Print Industry Glossary

We take great pride in making our clients feel confident about their jobs during the production process. To help you gain a better understanding of what’s happening to your project, we’ve compiled a glossary of terms that we commonly use in our industry.
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z


Abrasion Resistance The resistance to scratching of a surface of paper by other paper surfaces or other materials.
Absorbency The ability of a material to take up moisture
AC Author’s Correction
Accordion Fold A type of paper folding in which each fold runs in the opposite direction to the previous fold creating a pleated or accordion affect.
Acetate A transparent or translucent plastic sheet material of a variety of colors, used as a basis for artwork and overlays.
Achromatic Non-colors such as black, white and gray.
Acid Resist An acid-proof protective coating applied to metal plates prior to etching designs thereon. Bichromated solutions employed in photoengraving as sensitizers provide acid resist through the action of light on sensitized surface.
Acrylic A water-soluble polymer used in paints to make them dry both tough and flexible.
Actinic Rays Light exposure that affects chemical changes in paper.
Additive Colors In photographic reproduction, the primary colors of red, green and blue which are mixed to form all other colors.
Aerate This refers to a manual process whereby an air stream is blown onto paper sheets to create a riffling effect that separates the sheets as they are fed to the printing press.
Agate A type size of 5 1/2 points. Reference, agate line.
Agate Line In newspaper classifieds, a measurement denoting 1/4 inch depth by one column width. 14 agate lines = one column inch.
Air Large white areas in a design layout.
Airbrush A compressed air tool that dispenses a fine mist of paint or ink; used in illustration and photo retouching.
Albion Press A hand operated printing press made of iron.
Album Paper A wood pulp paper with an antique finish used for pages of photo albums.
Albumen Plate A surface plate used in the lithography process; it has a photosensitive coating.
Albumin Paper A coated paper used in photography; the coating is made of albumen (egg whites) and ammonium chloride.
Alignment The condition of type and or art materials as they level up on a horizontal or vertical line.
Alkali Blue Also called reflex blue. A pigment used in carbon black inks and varnishes to improve luster.
Alley A term for a random, coincidental path or a row of white space within a segment of copy.
Alphabet Length The measured length (in points) of the lowercase alphabet of a certain size and series of type.
Amberlith Red-orange acetate used for masking mechanicals when photographing for plates. The amberlith area appears black to the camera, and prints clear on the resulting film.
American Paper Institute An organization that correlates all paper related information.
Angle Bar In “web-fed” printing (printing on rolls of paper as opposed to single sheets), an angle bar is a metal bar that is used to turn paper between two components of the press.
Aniline Oil-based solvent (quick drying) used in the preparation process of dyes and inks.
Animal Sized A technique of paper making which hardens the surface by passing the paper through a bath of animal glue or gelatin.
Anodized Plate In lithography, a plate manufactured with a barrier of aluminum oxide, which prevents chemical reactions that break down the plate; it provides optimum press performance.
Antigua An eleventh century Italian script typeface.
Antiquarian A handmade paper (53 x 31 inches), largest known handmade paper.
Antique Finish Paper with a rough, sized surface used for book and cover stock.
Antiskinning Agent An antioxidant agent used to prevent inks from skinning over in the can.
Apron The white area of text (or illustrations) at the margins which form a foldout.
Aqua Tint A printing process that uses the recessed areas of the plate; ideal for graded and even tones.
Aquarelle The hand application of color, through stencils onto a printed picture.
Aqueous Plate Water soluble plate coatings, which are less toxic and less polluting.
Arc Light A light source produced by the passing of electric current between two electrodes; used in the production of plates in photolithography.
Arms Those elements of letters that branch out from the stem of a letter, such as: “K” and “Y”.
Arrowhead A symbol shaped like an arrowhead that is used in illustration to direct a leader line. Reference, leader line
Art Paper A paper evenly coated with a fine clay compound, which creates a hard smooth surface on one or both sides.
