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Abilation Plates:

In offset litho printing, a laser is used to burn tiny holes into thin coatings on a polyester or metal base. These can be produced digitally, require no chemical processing, and can be printed waterless. All the plates for a job can be imaged directly on the press, simultaneously and in register.

Accordion Fold or Concertina Fold:

A folding method in which two or more parallel folds are made in opposite directions.

Additive Colours:

The primaries of transmitted light: red, green, and blue-violet.


An optical trick to make hard jagged edges on low-resolution computer screens and colour output look smoother.


The part of a lower-case letter such as 'k' or 'd' that extends above the body of the type.

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange):

A text-only format of 256 codes used to represent alphanumeric characters with no additional information about size, font, or spacing.





The imaginary horizontal line on which letters sit.


Fixing together folded signatures into multipage publications, using glue, thread, or metal wires. Also the cover and backing of a book.


The primary unit in computing – a binary digit (a 1 or a 0).


An image or letter made from a pattern of dots, or pixels, on a raster device such as a computer screen or laser printer.


The intermediate rubber roller on an offset litho press that transfers the image from the plate to the paper.

Blanket Cylinder:

The cylinder on an offset litho press to which the blanket is attached.

Blanket-to-Blanket Press:

An offset litho press that can print both sides of a sheet in one pass – the sheet passes between two blanket cylinders and there is no need for an impression cylinder.


Part of the image that extends beyond the trim marks of a page (typically 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch).


Producing the lettering on the spine of a hardback book, usually in gold or silver leaf, by means of a die.

Blue and Red Keys:

A method for ensuring the close registration of colour separations using a key image in blue or red as a guide.

Blueprint (Blueline):

A dyeline proof for checking the position of design elements and stripped-in halftones before the plate is made.

Brownprint (Brownline):

A proof made from a lithographic negative similar to a blueprint but producing a brown image.


Eight bits, corresponding to one ASCII character.





A structured computer programming language, the basis of Java.


Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). This is the system used to describe and separate colours for printing. Other colour systems include RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) for transmitted colour, such as for computer screens, and HLS (Hue, Luminance, and Saturation), a more theoretical description. The Pantone Matching System colours by mixing 11 basic colours.

CMS (Colour Management System):

A library of scanner, monitor, and output device profiles to ensure consistency of colour reproduction by mapping colour from the gamut of one device, such as a display, into a device-independent model, and then to the gamut of another device, such as a colour printer.

Collating or Gathering:

Bringing pages and signatures together for binding.

Colour Bar:

A printer's check appearing on colour proofs to show up any faults in colour registration, print density, dot gain, and slurring.

Colour Calibrate:

To adjust the output values of a computer screen to correspond more faithfully to printed colours.

Colour Separations:

A set of film for the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black) components of a full-colour image.


The raw material of the graphic designer: the text, type, artwork, and mechanicals.


Marking up type so that it fits a given space in a layout.

Crop Marks:

Lines to indicate which portions of a photograph, illustration, or layout are surplus to requirements. A printer, or service bureau, will use these marks to trim off the bleed so that you have colour, or photos, right to the edge of the finished piece.

CTP (Computer-to-Plate or Direct-to-Plate):

Making offset litho plates in a platesetter direct from a Postscript file without the need for film.





The part of a lower-case letter such as 'p' or 'g' that extends below the baseline.


Using sharp steel rules in a wooden die or laser to cut shapes from paper.


Producing a three-dimensional low relief effect on paper or ocer board using a metal-die and counter-die.

Dot Gain (Dot Spread):

As individual dots begin to join in darker areas of a halftone there can be an apparent jump in what should be a continuous tone.

DPI (Dots Per Inch):

A measure of the resolution or addressability of a raster device such as a laser printer.

Draw Program (Object Oriented Program):

A computer program that stores and manipulates images in terms of lines and curves used to create them, usually in Postscript. Adobe Illustrator is one of these programs and can also be referred to as a vector program used for drawing illustrations, logos etc.

Drop Cap:

A large initial letter dropping into the lines below and signaling the beginning of the text.

