligns type along the left margin but not along the right margin resulting from using normal spacing between the words.

Rainbow Fountain - Technique of putting ink colors next to each other in the same ink fountain and oscillating the ink rollers to make the colors merge where they touch, producing a rainbow effect.

Raster Image Processor - Device that translates page description commands into bitmapped information for an output device such as a laser printer or imagesetter.

Reader Spread - Mechanicals made in two page spreads as readers would see the pages, as compared to printer spread.

Ream - 500 sheets of paper.

Recycled Paper - New paper made entirely or in part from old paper.

Reflective Copy - Products, such as fabrics, illustrations and photographic prints, viewed by light reflected from them, as compared to transparent copy. Also called reflex copy.

Register - To place printing properly with regard to the edges of paper and other printing on the same sheet. Such printing is said to be in register.

Register Marks - Cross-hair lines on mechanicals and film that help keep flats, plates, and printing in register. Also called crossmarks and position marks.

Relief Printing - Printing method whose image carriers are surfaces with two levels having inked areas higher than noninked areas. Relief printing includes block printing, flexography and letter press.

Repeatability - Ability of a device, such as an imagesetter, to produce film or plates that yield images in register.

Reprographics - General term for xerography, diazo and other methods of copying used by designers, engineers, architects or for general office use.


Rescreen - the process of using a previously reproduced image for commercial printing that has already been through the halftone process. If the halftone screen used was coarse and open, you may be able to shoot it as a line shot. One may have to rescreen the image. Rescreening a halftone image will create a wavelike or checkered pattern where the two dot patterns overlap. This is called moiré. Steps must be taken to avoid this undesirable moiré effect caused by the rescreening process.

Resolution - the fineness or coarseness of an image; the amount of data stored in an image file, measured in pixels per inch (PPI) or dots per inch (DPI).

Resolution Target - An image, such as the GATF Star Target, that permits evaluation of resolution on film, proofs or plates.

Reverse - Type, graphic or illustration reproduced by printing ink around its outline, thus allowing the underlying color or paper to show through and form the image. The image 'reverses out' of the ink color. Also called knockout and liftout.

RGB - Abbreviation for red, green, blue, the additive color primaries.

Right Reading - Copy that reads correctly in the language in which it is written. Also describes a photo whose orientation looks like the original scene, as compared to a flopped image.

Right Justified - type that is aligned with the right page margin using normal spacing between the words resulting in a ragged left margin.

Rotary Press - Printing press which passes the substrate between two rotating cylinders when making an impression.

Round Back Bind - To casebind with a rounded (convex) spine, as compared to flat back bind.

Ruby Window - Mask on a mechanical, made with rubylith, that creates a window on film shot from the mechanical.

Rule - Line used as a graphic element to separate or organize copy.

Ruleup - Map or drawing given by a printer to a stripper showing how a printing job must be imposed using a specific press and sheet size. Also called press layout, printer's layout and ruleout.


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— S —

Saddle Stitch - a binding process where pages are stapled together through the spine to create a booklet.

Sans Serif - a type face that has lacks serifs; there are no small horizontal lines which rest on the tops and/or bottoms of some or all of the individual type characters.

Satin Finish - Alternate term for dull finish on coated paper.

Scale - To identify the percent by which photographs or art should be enlarged or reduced to achieve, the correct size for printing.

Scanner - Electronic device used to scan an image.

Scoring - the creation of a crease along the sheet of paper where it needs to be folded to achieve a crisp fold. With thick paper (card stock), scoring is a necessary to get a professional-looking and crisp fold without cracks in it. The best scoring is performed on an old-fashioned letterpress, although they are slower and thus a more expensive than alternative processes. Fast, modern scoring machines are also used, as well as folding machines with in-line scoring devices.

Self cover - a booklet with a cover using of the same paper type and thickness as the inside pages.

Serif Font - a type font characterized by small horizontal lines which rest on the tops and/or bottoms of some or all of the individual type characters. The serifs help to create a horizontal line of the sentence to aid in readership.

Screen Angles - Angles at which screens intersect with the horizontal line of the press sheet. The common screen angles for separations are black 45 degree, magenta 75 degree, yellow 90 degree and cyan 105 degree.

Screen Density - Refers to the percentage of ink coverage that a screen tint allows to print. Also called screen percentage.

