Glossary Of Terms

A glossary of printing, graphic design and typographical terminology.


Accordion fold
This a type of document folding method that uses a series of alternating folds to create multiple panels of similar size. The resulting sections
resemble the expandable part of an accordion.

The process of averaging between pixels of different colors. This results is a smoother, more blended transition between the edge of two areas
rather than a distinctly jagged appearance.

Aqueous coating
A clear, quick dying water-based coating that is used to protect a wide variety of printed pieces. It protects against fingerprints, it can
either have a high-gloss or matte surface finish.

The physical materials, including photos, images, text and other components of a printed piece. It also refers to the digital components need to
produce both a printed or electronic document.

Any part of a lower case letter which rises above the main body of the letter such as in "d", "b" and "h".


Backing up
Printing the reverse side of a sheet already printed on one side.

Bad break
In composition, starting a page or ending a paragraph with a single word, or widow.

Base line
The imaginary horizontal line upon which stand capitals, lower case letters, punctuation points, etc.

A picture made from a series of small dots that are called pixels. Bitmaps include images created with paint programs, images downloaded from a
digital camera, and images scanned into a program with a scanner.

A business or department within a printing company that does the cutting, folding, collating, drilling and other finishing operations used on
printing projects.

Bitmap vs. Vector
Bitmap: A dot matrix data file structure representing a rectangular grid of pixels, or points that are assigned individual colors to draw an
image. Bitmaps and raster graphics are resolution dependent. They cannot scale to another resolution with loss of apparent quality. Vector: A
vector is an image built from paths or strokes via control points. Vectors are not affected by size or resolution because all of the information
resides in the structure. The file only contains the data necessary to draw the image on the output device.

In offset and digital printing, a rubber-coated fabric clamped around a printing cylinder, to which the image is transferred from the plate and
from which it is transferred to the paper.

A printed image in which colors extend to the very edge of the sheet.

In typography, the main shank or portion of a letter character other than the ascenders and descenders.

Bond paper
A strong and durable grade of paper used for letterheads, forms, book pages, etc.

A boldface square or dot used before a sentence to emphasize its importance.


C1S and C2S
Acronyms for Coated One Side and Coated Two Sides paper stock. A cover stock with a glossy finish on one side and uncoated on the other, usually
between 8pt (.008") and 18pt (.018") in thickness.

Cast coated paper
A coated paper with a high-gloss enamel finish.

Center spread
The two pages that face each other in the center of a book or publication.

In photography and platemaking, a term used to describe processing solutions.

Clip art
Graphic images, designs, and artwork in digital form that can be used in a digital document.

Cyan, magenta, yellow and black, the ink colors used in four-color or process printing.

Coated stock
Any paper that has a mineral coating applied after the paper is made, giving the paper a smoother finish.

Coil binding
Where a metal or plastic wire is spiraled through holes punched along the side of a stack of paper. Commonly used for reports, proposals and
manuals. Documents bound with coil have the ability to lay flat and can rotate 360 degrees. Also called spiral binding.

In binding, the gathering of sheets and signatures into final page order. Collating can be done online by modern copiers and digital presses.

Color bars
A color test strip that is printed on the waste portion of a press sheet. It helps a press operator to monitor and control the quality of the
printed material relative to ink density, registration and dot gain. It can also include a Star Target, which is designed to detect inking and
press problems.

Color gamut
The entire range of hues possible to reproduce on a specific system, such as a computer screen, or four-color printing press.

Color separation
In photography and digital prepress, the separation of color images into primary color components (CMYK) in preparation for printing on a press.

Comb Binding
Binding a stack of paper together by inserting the teeth of a flexible plastic comb into holes punched along one of the edges. Commonly used for
catalogs, reports and manuals.

Any furnished material such as text files, photographs or art to be used in a print job.

Cover paper
Heavier weight papers commonly used for the covers of booklets, books and manuals.

To eliminate portions of the copy, usually a photograph, as indicated on the original by cropmarks.

Crop marks
Small printed lines around the edges of a printed piece indicating where it is to be cut out of the sheet. Sometimes referred to as cut marks.


A term that describes that portion of lower case letters that extends below the main body of the letter, as in "p".

Die cutting
The process of using sharp steel forms to cut out special shapes in printed pieces. Diecutting involves the manufacture of special dies to
achieve particular shapes.

