What follows are some of the more commonly used terms in desktop publishing and printing. We'll be adding to this glossary regularly. To make it easier to find the word you’re looking for, use the alphabetic links below to head straight to that part of the Glossary. If the term you’re looking for isn't there, send us an email.
Aliasing: Refers to the jagged appearance of diagonal and curved lines in a bit-mapped image.
Anti-Aliasing: A software process to smooth out the jagged appearance of lines in a bit-mapped image.
Ascender: The portion of a lower case character which lies above its x-height.
Baseline: The invisible line that a character of type rests upon.
Bit-Mapped Graphics: Objects (often scanned) that are made up of bits (pixels) or dots are called bit-mapped (also called raster images). The more common bit-mapped formats are TIF, PCX, GIF, and JPG.
Bleed: Describes a printing effect where a graphic element or text extends beyond the edge of a page. A full bleed means the printed elements will extend beyond all four edges of the page.
Bleed Through: When paper is too thin, the image printed on the back may be visible on the front.
Bullets: Varying sized dots or other images used to highlight items on a list.
Busy: An ad containing too much information or too many graphic elements, and not properly balanced.
Calligraphic: A distinctive typestyle that mimics the artistic handwriting (calligraphy) created by using special pen nibs, often with varying thicknesses of the strokes. The word calligraphy comes from the Greek word kalligraphia, which means “beautiful writing”.
Camera-Ready Copy: The final artwork used by the printer for creation of the final film and plates.
Clip Art: Graphics used to illustrate copy or break up large bodies of text.
Condensed Type: A type face designed to be thin and narrow. These are often used in headlines as they allow room for more information.
Crop: The removal of certain portions of an illustration, a photograph, or other similar type of graphic element. This may be done to better fit the image into the final design, or to remove any unwanted or unneeded graphic element.
Dash: A keyboard character resembling a hyphen but longer. See Em Dash and En Dash.
Decorative Type (Novelty Type): Unique typefaces designed to draw attention, usually in headlines.
Descenders: The portion of a lowercase characters which lies below the baseline.
Desktop Publishing (DTP): A term usually used to describe the creation of printed documents using a desktop computer. These may be printed directly from the computer using a laser printer, or sent to a service bureau for higher quality output.
Diphthong: A single character combining two vowels.
Display Type: Large, bold fonts often used to command attention.
Dithering: A process which gives the illusion of varying shades of gray or shades of color.
DPI (Dots Per Inch): A measurement of resolution. A printer can print a certain number of dots per inch horizontally and vertically. A 600dpi printer prints 360,000 (600 by 600) dots on one square inch of paper. Scanners also scan at a certain dpi. The higher the dpi number, the better the resolution.
Drop Cap: The initial character of a paragraph that is enlarged so the top of the letter is even with or slightly above the first line and the balance of the letter drops into the body of the paragraph, usually by three lines. This design element should be used sparingly, preferably for the initial paragraph of an article only.
Electronic Publishing: Not to be confused with Desktop Publishing, this term refers to documents created by a computer but are meant to be read by electronic means such as web pages.
Ellipsis: A character consisting of three dots in a row denoting more copy should follow but doesn’t.
Em Dash: A dash the width of the character m for a particular typeface. Em dashes mark a sudden break in thought, to set off a summary, or to set off a parenthetical phrase that is very abrupt or includes commas.
Encapsulated PostScript (EPS): A standardized format used to store PostScript images.
En Dash: A dash the width of the character n for a particular typeface. En dashes are used to indicate a range as in Monday–Friday or 1–10.
Flush Paragraph (Block Style): A paragraph with no indentation in the initial sentence.
Font: While often confused with "typeface," traditionally, font refers to a complete set of type for a particular typeface in a particular size. For instance, 12 point Times New Roman would be a font while Times New Roman would be the typeface.
Footer: Any information that's repeated in the page's bottom margin.