DTP (Desktop Publishing):

Digital page make-up. DTP Programs, such as Adobe InDesign, allows one to combine vector and raster images along with type for newspaper, book, magazine, brochure, catalogue etc. layouts.


A 'concept model' of a publication, usually a miniature folded version, showing the position of pages; also a book without printing made up to the correct number of pages in a particular paper stock for the purpose of weighing, designing the dust jacket, and generally seeing how the finished product will look.


A high-quality halftone with a full tonal range made from two printings, either black and one other colour, or black twice. Duotones photos etc. are used in layouts that have only two or more colours but will not print as CMYK (or full colour) and use spot colours.





The width of a letter 'M', or a square em-quad space, which will be different for each typeface unlike a pica em which is 1/6th of an inch.


A finishing process producing an image in low relief.


The width of a letter 'N', half an em.

EPS (Encapsulated Postscript):

A file format for transferring drawings created in Adobe Illustrator, for example, into digital layout programs.





A set of fonts related to a basic roman typeface, which may include italic and bold plus a whole spectrum of different 'weights'.


High-contrast photographic film used to transfer the image to the plate, can be positive (when the image is the same as the mechanical) or negative (the white areas show black and vice versa).


All the processes that convert printed sheets into folded and bound publications.

Flat Colour (Spot Colour):

A single printing of a Pantone colour, printed solid or as tints, in register with black.

Flexography (Flexo):

A form of relief printing, using fast-drying inks and rubber or plastic plates on a rotary letterpress.

FM Screening (Frequency-Modulated or Stochastic Screening):

Using dots arranged randomly to reproduce continuous tone artwork which uses an array of differently sized dots.

Fold Lines:

Marks usually in the trim areas showing where sheets are to be folded.


Page number, or a single sheet of a manuscript.

Four-Colour Process:

Full-colour printing in which colours are approximated by various percentages of the process colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). A full-colour image is separated by filters into four different film – one for each of the four process colours – and four plates are used for the printing.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol):

A protocol to let users transfer files between computers. Most printers, service bureaus, have an FTP set up to allow the final files to be uploaded and then the service bureau downloads the files for printing.




Gamut (Colour Space):

The range of colours that can be reproduced on a colour display, output device, or by a particular colour printing method – some colours available on a computer screen may not be printable using the CMYK process.

Ganging Up:

Grouping together several transparencies to be scanned together; also printing a group of different jobs on the same sheet of paper using a single plate.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format):

A common file format for graphics containing flat areas of colour. GIF files are for the web only and are too low quality for print only supporting 256 colours.


Grey lines that indicate the presence of type on a computer screen; also the nonsense setting (usually Latin) used by designers to show the position of type on a rough layout or dummy.

Gripper Edge:

The edge of a sheet held by metal fingers in the press – a term used in imposition. The gripper margin is the allowance that avoids any damage by the grippers to the printed image.


The combined margin of a book or folder on each side of the spine; the margin on one side of the spine is called the 'back edge'. The term gutter is also used for any vertical space, such as that between two columns.





A continuous-tone image converted to line by turning it into a pattern of dots, either digitally, by laser, or by photographing it through a screen.


A proprietary six-colour system from Pantone using brighter (fluorescent) versions of CMYK plus vivid orange and green; also referred to as HiFi colour.

Hot-Foil Stamping:

Transferring a foil coating from a carrier roll of polyester to paper or cover board by means of a heated die.

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language):

Text based language used to create and communicate 'www' pages.

HTTP (Hyper Text Transport Protocol):

The protocol of the World Wide Web.


The rainbow parameter of a colour that distinguishes red, for example, from blue.


The division of words, usually between syllables, pairs of consonants or pairs of vowels.





A small picture on a computer screen representing an application, tool, or document.


A high-resolution output device that produces film or bromide prints from a Postscript file, so called because it can output line art and halftone images as well as type.


Imagesetter which, with imposition software, produces film negatives with pages in position ready for platemaking.


Imagesetter which, with imposition software, produces film negatives with pages in position ready for platemaking.


The layout of pages such that after printing, folding, collating, and trimming, they will all end up in the correct order and the right way up.


The process of transferring ink from the plate to the paper during printing.

