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Glossary of Printing & Graphic Terms N-Z

Published Time:2016-06-28 Original Source:Glossary of Printing Business
Glossary of Printing & Graphic Terms
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Natural Color
Very light brown color of paper. May also be called antique, cream, ivory, off-white or mellow white.
Signatures assembled inside one another in the proper sequence for binding, as compared to gathered. Also called inset.
Neutral Gray
Gray with no hue or cast.
News Print
Paper used in printing newspapers. Considered low quality and "a short life use."
Newton Ring
Flaw in a photograph or halftone that looks like a drop of oil or water.
In the book binding process, a stage where air is expelled from it's contents at the sewing stage.
Nonheatset Web
Web press without a drying oven, thus not able to print on coated paper. Also called cold-set web and open web.
Nonimpact Printing
Printing using lasers, ions, ink jets or heat to transfer images to paper.
Nonreproducing Blue
Light blue that does not record on graphic arts film, therefore may be used to preprint layout grids and write instructions on mechanicals. Also called blue pencil, drop-out blue, fade-out blue and nonrepro blue.
Novelty Printing
Printing on products such as coasters, pencils, balloons, golf balls and ashtrays, known as advertising specialties or premiums.


Offset Printing
Printing technique that transfers ink from a plate to a blanket to paper instead of directly from plate to paper.
(1) Characteristic of paper or other substrate that prevents printing on one side from showing through the other side. (2) Characteristic of ink that prevents the substrate from showing through.
Onion Skin
A specific lightweight type (kind) of paper usually used in the past for air mail. Seldom used today (in the typewriter era).
(1) Not transparent. (2) To cover flaws in negative with tape or opaquing paint. Also called block out and spot.
Open Prepress Interface
Hardware and software that link desktop publishing systems with color electronic prepress systems.
Outer form
Form (side of a press sheet) containing images for the first and last pages of the folded signature (its outside pages) as compared to inner form.
Outline Halftone
Halftone in which background has been removed or replaced to isolate or silhouette the main image. Also called knockout halftone and silhouette halftone.
Layer of material taped to a mechanical, photo or proof. Acetate overlays are used to separate colors by having some type or art on them instead of on the mounting board. Tissue overlays are used to carry instructions about the underlying copy and to protect the base art.
Overlay Proof
Color proof consisting of polyester sheets laid on top of each other with their image in register, as compared to integral proof. Each sheet represents the image to be printed in one color. Also called celluloid proof and layered proof.
To print one image over a previously printed image, such as printing type over a screen tint. Also called surprint.
Over Run
Additional printed matter beyond order. Overage policy varies in the printing industry. Advance questions avoid blind knowledge.


