Call Toll Free (888) 747-2695

An Expanded Glossary of Graphic Arts and Printing Industry Terminology Pt. 2

  M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   Go to Pt. 1


Machine glazed (MG) - paper with a high gloss finish on one side only.

Macro - a series of instructions which would normally be issued one at a time on the keyboard to control a program. A macro facility allows them to be stored and issued automatically by a single keystroke.

Magnetic ink - a magnetized ink that can be read both by humans and by electronic machines. Used in cheque printing.

Make-up - the assembling of all elements, to form the printed image.

Making ready - the time spent in making ready the level of the printing surface by packing out under the forme or around the impression cylinder.

Manilla - A tough brown paper used to produce stationery and wrapping paper.

Manuscript (MS) - the original written or typewritten work of an author submitted for publication.

Margins - the non printing areas of page.

Mark up - copy prepared for a compositor setting out in detail all the typesetting instructions.

Mask - opaque material or masking tape used to block-off an area of the artwork.

Masthead - details of publisher and editorial staff usually printed on the contents page.

Matt art - a coated printing paper with a dull surface.

Measure - denotes the width of a setting expressed in pica ems.

Mechanical binding - a method of binding which secures pre-trimmed leaves by the insertion of wire or plastic spirals through holes drilled in the binding edge.

Mechanical tint - a pre-printed sheet of dots, lines or patterns that can be laid down on artwork for reproduction.

Megabyte (MB) - one million bytes. Usually describes either a quantity of digital data (documents) or of storage (such as memory or a hard drive). It is commonly abbreviated as Mbyte or MB.

Memory - the part of the computer which stores information for immediate access. This consists exclusively of RAM, random access memory, which holds the applications software and data or ROM, read only memory, which holds permanent information such as the bootstrap routines. Memory size is expressed in K or MB.

Metallic ink - printing inks which produce an effect gold, silver, bronze or metallic colors.

MG (Machine glazed) - paper with a high gloss finish on one side only.

Mock-up - the rough visual of a publication or design.

Modem (MOdulator-DEModulator) - a device for converting digital data into audio signals and back again. Primarily used for transmitting data between computers over telephone lines.

Modern - refers to type styles introduced towards the end of the 19th century. Times roman is a good example of modern type.

Moire pattern - the result of superimposing half-tone screens at the wrong angle thereby giving a chequered effect on the printed half-tone. Normally detected during the stage of progressive proofs.

Monospace - a font in which all characters occupy the same amount of horizontal width regardless of the character.

Montage - a single image formed from the assembling of several images.

Mounting board - a heavy board used for mounting artwork.

Mouse - a handheld pointing device using either mechanical motion or special optical techniques to convert the movement of the user's hand into movements of the cursor on the screen. Generally fitted with one, two or three buttons which can control specific software functions.

MS (Manuscript) - the original written or typewritten work of an author submitted for publication.

Mutt - a typesetting term for the em space.

Return to top of page.


Newsprint - Unsized, low quality, absorbent paper used for printing newspapers.

Nipping - a stage in book binding where after sewing the sheets are pressed to expel air.

Return to top of page.


Oblique stroke - (/)

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) - a special kind of scanner which provides a means of reading printed characters on documents and converting them into digital codes that can be read into a computer as actual text rather than just a picture.

Offprint - a run-on or reprint of an article first published in a magazine or journal.

Offset lithography - (see Lithography) a printing method whereby the image is transferred from a plate onto a rubber covered cylinder from which the printing takes place.

Oldstyle (US) - a style of type characterised by stressed strokes and triangular serifs. An example of an oldstyle face is Garamond.

Onion skin - a translucent lightweight paper used in air mail stationery.

Opacity - term used to describe the degree to which paper will show print through.

Optical centre - a point above the true centre of the page which will not appear 'low' as the geometric centre does.

Optical Disks - video disks on which large amounts of information can be stored in binary form representing characters of text or images. The disks cannot be used to view the information using a modified compact disk player and TV. Mainly used for reference works such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.

Orphan - line of type on its own at the top or bottom of a page.

Outline - a typeface in which the characters are formed with only the outline defined rather than from solid strokes.

Overlay - a transparent sheet used in the preparation of multi-color artwork showing the color breakdown.

Overprinting - printing over an area already printed. Used to emphasize changes or alterations.

Overs - additional paper required to compensate for spoilage in printing. Also used to refer to a quantity produced above the number of copies ordered.

Overstrike - a method used in word processing to produce a character not in the typeface by superimposing two separate characters, eg $ using s and l.

Return to top of page.


