TYPEStyles Design & Printing

Printing Terms

1/0, 1/1, 4/1, et. al.

A printing specifications designation. Two numbers separated by a slash indicate the number of inks used on each side of a sheet. For example, 1/0 means 1 ink color on front, none on back (blank or single-sided); 4/1 indicates 4- or full-color on front, 1 color on back.

4-color or four color process (or full color)

Printing in full color using four color separation negatives-cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK).



Adobe Illustrator's file extension/file format, which is actually a type of Encapsulated Postscript. Illustrator files are vector-based.


Adobe Acrobat

A popular software program for the conversion of documents into the Portable Document File (PDF) format. PDFs maintain the attributes (bold and italic type, other formatting choices, and layout) assigned to the printed original. Acrobat Reader is used to open and view/read PDFs.



An Amount of white space in a layout.



A jagged or "staircase" effect in a raster image, cased by an insufficient number of image samples. See also: anti-aliasing.



To line up typeset or other graphic material as specified, using a base or vertical line as the reference point.


alpha channel

An 8-bit channel reserved by some image-processing applications for masking or retaining additional color information.



The point of a character where two lines meet at the top, an example of this is the point on the letter A.



Additional white space allowed in the margins of text and illustrations when forming a foldout.



In graphic arts usage, all matter other than text material, e.g. illustrations and photographs.



Any part of a lower-case letter extending above the x-height. For example, the upper half of the vertical in the letters b or h.


ASCII file

A text file containing ASCII characters only. The lowest common denominator for exchanging text among programs. Almost any word processor or desktop publishing program can read or write ASCII files. Also known as text-only files.


author's alterations

(AA) Changes requested by the author or author's representative after the original copy has been typeset, including those made as a result of errors in keying in the copy. Alternative terms: author's corrections, artist's alterations.


author's proof

Prepublication copy sent to the author for approval. It is returned marked "OK" or "OK with changes."



An abbreviation for artwork.



Letters that slant the opposite way from italic characters.



A circle or bubble enclosing copy in an illustration. Used in cartoons.



An electronic prepress term referring to visible steps in shades of a gradient.



The line on which the bases of capital letters sit.



The various methods used to secure loose leaves or sections in a book, e.g., saddle-stitch, perfect bound.



An image represented by an array of picture elements, each of which is encoded as one or more binary digits.



The main text of the work, but not including headlines.


body size

The height of the type measured from the top of the tallest ascender to the bottom of the lowest descender. Normally given in points, the standard unit of type size.



Pictures, lines, or solid colors that extend beyond the edge or edges of a page.


blind emboss

A raised impression made without using ink or foil.



A short description or commentary of a book or author on a book jacket.


bold type

Type with a heavier, darker appearance. Most typefaces have a bold face.



A continuous decorative design or rule surrounding the matter on the page.



A section of text marked off by rules or white space and presented separately from the main text and illustrations. Longer boxed sections in magazines are sometimes referred to as sidebars.



A large dot preceding text to add emphasis.



A portion of text, usually duplicated from accompanying text, enlarged and set off in quotes and/or a box to draw attention to what surrounds it.


camera ready

Artwork that is ready for reproduction.


cap line

An imaginary line across the top of capital letters. The distance from the cap line to the baseline is the cap size.



An abbreviation for capital letters.


caps and small caps

A style of type that shows capital letters used in the normal way while the body copy is set in capital letters which are of a slightly smaller size.



The line or lines of text that refer to information identifying a picture or illustration.



Paper coated with chemicals and dye which will produce copies without carbon paper. Also referred to as NCR (No Carbon Required).


caret marks

An indication to the printer of an omission in the copy indicated as (^) showing the insertion.



Abbreviation for the four process ink colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, black.



To gather separate sections or leaves of a book together in the correct order for binding.


color separations, color seps

The division of a multi-colored original into the basic (or primary) process colors of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK). These should not be confused with the optical primaries (red, green, blue (RGB)).



