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Common Terminology

Printing terminology can often sound like a different language if you are not familiar with the printing industry. With this in mind, we have compiled the following list of the most common terms, sayings, acronyms and abbreviations used at Ram Offset. This list is not complete, so if there is something that needs clarification, please do not hesitate to ask.

This list is obtained from Pocket Pall: The Handy Little Book of Graphic Arts Products published by International Paper.

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AA (Author’s Alterations) At the proofing stage, changes that the client requests to be made concerning original art provided. AA’s are considered an additional cost to the client usually.

Absorption  In paper, the property which causes it to take up liquids or vapors in contact with it. In optics, the partial suppression of light through a transparent or translucent material.

Accordion Fold  In binding, a term used for two or more parallel folds which open like an accordion.

Acetate A transparent sheet placed over originals or artwork, allowing the designer to write instructions and/or indicate a second color for placement.  

Adobe Reader  Software that embodies the PDF format. Adobe Reader is free to download by clicking here.)

Additive primaries  In color reproduction, red, green and blue (RGB). When lights of these colors are added together, they produce the sensation of white light.

Against the grain  Folding or feeding paper at right angles to the grain direction of the paper. Also called cross grain.

Airbrush  In artwork, a small pressure gun shaped like a pencil that sprays watercolor pigment. Used to correct and obtain tone or graduated tone effects. In platemaking, used with an abrasive-like pumice to remove spots or other unwanted areas. In electronic imaging, a retouching technique.

Alkaline paper  Paper made with a synthetic alkaline size and an alkaline filler like calcium carbonate which gives the paper over four times the life (200 years) of acid-sized papers (40-50 years).

AM (Amplitude Modulation)  Halftone screening, as opposed to FM screening, has dots of variable size with equal spacing between dot centers. See halftone.

Analog color proof  Off-press color proof made from separation films.

Anti-offset or Set-off spray  In printing, dry spray of finely powdered starch used on press to prevent wet ink from transferring from the top of one sheet to the bottom of the next sheet. This also separates the sheets on a micro level so oxygen can react with the ink to enhance ink drying.

Antique finish  A term describing the surface, usually on book and cover papers, that has a natural rough finish.

Aperture In photography, lens opening or lens stop expressed as an f/no, such as f/22.

Apochromatic In photography, color-corrected lenses which focus the three colors, blue, green and red, in the same plane.

APR (Automatic Picture Replacement) The replacement of a low resolution image by a high resolution image.

Aqueous Coating Coating in a water base and applied like ink by a printing press to protect and enhance the printing underneath.

Argon laser A very strong blue laser that peaks at 470 nanometers.

Art All illustration copy used in preparing a job for printing.

Ascender That part of a lowercase letter which rises above the main body, as in “b.”

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) A standard means of representing text as numerical data.

Automatic processor In photography, a machine to automatically develop, fix, wash and dry exposed photographic film. In platemaking, a machine to develop, rinse, gum and dry printing plates.


Backbone  The back of a bound book connecting the two covers; also called spine.

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.

Basic size  In inches, 8.5 x 11 for letterhead, 8.5 x 14 for legal, 11 x 17 for ledger

Basis weight  The weight in pounds of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to a given standard size for that grade; e.g., 500 sheets 25 x 38” of 50-lb. book paper weigh 50 pounds.

Beta site  A test site for computer software or systems.

Bezier curve  The description of a character, symbol or graphic by its outline used by drawing programs to define shapes.

Bimetal plate  In lithography, a plate used for long runs in which the printing image base is usually copper and the non-printing area is aluminum, stainless steel or chromium.

Bind Usually in the book arena, but not exclusively, the joining of leafs or signatures together with either wire, glue or other means.

Bindery Usually a department within a printing company responsible for collating, folding and trimming various printing projects.

Bit  In computers, the basic unit of digital information; contraction of Binary digit.

Bit-depth  1.The number of bits of tonal range capability of the pixels in an image. For example, RGB 24-bit color means a pixel depth of 8 bits per color, or 256 levels per color. 2. The number of bits of tonal range capability of the spots of an output device.

Bitmap  In computer imaging, the electronic representation of a page, indicating the position of every possible spot (zero or one).

Black-and-white  Originals or reproductions in single color, as distinguished from multicolor. Abbreviation: B&W or B/W.

Blank Category of paperboard ranging in thickness from 15 to 48 points.

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

Bleed  An extra amount of printed image which extends beyond the trim edge of the sheet or page.

Blind embossing  A design which is stamped without metallic leaf or ink, giving a bas-relief effect.

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  In lithography, an image that has lost its ink receptivity and fails to print.

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

Blowup  An image enlargement.

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  In inkmaking, a term referring to the viscosity, or consistency, of an ink (e.g., an ink with too much body is stiff).

Body type  A type used for the main part or text of a printed piece, as distinguished from the heading.

Bold-face type  A name given to type that is heavier than the text type with which it is used.

Bond paper  A grade of writing or printing paper where strength, durability and permanence are essential requirements; used for letterheads, business forms, etc.

Book block Folded signatures gathered, sewn and trimmed, but not yet covered.

Book paper  A general term for coated and uncoated papers.

BPI  Bits per inch.

BPS  Bits per second.

Bounce (1) a repeating registration problem in the printing stage of production. (2) Customer unhappy with the results of a printing project and refuses to accept the project.

Break for color  In artwork and composition, to separate the parts to be printed in different colors.

Brightness  In photography, light reflected by the copy. In paper, the reflectance or brilliance of the paper.

Bristol Paper General term referring to paper 6 points or thicker with basis weight between 90# and 200# (200-500 gsm). Used for products such as index cards, file folders and displays.

Brochure  A pamphlet bound in booklet form.

Bulk  The degree of thickness of paper. In book printing, the number of pages per inch for a given basis weight. Or sometimes referred to as high qty of product ordered.

Bump exposure  In photography, an exposure in halftone photography, especially with contact screens, in which the screen is removed for a short time. It increases highlight contrast and drops out the dots in the whites.

Burn In platemaking, a common term used for a plate exposure.

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.

Byte  In computers, a unit of digital information, equivalent to one character or 8 to 32 bits, 64 bits, etc.


C1S and C2S Abbreviations for coated one side and coated two sides.

CADD (Computer-Aided Drafting or Design) In graphics, the production of drawings and plans for architecture and engineering systems. CADD systems are specialized workstations or high-performance personal computers that employ CADD software packages and input devices such as graphic tablets and scanners.

Calendar rolls A set or stack of horizontal cast-steel rolls with polished ground surfaces at the end of a paper machine. The paper is passed between the rolls to increase the smoothness and gloss of its surface.

Caliper The thickness of paper, usually expressed in thousandths of an inch (mils). In board, however, it is expressed as “points.” camera-ready: Copy which is ready for photography.

Caps and Small Caps Two sizes of capital letters made in one size of type, commonly used in most roman typefaces.

Case In bookbinding, the covers of a hardbound 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 Coated paper dried under pressure against a polished drum to produce a high-gloss enamel finish.