Digital Asset Management
The systematic cataloging and management of digital media and sometimes physical media to allow for efficient storage, retrieval and reuse.

Digital Printing vs. Offset
Digital printing doesn’t use plates the way offset printing does, but in its place uses toner and liquid ink. Digital printing is best used when
lower quantities are needed. Another benefit of digital printing is variable data printing capabilities. This allows you to print unique codes,
names, or addresses on each printed piece. Offset printing is a print solution for larger scale jobs when printing high quantities of the same

Dot gain
In printing, a defect in which dots print larger than they should, causing darker tones or stronger colors.

Sending information to another computer or printing device. Upload is often used synonymously.

Also referred to as Dots Per Inch, is a measurement in print layout, video, or image scanner dot density of the number of individual dots that
can be placed in a line in the span of one inch. It is known as the resolution on digital screens or is an indicator of the print quality of a
printed piece.

The drilling of holes into paper for ring or comb binding.

A set of blank pages made up in advance to show the size, shape and style of a printed piece, used in planning.


The molding and reshaping of paper by the use of special metal dies and heat, counter dies and pressure, to produce a raised image on the paper

A term applied to coated paper or to a special coating on paper.

An encapsulated postscript file, more commonly known as an EPS file, is a file extension for a graphics file that used vector images from Adobe
Illustrator. An EPS file can contain text, as well as graphics. Most EPS files contain a bitmap version of the image for simpler viewing rather
than the vector instructions to draw the image.


A printing method using flexible plates where the image to be printed is higher than the non-printing areas. The inked areas are then contact the
material to be printed, transferring the ink from the raised areas to the material. Fast drying inks are usually used in this process. Common
uses are the printing of cans and bottles and other non-flat items.

Fifth color
An ink color added to a printed piece in addition to the standard cyan, magenta, yellow and black used in 4 color process printing. Usually a
Pantone spot color or custom formulated ink. Requires an extra run through the press on a four color press adding to the cost. Some presses have
five units to accommodate fifth colors or clear coatings.

Flush cover
A cover that has been trimmed to the same size as the inside text pages, as in a book or magazine.

Flush (left or right)
Type set justified such that the start (or finish) of all lines line up at the left (or right) margin. This page is set up flush left.

Then metal sheet that is applied to paper using the foil stamping process. Frequently gold colored, but available in many colors.

Foil embossing
Stamping a thin sheet of metallic foil onto a sheet of paper and then embossing a pattern under it, creating a three dimensional raised area,
usually text or an image. See a sample of foil embossing.

Foil stamping
Impressing metallic foil onto paper with a heated die.

The page number.

In composition, the complete assortment of all letters, numbers, symbols and punctuation marks of a given size and style.

For Position Only, a low resolution image positioned in a document, to be replaced later by a high resolution image.


Galley proof
A proof of text copy before being made into pages.

The combining of two or more different printing projects on the same sheet of paper.

Gate fold
A gatefold is a document folding technique that uses two parallel folds to create six panels, with three panels on each side of the paper. The
left and right panels are half the width of the center panels and fold inward to meet in the middle without overlapping. The gatefold is used in
brochures to showcase a large interior image with the information printed on the side door-like panels.

In binding, the assembling of folded signatures into correct page order.

Gigabyte (GB)
One billion bytes.

The term gloss is used to depict that degree of shine on a printed ink. Some of these inks become glossier when the dry. The paper quality
affects this quality, and the glossiness comes from when the light hits the paper’s surface, the orientation of the reflected light determines a
paper’s gloss.

Gripper edge
The leading edge of a sheet of paper as it passes through a printing press.

Gripper margin
Unprintable edge of paper on which grippers bear, usually about 1/2″.

Metal fingers that clamp on paper and guide it through a press.

In digital printing, a layout system based on pointing to icons with a mouse instead of typing in commands. Pronounced “gooey.”

The blank space between page columns or between the printed area of left and right pages.


The reproduction of a continuous tone image such as a photograph through a screening process that converts the image to dots.

Hard proof
A proof on paper.

In offset printing, imperfections in the printing due to dirt, dried ink or flecks of paper in the press.

The coding language used to create hypertext documents for the World Wide Web.

Words or phrases in a Web document that can be clicked to link to other documents.


