A – Glossary of Print and Design Terms

Welcome to our comprehensive glossary of print and design terms. We are continually seeking to grow and improve this glossary, so if you spot any definition you do not agree with, a term that is missing, or have any comments in general, please email our reference team.

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A SizesSeries of finished trimmed sizes in the ISO international paper size range
A/WAn abbreviation for artwork
A4 ContinuousNearest comparable size to A4. Produced on continuous machines it allows 1/2′ on either edge for removal of sprocket holes after end-use via computer printer. Size is 11.666′ depth x 9.25′. With micro perfs compares favourably with A4 cut sheet
AAAn abbreviation for Author’s Alteration(s)
AATArt and Architecture Thesaurus. A structured vocabulary relating to fine art, architecture and decorative arts
Abrasion ResistanceThe resistance to scratching of a surface of paper by other paper surfaces or other materials
AbsorbencyThe ability of a material to take up moisture
AbsorptionIn paper, the property that causes it to take up liquids or vapors in contact with it. In optics, the partial suppression of light through a transparent or translucent material
ACAbbreviation for Author’s Correction(s)
Access ImagesA term used to denote low resolution images (thumbnails, ¼ screen images) that are made available (usually at no cost) via e.g. the Internet
AccessibilityConsideration given to ensure that a service (web site etc.) is made available to users whether or not they have a disability
Accordion FoldFolding paper by bending each fold in the opposite direction of the previous fold creating a pleated or accordion effect
AcetateA transparent or translucent plastic sheet material coming in a variety of colours, used as a basis for artwork and overlays
AchromaticThe non-colours (black, white and grey)
Acid-free PaperPaper made from pulp containing little or no acid so it resists deterioration from age. Also called alkaline paper, archival paper
AcrobatAcrobat is part of a set of applications developed by Adobe to create and view PDF files. Acrobat is used to create the PDF files, and the freeware Acrobat Reader is used to read the PDF files
AcrylicA water-soluble polymer added to paints to make it tough and flexible after drying
Actinic RaysLight exposure that affects chemical changes in paper
Additive ColourColour produced by light falling onto a surface, as compared to subtractive colour. The additive primate colours are red, green and blue. Varying the combination of these three hues creates other colours. Computer monitors and televisions are the most common applications of additive colour
ADF or Automatic Document FeederAn attachment to either a scanner or a fax machine that automatically feeds one sheet of paper at a time. Usually, these documents will already contain printed data
AdvanceOften a pre-payment, given to the author at various stages during development of a book, typically half is paid on signature of contract and half on publication of the book. The sum is an advance on the royalties that will be paid to the author once the book has been published
AerateThis refers to a manual process in which an air stream is blown onto paper sheets to create a riffling effect that separates the sheets as they are fed to the printing press
Against the GrainAt right angles to the grain direction of the paper being used, as compared to with the grain. Also called across the grain and cross grain
AgateA type size of 5 1/2 points. See also Agate Line
Agate lineIn newspaper classifieds, a measurement denoting 1/4-inch depth by one column width. There are 14 agate lines in one column inch
AirLarge white areas in a design layout
Air DriedPaper dried by a current of warm air after tubsizing
AirbrushA compressed air tool that dispenses a fine mist of paint or ink. It is used in illustration and photo retouching
Albion PressA hand-operated printing press made of iron
Album paperA wood pulp paper with an antique finish used for pages of photo albums
Albumen PlateA surface plate used in the lithography process. It has a photosensitive coating
Albumin PaperA coated paper used in photography. The coating is made of albumen (egg whites) and ammonium chloride
AlgorithmA computer program that will perform e.g. compression of file sizes
AliasingIn graphic design, aliasing occurs when a computer monitor, printer, or graphics file does not have a high enough resolution to represent a graphic image or text. An aliased image is often said to have the “jaggies”
AlignmentThe position of type and or art materials as they are aligned on a horizontal or vertical line
Alkali BlueAlso called reflex blue. A pigment used in carbon black inks and varnishes to improve luster
AlleyA random, coincidental path or a row of white space within a segment of copy
Alphabet LengthThe measured length (in points) of the lower case alphabet of a certain size and series of type
ALT AttributePart of the image source tag in HTML
AlterationAny change made by the customer after copy or artwork has been given to the printer. The change could be in copy, specifications, or both.