Page Printer - the more general (and accurate) name used to describe non-impact printers which produce a complete page in one action. Examples include laser, LED and LCD shutter xerographic printers, ion deposition, electro-erosion and electro-photographic printers.

Page Description Language (PDL) - a special form of programming language which enables both text and graphics (object or bit-image) to be described in a series of mathematical statements. Their main benefit is that they allow the applications software to be independent of the physical printing device as opposed to the normal case where specific routines have to be written for each device. Typical PDLs include Interpress, imPress, PostScript and DDL.

Page proofs - the stage following galley proofs, in which pages are made up and paginated.

PageMaker - The software program originally from Aldus Corporation (and later purchased by Adobe) that was long associated with desktop publishing due to its immense success on the Apple Macintosh. Available on both the Macintosh and the PC it was as a benchmark product during the early 1990s but Adobe later replaced the aging PageMaker with InDesign due to strong competition from QuarkXPress.

Pagination - the numbering of pages in a book.

Pantone - a registered name for an ink color matching system.

Paper plate - a short run offset printing plate on which matter can be typed directly.

Paragraph mark ( ) - a type symbol used to denote the start of a paragraph. Also used as a footnote sign.

Parallel fold - a method of folding; eg two parallel folds will produce a six page sheet.

Paste up - the various elements of a layout mounted in position to form camera-ready artwork.

Perfect binding - a common method of binding paperback books. After the printed sections having been collated, the spines will be ground off and the cover glued on.

Perfector - a printing press which prints both sides of the paper at one pass through the machine.

Photogravure - (see Gravure) a printing process where the image is etched into the plate cylinder. The main advantage of this method of printing is the high speed, long run capability. Used mainly for mail order and magazine work.

Pi fonts - characters not usually included in a font, but which are added specially. Examples of these are timetable symbols and mathematical signs.

Pica - a printing industry unit of measurement. There are 12 points to a pica, and one traditional pica was approximately 0.166 in. However, Postscript redefined the Pica and Point to be exactly 6 Picas per inch and the resulting number is .16666666667. The difference is small but it the resulting discrepency error accumulates over distance as any traditional typesetter can attest. Check any Pica ruler against a standard inch ruler and you will see that the difference becomes very noticable when lengths approach 11-12 inches.

Picking - the effect of ink being too tacky and lifting fibers out of the paper. Shows up as small white dots on areas of solid color.

Pipelining - the ability of a program to flow automatically text from the end of one column or page to the beginning of the next. An extra level of sophistication can be created by allowing the flow to be re-directed to any page and not just the next available. This is ideal for US-style magazines where everything is 'Continued on...'!

Pixel - All images from digital cameras or scanners are made up of PIXELS. The word PIXEL is a contraction of the term PIcture ELement. A pixel's appearance can be defined as a tiny square of color. You may find it helpful to think of it as a very small tile, such as a floor tile. If you magnified a high resolution digital image to 1,600 percent you would see the pixels (or colored tiles) that the image is made up of.

Pixels Per Inch (PPI) - This is a measurement of the number of pixels per horizontal inch present in a digital image. Images that are intended for use on the web or for other computer display use are usually between 92 and 96 PPI. Images intended for use in professional color printing are usually a minimum of 300 PPI. Sometimes the term DPI (dots per inch) is incorrectly used to describe the resolution of digital images. The correct term to use when describing digital images is PPI.

Point - the standard unit of type size of which there are 72 to the inch (one point is approximately 0.01383in). Point size is the measured from the top of the ascender to the bottom of the descender.

Portrait - an upright image or page where the height is greater than the width.

Positive - a true photographic image of the original made on paper or film.

PostScript - a page description language developed by Adobe Systems. Widely supported by both hardware and software vendors it represents the current 'standard' in the market. John Warnock and Chuck Geschke of Adobe both worked for Xerox at the Palo Alto Research Centre where PDLs were invented and set up their company to commercially exploit the concepts they had helped develop.

Preview mode - a mode where word processing or desktop publishing software which doesn't operate in WYSIWYG fashion can show a representation of the output as it will look when printed. The quality ranges from acceptable to worse than useless.

Primary colors - cyan, magenta and yellow. These three colors when mixed together with black will produce a reasonable reproduction of all other colors.

Print engine - the parts of a page printer which perform the print-imaging, fixing and paper transport. In fact, everything but the controller.

Printer Command Language (PCL) - a language developed by Hewlett Packard for use with its own range of printers. Essentially a text orientated language, it has been expanded to give graphics capability.

Progressives - color proofs taken at each stage of printing showing each color printed singly and then superimposed on the preceding color.