Impression Cylinder:

In an offset litho press, the cylinder that presses the paper against the blanket cylinder.

ISP (Internet Service Provider):

The company who you dial up to get on the internet.




Java (Javascript):

A C++ based programming language from Sun that is object-oriented and platform-independent – tiny programs called applets are downloaded and embedded in the HTML code.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Group):

A common format for graphics containing continuous tones of colour, such as photographs. JPEG files are mainly used on web sites and are, in general, low-resolution files but they can also be saved as high-resolution and converted to a TIF or EPS file for use in printing.


Type set with edges that are aligned both left and right. Justified setting requires hyphenation, and variable spacing between words.





Adjusting the spacing between pairs of letters, such as 'T' and 'A', to improve the aesthetic appearance.





Coating paper or cover board with a clear film to add strength and gloss.


The orientation of a page when the width is greater that the height.

Leading (Interline Spacing):

The space between lines of type; in letterpress these were strips of lead.


Two or more letters, such as 'fi' and 'ffl', joined together into one character.


Artwork in black (or any other single colour) and white only, with no intermediate tones of grey, which will print without first being screened.


A planographic printing process in which greasy ink is transferred from the surface of a dampened plate or stone directly on to paper. Offset Lithography, usually shortened to offset litho, prints first on to a rubber or plastic blanket, and then on to the paper.


A Designer's magnifying glass, also called a Linen Tester or eyeglass; used for checking colour transparencies and halftone dots.





The areas of white between the text and the edges of the page.


Dull finish, the opposite of glossy.

Metallic Inks:

Inks that contain metal dust, producing a sheen when printed.


An instrument for measuring very small distances, such as the thickness of paper; also one millionth of a metre.

Modem (Modulator Demoldulator):

A device to convert digital data from your computer into analog data that can travel down the telephone line.

Moiré Pattern:

Unwanted 'basket-weave' effects caused by superimposed regular patterns, such as halftone dots. Screens must be set at angles that minimize the moiré effect.

Monotone (Monochrome):

Black-and-white, or the various tones of one colour.




Negative-Working Plate:

Offset litho plate prepared by exposure to negative film.


Linking computers together so that they can communicate with each other and share output devices such as laser printers and file servers.





Abbreviation for offset lithography; also the same as setoff – when ink transfers from one printed sheet to the back of another.

Offset Lithography (Offset Litho):

A planographic printing process in which greasy ink is tranferred from the surface of a dampened plate first on to a rubber or plastic blanket, and then on to the paper.


The property of a paper affecting the show-through of printing from the other side or the sheet.

Oriented Polypropylene (OPP) Lamination:

The standard bookjacket lamination film.


A single word or a few words, usually less than a third of the measure of the setting, forming a line of their own at the end of a paragraph.

Out of Register:

The blurred effect that occurs when film separations or plates are misaligned.


Colour, usually black, printed over flat colour.





The sequence of pages in a book or folder.

Paint Program (Paint System):

A computer program that stores the image on the screen as a bitmap. Adobe Photoshop is a paint program, or raster program, which deals with pixels (such as photographs) instead of vector information.

Pantone Matching System (PMS):

A widely used proprietary system for specifying flat colour in percentages of 11 standard colours; coordinating papers and markers corresponding to Pantone colours can be purchased (Pantone Swatch Books). PMS is one form of spot colours mainly used in North America.

PDF (Portable Document Format):

A document format which uses a reader such as Adobe Acrobat to recreate the appearance of fonts and spacing in your page layout.

Perforation (Perf):

Producing the tear-along lines on coupons or stamps, for example, by piercing with sharp metal strips.

Pica (Pica Em):

A unit for measuring type equal to 1/6th of an inch, or 12 points; on a typewriter, the normal pitch of ten characters per inch.


Pixel is short for 'picture element' and is the dot on a computer display. The resolution (sharpness) of a raster display is measured by the number of pixels horizontally by the number of scan lines vertically, e.g. 1280 x 1024.

Planographic Printing:

Any process using a plate on which both the printing and non-printing areas are on the same surface, e.g. lithography.