One side of a leaf in a publication.
Page Count
Total number of pages that a publication has. Also called extent.
Page Proof
Proof of type and graphics as they will look on the finished page complete with elements such as headings, rules and folios.
In the book arena, the numbering of pages.
Painted Sheet
Sheet printed with ink edge to edge, as compared to spot color. The painted sheet refers to the final product, not the press sheet, and means that 100 percent coverage results from bleeds off all four sides.
One page of a brochure, such as one panel of a rack brochure. One panel is on one side of the paper. A letter-folded sheet has six panels, not three.
Paper Plate
A printing plate made of strong and durable paper in the short run offset arena (cost effective with short runs).
Parallel Fold
Method of folding. Two parallel folds to a sheet will produce 6 panels.
Parent Sheet
Any sheet larger than 11' x 17' or A3.
Chipboard with another paper pasted to it.
To paste copy to mounting boards and, if necessary, to overlays so it is assembled into a camera-ready mechanical. The mechanical produced is often called a paste-up.
Proofreader mark meaning printer error and showing a mistake by a typesetter, prepress service or printer as compared to an error by the customer.
Perfect Bind
To bind sheets that have been ground at the spine and are held to the cover by glue. Also called adhesive bind, cut-back bind, glue bind, paper bind, patent bind, perfecting bind, soft bind and soft cover. See also Burst Perfect Bind.
Perfecting Press
Press capable of printing both sides of the paper during a single pass. Also called duplex press and perfector.
Perf Marks
On a "dummy" marking where the perforation is to occur.
Taking place on a press or a binder machine, creating a line of small dotted wholes for the purpose of tearing-off a part of a printed matter (usually straight lines, vertical or horizontal).
A unit of measure in the printing industry. A pica is approximately 0.166 in. There are 12 points to a pica.
Engraving done using photochemistry.
Photomechanical Transfer
Brand name for a diffusion transfer process used to make positive paper prints of line copy and halftones. Often used as alternate term for photostat. Abbreviated PMT.
Brand name for a diffusion transfer process used to make positive paper prints of line copy and halftones. Often used as alternate term for PMT.
Phenomenon of ink pulling bits of coating or fiber away from the surface of paper as it travels through the press, thus leaving unprinted spots in the image area.
Pickup Art
Artwork, used in a previous job, to be incorporated in a current job.
Small holes (unwanted) in printed areas because of a variety of reasons.
Pin Register
Technique of registering separations, flats and printing plates by using small holes, all of equal diameter, at the edges of both flats and plates.
Short for picture element, a dot made by a computer, scanner or other digital device. Also called pel.
Planographic Printing
Printing method whose image carriers are level surfaces with inked areas separated from noninked areas by chemical means. Planographic printing includes lithography, offset lithography and spirit duplicating.
Piece of paper, metal, plastic or rubber carrying an image to be reproduced using a printing press.
(1) In quick printing, a process camera that makes plates automatically from mechanicals. (2) In commercial lithography, a machine with a vacuum frame used to expose plates through film.
Plate-ready Film
Stripped negatives or positives fully prepared for platemaking.
Pleasing Color
Color that the customer considers satisfactory even though it may not precisely match original samples, scenes or objects.
Obsolete reference to Pantone Matching System. The correct trade name of the colors in the Pantone Matching System is Pantone colors, not PMS Colors.
Abbreviation for photomechanical transfer.
(1) Regarding paper, a unit of thickness equating 1/1000 inch. (2) Regarding type, a unit of measure equaling 1/12 pica and .013875 inch (.351mm).
An art design in which the height is greater than the width. (Opposite of Landscape.)
Position Stat
Photocopy or PMT of a photo or illustration made to size and affixed to a mechanical.
Positive Film
Film that prevents light from passing through images, as compared to negative film that allows light to pass through. Also called knockout film.
Post Bind
To bind using a screw and post inserted through a hole in a pile of loose sheets.
Camera work, color separations, stripping, platemaking and other prepress functions performed by the printer, separator or a service bureau prior to printing. Also called preparation.
Prepress Proof
Any color proof made using ink jet, toner, dyes or overlays, as compared to a press proof printed using ink. Also called dry proof and off-press proof.
To print portions of sheets that will be used for later imprinting.
Press Check
Event at which makeready sheets from the press are examined before authorizing full production to begin.
Press Proof
Proof made on press using the plates, ink and paper specified for the job. Also called strike off and trial proof.
Press Time
(1) Amount of time that one printing job spends on press, including time required for makeready. (2) Time of day at which a printing job goes on press.
Price Break
Quantity at which unit cost of paper or printing drops.
Printer Pairs
Usually in the book arena, consecutive pages as they appear on a flat or signature.
Printer Spreads
Mechanicals 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 Plate
Surface carrying an image to be printed. Quick printing uses paper or plastic plates; letterpress, engraving and commercial lithography use metal plates; flexography uses rubber or soft plastic plates. Gravure printing uses a cylinder. The screen printing is also called a 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 Camera
Camera used to photograph mechanicals and other camera-ready copy. Also called copy, camera and graphic arts camera. A small, simple process camera may be called a stat camera.
Process Color (Inks)
The colors used for four-color process printing: yellow, magenta, cyan and black.
Production Run
Press run intended to manufacture products as specified, as compared to makeready.
Test sheet made to reveal errors or flaws, predict results on press and record how a printing job is intended to appear when finished.
Proofreader Marks
Standard symbols and abbreviations used to mark up manuscripts and proofs. Also called correction marks.
Proportion Scale
Round device used to calculate percent that an original image must by reduced or enlarged to yield a specific reproduction size. Also called percentage wheel, proportion dial, proportion wheel and scaling wheel.
Publishing Paper
Paper made in weights, colors and surfaces suited to books, magazines, catalogs and free-standing inserts.


