Print Dictionary


  • Acetate

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

  • Acid-free Paper

    Paper made from pulp containing little or no acid which allows it to resist deterioration from age. Also called alkaline paper, archival paper, neutral pH paper, permanent paper and thesis paper

  • Acid Resist

    An acid-proof protective coating applied to metal plates prior to etching.

  • Additive Colour

    Colour produced by light falling onto a surface, as compared to subtractive colour. The additive primary colours are red, green and blue.

  • A4 Paper

    ISO paper size 210 x 297mm used for Letterhead

  • Against the Grain

    At right angles to the grain direction of the paper being used, as compared to With the Grain. Also called Across the Grain and Cross Grain See also Grain Direction

  • Airbrush

    Pen-shaped tool that sprays a fine mist of ink or paint to retouch photos and create continuous-tone illustrations.

  • Alteration

    Any change made by the customer after copy or artwork has been given to the printer. The change could be in copy, specifications or both. Also called AA, author alteration and customer alteration

  • Anodized Plate

    An offset printing plate having a treated surface in order to reduce wear for extended use.

  • Anti-offset Powder

    Fine powder lightly sprayed over the printed surface of coated paper as sheets leave a press. Also called dust, offset powder, powder and spray powder

  • Antique Paper

    Roughest finish offered on offset paper.

  • Aqueous Coating

    Water based coating applied like ink by a printing press to protect and enhance the printing underneath.

  • Artwork

    All original copy, including type, photos and illustrations, intended for printing. Also called art

  • Author’s Alterations (AA)

    At the proofing stage, changes that the client requests concerning original art provided. AAs are considered an additional cost to the client usually.


  • Back Up

    (1) To print on the second side of a sheet which has already been printed on one side. (2) To adjust an image on one side of a sheet so that it aligns back-to-back with an image on the other side.

  • Base Art

    Copy pasted up on the mounting board of a mechanical, as compared to overlay art. Also called base mechanical

  • Base Negative

    Negative made by photographing base art.

  • Basic Size

    The standard size of sheets of paper used to calculate basis weight in the United States and Canada.

  • Basis Weight

    The weight, in grams, of one square meter of paper. Also called grammage and ream weight

  • Bindery

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

  • Blank

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

  • Blanket

    Rubber-coated pad, mounted on a cylinder of an offset press, that receives the inked image from the plate and transfers it to the surface to be printed.

  • Bleed

    BleedPrinting that extends to the edge of a sheet or page after trimming.

  • Blind Folio

    A page number not printed on the page. (In book printing, a blank page traditionally does not print a page number)

  • Blind Image

    Image debossed, embossed or stamped, but not printed with ink or foil.

  • Bind

    Usually in book printing. The joining of leafs or signatures together with either wire, glue or other means.

  • Blocking

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

  • Blow-Up

    An enlargement, usually used with graphic images or photographs

  • Blueline

    Prepress photographic proof made from stripped negatives where all colours show as blue images on white paper. Because ‘blueline’ is a generic term for proofs made from a variety of materials having identical purposes and similar appearances, it may also be called a blackprint, blue, blueprint, brownline, brownprint, diazo, dyeline, ozalid, position proof, silverprint, Dylux and VanDyke.

  • Blurb

    A description or commentary of an author or book content positioned on the book jacket.

  • 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

    The main text of work not including the headlines.

  • Boiler Plate

    Blocks of repetitive type used and copied over and over again.

  • Bond Paper

    Category of paper commonly used for writing, printing and photocopying. Also called business paper, communication paper, correspondence paper and writing paper

  • Book Block

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

  • Book Paper

    Category of paper suitable for books, magazines, catalogues, advertising and general printing needs. Book paper is divided into uncoated paper (also called offset paper), coated paper (also called art paper, enamel paper, gloss paper and slick paper) and text paper.

  • Border

    The decorative design or rule surrounding matter on a page.

  • Bounce

    (1) A repeating registration problem in the printing stage of production. (2) When a customer is unhappy with the results of a printing project and refuses to accept the project.

  • 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.

  • Broadside

    The term used to indicate work printed on a large sheet of paper.

  • Bromide

    A photographic print created on bromide paper.

  • Broken Carton

    Carton of paper from which some of the sheets have been sold. Also called less carton

  • Bronzing

    The effect produced by dusting wet ink after printing and using a metallic powder.

  • Build a Colour

    To overlap two or more screen tints to create a new colour. Such an overlap is called a build, colour build, stacked screen build or tint build

  • Bulk

    Thickness of paper relative to its basic weight.

  • Bullet

    A dot or similar marking to emphasise text.

  • 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 colours 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.


  • C1S and C2S

    Abbreviations for coated one side and coated two sides.

  • Calendar

    To make the surface of paper smooth by pressing it between rollers during manufacturing.

  • Caliper
    1. Thickness of paper or other substrate expressed in thousandths of an inch (mils or points), pages per inch (ppi), thousandths of a millimeter (microns) or pages per centimeter (ppc).
    2. Device on a sheetfed press that detects double sheets or on a binding machine that detects missing signatures or inserts.
  • Camera-ready Copy

    Business using a process camera to make Photostats, halftones, plates and other elements for printing. Also called prep service and trade camera service

  • Camera Service

    The weight, in grams, of one square meter of paper. Also called grammage and ream weight

  • Carbonless Paper

    Paper coated with chemicals that enable transfer of images from one sheet to another with pressure from writing or typing.

  • Carload

    Selling unit of paper that may weigh anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 pounds (9,090 to 45, 454 kilos), depending on which mill or merchant uses the term. Abbreviated CL

  • Carton

    Selling unit of paper weighing approximately 150 pounds (60 kilos). A carton can contain anywhere from 500 to 5,000 sheets, depending on the size of sheets and their basis weight.

  • Case

    Covers and spine that, as a unit, enclose the pages of a case bound 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 Paper

    High gloss, coated paper made by pressing the paper against a polished hot metal drum while the coating is still wet.

  • Catalogue Paper

    Coated paper rated #4 or #5 with basis weight from 35# to 50# (50 to 75 gsm) commonly used for catalogues and magazines.

  • Chain Dot
    1. Alternate term for elliptical dot, so called because midtone dots touch at two points which looks like links in a chain.
    2. Generic term for any midtone dots in which the corners touch.
  • Chain Lines
    1. Widely spaced lines in laid paper.
    2. Blemishes on printed images caused by tracking.
  • Chalking

    Deterioration of a printed image caused by ink that absorbs into paper too fast or has long exposure to sun and wind, making printed images look dusty. Also called crocking

  • Check Copy
    1. Production copy of a publication verified by the customer as printed, finished and bound correctly.
    2. One set of gathered book signatures approved by the customer as ready for binding.
  • Choke

    Strength of a colour as compared to how close it seems to neutral grey. Also called depth, intensity, purity and saturation

  • Chrome

    The main text of work not including the headlines.

  • Close Up

    A mark used to indicate closing space between characters or words. Usually used in proofing stages.

  • CMYK

    Abbreviation for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black) – the four process colours.

  • Coarse Screen

    Halftone screen with ruling of 65, 85 or 100 lines per inch (26, 34 or 40 lines centimetre).

  • Coated Paper

    Paper with a coating of clay and other substances that improves reflectivity and ink holdout. Mills produce coated paper in the four major categories: cast, gloss, dull and matte.

  • Collate

    To organise printed matter in a specific order as requested.

  • Collating Marks

    Mostly in book printing – specific marks on the back of signatures indicating exact position in the collating stage.

  • Colour Balance

    Refers to the amounts of process colours that simulate the colours of the original scene or photograph.

  • Colour Blanks

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

  • Colour Break

    In multicolour printing, the point, line or space at which one ink colour stops and another begins. Also called break for colour

  • Colour Cast

    Unwanted colour affecting an entire image or portion of an image.

  • Colour Control Bar

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

  • Colour Correct

    To adjust the relationship among the process colours to achieve desirable colours.

