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 Sizes Series of finished trimmed sizes in the ISO international paper size range
A/W An abbreviation for artwork
A4 Continuous Nearest 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
AA An abbreviation for Author’s Alteration(s)
AAT Art and Architecture Thesaurus. A structured vocabulary relating to fine art, architecture and decorative arts
Abrasion Resistance The resistance to scratching of a surface of paper by other paper surfaces or other materials
Absorbency The ability of a material to take up moisture
Absorption In 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
AC Abbreviation for Author’s Correction(s)
Access Images A term used to denote low resolution images (thumbnails, ¼ screen images) that are made available (usually at no cost) via e.g. the Internet
Accessibility Consideration given to ensure that a service (web site etc.) is made available to users whether or not they have a disability
Accordion Fold Folding paper by bending each fold in the opposite direction of the previous fold creating a pleated or accordion effect
Acetate A transparent or translucent plastic sheet material coming in a variety of colours, used as a basis for artwork and overlays
Achromatic The non-colours (black, white and grey)
Acid-free Paper Paper made from pulp containing little or no acid so it resists deterioration from age. Also called alkaline paper, archival paper
Acrobat Acrobat 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
Acrylic A water-soluble polymer added to paints to make it tough and flexible after drying
Actinic Rays Light exposure that affects chemical changes in paper
Additive Colour Colour 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 Feeder An 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
Advance Often 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
Aerate This 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 Grain At 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
Agate A type size of 5 1/2 points. See also Agate Line
Agate line In newspaper classifieds, a measurement denoting 1/4-inch depth by one column width. There are 14 agate lines in one column inch
Air Large white areas in a design layout
Air Dried Paper dried by a current of warm air after tubsizing
Airbrush A compressed air tool that dispenses a fine mist of paint or ink. It is used in illustration and photo retouching
Albion Press A hand-operated printing press made of iron
Album paper A wood pulp paper with an antique finish used for pages of photo albums
Albumen Plate A surface plate used in the lithography process. It has a photosensitive coating
Albumin Paper A coated paper used in photography. The coating is made of albumen (egg whites) and ammonium chloride
Algorithm A computer program that will perform e.g. compression of file sizes
Aliasing In 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”
Alignment The position of type and or art materials as they are aligned on a horizontal or vertical line
Alkali Blue Also called reflex blue. A pigment used in carbon black inks and varnishes to improve luster
Alley A random, coincidental path or a row of white space within a segment of copy
Alphabet Length The measured length (in points) of the lower case alphabet of a certain size and series of type
ALT Attribute Part of the image source tag in HTML
Alteration Any change made by the customer after copy or artwork has been given to the printer. The change could be in copy, specifications, or both.
Amberlith A 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 Light This is the existing light found in a scene before the photographer introduces additional lights
Angle Bar In 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
Aniline An oil based solvent (quick drying) used in the preparation process of dyes and inks
Animal Sized A technique of papermaking that hardens the paper surface by passing the paper through a bath of animal glue or gelatin
Animated GIF A GIF graphic file, which consists of two or more images shown in a timed sequence to give the effect of motion
Animated Raster Images An animated file based on pixels rather than vectors. The GIF file format is widely used for raster animation
Animation Animation is the creation of a timed sequence or series of graphic images or frames together to give the appearance of continuous movement
Anodized Plate In 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 Alias A technique where neighbouring pixels are blended to reduce the stair stepping affect often found along contrasting edges
Anti-Halation Backing A protective coating used on film (non-emulsion side) that prevents light from reflecting back, or haloing back into the emulsion
Anti-Offset Powder Fine powder lightly sprayed over the printed surface of coated paper as sheets leave a press. Also called dust, offset powder and spray powder
Antiquarian A handmade paper (53 x 31 inches) – the largest known handmade paper
Antique Finish Description of paper finish, a natural, rough texture, usually selected for book and cover papers where bulk and light weight are required
Anti-Skinning Agent An antioxidant agent used to prevent inks from skinning over in the can
Apron The white area of text (or illustrations) at the margins, which form a foldout
Aqua Tint A printing process that uses the recessed areas of the plate; ideal for graded and even tones
Aquarelle The hand application of colour, through stencils onto a printed picture
Aqueous Plate Water-soluble plate coatings, which are less toxic and less polluting
Arc Light A light source produced by the passing of electric current between two electrodes; used in the production of plates in photolithography
Archival Image A digital image taken at the highest practicable resolution and stored securely
Area Array A common type of detector (see CCD and CMOS) arrangement within a digital camera. Contains a fixed number of horizontal and vertical pixels
Arms Those elements of letters that branch out from the stem of a letter, such as: “K” and “Y”
Arrowhead A symbol shaped like an arrowhead that is used in an illustration to direct a leader line
Art Lined Envelope An envelope that is lined with an extra fine paper; can be coloured or patterned
Art Paper A paper evenly coated with a fine clay compound, which creates a hard smooth surface on one or both sides
Artefacts A term used to denote unwanted blemishes, which may have been introduced to an image by electrical noise during scanning or during compression
Artwork Any material or image that is prepared for graphic reproduction
Artwork Text, graphics, images and illustrations arranged individually or in any combination for subsequent printing.
As to Press In gravure printing, (recessed areas of plate hold ink), a term used for proofs showing the final position of colour images
Ascender Any 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 Content Ash 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 Negative Film negatives consisting of line and halftone copy that are used to make plates for printing
Assembled View In illustration, a term used to describe a view of a drawing in its assembled or whole format
Autochrome Paper Coated papers that are regarded as exceptional for multi-coloured printing jobs
Autolithography A printing method whereby the image is hand drawn or etched directly onto lithography plates or stones
Automatic Sheet Feeder A device attached to a scanner, printer or photocopier which enables automatic processing of large numbers of documents
Autopositive Any photo materials that provide positive images without a negative
Azure The light blue colour used in the nomenclature of “laid” and “wove” papers