Subjective term relating to expectations by the customer, printer and other professionals associated with a printing job and whether the job meets those expectations.
(1) Sheet folded twice, making pages one-fourth the size of the original sheet. A quarto makes an 8-page signature. (2) Book made from quarto sheets, traditionally measuring about 9' x 12'.
Quick Printing
Printing using small sheetfed presses, called duplicators, using cut sizes of bond and offset paper.
Price offered by a printer to produce a specific job.


Rag Paper
Stationery or other forms of stock having a strong percentage content of "cotton rags."
Rainbow Fountain
Technique of putting ink colors next to each other in the same ink fountain and oscillating the ink rollers to make the colors merge where they touch, producing a rainbow effect.
Raster Image Processor
Device that translates page description commands into bitmapped information for an output device such as a laser printer or imagesetter.
Reader Spread
Mechanicals made in two page spreads as readers would see the pages, as compared to printer spread.
500 sheets of paper.
Recycled Paper
New paper made entirely or in part from old paper.
Reflective Copy
Products, such as fabrics, illustrations and photographic prints, viewed by light reflected from them, as compared to transparent copy. Also called reflex copy.
To place printing properly with regard to the edges of paper and other printing on the same sheet. Such printing is said to be in register.
Register Marks
Cross-hair lines on mechanicals and film that help keep flats, plates, and printing in register. Also called crossmarks and position marks.
Relief Printing
Printing method whose image carriers are surfaces with two levels having inked areas higher than noninked areas. Relief printing includes block printing, flexography and letter press.
Ability of a device, such as an imagesetter, to produce film or plates that yield images in register.
General term for xerography, diazo and other methods of copying used by designers, engineers, architects or for general office use.
Sharpness of an image on film, paper, computer screen, disc, tape or other medium.
Resolution Target
An image, such as the GATF Star Target, that permits evaluation of resolution on film, proofs or plates.
Type, graphic or illustration reproduced by printing ink around its outline, thus allowing the underlying color or paper to show through and form the image. The image 'reverses out' of the ink color. Also called knockout and liftout.
Abbreviation for red, green, blue, the additive color primaries.
Right Reading
Copy that reads correctly in the language in which it is written. Also describes a photo whose orientation looks like the original scene, as compared to a flopped image.
Rotary Press
Printing press which passes the substrate between two rotating cylinders when making an impression.
Round Back Bind
To casebind with a rounded (convex) spine, as compared to flat back bind.
Ruby Window
Mask on a mechanical, made with rubylith, that creates a window on film shot from the mechanical.
Line used as a graphic element to separate or organize copy.
Map or drawing given by a printer to a stripper showing how a printing job must be imposed using a specific press and sheet size. Also called press layout, printer's layout and ruleout.


