B – 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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B SizesISO International sizes, intended primarily for posters, wall charts and similar items where there is too great a difference in size of the larger sheets in the A Size series
Back LiningThe fixing of a material, either paper or cloth, to the back of a book before it is bound. See also case binding
Back MarginA term referring to the margin that lies closest to the back of the book
Back Step CollationThe collation of book signatures according to reference marks that are printed on the back fold of each section
Back to BackPrint applied to both sides of a sheet of paper
Back Up1. To print on the second side of a sheet already printed on one side.2. To adjust an image on one side of a sheet so that it aligns back-to-back with an image on the other side
BackboneThe portion of the binding which connects the front of the book with the back of the book; also called “back”
BackgroundThe portion of a photograph or line art drawing that appears furthest from the eye; the surface upon which the main image is superimposed
Background ReflectanceOptical quality of a background surface, such as paper. It is described in terms of the amount of radiant energy received from its surface by a sensing device. Reflectance is expressed as a percentage of a standard reference material
Backing PaperCarrier for self adhesive material such as labels. The backing readily separates from the adhesive label prior to the application of the material to a surface. See also Release Paper
BacklistA generic term for books more than a year old, which are still available for sale
BackslantAny type that tilts to the left or backward direction; opposite of italic type
Backstep MarksMarks printed on signatures that indicate where the final fold will occur. When gathering and initial folding is completed, these marks appear as a stepped sequence
BakingA term given to the procedure of drying coatings onto papers
BalanceA term used to describe the aesthetic or harmony of elements, whether they are photos, art or copy, within a layout or design
BalloonIn an illustration, any line that encircles copy or dialogue
BandingWhen a printer fails to recreate a subtle gradient of tone or colour a banded area of flat colours are printed instead
BandwidthIn digital systems bandwidth is a measure of data speed in bits per second. A high bandwidth network is required for fast transfer of image files as they typically contain large amounts of data. On average, typical telephone lines can carry 1K of information per second
Bank PaperFine writing or typewriting paper – ranging in weight from 45gsm to under 63gsm. Mainly for use with carbon paper to take one or more copies from a top copy of heavier weight
Banker’s Flap EnvelopeAlso called wallet flap; the wallet flap has more rounded flap edges
Banner1. A banner is a graphic image (static, animated, or rich media) that is placed on web sites as an advertisement. Banners are commonly used for brand awareness and generating sales.2. The primary headline usually spanning the entire width of a page.3. Large format graphics on flexible material
Banner PaperLong sheets of strong paper to allow for bigger printing. Usually used for making a statement, organisation charts, flow charts, statistics and planners. Banner paper is available in both A4 and A3 widths
Barn DoorsA device with two sets of thin metal doors (horizontal and vertical) placed before a light source to control the direction of light
Barrier CoatA coating that is applied onto the non-printing side of paper to add to the opacity of that paper. See also opacity
Baryta PaperA coated stock (barium sulfate compound) used for text impressions on typesetting machines
BaseThe support on to which printing plates are fixed
Base FilmThe foundation material on to which the film positives are stripped for making printing plates. See also photomechanical
Base LineThe imaginary horizontal line upon which stand capitals, lower case letters, punctuation points, etc
Basic SizeSize of paper used to define basis weight. Size varies depending on the paper grade. Basic size of bond and writing papers is 17′ x 22′. Basic size of offset papers is 25′ x38′
Basis WeightBasis or basic weight refers to the weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to a given standard size for that particular paper grade
Bas-ReliefA three-dimensional impression in which the image stands just slightly out from the flat background. See also blind emboss
BastardAny non-standard or abnormal element, i.e. a font that is different than the set of fonts in which it appears
Batch ProcessA method of processing digital images in large amounts (perhaps overnight) such that minimal staff time is required
BauhausA design school in Germany where the Sans Serif font was originated
BearoffThe adjusting of spacing of type in order to correct the justification
BedThe steel flat table of a cylinder printing press upon which the type sits during the printing process
Bench WorkAny operations performed by hand by a finishing department, e.g. stuffing envelopes, folding by hand, adding inserts, packing etc
Bending ChipA recycled paperboard product used for making folding cartons
BevelAdding a beveled effect to a graphic image gives the image a raised appearance by applying highlight colours and shadow colours to the inside and outside edges
BFAn abbreviation for boldface, used to determine where boldface copy is to be used. See also boldface
Bible PaperA thin but strong paper (opaque), used for bibles and books
Bimetal PlateA plate that is used in long print runs; the printing image is copper or brass, and the non-printing area is aluminum or stainless steel
BinaryComputer data made up of a series of 0s or 1s; each individual character is referred to as a bit
BindUsually in the bookwork field, but not exclusively, the joining of leafs or signatures together with either wire, glue or other means
Bind MarginAn increased margin that accommodates the reduction in paper area when a document is bound
Binder’s BoardA heavy paperboard with a cloth covering that is used for hardback binding of books
BinderyA department within a printing company responsible for collating, folding, adhesive binding or wire-stitching and trimming various printing products
Bit DepthThe bit depth of an image refers to the number of bits used to describe the colour of each pixel. Greater bit depth allows more colours to be used in the colour palette for the image. 8-bits per pixel will allow 256 colours, 8-bits per colour component in a RGB image will allow 16777216 colours (256 X 256 X 256)
BiteThe etching process in photoengraving requires the application of an acid; the length of time this acid is left to etch out an image is referred to as its bite. The more bites, the deeper the etched area