Proof - a copy obtained from inked type, plate, block or screen for checking purposes.

Proof correction marks - a standard set of signs and symbols used in copy preparation and to indicate corrections on proofs. Marks are placed both in the text and in the margin.

Proportional spacing - a method of spacing whereby each each character is spaced to accommodate the varying widths of letters or figures, so increasing readability. Books and magazines are set proportionally spaced, typewritten documents are generally monospaced.

Pull-down menus - developed from Xerox research (like just about everything else we take for granted in desktop publishing) these are a method of providing user control over software without cluttering up the screen with text. Using the mouse or cursor keys the user points to the main heading of the menu he or she wants and the menu pulls from the heading. When the required function has been selected the menu rolls back up into the menu bar leaving the screen clear.

Pulp - the raw material used in paper making consisting mainly of wood chips, rags or other fibers. Broken down by mechanical or chemical means.

Return to top of page.


Quadding - the addition of space to fill out a line of type using en or em blocks. Essentially this is an obsolete term as typesetting is currently practised.

QuarkXPress - The software that eventually unseated PageMaker as the preeminant page layout during the 1990s. In recent years it has lost ground to Adobe's PageMaker replacement, InDesign. This is largely due to Adobe's packaging InDesign along with Photoshop and Illustrator as the Creative Suite (now in version 4).

Quire - 1/20th of a ream (25 sheets).

Return to top of page.


Rag paper - high quality stationery made from cotton rags.

Ragged - lines of type that do not start or end at the same position.

Ranged left/right - successive lines of type which are of unequal length and which are aligned at either the right or left hand column.

Raster Image Processor (RIP) - the hardware engine which calculates the bit-mapped image of text and graphics from a series of instructions. It may, or may not, understand a page description language but the end result should, if the device has been properly designed, be the same.

Ream - 500 sheets of paper.

Reference marks - symbols used in text to direct the reader to a footnote. Eg asterisk (*), dagger, double dagger, section mark ( ), paragraph mark ( ).

Register marks - used in color printing to position the paper correctly. Usually crosses or circles.

Register - the correct positioning of an image especially when printing one color on another.

Resolution - the measurement used in typesetting to express quality of output. Measured in dots per inch, the greater the number of dots, the more smoother and cleaner appearance the character/image will have. Currently Page (laser) Printers print at 300, 406 and 600dpi. Typesetting machines print at 1,200 dpi or more.

Rest in Proportion (RIP) - an instruction when giving sizes to artwork or photographs that other parts of the artwork are to be enlarged or reduced in proportion.

Retouching - a means of altering artwork or color separations to correct faults or enhance the image.

Reverse out - to reproduce as a white image out of a solid background.

Revise - indicates the stages at which corrections have been incorporated from earlier proofs and new proofs submitted. Eg First revise, second revise.

Right reading - a positive or negative which reads from left to right.

Roman - type which has vertical stems as distinct from italics or oblique which are set at angles.

Rotary press - a web or reel fed printing press which uses a curved printing plate mounted on the plate cylinder.

Rough - a preliminary sketch of a proposed design.

Royal - a size of printing paper 20in x 25in (508 x 635mm).

Ruler - rulers displayed on the sreen that show measures in inches, picas or millimeters.

Runaround (see also Text wrap) - the ability within a program to run text around a graphic image within a document, without the need to ajust each line manually.

Running head - a line of type at the top of a page which repeats a heading.

Return to top of page.


S/S (Same size) - an instruction to reproduce to the same size as the original.

Saddle stitching - a method of binding where the folded pages are stitched through the spine from the outside, using wire staples. Usually limited to 64 pages size.

Sans serif - a typeface that has no serifs (small strokes at the end of main stroke of the character).

Scale - the means within a program to reduce or enlarge the amount of space an image will occupy. Some programs maintain the aspect ratio between width and height whilst scaling,

thereby avoiding distortion.

Scaling - a means of calculating the amount of enlargement or reduction necessary to accommodate a photograph within the area of a design.

Scamp - a sketch of a design showing the basic concept.

Scanner - a digitizing device using light sensitivity to translate a picture or typed text into a pattern of tiny squares (or pixels) which can be understood and stored by a computer. To obtain acceptable quality when scanning photographs, at least 256 grey scales are required.

Scraperboard - a board prepared with black indian ink over a china clay surface. Drawings are produced by scraping away the ink to expose the china clay surface.

Section mark ( ) - a character used at the beginning of a new section. Also used as a footnote symbol.

Section - a printed sheet folded to make a multiple of pages.

Security paper - paper incorporating special features (dyes, watermarks etc) for use on cheques.