A style of typeface in which the characters have an elongated appearance.


continuous tone

An image in which the subject has continuous shades of color or grey without being broken up by dots. Continuous tones cannot be reproduced in that form for printing, but must be screened to translate the image into dots.



The degree of tones in a photograph ranging from highlight to shadow.



The right of copyright gives protection to the originator of material to prevent use without express permission or acknowledgement of the originator.


corner marks

Marks printed on a sheet to indicate the trim or register marks.


crop, cropping

The elimination of parts of a photograph or other original that are not required to be printed or to fit a designated area. Cropping allows the remaining parts of the image to be enlarged to fill the space.



Used to describe typefaces that resemble written script.


cut flush

A method of trimming a book after the cover has been attached to the pages.


A short, horizontal rule used for punctuation.



Any part of a lower-case letter that extends below the x-height. For example, the lower half of the letters y or j.



A hardened steel engraving stamp used to print an inked image or a metal form used in die cutting a particular shape.


digital printing

A relatively new form of printing (early 1990s) that is ideal for short runs, as opposed to traditional offset lithography printing which requires plates to be made and therefore has significant set-up costs). Ideally suited for short full-color or spot color runs, Variable Data Printing (VDP), and Print On Demand (POD).


To convert an image or signal into binary form.


direct-to-plate technology

Those imaging systems that receive fully paginated materials electronically from computers and expose this information to plates in platesetters or imagesetters without creating film intermediates.


display type

Larger type used for headings, etc. Normally about 18 point or larger.


double page spread

(DPS) Two facing pages of pages of newspaper or magazine where the textual material on the left hand side continues across to the right hand side.


dots per inch

(DPI) A unit that describes the resolution of an image or output device.


drop cap

A large initial letter at the start of the text that drops into the line or lines of text below.


electronic publishing

A generic term for the distribution of information which is stored, transmitted and reproduced electronically. Teletext and Videotext are two examples of this technology in its purest form, i.e., no paper. Desktop publishing forms just one part of the electronic publishing market.


In printing terms it is a square unit with edges equal in size to the chosen point size. It gets its name from the letter M which originally was as wide as the type size.


em dash

A dash used in punctuation the length of one em.



Relief images formed by using a recessed die.


en dash

A dash approximately half the width of an em dash.



A unit of measurement that is half as wide as an em.



Abbreviation of Encapsulated PostScript, the graphics file format used by the PostScript language. EPS files can be either binary or ASCII. The term EPS usually implies the file contains a bit-mapped representation of the graphics for display purposes. In contrast, PostScript files include only the PostScript commands for printing the graphic.


expanded type

A typeface with a slightly wider body, giving a flatter appearance.


An abbreviation for typeface referring to a family in a given style.


flush left

Copy aligned along the left margin.


flush right

Copy aligned along the right margin.



An inexpensively produced circular used for promotional distribution.



A complete set of characters in a typeface.


form letter

Used in word processing to describe a repetitive letter in which the names and addresses of individuals are automatically generated from a database (mail merge) or typed individually.


four color process (or 4-color, full color)

Printing in full color using four color separation negatives-cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK).  

French fold

A sheet which has been printed on one side only and then folded with two right angle folds to form a 4-page uncut section.



An oversize page where both sides fold into the gutter in overlapping layers. Used to accommodate maps into books.



A range of luminance values for evaluating shading through white to black. Frequently used in discussions about scanners as a measure of their ability to capture halftone images. Basically the more levels the better, but with correspondingly larger memory requirements.



The central blank area between left and right pages.


hairline rule

The thinnest rule that can be printed.



An illustration reproduced by breaking down the original tone into a pattern of dots of varying size. Light areas have small dots and darker areas or shadows have larger dots.


halftone screen

A glass plate or film placed between the original photograph and the film to be exposed. The screen carries a network of parallel lines. The number of lines to the inch controls the coarseness of the final dot formation. The screen used depends on the printing process and the paper to be used--the higher the quality, the more lines can be used.



A case bound book with a separate stiff board cover.