FPO (For Position Only): The temporary placement of a low-quality/low-resolution illustration or some other marker in the required location and size on the camera-ready copy to indicate where an actual image is to be placed on the final film or plate.
Galley: The initial proof of typeset material suitable for proofreading.
Generation: Starting from an original, then noting each successive time something is reproduced. The original is the first generation. After multiple generations, copy quality is notably reduced.
Gray Scale: A scale showing the full range of gray tones between pure white and solid black. While most computer software used today recognizes 256 levels of gray, the human eye can only see 80 to 100 levels.
Greeking: Unreadable and meaningless text used to create the illusion of text in a specific area.
Gutter: White space between the edge of the binding and the first printed area. It also refers to the white space between columns of text.
Halftone: Since the gradations in the colors of a photograph cannot be reproduced directly by a printing press, the printer re-photographs your photograph through a fine screen, which produces a series of dots on his printing plates. This representation of your photograph as a series of dots is a halftone. Large, densely spaced dots represent darker areas of the photograph, while small widely spaced dots represent lighter areas.
Header: Any information that's repeated in every page's top margin.
Headline: The extra large opening statement used to draw attention in an ad or as the title to an article.
Hot Type: Describes old-style moveable, metal type which was made from hot molten metal.
Indent: Placing copy further from the right or left of the margin. A first line indent is often used at the begining of paragraphs. A hanging indent has the first line starting at the margin, but successive lines of that paragraph indentedoften used in outlines or bulleted lists. A left/right indent, where both sides of a paragraph are indented, is often used to highlight a long quote or bring attention to a particular passage.
Inline Graphic: The placement of a graphic within a line of text.
Justification: There are several different justification styles used in paragraphs. They are: Center, where all the lines of a paragraph are centered between the left and right margins; Flush Left, where all the lines on the left side of a paragraph are even (sometimes called Ragged Right); Flush Right, where all the lines on the right side of a paragraph are even (sometimes called Ragged Left); Full Justification, where all the lines on both the left and right sides of a paragraph are even, with the exception of any partial last line; and Forced Justification, where all the lines on both the left and right sides of a paragraph are even, including any partial lines.
Kerning: The reduced spacing between certain combinations of two characters enhancing their visual appeal.
Knock Out: The removal (or knock out) of the color in an area, allowing the background or page color to show through.
Landscape: Refers to a page or image which is wider than tall.
Leaders: A series of characters (usually dots or dashes) between two widely spaced characters used to control eye movement from one character to the other more distant character.
Leading: The amount of space below a typeset character, expressed in points. A ten point character with three points of leading would occupy 13 points of space (called 10/13).
Ligature: The combination of two or three characters by a stroke or tie. Here are a couple of common examples.
LPI (Lines Per Inch): A measurement of resolution for halftones; the number of lines (of the printer's screen) per inch.
Logo: A combination of characters and/or graphics creating a single design used to identify a company.
Make-Ready: This refers to both the process of setting up a printing press and the pieces printed during this process.
Margin: The top, bottom, and side spaces on a page between the page's edge and the image area.
Masthead: The statement in a publication giving the publication's name, the names of the owner and staff, etc. Also sometimes used when referring to the nameplate (the large display of the publication's name).
Match Print: A full color single print produced using the film/negatives for color verification before starting to an entire press run.
Monospaced: Also called fixed-width, this is a typeface in which all the characters take up the same amount of space (width). For instance, both the i and the w use the same left-to-right space. When using a monospaced typeface, you need to double space after a sentence-ending period.
Noise: In imaging software, adding 'speckles' to a selection to create a texture effect.
Non-Repro Blue (Non-Photo Blue): A marking instrument with light blue coloring that cannot be seen by a graphic arts camera, used to make notations that should not print on the final piece.
OCR (Optical Character Recognition): The software process that allows for the conversion of typed or typeset characters into electronic data files.
Orphan: The first or last line of a paragraph left alone at the top or the bottom of a page or column.
Pantone Matching System (PMS): A worldwide standard for specifying a particular color in printing inks.