CCD (Charge Coupled Device) In digital prepress, a semiconductor light sensitive electronic device that emits an electrical signal proportional to the amount of light striking it. Used in scanners and video cameras.

CEPS (Color Electronic Prepress System) In digital prepress, a high-end computer-based system that is used to color correct scanner images and assemble image elements into final pages. They are device-dependent systems.

Chalking In printing, a term which refers to improper drying of ink. Pigment dusts off because the vehicle has been absorbed too rapidly into the paper.

Character Generation The production of typographic images using font master data. Generated to screens or output devices.

Chemical Pulp In papermaking, treatment of ground wood chips with chemicals to remove impurities such as lignin, resins and gums. There are two types, sulfite and sulfate.

Chemistry In photography, and platemaking, a term used to describe the composition of processing solutions.

Chokes and Spreads Overlap of overprinting images to avoid color or white fringes or borders around image detail. Called trapping in digital imaging systems.

Closed Loop System In printing, a completely automatic control system.

CMY (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) Subtractive primary colors, each of which is a combination of two additive primary colors (RGB).

CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) The subtractive process colors used in color printing. Black (K) is added to enhance color and contrast.

Coated Paper Paper having a surface coating which produces a smooth finish. Surfaces vary from eggshell to glossy.

Coating In platemaking, the light-sensitive polymer or mixture applied to a metal plate. In printing, an emulsion, varnish or lacquer applied over a printed surface to protect it.

Collate In binding, the gathering of sheets and signatures.

Collating Marks Mostly in the book arena, specific marks on the back of signatures indicating exact position in the collating stage.

Color Balance The correct combination of cyan, magenta and yellow to (1) reproduce a photograph without a color cast, (2) produce a neutral gray, or (3) reproduce the colors in the original scene or object.

Color Blanks Press sheets printed with photos or illustrations, but without type. Also called shells.

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

Color Control Bar Strip of small blocks of color on a proof or press sheet to help evaluate features such as density and dot gain. Also called color bar, color guide and standard offset color bar.

Color Correction Any method such as masking, dot-etching, re-etching and scanning, used to improve color.

Color Curves Instructions in computer software that allow users to change or correct colors. Also called HLS and HVS tables.

Color Filter A sheet of dyed glass, gelatin or plastic, or dyed gelatin cemented between glass plates, used In photography, to absorb certain colors and transmit others. The filters used for color separation are red, green and blue. (ROB)

Colorimeter An instrument for measuring color the way the eye sees color.

Color Management It is broadly defined as a system of hardware, software and procedures that are calibrated to best insure color accuracy and repeatability throughout the production process. See ICC.

Color Proofs See analog color proof, direct digital color proof.

Color Separation In photography, the process of separating color originals into the primary printing color components in negative or positive form using RGB filters.

Commercial Register Color printing on which the misregister allowable is within ± one row of halftone dots.

Common Impression Cylinder Press In flexography, letterpress, lithography and digital printing, a press with a number of printing units around a large impression cylinder.

Commingled Mailing Combined mailing of magazines of the same size to the same address to save costs.

Computer, analog A computer that solves a mathematical problem by using analogs, like voltage or density, of the variables in the problem.

Computer, digital A computer that processes information in discrete digital form.

Computerized Composition An all-inclusive term for the use of computers to automatically perform the functions of hyphenation, justification and page formatting. computer-to-plate See CTP

Condensed Type A narrow or slender typeface.

Conductivity A property of fountain solutions that must be controlled along with pH.

Contact Print A photographic print made from a negative or positive in contact with sensitized paper, film or printing plate.

Contact Screen A halftone screen on film having a dot structure of graded density, used in vacuum contact with the photographic film to produce halftones.

Continuous Tone An image which contains gradient tones from black to white.

Contone Abbreviation for continuous tone.

Contract Proof A color proof representing an agreement between the printer and the customer regarding how the printed product will look.

Contrast The tonal gradation between the highlights, middle tones and shadows in an original or reproduction.

Copy Any furnished material (typewritten manuscript, pictures, artwork, etc.) to be used in the production of printing.

Copy Preparation Directions for, and checking of, desired size and other details for illustrations, and the arrangement into proper position of various parts of the page to be photographed or electronically processed for reproduction.

Cover Paper A term applied to a variety of papers used for the covers of catalogs, brochures, booklets and similar pieces.

Creep Sometimes called “push out,” it is the distance margins shift when paper is folded and/or inserted during finishing. The amount of creep will vary depending on both the number and thickness of the sheets and must be compensated for during layout and imposition. See shingling.

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

Cross Direction In paper, the direction across the grain. Paper is weaker and more sensitive to changes in relative humidity in the cross direction than the grain direction.

Crossmarks See register marks.

CTP (Computer-to-Plate) In platemaking, Computer-to-Plate systems or platesetters eliminate the need for having a separate film to plate exposure system.

Curl In paper, the distortion of a sheet due to differences in structure or coatings from one side to the other, or to absorption of moisture on an offset press.

Cutoff In web printing, the cut or print length.

Cutscore In diecutting, a sharp-edged knife, several thousandths of an inch lower than the cutting rules in a die, made to cut part way into the paper or board for folding purposes.

Cyan Hue of a subtractive primary and a 4-color process ink. It reflects or transmits blue and green light and absorbs red light.

Cylinder Gap In printing presses, the gap or space in the cylinders of a press where the mechanism for plate (or blanket), clamps and grippers (sheetfed) is housed.


DCS (Desktop Color Separation) In digital prepress, a data file defined to assist in making color separations with desktop systems. Using DCS five files are created: four color files, containing the cyan, magenta, yellow and black image data, and a composite color preview of the color image.

Deckle In papermaking, the width of the wet sheet as it comes off the wire of a paper machine.

Deckle Edge The untrimmed feathery edges of paper formed where the pulp flows against the deckle frame.

Densitometer In photography, a photoelectric instrument which measures the density of photographic images, or of colors. In printing, a reflection densitometer is used to measure and control the density of color inks on the substrate.

Density The degree of darkness (light absorption or opacity) of a photographic image.

Descender That part of a lowercase letter which extends below the main body, as in “p.”

Desktop Publishing Process of composing pages using a standard computer, off-the-shelf software, a device independent page description language like PostScript and outputting them on a printer or imagesetter.

Developer In photography, the chemical agent and process used to render photographic images visible after exposure to light. In lithographic platemaking, the material used to remove the unexposed coating.

Device Dependent A characteristic of CEPS. See CEPS.

Device Independent The characteristic of a computer program or system that allows different output devices to image the same file more or less the same.

Diazo In photography, a non-silver coating for contact printing. In offset platemaking, a light-sensitive coating used on presensitized and wipe-on plates.

Diecutting The process of using sharp steel rules to cut special shapes for labels, boxes and containers, from printed sheets. Diecutting can be done on either flatbed or rotary presses. Rotary diecutting is usually done inline with the printing.

Die-stamping An intaglio process for the production of letterheads, business cards, etc., printing from lettering or other designs engraved into copper or steel.