Serif - a small cross stroke at the end of the main stroke of the letter.

Set size - the width of the type body of a given point size.

Set solid - type set without extra leading (line spacing) between the lines. Type is often set with extra space; eg 9 point set on 10 point, while 9 set on 9 point line spacing is said to be set solid. Modern practical usage has blurred the difference between leading and line spacing.

Set off - the accidental transfer of the printed image from one sheet to the back of another.

Sheet - a single piece of paper. In poster work refers to the number of Double Crown sets in a full size poster.

Sheet fed - a printing press which prints single sheets of paper, not reels.

Sheetwise - a method of printing a section. Half the pages from a section are imposed and printed. The remaining half of the pages are then printed on the other side of the sheet.

Show-through - see opacity.

Side stabbed or stitched - the folded sections of a book are stabbed through with wire staples at the binding edge, prior to the covers being drawn on.

Side heading - a subheading set flush into the text at the left edge.

Sidebar - a vertical bar positioned usually on the right hand side of the screen.

Signature - a letter or figure printed on the first page of each section of a book and used as a guide when collating and binding.

Sixteen sheet - a poster size measuring 120in x 80in (3050mm x 2030mm).

Size - a solution based on starch or casein which is added to the paper to reduce ink absorbency.

Slurring - a smearing of the image, caused by paper slipping during the impression stage.

Small caps - a set of capital leters which are smaller than standard and are equal in size to the lower case letters for that typesize.

Snap-to (guide or rules) - a WYSIWYG program feature for accurately aligning text or graphics. The effect is exercised by various non-printing guidelines such as column guides, margin guides which automatically places the text or graphics in the correct position flush to the column guide when activated by the mouse. The feature is optional and can be turned off.

Soft back/cover - a book bound with a paper back cover.

Soft or discretionary hyphen - a specially coded hyphen which is only displayed when formatting of the hyphenated word puts it at the end of a line.

Solid -

Spell check - a facility contained in certain word processing and page makeup programs to enable a spelling error check to be carried out. Dictionaries of American origin may not conform to English standards and the option should be available within the program to modify the contents. Dictionaries usually contain between 60,000-100,000 words.

Spine - the binding edge at the back of a book.

SRA - a paper size in the series of ISO international paper sizes slightly larger than the A series allowing the printer extra space to bleed.

Stat - photostat copy.

Stem - the main vertical stroke making up a type character.

Stet - used in proof correction work to cancel a previous correction. From the Latin; 'let it stand'.

Strap - a subheading used above the main headline in a newspaper article.

Strawboard - a thicker board made from straw pulp, used in bookwork and in the making of envelopes and cartons. Not suitable for printing.

Strike-through - the effect of ink soaking through the printed sheet.

Style sheet - a collection of tags specifying page layout styles, paragraph settings and type specifications which can be set up by the user and saved for use in other documents. Most page makeup programs come with a set of style sheets.

Subscript - the small characters set below the normal letters or figures.

Supercalendered paper - a smooth finished paper with a polished appearance, produced by rolling the paper between calenders. Examples of this are high gloss and art papers.

Superscript - the small characters set above the normal letters or figures.

Surprint (US) - (see Overprinting) printing over a previously printed area of either text or graphics.

Swash letters - italic characters with extra flourishes used at the beginning of chapters.

Swatch - a color sample.

Return to top of page.


Tabloid - a page half the size of a broadsheet.

Tabular setting - text set in columns such as timetables.

Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) - a common format for interchanging digital information, generally associated with greyscale or bitmap data.

Tags - the various formats which make up a style sheet- paragraph settings, margins and columns, page layouts, hyphernation and justification, widow and orphan control and automatic section numbering.

Template - a standard layout usually containing basic details of the page dimensions.

Text wrap - see Runaround.

Text - the written or printed material which forms the main body of a publication.

Text type - typefaces used for the main text of written material. Generally no larger than 14 point in size.

Thermography - a print finishing process producing a raised image imitating die stamping. The process takes a previously printed image which before the ink is dry is dusted with a resinous powder. The application of heat causes the ink and powder to fuse and a raised image is formed.

Thin space - the thinnest space normally used to separate words.

Thirty two sheet - a poster size measuring 120in x 160in (3048mm x 4064mm).

Threaded or Chained (US) - see Pipelining.

Thumbnails - the first ideas or sketches of a designer noted down for future reference.

Tied letters - see Ligature.

Tint - the effect of adding white to a solid color or of screening a solid area.

Tip in - the separate insertion of a single page into a book either during or after binding by pasting one edge.