Screen Printing - Method of printing by using a squeegee to force ink through an assembly of mesh fabric and a stencil.

Screen Ruling - Number of rows or lines of dots per inch or centimeter in a screen for making a screen tint or halftone. Also called line count, ruling, screen frequency, screen size and screen value.

Screen Tint - Color created by dots instead of solid ink coverage. Also called Benday, fill pattern, screen tone, shading, tint and tone.

Selective Binding - Placing signatures or inserts in magazines or catalogs according to demographic or geographic guidelines.

Self Cover - Usually in the book arena, a publication not having a cover stock. A publication only using text stock throughout.

Self Mailer - A printed item independent of an envelope. A printed item capable of travel in the mailing arena independently.

Separated Art - Art with elements that print in the base color on one surface and elements that print in other colors on other surfaces. Also called preseparated art.

Separations - Usually in the four-color process arena, separate film holding qimages of one specific color per piece of film. Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Can also separate specific PMS colors through film.

Serigraphic Printing - Printing method whose image carriers are woven fabric, plastic or metal that allow ink to pass through some portions and block ink from passing through other portions. Serigraphic printing includes screen and mimeograph.

Service Bureau - Business using imagesetters to make high resolution printouts of files prepared on microcomputers. Also called output house and prep service.

Setoff - Undesirable transfer of wet ink from the top of one sheet to the underside of another as they lie in the delivery stack of a press. Also called offset.

Shade - Hue made darker by the addition of black, as compared to tint.

Shadows - Darkest areas of a photograph or illustration, as compared to midtones and high-lights.

Sheet-fed Press - a printing press that uses single sheets of paper to print on rather than a continuous roll of paper.

Sheetwise - Technique of printing one side of a sheet with one set of plates, then the other side of the sheet with a set of different plates. Also called work and back.

Shingling - Allowance, made during paste-up or stripping, to compensate for creep. Creep is the problem; shingling is the solution. Also called stair stepping and progressive margins.

Side Stitch - binding paper by stapling along the side of a sheet (usually to the left of the text).

Signature - a larger sheet of multiple pages which are folded at right angles to become all or part of a book or publication.

Slip Sheets - Separate sheets (stock) independent from the original run positioned between the "printed run" for a variety of reasons.

Soft Dots - Halftones dots with halos.

Solid - Any area of the sheet receiving 100 percent ink coverage, as compared to a screen tint.

Soy-based Inks - Inks using vegetable oils instead of petroleum products as pigment vehicles, thus are easier on the environment.

Specially Printer - Printer whose equipment, supplies, work flow and marketing is targeted to a particular category of products.

Specifications - Complete and precise written description of features of a printing job such as type size and leading, paper grade and quantity, printing or binding method. Abbreviated specs.

Spectrophotometer - Instrument used to measure the index of refraction of color.

Specular Highlight - Highlight area with no printable dots, thus no detail, as compared to a diffuse highlight. Also called catchlight and dropout highlight.

Spine - Back or binding edge of a publication.

Spiral Bind - To bind using a spiral of continuous wire or plastic looped through holes. Also called coil bind.

Split Fountain - Technique of putting ink colors next to each other in the same ink fountain and printing them off the same plate. Split fountains keep edges of colors distinct, as compared to rainbow fountains that blend edges.

Split Run - (1) Different images, such as advertisements, printed in different editions of a publication. (2) Printing of a book that has some copies bound one way and other copies bound another way.

Spoilage - Paper that, due to mistakes or accidents, must be thrown away instead of delivered printed to the customer, as compared to waste.

Spot Color - using one or more single ink colors instead of (or in addition to) process color (full color) printing. Ink color is mixed before printing instead of during the printing process.

Spread - (1) Two pages that face each other and are designed as one visual or production unit. (2) Technique of slightly enlarging the size of an image to accomplish a hairline trap with another image. Also called fatty.

Standard Viewing Conditions - Background of 60 percent neutral gray and light that measures 5000 degrees Kelvin the color of daylight on a bright day. Also called lighting standards.

Stat - Short for photostat, therefore a general term for an inexpensive photographic print of line copy or halftone.

Statistical Process Control - Method used by printers to ensure quality and delivery times specified by customers. Abbreviated SPC.

Step and Repeat - Prepress technique of exposing an image in a precise, multiple pattern to create a flat or plate. Images are said to be stepped across the film or plate.