Diffusion Transfer In photography, and platemaking, a system consisting of a photographic emulsion on which a negative is produced, and a receiver sheet on which a positive of the image is transferred during processing.

Digital Asset Management (DAM) Also known as Media Asset Management, it is a segment of the content management market focused on the systematic cataloging and management of digital media (text, images, video and audio) and some physical media to enable their efficient storage, retrieval and reuse.

Digital Color Proof A color proof produced from digital data without the need for separation films.

Digital Inks See toners.

Digital Printing Printing by plateless imaging systems that are imaged by digital data from prepress systems.

Digitizer A computer peripheral device that converts an analog signal (images or sound) into a digital signal.

Dimensional Stability Ability to maintain size; resistance of paper or film to dimensional change with change in moisture content or relative humidity.

Direct Screen Halftone In color separation, a halftone negative made by direct exposure from the original on an enlarger or by contact through a halftone screen.

Display Type In composition, type set larger than the text.

Dithering In computer graphics, a technique for alternating the values of adjacent dots or pixels to create the effect of intermediate values. Dithering refers to the technique of making different colors for adjacent dots or pixels to give the illusion of a third color.

Doctor Blade In gravure, a knife-edge blade pressed against the engraved printing cylinder which wipes away the excess ink from the non-printing areas.

Dot Smallest screening element. Common usage does not clearly differentiate between dots and spots. A dot is composed of many spots. The fineness of a halftone screen is measured in ‘lines per inch’ or Ipi. In AM screening the dots vary in size. In FM screening the dots are all the same size.

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

Dots Per Inch (dpi) A measure of the resolution of a screen image or printed page.

Download Sending information to another computer or to an output.

Draw-down In inkmaking, a term used to describe ink chemist’s method of roughly determining color shade. A small glob of ink is placed on paper and drawn down with the edge of a putty knife spatula to get a thin film of ink.

Drop-out Portions of originals that do not reproduce, especially colored lines or background areas (often on purpose).

Drum Scanner Uses photo multiplier tubes (PMT) and produces color separations with higher resolution and dynamic range than CCD scanners.

Dryer In inkmaking, a substance added to hasten drying.

DTP Acronym for Desktop Publishing.

Dummy A preliminary layout showing the position of illustrations and text as they are to appear in the final reproduction. A set of blank pages made up in advance to show the size, shape, form and general style of a piece of printing.

Duotone In photomechanics, a term for a two-color halftone reproduction from a one-color photograph. duplex paper Paper with a different color or finish on each side.

Duplicating Film A film for making positives from positives, and negatives from negatives. In color reproduction, a special film used for making duplicates of color transparencies.

DVD (Digital Video or Versatile Disk) A disk that can store audio, video and computer data at four or more gigabytes per disk.

Dynamic Range Density difference between highlights and shadows of scanned subjects 


EDG (Electronic Dot Generation) In digital imaging, a method of producing halftones electronically on scanners and prepress systems.

Electronic Printing In digital printing, any technology that reproduces pages without the use of traditional ink, water or chemistry or plates. Also known as plateless printing.

Electrophotography Image transfer systems used in copiers to produce images using electrostatic forces and toners.

Electrostatic Assist In gravure, use of electrostatic forces to help draw ink from gravure cells to reduce skips in highlights.

Electrostatic Plates   Plates for high-speed laser printing using zinc oxide or organic photoconductors.

Electrotype Duplicate relief plate used for letterpress printing.

Elliptical Dot In halftone, photography elongated dots which give improved gradation of tones particularly in middle tones and vignettes — also called chain dots.

Em In composition, a unit of measurement exactly as wide and high as the point size being set. So named because the letter “M” in early fonts was usually cast on a square body.

Embossed Finish Paper with a raised or depressed surface resembling wood, cloth, leather or other pattern.

Embossing Impressing an image in relief to achieve a raised surface; either overprinting or on blank paper (called blind embossing).

En In composition, one-half the width of an em.

Enamel A term applied to a coated paper or to a coating material on a paper.

English Finish A grade of book paper with a smoother, more uniform surface than machine finish.

EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) In digital prepress, a file format used to transfer graphic images within compatible applications. A file containing structured PostScript code, comments and a screen display image.

Etch In offset lithography, an acidified gum solution used to desensitize the non-printing areas of the plate; also, an acid solution added to the fountain water to help keep non-printing areas of the plate free from ink.

Expanded Type A type whose width is greater than normal.

Exposure In photography, and platemaking, the step in photographic or photomechanical processes during which light or other radiant energy produces the image on the photo-sensitive coating.


Fadeometer An instrument used to measure the fading properties of inks and other pigmented coatings.

Fake Color In color reproduction, producing a color illustration by using one image as a key and making the other separations from it manually.

Fanout In printing, distortion of paper on the press due to waviness in the paper caused by absorption of moisture at the edges of the paper, particularly across the grain.

Feeder In printing presses, the section that separates the sheets and feeds them in position for printing.

Felt Side The smoother side of the paper for printing. The top side of the sheet in paper manufacturing.

File A group of related information, such as text, graphics, page instructions and picture information stored on magnetic disks.

Filling in (or filling up) In letterpress or offset lithography, a condition where ink fills the area between the halftone dots or plugs up (fills in) the type.

Fixing Chemical action following development to convert unexposed silver halide to a water-soluble salt and make the image stable and insensitive to further exposure.

Flash Exposure In halftone photography, the supplementary exposure given to strengthen the dots in the shadow areas of negatives.

Flat In offset lithography, the assembly of negatives on goldenrod paper or positives on film, ready for platemaking. In photography, a photograph lacking in contrast.

Flatbed Scanner A device that scans images in a manner similar to a photocopy machine; the original art is positioned face down on a glass plate.

Flush Cover A cover that has been trimmed to the same size as the inside text pages as in this book.

Flush left (or right) In composition, type set to line up at the left (or right). This page is set flush left and right.

Flush Paragraph A paragraph with no indention.

Flying paster or splicer In web printing, an automatic pasting device that splices a new roll of paper onto an expiring roll, without stopping the press.

FM (Frequency Modulation) screening A means of digital screening. See stochastic screening.

Focal Length In photography, the distance from the center of the lens to the image of an object at infinity. At same size, the distance from copy to image is four times the focal length of the lens.

Fog In photography, silver density in the non-image areas.

Folio The page number.

Font In composition, a complete assortment of letters, numbers, punctuations, etc., of a given size and design.

Form In offset, the assembly of pages and other images for printing. In letterpress, type and other matter locked in a chase for printing.

Format The size, style, type page, margins, printing requirements, etc., of a printed piece.

Form Rollers The rollers, either inking or dampening, which directly contact the plate on a printing press.

Fountain Solution In lithography, a solution of water, a natural or synthetic gum and other chemicals used to dampen the plate and keep non-printing areas from accepting ink.

FPO (For Position Only) In digital imaging, typically a low-resolution image positioned in a document to be replaced later with a higher resolution version of the same image.

Free Sheet Paper free of mechanical wood pulp.