  • Colour Curves

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

  • Colour Electronic Prepress System

    Computer, scanner, printer and other hardware and software designed for image assembly, colour correction, retouching and output onto proofing materials, film or printing plates. Abbreviated CEPS

  • Colour Gamut

    The entire range of hues possible to reproduce using a specific device, such as a computer screen, or system, such as four-colour process printing.

  • Colour Key

    Brand name for an overlay colour proof. Sometimes used as a generic term for any overlay colour proof.

  • Colour Model

    Way of categorising and describing the infinite array of colours found in nature.

  • Colour Separation
    1. Technique of using a camera, scanner or computer to divide continuous-tone colour images into four halftone negatives.
    2. The product resulting from colour separating and subsequent four-colour process printing. Also called separation
  • Colour Sequence

    Order in which inks are printed. Also called laydown sequence and rotation

  • Colour Shift

    Change in image colour resulting from changes in register, ink densities or dot gain during four-colour process printing.

  • Colour Transparency

    Film (transparent) used as art to perform colour separations.

  • Comb Bind

    To bind by inserting the teeth of a flexible plastic comb through holes punched along the edge of a stack of paper. Also called plastic bind and GBC bind (a brand name)

  • Commercial Printer

    Printer producing a wide range of products such as announcements, brochures, posters, booklets, stationery, business forms, books and magazines. Also called job printer because each job is different

  • Complementary Flat(s)

    The second or additional flat(s) used when making composite film or for two or more burns on one printing plate.

  • Composite Art

    Mechanical on which copy for reproduction in all colours appears on only one surface, not separated onto overlays. Composite art has a tissue overlay with instructions that indicate colour breaks.

  • Composite Film

    Film made by combining images from two or more pieces of working film onto one film for making one plate.

  • Composite Proof

    Proof of colour separations in position with graphics and type. Also called final proof, imposition proof and stripping proof

  • Composition
    1. In typography, the assembly of typographic elements, such as words and paragraphs, into pages ready for printing.
    2. In graphic design, the arrangement of type, graphics and other elements on the page.
  • Comprehensive Dummy

    Simulation of a printed piece complete with type, graphics and colours. Also called colour comprehensive and comp

  • Condition

    To keep paper in the pressroom for a few hours or days before printing so that its moisture level and temperature equal that in the pressroom. Also called cure, mature and season

  • Contact Platemaker

    Device with lights, timing mechanism and vacuum frame used to make contact prints, duplicate film, proofs and plates. Also called platemaker and vacuum frame

  • Continuous-tone Copy

    All photographs and illustrations that have a range of shades not made up of dots, as compared to line copy or halftones. Abbreviated contone

  • Contrast

    The degree of tones in an image ranging from highlight to shadow.

  • Converter

    Business that makes products such as boxes, bags, envelopes and displays.

  • Copyboard

    Surface or frame on a process camera that holds copy in position to be photographed.

  • Cover

    Thick paper that protects a publication and advertises its title. Parts of covers are often described as follows: Cover 1=outside front; Cover 2=inside front; Cover 3=inside back, Cover 4=outside back.

  • Coverage

    Extent to which ink covers the surface of a substrate. Ink coverage is usually expressed as light, medium or heavy.

  • Cover Paper

    Category of thick paper used for products such as posters, menus, folders and covers of paperback books.

  • Crash

    Coarse cloth embedded in the glue along the spine of a book to increase strength of binding. Also called gauze, mull and scrim

  • Creep

    Phenomenon of middle pages of a folded signature extending slightly beyond outside pages. Also called feathering, outpush, push out and thrust

    See also Shingling

  • Crop Marks

    Lines near the edges of an image indicating portions to be reproduced. Also called cut marks and tic marks

  • Crossover

    Type or art that continues from one page of a book or magazine across the gutter to the opposite page. Also called bridge, gutter bleed and gutter jump

  • Cure

    To dry inks, varnishes or other coatings after printing to ensure good adhesion and prevent setoff.

  • Cutoff

    Circumference of the impression cylinder of a web press, therefore also the length of the printed sheet that the press cuts from the roll of paper.

  • Cut Sizes

    Paper sizes used with office machines and small presses.

  • Cutting Machine

    A machine that cuts stacks of paper to desired sizes. The machine can also be used in scoring or creasing.

  • Cutting Die

    Usually a custom ordered item to trim specific and unusual sized printing projects.

  • CWT

    Abbreviation for hundredweight using the Roman numeral C=100.

  • Cyan

    One of the four process colours. Also known as process blue


  • Data Compression

    Technique of reducing the amount of storage required to hold a digital file to reduce the disk space the file requires and allow it to be processed or transmitted more quickly.

  • Deboss

    To press an image into paper so it lies below the surface. Also called tool

  • Deckle Edge

    Edge of paper left ragged as it comes from the papermaking machine instead of being cleanly cut. Also called feather edge

  • Densitometer

    Instrument used to measure density. Reflection densitometers measure light reflected from paper and other surfaces; transmission densitometers measure light transmitted through film and other materials.

  • Density

    Difference between the darkest and lightest areas of copy. Also called contrast ratio, copy range and tonal range

  • Density Range

    The weight, in grams, of one square meter of paper. Also called grammage and ream weight

  • Desktop Publishing

    Technique of using a personal computer to design images and pages, and assemble type and graphics, then using a laser printer or imagesetter to output the assembled pages onto paper, film or printing plate. Abbreviated DTP

  • Device Independent Colours

    Hues identified by wavelength or by their place in systems such as developed by CIE. ‘Device independent’ means a colour can be described and specified without regard to whether it is reproduced using ink, projected light, photographic chemistry or any other method.

  • Die

    Device for cutting, scoring, stamping, embossing and debossing.

  • Die Cut

    To cut irregular shapes in paper or paperboard using a die.

  • Digital Proofing

    Chemical process of reproducing line copy and making halftone positives ready for paste-up.

  • Diffusion Transfer

    Chemical process of reproducing line copy and making halftone positives ready for paste-up.

  • Digital Dot

    Dot created by a computer and printed out by a laser printer or imagesetter. Digital dots are uniform in size, as compared to halftone dots that vary in size.

  • Direct Digital Colour Proof

    Colour proof made by a laser, ink jet printer or other computer-controlled device without needing to make separation films first. Abbreviated DDCP

  • Dog Ear

    A letter fold at the side of one of the creases, an indentation occurs.

  • Dot Gain

    Phenomenon of halftone dots printing larger on paper than they are on films or plates, reducing detail and lowering contrast. Also called dot growth, dot spread and press gain

  • Dot Size

    Relative size of halftone dots as compared to dots of the screen ruling being used. There is no unit of measurement to express dot size. Dots are too large, too small or correct only in comparison to what the viewer finds attractive.

  • Dots-per-inch

    Measure of resolution of input devices such as scanners, display devices such as monitors, and output devices such as laser printers, imagesetters and monitors. Abbreviated DPI. Also called dot pitch

  • Double Black Duotone

    Duotone printed from two halftones, one shot for highlights and the other shot for midtones and shadows.

  • Double Bump

    To print a single image twice so it has two layers of ink.

  • Double Burn

    To expose film or a plate twice to different negatives, creating a composite image.

  • Double Density

    A method of recording electronically (disk, CD, floppy) using a modified frequency to allow more data storage.

  • Double Dot Halftone

    Halftone double burned onto one plate from two halftones, one shot for shadows, the second shot for midtones and highlights.

  • Doubling

    Printing defect appearing as blurring or shadowing of the image. Doubling may be caused by problems with paper, cylinder alignment, blanket pressures or dirty cylinders.

  • DPI

    Considered as “dots per square inch,” a measure of output resolution in relationship to printers, imagesetters and monitors.

  • Drawdown

    Sample of inks specified for a job applied to the substrate specified for a job. Also called pulldown

  • Dropout

    Halftone dots or fine lines eliminated from highlights by overexposure during camera work.