The position of pages in a signature so that after printing, collating and folding they appear in correct page order.

Ink-jet printing
In digital printing, a plateless printing system that produces images by spraying fine dots of ink directly on paper.

Slanted letters used for emphasis within text.


To align sheets of paper into an even, compact pile.

Joint Photographic Experts Group, a file compression standard typically used in digital photography, which allows a trade-off between image size
and image quality. JPEG images can usually be compressed up to 10:1 with little perceptible loss of quality.

In composition, to arrange lines of text to line up uniformly on the left or right margin.


In typesetting, subtracting space between two characters, nestling them closer together.

1024 bytes.

Kiss cut
A light die cut such that a cut-out form may be removed from it’s backing.


Laid paper
Paper with a pattern of parallel lines, giving it a ribbed effect.

A thin transparent plastic sheet or coating that is applied to the thicker paper stock. Usually is applied to covers, postcards, and other
thicker documents. It provides protection against liquids and accents existing colors while providing a glossy finish.

A page format that is oriented horizontally (see Portrait).

In composition, a row of dots to lead the eye across the page, used in tables of contents, etc..

In composition, the distance between lines of type, measured in points (pronounced “ledding”).

A sample of the finished work showing the positions and placements of text and visual elements on a printed document.

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.

A paper that emulates the look and texture of linen cloth.

The process of printing that utilizes flat or curved inked surfaces to create the printed images.

A personalized type or design symbol for a company or product.

A small magnifier used to observe the details on a printed sheet.

Acronym for lines per inch, a measure of resolution or halftone screening.


In printing, the work done to prepare a press to print a job.

The margin is the space around the edges of a printed document

A dull paper finish without luster or gloss.

One million bytes.

An undesirable halftone pattern produced by the incorrect angles of overprinting halftone screens.

Several photographs combined to create a composite image.


Optical Character Recognition, a scanner, or “reader,” capable of converting scanned images to characters that can be edited as a text file.

In printing, the process of using and intermediate blanket cylinder to transfer an image from the printing plate to the paper.

The property of paper to minimize show through of printing on the reverse side or next sheet.

Opaque ink
An ink that conceals all color beneath it.

Overhang cover
A cover that is larger than the pages it encloses.

Printing over an area that has already been printed.

Additional copies printed in excess of the specified amount.


Pad printing
A printing process that can transfer a 2-D image onto a 3-D object. Pad printing is used for printing on otherwise difficult to print on products
in many industries including medical, automotive, promotional, apparel, and electronic objects, as well as appliances, sports equipment and toys.

Portable Document Format, a universal page description language designed to view images on any computer and print them on almost any printer,
regardless of the fonts or software programs used to create the original.

A process where little dots are cut along a printed document to make tearing it easier.

Perfect bind
A type of binding that glues the edges of sheets to a wraparound cover, as in a paperback book.

In typesetting, a unit of measure equal to approximately 1/6″.

The basic unit of scanning and printing which is the smallest resolvable point of a raster image.

Pantone Matching System, over 700 swatches of blended ink color used to define the mixing of “branded” colors.

Pages per inch or pixels per inch.

A unit of measurement for type sizes and leading. There are 12 points to a pica and about 72 points to an inch.

A page format that is oriented vertically (see Landscape).

A page description language that defines how a page images is to be printed.

The evaluation of every element need to print a job for proper color, crop marks, fonts, art and so on.

Process printing
Printing from two or more plates to produce a range of colors and shades.


Ragged left
In typesetting, type that is justified on the right margin and ragged on the left.

Ragged right
In typesetting, type that is justified on the left margin and ragged on the right. This page is set ragged right.

Raster Image Processer (RIP)
RIP, a computer with special software that converts page description code into a bitmap that defines output spots for printing.

Five hundred sheets of paper.

The right hand page of a book (see Verso).

The positioning of two or more images in exact alignment with one another.

Register Marks
Cross marks or other symbols printed in the margins of the sheet used to assure the proper front-to-back registration

Copying and duplicating.

The ability of an output device to render fine detail of an image.

Red, Green, Blue, the primary colors used in display devices such as televisions and computer screens.

