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Ever wondered what a Pica or Tiff is? Here are some printing terms and their definitions


Making your web content accessable to all users, especially individuals with disabilities.

Against the Grain
At right angles to the grain direction of the paper being used, as opposed to with the grain.

AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) provides a way to use JavaScript and XML to enhance interactivity in web pages.

Alt Tag
An alt tag is used to specify alternate text for an image on a web page. This is visible in the website code. Alt text helps with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Anodized Plate
An offset printing plate having a treated surface to reduce wear and extend its life.

Anti-offset Powder
Fine powder lightly sprayed over the printed surface of coated paper as sheets leave a press.

Antique Paper
Rough finished offset paper.

The Apache HTTP server is an open source Web server. It is compatible with Unix systems as well as Microsoft Windows, Novell NetWare and others. It has a Graphical User Interface (GUI) for easier configuration. Development is carried out by the Apache Software Foundation.

Aqueous Coating
Water base coating applied like ink by a printing press to protect and enhance the printing.

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

ASP (Active Server Pages) is a Windows-based server-side scripting language used for creating dynamic content.

Joining leafs or signatures together with either wire, glue or other means.

A department within a printing company responsible for collating, folding and trimming various publications after printing.

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.

Printing that extends past the trim to avoid a white edge.

Short for "web log". A web page that serves as a personal journal (or log) and is ususally publicly accessible.

The main text of a publication not including headings.

Term used to describe how a web browser can store frequently used web site addresses so you can return at a later date without having to re-type the full address.

Boolean Logic
Combining search terms using "operators" such as "AND," "OR," "AND NOT" when using a search engine such as Google. AND requires all terms appear in a record. OR retrieves records with either term. AND NOT excludes terms.

A navigational element at or near the top of a web page showing the path from the homepage to the current page. Each element is linked to the corresponding page as a shortcut to navigate back along the path.

Burst Perfect Bind
To bind by forcing glue into notches along the spines of gathered signatures before attaching a cover. Also called burst bind.

A CAPTCHA is field in a web form, designed to differentiate between users and bots. Typically a CAPTCHA consist of an image containing letters that are difficult to read. The user must then enter those letters into a text box on the form. The goal is to reduce form spam by making the letters unreadable to bots, but readable to humans.

Technique of slightly reducing the size of an image to create a hairline trap to help with registration.

Clipping Path
An outline, embedded into an image, that tells which areas of a picture are transparent.

Abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black), the four process colors.

Coated Paper
Paper with a coating of clay and other substances to improve reflectivity and ink holdout.

Colour separation
A continuous tone colour image separated into the four process colours (CMYK) for print production.

Content Management System (CMS)
A content management system (CMS) offers a way to edit the content of a web site from within a browser-based interface, without any programming knowledge.

A cookie is a small text file that a web site saves on a user's computer to store information about that user. When a user returns to the same web site, the cookie is retreived to access the information. They are useful for saving bits of information like user preferences.

A rule pressed into heavy paper or board so it can be folded without cracking.

When middle pages of a folded section extend slightly beyond the outside pages.

Crop Marks
Lines near the margins of artwork or photos indicating where to trim, perforate or fold.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) is a style sheet language that controls the look of a web page.

Abbreviation of computer-to-plate; a process of transfering an image directly from a computer onto the printing plate.


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

Die Cutting
Process of using sharp metal rules on a wooden block to cut out specialised shapes such as presentation folders

Dot Gain
When dots print larger than intended, causing darker colours, due to the spreading of ink on the paper. The more absorbent the stock, the more dot gain.

Dots per inch. The more dots per inch, the higher the resolution and quality of an image.

To colour a grayscale (mono) image using two colours.

Include an image or graphic element in a file as opposed to linking to it externally

Stamp a raised (or depressed) image into the surface of paper after printing, using engraved metal embossing dies, pressure and heat. Includes blind, deboss and foil-embossing.

Stands for Encapsulated PostScript, a generic computer file format used by the printing and graphics industries.

Foil Emboss
To foil stamp and emboss an image.

Folio (page number)
The actual page number in a publication.

Fountain Solution
Liquid the stops ink from adhering to the nonimage area of a printing plate.

Shades of grey ranging from black to white

Paper weight is measured in grams per square metre

The inside margins toward the back or the binding edges of a publication

Heat-set Web
Printing press equipped with an oven to dry the ink for printing on coated paper.

High-key Photo
Photo that has the most detail in the highlights.

Lightest parts of a photograph as compared to midtones and shadows.

Stands for hue, lightness, saturation. One of the color-control options often found in design software.

A specific color such as yellow or green (independent of lightness or intensity).


Arrangement of pages on a printed sheet so they will appear in the correct order after being folded and bound.

One impression is one press sheet passing once through a printing unit.