Refers to the arrangement of pages on a printed sheet, which when the sheet is finally printed on both sides, folded and trimmed, will place the pages in their correct order.



An instruction to the printer for the inclusion of additional copy.



Type with sloping letters.



Joint Pictures Expert Group. The JPEG file format is a compressed format, with some loss of quality during compression. A popular Internet format due to the generally small size of pictures. File formats of .jpg, .jpeg, and .jpe. Generally not acceptable for print use.



The alignment of text along a margin or both margins. This is achieved by adjusting the spacing between the words and characters as necessary so that each line of text finishes at the same point.



The adjustment of spacing between certain letter pairs, A and V for example, to obtain a more pleasing appearance.



Paper with a texture made up of fine lines very close together, that have soft edges. Usually used for high quality stationery.



A thin transparent plastic coating applied to paper or board to provide protection and give it a glossy finish.



Work in which the width used is greater than the height. Also used to indicate the orientation of tables or illustrations which are printed 'sideways'. (see Portrait ).


lead or leading

Space added between lines of type to space out text and provide visual separation of the lines. Measured in points or fractions thereof. Named after the strips of lead which were inserted between lines of metal type.


The descriptive matter printed below an illustration, mostly referred to as a caption. Also an explanation of signs or symbols used in timetables or maps.


The addition of space between the letters of words to increase the line-length to a required width or to improve the appearance of a line.



Textured paper with a "woven" look to it like linen cloth. Usually used for high quality stationery.

lithography (or "litho")

A printing process based on the principle of the natural aversion of water to grease. The photographically prepared printing plate, when being made, is treated chemically so that the image will accept ink and reject water. The image carrier is said to be planographic, or flat and smooth. See also offset lithography.



Short for logotype. A word or combination of letters set as a single unit. Also used to denote a specially styled company name designed as part of a corporate image.


loose leaf

A method of binding which allows the insertion and removal of pages for continuous updating.


lower case

The small letters in a font of type.



The non-printing areas of a page.



The rough visual of a publication or design.


moiré pattern

The result of superimposing halftone screens at the wrong angle thereby giving a checkered effect on the printed halftone. Normally detected during the stage of progressive proofs.



A font in which all characters occupy the same amount of horizontal width regardless of the character.



A single image formed from the assembling of several images.  


No Carbon Required. See carbonless.


offset lithography

(see lithography) A printing method whereby the image is transferred from a plate onto a rubber covered cylinder from which the printing takes place. Patented by Johann Alois Senefelder circa 1818.

on-demand printing

(see Print On Demand)


Term used to describe the degree to which paper will show print through.


optical center

A point above the true center of the page which will not appear 'low' as the geometric center does.


Optical Character Recognition

(OCR) A technique in which any printed, typed, or handwritten copy or graphic images are scanned by an electronic reader (scanner) that converts the information into a form that can be read into a computer as actual text rather than just a picture.



Line of type on its own at the top or bottom of a page.



A typeface in which the characters are formed with only the outline defined rather than from solid strokes.



Additional paper required to compensate for spoilage in printing. Also used to refer to a quantity produced above the number of copies ordered.



The numbering of pages in a book.  


A registered name for an ink color matching system. Also known as PMS (Pantone Matching System) with colors referred to as "PMS colors" (e.g. PMS 185 red). Pantone is a spot color system.


parallel fold

A method of folding; e.g., two parallel folds will produce a six page sheet.

perfect binding

A common method of binding paperback books. After the printed sections having been collated, the spines will be ground off and the cover glued on.



A printing industry unit of measurement. There are 12 points to a pica, one pica is approximately 0.166in.



Picture element. The smallest tonal element in a digital imaging or display system.



The standard unit of type size of which there are 72 to the inch (one point is approximately 0.01383in). Point size is the measured from the top of the ascender to the bottom of the descender.

Portable Document Format

(PDF) A computer file format that preserves a printed or electronic document's original layout, fonts, and graphics as one unit for electronic transfer and viewing. The recipient uses compatible "reader" software (e.g., Adobe Acrobat Reader) to access and print the PDF file.