Saddle Stitch
To bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine, as compared to side stitch. Also called pamphlet stitch, saddle wire and stitch bind.
Satin Finish
Alternate term for dull finish on coated paper.
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 intersect with the horizontal line of the press sheet. 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 an assembly of mesh fabric and a stencil.
Screen Ruling
Number of rows or lines of dots per inch or centimeter in a screen for making a screen tint or halftone. Also called line count, ruling, screen frequency, screen size and screen value.
Screen Tint
Color created by dots instead of solid ink coverage. Also called Benday, fill pattern, screen tone, shading, tint and tone.
Selective Binding
Placing signatures or inserts in magazines or catalogs according to demographic or geographic guidelines.
Self Cover
Usually in the book arena, a publication not having a cover stock. A publication only using text stock throughout.
Self Mailer
A printed item independent of an envelope. A printed item capable of travel in the mailing arena independently.
Separated Art
Art with elements that print in the base color on one surface and elements that print in other colors on other surfaces. Also called preseparated art.
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.
Serigraphic Printing
Printing method whose image carriers are woven fabric, plastic or metal that allow ink to pass through some portions and block ink from passing through other portions. Serigraphic printing includes screen and mimeograph.
Service Bureau
Business using imagesetters to make high resolution printouts of files prepared on microcomputers. Also called output house and prep service.
Undesirable transfer of wet ink from the top of one sheet to the underside of another as they lie in the delivery stack of a press. Also called offset.
Hue made darker by the addition of black, as compared to tint.
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.
Technique of printing one side of a sheet with one set of plates, then the other side of the sheet with a set of different plates. Also called work and back.
Allowance, made during paste-up or stripping, to compensate for creep. Creep is the problem; shingling is the solution. Also called stair stepping and progressive margins.
Side stitch
To bind by stapling through sheets along, one edge, as compared to saddle stitch. Also called cleat stitch and side wire.
Printed sheet folded at least once, possibly many times, to become part of a book, magazine or other publication.
Compound mixed with paper or fabric to make it stiffer and less able to absorb moisture.
Slip Sheets
Separate sheets (stock) independent from the original run positioned between the "printed run" for a variety of reasons.
Soft Dots
Halftones dots with halos.
Any area of the sheet receiving 100 percent ink coverage, as compared to a screen tint.
Soy-based Inks
Inks using vegetable oils instead of petroleum products as pigment vehicles, thus are easier on the environment.
Specially Printer
Printer whose equipment, supplies, work flow and marketing is targeted to a particular category of products.
Complete and precise written description of features of a printing job such as type size and leading, paper grade and quantity, printing or binding method. Abbreviated specs.
Instrument used to measure the index of refraction of color.
Specular Highlight
Highlight area with no printable dots, thus no detail, as compared to a diffuse highlight. Also called catchlight and dropout highlight.
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.
Split Fountain
Technique of putting ink colors next to each other in the same ink fountain and printing them off the same plate. Split fountains keep edges of colors distinct, as compared to rainbow fountains that blend edges.
Split Run
(1) Different images, such as advertisements, printed in different editions of a publication. (2) Printing of a book that has some copies bound one way and other copies bound another way.
Paper that, due to mistakes or accidents, must be thrown away instead of delivered printed to the customer, as compared to waste.
Spot Color or Varnish
One ink or varnish applied to portions of a sheet, as compared to flood or painted sheet.
(1) Two pages that face each other and are designed as one visual or production unit. (2) Technique of slightly enlarging the size of an image to accomplish a hairline trap with another image. Also called fatty.
Standard Viewing Conditions
Background of 60 percent neutral gray and light that measures 5000 degrees Kelvin the color of daylight on a bright day. Also called lighting standards.
Short for photostat, therefore a general term for an inexpensive photographic print of line copy or halftone.
Statistical Process Control
Method used by printers to ensure quality and delivery times specified by customers. Abbreviated SPC.
Step and Repeat
Prepress technique of exposing an image in a precise, multiple pattern to create a flat or plate. Images are said to be stepped across the film or plate.
Stocking Paper
Popular sizes, weights and colors of papers available for prompt delivery from a merchant's warehouse.
Stock Order
Order for paper that a mill or merchant sends to a printer from inventory at a warehouse, as compared to a mill order.
String Score
Score created by pressing a string against paper, as compared to scoring using a metal edge.
To assemble images on film for platemaking. Stripping involves correcting flaws in film, assembling pieces of film into flats and ensuring that film and flats register correctly. Also called film assembly and image assembly.
Substance Weight
Alternate term for basis weight, usually referring to bond papers. Also called sub weight.
Stumping (Blocking)
In the book arena, hot die, foil or other means in creating an image on a case bound book.
Any surface or material on which printing is done.
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.
Subtractive Primary Color
Yellow, magenta and cyan. In the graphic arts, these are known as process colors because, along with black, they are the inks colors used in color-process printing.
Supercalendered Paper
Paper calendered using alternating chrome and fiber rollers to produce a smooth, thin sheet. Abbreviated SC paper.
Taking an already printed matter and re-printing again on the same.
Swash Book
A book in a variety of forms, indicating specific stock in specific colors in a specific thickness.
Abbreviation for specifications for web offset publications, specifications recommended for web printing of publications.