  • Dropout Halftone

    Halftone in which contrast has been increased by eliminating dots from highlights.

  • Dry Back

    Phenomenon of printed ink colours becoming less dense as the ink dries.

  • Dry Offset

    Using metal plates in the printing process, which are etched to .15mm creating a right reading plate, printed on the offset blanket transferring to paper without the use of water.

  • Dry Trap

    To print over dry ink, as compared to wet trap.

  • Dual-purpose Bond Paper

    Bond paper suitable for printing by either lithography (offset) or xerography (photocopy). Abbreviated DP bond paper

  • Dull Finish

    Flat (not glossy) finish on coated paper; slightly smoother than matte. Also called suede finish, velour finish and velvet finish

  • Dummy

    Simulation of the final product. Also called mockup

  • Duotone

    Black-and-white photograph reproduced using two halftone negatives, each shot to emphasise different tonal values in the original.

  • Duplex Paper

    Thick paper made by pasting highlights together two thinner sheets, usually of different colours. Also called double-faced paper and two-tone paper

  • Duplicator

    Offset press made for quick printing.

  • Dylux

    Brand name for photographic paper used to make blue line proofs. Often used as alternate term for blueline.


  • Electronic Front End (Electronic Composition)

    General term referring to a prepress system based on computers.

  • Electronic Image Assembly

    Assembly of a composite image from portions of other images and/or other page elements using a computer.

  • Electronic Mechanical

    Mechanical exclusively in electronic files.

  • Electronic Publishing
    1. Publishing by printing with device, such as a photocopy machine or ink jet printer, driven by a computer that can change the image instantly from one copy to the next.
    2. Publishing via output on fax, computer bulletin board or other electronic medium, as compared to output on paper.
  • Emboss

    To press an image into paper so it lies above the surface. Also called cameo and tool

  • Emulsion Down / Emulsion Up

    Film on which emulsion side faces down (away from the viewer) or up (toward the viewer) when ready to make a plate or stencil. Abbreviated ED, EU. Also called E up/down and face down/face up

  • Encapsulated PostScript File

    Computer file containing both images and PostScript commands. Abbreviated EPS file

  • End Sheet

    Sheet that attaches the inside pages of a case bound book to its cover. Also called pastedown or end papers

  • Emulsion

    Casting of light-sensitive chemicals on papers, films, printing plates and stencils.

  • Engraving

    Printing method using a plate, also called a die, with an image cut into its surface.

  • EP

    Abbreviation for envelope.

  • EPS

    Encapsulated Post Script, a known file format usually used to transfer post script information from one program to another.

  • Equivalent Paper

    Paper that is not the brand specified, but looks, prints and may cost the same. Also called comparable stock

  • English Finish

    Smooth finish on uncoated book paper; smoother than eggshell, rougher than smooth.

  • Estimate

    Price that states what a job will probably cost. Also called bid, quotation and tender

  • Estimator

    The individual performing or creating the “estimate.”

  • Etch

    Using chemicals to carve an image into metal, glass or film.


  • Face

    Edge of a bound publication opposite the spine. Also called foredge

    Also, an abbreviation for typeface referring to a family of a general style.

  • Fake Duotone

    Halftone in one ink colour printed over screen tint of a second ink colour. Also called dummy duotone, dougraph, duplex halftone, false duotone, flat tint halftone and halftone with screen

  • Fast Colour Inks

    Inks with colours that retain their density and resist fading as the product is used and washed.

  • Feeding Unit

    Component of a printing press that moves paper into the register unit.

  • Felt Finish

    Soft woven pattern in text paper.

  • Felt Side

    Side of the paper that was not in contact with the Fourdrinier wire during papermaking, as compared to wire side.

  • Fifth Colour

    Ink colour used in addition to the four needed by four-colour process.

  • Film Gauge

    Thickness of film. The most common gauge for graphic arts film is 0.1 mm.

  • Film Laminate

    Thin sheet of plastic bonded to a printed product for protection or increased gloss.

  • Fine Papers

    Papers made specifically for writing or commercial printing, as compared to coarse papers and industrial papers. Also called cultural papers and graphic papers

  • Fine Screen

    Screen with ruling of 150 lines per inch (80 lines per centimetre) or more.

  • Finish
    1. Surface characteristics of paper.
    2. General term for trimming, folding, binding and all other post press operations.
  • Finished Size

    Size of product after production is completed, as compared to flat size. Also called trimmed size.

  • Fit

    Refers to ability of film to be registered during stripping and assembly. Good fit means that all images register to other film for the same job.

  • Fixed Costs

    Costs that remain the same regardless of how many pieces are printed. Copyrighting, photography and design are fixed costs.

  • Flat Colour
    1. Any colour created by printing only one ink, as compared to a colour created by printing four-colour process. Also called block colour and spot colour.
    2. Color that seems weak or lifeless.
  • Flat Plan (Flats)

    Diagram of the flats for a publication showing imposition and indicating colours.

  • Flat Size

    Size of product after printing and trimming, but before folding, as compared to finished size.

  • Flexography

    Method of printing on a web press using rubber or plastic plates with raised images. Also called aniline printing because flexographic inks originally used aniline dyes. Abbreviated flexo

  • Flood

    To print a sheet completely with an ink or varnish. flooding with ink is also called painting the sheet.

  • Flush Cover

    Cover trimmed to the same size as inside pages, as compared to overhang cover. Also called cut flush

  • Flyleaf

    Leaf, at the front and back of a case bound book that is the one side of the end paper not glued to the case.

  • Fogging Back

    Used in making type more legible by lowering density of an image, while allowing the image to show through.

  • Foil Emboss

    To foil stamp and emboss an image. Also called heat stamp

  • Foil Stamp

    Method of printing that releases foil from its backing when stamped with the heated die. Also called block print, hot foil stamp and stamp

  • Folder

    A bindery machine dedicated to folding printed materials.

  • Fold Marks

    With printed matter, markings indicating where a fold is to occur, usually located at the top edges.

  • Foldout

    Gatefold sheet bound into a publication, often used for a map or chart. Also called gatefold and pullout

  • Folio

    The actual page number in a publication.

  • Form

    Each side of a signature. Also spelled forme

  • Format

    Size, style, shape, layout or organisation of a layout or printed product.

  • Form bond

    Lightweight bond, easy to perforate, made for business forms. Also called register bond

  • Form Roller(s)

    Roller(s) that come in contact with the printing plate, bringing it ink or water.

  • For Position Only

    Refers to inexpensive copies of photos or art used on mechanical to indicate placement and scaling, but not intended for reproduction. Abbreviated FPO

  • Forwarding

    In the case book arena, the binding process which involves folding, rounding, backing, headbanding and reinforcing.

  • Fountain

    Trough or container, on a printing press, that holds fluids such as ink, varnish or water. Also called duct.

  • Fountain Solution

    Mixture of water and chemicals that dampens a printing plate to prevent ink from adhering to the non-image area. Also called dampener solution

  • Four-colour Process Printing

    Technique of printing that uses black, magenta, cyan and yellow to simulate full-colour images. Also called colour process printing, full colour printing and process printing.

  • Free Sheet

    Paper made from cooked wood fibres mixed with chemicals and washed free of impurities, as compared to groundwood paper. Also called woodfree paper

  • French Fold

    A printed sheet, printed one side only, folded with two right angle folds to form a four page uncut section.

  • Full-range Halftone

    Halftone ranging from 0 percent coverage in its highlights to 100 percent coverage in its shadows.

  • Full-scale Black

    Black separation made to have dots throughout the entire tonal range of the image, as compared to half-scale black and skeleton black. Also called full-range black


  • Galley Proof

    Proof of type from any Source, whether metal type or photo type. Also called checker and slip proof.