Front End System In electronic publishing, the workstation or group of workstations containing the applications software for preparing pages of type and graphics.

“F” Stops In photography, fixed stops for setting lens apertures.


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

Gamma A measure of contrast in photographic images.

Gapless Plate or blanket cylinders without gaps.

Gathering In binding, the assembling of folded signatures in proper sequence.

Gear streaks In printing, parallel streaks appearing across the printed sheet at the same interval as gear teeth on the cylinder.

Generation Each succeeding stage in reproduction from the original copy.

Gigabyte (GB) One billion bytes.

Goldenrod paper In offset lithography, a specially-coated masking paper of yellow or orange color used by strippers to assemble and position negatives for exposure on plates.

Grain In papermaking, the direction in which most fibers lie which corresponds with the direction in which the paper is made on a paper machine.

Grammage A term in the metric system for expressing the basis weight of paper. It is the weight in grams of a square meter of the paper expressed in g/m2.

Gray balance The dot values or densities of cyan, magenta and yellow that produce a neutral gray.

Gray level The number of gray values that can be distinguished by a color separation filter — usually 28 or 256.

Gray scale A strip of standard gray tones, ranging from white to black, placed at the side of original copy during photography to measure tonal range and contrast (gamma) obtained.

Gripper edge The leading edge of paper as it passes through a printing press. Also, the front edge of a lithographic or wraparound plate secured to the front clamp of a plate cylinder.

Gripper margin Unprintable blank edge of paper on which grippers bear, usually 1/2” or less. grippers In sheet fed printing presses, metal fingers that clamp on paper and control its flow as it passes through.

Groundwood pulp A mechanically-prepared wood pulp used in the manufacture of newsprint and publication papers.

GUI (Graphical User Interface) Pronounced “gooey,” in digital imaging, a technical term for a system that lets users manipulate files by pointing to pictures (icons) with a mouse or other pointing device instead of having to type in key commands.

Gum arabic In offset lithography used in platemaking and on press to protect the non-printing areas of plates.

Gumming In platemaking, the process of applying a thin coating of gum to the non-printing areas of a lithographic plate.

Gutter The blank space or inner margin from printing area to binding.


Hairline register Register within ±1/2 row of dots.

Halation In photography, a blurred effect, resembling a halo, usually occurring in highlight areas or around bright objects.

Halftone The reproduction of continuous-tone images, through a screening process, which converts the image into dots of various sizes and equal spacing between centers (AM screening), or dots of equal size with variable spacing between them (FM screening).

Hard copy The permanent visual record of the output of a computer or printer on a substrate.

Hard dot Halftone dot with little or no fringe and prints with little or no dot gain or sharpening. See soft dot.

Hard proof A proof on paper or other substrate as distinguished from a soft proof which is an image on a VDT screen.

Hardware Computer and peripherals as distinguished from software which is a program for operating hardware.

Head margin The white space above first line on a page.

He/Ne Helium-Neon red laser with wave length of 632 nm.

Hickeys In offset lithography, spots or imperfections in the printing due to dirt on the press, dried ink skin, paper particles, etc.

High contrast In photography, a reproduction with high gamma in which the difference in darkness (density) between neighboring areas is greater than in the original.

Highlight The lightest or whitest parts in a photograph represented in a halftone reproduction by the smallest dots or the absence of dots.

Holdout In printing, a property of coated paper with low ink absorption which allows ink to set on the surface with high gloss. Papers with too much holdout cause problems with set-off.

HSV Acronym for hue, saturation and value (or brilliance or luminance) — a color space used in some graphic programs.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) In imaging for the World Wide Web, the coding language that is used to create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web.

Hue In color, the main attribute of a color which distinguishes it from other colors.

Hydrophilic Water receptive; non-image areas, for example, on an offset plate.

Hydrophobic Water repellent; image areas, for example, on an offset plate.

Hypertext Links to other documents. Words or phrases in the document that are so defined that they can be selected and then cause another document to be retrieved, opened and displayed.


ICC (International Color Consortium) The ICC was established in 1993 for the purpose of creating and promoting the standardization of an open, vendor-neutral, cross-platform system for managing color. ICC specifications for color management can be found at: www.color.org

Image assembly See stripping.

Image setter In digital imaging, a generic term that applies to film-output devices for type and graphics. The difference between an imagesetter and a typesetter is in the format of the data that has been converted from discrete-character raster lines to raster data using bitmaps.

Imposetter In digital imaging, an imagesetter capable of outputting a film flat with 4, 8 or more pages in imposed position.

Imposition In image assembly the positioning of pages on a signature so that after printing, folding and cutting, all pages will appear in the proper sequence.

Impression cylinder In printing, the cylinder on a printing press against which the paper picks up the impression from the inked plate in direct printing, or the blanket in offset printing.

Ink fountain In printing presses, the device which stores and supplies ink to the inking rollers.

Ink-jet printing In digital printing, a plateless printing system that produces images directly on paper from digital data using streams of very fine drops of dyes which are controlled by digital signals to produce images on paper.

Ink mist Flying filaments or threads formed by long low-tack inks like newspaper

Inkometer In ink testing, an instrument for measuring the tack of printing inks.

Insert A printed piece prepared for insertion into a publication or another printed piece.

IR Abbreviation for infrared radiation above 700 nm.

Italic The style of letters that slant, in distinction from upright, or roman, letters. Used for emphasis within the text.


JDF (Job Definition Format) A data exchange standard that will act as a universal electronic job ticket that contains control data from print buying through estimating, customer service, prepress, press, finishing and dispatch. JDF contains production information rather than content data.

Jog To align sheets of paper into a compact pile.

JPEG (The Joint Photographic Experts Group) was formed to create a standard for color and gray scale image compression. JPEG describes a variety of algorithms (rules), each of which is targeted for a type of image application. JPEG is the default format for most digital cameras.

Justify In composition, to space out lines uniformly to line up left and right.


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

Key To code copy to a dummy by means of symbols, usually letters. Insertions are sometimes keyed in like manner.

Keyboard The input device to input information directly into a typesetter, computer, workstation or, as a stand-alone unit, to record it on paper or magnetic tape.

Keyline In artwork, an outline drawing of finished art to indicate the exact shape, position and size for such elements as half-tones, line sketches, etc.

Kilobyte (K or kb or KB) 1024 bytes, the most common measure of computer file length.

Kiss impression In printing, a very light impression, just enough to produce an image on the paper.

Kraft A paper or board containing unbleached wood pulp (brown in color) made by the sulfate process.


Lacquer A clear resin/solvent coating, usually glossy, applied to a printed sheet for protection or appearance.

Laid paper Paper with a pattern of parallel lines at equal distances, giving a ribbed effect.

Lamination A plastic film bonded by heat and pressure to a printed sheet for protection or appearance.

LAN (Local Area Network) Communication link in a localized area, such as an office, building, complex of buildings or campus, with technology that provides a high-bandwidth, low-cost medium to which many computer nodes can be connected.

Laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) The laser is an intense light beam with very narrow bandwidth used in digital-imaging devices to produce images by electronic impulses from computers or facsimile transmission.