An upright image or page where the height is greater than the width.



(see PostScript ) Adobe Systems PostScript isn't an image format, per se-it's a page description language, originally conceived so computers could send very accurate page descriptions to the then new high resolution laser printers. You can save pictures as PostScript, but you'll end up with a very large file. PostScript is not a very efficient format, but its advantage is all plain text-you can modify a PostScript file with any text editor, if you know what you're doing.



(see PS ) Adobe Systems, Inc. tradename for a page description language that enables imagesetters and other output devices developed by different companies to interpret electronic files from any number of personal computers and off-the-shelf software programs.



An orderly procedure using a checklist to verify that all components of an electronic file are present and correct prior to submitting the document for high-resolution output.

Print On Demand (POD)

Digital printing is used to print a small quantity of a piece. Traditionally, offset printing was used and typically, a large quantity produced, creating inventory. This is no longer necessary with POD. Only the quantity immediately needed is produced.

process colors

Cyan, magenta and yellow. These three colors when mixed together with black will produce a reasonable reproduction of all other colors.



A copy obtained from inked type, plate, block, screen, or electronically (e.g., PDF proof) for checking purposes.


proportional spacing

A method of spacing whereby each character is spaced to accommodate the varying widths of letters or figures, so increasing readability. Books and magazines are set proportionally spaced, typewritten documents are generally monospaced.



Adobe Photoshop's native format, which stores all of its layer and other image data. Photoshop files are raster-based.


ragged left/right

Successive lines of type which are of unequal length and which are aligned at either the right or left hand column.



An image composed of tiny dots or pixels. Adobe Photoshop (PSD), TIFF, BMP and JPG files are examples of raster-based images. To be print-ready, raster files must be at least 300dpi (dots per inch).



The process of converting mathematical and digital information into a series of variable-density pixels.



500 sheets of paper.


register marks

Used in color printing to position the paper correctly. Usually crosses and/or circles.



The correct positioning of an image especially when printing one color on another.



(1) The density of dots or pixels on a page or display usually measured in dots per inch. The higher the resolution, the smoother the appearance of text or graphics. (2) The precision with which an optical, photographic, or photomechanical system can render visual image detail. Resolution is a measure of image sharpness or the performance of an optical system. It is expressed in lines per inch or millimeter.



A means of altering artwork or color separations to correct faults or enhance the image.



Red, Green, Blue--the three colors used in computer monitors to create all color variations. Not a suitable basis for printing, which is based on CMYK color.

reverse out

To reproduce as a white image out of a solid background.


rich text format

(RTF) A standard format developed by Microsoft Corporation, which is normally used as a well-understood cross-platform word processing document format, but which can store pictures as well as text. RTF files are actually ASCII files with special commands to indicate formatting information, such as fonts and margins. As image storage formats go, though, RTF is as inefficient as PostScript.



Type which has vertical stems as distinct from italics or oblique which are set at angles.



(see also text wrap, wraparound ) The ability within a program to run text around a graphic image within a document, without the need to adjust each line manually.

saddle stitching

A method of binding where the folded pages are stitched through the spine from the outside, using wire staples. Usually limited to 64 pages size.


sans serif

A typeface that has no serifs (small strokes at the end of main stroke of the character).



The means within a program to reduce or enlarge the amount of space an image will occupy. Some programs maintain the aspect ratio between width and height while scaling, thereby avoiding distortion.



A means of calculating the amount of enlargement or reduction necessary to accommodate a photograph within the area of a design.



A small cross stroke at the end of the main stroke of the letter.


small caps

A set of capital letters which are smaller than standard and are equal in size to the lower case letters for that type size.


soft back/cover

A book bound with a paper back cover, also known as "paperback."