  • Gang
    1. To halftone or separate more than one image in only one exposure.
    2. To reproduce two or more different printed products simultaneously on one sheet of paper during one press run. Also called combination run.
  • Gate Fold

    A sheet that folds where both sides fold toward the gutter in overlapping layers.

  • Gathered

    Normal halftone whose density has been reduced to produce a very faint image.

  • Ghost Halftone

    Soft woven pattern in text paper.

  • Ghosting
    1. Phenomenon of a faint image appearing on a printed sheet where it was not intended to appear. Chemical ghosting refers to the transfer of the faint image from the front of one sheet to the back of another sheet. Mechanical ghosting refers to the faint image appearing as a repeat of an image on the same side of the sheet.
    2. Phenomenon of printed image appearing too light because of ink starvation.
  • Gilding

    Mostly in book printing, gold leafing the edges of a book.

  • Gloss

    Ink used and printed on coated stock (mostly litho and letterpress) in such a way as the ink will dry without penetration.

  • Gloss Ink

    Thin sheet of plastic bonded to a printed product for protection or increased gloss.

  • Grade

    General term used to distinguish between or among printing papers, but whose specific meaning depends on context. Grade can refer to the category, class, rating, finish or brand of paper.

  • Graduated Screen Tint

    Screen tint that changes densities gradually and smoothly, not in distinct steps. Also called degrade, gradient, ramped screen and vignette.

  • Grain Direction

    Predominant direction in which fibres in paper become aligned during manufacturing. Also called machine direction

  • Grain Long Paper

    Paper in which the fibres run parallel to the long dimension of the sheet. Also called long grain paper and narrow web paper

  • Grain Short Paper

    Paper whose fibres run parallel to the short dimension of the sheet. Also called short grain paper and wide web paper

  • Grammage

    Basis weight of paper in grams per square metre (gsm).

  • Graphic Arts

    The crafts, industries and professions related to designing and printing on paper and other substrates.

  • Graphic Arts Film

    Film in which the emulsion yields high contrast images suitable for reproduction by a printing press, as compared to continuous-tone film. Also called litho film and repro film

  • Graphic Design

    Arrangement of type and visual elements along with specifications for paper, ink colours and printing processes that, when combined, convey a visual message.

  • Graphics

    Visual elements that supplement type to make printed messages more clear or interesting.

  • Gravure

    Method of printing using metal cylinders etched with millions of tiny wells that hold ink.

  • Grey Balance

    Printed cyan, magenta and yellow halftone dots that accurately, reproduce a neutral grey image.

  • Grey Component Replacement

    Technique of replacing grey tones in the yellow, cyan and magenta films, made while colour separating, with black ink. Abbreviated GCR. Also called achromatic colour removal

  • Grey Levels

    Number of distinct grey tones that can be reproduced by a computer.

  • Greyscale

    Strip of grey values ranging from white to black. Used by process camera and scanner operators to calibrate exposure times for film and plates. Also called step wedge

  • Grind Edge

    Alternate term for binding edge when referring to perfect bound products.

  • Grindoff

    Approximately 1/8 inch (3 mm) along the spine that is ground off gathered signatures before perfect binding.

  • Gripper Edge

    Edge of a sheet held by grippers on a sheetfed press, thus going first through the press. Also called feeding edge and leading edge

  • Groundwood Paper

    Newsprint and other inexpensive paper made from pulp created when wood chips are ground mechanically rather than refined chemically.

  • GSM

    The unit of measurement for paper weight (grams per square metre).

  • Gutter

    In book printing, the inside margins toward the back or the binding edges.


  • Hairline (Rule)

    Subjective term referring to very small space, thin line or close register. The meaning depends on who is using the term and in what circumstances.

  • Half-scale Black

    Black separation made to have dots only in the shadows and midtones, as compared to full-scale black and skeleton black.

  • Halftone
    1. To photograph or scan a continuous tone image to convert the image into halftone dots.
    2. A photograph or continuous-tone illustration that has been halftoned and appears on film, paper, printing plate or the final printed product.
  • Halftone Screen

    Piece of film or glass containing a grid of lines that breaks light into dots. Also called contact screen and screen.

  • Halo Effect

    Faint shadow sometimes surrounding halftone dots printed. The halo itself is also called a fringe. Also called halation

  • Hard Dots

    Halftone dots with no halos or soft edges, as compared to soft dots.

  • Hard Mechanical

    Mechanical consisting of paper and/or acetate and made using paste-up techniques, as compared to electronic mechanical.

  • Head(er)

    At the top of a page, the margin.

  • Head-to-tail

    Imposition with heads (tops) of pages facing tails (bottoms) of other pages.

  • Heat-set Web

    Web press equipped with an oven to dry ink, thus able to print coated paper.

  • Hickey

    Spot or imperfection in printing, most visible in areas of heavy ink coverage, caused by dirt on the plate or blanket. Also called bulls eye and fish eye

  • High-fidelity Colour

    Colour reproduced using six, eight or twelve separations, as compared to four-colour process.

  • High-key Photo

    Photo in which the most important details appear in the highlights.

  • Highlights

    Lightest portions of a photograph or halftone, as compared to midtones and shadows.

  • Hinged Cover

    Perfect bound cover scored 3mm from the spine so it folds at the hinge instead of, along the edge of the spine.

  • HLS

    Abbreviation for hue, lightness, saturation, one of the colour-control options often found in software, for design and page assembly. Also called HVS

  • Hot Spot

    Printing defect caused when a piece of dirt or an air bubble causes incomplete draw-down during contact platemaking, leaving an area of weak ink coverage or visible dot gain.

  • House Sheet

    Paper kept in stock by a printer and suitable for a variety of printing jobs. Also called floor sheet

  • Hue

    A specific colour such as yellow or green.


  • Image Area

    The actual area on the printed matter that is not restricted to ink coverage.

  • Imagesetter

    Laser output device using photosensitive paper or film.

  • Imposition

    Arrangement of pages on mechanicals or flats so they will appear in proper sequence after press sheets are folded and bound.

  • Impression
    1. Referring to an ink colour, one impression equals one press sheet passing once through a printing unit.
    2. Referring to speed of a press, one impression equals one press sheet passing once through the press.
  • Impression Cylinder

    Cylinder, on a press, that pushes paper against the plate or blanket, thus forming the image. Also called impression roller

  • Imprint

    To print new copy on a previously printed sheet, such as imprinting an employee’s name on business cards. Also called surprint

  • Ink Balance

    Relationship of the densities and dot gains of process inks to each other and to a standard density of neutral grey

  • Ink Fountain

    Reservoir, on a printing press, that holds ink.

  • Ink Holdout

    Characteristic of paper that prevents it from absorbing ink, thus allowing ink to dry on the surface of the paper. Also called holdout

  • Ink Jet Printing

    Method of printing by spraying droplets of ink through computer-controlled nozzles. Also called jet printing

  • Inner Form

    Form (side of the press sheet) whose images all appear inside the folded signature, as compared to outer form.

  • In-Plant Printer

    Department of an agency, business or association that does printing for a parent organisation. Also called captive printer and in-house printer.

  • Inserts

    Within a publication, an additional item positioned into the publication loose (not bound in).

  • Intaglio Printing

    Printing method whose image carriers are surfaces with two levels, having inked areas lower than non-inked areas. Gravure and engraving are the most common forms of intaglio. Also called recess printing

  • Integral Proof

    Colour proof of separations shown on one piece of proofing paper, as compared to an overlay proof. Also called composition proof, laminate proof, plastic proof and single-sheet proof

  • Interleaves

    Printed pages loosely inserted in a publication.

  • ISBN

    A number assigned to a published work and usually found either on the title page or the back of the title page. Abbreviation of International Standard Book Number


  • Job Lot Paper

    Paper that didn’t meet specifications when produced, has been discontinued, or for other reasons is no longer considered first quality.

  • Job Number

    A number assigned to a specific printing project in a printing company for use in tracking and historical record keeping.