Layout The drawing or sketch of a proposed printed piece. In platemaking, a sheet indicating the settings for a step-and-repeat machine.

Leaders In composition, rows of dashes or dots to guide the eye across the page. Used in tabular work, programs, tables of contents, etc.

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

LED Acronym for light emitting diodes that are used in place of lasers for some output systems.

Ledger paper A grade of business paper generally used for keeping records where it is subjected to appreciable wear so it requires a high degree of durability and permanence.

Letterspacing The placing of additional space between each letter of a word.

Line copy Any copy suitable for reproduction without using a halftone screen.

Logotype (or logo) The name of a company or product in a special design used as a trademark in advertising.

Long ink An ink that has good flow on ink rollers of a press. If the ink is too long, it breaks up into filaments on the press, and causes flying as on a newspaper press.

Lowercase The small letters in type, as distinguished from the capital letters.

LPI Acronym for lines per inch.


Abbreviation for Mega, which is commonly used to mean one million. In computer terminology, however, M refers to the number 1,048,576, and is used to specify the amount of storage available on a disk or in memory. See megabyte. Also, abbreviation for quantity of 1,000.

Machine coated Paper which is coated one- or two-sides on a paper machine.

Machine direction Same as grain direction in paper.

Magenta Hue of a subtractive primary and a four-color process ink. It reflects or transmits blue and red light and absorbs green light.

Magenta screen A dyed contact screen, used for making halftones.

Magnetic storage Any disc, film, tape, drum or core that is used to store digital information.

Makeover In platemaking, a plate which is remade.

Makeready In printing, all work done to set up a press for printing.

Mask In color separation photography, an intermediate photo-graphic negative or positive used in color correction. In offset lithography, opaque material used to protect open or selected areas of a printing plate during exposure.

Master A plate for a duplicating machine. 

Matte finish Dull paper finish without gloss or lustre.

Measure In composition, the width of type, usually expressed in picas.

Mechanical A term for a camera-ready pasteup of artwork. It includes type, photos, line art, etc., all on one piece of artboard.

Mechanical pulp In papermaking, groundwood pulp produced by mechanically grinding logs or wood chips. It is used mainly for newsprint and as an ingredient of base stock for lower grade publication papers.

Megabyte (Mbyte, MB, Meg, or M) One million character codes on the computer. One million bytes or characters, often written MB or Mbyte. A unit of measurement equal to 1,024 kilobytes, or 1,048,576 bytes.

Megahertz (MHz) Frequency equal to one million cycles per second. Measures bandwidth or analog electronic signals.

Menu In electronic publishing, a method for selecting alternative functions displayed as a list on a workstation screen. Selection via mouse, key or sequence of keys.

Metric system A decimal system adopted by most countries for solid, liquid and distance measurements. See grammage.

Middletones The tonal range between highlights and shadows of a photograph or reproduction.

Modem (MOdulator, DEModulator) A device that enables a computer to talk to other computers through phone systems by converting computer signals (data) into high-frequency voice communications signals, and vice versa.

Moiré In color process printing, the undesirable screen pattern caused by incorrect screen angles of overprinting halftones.

Molleton In offset lithography, a thick cotton fabric similar to flannel used on the dampening rollers of a press.

Monitor A video screen on a workstation.

Montage In artwork, several photographs combined to form a composite illustration.

Mottle The spotty or uneven appearance of printing, mostly in solid areas.

Mouse In computers, a hand-held device that moves the cursor on a workstation by moving the device on a flat surface.

Mullen tester A machine for testing the bursting strength of paper.

Mylar® In offset preparation, a polyester film specially suited for stripping positives because of its mechanical strength and dimensional stability.


Nanometer A unit in which wavelengths of light and other radiant energy are expressed. One nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.

Negative In photography, film containing an image in which the values of the original are reversed so that the dark areas in the subject appear light on the film and vice versa. See positive.

Network Two or more computers which are linked and share resources to perform related tasks. Group of computers that are connected to each other by communications lines to share information and resources.

Newsprint Paper made mostly from groundwood pulp and small amounts of chemical pulp; used for printing newspapers.

Non-impact printer An electronic device like a copier, laser or ink-jet printer that creates images on a surface without contacting it.


Object-oriented In computers, an approach in drawing and layout programs that treats graphics as line and arc segments rather than individual dots. Also called vector-oriented.

Oblong A booklet or catalog bound on the shorter dimension.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) An electronic means of scanning (reading) copy, and converting the scanned image to an electronic equivalent. The ability to “read” printed text (characters) and convert it to digitized files that can be saved on disk and edited as a text file.

Off loading Relieving the intensive amount of data processing associated with a specific application (i.e., graphics) from the CPU, by performing those calculations in a dedicated or specialized processor.

Off-press proofs Proofs made by photomechanical or digital means in less time and at lower cost than press proofs.

Offset See set-off  In printing, the process of using an intermediate blanket cylinder to transfer an image from the image carrier to the substrate. Short for offset lithography.

Offset gravure Printing gravure by the offset principle. Generally done on a flexographic press by converting the anilox roller to a gravure image cylinder and covering the plate cylinder with a solid rubber plate.

Oleophilic Oil receptive. See hydrophobic/hydrophilic.

Oleophobic Oil repellent. See hydrophobic/hydrophilic.

Opacity That property of paper which minimizes the show-through of printing from the back side of the next sheet.

Opaque In photoengraving and offset lithography, to paint out areas on a negative not wanted on the plate. In paper, the property which makes it less transparent.

Opaque ink An ink that conceals all color beneath it.

OPI (Open Prepress Interface) An extension to PostScript that automatically replaces low-resolution placeholder images with high-resolution images.

Orthochromatic Photographic surfaces insensitive to red but sensitive to ultraviolet, blue, green and yellow rays.

Overhang cover A cover larger in size than the pages it encloses.

Overlay In artwork, a transparent covering over the copy where color break, instructions or corrections are marked. Also, trans-parent or translucent prints which, when placed one on the other, form a composite picture.

Overlay proof A color proof produced with four dyed or pigmented overlay films.

Overprinting Double printing; printing over an area that already has been printed.

Overrun In printing, copies printed in excess of the specified quantity.


Packing In printing presses, material, usually special paper, used to underlay the image or impression cylinder in letterpress, or the plate or blanket. In lithography, to get proper squeeze or pressure for printing.

Page buffering The ability to spool an entire image to disk and print in a continuous motion. Computer language designed for describing how type and graphic elements should be produced by output devices.

Page makeup In stripping, assembly of all elements to make up a page. In digital imaging, the electronic assembly of page elements to compose a complete page with all elements in place on a video display terminal and on film or plate.

Pagination In computerized typesetting, the process of performing page makeup automatically.

Palette In computers, the collection of colors or shades available to a graphic system or program.

Panchromatic Photographic film sensitive to all visible colors.

Paper master A paper printing plate used on an offset duplicator. The image is made by hand drawing, typewriter or electro photography.