A metal or plastic sheet with a photo-sensitive face on to which an image is chemically etched, either changing the characteristics of the surface, as in Lithography.

Plate Cylinder:

In an offset litho press, the cylinder to which the plate is attached.


A unit for measuring type equal to approximately 1/72nd of an inch (exactly 1/72nd of an inch in computer systems), abbreviated 'pt'; also a measure of paper bulk equivalent to one thousandth of an inch (a MIL).


The orientation of a page when the height is greater than the width.


An outline description language for type developed by Adobe and licensed to suppliers such as Linotype, Monotype, Agfa, and AM Varityper. Type 1 Postscript fonts contain hinting and encryption.

Prepress Proof:

A proof taken directly from the film separations, to check that the colour will print correctly.

Press Proof:

A proof taken from the plates that will be used to print the finished job, and on the specified paper stock, usually on a special proofing press.

Print Run (Press Run):

The number of copies to be produced in one printing.

Process Colours:

The four colours – Cyan (Process Blue), Magenta (Process Red), Yellow, and Key (Black) – used to approximate full-colour artwork.





A square space in typesetting used as a unit of measurement, such as an 'em quad' or 'en quad'.

Quarter Binding:

The spine and adjacent strips of the cover are bound in one material, maybe leather, and the rest of the sides in a less expensive material.




RAM (Random Access Memory):

Quick-access temporary memory in a computer containing the job in hand, in the form of chips.

Ranged Left/Right:

Ranged Left is a method of setting type in which the type is aligned on the left-hand side and ragged on the right. Ragged Right is ragged on the left and aligned on the right.


A horizontal scan line on a computer screen or output device. Raster images, such as photographs in Photoshop, are device dependent meaning that depending on which device they are viewed (such as a computer display) or printed with will determine the quality of the image.


500 sheets of paper.

Register (Registration):

Correct positioning of one colour separation in relation to the others during printing. A register mark is a symbol used on copy and film to ensure accurate registration.


A measure of the fineness and quality of an output device, usually measured in dots per inch (dpi) – the number of dots that can be placed end to end in a line an inch long.


Modifying or correcting photographic images either manually with dye and airbrush, or electronically to a scanned image using a program such as Adobe Photoshop.

Reversed Out:

When type is set in white against a black or flat colour background.


Red, Green, and Blue. A system for specifying colour on a computer screen. RGB colour is used for images used on the internet but are not for printing (they would need to be converted to CMYK).

Right-Reading Emulsion Down (RRED):

Film used for offset litho platemaking in which the image appears the correct way round when the film is viewed from the shiny (non-emulsion) side; also called wrong-reading emulsion up (WREU).

Right-Reading Emulsion Up (RREU):

Film used for direct forms of platemaking, such as Letterpress and Flexography, in which the image appears the correct way round when the film is viewed from the dull emulsion side, also called wrong-reading emulsion down (WRED).

RIP (Raster Image Processor):

A device that converts a Postscript file into a bitmap that can be output from an imagesetter.

ROM (Read Only Memory):

Permanent unalterable computer memory in the form of chips.


Normal type, as opposed to italic or bold; also a kind of type with serifs such as 'Times New Roman'.


Type set around a photograph or other design element, deviating from the normal measure.

Running Heads:

Headlines that appear in the same (or a symmetrical) position on every page of a publication except where chapter titles occur or if illustrations outside the grid area displace them.




Saddle Stitching:

A binding method using wire staples along the foldof the publication.

Sans Serif:

A typeface without serifs; e.g. Helvetica, Arial, and Futura.

Saturation (Intensity):

A measure of the colour's position in the range from neutral grey to fully saturated, or bright, colour.


Enlarging or reducing – usually applied to an image – and calculating the percentage of enlargement or reduction so as to anticipate the space it will occupy in a layout.


To crease a sheet of paper or board so that it will fold easily.


A piece of glass or plastic used to convert continuous tone copy into a halftone; also the frequency of dots, expressed in lines per inch or lpi (the dpi of a raster image should be 2x the lpi – so if the service bureau prints 150 lpi then your raster images need to be 300 dpi).