Artwork Any materials or images that are prepared for graphic reproduction.
Art-Lined Envelope An envelope that is lined with an extra fine paper; can be colored or patterned.
Artwork All illustrated material, ornamentation, photos and charts etc., that is prepared for reproduction.
As To Press In gravure printing, (recessed areas of plate hold ink), a term used for proofs showing the final position of color images.
ASA A number set by the American Standards Assoc., which is placed on film stock to allow calculation of the length and “F” number of an exposure. Reference, “F” numbers.
Ascender Any part of a lower case letter which rises above the main body of the letter such as in “d”, “b” and “h”.
Assembled negative Film negatives consisting of line and halftone copy which are used to make plates for printing.
Assembled view In illustration, a term used to describe a view of a drawing in its assembled or whole format.
Author’s Alterations (AA’s) Changes made after composition stage where customer is responsible for additional charges.
Autochrome paper Coated papers that are regarded as exceptional for multi-colored printing jobs.
Autolithography A printing method whereby the image is hand drawn or etched directly onto lithography plates or stones.
Autopositive Any photo materials which provide positive images without a negative.
Azure The light blue color used in the nomenclature of “laid” and “wove” papers.


Back Lining The fixing of a material, either paper or cloth, to the back of a book before it is bound. Reference, case binding.
Back Margin A term referring to the margin which lies closest to the back of the book.
Back Step Collation The collation of book signatures according to reference marks which are printed on the back fold of each section.
Back To Back Print applied to both sides of a sheet of paper.
Backbone That portion of the binding, which connects the front of the book with the back of the book; also called “back”.
Background That portion of a photograph or line art drawing that appears furthest from the eye; the surface upon which the main image is superimposed.
Backslant Any type that tilts to the left or backward direction; opposite of italic type.
Backstep Marks Marks printed on signatures that indicate where the final fold will occur. When gathering and initial folding is completed, these marks appear as a stepped sequence.
Baking A term given to the procedure of drying coatings onto papers.
Balance A term used to describe the aesthetic or harmony of elements, whether they are photos, art or copy, within a layout or design.
Balloon In an illustration, any line which encircles copy, or dialogue.
Bank Paper A thin uncoated stock used for making carbon copies.
Banker’s Flap Envelope Also called wallet flap; the wallet flap has more rounded flap edges.
Banner The primary headline usually spanning the entire width of a page.
Barn Doors A device with two sets of thin metal doors (horizontal and vertical) placed before a light source to control the direction of light.
Barrier Coat A coating that is applied onto the non-printing side of paper to add to the opacity of that paper. Reference, opacity.
Baryta Paper A coated stock (barium sulfate compound) used for text impressions on typesetting machines.
Bas Relief A three dimensional impression is which the image stands just slightly out from the flat background. References, blind emboss.
Base The support onto which printing plates is fixed.
Base Film The foundation material onto which the film positives are stripped for making printing plates. Reference, photomechanical.
Base Line This is a term used to describe the imaginary horizontal line upon which stand capitals, lower case letters, punctuation points etc.
Basic Size This term refers to a standard size of paper stock; even though the required size may be smaller or larger.
Basis Weight Refers to the weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to a given standard size for that particular paper grade.
Bauhaus A design school in Germany from which the sans serif font originates.
Bearoff The adjusting of spacing of type in order to correct the justification.
Bed The steel flat table of a cylinder printing press upon which the type sits during the printing process.
Bending Chip A recycled paperboard product used for making folding cartons.
BF An abbreviation for boldface, used to determine where boldface copy is to be used. Reference, boldface.
Bible Paper A thin but strong paper (opaque), used for Bibles and books.
Bimetal Plate A plate which is used in long print runs; the printing image is copper or brass, and the non-printing area is aluminum or stainless steel.
Binder’s Board A heavy paperboard with a cloth covering that is used for hardback binding of books.