  • Job Ticket

    Form used by service bureaus, separators and printers to specify production schedule of a job and the materials it needs. Also called docket, production order and work order

  • Jogger

    A vibration machine with a sloping platform to even-up stacks of printed materials.


  • K

    Abbreviation for black in four-colour process printing, hence the ‘K’ in CMYK.

  • Key
    1. The screw that controls ink flow from the ink fountain of a printing press.
    2. To relate loose pieces of copy to their positions on a layout or mechanical using a system of numbers or letters.
    3. Alternate term for the colour black, as in ‘key plate.’
  • Keylines

    Lines on a mechanical or negative showing the exact size, shape and location of photographs or other graphic elements. Also called holding lines

  • Key Negative or Plate

    Negative or plate that prints the most detail. Thus, the image that guides the register of images from other plates. Also called key printer

  • Kiss Die Cut

    To die cut the top layer, but not the backing layer, of self-adhesive paper. Also called face cut

  • Kiss Impression

    Lightest possible impression that will transfer ink to a substrate.

  • Kraft Paper

    Strong paper used for wrapping and to make grocery bags and large envelopes.


  • Laid Finish

    Finish on bond or text paper on which grids of parallel lines simulate the surface of handmade paper. Laid lines are close together and run against the grain; chain lines are farther apart and run with the grain.

  • Laminate

    A thin transparent plastic sheet (coating) applied to usually a thick stock (covers, post cards, etc.) providing protection against liquid and heavy use, and usually accents existing colour, providing a glossy (or lens) effect.

  • Landscape

    Artist style in which width is greater than height. (Opposite of Portrait)

  • Lap Register

    Register where ink colours overlap slightly, as compared to butt register.

  • Laser Bond

    Bond paper made especially smooth and dry to run well through laser printers.

  • Laser-imprintable Ink

    Ink that will not fade or blister as the paper on which it is printed is used in a laser printer.

  • Lay Flat Bind

    Method of perfect binding that allows a publication to lie fully open. Also known as Lay Flat Perfect Binding

  • Lay Edge

    The edge of a sheet of paper feeding into a press.

  • Layout

    A sample of the original providing (showing) position of printed work (direction, instructions) needed and desired.

  • Leading

    Amount of space between lines of type.

  • Leaf

    One sheet of paper in a publication. Each side of a leaf is one page.

  • Ledger Paper

    Strong, smooth bond paper used for keeping business records. Also called record paper

  • Letter fold

    Two folds creating three panels that allow a sheet of letterhead to fit a business envelope. Also called barrel fold and wrap around fold

  • Letter Paper

    In North America, 8 1/2′ x 11′ sheets. In Europe, A4 sheets.

  • Legend

    Directions about a specific matter (illustrations) and how to use them. In regard to maps and tables, an explanation of signs (symbols) used.

  • Letterpress

    Method of printing from raised surfaces, either metal type or plates in which the surfaces have been etched away from image areas. Also called block printing

  • Lightweight Paper

    Book paper with basis weight less than 60 gsm.

  • Lignin

    Substance in trees that holds cellulose fibres together. Free sheet has most lignin removed; groundwood paper contains lignin.

  • Line Copy

    Any high-contrast image, including type, as compared to continuous-tone copy. Also called line art and line work

  • Line Negative

    Negative made from line copy.

  • Linen Finish

    Embossed finish on text paper that simulates the pattern of linen cloth.

  • Lithography

    Method of printing using plates in which the image areas attract ink and the non-image areas repel ink. Non-image areas may be coated with water to repel the oily ink or may have a surface, such as silicon, that repels ink.

  • Live Area

    Area on a mechanical within which images will print. Also called safe area

  • Logo (Logotype)

    A company, partnership or corporate creation (design) that denotes a unique entity. A possible combination of letters and artwork to create a “sole” entity symbol of that specific unit.

  • Looseleaf

    Binding method allowing insertion and removal of pages in a publication (e.g., trim-4-drill-3).

  • Loose Proof

    Proof of a halftone or colour separation that is not assembled with other elements from a page, as compared to composite proof. Also called first proof, random proof, scatter proof and show-colour proof.

  • Loupe

    Lens built into a small stand. Used to inspect copy, film, proofs, plates and printing. Also called glass and linen tester

  • Low Key Photo

    Photo in which the most important details appear in the shadows.


  • Machine Glazed (MG)

    Paper holding a high-gloss finish only on one side.

  • Magenta

    One of the four process colours.

  • Make-ready
    1. All activities required to prepare a press or other machine to function for a specific printing or bindery job, as compared to production run. Also called setup
    2. Paper used in the make-ready process at any stage in production. Make-ready paper is part of waste or spoilage.
  • Making Order

    Order for paper that a mill makes to the customer’s specifications, as compared to a mill order or stock order.

  • Male Die

    Die that applies pressure during embossing or debossing. Also called force card

  • Manuscript (MS)

    An author’s original form of work (hand written, typed or on disk) submitted for publication.

  • Margin

    Imprinted space around the edge of the printed material.

  • Mark-Up

    Instructions written usually on a “dummy.”

  • Mask

    To prevent light from reaching part of an image, therefore isolating the remaining part. Also called knock out

  • Master

    Paper or plastic plate used on a duplicating press.

  • Match Print

    A form of a four-colour process proofing system.

  • Matte Finish

    Flat (not glossy) finish on photographic paper or coated printing paper.

  • Mechanical

    Camera-ready assembly of type, graphic and other copy complete with instructions to the printer. A hard mechanical consists of paper and/or acetate, is made using paste-up techniques, and may also be called an artboard, board or paste-up. A soft mechanical, also called an electronic mechanical, exists as a file of type and other images assembled using a computer.

  • Mechanical Bind

    To bind using a comb, coil, ring binder, post or any other technique not requiring gluing, sewing or stitching.

  • Mechanical Separation

    Color breaks made on the mechanical using a separate overlay for each color to be printed.

  • Mechanical Tint

    Lines or patterns formed with dots creating artwork for reproduction.

  • Metallic Ink

    Ink containing powdered metal or pigments that simulate metal.

  • Metallic Paper

    Paper coated with a thin film of plastic or pigment whose colour and gloss simulate metal.

  • Midtones

    In a photograph or illustration, tones created by dots between 30 percent and 70 percent of coverage, as compared to highlights and shadows.

  • Mil

    The thickness of plastic films as printing substrates are expressed in mils.

  • Misting

    Phenomenon of droplets of ink being thrown off the roller train. Also called flying ink

  • Mock Up

    A reproduction of the original printed matter and possibly containing instructions or direction.

  • Modem

    Mostly used over phone lines, a device that converts electronic stored information from point A. to point B

  • Moire

    Undesirable pattern resulting when halftones and screen tints are made with improperly aligned screens, or when a pattern in a photo, such as a plaid, interfaces with a halftone dot pattern.

  • Monarch

    Paper size (7′ x 10′) and envelope shape often used for personal stationery.

  • Mottle

    Spotty, uneven ink absorption. A mottled image may be called mealy. Also called sinkage

  • Mull

    A specific type of glue used for book binding and personal pads needing strength.

  • Multicolour Printing

    Printing in more than one ink colour (but not four-colour process). Also called polychrome printing

  • M Weight

    Weight of 1,000 sheets of paper in any specific size.


  • Natural Colour

    Very light brown colour of paper. May also be called antique, cream, ivory, off-white or mellow white.

  • Nested

    Signatures assembled inside one another in the proper sequence for binding, as compared to gathered. Also called inset

  • Neutral Grey

    Grey with no hue or cast.

  • News Print

    Paper used in printing newspapers. Considered low quality and “a short life use”.

  • Newton Ring

    Flaw in a photograph or halftone that looks like a drop of oil or water.

  • Nipping

    In the book binding process, a stage where air is expelled from its contents at the sewing stage.

  • Non-heatset Web

    Web press without a drying oven, thus not able to print on coated paper. Also called cold-set web and open web

  • Non-impact Printing

    Printing using lasers, ions, ink jets or heat to transfer images to paper.

