Glossary of Terms

Like any industry, ours uses a variety of terms. If you want to find out what they mean, you are in the right place! Simply click on a letter to see its list of terms. If the term you are looking for isn't listed in our glossary feel free to contact us so that we may help you as well as add it to our list.

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Abrasion Resistance

A material's ability to resist deterioration or destruction by rubbing.


A material's ability to take up liquids or vapors (e.g. water).

Accordion Fold

A pair or more of parallel folds forming alternating peaks and valleys. The result resembles an accordion bellows.

Acetate Base

A transparent or translucent plastic sheet material of a variety of colors, used as a basis for artwork and overlays. Also used as a stripping base.


No color or hue (black, white, and grey).

Acid Resist

An acid-proof protective coating applied to metal plates prior to etching designs thereon. Bichromated solutions employed in photoengraving as sensitizers provide acid resist through the action of light on sensitized surface.

Acid-free Paper

Acid-free paper is paper that has a neutral or basic pH (7 or greater), although paper having a pH between 6 and 7 is often also considered acid-free. During production, it is treated with a mild base to neutralize the natural acids occurring in wood pulp, and it may also be buffered to prevent the formation of additional acids (as may develop from the application of sizing). Acid-free paper is often used in books and other paper products intended to last for a long time. Paper that has not had its acidity neutralized (such as newsprint) quickly yellows and deteriorates.


A water-soluble polymer used in paints to make them dry both tough and flexible.

Acrylic Ink

A polymer ink with exceptional flexibility and durability; suitable for exterior applications.

Actinic Rays

Light exposure that affects chemical changes in paper.


The sharpness of a printed shape's edge against its background.

Additive Color Process

The additive color process usually uses red, green and blue light to produce the other colors. Combining one of these additive primary colors with another in equal amounts produces the subtractive primary colors; cyan, magenta, and yellow. Combining all three primary lights (colors) in equal intensities produces white. Varying the luminosity of each light (color) eventually reveals the full gamut of those 3 lights (colors). (e.g. Color Computer Monitor, Television)

Additive Primary Colors

The colors red, green, and blue.


Substances added to ink that promote abrasion resistance, block resistance, pinholing resistance, adhesion, slip and film flexibility.


Sticking two surfaces together by chemical or mechanical means.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a graphics editor (with some text and vector graphics capabilities) developed and published by Adobe Systems. It is the market leader for commercial bitmap image manipulation, and probably the most well-known piece of software produced by Adobe Systems. It is usually referred to simply as "Photoshop". As with most of Adobe's other applications, Photoshop is available for Mac OS and Microsoft Windows; versions up to Photoshop 7 can also be used with operating systems such as Linux using software such as CrossOver Office. Past versions of the program were ported to the SGI IRIX platform, but official support for this port was dropped after version 3. For more information on the versions of Photoshop and other Adobe software released, see this support article written by Nick Crockett, our CIO / Systems Administrator.


This refers to a manual process whereby an air stream is blown onto paper sheets to create a riffling effect that separates the sheets as they are fed to the printing press.


  1. A type size of 5 1/2 points.
  2. A kind of type, larger than pearl and smaller than nonpareil; in England called a ruby character.

See Also: Agate Line

Agate Line

In newspaper classifieds, a measurement denoting 1/4 inch depth by one column width. 14 agate lines = one column inch.


Large white areas in a design layout.


A compressed air tool that dispenses a fine mist of paint or ink; used in illustration and photo retouching. Airbrushing has long been used to alter photographs in the pre-digital era. In skilled hands it can be used to help hide signs that an image has been extensively retouched or "doctored". Using today's digital imaging technology, this kind of picture editing is now usually done with a bitmap graphics editor, which is capable of even more subtle work in the hands of a skilled touch-up artist. This technique is called photoshopping.

Albion Press

A hand operated printing press made of iron.

Album Paper

A wood pulp paper with an antique finish used for pages of photo albums.

Albumen Plate

A surface plate used in the lithography process; it has a photosensitive coating.

Albumin Paper

A coated paper used in photography; the coating is made of albumen (egg whites) and ammonium chloride.


  1. The condition of type and or art materials as they level up on a horizontal or vertical line.
  2. Positioning type characters along a horizontal line.
  3. In typesetting lines of text or images can be aligned left, right, center or justified.