Stocking Paper - Popular sizes, weights and colors of papers available for prompt delivery from a merchant's warehouse.

Stock Order - Order for paper that a mill or merchant sends to a printer from inventory at a warehouse, as compared to a mill order.

String Score - Score created by pressing a string against paper, as compared to scoring using a metal edge.

Strip - To assemble images on film for platemaking. Stripping involves correcting flaws in film, assembling pieces of film into flats and ensuring that film and flats register correctly. Also called film assembly and image assembly.

Substance Weight - Alternate term for basis weight, usually referring to bond papers. Also called sub weight.

Stumping (Blocking) - In the book arena, hot die, foil or other means in creating an image on a case bound book.

Substrate - Any surface or material on which printing is done.

Subtractive Color - the mixing of inks, paints, dyes and natural colorants. The color that a surface displays depends on which colors of the spectrum are reflected by it and therefore made visible. Colors are caused by subtracting (that is, absorbing) some wavelengths of light and reflecting the others.

Subtractive Primary Color - Yellow, magenta and cyan. In the graphic arts, these are known as process colors because, along with black, they are the inks colors used in color-process printing.

Supercalendered Paper - Paper calendered using alternating chrome and fiber rollers to produce a smooth, thin sheet. Abbreviated SC paper.

Surprint - Taking an already printed matter and re-printing again on the same.

Swash Book - A book in a variety of forms, indicating specific stock in specific colors in a specific thickness.

SWOP - Abbreviation for specifications for web offset publications, specifications recommended for web printing of publications.

Swatch Book - contains paper samples showing paper colors, thicknesses and other specifications.


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Tabloid - Using a broadsheet as a measure, one half of a broadsheet.

Tag - Grade of dense, strong paper used for products such as badges and file folders.

Tagged Image File Format - Computer file format used to store images from scanners and video devices. Abbreviated TIFF.

Target Ink Densities - Densities of the four process inks as recommended for various printing processes and grades of paper. See also Total Area Coverage.

Template - Concerning a printing project's basic details in regard to its dimensions. A standard layout.

Text Paper - Designation for printing papers with textured surfaces such as laid or linen. Some mills also use 'text' to refer to any paper they consider top-of-the-line, whether or not its surface has a texture.

Thermography - Method of printing using colorless resin powder that takes on the color of underlying ink. Also called raised printing.

Thumbnails - Initial ideas jotted on virtually anything in regard to initial concept of a future project.

Tint - Screening or adding white to a solid color for results of lightening that specific color.

Tip In - Usually in the book arena, adding an additional page(s) beyond the normal process (separate insertion).

Tone Compression - Reduction in the tonal range from original scene to printed reproduction.

Total Area Coverage - Total of the dot percentages of the process colors in the final film. Abbreviated for TAC. Also called density of tone, maximum density, shadow saturation, total dot density and total ink coverage.

Touch Plate - Plate that accents or prints a color that four-color process printing cannot reproduce well enough or at all. Also called kiss plate.

Trade Shop - Service bureau, printer or bindery working primarily for other graphic arts professionals, not for the general public.

Transparency - Positive photographic image on film allowing light to pass through. Also called chrome, color transparency and tranny. Often abbreviated TX.

Trap - To print one ink over another or to print a coating, such as varnish, over an ink. The first liquid traps the second liquid. See also Dry Traps and Wet Traps.

Toner - the fine plastic-based powder used in copy machines and laser printers, as opposed to ink that is used on a printing press.

Trim Size - the final size of a printed piece once it's been cut.


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Undercolor Addition - Technique of making color separations that increases the amount of cyan, magenta or yellow ink in shadow areas. Abbreviated UCA.

Undercolor Removal - Technique of making color separations such that the amount of cyan, magenta and yellow ink is reduced in midtone and shadow areas while the amount of black is increased. Abbreviated UCR.

Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) - A system to protect unique work from reproducing without knowledge from the originator. To qualify, one must register their work and publish a (c) indicating registration.

Unsharp Masking - Technique of adjusting dot size to make a halftone or separation appear sharper (in better focus) than the original photo or the first proof. Also called edge enhancement and peaking.

Up - Term to indicate multiple copies of one image printed in one impression on a single sheet. "Two up" or "three up" means printing the identical piece twice or three times on each sheet.

