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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A dampening system for printing presses which utilizes more alcohol (25%) and less water; this greatly reduces the amount of paper that is spoiled.


An essential part of the printing process whereby cloth covered rubber rollers distributes the dampening solution to the plate.

Dandy Roll

During the paper making process while the paper is still 90% water, it passes over a wire mesh cylinder (dandy roll), which imparts surface textures on the paper such as wove or laid. This is also the stage where the watermark is put onto the paper.

Dark Spot

An area containing a greater amount of pigment due to a "pooling" effect created by a depression in the substrate.


A horizontal line used as a type character. Dashes are characterized by weight, design, width of image and allotted space, and vertical position. (e.g., the em and en dashes).

Data Compression

A technique to shrink or reduce the size of a data file so it takes up less storage space and is faster to move electronically. Compression is accomplished by removing "blank" spaces and repetitive data and using a mathematical formula to replace them. A compressed file is decompressed before it is used. Other Term: compression.

Data Conversion

Changing digital data from one format to another so it can be used in another software application or printed on a specific output device. (e.g., CMYK to RGB, TIF to GIF, MS Word to Postscript, etc.).

Data File

Line art, photographs, text and other graphic elements that are maintained as an electronic group.

Dead Matter

Typeset text or graphics that will not be reused.


Pressing an image or texture into a substrate. See also: embossing.


Deca, or deka, is an SI prefix in the SI system of units denoting 101 or 10 (e.g. 1 decameter = 10 meters, 1 decaliter = 10 liters).
It was adopted in France in 1795 and internationally by 1960. Deca comes from the Greek word δέκα meaning ten.
   - In calendars a decade is a period of ten years.
   - In electromechanical equipment a decade is a group of ten numbers on a switch or indicator, which may represent units, tens, hundreds, etc.
   - A Decapod is a ten-legged creature. One kind of decapod is the lobster (a kind of arthropod of the order decapoda), another is the cuttlefish (a kind of cephalopod).
   - A decagon is a polygon with 10 sides.
Abbreviation: da


Deci is an SI prefix in the SI system of units denoting 10-1 or 1/10.
Adopted in 1795, the prefix comes from the Latin decimus, meaning tenth.
Abbreviation: d

Deckle Edge

The rough or feathered edge of paper when left untrimmed.


To take a digitally compressed data file and return it to it's original state.

Deep Etching

The etching or removal of any unwanted areas of a plate to create more air or white space on the finished product.


The sharpness or clarity of an image. The resolution of a digital image.


"Fade" in French. A halftone image where the dot size gradually changes from small to large. See also: vignette.


A mark made by a proofreader to remove an element from a layout. The material so marked will be removed or excised.

Demand Printing

Printing only the amount of material that is needed immediately, rather than printing and storing large quantities from which small quantities are drawn from time to time. Demand printing frequently uses digital printing presses. The higher cost of printing on demand is offset by the savings resulting from eliminated storage and waste costs since large quantities do not need to be stored and out of date stock thrown away. An added benefit of demand printing is the ability to make changes in the printed material more frequently. Other Term: on-demand printing.


A term that describes a standard sized printing paper measuring 17.5 x 22.5 in.


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


1. The lay of paper fibers 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 color within a photo or reproduction; measurable by the densitometer. Reference, densitometer.

Desaturated Color

A color that appears too light, faded, or whitewashed.


In typography, a descender is the portion of a letter in a Latin-derived alphabet that extends below the base line of a font.

For example, in the letter y, the descender would be the "tail," or the portion of the diagonal line which lies below the v created by the two lines converging.

In most fonts, descenders are reserved for lowercase characters such as g, p, and y. Some fonts, however, also use descenders for some numerals (typically 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9). Such numerals are called old-style numerals. Some italic fonts, such as Computer Modern italic, put a descender on the numeral 4 but not on any other numerals. Such fonts are not considered old-style. Some fonts also use descenders for the tails on a few uppercase letters such as J and Q.


A light sensitive coal tar product used as a coating on presensitized plates, as well as overlay proofs.


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 Cutting

A method of using sharp steel ruled stamps or rollers to cut various shapes (e.g. labels, boxes, image shapes), either post press or in line. The process of cutting paper in a shape or design using a wooden die or block in which are positioned steel rules in the shape of the desired pattern.

Die Stamping

An intaglio process for printing from images engraved into copper or steel plates.


The on/off signals that represent information within computerized systems.

Digital Asset Management

A computer software and/or hardware system which archives, tracks and manages digital page elements (including but not limited to text, graphic, and photo images, pages, templates, line art, logos, finished layouts, PDFs, and more recently, video and audio clips). Digital Asset Management systems allow users to quickly recall these elements for re-use in new jobs, saving the production time of recreating them. Though some would argue that a plain paper job jacket is a form of Digital Asset Management, in the last 10 years, Digital Asset Management has been referenced as a digital software and/or hardware solution.