Screen Printing (Silkscreen):

A printing process using a stencil supported on a mesh or screen; ink is forced through the open mesh but is prevented from reaching the non-image areas of the paper by the stencil. Generally you will see this process used on textiles such as t-shirts.


Film in register relating to one of the four process colours; also artwork or film in register relating to flat colour (spot colour).


The mark that terminates the ends of the letters in some typefaces; e.g. Times New Roman, Garamond, and Palatino.

Service Bureau:

A place where you can rent expensive equipment by the hour, or have laser prints, bromides, and film output from an imagesetter from your disk at a price per sheet.


A press taking single sheets of paper. The alternative is a web press which prints onto an unfurled rolled of paper fed through the press.


Several pages for a book, printed from the same plate and arranged so that they can be folded and trimmed to make a section, usually of 16 pages. A backstep mark on the spine shows how several signatures are to be arranged so they bind in the correct sequence.


The bound edge of a book or magazine, where the fold is.


A method of binding used for calendars, cookbooks, and manuals, using a wire spiral inserted through holes in the pages.

Spot Varnish:

Applying patches of varnish, often to make halftones glossy.


Any sheet material to be printed – paper, board, plastic, or another substance. Also the carrier material in film, for example, on to which a layer of emulsion is deposited.

Swatch Book:

A book of colour samples; the most commonly used come from Pantone (Pantone Matching System Swatch Book).





HTML code that the browser interprets 'on the fly' as the web page arrives from the server to the client. Tags usually have a start and an end, 'containing' the item in question. The first part of a tag turns an attribute on and the second turns the attribute off. Tags are surrounded by angled brackets (the 'less-than' and 'greater-than' symbols) and the closing tag is usually preceded by a slash symbol (/); e.g. Paragraph tags looks like: <p>Type goes here</p>.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol):

The standards that enable computers to pass information between each other on the internet.


Creating a raised impression by using heat-treated resinous powder.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format):

A protocol for dealing with scanned photographs in digital prepress programs. TIFF files are used for high quality CMYK printing.


Shades of a flat colour (spot colour) created by patterns of dots similar to halftones, specified as a percentage of the solid colour.


Adjusting the spacing between all letters, as opposed to kerning, which only adjusts the space between pairs of letters; also, when several coloured images are printed in a row and inking becomes uneven as a result.


Creating an overlap between areas of flat colour (spot colour) to compensate for misregistration – usually the lighter colour overlaps the darker; also any area of colour overlapping another. A 'spread' traps a light foreground object to a dark background; a 'choke' traps a light background to a dark foreground object.

Trim and Centre Marks:

Indications of where paper sheets are to be trimmed and folded; they mark out the finished page area.


An outline description format from Apple and Microsoft which rivals Postscript (Type 1).




Undercolour Addition (UCA):

Adding a tint of process colour to add density to a black. Rich Black is a good example of this by adding percentages of Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow to 100% K (Black).

Undercolour Removal (UCR):

Reducing the amount of colour in areas of shadows, to save ink and improve trapping.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator):

The unique address of a www page, of the form:




Value (Luminance):

The parameter of colour describing the lightness or darkness, changed by adding black or white to a particular hue.


A halftone that fades to nothing around the edges.




Waterless Plates:

In offset litho printing, waterless plates consist of ink on aluminum for the image areas and a silicone rubber for the non-printing areas. Silicone rubber has very low surface tension and thus will repel ink.


A symbol or mark manufactured into paper which can be seen when the sheet is held to the light.


A continuous roll of paper used on web-fed presses, cut into sheets after printing.


A single word or part of a word from the end of a paragraph left at the top of a new column or page.


An imposition scheme in which both sides of a job can be printed, in two passes, by a single plate: one side is printed, then the sheet is turned head-over-heels so that the gripper edge changes ends.


An imposition scheme in which both sides of a job can be printed, in two passes, by a single plate: one side is printed, then the sheet is turned sideways so that the lay edge changes sides but the gripper edge remains the same.





A copying process using black toner attracted to an image on an electrostatically charged drum; the toner is transferred to paper and fixed by heat.


The height of a letter 'x' in a particular typeface – a typographic measurement which ignores the height of the ascenders and descenders.



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