Uncoated Paper - an uncoated paper stock has not been coated with clay or other surface sealants. Inks dry by absorbing into the paper. Uncoated papers are available in a variety of surfaces, both textured (such as "laid" and "linen") and smooth.

UV Coating - a clear gloss or dull liquid that is cured with ultraviolet light applied to printed paper to reduce scratching and enhance visual appearance. UV coating gives more protection and sheen than either varnish or aqueous coating.


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Value - The shade (darkness) or tint (lightness) of a color. Also called brightness, lightness, shade and tone.

Varnish - varnish is a clear gloss or dull coating sealant applied to printed paper to reduce scratching and enhance visual appearance.

Vector Art - a Vector image is a graphic that has been created in a drawing program (i.e. Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand or CorelDraw). It uses paths to create lines and curves at connecting points called "nodes" to store the graphic's information mathematically. Vector images can be scaled up to any size without loss of quality, as opposed to raster images which become pixelated and quality is diminished when they are enlarged.

Vellum Finish - Somewhat rough, toothy finish.

Velox - Brand name for high-contrast photographic paper.

Viewing Booth - Small area or room that is set up for proper viewing of transparencies, color separations or press sheets. Also called color booth. See also Standard Viewing Conditions.

Vignette - Decorative design or illustration fade to white.

Vignette Halftone - Halftone whose background gradually and smoothly fades away. Also called degrade.

Virgin Paper - Paper made exclusively of pulp from trees or cotton, as compared to recycled paper.

VOC - Abbreviation for volatile organic compounds, petroleum substances used as the vehicles for many printing inks.


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Wash Up - To clean ink and fountain solutions from rollers, fountains, screens, and other press components.

Waste - Unusable paper or paper damage during normal makeready, printing or binding operations, as compared to spoilage.

Watermark - a recognizable image or pattern in paper caused by thickness or density variations in the paper. A watermark is very useful in the examination of paper because it can be used for dating, identifying sizes, mill trademarks and locations, and the quality of a paper.

Web Break - Split of the paper as it travels through a web press, causing operators to rethread the press.

Web Gain - Unacceptable stretching of paper as it passes through the press.

Web Press - Press that prints from rolls of paper, usually cutting it into sheets after printing. Also called reel-fed press. Web presses come in many sizes, the most common being mini, half, three quarter (also called 8-pages) and full (also called 16-pages).

Weight - the weight of a paper refers to its thickness and is measured in pounds (#). The higher the number, the thicker the paper for that "type" of paper. Paper weights in commercial printing can be very confusing. For example, a sheet of 20# bond (probably what you use on your copy machine) is about the same thickness as a sheet of 50# offset. A more meaningful measurement to pay attention to is a paper's caliper.

Wet Trap - To print ink or varnish over wet ink, as compared to dry trap.

Whiteness - a measure of the light reflected from a sheet of paper. How white a paper is depends on how evenly it reflects all colors in the visible color spectrum.

White Space - white space is the space between graphics, margins, gutters, columns, lines of type and objects. A page crammed full of text or graphics with very little white space runs the risk of appearing busy, cluttered, and is typically difficult to read. Proper use of white space can give a page a classic, elegant, or rich appearance.

Window - (1) In a printed product, a die-cut hole revealing an image on the sheet behind it. (2) On a mechanical, an area that has been marked for placement of a piece of artwork.

Wire Side - Side of the paper that rests against The Fourdrinier wire during papermaking, as compared to felt side.

With the Grain - Parallel to the grain direction of the paper being used, as compared to against the grain. See also Grain Direction.

Woodfree Paper - Made with chemical pulp only. Paper usually classified as calendered or supercalendered.

Work and Tumble - printing on one side of a sheet and then turning it over (from the gripper to the tail) to print the second side. The same side guide and plate are used for the second side printing.

Work and Turn - printing one side of a sheet and turning it over while using the same gripper and plate for the second side printing.

Working Film - Intermediate film that will be copied to make final film after all corrections are made. Also called buildups.

Wove - Paper manufactured without visible wire marks, usually a fine textured paper.

Wrong Reading - An image that is backwards when compared to the original. Also called flopped and reverse reading.


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Z Fold - folding paper in thirds in “zig zags,” it opens like an accordion in the shape of a “Z”




Summit Printing
— Kansas City's Discount Business Printing Service —