Using a broadsheet as a measure, one half of a broadsheet.
Grade of dense, strong paper used for products such as badges and file folders.
Tagged Image File Format
Computer file format used to store images from scanners and video devices. Abbreviated TIFF.
Target Ink Densities
Densities of the four process inks as recommended for various printing processes and grades of paper. See also Total Area Coverage.
Concerning a printing project's basic details in regard to its dimensions. A standard layout.
Text Paper
Designation for printing papers with textured surfaces such as laid or linen. Some mills also use 'text' to refer to any paper they consider top-of-the-line, whether or not its surface has a texture.
Method of printing using colorless resin powder that takes on the color of underlying ink. Also called raised printing.
Initial ideas jotted on virtually anything in regard to initial concept of a future project.
Screening or adding white to a solid color for results of lightening that specific color.
Tip In
Usually in the book arena, adding an additional page(s) beyond the normal process (separate insertion).
Tone Compression
Reduction in the tonal range from original scene to printed reproduction.
Total Area Coverage
Total of the dot percentages of the process colors in the final film. Abbreviated for TAC. Also called density of tone, maximum density, shadow saturation, total dot density and total ink coverage.
Touch Plate
Plate that accents or prints a color that four-color process printing cannot reproduce well enough or at all. Also called kiss plate.
Trade Shop
Service bureau, printer or bindery working primarily for other graphic arts professionals, not for the general public.
Positive photographic image on film allowing light to pass through. Also called chrome, color transparency and tranny. Often abbreviated TX.
To print one ink over another or to print a coating, such as varnish, over an ink. The first liquid traps the second liquid. See also Dry Traps and Wet Traps.
Trim Size
The size of the printed material in its finished stage (e.g., the finished trim size is 5 12 x 8 12).


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
Technique of making color separations such that the amount of cyan, magenta and yellow ink is reduced in midtone and shadow areas while the amount of black is increased. Abbreviated UCR.
Universal Copyright Convention (UCC)
A system to protect unique work from reproducing without knowledge from the originator. To qualify, one must register their work and publish a (c) indicating registration.
Unsharp Masking
Technique of adjusting dot size to make a halftone or separation appear sharper (in better focus) than the original photo or the first proof. Also called edge enhancement and peaking.
Term to indicate multiple copies of one image printed in one impression on a single sheet. "Two up" or "three up" means printing the identical piece twice or three times on each sheet.
UV Coating
Liquid applied to a printed sheet, then bonded and cured with ultraviolet light.


The shade (darkness) or tint (lightness) of a color. Also called brightness, lightness, shade and tone.
Liquid applied as a coating for protection and appearance.
Vellum Finish
Somewhat rough, toothy finish.
Brand name for high-contrast photographic paper.
Viewing Booth
Small area or room that is set up for proper viewing of transparencies, color separations or press sheets. Also called color booth. See also Standard Viewing Conditions.
Decorative design or illustration fade to white.
Vignette Halftone
Halftone whose background gradually and smoothly fades away. Also called degrade.
Virgin Paper
Paper made exclusively of pulp from trees or cotton, as compared to recycled paper.
Abbreviation for volatile organic compounds, petroleum substances used as the vehicles for many printing inks.


Wash Up
To clean ink and fountain solutions from rollers, fountains, screens, and other press components.
Unusable paper or paper damage during normal makeready, printing or binding operations, as compared to spoilage.
Translucent logo in paper created during manufacturing by slight embossing from a dandy roll while paper is still approximately 90 percent water.
Web Break
Split of the paper as it travels through a web press, causing operators to rethread the press.
Web Gain
Unacceptable stretching of paper as it passes through the press.
Web Press
Press that prints from rolls of paper, usually cutting it into sheets after printing. Also called reel-fed press. Web presses come in many sizes, the most common being mini, half, three quarter (also called 8-pages) and full (also called 16-pages).
Wet Trap
To print ink or varnish over wet ink, as compared to dry trap.
(1) In a printed product, a die-cut hole revealing an image on the sheet behind it. (2) On a mechanical, an area that has been marked for placement of a piece of artwork.
Wire Side
Side of the paper that rests against The Fourdrinier wire during papermaking, as compared to felt side.
With the Grain
Parallel to the grain direction of the paper being used, as compared to against the grain. See also Grain Direction.
Woodfree Paper
Made with chemical pulp only. Paper usually classified as calendered or supercalendered.
Working Film
Intermediate film that will be copied to make final film after all corrections are made. Also called buildups.
Paper manufactured without visible wire marks, usually a fine textured paper.
Wrong Reading
An image that is backwards when compared to the original. Also called flopped and reverse reading.


Xerographic paper
Papers made to reproduce well in copy machines.
One of the four process colors of ink, or CMYK. The Y is for yellow. YellowPrinting.com
Zip file
Zipping a file compresses one or more files into a smaller archive. It takes up less hard drive space and less time to transfer across a network or the internet.