Bitmap Image (BMP)A graphic image stored as a specific arrangement of screen dots, or pixels. Web graphics are bitmap images. A graphic which is defined by specifying the colours of dots or pixels which make up the picture. Also known as raster graphics. Common types of bitmap graphics are GIF, JPEG, Photoshop, PCX, TIFF, Macintosh Paint, Microsoft Paint, PNG, FAX formats, and TGA
Bit-Mapped Imagesee Raster Image
BitonalAn image with black and white pixel information only
Black and WhiteOriginals or reproductions in single colour, as distinguished from multicolour
Black FinishBlack Finish is a printer driver option that controls the way in which black is printed in colour documents. There are two options, true black where black toner is used to print black and composite black where equal amounts of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow toner are used to print black. True black is best used for text whereas composite black is best used for photographs
Black LetterAn old style of typeface used in Germany in the 15th century, also referred to as Old English (US) and Gothic (UK)
Black OutAlso referred to as black patch; a piece of masking material which is used in layout to mask an area leaving a window into which another element can be stripped
Black OverprintBlack overprint is when 100% black text is printed over a coloured background without removing the coloured background from behind the text. Black overprint is used to prevent registration problems where a white space can appear around each character
Black Photo PaperA black paper used to protect photosensitive materials
Black PrinterRefers to the film portion of the colour separation process that prints black; increases the contrast of neutral tones
BlackeningDarkening a portion of a sheet of paper due to the excessive pressure of the calender roll. See also calender rolls
Blad (Book Layout and Design)Blad is a marketing and sales tool, used for titles that will sell heavily through the trade, where advanced colour material is needed by the sales force to sell the title. A blad will often feature sections from the finished book, including the cover artwork, page layouts and images
Blade CoatedPaper coating method using an air blade or metal blade
BlankA blank page within a publication – no element whatsoever appears on a blank
BlanketIn offset printing, a rubber-surfaced fabric that is clamped around a cylinder, to which the image is transferred from the plate and from which it is transferred to the paper
Blanket to Blanket PressA printing method in which there are two blanket cylinders through which a sheet of paper is passed and printed on both sides
Bleed or Bleeding EdgeWhen a page or a cover design extends to and off the edge of the paper it is called a “bleed”. In print design, the artwork or block of colour must extend off the edge of the page (usually 3mm). The artwork or block of colour is then printed on larger-size paper. Then the printed page is trimmed to the desired size
Blind EmbossA design or bas relief impression that is made without using inks or metal foils
Blind FolioA page that is counted in the overall counting of pages, but the number is not printed on the page
Blind Image1. Image debossed, embossed or stamped, but not printed with ink or foil.2. A problem that arises in the lithography process when an image loses its ink receptivity and fails to print
BlisteringAlthough seemingly dry, paper does contain approximately 5% moisture. In cases where there is excessive moisture, and the paper is passed through a high heat-drying chamber, the moisture within the paper actually boils and causes a bubble or blistering effect
BlockIllustrations or line art etched onto zinc or copper plates and used in letterpress printing
Block InTo sketch the primary areas and points of reference of an illustration in preparation for going to final design or production
Block ResistanceThe resistance of coated papers to blocking. See also blocking
Blocking1. The adhesion of one coated sheet to another, causing paper tears or particles of the coating to shed away from the paper surface.2. In binding, to impress or stamp a design upon the cover. The design can be blocked in coloured inks, gold leaf or metal foil
Blocking OutTo mask a section of an art layout before reproduction
Blow UpAn enlargement, usually used with graphic images or photographs
BloxBooks constructed of loose leaves. Fully collated into individual books awaiting further finishing operations
BluelinePrepress photographic proof made from stripped negatives where all colours show as blue images on white paper. Because ‘blueline’ is a generic term for proofs made from a variety of materials having identical purposes and similar appearances, it may also be called a blackprint, blue, blueprint, brownline, brownprint, diazo, dyeline, ozalid, position proof, silverprint, Dylux
BlurbThe short promotional text, which usually appears on the back or inside cover of a book. An extended version of the blurb is included in the NBA. The blurb may also form part of any marketing or promotional copy used
Board PaperGeneral term for paper over 200 gsm that is commonly used for products such as file folders, displays and post cards
Body1. A term used to define the thickness or viscosity of printer’s ink.2. The main shank or portion of the letter character other than the ascenders and descenders.3. The main text of work not including the headlines
Body PaperBase of coated paper
Body SizeThe point size of a particular type character
Boiler PlateBlocks of repetitive type used and copied over and over again
BoldfaceAny type that has a heavier black stroke that makes it more conspicuous
BoltsThe edges of folded sheets of paper, which are trimmed off in the final stages of production
Bond PaperA grade of writing or printing paper where strength, durability and permanence are essential requirements; used for letterheads, business forms, etc
BookA general classification to describe papers used to print books; its standard size is 25×38 inches and contains more than 64 pages
Book BlockA term given the unfinished stage of bookmaking when the pages are folded, gathered and stitched-in but not yet cover bound
Book PaperCategory of paper suitable for books, magazines, catalogues, advertising and general printing needs. Book paper is divided into uncoated paper (also called offset paper), coated paper (also called art paper, enamel paper, gloss paper and slick paper) and text paper
Booklet PrintingBooklet printing refers to a feature where the printed document mimics the format of a book. To do this the pages within the document are re-ordered allowing the printed sheets to be folded to create the book. When printing large documents in booklet format the signature option should be used to create a manageable amount of paper to be folded.