Ink Fountain
Holds ink on a printing press .

An additional item (such as a flyer) positioned loosely into a publication (not bound in).

International Standard Book Number. A number assigned to a published work.

A thin transparent plastic sheet applied to stock (covers, post cards, etc.) using heat and pressure, providing a glossy, protective finish.

Style in which width is greater than height.

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

Amount of space between lines of type.

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

Letter Paper
North America, 8 1/2' x 11' sheets. (215.9 × 279.4 mm)

Printing from raised surfaces, either metal type or etched plates.

Line Art
A high-contrast image, including type, which is made up of solid black and white.

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

Small stand with a magnifying lens. Used to inspect copy, film, proofs, plates and printing.

Low Key Photo
Photo that has most details in the shadows.

Space around the edge of the a printed page.

Matte Finish
Finish on photographic paper or coated printing paper that is flat (not glossy).

Metallic Ink
Ink containing powdered metal that simulate metal.

Tones between 30 percent and 70 percent of coverage in a photograph or illustration, as compared to highlights and shadows

A pattern that occurs in the printing process when two, or more, repeating patterns overlap each other.


Signatures of a publication assembled inside one another for binding.

Neutral Gray
Gray with no hue or cast

News Print
Paper used in printing newspapers. Low quality and for short life use.

Newton Ring
Flaw in a photograph or transparency that looks similar to oil on water.

Offset Printing
Printing press that transfers ink from a plate to a blanket, then to paper.

Ink or paper that prevents transparency

Over Run
Additional printed material over the ordered quantity.

To print on a previously printed image.

One side of a leaf in a publication.

Page Count
Total number of pages in a publication.

The numbering of pages in a book.

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

Perfect Bind
To bind sheets that have been ground at the spine and are held to the cover by glue.

Making a line of small dotted holes so part of it can be easily and neatly torn off.

A unit of measure in the printing industry. A pica is approximately 0.166 in. (4.2mm) There are 12 points to a pica.

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

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

Stands for Pantone Matching System. The Pantone color matching system is the most popular method for specifying spot colors for printing (not using CMYK process colours).

Paper thickness equal to 1/1000 inch. In type, a unit of measure equaling 1/12 pica and .013875 inch (.351mm).

Style where the height is greater than the width. (Opposite of Landscape.)

Post Bind
To bind a publication using a screw and post inserted through a hole in a stack of loose sheets.

Press Proof
Proof made on the press using the plates, ink and paper specified for the job.

Printer Spreads
Pages in a publication made so they are imposed for printing, as compared to reader spreads.

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

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

Process Color (Inks)
The colors used for four-color process printing: yellow, magenta, cyan and black. Abbreviated to CMYK.

Raster Image Processor (RIP)
Device that translates page description commands into bitmapped information for an output device such as a laser printer or imagesetter.

Reader Spread
Two page spreads as readers would see the pages, as compared to printer spread.

500 sheets of paper.

Recycled Paper
New paper made from old paper.

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

All the inks printed on a job are lined up correctly to produce a sharp image

Register Marks
Cross-hair lines that help keep printing in register.

The number of pixels an image contains. The higher the resolution, the sharper the image will be.

Abbreviation for red, green, blue, the additive color primaries

Line used as a graphic element to separate copy.


Saddle Stitch
To bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine.

Satin Finish
Dull finish on coated paper. Between matte and gloss.

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

Electronic device used to scan an image.

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

Screen Angles
Angles at which screens are printed. 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 a mesh stencil.

Screen Ruling
Number of rows or lines of dots per inch or centimeter in a screen for making a screen tint or halftone.

Self Cover
A publication that doesn't use separate cover stock. A publication only using text stock throughout.

Usually in the four-color process arena, separate film holding qimages of one specific color per piece of film. Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Can also separate specific PMS colors through film.

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.

Allowance, made during imposition, to compensate for creep.

Printed sheet folded to become part of a publication.

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.

To slightly enlarge the size of an image to accomplish a hairline trap with another image.

Subtractive Color
Color produced by light reflected from a surface, as compared to additive color. Subtractive color includes hues in color photos and colors created by inks on paper.

Abbreviation for specifications for web offset publications.

Publication size. 11 x 17 inches. Half of a broadsheet.

Tagged Image File Format. Computer file format used to store images.

Positive photographic image on film. Also called chrome, color transparency and tranny.

Trim Size
The finished size of a publication

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

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

Undercolor Removal
Color separations where cyan, magenta and yellow ink is reduced in midtone and shadow areas and the amount of black is increased to compensate. Abbreviated UCR.

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

Web Gain
Paper stretching as it passes through the press.

Web Press
Press that prints from rolls of paper, usually cutting it into sheets after printing.

With the Grain
Parallel to the grain direction of the paper being used, as opposed to against the grain.