Glossary: print and design

March 02, 2014

Glossary: Print and Design, AM-Insider article by Sarah Ritchie

To help you interpret some of our industry jargon, here is a glossary of terms relevant for Account Managers working with design and print projects.


The ability of a material to take up moisture.

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 effect.

A transparent or translucent plastic sheet material in a variety of colours, used as a basis for artwork and overlays, also used to protect the front sheet of a bound document.

The non-colours: black, white and grey.

Acrylic plastic or acrylic glass
A translucent, high-grade plastic made primarily from petroleum, often used as a lightweight or shatter-resistant alternative to glass. Often used for signage, POS stands and display stands.

In typesetting and page layout, alignment is the setting of text flow or image placement relative to a page, column, table cell or tab. The type alignment setting is sometimes referred to as text alignment, text justification or type justification. Type and objects can also be aligned to a vertical or horizontal position.

All caps
Each letter in a word is a capital letter.

Antique finish
Paper with a rough, sized surface used for book and cover stock.

The white area of text (or illustrations) at the margins which form a foldout.

Aqueous plate
Water soluble plate coatings, which are less toxic and less polluting.

Those elements of letters that branch out from the stem of a letter, such as: "K" and "Y".

Art paper
A paper evenly coated with a fine clay compound, which creates a hard smooth surface on one or both sides.

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.

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

Author's alterations (AAs) or author's corrections (ACs)
Changes made after composition stage where customer is responsible for additional charges.

Print applied to both sides of a sheet of paper.

That portion of the binding, which connects the front of the book with the back of the book; also called "back".

That portion of a photograph or line art drawing that appears furthest from the eye; the surface upon which the main image is superimposed.

Any type that tilts to the left or backward direction; opposite of italic type.

A term used to describe the aesthetic or harmony of elements, whether they are photos, art or copy, within a layout or design.

In an illustration, any line which encircles copy, or dialogue.

Bank paper
A thin uncoated stock used for making carbon copies.

1) The primary headline usually spanning the entire width of a page.
2) A form of signage typically in the shape of a large horizontal rectangle, teardrop, etc. Can be mounted on poles, or tied to structures. Made from various materials such as PVC vinyl or fabric.

Bas relief
A three dimensional impression is which the image stands just slightly out from the flat background.

Bible paper
A thin but strong paper (opaque), used for Bibles and books.

Binder's board
A heavy paperboard with a cloth covering that is used for hardback binding of books.

Various methods of securing folded sections together and or fastening them to a cover, to form single copies of a book.

Black Letter
An old style of typeface used in Germany in the 15th century, also referred to as Old English (US) and Gothic (UK).

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.

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.

Any enlargement of photos, copies or line art.

1) The main shank or portion of the letter character other than the ascenders and descenders.
2) A term used to define the thickness or viscosity of printer's ink.

Body copy
The body/main text of a layout (also called copy).

Body size
The point size of a particular type character.

Any type that has a heavier black stroke that makes it more conspicuous.

1) A printed work which contains more than 64 pages.
2) A weight within a font family.

A pamphlet that is bound in booklet form.

1) A term used to define the number of pages (per inch) of a book relative to its given basis weight.
2) A term given to paper to describe its thickness relative to its weight.

A boldface square or dot or other dingbat used before a line in a list.

Calendar board
A strong paperboard used for calendars and displays.

Cap line
An imaginary horizontal line running across the tops of capital letters.

Abbreviation for "capital" letters.

Caps and lower case (also known as sentence case)
The manner in which capitalisation is used within a sentence, with the first letter uppercase and subsequent letters lowercase (with exceptions of proper nouns or acronyms).

The stiff covers of a hardbound book.

Case binding
Books bound using hard board (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.

Coarse screen
Halftone screens commonly used in newsprint; up to 85 lines per inch.

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

Cold colour
Any colour that moves toward the blue side in the colour spectrum.

To gather sheets or signatures together in their correct order.

Collating marks
Black step-marks printed on the back of folded sheets, to facilitate collating and checking of the sequence of book signatures.