  • Non-reproducing Blue

    Light blue that does not record on graphic arts film, therefore may be used to preprint layout grids and write instructions on mechanicals. Also called blue pencil, drop-out blue, fade-out blue and non-repro blue

  • Novelty Printing

    Printing on products such as coasters, pencils, balloons, golf balls and ashtrays, known as advertising specialties or premiums.


  • Offset Printing

    Printing technique that transfers ink from a plate to a blanket to paper instead of directly from plate to paper.

  • Opacity
    1. Characteristic of paper or other substrate that prevents printing on one side from showing through the other side.
    2. Characteristic of ink that prevents the substrate from showing through.
  • Onion Skin

    A specific lightweight type (kind) of paper usually used in the past for air mail. Seldom used today (in the typewriter era).

  • Opaque
    1. Not transparent.
    2. To cover flaws in negative with tape or opaquing paint. Also called block out and spot
  • Open Prepress Interface

    Hardware and software that links desktop publishing systems with colour electronic prepress systems.

  • Outer form

    Form (side of a press sheet) containing images for the first and last pages of the folded signature (its outside pages) as compared to inner form.

  • Outline Halftone

    Halftone in which background has been removed or replaced to isolate or silhouette the main image. Also called knockout halftone and silhouette halftone

  • Overlay

    Layer of material taped to a mechanical, photo or proof. Acetate overlays are used to separate colours by having some type or art on them instead of on the mounting board. Tissue overlays are used to carry instructions about the underlying copy and to protect the base art.

  • Overlay Proof

    Colour proof consisting of polyester sheets laid on top of each other with their image in register, as compared to integral proof. Each sheet represents the image to be printed in one colour. Also called celluloid proof and layered proof

  • Overprint

    To print one image over a previously printed image, such as printing type over a screen tint. Also called surprint

  • Over Run

    Additional printed matter beyond order. Overage policy varies in the printing industry. Advance questions avoid blind knowledge.


  • Page

    One side of a leaf in a publication.

  • Page Count

    Total number of pages that a publication has. Also called extent

  • Page Proof

    Proof of type and graphics as they will look on the finished page complete with elements such as headings, rules and folios.

  • Pagination

    In book printing, the numbering of pages.

  • Painted Sheet

    Sheet printed with ink edge to edge, as compared to spot colour. The painted sheet refers to the final product, not the press sheet, and means that 100 percent coverage results from bleeds off all four sides.

  • Panel

    One page of a brochure, such as one panel of a rack brochure. One panel is on one side of the paper. A letter-folded sheet has six panels, not three.

  • Paper Plate

    A printing plate made of strong and durable paper in the short run offset arena (cost effective with short runs).

  • Parallel Fold

    Method of folding. Two parallel folds to a sheet will produce 6 panels.

  • Parent Sheet

    Any sheet larger than A3.

  • Pasteboard

    Chipboard with another paper pasted to it.

  • Paste-up

    To paste copy to mounting boards and, if necessary, to overlays so it is assembled into a camera-ready mechanical. The mechanical produced is often called a paste-up.

  • PE

    Proofreader mark meaning printer error and showing a mistake by a typesetter, prepress service or printer as compared to an error by the customer.

  • Perfect Bind

    To bind sheets that have been ground at the spine and are held to the cover by glue. Also called adhesive bind, cut-back bind, glue bind, paper bind, patent bind, perfecting bind, soft bind and soft cover.

  • Perfecting Press

    Press capable of printing both sides of the paper during a single pass. Also called duplex press and perfector

  • Perf Marks

    On a “dummy” marking where the perforation is to occur.

  • Perforating

    Taking place on a press or a binder machine, creating a line of small dotted wholes for the purpose of tearing off a part of a printed matter (usually straight lines, vertical or horizontal).

  • Pica

    A unit of measure in the printing industry. A pica is approximately 0.166 in. There are 12 points to a pica.

  • Photoengraving

    Engraving done using photochemistry.

  • Photomechanical Transfer

    Brand name for a diffusion transfer process used to make positive paper prints of line copy and halftones. Often used as alternate term for photostat. Abbreviated PMT

  • Photostat

    Brand name for a diffusion transfer process used to make positive paper prints of line copy and halftones. Often used as alternate term for PMT.

  • Picking

    Phenomenon of ink pulling bits of coating or fibre away from the surface of paper as it travels through the press, thus leaving unprinted spots in the image area.

  • Pickup Art

    Artwork, used in a previous job, to be incorporated in a current job.

  • Pinholing

    Small holes (unwanted) in printed areas because of a variety of reasons.

  • Pin Register

    Technique of registering separations, flats and printing plates by using small holes, all of equal diameter, at the edges of both flats and plates.

  • Pixel

    Short for picture element, a dot made by a computer, scanner or other digital device. Also called pel

  • Planographic Printing

    Printing method whose image carriers are level surfaces with inked areas separated from non-inked areas by chemical means. Planographic printing includes lithography, offset lithography and spirit duplicating.

  • Plate

    Piece of paper, metal, plastic or rubber carrying an image to be reproduced using a printing press.

  • Platemaker
    1. In quick printing, a process camera that makes plates automatically from mechanicals.
    2. In commercial lithography, a machine with a vacuum frame used to expose plates through film.
  • Plate-ready Film

    Stripped negatives or positives fully prepared for platemaking.

  • Pleasing Colour

    Colour that the customer considers satisfactory even though it may not precisely match original samples, scenes or objects.

  • PMS

    Obsolete reference to Pantone Matching System. The correct trade name of the colours in the Pantone Matching System is Pantone colours, not PMS Colours.

  • PMT

    Abbreviation for photomechanical transfer.

  • Point
    1. Regarding paper, a unit of thickness equating 1/1000 inch.
    2. Regarding type, a unit of measure equaling 1/12 pica and .013875 inch (.351mm).
  • Portrait

    An art design in which the height is greater than the width. (Opposite of Landscape)

  • Position Stat

    Photocopy or PMT of a photo or illustration made to size and affixed to a mechanical.

  • Positive Film

    Film that prevents light from passing through images, as compared to negative film that allows light to pass through. Also called knockout film

  • Post Bind

    To bind using a screw and post inserted through a hole in a pile of loose sheets.

  • Prepress

    Camera work, colour separations, stripping, platemaking and other prepress functions performed by the printer, separator or a service bureau prior to printing. Also called preparation

  • Prepress Proof

    Any colour proof made using ink jet, toner, dyes or overlays, as compared to a press proof printed using ink. Also called dry proof and off-press proof.

  • Preprint

    To print portions of sheets that will be used for later imprinting.

  • Press Check

    Event at which make-ready sheets from the press are examined before authorising full production to begin.

  • Press Proof

    Proof made on press using the plates, ink and paper specified for the job. Also called strike off and trial proof.

  • Press Time
    1. Amount of time that one printing job spends on press, including time required for make-ready.
    2. Time of day at which a printing job goes on press.
  • Price Break

    Quantity at which unit cost of paper or printing drops.

  • Printer Pairs

    Usually in book printing – consecutive pages as they appear on a flat or signature.

  • Printer Spreads

    Mechanicals made so they are imposed for printing, as compared to reader spreads.

  • Printing

    Any process that transfers to paper or other substrate an image from an original such as a film negative or positive, electronic memory, stencil, die or plate.

  • Printing Plate

    Surface carrying an image to be printed. Quick printing uses paper or plastic plates; letterpress, engraving and commercial lithography use metal plates; flexography uses rubber or soft plastic plates. Gravure printing uses a cylinder. The screen printing is also called a plate.

  • Printing Unit

    Assembly of fountain, rollers and cylinders that will print one ink colour. Also called colour station, deck, ink station, printer, station and tower

  • Process Camera

    Camera used to photograph mechanicals and other camera-ready copy. A small, simple process camera may be called a stat camera. Also called copy, camera and graphic arts camera

  • Process Colour (Inks)

    The colours used for four-colour process printing: yellow, magenta, cyan and black.