Binding Various methods of securing folded sections together and or fastening them to a cover, to form single copies of a book.
Bite The etching process in photoengraving requires the application of an acid; the length of time this acid is left to etch out an image is referred to as its bite. The more bites, the deeper the etched area.
Black Letter An old style of typeface used in Germany in the 15th century, also referred to as Old English (US) and Gothic (UK).
Black Out Also referred to as black patch; a piece of masking material which is used in layout to mask an area leaving a window into which another element can be stripped.
Black Photo Paper A black paper used to protect photosensitive materials.
Black Printer Refers to the film portion of the color separation process that prints black; increases the contrast of neutral tones.
Blackening Darkening a portion of a sheet of paper due to the excessive pressure of the calendar roll. Reference, calendar.
Blanket On offset presses a fabric-reinforced sheet of rubber to transfer the impression from the plate onto the paper.
Blanket To Blanket Press A printing method in which there are two blanket cylinders through which a sheet of paper is passed and printed on both sides.
Bleed Extra ink area that crosses trim line, used to allow for variations that occur when the reproduction is trimmed or die-cut.
Blind Emboss A design or bas relief impression that is made without using inks or metal foils.
Blind Embossing Embossed forms that are not inked, or gold leafed.
Blind Folio Page number not printed on page.
Blind Image A problem that arises in the lithography process when an image loses its ink receptivity and fails to print.
Blistering Although seemingly dry, paper does contain approximately 5% moisture. In cases where there is excessive moisture, and the paper is passed through a high heat-drying chamber, the moisture within the paper actually boils and causes a bubble or blistering effect.
Block Illustrations or line art etched onto zinc or copper plates and used in letterpress printing.
Block In To sketch the primary areas and points of reference of an illustration in preparation for going to final design or production.
Block Resistance The resistance of coated papers to blocking. Reference, blocking.
Blocking The adhesion of one coated sheet to another, causing paper tears or particles of the coating to shed away from the paper surface.
Blocking Out To mask a section of an art layout before reproduction.
Blow-up Any enlargement of photos, copies or line art.
Blue-Line Photographic proof made from flats for checking accuracy, layout and imposition before plates are made. Also known as a dylux.
Body The main shank or portion of the letter character other than the ascenders and descenders. Also, a term used to define the thickness or viscosity of printer’s ink.
Body Size The point size of a particular type character.
Boiler Plate Repetitive blocks of type that are picked up and included routinely without recreating them.
Boldface Any type that has a heavier black stroke that makes it more conspicuous.
Bolts The edges of folded sheets of paper, which are trimmed off in the final stages of production.
Bond A grade of durable writing, printing and typing paper that has a standard size of 17×22 inches.
Book A general classification to describe papers used to print books; its standard size is 25×38 inches. A printed work which contains more than 64 pages.
Book Block A term given the unfinished stage of bookmaking when the pages are folded, gathered and stitched-in but not yet cover bound.
Bounce A registration problem, usually on copiers, where the image appears to bounce back and forth. A bounce usually occurs in one direction depending on how the paper is passing through the machine. This is usually accented by card stock (especially if it’s over the machine’s spec). When a customer refuses a job for whatever reason.
Bourges A pressure sensitive color film that is used to prepare color art.
Box Cover Paper A lightweight paper used expressly for covering paper boxes.
Box Enamel Paper A glossy coated paper used to cover paper boxes.
Box Liners A coated paper used on the inside of boxes, which are used for food.
Brace A character ” }” used to group lines, or phrases.
Break For Color In layout design, the term for dividing or separating the art and copy elements into single color paste-up sheets.
Bristol Board A board paper of various thickness; having a smooth finish and used for printing and drawing.
Broad Fold A term given to the fold whereby paper is folded with the short side running with the grain.
Brocade A heavily embossed paper.
Brochure A pamphlet that is bound in booklet form.