Colour bars
This term refers to a colour test strip, which is printed on the waste portion of a press sheet. It is a standardised (GATF-Graphic Arts Technical Foundation) process which allows a press operator 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.

Colour separations
The process of separating the primary colour components (cyan, magenta, yellow, black or spot colours) for printing.

Colour strength
A term referring to the relative amount of pigmentation in an ink.

Column gutter
Space between two or more columns of type on one page.

1) The assembly of characters into words, lines and paragraphs of text or body matter for reproduction by printing.
2) An arrangement of visual elements within a defined space.

Condensed Type
A narrow, elongated type face.

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.

Refers to any written material (in contrast to photographs or other elements)  used for the composition process.

Cover stock
A term describing a general type of paper stock used for the covers of books, pamphlets, etc.


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.

To eliminate a portion of the art, photograph or copy.

Crop mark
Marks applied to the four corners of artwork to indicate where guillotining is to occur.

Cutting die / cutting forme / die knife / die form
Sharp edged device, usually made of steel, to cut paper, cardboard, etc., on a printing press.

A shade of blue used in the four-color printing process; it reflects blue and green and absorbs red. 

An instruction given to remove an element from a layout.

An optical device used by printers and photographers to measure and control the density of colour.

1) The lay of paper fibres relative to tightness or looseness which affects the bulk, the absorbency and the finish of the paper.
2) The degree of tone, weight of darkness or colour within a photo or reproduction; measurable by the densitometer. 

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

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 forme / die knife
Refer cutting die.

Die cutting
A method of using sharp steel ruled stamps or rollers to cut various shapes (e.g. for labels, boxes, image shapes) either post press or in line. The process of cutting substrates 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 or by using a digital die cutting machine.

A fine paper made specifically for the printing of diplomas, certificates and documents.

Display type
Any type that stands out from the rest of the type on a page which attracts attention of the reader.

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.

A shadow image placed strategically behind an image to create the affect of the image lifting off the page.

1) 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.
2) 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 by using the actual paper stock of the project.

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

Duplex paper
Paper which has a different colour or finish on each side.

Elliptical dot
Halftone screens in which the dots are actually elongated to produce improved middle tones.

Em dash
A dash where the width is equal to the length of a typeface's lower case 'm'. Typically used to denote a break in a sentence.

En dash
A dash where the width is equal to the length of a typeface's lower case 'n'. Typically used to denote spans or differentiations (e.g. 1754–1763 or 7:30 pm–8:00 pm).

A method of paper finishing whereby a pattern is pressed into the paper when it is dry.

To raise in relief a design or letters already printed on card stock or heavy paper by an uninked block or die.

A printing process whereby images such as copy or art are etched onto a plate. When ink is applied, these etched areas act as small wells to hold the ink; paper is forced against this die and the ink is lifted out of the etched areas creating raised images on the paper.

One who computes or approximates the cost of work to be done.

Expanded type
Type with width greater than normal.

Fan fold
Paper folding that emulates an accordion or fan, the folds being alternating and parallel. 

Fat face
Type that is quite varied in its use of very thin and very wide strokes.

Felt finish
The smoother side of paper, usually a soft weave pattern used for book papers.

The surface quality of paper.

The application of pigment or metallic foil to paper where a heated die is stamped onto the foil, making it adhere to the surface.

Papers that have a surface resembling metal.

Fold marks
Markings at top edges of a layout that show where folds should occur.

Machine used to fold signatures down into sections.

Folio or page number
Number of page within a booklet, magazine or book.

The characters which make up a complete typeface and size.

Different jobs arranged and positioned to be printed together on the same sheet of paper, often saving money for the client.

1) Image which appears as a lighter area on a subsequent print due to local blanket depressions from previous image areas on a letterpress rotary machine as well as on an offset press.
2) Deliberate design technique where graphic elements are lightened or made transparent for visual effect.

Sticking gold leaf to edges of books with a liquid agent and made permanent with burnishing tools.

Gloss ink
Quick drying oil based inks with low penetration qualities, used on coated stock.

Graduated screen / gradient / vignette
An area of image where halftone dots range continuously from one density to another. Colour fade in which the tones fade gradually away until they blend with the surface they are printed on.

