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Printing and Graphic Design Terms Glossary

A list of common Glossary of Printing, Graphic Arts & Typographical Terminology.


A4 Size Paper ISO standard paper size 210 x 297mm or 8.3 x 11.7ins. Usually used for Letterhead.

Acid-free paper A paper containing no acidity or acid producing chemicals that degrades less over time than acidic papers.

Accordion Fold Folding paper in the opposite direction of the previous fold creating a pleated or accordion effect.

Addictive Colour Colour produced by light falling onto a surface. The additive primary colors are red, green and blue.

Against The Grain At right angles to the grain direction of the paper being used. Also called across the grain and cross grain.

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

Artwork Previously the term is used for the original physical materials, including photos, graphic images and other components needed to produce a printed piece. Today we refer to the electronic or digital components needed for preparing a printed piece for production on a press or copier.


Back to Back Printing applied to both side of a sheet of paper.

Baseline Imaginary horizontal line upon which stand capitals, lower case letters, punctuation points, etc.

Blanket Rubber A 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.

Bind In printing term is the joining of pages or sheets together with either wire, glue or other means.

Bleed Any element that extends up to or past the edge of a printed page normally 3mm all round.

Bond A grade of durable writing, printing and typing paper that is erasable and somewhat rigid. The origin comes from when it was made for documents such as government bonds.

Bounce Inconsistent positioning of the printed image on the sheets of paper as they “bounce” around on the sheet and not printing in the same place on every page.

BPOP A method of packing finished printed products in which they are not wrapped in parcels but stacked onto pallets. The finished pallets are then wrapped in plastic film.


Camera Ready Artwork or copy ready for printing.

Carbonless Paper Paper that is chemically treated to transfer the impression from the first page to the subsequent pages, for example NCR form printing

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

CMYK Abbreviation for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, the four process colours use in litho printing. Sometimes refer to as four colours or full colour.

Collate To compile sheets or printed materials together in their correct order.

Crop Depending on the application. If referring to an image it means to reduce the size of an image. Cropping is the removal of unwanted outer areas from a photographic or illustrated image.

Crop Marks Fine and small printed lines indicating the edges of a printed piece where it is to be cut out of the sheet.


Density The degree of tone, weight of darkness or colour within a photo or reproduction measured by a densitometer.

Desktop Publishing Creating materials to be printed using a personal computer.

Die Cutting The process of cutting paper in a shape or design in the shape of the desired pattern.

Digital Proof Artwork digitally stored and then exposed to colour photographic paper creating a picture of the final product.

Drop Shadow A shadow image placed offset behind an image to create the affect of the image lifting off the page.

Duotone A two-colour halftone reproduction generated from a one color photo.

DPI Stands for ‘Dots Per Inch.’ A file size is determined by the number of pixels. An image which is 300dpi means that each inch has 300 dots across. Therefore, the higher the DPI, the more detail can be shown in an image. Bear in mind that most monitors have a native resolution of 72 or 96 pixels per inch. They cannot display a 300 dpi image in actual size. Instead, when viewed at 100%, the image will look much larger than the print version because the pixels on the screen take up more space than the dots on the paper.


Electronic Proof A process of generating a prepress proof in which paper is electronically exposed to the colour separation negatives and passed through electrically charged pigmented toners, which adhere electrostatically, resulting in the finished proof.

Em A unit of measurement equal to 12 points.

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

EPS Encapsulated Post Script. A standard file format used to transfer postscript formatting information between applications.


Finish The surface quality of paper.

Foil Then metal sheet that is applied to paper using the foil stamping process. Frequently gold or silver coloured, but available in many colours.

Foil Embossing Stamping a thin sheet of metallic foil onto a sheet of paper and then embossing a pattern under it, creating a three dimensional raised area.

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

Font Characters that make up a typeface and size.


Gate Fold Folding of both outside edges into the middle thus creating a gate.

Grain The direction of paper fibers in a sheet.

GIF A GIF file is an image file saved in the ‘Graphical Interchange Format’. It may contain up to 256 indexed colors with a color palette that may be a predefined set of colors or may be adapted to the colors in the image. GIF files are saved in a lossless format, meaning the clarity of the image is not compromised with GIF compression. GIFs are a common format for web graphics, especially small images and images that contain text. However, JPG or JPEG images are better for showing photos because they are not limited in the number of colours they can display.