AmberlithA red-orange acetate used for masking mechanicals when photographing for plates. The amberlith area appears black to the camera, and prints clear on the resulting film
Ambient LightThis is the existing light found in a scene before the photographer introduces additional lights
Angle BarIn web-fed printing (printing on rolls of paper as opposed to single sheets), an angle bar is a metal bar that is used to turn paper between two components of the press
AnilineAn oil based solvent (quick drying) used in the preparation process of dyes and inks
Animal SizedA technique of papermaking that hardens the paper surface by passing the paper through a bath of animal glue or gelatin
Animated GIFA GIF graphic file, which consists of two or more images shown in a timed sequence to give the effect of motion
Animated Raster ImagesAn animated file based on pixels rather than vectors. The GIF file format is widely used for raster animation
AnimationAnimation is the creation of a timed sequence or series of graphic images or frames together to give the appearance of continuous movement
Anodized PlateIn lithography, a plate manufactured with a barrier of aluminum oxide, which prevents chemical reactions from breaking down the plate; it provides optimum press performance
Anti AliasA technique where neighbouring pixels are blended to reduce the stair stepping affect often found along contrasting edges
Anti-Halation BackingA protective coating used on film (non-emulsion side) that prevents light from reflecting back, or haloing back into the emulsion
Anti-Offset PowderFine powder lightly sprayed over the printed surface of coated paper as sheets leave a press. Also called dust, offset powder and spray powder
AntiquarianA handmade paper (53 x 31 inches) – the largest known handmade paper
Antique FinishDescription of paper finish, a natural, rough texture, usually selected for book and cover papers where bulk and light weight are required
Anti-Skinning AgentAn antioxidant agent used to prevent inks from skinning over in the can
ApronThe white area of text (or illustrations) at the margins, which form a foldout
Aqua TintA printing process that uses the recessed areas of the plate; ideal for graded and even tones
AquarelleThe hand application of colour, through stencils onto a printed picture
Aqueous PlateWater-soluble plate coatings, which are less toxic and less polluting
Arc LightA light source produced by the passing of electric current between two electrodes; used in the production of plates in photolithography
Archival ImageA digital image taken at the highest practicable resolution and stored securely
Area ArrayA common type of detector (see CCD and CMOS) arrangement within a digital camera. Contains a fixed number of horizontal and vertical pixels
ArmsThose elements of letters that branch out from the stem of a letter, such as: “K” and “Y”
ArrowheadA symbol shaped like an arrowhead that is used in an illustration to direct a leader line
Art Lined EnvelopeAn envelope that is lined with an extra fine paper; can be coloured or patterned
Art PaperA paper evenly coated with a fine clay compound, which creates a hard smooth surface on one or both sides
ArtefactsA term used to denote unwanted blemishes, which may have been introduced to an image by electrical noise during scanning or during compression
ArtworkAny material or image that is prepared for graphic reproduction
ArtworkText, graphics, images and illustrations arranged individually or in any combination for subsequent printing.
As to PressIn gravure printing, (recessed areas of plate hold ink), a term used for proofs showing the final position of colour images
AscenderAny part of a lower case letter which rises above the main body of the letter such as in “d”, “b” and “h”
ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)ASCII is the most common format for text files in computers and on the Internet. It can be converted into other formats and is the simplest form of electronic text for manuscript submission
Ash ContentAsh content is determined by the amount of mineral fillers contained in paper. Stiffness of paper is reduced by increased ash content
ASP (Active Server Page)A dynamically generated web page, generally using ActiveX scripting. When a browser or a search engine spider requests an ASP page from a server, the server generates the web page with HTML code and gives it to the browser or spider
Assembled NegativeFilm negatives consisting of line and halftone copy that are used to make plates for printing
Assembled ViewIn illustration, a term used to describe a view of a drawing in its assembled or whole format
Autochrome PaperCoated papers that are regarded as exceptional for multi-coloured printing jobs
AutolithographyA printing method whereby the image is hand drawn or etched directly onto lithography plates or stones
Automatic Sheet FeederA device attached to a scanner, printer or photocopier which enables automatic processing of large numbers of documents
AutopositiveAny photo materials that provide positive images without a negative
AzureThe light blue colour used in the nomenclature of “laid” and “wove” papers