Direction of fibres in a sheet of paper governing paper properties such as increased size changes with relative humidity, across the grain, and better folding properties along the grain.

An intaglio or recessed printing process. The recessed areas are like wells that form the image as paper passes through. It is used where fine, detailed reproduction is required (e.g. fine art) or high volume printing (e.g. packaging, wallpaper and gift wrap).

A series of metal fingers that hold each sheet of paper as it passes through the various stages of the printing process.

Gripper edge
The grippers of the printing press move the paper through the press by holding onto the leading edge of the sheet; this edge is the gripper edge.

Space between pages in the printing frame of a book, or inside margin towards the back or binding edge. The blank space or margin between the type page and the binding of a book.

Tone graduated image composed of varying sized dots or lines, with equidistant centres. 

Head margin
That space which lies between the top of the printed copy and the trimmed edge.

High bulk paper
Paper stock that is comparatively thick in relation to its basis weight.

Highlight dot
The highest density of a halftone image.

The lightest tones of a photo, printed halftone or illustration. In the finished halftone, these highlights are represented by the finest dots.

Inside back cover.

Inside front cover.

Image area
1) That portion of the printing plate that carries the ink and prints on paper.
2) In advertising specifications the "safe area" in which all essential page elements should be located.

Arrangement of pages so that they print correctly on a press sheet, and the pages are in proper order when the sheets are folded.

Product resulting from one cycle of printing machine. The pressure of the image carrier, whether it be the type, plate or blanket, when it contacts the paper.

Extra printed pages inserted loosely into printed pieces.

Text that is used to denote emphasis by slanting the type body forward.

The paper cover sometimes called the "dust cover" of a hardbound book.

Job number
A number assigned to a printing project used for record keeping and job tracking. 

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

Key plate
The printing plate that is used as a guide for the other plates in the colour printing process; it usually has the most detail.

Kiss cut
To die cut but not all the way through the paper, commonly used for peel off stickers.

Kiss impression
A delicate printed impression, just heavy enough to be seen.

A coarse unbleached paper used for printing and industrial products.

A clear gloss coating applied to printed material for strength, appearance and protection.

Laid finish
A parallel lined paper that has a handmade look.

Lay edge
Edge of a sheet of paper being fed into a printing press.

One of a number of folds (each containing two pages) which comprises a book or manuscript.

Ledger paper
A stiff heavy business paper generally used for keeping records.

Printing that utilises inked raised surfaces to create the image.

The space between typeset letters.

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

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

M weight
The actual weight of 1000 sheets of any given size of paper.

Machine coated
Paper that has had a coating applied to either one or two of its sides during the papermaking process.

Imprinted space around edge of page.

To write up instructions or alterations, as on a dummy or proof.

Matte finish
A coated paper finish that goes through minimal calendaring. 

Moire (or rosette pattern)
An undesirable halftone pattern produced by the incorrect angles of overprinting halftone screens.

A light, low cost groundwood paper made especially for newspapers. 

Outside back cover.

Outside front cover.

The most commonly used printing method, whereby the printed material does not receive the ink directly from the printing plate but from an intermediary cylinder called a blanket which receives the ink from the plate and transfers it to the paper.

Offset gravure
A complex offset process involving multiple transfers between the gravure plate, the plate cylinder and a solid rubber plate.

Offset paper
A term for uncoated book paper.

1) Quality of papers that defines its opaqueness or ability to prevent two-sided printing from showing through.
2) In design also known as "transparency".

A quality of paper that allows relatively little light to pass through.

Opaque ink
Ink that completely covers any ink under itself.

A paragraph-opening line that appears by itself at the bottom of a page or column. A word, or part of a word, or very short line that appears by itself at the end of a paragraph.

Over run
Surplus of copies printed. 

Any printing that is done on an area that has already been printed. 

Type that is set in excess of the allotted space.

One side of a leaf.

Page proofs
Proofs made up from pages.

A hard finished paper that emulates animal skin; used for documents, such as awards.


Perf / perforation marks
Markings usually dotted lines at edges showing where perforations should occur.

A term used to describe the binding process where the signatures of a book are held together by a flexible adhesive. 