Pasteboard: In software, this refers to the area around the page used to store unneeded items.
Pica: The basic measurement unit in the graphic arts field. A pica is about .166 of an inch, and is further broken down into points. There are 12 points per pica; 6 picas per inch; and 72 points per inch.
Pixel: The smallest picture element which can be manipulated by software. The individual "bit" in bit-mapped.
Point Size: Denotes the size of type (see pica).
Portrait: Refers to a page or image that is taller than wide.
Post-Press: Any and all activities after printing, such as folding or binding.
Pre-Press: Any and all processes require prior to the printing, such as shooting halftones.
Process Colors: The four process colorscyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK). Printing from these colors produces full-color printing.
Proof: A copy of a piece for correcting by the client before the job is printed.
Proofreading: The process of carefully reviewing a proof copy for any needed corrections.
Proportional Spaced Characters: A typeface in which the characters differ in width, depending on the character. A w takes up more space than an l, for instance. By comparison, old-style typewriters used fixed-width spacing, when thin characters took the same amount of space as thick ones, hence the need for double spaces after periods. With proportional spaced characters, these double spaces are no longer needed.
Quad: In traditional metal typesetting, a blank slug used for indentations or spaces.
QWERTY:The most commonly used modern-day keyboard layout on English-language computer and typewriter keyboards. The name comes from the first six characters of the keyboard's top row of letters.
Quick Printer: A printer specializing in small print jobs using only one or two colors.
Quoin: In traditional metal typesetting, a steel wedge-shaped or expanding device used to lock a line of type.
RGB: Acronym for red, green, and bluethe primary colors used in computer monitors.
Rule: Horizontal or verticle lines used in design for separating sections or merely provide graphic elements for decoration.
Sans Serif: A typeface in which all characters lack serifs (the short lines at the tops and bottoms of letters). Sans is French for "without." Here's an example.
Script: A typeface that’s typically very fluid and derived from or meant to imitate handwriting.
Serif: The short lines found at the tops and bottoms of a serif typeface. Also used to refer to a face with those characteristics. Here's an example.
Small Caps: The uppercase version of each alphabetic character reduced to the x-height of that typeface.
Swung Dash: Similar to the tilde but somewhat longer. It’s used in dictionaries to indicate the omission of a word.
Tracking: The overall spacing between all characters of a line of text (versus kerning which refers to spacing between character pairs).
Typeface (Font, Face): A specific set of characters, numbers, punctuation and symbols having the same design and weight. A typeface family would include all the various weights and styles available for a particular design.
Underline: A method for showing emphasis not usually used in modern typesetting. The advent of bold and italic faces make underlining a word almost obsolete. This method is still used though for certain types of titles, such as the names of court cases in the legal system (Smith vs. Jones for instance).
Up: The printing of two or more "pages" on the same sheet of paper at the same time, to be cut into the multiple final pieces after printing. Most often used when printing smaller than page size pieces like business cards or post cardsreferred to by the number fitting on the sheet as in two-up, four-up, etc.
Vector Graphics: A graphic created with an illustration package and made up of lines and curves. Vector graphics retain their sharpness when enlarged or reduced. Some common vector formats are CGM, WMF, and EPS.
Vellum: A very ink-absorbent paper with a slightly rough surface.
White Space: Areas on a piece which are free of type, graphics, and photos. White space is important in good design. It makes a piece more readable.
Widow: A single word left by itself at the top of a page or at the end of a paragraph.
X-Height: The height of lower case characters without considering any ascenders and descenders. The x is a good example of this measurement.
Xerography: A dry photo electrostatic method of offset plate creation (using either metal or paper plates) and copy reproduction.
YCC: The color model used on a Kodak Photo CDs. YCC is a variation of the international standard for defining all the colors the human eye can see. It contains many more colors than the RGB model used by monitors, or the CMYK model used by printers.
Zero Leading: Used when you want no leading from a section, word or set of characters.
Zines: Small magazines with a very specific focus.