The binding edge at the back of a book.


spot color

In offset printing, this is any stand-alone ink color that uses its own plate and not a combination of CMYK. It's typically a custom hand-mixed ink, fluorescent, or metallic. Digitally, a color can be designated a spot color, but can be based on CMYK formulas. Generally, the more spot colors used, the more expensive it will be to print. Pantone is the dominant spot color system in Europe and the United States.



Used in proof correction work to cancel a previous correction. From the Latin, "let it stand."



The small characters set below the normal letters or figures.



The small characters set above the normal letters or figures.



A color sample.

text wrap

(see also runaround , wraparound ) The ability within a program to run text around a graphic image within a document, without the need to adjust each line manually.



A print finishing process producing a raised image imitating die stamping. The process takes a previously printed image which before the ink is dry is dusted with a resinous powder. The application of heat causes the ink and powder to fuse and a raised image is formed.



Tagged Image File Format. TIFF was a large, unwieldy 24-bit format until version 6 came out, which supported LZW compression. This compression, however, made TIFF incompatible with different programs on different computers. TIFF is, nonetheless, a very popular professional graphics format.



The cutting of the finished product to the correct size. Marks are incorporated on the printed sheet to show where the trimming is to be made.


Type 1

A format for storing digital typefaces developed by Adobe Systems. The most popular typeface format for PostScript printers.



The raised surface carrying the image of a type character cast in metal. Also used to refer to a complete set of characters forming a family in a particular design or style.



An abbreviation for typographical error. An error in the typeset copy.



The design and planning of printed matter using type.



An abbreviation for UPPER and lower case.

Universal Copyright Convention

(UCC) Gives protection to authors or originators of text, photographs or illustrations etc, to prevent use without permission or acknowledgment. The publication should carry the copyright mark c, the name of the originator and the year of publication.


Variable Data Printing (VDP)

Unique (or "variable") elements are printed (text or images) on individual pieces (e.g., a marketing piece that features a different person's name or target company logo on each piece). Involves the use of a digital press and a computer database containing all of the variable elements. Ideally suited for advertising and direct marketing projects.



A finishing process whereby a transparent varnish is applied over the printed sheet to produce a glossy finish.

vector graphics

These images are comprised of geomatric shapes such as lines, circles, rectangles and text. They are versatile for many applications as they can be scaled smaller or larger without compromising image quality. Adobe Illustrator (AI) files are examples of vector-based images.


vertical justification

The ability to adjust the interline spacing (leading) and manipulation of text in fine increments to make columns and pages end at the same point on a page.



An impression incorporated in the paper making process showing the name of the paper and/or the company logo.



The degree of boldness or thickness of a letter or font.



A single word left on the last line of a paragraph which falls at the top of a page.



Windows Metafile Format. An intermediate vector format for Windows programs to use when interchanging data.


work and turn

A method of printing where pages are imposed in one form or assembled on one film. One side is then printed and the sheet is then turned over and printed from the other edge using the same form. The finished sheet is then cut to produce two complete copies.


work and tumble

A method of printing where pages are again imposed together. The sheet is then printed on one side with the sheet being turned or tumbled from front to rear to print the opposite side.



WordPerfect metafile format, used by WordPerfect software on various platforms. It supports bitmapped, vector and EPS data.



(see also runaround , text wrap ) The ability within a program to run text around a graphic image within a documents, without the need to adjust each line manually.



What You See Is What You Get (pronounced wizzywig) Computer screen displays that approximate the true size and true shape of typographic characters, rules, tints, and graphics.



What You See Is What You Print (pronounced wizzywip). Refers to the ability of a computer systems to print colors exactly as they appear on a monitor. WYSIWYP printing requires a special program, called a color management system (CMS) to calibrate the monitor and printer.



The height of a letter excluding the ascenders and descenders; e.g., 'x', which is also height of the main body.



A photocopying/printing process in which the image is formed using the electrostatic charge principle. The toner replaces ink and can be dry or liquid. Once formed, the image is sealed by heat. Most laser printers use this method of printing.



Printing Industries of the Gulf Coast, Inc.

The Desktop Publishing Company, Ltd.