Glossary of Print Terms

An alphabetical listing of printing-related terms.

A – E

Aqueous coating — A water-based coating, applied after printing either in-line or off-press, to help prevent ink from rubbing off. Unlike UV coating or varnish aqueous coating will also accept ink jet printing.

Bleed — An image or printed color that extends to the trimmed edges of a page.

Body copy — The main body of text on a page, typically in one size of a specific typeface.

B.R.E. (business reply envelope) — For a First Class Permit, indicia and return address are preprinted on the envelope.

Composite Proof — The final color proof containing all content and color correct photos for final approval. This is the final proof before a project is printed.

Contact Sheet — The result of developing a roll of film negatives onto photo paper for review and selection.

Contrast — The tonal gradation between highlights and shadows in an image. High contrast features extreme light and dark areas.

Corporate Identity — A management system that controls the use of the name and the visual style or “look” of the company.

Cover Paper — Heavier, stiffer paper that is ideal for the outside cover of brochures, directories and booklets as well as for business cards and folders.

Crop — To eliminate portions of a photo or artwork.

Digital Photography — Photography taken with a digital camera. Generally, the higher the DPI, the sharper the printed image. A 2-megapixel image is 1200 x 1600, so at 300 DPI it will reproduce well at 4″ x 5″ or smaller. For 8″ x 10″ reproduction, the image should be at least 6 megapixels, assuming no cropping or resizing. Keep in mind that these guidelines are not absolute! Your lens, lighting, CCD quality and method of printing all play a part in the final results.

DPI (dots per inch) — Also known as “resolution.” A low-resolution image image (200dpi or lower) is only suitable for on-screen work — Web or PowerPoint. A high-resolution image is suitable for offset printing. Generally, the DPI necessary for good offset reproduction will be double the LPI (see LPI definition) of the halftone screen. Since halftone screens are usually 150 to 175 LPI, the corresponding image resolution should be 300 to 350 DPI. Keep in mind that reducing or enlarging the image (changing its “inches” without changing its “dots”) affects the dots per inch — e.g., doubling the image size halves the DPI.

Dot Compensation — Coated and uncoated papers tend to absorb ink in different degrees. To adjust for these varying absorption levels, printers alter the size of the dots in halftones and four-color images to compensate for dot gain.

Dot Gain — Tendency for the dots of halftones and four-color images to print larger than they are on the film or plate. Printers adjust for dot gain based on the type of paper selected to make sure images don’t look distorted or dark.

Dummy — The unprinted mock-up of the book or brochure made of the paper stock that will be used.

F – J

Film Negative — Photography film coated with chemicals that, upon photographic exposure, cause the material to record the colors or monochromatic shades of the scene in inverse, negative form. This process occurs inside a camera. The resulting “negative” needs to undergo film developing in order to stop recording light. Then, it can be used to produce a print, in which the colors or shades are reverted to their original form.

Format — Configuration of a printed piece determined by the size, shape and graphic characteristics.

Halftone — The reproduction of continuous tone artwork, such as a photograph, by using one color dots to simulate the tones between light and dark.

Identity Element — Any component of a company’s identification program that helps identify the company or its major operating divisions, products or services. At Seattle Children’s, the major identity elements are the logo, corporate type font (Gotham), colors and a particular style of photography.

Indicia — A postal permit preprinted on the upper right corner of the envelope showing that a fee has been paid to obtain special mailing privileges.

Ink Absorption — A paper’s capacity to accept or absorb ink.

Ink Holdout — The way ink pigment sits on the surface of the paper. Strong ink holdout results in a sharp, bright image.

K – O

Laser Compatible — Papers engineered with special properties that assure smooth and consistent performance on laser equipment

LPI (lines per inch) — The fineness of a halftone screen is measured by the number of lines per inch. The more lines per inch, the more detailed the printed image will be. Offset printing is usually at 150 to 175 LPI, while laser printer output is usually 100 LPI or lower.

Line Spacing — The vertical spacing between lines of type.

Loose Proof — A preliminary proof provided by a printer for color adjustments to digital or scanned photography. Color adjustments are often made to one or more loose proofs before getting a composite proof for approval.

Margin — A defined space that surrounds most of the printed material on a page.

Mechanical — A term used for a final digital file that is ready to be reproduced by a print vendor or publication.

P – T

PANTONE® — Pantone LLC’s check-standard trademark for color reproduction and color reproduction materials.

Pica — A unit of measurement (usually horizontal) in printing, measuring 1/6 of an inch.

Point — A unit of measurement (usually vertical) in printing: 1/12 of a pica or 1/72 of an inch. The term is also used to specify a type size.

Process Colors (CMYK ) — A technique of printing in color, using combinations of magenta, cyan, yellow and black ink to form all colors in a photograph, illustration or design element.

Reversed (Reversed Out) — A printing technique in which the background is printed and the image and/or characters remain the color of the paper or surface material.

RGB — Red, green and blue color workspace for digital images. All RGB images are converted to process colors (CMYK) for color separations and printing.

Rule — A straight line (of any thickness) used as a border or separator in graphics.

Sans Serif — Literally, without serifs (see serif ). Univers is a sans serif typeface.

Screen or Tint — Graphics method to vary a tone from solid to a lighter shade of black or color.

Serif — Any typeface that has small extensions to the main strokes of characters. These strokes are referred to as serifs. Miller is a serif typeface.

Stock — Paper that will be printed.

Typeface or font— All the type of a single design such as Miller or Univers.

U – Z

Varnish — A protective coating, either clear or slightly tinted, added to the surface of a printed sheet. Varnish (dull/matte, satin or gloss) may be added to the entire sheet or just to certain spots.