  • Abbreviation: DAM

Digital Proof

Color separation data is digitally stored and then exposed to color photographic paper creating a picture of the final product before it is printed.

Digital Subscriber Line

Digital Subscriber Line, or DSL, is a family of technologies that provide a digital connection over the copper wires of the local telephone network. Its origin dates back to 1988, when an engineer at Bell Labs devised a way to carry a digital signal over the unused frequency spectrum. This allows an ordinary phone line to provide digital communication without blocking access to voice services. Bell's management, however, were not enthusiastic about it, as it was not as profitable as renting out a second line for those consumers who preferred to still have access to the phone when dialing out. This changed in the late 1990s when cable companies started marketing broadband Internet access. Realizing that most consumers would prefer broadband Internet to a second dial out line, Bell companies rushed out the DSL technology that they had been sitting on for the past decade as an attempt to slow broadband Internet access uptake, to win market share against the cable companies.

As of 2005, DSL provides the principal competition to cable modems for providing high speed Internet access to home consumers in Europe and North America; although on average, cable is much faster than DSL in most commercial situations. Older ADSL standards could deliver 8 Mb/s over about one mile of copper wire. The latest standard ADSL2+ can deliver over 20 Mb/s per user over similar distances. However many copper lines are longer than one mile reducing the amount of bandwidth that can be transmitted. Modern cable systems, on the other hand, can provide 30 Mb/s downstream, but this bandwidth is shared between all the users on the cable segment (which could be 100-200 households).

Dimensional stability

The qualities of paper to stabilize its original size when undergoing pressure or exposed to moisture.


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

Direct Screen Halftone

A color separation process using a halftone negative made by direct contact with the halftone screen.

Display Type

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

Distribution Rollers

In the printing process, the rubber coated rollers responsible for the distribution of ink from the fountain to the ink drum.


1. 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. See also: anti-aliasing. 2. A printing method used by ink jet and other nonimpact printers where colors are produced by mixing colored dots in a more randomized visual pattern.

Doctor Blade

A term in gravure printing which refers to the knife-edge that runs along the printing cylinder; its function is to wipe the excess ink away from the non-printing areas.

Dog Ear

Occurs when you fold into a fold (such as a letter fold). At the side of one of the creases you get an indentation. It may look like a small inverted triangle.


The smallest individual element of a halftone.

Dot Gain

A condition where the size of a halftone dot is increased during the printing process. Frequently caused by ink spreading due to low viscosity or by paper absorbtion. Other terms: dot spread; ink spread.

Dot Spread

See: dot gain; ink spread.

Dots Per Inch

Dots per inch is a measure of printing resolution, in particular the number of individual dots of ink a printer or toner can produce within a linear one-inch space.
Abbreviation: DPI
See Also: Pixels Per Inch


A method used by ink makers to determine the color, quality and tone of ink. It entails the drawing of a spatula over a drop of ink, spreading it flat over the paper.


A term that describes any additives to ink which encourages the drying process.


The actual drilling of holes into paper for ring or comb binding.

Drop Folio

Page number printed at foot of page.

Drop Shadow

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


See knockout.

Dry Mount

Pasting with heat sensitive adhesives.

Dry Offset

  1. A printing method where the areas to be inked are higher than the non-printing areas. The inked areas are then placed in contact with a rubber surface which in turn transfers the ink to the material to be printed. This process eliminates the use of water as required in the lithographic process. A similar technique is used with rubber stamps.
  2. Process in which a metal plate is etched to a depth of 0.15 mm (0.006 in), making a right-reading relief plate, printed on the offset blanket and then to the paper without the use of water.

Ductor Roller

The roller between the inking and the dampening rollers.

Dull Finish

Any matte finished paper.


A term used to describe the preliminary assemblage of copy and art elements to be reproduced in the desired finished product.

Dummy Model

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 of the book as a guide for the size and position of elements on the jacket.


See duotone.


1. A two color print created from a one color image. Two halftones are created and each printed in a different color. Typically one of the two colors is black. 2. Color reproduction from monochrome original. Keyplate usually printed in dark color for detail, second plate printed in light flat tints. A two-color halftone reproduction generated from a one-color photo. Other term: duograph.

Duplex Paper

Paper which has a different color or finish on each side.


Any deckle edged paper, originally produced in the Netherlands. Reference, deckle edge

Dye Sublimation

A photographic looking color print created by heating dyes on the substrate instead of using inks. Often used for proofing.

Dye-Based Ink

Any ink that acquires its color by the use of aniline pigments or dyes. Reference, aniline


A trademark for Du Pont's photosensitive polymer paper. A dry color proof is created using this paper.

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