  • Production Run

    Press run intended to manufacture products as specified, as compared to make-ready.

  • Proof

    Test sheet made to reveal errors or flaws, predict results on press and record how a printing job is intended to appear when finished.

  • Proofreader Marks

    Standard symbols and abbreviations used to mark up manuscripts and proofs. Also called correction marks

  • Proportion Scale

    Round device used to calculate percent that an original image must be reduced or enlarged to yield a specific reproduction size. Also called percentage wheel, proportion dial, proportion wheel and scaling wheel

  • Publishing Paper

    Paper made in weights, colours and surfaces suited to books, magazines, catalogues and free-standing inserts.


  • Quality

    Subjective term relating to expectations by the customer, printer and other professionals associated with a printing job and whether the job meets those expectations.

  • Quarto
    1. Sheet folded twice, making pages one-fourth the size of the original sheet. A quarto makes an 8-page signature.
    2. Book made from quarto sheets, traditionally measuring about 9′ x 12′.
  • Quick Printing

    Printing using small sheetfed presses, called duplicators, using cut sizes of bond and offset paper.

  • Quotation

    Price offered by a printer to produce a specific job.


  • Rag Paper

    Stationery or other forms of stock having a strong percentage content of “cotton rags.”

  • Rainbow Fountain

    Technique of putting ink colours next to each other in the same ink fountain and oscillating the ink rollers to make the colours merge where they touch, producing a rainbow effect.

  • Raster Image Processor

    Device that translates page description commands into bitmapped information for an output device such as a laser printer or imagesetter.

  • Reader Spread

    Mechanicals made in two page spreads as readers would see the pages, as compared to printer spread.

  • Ream

    500 sheets of paper.

  • Recycled Paper

    New paper made entirely or in part from old paper.

  • Reflective Copy

    Products, such as fabrics, illustrations and photographic prints, viewed by light reflected from them, as compared to transparent copy. Also called reflex copy

  • Register

    To place printing properly with regard to the edges of paper and other printing on the same sheet. Such printing is said to be in register.

  • Register Marks

    Cross-hair lines on mechanicals and film that help keep flats, plates, and printing in register. Also called crossmarks and position marks.

  • Relief Printing

    Printing method im which image carriers are surfaces with two levels having inked areas higher than non-inked areas. Relief printing includes block printing, flexography and letter press.

  • Repeatability

    Ability of a device, such as an imagesetter, to produce film or plates that yield images in register.

  • Reprographics

    General term for xerography, diazo and other methods of copying used by designers, engineers, architects or for general office use.

  • Resolution

    Sharpness of an image on film, paper, computer screen, disc, tape or other medium.

  • Resolution Target

    An image, such as the GATF Star Target, that permits evaluation of resolution on film, proofs or plates.

  • Reverse

    Type, graphic or illustration reproduced by printing ink around its outline, thus allowing the underlying colour or paper to show through and form the image. The image ‘reverses out’ of the ink colour. Also called knockout and liftout

  • RGB

    Abbreviation for Red, Green, Blue, the additive colour primaries.

  • Right Reading

    Copy that reads correctly in the language in which it is written. Also describes a photo in which the orientation looks like the original scene, as compared to a flopped image.

  • Rotary Press

    Printing press which passes the substrate between two rotating cylinders when making an impression.

  • Round Back Bind

    To case bind with a rounded (convex) spine, as compared to flat back bind.

  • Ruby Window

    Mask on a mechanical, made with rubylith, that creates a window on film shot from the mechanical.

  • Rule

    Line used as a graphic element to separate or organise copy.

  • Ruleup

    Map or drawing given by a printer to a stripper showing how a printing job must be imposed using a specific press and sheet size. Also called press layout, printer’s layout and ruleout


  • Saddle Stitch

    To bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine, as compared to side stitch. Also called pamphlet stitch, saddle wire and stitch bind

  • Satin Finish

    Alternate term for dull finish on coated paper.

  • Scale

    To identify the percent by which photographs or art should be enlarged or reduced to achieve, the correct size for printing.

  • Scanner

    Electronic device used to scan an image.

  • Score

    To compress paper along a straight line so it folds more easily and accurately. Also called crease

  • Screen Angles

    Angles at which screens intersect with the horizontal line of the press sheet. The common screen angles for separations are black 45 degree, magenta 75 degree, yellow 90 degree and cyan 105 degree.

  • Screen Density

    Refers to the percentage of ink coverage that a screen tint allows to print. Also called screen percentage.

  • Screen Printing

    Method of printing by using a squeegee to force ink through an assembly of mesh fabric and a stencil.

  • Screen Ruling

    Number of rows or lines of dots per inch or centimetre in a screen for making a screen tint or halftone. Also called line count, ruling, screen frequency, screen size and screen value.

  • Screen Tint

    Colour created by dots instead of solid ink coverage. Also called Benday, fill pattern, screen tone, shading, tint and tone

  • Selective Binding

    Placing signatures or inserts in magazines or catalogues according to demographic or geographic guidelines.

  • Self Cover

    Usually in book printing – a publication not having a cover stock. A publication only using text stock throughout.

  • Self Mailer

    A printed item independent of an envelope. A printed item capable of travel in the mailing arena independently.

  • Separated Art

    Art with elements that print in the base colour on one surface and elements that print in other colours on other surfaces. Also called pre-separated art

  • Separations

    Usually in the four-colour processing – separate film holding images of one specific colour per piece of film. Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Can also separate specific PMS colours through film.

  • Serigraphic Printing

    Printing method in which image carriers are woven fabric, plastic or metal that allow ink to pass through some portions and block ink from passing through other portions. Serigraphic printing includes screen and mimeograph.

  • Service Bureau

    Business using imagesetters to make high resolution printouts of files prepared on microcomputers. Also called output house and prep service

  • Setoff

    Undesirable transfer of wet ink from the top of one sheet to the underside of another as they lie in the delivery stack of a press. Also called offset

  • Shade

    Hue made darker by the addition of black, as compared to tint.

  • Shadows

    Darkest areas of a photograph or illustration, as compared to midtones and high-lights.

  • Sheetfed Press

    Press that prints sheets of paper, as compared to a web press.

  • Sheetwise

    Technique of printing one side of a sheet with one set of plates, then the other side of the sheet with a set of different plates. Also called work and back

  • Shingling

    Allowance, made during paste-up or stripping, to compensate for creep. Creep is the problem; shingling is the solution. Also called stair stepping and progressive margins

  • Side Stitch

    To bind by stapling through sheets along one edge, as compared to saddle stitch. Also called cleat stitch and side wire

  • Signature

    Printed sheet folded at least once, possibly many times, to become part of a book, magazine or other publication.

  • Size

    Compound mixed with paper or fabric to make it stiffer and less able to absorb moisture.

  • Slip Sheets

    Separate sheets (stock) independent from the original run positioned between the “printed run” for a variety of reasons.

  • Soft Dots

    Halftones dots with halos.

  • Solid

    Any area of the sheet receiving 100 percent ink coverage, as compared to a screen tint.

  • Specialty Printer

    Printer whose equipment, supplies, work flow and marketing is targeted to a particular category of products.

  • Specifications

    Complete and precise written description of features of a printing job such as type size and leading, paper grade and quantity, printing or binding method. Abbreviated as Specs.

  • Spectrophotometer

    Instrument used to measure the index of refraction of colour.

  • Specular Highlight

    Highlight area with no printable dots, thus no detail, as compared to a diffuse highlight. Also called catchlight and dropout highlight

  • Spine

    Back or binding edge of a publication

  • Spiral Bind

    To bind using a spiral of continuous wire or plastic looped through holes. Also called coil bind

  • Split Fountain

    Technique of putting ink colours next to each other in the same ink fountain and printing them off the same plate. Split fountains keep edges of colours distinct, as compared to rainbow fountains that blend edges.