See Also: Justification, Left Justification, Center Justification, Right Justification, Flush Left, Flush Right, Ragged Left, Ragged Right, Word Spacing

Alkali Blue

A pigment used in carbon black inks and varnishes to improve luster.

  • Alternative Term: Reflex Blue


A term for a random, coincidental path or a row of white space within a segment of copy.

Alphabet Length

The measured length (in points) of the lowercase alphabet of a certain size and series of type.


Red-orange acetate used for masking mechanicals when photographing for plates. The amberlith area appears black to the camera, and prints clear on the resulting film.

American Paper Institute

An organization that correlates all paper related information.


Like an image composed of black, white and all shades of gray, an analog electrical signal can be on, off, or everything in between.

Angle Bar

In "web-fed" printing (printing on rolls of paper as opposed to single sheets), an angle bar is a metal bar that is used to turn paper between two components of the press.


Oil-based solvent (quick drying) used in the preparation process of dye-based inks.

Aniline Printing

Animal Sized

A technique of paper making which hardens the surface by passing the paper through a bath of animal glue or gelatin.

Anodized Plate

In lithography, a plate manufactured with a barrier of aluminum oxide, which prevents chemical reactions that break down the plate; it provides optimum press performance.


The process of averaging between pixels of different colors. In practice, the result is a smoother, blended transition between the edge of two areas rather than a distinctly jagged or 'stair-step' appearance.


An eleventh century Italian script typeface.


A handmade paper (53 x 31 inches), largest known handmade paper.

Antique Finish

Paper with an off-white cream color or rough texture used for book and cover stock.

Antiskinning Agent

An antioxidant agent used to prevent inks from skinning over in the can.


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

Aqua Tint

A printing process that uses the recessed areas of the plate; ideal for graded and even tones.


The hand application of color, through stencils onto a printed picture.

Aqueous Plate

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

Arc Light

A light source produced by the passing of electric current between two electrodes; used in the production of plates in photolithography.


Those elements of letters that branch out from the stem of a letter, (e.g. K and Y).

Array Processor

A special high speed computer capable of performing the large, complex calculations required to process images.


A symbol shaped like an arrowhead that is used in illustrations to direct a leader line.

Art Paper

A paper evenly coated with a fine clay compound to produce a smooth, hard surface on one or both sides. Often used for printing halftones.

Art Work

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.


All illustrated material, ornamentation, photos and charts etc., that is prepared for reproduction.

As To Press

In gravure printing, (recessed areas of plate hold ink), a term used for proofs showing the final position of color images.


In typography, an ascender is the portion of a letter in a Latin-derived alphabet that extends above the midline of a font. That is, the part of the letter that is taller than the font's x-height (e.g. d, b, or h).

Assembled Negative

Film negatives consisting of line and halftone copy which are used to make plates for printing.

Assembled View

In illustration, a term used to describe a view of a drawing in its assembled or whole format.


Gathering all the component pages of a book, manual, or kit and ordering them in the correct sequence for binding or kit assembly.

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is a form of DSL, a data communications technology that enables faster data transmission over copper telephone lines than a conventional modem can provide. ADSL has the distinguishing characteristic that the data can flow faster in one direction than the other (i.e. asymmetrically). Providers usually market ADSL as a service for people to connect to the Internet in a relatively passive mode: able to use the higher speed direction for the "download" from the Internet but not needing to run servers that would require bandwidth in the other direction or "upload".


Atto is an SI prefix in the SI system of units denoting 10-18 or one quintillionth (e.g. one attosecond, one attometer).

Adopted in 1964, it comes from the Danish atten, meaning eighteen.

  • Abbreviation: a

Author's Alterations

Changes made after the composition stage, where the customer is responsible for additional charges.

  • Abbreviation: AA

Autochrome Paper

Coated papers that are regarded as exceptional for multi-colored printing jobs.


A printing method whereby the image is hand drawn or etched directly onto lithography plates or stones.


  1. Photographic film or other materials that produce a visually equivalent image to the original. A photocopy produces a similar effect.
  2. Any photo materials which provide positive images without a negative.


The light blue color used in the nomenclature of "laid" and "wove" papers.

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