Perfect Binding
Binding process where backs of sections are cut off, roughened and glued together, and rung in a cover. Spine is usually flat.

Printing both sides of the paper (or other material) on the same pass through the printing machine.

Punching small holes or slits in a sheet of paper or cardboard to facilitate tearing along a desired line.

Standard of measurement, 1/6 inch. 1 pica = 12 points 72 points = 1 inch

A thin paper or metal sheet that carries the image to be printed and is applied directly to paper or to an intermediate image carrier (such as a print blanket), in order to transfer the image to paper. The image may be raised above the surface (relief), carved or etched into the surface or may be flush with the surface.

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

A measurement unit equal to 1/72 of an inch. 12 points to a pica, 72 points to an inch.

Pixels per inch. 

Process inks
Printing inks of yellow, magenta, cyan, and black, which are printed, one over another in that order, to obtain a coloured print with the desired hues, whites, blacks, and grays.

Ragged left
The term given to right-justified type that is uneven on the left. 

Ragged right
The term given to left-justified type that is uneven on the right.

500 sheets of paper.

The odd numbered pages (right hand side) of books.

The arrangement of two or more images in exact alignment with each other.

Register / registration marks
Any crossmarks or other symbols used on layout to assure proper registration.

Right angle fold
A term that denotes folds that are 90 degrees to each other.

A web press printing process where the roll of paper is printed and stored on a roll to be shipped.

Saddle stitching
Stitching where the wire staples pass through the spine from the outside and are clinched in the center. Only used with folded sections, either single sections or two or more sections inset to form a single section.

Satin finish
A smooth-finished paper with sheen.

The enlargement or reduction of an image or copy to fit a specific area.

Impressions or cuts in flat material to facilitate bending or tearing.

Screen Angles
The placement of halftone screens to avoid unwanted moire patterns. Frequently used angles are black 45˚, magenta 75˚, yellow 90˚, and cyan 105˚.

Screen ruling
A measurement equaling the number of lines or dots per inch on a halftone screen.

Sentence case
Refer Caps and lowercase

A problem that occurs when the printing on one side of a sheet is seen from the other side. 

Side stitching
Stitching where the wire staples pass through the pile of sections or leaves gathered upon each other and are clinched on the underside. 

Signature (section)
Printed sheet (or its flat) that consists of a number of pages of a book, placed so that they will fold and bind together as a section of a book. The printed sheet after folding.

Back edge of a book.

Spiral bind
A binding whereby a wire or plastic is spiralled through holes punched along the binding side. 

Spot colour
Colour generated without screens or dots, such as those found in the Pantone Matching System.

Two facing pages viewed at the same time.

Step and repeat
A process of generating multiple copies of a graphic element into rows and/or columns using pre-determined x and y values.

A proofreader's symbol that is usually written in the copy margin, that indicates that the copy (or graphic change), which was marked for correction, should be left as it was.

A term for unprinted paper or other material to be printed.

A high quality printing paper.

Title case
The capitalisation of text in which the first letter of each major word is set in capital letters.

Inks that do not block out the coloured inks that they print over, but instead blend with them to create intermediate colours.

Refer Opacity.

Adding a slight overlap between adjacent areas of colour to avoid gaps caused by mis-registration.

Trim Marks
Marks placed on the sheet to indicate where to cut the page.

Papers that are not smoothed by going through the calendaring process.

A term used to describe how many of the same job/pages/artwork can be produced on a larger sheet; two up, four up, etc. 

A clear shiny ink used to add gloss to printed pieces. The primary component of the ink vehicle.

A finish of paper that is rough, bulky and has a degree of tooth.

A term given to the left-hand or even-numbered pages of a book.

Refer graduated screen / gradient / vignette

An abbreviation for work and back. 

An abbreviation for work and turn.

A translucent logo that is embossed during the paper-making process while the paper slurry is on the dandy roll. 

The roll of paper that is used in web or rotary printing.

Web press
Cylinder printing machine in which the paper is fed from a continuous reel, as opposed to sheet fed.

White space
Large white areas in a design layout.

A paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page or column.

Writing paper
Another name for bond paper.



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