  • Split Run
    1. Different images, such as advertisements, printed in different editions of a publication.
    2. Printing of a book that has some copies bound one way and other copies bound another way.
  • Spoilage

    One ink or varnish applied to portions of a sheet, as compared to flood or painted sheet.

  • Spot Colour or Varnish

    Film (transparent) used as art to perform colour separations.

  • Spread
    1. Two pages that face each other and are designed as one visual or production unit.
    2. Technique of slightly enlarging the size of an image to accomplish a hairline trap with another image. Also called fatty
  • Standard Viewing Conditions

    Background of 60 percent neutral grey and light that measures 5000 degrees Kelvin the colour of daylight on a bright day. Also called lighting standards

  • Stat

    Short for photostat, therefore a general term for an inexpensive photographic print of line copy or halftone.

  • Statistical Process Control

    Method used by printers to ensure quality and delivery times specified by customers. Abbreviated SPC

  • Step and Repeat

    Prepress technique of exposing an image in a precise, multiple pattern to create a flat or plate. Images are said to be stepped across the film or plate.

  • Stocking Paper

    Popular sizes, weights and colours of papers available for prompt delivery from a merchant’s warehouse.

  • Stock Order

    Order for paper that a mill or merchant sends to a printer from inventory at a warehouse, as compared to a mill order.

  • String Score

    Score created by pressing a string against paper, as compared to scoring using a metal edge.

  • Strip

    To assemble images on film for platemaking. Stripping involves correcting flaws in film, assembling pieces of film into flats and ensuring that film and flats register correctly. Also called film assembly and image assembly

  • Substance Weight

    Alternate term for basis weight, usually referring to bond papers. Also called sub weight.

  • Stumping (Blocking)

    In book printing, hot die, foil or other means in creating an image on a case bound book.

  • Substrate

    Any surface or material on which printing is done.

  • Subtractive Colour

    Yellow, magenta and cyan. In graphic arts, these are known as process colours because, along with black, they are the inks colours used in colour-process printing.

  • Subtractive Primary Colour

    Surface or frame on a process camera that holds copy in position to be photographed.

  • Supercalendered Paper

    Paper calendered using alternating chrome and fibre rollers to produce a smooth, thin sheet. Abbreviated SC paper

  • Surprint

    Taking an already printed matter and re-printing again on the same.

  • Swash Book

    A book in a variety of forms, indicating specific stock in specific colours in a specific thickness.

  • SWOP

    Abbreviation for Specifications for Web Offset Publications – specifications recommended for web printing of publications.


  • Tabloid

    Using a broadsheet as a measure, one half of a broadsheet.

  • Tag

    Grade of dense, strong paper used for products such as badges and file folders.

  • Tagged Image File Format

    Computer file format used to store images from scanners and video devices. Abbreviated TIFF

  • Target Ink Densities

    Densities of the four process inks as recommended for various printing processes and grades of paper. See also Total Area Coverage

  • Template

    Concerning a printing project’s basic details in regard to its dimensions. A standard layout.

  • Text Paper

    Designation for printing papers with textured surfaces such as laid or linen. Some mills also use ‘text’ to refer to any paper they consider top-of-the-line, whether or not its surface has a texture.

  • Thermography

    Method of printing using colourless resin powder that takes on the colour of underlying ink. Also called raised printing

  • Thumbnails

    Initial ideas jotted on virtually anything in regard to initial concept of a future project.

  • Tint

    Screening or adding white to a solid colour for results of lightening that specific colour.

  • Tip In

    Usually in book printing, adding an additional page(s) beyond the normal process (separate insertion).

  • Tone Compression

    Reduction in the tonal range from original scene to printed reproduction.

  • Total Area Coverage

    Total of the dot percentages of the process colours in the final film. Abbreviated TAC. Also called density of tone, maximum density, shadow saturation, total dot density and total ink coverage

  • Touch Plate

    Plate that accents or prints a colour that four-colour process printing cannot reproduce well enough or at all. Also called kiss plate

  • Trade Shop

    Service bureau, printer or bindery working primarily for other graphic arts professionals, not for the general public.

  • Transparency

    Positive photographic image on film allowing light to pass through. Also called chrome, colour transparency and tranny. Often abbreviated TX

  • Trap

    To print one ink over another or to print a coating, such as varnish, over an ink. The first liquid traps the second liquid. See also Dry Traps and Wet Traps

  • Trim Size

    The size of the printed material in its finished stage (e.g., the finished trim size is 5 1\2 x 8 1\2).


  • Uncoated Paper

    Paper that has not been coated with clay. Also called offset paper

  • Undercolour Addition

    Technique of making colour separations that increases the amount of cyan, magenta or yellow ink in shadow areas. Abbreviated UCA

  • Undercolour Removal

    Technique of making colour separations such that the amount of cyan, magenta and yellow ink is reduced in midtone and shadow areas while the amount of black is increased. Abbreviated UCR

  • Universal Copyright Convention (UCC)

    A system to protect unique work from reproducing without knowledge from the originator. To qualify, one must register their work and publish a © indicating registration.

  • Unsharp Masking

    Technique of adjusting dot size to make a halftone or separation appear sharper (in better focus) than the original photo or the first proof. Also called edge enhancement and peaking

  • Up

    Term to indicate multiple copies of one image printed in one impression on a single sheet. “Two up” or “three up” means printing the identical piece twice or three times on each sheet.

  • UV Coating

    Liquid applied to a printed sheet, then bonded and cured with ultraviolet light.


  • Value

    The shade (darkness) or tint (lightness) of a colour. Also called brightness, lightness, shade and tone

  • Varnish

    Liquid applied as a coating for protection and appearance.

  • Vellum Finish

    Somewhat rough, toothy finish.

  • Velox

    Brand name for high-contrast photographic paper.

  • Viewing Booth

    Small area or room that is set up for proper viewing of transparencies, colour separations or press sheets. Also called colour booth. See also Standard Viewing Conditions

  • Vignette

    Decorative design or illustration fade to white.

  • Vignette Halftone

    Halftone whose background gradually and smoothly fades away. Also called degrade

  • Virgin Paper

    Paper made exclusively of pulp from trees or cotton, as compared to recycled paper.

  • VOC

    Abbreviation for volatile organic compounds, petroleum substances used as the vehicles for many printing inks.


  • Wash Up

    To clean ink and fountain solutions from rollers, fountains, screens, and other press components.

  • Waste

    Unusable paper or paper damage during normal make-ready, printing or binding operations, as compared to spoilage.

  • Watermark

    Translucent logo in paper created during manufacturing by slight embossing from a dandy roll while paper is still approximately 90 percent water.

  • Web Break

    Split of the paper as it travels through a web press, causing operators to rethread the press.

  • Web Gain

    Unacceptable stretching of paper as it passes through the press.

  • Web Press

    Press that prints from rolls of paper, usually cutting it into sheets after printing. Also called reel-fed press. Web presses come in many sizes, the most common being mini, half, three quarter (also called 8-pages) and full (also called 16-pages).

  • Wet Trap

    To print ink or varnish over wet ink, as compared to dry trap.

  • Window
    1. In a printed product, a die-cut hole revealing an image on the sheet behind it.
    2. On a mechanical, an area that has been marked for placement on a piece of artwork.
  • Wire Side

    Side of the paper that rests against The Fourdrinier wire during papermaking, as compared to felt side.

  • With the Grain

    Parallel to the grain direction of the paper being used, as compared to Against the Grain. See also Grain Direction

  • Woodfree Paper

    Made with chemical pulp only. Paper usually classified as calendered or supercalendered.

  • Working Film

    Intermediate film that will be copied to make final film after all corrections are made. Also called buildups

  • Wove

    Paper manufactured without visible wire marks, usually a fine textured paper.

  • Wrong Reading

    An image that is backwards when compared to the original