Bronzing A printing method whereby special ink is applied to sheets and then a powder is applied producing a metallic effect.
Brownline Proof A photographic proof made by exposing a flat to UV light creating a brown image on a white background. Also referred to as silverprint.
Buckle Folder A portion of the binding machinery with rollers that fold the paper.
Buckram A coarse sized cloth used in the bookbinding process.
Bulk A term given to paper to describe its thickness relative to its weight.
Bullet A boldface square or dot used before a sentence to emphasize its importance.
Bump Exposure A process used in halftone photography that entails the temporary removal of the screen during exposure. This increases the highlight contrast and diminishes the dots in the whites.
Burn A term used in plate making to describe the amount of plate exposure time.
Burnish A term used for the process of “rubbing down” lines and dots on a printing plate, which darkens those rubbed areas.
Burnishing Creating a polished finish on paper by rubbing with stone or hand smoothing a surface.
Burst Binding A binding technique that entails nicking the backfold in short lengths during the folding process, which allows glue to reach each individual leaf and create a strong bond.


Cable Paper A strong paper used to wrap electrical cables.
Cadmium Yellow A pigment made from cadmium sulfide and cadmium selenide.
Calendar Board A strong paperboard used for calendars and displays.
Calendar Rolls A series of metal rolls at the end of a paper machine; when the paper is passed between these rolls it increases its smoothness and glossy surface.
Caliper The measurement of thickness of paper expressed in thousandths of an inch or mils.
Cameo A dull coated paper, which is particularly useful in reproducing halftones and engravings.
Camera Ready A term given to any copy, artwork etc., that is prepared for photographic reproduction.
Canvas Board A paperboard with a surface of simulated canvas, used for painting.
Cap Line An imaginary horizontal line running across the tops of capital letters.
Caps & Lower Case Instructions in the typesetting process that indicate the use of a capital letter to start a sentence and the rest of the letters in lower case.
Caps & Small Caps Two sizes of capital letters made in one size of type.
Carbon Black A pigment made of elemental carbon and ash.
Carbon Tissue A color printing process utilizing pigmented gelatin coatings on paper, which become the resist for etching gravure plates or cylinders.
Carbonate Paper A chemical pulp paper (calcium carbonate), used mostly for the printing of magazines.
Cartridge A rough finished paper used for wrapping.
Case The stiff covers of a hardbound book.
Case Binding Books bound using hard board (case) covers.
Casein A milk byproduct used as an adhesive in making coated papers.
Casing In The process of placing in and adhering a book to its case covers.
Cast Coated A paper that is coated and then pressure dried using a polished roller which imparts an enamel like hard gloss finish.
Catching Up A term to describe that period of the printing process where the non-image areas can take on ink or debris.
Chain Lines Lines that appear on laid paper as a result of the wires of the papermaking machine.
Chalking A term used to describe the quality of print on paper where the absorption of the paper is so great that it breaks up the ink image creating loose pigment dust.
Chancery Italic A 13th century handwriting style which is the roots of italic design.
Chase (old) Frame of steel, or cast or wrought iron, in which images are locked up for printing.
China Clay An aluminum silica compound used in gravure and screen printing inks. Also called kaolin.
Chrome Green The resulting ink pigment attained from the mixture of chrome yellow and iron blue.
Chrome Yellow A lead chromate yellow ink pigment.
Circular Screen A screen that utilizes a concentric circle pattern as opposed to dots used for halftones and to allow the platemaker to set exact screen angles.
Clay-Coated Boxboard A strong, easily folded boxboard with clay coating used for making folding boxes.
Coarse Screen Halftone screens commonly used in newsprint; up to 85 lines per inch.
Coated (Paper) Paper coated with clay, white pigments and a binder. Better for printing because there is less picking.
Coated Art Paper Printing papers used for printing projects that require a special treatment of detail and shading.
Coated Stock Any paper that has a mineral coating applied after the paper is made, giving the paper a smoother finish.