Paste dryer In inkmaking, a type of dryer, usually a combination of drying compounds.

Pasteup See mechanical.

PC Acronym for personal computer.

PDF (Portable Document File) PDF is a universal electronic file format, modeled after the PostScript language and is device-and resolution-independent. Documents in the PDF format can be viewed, navigated and printed from any computer regardless of the fonts or software programs used to create the original.

Perfecting press A printing press that prints both sides of the paper in one pass through the press.

PH A number used for expressing the acidity or alkalinity of solutions. A value of 7 is neutral in a scale ranging from 0 to 14. Solutions with values below 7 are acid, above 7 are alkaline.

Photoconductor In digital imaging, materials used in electrophotography which are light sensitive when charged by corona.

Photomechanical In platemaking, pertaining to any platemaking process using photographic negatives or positives exposed onto plates or cylinders covered with photosensitive coatings.

Photopolymer coating In photomechanics, a plate coating consisting of compounds which polymerize on exposure to produce tough abrasion-resistant plates capable of long runs especially when baked in an oven after processing.

Pica Printer’s unit of measurement used principally in typesetting. One pica equals approximately 1/6 of an inch.

Picking In printing, the lifting of the paper surface during printing. It occurs when pulling force (tack) of ink is greater than surface strength of paper.

PICT In digital imaging, a standard data format with which most Macintosh illustrations are encoded.

Pigment In printing inks, the fine solid particles used to give inks color, transparency or opacity.

Piling In printing, the building up or caking of ink on rollers, plate or blanket; will not transfer readily. Also, the accumulation of paper dust or coating on the blanket of offset press.

Pin register In copy preparation, the use of accurately positioned holes and special pins on copy, film, plates and presses to insure proper register or fit of colors.

Pixel Short for “picture element.” A pixel is the smallest resolvable point of a raster image. It is the basic unit of digital imaging.

Plate cylinder The cylinder of a press on which the plate is mounted.

Platesetter An image recorder which images directly on plate material. Platesetters currently available use lasers to expose or image paper, polyester or aluminum plates.

PMS (Pantone Matching System) Color charts that have over 700 preprinted color patches of blended inks, used to identify, display or define special colors.

PMT (Photomultiplier Tube) A light-sensitive sensor that can sense very low light levels by amplifying the signals applied to it during the sensing. PMTs give drum scanners their superior color separation capabilities.

Point Printer’s unit of measurement, used principally for designating type sizes. There are 12 points to a pica; approximately 72 points to an inch.

Poor trapping In printing, the condition in wet printing in letterpress and lithography when less ink transfers to previously printed ink than to unprinted paper. Also called undertrapping.

Porosity The property of paper that allows the permeation of air, an important factor in ink penetration.

Portrait In photography, vertical orientation of a format as opposed to landscape horizontal orientation.

Position proof Color proof for checking position, layout and/or color breakout of image elements.

Positive In photography, film containing an image in which the dark and light values are the same as the original. The reverse of negative.

PostScript® A page description language developed by Adobe Systems, Inc. to describe an image for printing. It handles both text and graphics. A PostScript file is a purely text-based description of a page.

Preflighting In digital prepress, the test used to evaluate or analyze every component needed to produce a printing job. Preflight confirms the type of disk being submitted, the color gamut, color breaks, and any art required (illustrations, transparencies, reflective photos, etc.) plus layout files, screen fonts, printer fonts, EPS or TIFF files, laser proofs, page sizes, print driver, crop-marks, etc.

Pre-press proofs See off-press proofs.

Presensitized plate In photomechanics, a metal, film or paper base plate that has been precoated with a light-sensitive coating.

Press proofs In color reproduction, a proof of a color subject made on a printing press, in advance of the production run.

Pressure-sensitive paper Material with an adhesive coating, protected by a backing sheet until used.

Print quality A term describing the visual impression of a printed piece. In paper, the properties of the paper that affect its appearance and the quality of reproduction.

Process colors In printing, the subtractive primaries: yellow, magenta and cyan, plus black in four-color process printing.

Process lens A highly corrected photographic lens with a flat field for graphic arts line, halftone and color photography.

Process printing The printing from a series of two or more halftone plates to produce intermediate colors and shades.

Program In computers, sequence of instructions for a computer. Same as software.

Psychrometer A wet-and-dry bulb type of hygrometer. Considered the most accurate of the instruments practical for industrial plant use for determining relative humidity.


Quality control A program of activities including customer service, process control and sampling with the objective of eliminating causes of process variability now called Statistical Process Control.


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.

Raster image processor (RIP) In digital imaging, a combination of computer software and hardware that controls the printing process by calculating the bitmaps of images and instructing a printing device to create the images. Most PostScript systems use a hardware RIP built into the printer.

Ream Five hundred sheets of paper.

Red, Green and Blue See RGB.

Reducers In printing inks, varnishes, solvents, oily or greasy compounds used to reduce the consistency for printing. In photography, chemicals used to reduce the density of negative or positive images or the size of halftone dots (dot etching).

Reflection copy In photography, illustrative copy that is viewed and must be photographed by light reflected from its surface. Examples are photographs, drawings, etc.

Register In printing, fitting of two or more printing images in exact alignment with each other.

Register marks Crosses or other targets applied to original copy prior to photography. Used for positioning films in register, or for register of two or more colors in process printing.

Relative humidity (RH) The amount of water vapor present in the atmosphere expressed as a percentage of the maximum that could be present at the same temperature.

Repeatability The ability to keep photo film and the images thereon in proper register. In imagesetters and film plotters. Repeatability is usually measured in micrometers.

Reprography Copying and duplicating.

Resist In photomechanics, a light-hardened stencil to prevent etching of non-printing areas on plates.

Resolution Ability of an input device to record, or an output device to reproduce the fine detail of an image. There is a difference between resolution and addressability or sampling rate. Resolution concerns how closely spots can be placed, and also whether gray levels can be distinguished. Resolution for output devices depends on addressability, bit-depth, mark size and color.

Respi screen In halftone photography, a contact screen with 110-line screen ruling in the highlights and 220-line in the middle tones and shadows to produce a longer scale and smoother gradation of tones in the light areas of the copy.

Retrofit Backwards integration of advanced capability into a device or program not originally intended for that purpose.

Reverse angle doctor blade In flexography, similar to doctor blade in gravure except used with much lighter pressure and a reverse angle on the anilox roll.

RGB (red, green and blue) The primary additive colors used in display devices and scanners. Commonly used to refer to the color space, mixing system or monitor in color computer graphics.

Right-angle fold In binding, a term used for two or more folds that are at 90° angles to each other.

RIP See raster image processor

Roller stripping In lithography, a term denoting that the ink does not adhere to the metal ink rollers on a press.

Rub-proof In printing, an ink that has reached maximum dryness and does not mar with normal abrasion.

Run-around In composition, the term describing type set to fit around a picture or other element of the design.

Runnability Paper properties that affect the ability of the paper to run on the press.

Running head A headline or title repeated at the top of each page.