RGB = Red, Green, Blue. The RGB color system should be used only in digital designs, most commonly when designing for the web. This includes
designing websites and imagery and graphics for use on websites and social media. CMYK = Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key. CMYK is the recommended color system for any material that will be printed. This includes business cards, brochures, letterheads, and any other business collateral.

Rich black
Using multiple ink colors in addition to black to produce a deep, dark black color. Common CMYK values used are 30% Cyan, 20% Magenta, 20% Yellow
and 100% Black.

Right angle fold
Two or more folds that are at 90 degree angles to one another.

Running footer
A page number or other text repeated at the bottom of each page.

Running header
A page number or other text repeated at the top of each page.


Saddle stitch
In binding, to fasten a booklet by wiring it through the middle fold or spine of folded sheets.

This is the percent to which images or other design elements should be enlarged or reduced to fit the correct size for printing.

To impress an indentation on a printed sheet to make folding easier and minimize cracking of ink.

Self cover
A cover printed on the same paper as the inside pages.

Self mailer
A printed item that is sent without an envelope, for instance, a postcard, marketing mailer, etc.

The short cross lines at the ends of the main strokes of characters in certain typefaces, designed to enhance readability. Sans serif refers to
typefaces without serifs, which are often used in headlines, signage and websites such as this one.

Show through
An undesirable quality in a printed piece in which printing on the reverse side of a sheet can be seen through the sheet under normal lighting.

Side stitch
The stapling of sheets or signatures on the side closest to the spine.

A printed sheet that has been folded.

Cutting printed sheets into two or more sections by means of a cutting wheel.

The detailed description of a print order.

The back of a bound book connecting the two covers, also called backbone.

Spiral binding
Binding with wire or plastic in the form of a spiral inserted into holes along the binding edge.

The smallest element in a raster image, a spot is the datum that controls where the output device will print a dot.

Spot varnish
Varnish intended to highlight a particular area on a printed piece.

Paper or other material to be printed.

Stock photography
Ready-made images that illustrate a particular lifestyle, scene, mood or process.

Any material that can be printed on such as paper, plastic or fabric.


Text paper
A high quality light weight printing paper.

A printing process whereby slow drying ink is applied to paper and, while the ink is still wet, is lightly dusted with a resinous powder. The
paper then passes through a heat chamber where the powder melts and fuses with the ink to produce a raised surface.

Tagged Image File Format, a file format created specifically for storing images, now the standard for scanned images such as photographs.

TB, one trillion bytes.

A slightly rough finish to paper that allows it to take ink readily.

Trim marks
Marks placed on the printed sheet to indicate where cuts should be made.

Trim size
The final size of a printed piece after being cut from the sheet of paper that it was printed on.


In printing, imposition of multiple images to be printed on a larger sheet size, to take advantage best advantage of the sheet (“two-up”, “four-
up”, etc.).

UV Coating
A shiny, durable high gloss coating that is applied to the printed stock. It is applied to the paper as a liquid and is finished and sealed with
ultraviolet light.


Variable Data Printing
A type of printing in which on-page elements like graphics, text, or images are changed from one printed piece to the next. This is accomplished
in real-time without stopping the print job. An example of variable data printing would be a set of personalized letters, each with the same
basic layout, but with a different name, address and even different image on each letter.

A thin coating applied to a printed sheet for protection or appearance.

Computer graphics that are defined in terms of 2D points, which are connected by lines and curves to form polygons and other shapes. Vector
graphics can be scaled to any size without a loss in image quality or clarity.

Vellum paper
Paper with a toothy finish to enhance ink penetration.

The left hand page of a book (see Recto).


Wash up
The process of cleaning the rollers and ink fountain of a printing press.

A logo or design created in paper at manufacture that can be seen when holding the paper up to light.

In composition, a single word or part of a word on a line by itself ending a paragraph or starting a page. Considered a defect. Also called an

Work and Turn
A printing production format that has the front and back of a printed piece on one side of the paper, that is then printed the same on the back
side, producing two copies of the piece.

Wire-o binding
A continuous double series of wire loops applied through punched slots along the binding margin of a book.

Wove paper
Paper having an unlined surface and soft, smooth finish.

What You See Is What You Get, what you see on the computer screen is generally what you will see on the printed page, except for color matching.


Zip file
This is a compressed file format that archives one or more files into a smaller file size. This makes it take up less hard drive space and takes
less time to transfer over the internet or in a network.