Tone line process - the process of producing line art from a continuous tone original.
Toolbox - an on screen mouse operated facility that allows the user to choose from a selection of 'tools' to create simple goemetric shapes- lines, boxes, circles etc. and to add fill patterns.

Transparency - a full color photographically produced image on transparent film.

Trash can (US) - the icon selected for the deleting of files or objects.

Trim - the cutting of the finished product to the correct size. Marks are incorporated on the printed sheet to show where the trimming is to be made.

Turnkey - a system designed for a specific user and to work as an integrated unit. Usually has built-in contractual responsibilities for hardware and software maintenance.

Twin wire - paper which has an identical smooth finish on both sides.

Typeface - the raised surface carrying the image of a type character cast in metal. Also used to refer to a complete set of characters forming a family in a particular design or style.

Typescript - a typed manuscript.

Typo (US) - an abbreviation for typographical error. An error in the typeset copy.

Typographer - a specialist in the design of printed matter, and in particular the art of typography.

Typography - the design and planning of printed matter using type.

Return to top of page.


U&lc - an abbreviation for UPPER and lower case.

Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) - gives protection to authors or originators of text, photographs or illustrations etc, to prevent use without permission or acknowledgment. The publication should carry the copyright mark c, the name of the originator and the year of publication.

Return to top of page.


Varnishing - a finishing process whereby a transparent varnish is applied over the printed sheet to produce a glossy finish.

Vellum - the treated skin of a calf used as a writing material. The name is also used to describe a thick creamy book paper.

Ventura Publisher - One of the earliest desktop publishing packages originally marketed by Xerox. Ventura has since been purchased by Corel. The Ventura approach is a document-oriented one working on the basis that each page will have a similar format. The package with its lends itself to the production of manuals and directories.

Vertical justification - the ability to ajust the interline spacing (leading) and manipulation of text in fine increments to make columns and pages end at the same point on a page.

Vignette - a small illustration in a book not enclosed in a definite border.

Return to top of page.


Watermark - an impression incorporated in the paper making process showing the name of the paper and/or the company logo.

Web - a continuous roll of printing paper used on web-fed presses.

Weight - the degree of boldness or thickness of a letter or font.

Wf - an abbreviation for 'wrong fount'. Used when correcting proofs to indicate where a character is in the wrong typeface.

Widow - a single word left on the last line of a paragraph which falls at the top of a page.

Windows - a software technique that allows a rectangular area of a computer screen to display output from a program. With a number of programs running at one time, several windows can appear on the screen at one time. Information can be cut and pasted from one window to another. The best known version of "windows" is that developed by Microsoft.

Wire - the wire mesh used at the wet end of the paper making process. The wire determines the textures of the paper.

Wire stitching - see saddle or side stitching.

Woodfree paper - made from chemical pulp only with size added. Supplied calendered or supercalendered.

Word break - the division of a word at the end of a line.

Word wrap - in word processing, the automatic adjustment of the number of words on a line of text to match the margin settings. The carriage returns set up by this method are termed "soft", as against "hard" carriage returns resulting from the return key being pressed.

Work and turn - a method of printing where pages are imposed in one forme or assembled on one film. One side is then printed and the sheet is then turned over and printed from the other edge using the same forme. The finished sheet is then cut to produce two complete copies.

Work and tumble - a method of printing where pages are again imposed together. The sheet is then printed on one side with the sheet being turned or tumbled from front to rear to print the opposite side.

Wove - a finely textured paper without visible wire marks.

WYSIWYG - What-you-see-is-what-you-get (pronounced "wizzywig") - used to describe systems that preview full pages on the screen with text and graphics. The term can however be a little misleading due to difference in the resolution of the computer screen and that of the page printer.

Return to top of page.


X-height - the height of a letter excluding the ascenders and descenders; eg 'x', which is also height of the main body.

Xerography - a photocopying/printing process in which the image is formed using the electrostatic charge principle. The toner replaces ink and can be dry or liquid. Once formed, the image is sealed by heat. Most page printers currently use this method of printing.

Return to top of page. 



Return to top of page.



Return to top of page.

Go to Pt. 1

The preceding text is taken from a glossary of printing and typesetting terms that was compiled by Henry Budgett (henryb@sco.COM). This glossary of terms associated with the typesetting and printing industries was put together as a series of articles in a newsletter called ``Desktop Publisher'' published between 1986 and 1989. Some entries have been updated and edited to reflect changes in technology. The material was gathered from a wide variety of sources and compiled by J K Johnstone who deserves credit for the original effort. The material contained in this glossary is originally the copyright of The Desktop Publishing Company Ltd.