Saddle stitch In binding, to fasten a booklet by wiring it through the middle fold of the sheets. Also called saddle wire.

Safelight In photography, the special darkroom lamp used for illumination without fogging sensitized materials.

Sample Basic optical image element (analog) taken by the image sensor of a camera or scanner. A sample may be black and white, or it can be for several color channels. The sample is processed to obtain a pixel. Processing may involve conversion from device ROB to some standardized color space.

Scaling Determining the proper size of an image to be reduced or enlarged to fit an area.

Scan-a-web In web printing, a rotating mirror arrangement where speed can be varied to match the speed of a press so the image on paper can be examined during printing.

Scanner An electronic device used in the making of color and tone-corrected separations of images.

Score To impress or indent a mark in the paper to make folding easier.

Screen See contact screen.

Screen angles In color reproduction, angles at which the halftone screens are placed in relation to one another, to avoid undesirable moire patterns. A set of angles often used is: black 450, magenta 75°, yellow 90°, cyan 105°.

Screened print In photography, a print with a halftone screen made from a halftone negative or by diffusion transfer.

Screening That part of a RIP which calculates the tonal values of each spot for an output device on the basis of the required tonal value of the projected pixel from the input, in order to form the screener dots. The function of a screener is device dependent. Depending on the characteristics of the output device, the screener dots can have very different properties.

Screen ruling The number of lines or dots per inch on a halftone screen.

SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface) Pronounced “skuzzy,” SCSI is an interface used to transmit digital data and to connect computers to peripherals. An industry-standard interface for hard drives and other storage devices that allows for very fast transfers of information.

Scum In offset lithography, a film of ink printing in the non-image areas of a plate where it should not print.

Self cover A cover of the same paper as inside text pages.

Semi-chemical pulp A combination of chemical and mechanical pulping with properties similar to chemical pulp.

Sensitivity guide A continuous-tone gray scale with numbered steps used to control exposures in plalemaking and lithfilm photography.

Serif The short cross-lines at the ends of the main strokes of many letters in some typefaces.

Server A file server provides file data interchange between compatible peripheral devices on a local area network. Servers are identified by the type of resource they provide (e.g., disk server, file server, printer server, communications server).

Set-off In presswork, when the ink of a printed sheet rubs off or marks the next sheet as it is being delivered. Also called offset.

SGML (Standard Generalized Mark-up Language) One of the newer languages for marking text for a variety of purposes, including typesetting and disk publishing. A well-designed SGML scheme enables the publisher to mark text just once for multiple uses.

Shadow The darkest parts in a photograph, represented in a halftone by the largest dots.

Sharpen To decrease in color strength, as when halftone dots become smaller; opposite of dot spread or dot gain.

Sheetwise To print one side of a sheet of paper with one plate, then turn the sheet over and print the other side with another plate using same gripper and opposite side guide.

Shingling In image assembly and layouts, the center or gutter margin is varied according to the position of the page in the signature and the bulk of the paper. See creep.

Short ink An ink that is buttery and does not flow freely.

Show-through In printing, the undesirable condition in which the printing on the reverse side of a sheet can be seen through the sheet under normal lighting conditions.

Side guide On sheetfed presses, a guide on the feed board to position the sheet sideways as it feeds into the front guides before entering the impression cylinder.

Signature In printing and binding, the name given to a printed sheet after it has been folded.

Silhouette halftone A halftone of a subject with all of the background removed.

Sizing The treatment of paper which gives it resistance to the penetration of liquids (particularly water) or vapors.

Skid A platform support for a pile of cut sheets of paper.

Slitting Cutting printed sheets or webs into two or more sections by means of cutting wheels on a press or folder.

Small caps An alphabet of SMALL CAPITAL LETTERS available in most roman typefaces approximately the size of the lowercase letters. Used in combination with larger capital letters.

Soft dot Halftone dot with considerable fringe which causes dot gain or sharpening in printing or photography.

Soft ink Descriptive of the consistency of paste inks.

Soft proof See hard proof.

Software See program.

SPC (Statistical Process Control) spectrophotometer Instrument for measuring color for CIE color spaces. It is more accurate than most color colorimeters.

Spectrum The complete range of colors in the rainbow, from short wavelengths (blue) to long wavelengths (red).

Spine See backbone.

Spiral binding A book bound with wires in spiral form inserted through holes punched along the binding side.

Spool (simultaneous peripheral operations online) Refers to an output data set that is waiting for a print device.

Spot The smallest element of the addressability grid of an output device. Similar to a pixel, a spot is data, not something that can be seen. A spot is what the screener intended to form. A mark is what the marking engine actually placed at a spot location. A spot has a spatial aspect (size and location in the addressability grid), and a tonal and color aspect.

Star target Film pinwheel used to measure resolution of plates during production and degradation during printing.

Static neutralizer In printing presses, an attachment designed to remove the static electricity from the paper to avoid ink set-off and trouble with feeding the paper.

Step-and-repeat In photomechanics, the procedure of multiple exposure using the same image by stepping it in position according to a predetermined layout or program.

Stet A proofreader’s mark, written in the margin, signifying that copy marked for corrections should remain as it was.

Stochastic screening A digital screening process that converts images into very small dots (14-40 microns) of equal size and variable spacing. Second order screened images have variable size dots and variable spacing. Also called Frequency Modulated (FM) screening.

Stock Paper or other material to be printed.

Stock photography Used widely by creative professionals in need of ready-made images that illustrate a specific lifestyle, scene, mood or process. Some stock images are royalty-free, but most carry a fee based on usage.

Stone In lithography, formerly used as the plate material and presently used by artists as an art medium. In letterpress, the bed on which metal type is leveled and locked up.

Strike-on composition or cold type Type set on typewriter composing machines.

Stripping In image assembly, the positioning of negatives (or positives) on a flat to compose a page or layout for platemaking. In printing, ink stripping on ink rollers prevented by plastic or copper coated steel rollers in the ink roller train.

Substance The weight in pounds of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to the standard size (17” x 22”) for business papers (bond and ledger): e.g., 20 pounds. Similar to basis weight of other grades of paper.

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

Subtractive primaries Yellow, magenta and cyan, the hues used for process color printing inks.

Sulphate pulp Paper pulp made from wood chips cooked under pressure in a solution of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) and sodium sulphide. Known as kraft.

Sulphite pulp Paper pulp made from wood chips cooked under pressure in a solution of bisulphite of lime (calcium bisulphite).

Supercalender In papermaking, a calender stack, separate from the papermaking machine, with alternate metal and resilient rolls, used to produce a high finish on paper.

Supercell In digital halftone imaging, a combination of subgroups of halftone dots that are handled as a single group.

Surprint In photomechanics, exposure from a second negative or flat superimposed on an exposed image of a previous negative or flat.

SWOP (Specifications for Web Offset Publications)


Tack In printing inks, the property of cohesion between particles; the separation force of ink needed for proper transfer and trapping on multicolor presses. A tacky ink has high separation forces and can cause surface picking or splitting of weak papers.

Tackoscope See inkometer.

Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) A file format for graphics suited for representing scanned images and other large bitmaps. TIFF is a neutral format designed for compatibility with all applications. TIFF was created specifically for storing gray-scale images, and it is the standard format for scanned images such as photographs — now called TIFF/IT.

Terabyte (TB) One trillion bytes.

Text The body matter of a page or book, as distinguished from the headings.

The Internet A network of networks that links workstations over telecommunication lines to share files and exchange e-mail internationally.

Thermal dye sublimation Like thermal printers, except pigments are vaporized and float to desired proofing stock. Similar to Thermal Dye Diffusion Transfer, or D2T2.

Thermal transfer printers These printers use a transfer sheet that carries ink in contact with the paper or transparency, and a heated printhead driven by digital data that touches the transfer sheet to transfer images to the right points on the page.

Thermo-mechanical pulp In papermaking, made by steaming wood chips prior to and during refining, producing a higher yield and stronger pulp than regular groundwood.

Thixotropy False body in inks.

Tints Various even tone areas (strengths) of a solid color.

Tissue overlay A thin, translucent paper placed over artwork (mostly mechanicals) for protection; used to indicate color break and corrections.

Tolerances The specification of acceptable variations in register, density, dot size, plate or paper thickness, concentration of chemicals and other printing parameters.

Toner In digital printing, imaging material also called digital inks, used in plateless printing systems like electrophotography, magnetograph, ion or electron deposition and laser printers. In inks, dye used to tone printing inks, especially black.

Tone reproduction The tonal relationship between all the elements of a reproduction.

Toning See scum.

Tooth A characteristic of paper, a slightly rough finish, which permits it to take ink readily.

Transparency Color positive film.

Transparent copy In photography, illustrative copy such as a color transparency or positive film through which light must pass in order for it to be seen or reproduced

Transparent ink A printing ink which does not conceal the color beneath. Process inks are transparent so that they will blend to form other colors.

Transpose To exchange the position of a letter, word or line with another letter, word or line.

Trapping In printing, the ability to print a wet ink film over previously printed ink. Dry trapping is printing wet ink over dry ink. Wet trapping is printing wet ink over previously printed wet ink. In prepress, refers to how much overprinting colors overlap to eliminate white lines between colors in printing. See spreads and chokes.

Trim marks In printing, marks placed on the copy to indicate the edge of the page.

Twin-wire machine In papermaking, a fourdrinier paper machine with two wires instead of one producing paper with less two-sidedness.

Two-sheet detector In printing presses, a device for stopping or tripping the press when more than one sheet attempts to feed into the grippers.

Two-sidedness In paper, the property denoting difference in appearance and printability between its top (felt) and bottom (wire) sides.

Type gauge In composition, a printer’s tool calibrated in picas and points used for type measurement.


UCA (UnderColor Addition) In process color printing, used with GOR, UCA is ink added in shadow areas to increase color saturation.

UCR (UnderColor Removal) In process multicolor printing, color separation films are reduced in color in, neutral areas where all three colors overprint and the black film is increased an equivalent amount in these areas. This improves trapping and can reduce makeready and ink costs.

UGRA test target A measure of image resolution and dot size on plates and in printing.

Undercut In printing presses, the difference between the radius of the cylinder bearers and the cylinder body, to allow for plate (or blanket) and packing thickness.

Unit In multicolor presses, refers to the combination of inking, plate and impression operations to print each color. A 4-color press has four printing units each with its own inking, plate and impression functions.

UNIX A multiuser, multi-tasking operating system that runs on a wide variety of computer systems from micro to mainframe, UNIX was written in the C programming language. It is the most common operating system for servers on the Internet.

-up In printing, two-up, three-up, etc., refers to imposition of material to be printed on a larger size sheet to take advantage of full press capacity.

Uppercase Capital letters in type.

UV inks In printing, solventless inks that are cured by UV radiation. They are used extensively in screen printing, narrow web letterpress and flexographic printing.


Vacuum frame In platemaking, a vacuum device for holding copy and reproduction material in contact during exposure.

Varnish A thin, protective coating applied to a printed sheet for protection or appearance. Also, in inkmaking, it can be all or part of the ink vehicle.

Vehicle In printing inks, the fluid component which acts as a carrier for the pigment.

Vellum finish In papermaking, a toothy finish which is relatively absorbent for fast ink penetration.

Video display terminal (VDT) A term for a computer monitor or display.

Vignette An illustration in which the background fades gradually away until it blends into the unprinted paper.

Viscosity In printing inks, a broad term encompassing the properties of tack and flow.


WAN (Wide Area Network) Any Internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or campus. A collection of disparate, widely located and geographically isolated networks, connected by private or public communication lines.

Warm color In printing, a color with a yellowish or reddish cast.

Washup The process of cleaning the rollers, form or plate, and sometimes the ink fountain of a printing press.

Waterless plate In platemaking, printing plate with silicone rubber coating in non-image areas, that is printed on an offset press without dampening solution.

Waterless printing In offset, printing on a press using special waterless plates and no dampening system.

Web A roll of paper used in web or rotary printing.

Web press A press which prints on a roll of paper.

Web tension The amount of pull or tension applied in the direction of travel of a web of paper by the action of a web press.

Widow In composition, a single word or part of a word on a line by itself, ending a paragraph, or starting a page, frowned upon in good typography.

Wire-o binding A continuous double series of wire loops run through punched slots along the binding side of a booklet.

Wire side In papermaking, the side of a sheet next to the wire in manufacturing; opposite from felt or top side.

With the grain Folding or feeding paper into a press with the grain of the paper parallel to the blade of the folder or the axis of the impression cylinder.

Woodcut An illustration in lines of varying thickness, cut in relief on plank-grain wood, for the purpose of making prints by a relief printing method like letterpress.

Word processor A typewriter connected to a computerized recording medium to input, edit and output digital text data.

Work-and-tumble To print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn it over from gripper to back using the same side guide and plate to print the second side.

Work-and-turn To print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn it over from left to right and print the second side using the same gripper and plate but opposite side guide.

WORM (Write Once Read Many Times) A type of optical memory device.

Wove paper Paper having a uniform unlined surface and a soft smooth finish.

Wraparound plate In rotary letterpress, a thin one-piece relief plate which is wrapped around the press cylinder like an offset plate. Can be used for direct or indirect (offset) printing.

Wrinkles Creases in paper occurring during printing. In inks, the uneven surface formed during drying.

Wrong font In proofreading, the mark “WF” indicates a letter or figure of the wrong size or typeface.

WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) Means that what you see on the computer monitor is generally the same as what appears on the hard copy or film. Pronounced “wizzywig.”


Xerography An electrophotographic copying process that uses a corona charged photoconductor surface, electrostatic forces and dry or liquid toner to form an image.

XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language) A more powerful mark-up language than the previously popular HTML. XML allows designers and programmers to create tags that can do almost anything they want, hence the term “extensible.” XML was created so that richly structured documents could be used over the Web.


Yellow Hue of a subtractive primary and a four-color process ink. It reflects red and green light and absorbs blue light.


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