Graduated Screen An area of image or ink where halftone dots range continuously from one percent to another gradually.

Gutter A blank space or margin between components on a printed piece or press sheet.


Head Margin The margin between the top of the print and the trimmed edge.

Hickies Imperfections in presswork due to dirt on press, in ink or in paper.

Hot Melt Adhesive used in the binding process.


IBC Inside back cover.

IFC Inside front cover.

InDesign Is a desktop publishing and typesetting software application produced by Adobe Systems. InDesign is normally used by Graphic Designers to create printed materials such as posters, flyers, brochures, magazines, newspapers, presentations, books and ebooks.

Insert A piece of printed paper which is inserted into another piece of paper like magazine or catalogue.


Jacket Sometimes called the “dust cover” of a hardbound book.

JPG or JPEG Pronouce as J-PEG. JPEG stands for ‘Joint Photographic Experts Group’. The two terms have the same meaning and are interchangeable. JPG/JPEG files are among the most common image files along with PNG, GIF and TIFF. Many images are saved in this format because the compression algorithm significantly reduces the image file size, which decreases web page loading time. However, the lossy compression used by JPEG may reduce the image quality significantly if high amounts of compression are used.

Justification Adjusting the spacing of words and characters to fill a given line of text from end to end.


Kerning The spacing of two letters so that they become closer and take up less space on the page.

Keyline Is a boundary line that separates colour and monochromatic areas or differently coloured areas on a page.


Label Paper Papers which are usually coated-one-side for wrapping or labelling, with the other side being either uncoated or coated with an adhesive.


Magenta The colour Magenta is one of the four process color inks used in multi-color printing. Sometimes they are incorrectly referred to as ‘red’ (or process red).


Native file Sometimes refer to as source file. It is the file format saved using the application the page layout is worked on before exporting to other formats. Some example of native files extension are: qxd for Quark Xpress, psd for Photoshop, indd for InDesign, docx for Word document, ai for Adobe Illustrator etc.


Offset printing It is most commonly used as an alternate term for offset lithography, a form of printing using ‘plate’.


Pantone The brand-name for colour matching system, or series of printed colour swatches used to match colored ink combinations. PANTONE systems are available for both spot color and process color.

PNG PNG stands for ‘Portable Network Graphic’. PNG contains a bitmap of indexed colors, lossless compressed similar to a GIF file. PNG files are commonly used to store digital photographs, web graphics, and images with transparent backgrounds. You can use PNG format for printing, but a JPEG (lossy) or TIFF file is a better option.


QuarkXpress QuarkXPress is a desktop publishing application produced by Quark Inc. It was released in 1987 (Mac version) and later in 1992 (Window version). It is not as popular as InDesign today. When it was first released in 1987, it was seen as one of the founders of desktop publishing.


Raw Data Any computer data which has not been processed or manipulated.


Slug In layout applications such as Adobe InDesign the slug is an area outside of the trim and bleed area that can be used by the designer to add comments or other information related to the publication. It is not visible in the final printed pieces since it is out of the trim area of the final paper size.


TIFF Tagged Image File Format, abbreviated TIFF or TIF, is a computer file format for storing raster graphics images. TIFF is popular among graphic designers, the publishing industry, and photographers.

Tints Mechanical shading in line areas, normally available in 5% steps from 5% to 95%.

Trim Marks Marks placed on the copy to indicate the edge of the paper.


UV Varnish A thin coating applied to a printed sheet for protection and appearance dried immediately by UV light.


Varnish A transparent liquid coating that is applied to a printed product to either protect it or make it visually more pleasing. Varnish can be either matte or glossy and is sometimes only applied to certain elements of a page to make them stand out.

Vector A line between two points of a drawing

Vignette A gradation of a colour that varies only in strength or lightness. A vignette can also refer to an illustration or image that gradually fades away, blending into the background or unprinted paper. It is sometimes referred to a graduated background tone.


Watermarks A design or graphic impressed or embedded in the paper during the manufacturing process.

Widow The last line of a paragraph that appears at the top of a page all by itself.


X-height In typography, the x-height equals the height of a lowercase letter ‘x’.

Xtension A small module or add-on that adds functionality to QuarkXPress, a layout program.


Yellow One of the four-color process inks.

Yosemite Code name for Mac OS X 10.10


Z-fold Binding term for two or more parallel folds that open like an accordion, sometimes referred to as an accordion fold.

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