Cold Color Any color that moves toward the blue side in the color spectrum.
Cold-Set Inks A variety of inks that are in solid form originally but are melted in a hot press and then solidify when they contact paper.
Collate To gather sheets or signatures together in their correct order. (see Gather)
Collating Marks Black step-marks printed on the back of folded sheets, to facilitate collating and checking of the sequence of book signatures.
Collating Marks Black step-marks printed on the back of folded sheets, to facilitate collating and checking of the sequence of book signatures.
Colophon A printers or publishers identifying symbol or emblem.
Color Bars This term refers to a color test strip, which is printed on the waste portion of a press sheet. It is a standardized (GATF-Graphic Arts Technical Foundation) process which allows a pressman to determine the quality of the printed material relative to ink density, registration, and dot gain. It also includes the Star Target, which is a similar system designed to detect inking problems.
Color Separating The processes of separating the primary color components for printing.
Color Strength A term referring to the relative amount of pigmentation in an ink.
Color Transparency Transparent film containing a positive photographic color image.
Column Gutter Space between two or more columns of type on one page.
Commercial Register Color registration measured within plus or minus one row of dots.
Composition The assembly of characters into words, lines and paragraphs of text or body matter for reproduction by printing.
Condensed Type A narrow, elongated type face.
Contact Print A print made from contact of a sensitive surface to a negative or positive photograph.
Contact Screen A halftone screen made on film of graded density, and used in a vacuum contact with the film.
Continuous Tone Image made of non-discernable picture elements which give appearance of continuous spectrum of grey values or tones.
Contrast The degree of tonal separation or gradation in the range from black to white.
Contre Jour Taking a picture with the camera lens facing the light source.
Copy Refers to any typewritten material, art, photos etc., to be used for the printing process.
Copyboard A board upon which the copy is pasted for the purpose of photographing.
Corner Marks Marks on a final printed sheet that indicate the trim lines or register indicators.
Cover A term describing a general type of papers used for the covers of books, pamphlets etc.
Creep When the rubber blanket on a cylinder moves forward due to contact with the plate or paper. Result of added thickness of folded sheets being behind one another in a folded signature. Outer edges of sheets creep away from back most fold as more folded sheets are inserted inside the middle.
Crop To eliminate a portion of the art or copy as indicated by crop marks.
Crop Mark Markings at edges of original or on guide sheet to indicate the area desired in reproduction with negative or plate trimmed (cropped) at the markings.
Cross-over Elements that cross page boundaries and land on two consecutive pages (usually rules).
Crossmarks Marks of fine lines, which intersect to indicate accurate alignment of art elements.
Crossover A term used to describe the effect of ink from an image, rule or line art on one printed page, which carries over to another page of a bound work.
Curl Not lying flat and tending to form into cylindrical or wavy shapes. A term to describe the differences of either side of a sheet relative to coatings, absorbency etc.; the concave side is the curl side.
Cut-off A term used in web press printing to describe the point at which a sheet of paper is cut from the roll; usually this dimension is equal to the circumference of the cylinder.
Cutter Machine for accurately cutting stacks of paper to desired dimensions…can also be used to crease. Also trims out final bound books’ top size (soft cover).
Cutting Die Sharp edged device, usually made of steel, to cut paper, cardboard, etc., on a printing press.
Cyan A shade of blue used in the four-color process; it reflects blue and green and absorbs red.
Cylinder Gap The gap in the cylinders of a press where the grippers or blanket clamps is housed.


Dahlgren A dampening system for printing presses which utilizes more alcohol (25%) and less water; this greatly reduces the amount of paper that is spoiled.
Dampening An essential part of the printing process whereby cloth covered rubber rollers distributes the dampening solution to the plate.
Dandy Roll During the paper making process while the paper is still 90% water, it passes over a wire mesh cylinder (dandy roll), which imparts surface textures on the paper such as wove or laid. This is also the stage where the watermark is put onto the paper.