BorderThe decorative design or rule surrounding matter on a page
Bounce1. A repeating registration problem at the printing stage.2. Customer unhappy with the results of a printing project and refuses to accept the project
Bound ProofsA copy of the page proofs received from the typesetter, bound up with the appearance of the final book. Bound proofs can be used to show a book at a conference, when final copies are not available, or carried by the sales force, to promote a book before copies are available. The text of bound proofs can be subject to change, once the author and copy-editor have made final changes
BourgesA pressure sensitive colour film that is used to prepare colour art
Box Cover PaperA lightweight paper used expressly for covering paper boxes
Box Enamel PaperA glossy coated paper used to cover paper boxes
Box LinersA coated paper used on the inside of boxes, which are used for food
BoxesThe stations on a finishing line into which folded sections of print are loaded so that they can be taken into the finished product in the correct order
BraceA character “}” used to group lines, or phrases
Break for ColourIn layout design, the term for dividing or separating the art and copy elements into single colour paste-up sheets
BrightnessIn photography, light reflected by the copy. In paper, the reflectance or brilliance of the paper
BrightnessNormally associated with white paper, this is the paper’s ability to reflect light. The brightness of a paper is expressed as a percentage, obtained by comparing a sample of paper, called a ”callibration sample”, with the paper to be tested
Brightness AdjustmentMay be thought of as the addition or subtraction of white light to a colour
Bristol BoardA board paper of various thicknesses; having a smooth finish and used for printing and drawing
Bristol PaperGeneral term referring to paper 6 points or thicker with basis weight between 200-500 gsm. Used for products such as index cards, file folders and displays
Broad FoldA term given to the fold whereby paper is folded with the short side running with the grain
Broadside1. Sheet of paper in its basic size, or paper that is not folded or cut.2. The term used to indicate work printed on one side of a large sheet of paper
BrocadeA heavily embossed paper
BrochureA pamphlet that is bound in booklet form
BronzingA printing method whereby special ink is applied to sheets and then a powder is applied producing a metallic effect
Brownline ProofA photographic proof made by exposing a flat to UV light creating a brown image on a white background. Also referred to as silverprint
BrowserThe software used to view, manage, and access web pages by interpreting hypertext and hyperlinks. The two most common browsers are Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Web pages often appear differently depending on the brand and version of the browser intended to view them in
Buckle FolderA portion of the binding machinery with rollers that fold the paper
BuckramA coarse sized cloth used in the bookbinding process
Build a ColourTo overlap two or more screen tints to create a new colour. Such an overlap is called a build, colour build, stacked screen build or tint build
Build-UpCondition at production stage, in which material such as paper dust or lint, accumulates and adheres to a roller, cylinder, blanket or other part of a press. Also refers to formation of an uneven pile caused when one side of a form is thicker
BulkThickness of paper [caliper], or the thickness of the total number of pages in a publication.
BulletA boldface square or dot used before a sentence to emphasize its importance
Bump ExposureA process used in halftone photography that temporarily removes the screen during exposure. This increases the highlight contrast and diminishes the dots in the whites
BundlerThe person producing the strapped bundles of folded sections
BurnA term used in plate making to describe the amount of plate exposure time
BurnishA term used for the process of “rubbing down” lines and dots on a printing plate, which darkens those rubbed areas
Burst BindingA binding technique that entails nicking the backfold in short lengths during the folding process, which allows glue to reach each individual leaf and create a strong bond.
Butt RegisterRegister where ink colours meet precisely without overlapping or allowing space between, as compared to lap register. Also called butt fit and kiss register