Deckle Edge. The rough or feathered edge of paper when left untrimmed.
Deep Etching The etching or removal of any unwanted areas of a plate to create more air or white space on the finished product.
Delete An instruction given to remove an element from a layout.
Demy A term that describes a standard sized printing paper measuring 17.5 x 22.5 in.
Densitometer An optical device used by printers and photographers to measure and control the density of color.
Density The lay of paper fibers relative to tightness or looseness which affects the bulk, the absorbency and the finish of the paper.
Density The degree of tone, weight of darkness or color within a photo or reproduction; measurable by the densitometer. Reference, densitometer.
Descender A term that describes that portion of lower case letters which extends below the main body of the letter, as in “p”.
Diazo A light sensitive coal tar product used as a coating on presensitized plates, as well as overlay proofs.
Die Design, letters or shapes, cut into metal (mostly brass) for stamping book covers or embossing. An engraved stamp used for impressing an image or design.
Die Cutting A method of using sharp steel ruled stamps or rollers to cut various shapes i.e. labels, boxes, image shapes, either post press or in line. The process of cutting paper in a shape or design by the use of a wooden die or block in which are positioned steel rules in the shape of the desired pattern.
Die Stamping An intaglio process for printing from images engraved into copper or steel plates.
Digital Proof Color separation data is digitally stored and then exposed to color photographic paper creating a picture of the final product before it is actually printed.
Dimensional stability The qualities of paper to stabilize its original size when undergoing pressure or exposed to moisture.
Diploma A fine paper made specifically for the printing of diplomas, certificates and documents.
Direct Screen Halftone A color separation process using a halftone negative made by direct contact with the halftone screen.
Display Type Any type that stands out from the rest of the type on a page which attracts attention of the reader.
Distribution Rollers In the printing process, the rubber coated rollers responsible for the distribution of ink from the fountain to the ink drum.
Doctor Blade A term in gravure printing which refers to the knife-edge that runs along the printing cylinder; its function is to wipe the excess ink away from the non-printing areas.
Dog Ear Occurs when you fold into a fold (such as a letter fold). At the side of one of the creases you get an indentation. It may look like a small inverted triangle.
Dot The smallest individual element of a halftone.
Dot Gain Darkening of halftone image due to ink absorption in paper causing halftone dots to enlarge. Terms to describe the occurrence whereby dots are printing larger than they should.
Draw-down A method used by ink makers to determine the color, quality and tone of ink. It entails the drawing of a spatula over a drop of ink, spreading it flat over the paper.
Drier A term that describes any additives to ink which encourages the drying process.
Drill The actual drilling of holes into paper for ring or comb binding.
Drop Folio Page number printed at foot of page.
Drop Shadow A shadow image placed strategically behind an image to create the affect of the image lifting off the page.
Dry Mount Pasting with heat sensitive adhesives.
Dry Offset Process in which a metal plate is etched to a depth of 0.15 mm (0.006 in), making a right-reading relief plate, printed on the offset blanket and then to the paper without the use of water.
Ductor Roller The roller between the inking and the dampening rollers.
Dull Finish Any matte finished paper.
Dummy A term used to describe the preliminary assemblage of copy and art elements to be reproduced in the desired finished product; also called a comp.
Dummy Model Resembling finished piece in every respect except that the pages and cover are blank, used by the designer as a final check on the appearance and +feel+ of the book as a guide for the size and position of elements on the jacket.
Duotone Color reproduction from monochrome original. Keyplate usually printed in dark color for detail, second plate printed in light flat tints. A two-color halftone reproduction generated from a one-color photo.
Duplex Paper Paper which has a different color or finish on each side.
Dutch Any deckle edged paper, originally produced in the Netherlands. Reference, deckle edge
Dye-Based Ink Any ink that acquires its color by the use of aniline pigments or dyes. Reference, aniline


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