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Graphic Design Terms Glossary



AA: Abbreviation for Author’s Alterations.

ACCORDION FOLD: In binding, a term used for two or more parallel folds,
which open like an accordion.

ACROBAT: Adobe software that embodies the PDF format.
There is a free shareware program called Acrobat Reader that allows read only capabilities (i.e. – you can only view the document but can not change it!).

AGAINST THE GRAIN: Folding or feeding paper at right angles to the
grain direction of the paper.  Also called cross grain.

ALIGNMENT: The positioning of a body of text. Text can be positioned to the left, right, or "center" of a page. For the best, consistent alignment, web site designers use tables and Cascading Style Sheets.

ANIMATION: Animation is the creating of a timed sequence or series of graphic images
or frames placed in order to give the appearance of continuous movement.

ANTI_ALIASING: Smoothing or blending the transition of pixels in an image. Anti-aliasing the edges on a graphic image makes the edges appear smooth, not jagged.

ASP (Active Server Page): A dynamically generated web page. 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.

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BACKBONE: The back of a bound book connecting the two covers; also called spine.

BACKING UP: Printing the reverse side of a sheet already printed on one side.

BANDWIDTH: Bandwidth is the amount of information your connection to the Internet can carry. On average, typical telephone lines can carry 1K of information per second.

BANNER: 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.

BITMAP: In computer imaging, the electronic representation of a page, indicating the position of every possible spot (zero or one).

BLEED: An extra amount of printed image, which extends beyond the trim edge
of the sheet or page.

BOOKMARK: Just as a paper bookmark is used as a reminder of the page you are on in a book, electronic bookmarks are used to bring you back to a web site or other site you may want to return to. The Netscape browser lets you bookmark any site and save the bookmarks in a file you can recall at any time. Microsoft Internet Explorer uses the term "favorite" instead of bookmark for the same concept.

BROWSER: The software used to view, manage, and access web pages by interpreting hypertext and hyperlinks. The two most common browsers are Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Web pages often appear differently depending on the brand and version of the browser.

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CAMERA-READY:  Copy, which is ready for photography.

CHOKES AND SPREADS: Overlap of overprinting images to avoid color or white fringes or borders around image detail.  Called trapping in digital imaging systems.

CMYK:  (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) the subtractive process colors used in
color printing. Black (K) is added to enhance color and contrast.

COLOR BREAK: In artwork and composition, to separate the parts to be printed in different colors. Also called break for color.

COPY:  Any furnished material (typewritten manuscript, pictures, artwork, etc.) to be
used in the production of printing.

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DCS (Desktop Color Separation): In digital prepress, a data file standard defined to assist in making color separations with desktop publishing systems.  Using DCS five files are created: four color files, containing the cyan, magenta, yellow and black image data, and a composite color viewfile of the color image. 

EXTENDED DCS: Using DCS2, a view file is made CMY separated plates and additional spot color (PMS) plates are made.  This is how an image can be 5,6,7,8 or more colors.

DENSITOMETER: In photography, a photoelectric instrument which measures the
density of photographic images, or of colors.  In printing, a reflection densitometer is
used to measure and control the density of color inks on the substrate.

DIECUTTING:  The process of using sharp steel rules to cut special shapes for labels, boxes and containers, from printed sheets.  Die cutting can be done on either flatbed or rotary presses.  Rotary die cutting is usually done inline with the printing.

DIGITAL PLATES: Printing plates that can be exposed by lasers or other high-energy sources driven by digital data in a platesetter.

DIGITAL PRINTING: Printing by plateless imaging systems that are imaged by digital data from prepress systems.

DIRECT To PLATE: In plate making, Computer-to-Plate systems or plate setters eliminate the need for having a separate film-to-plate exposure system. 

DOT:  The individual element of a halftone.  In AM screening the dots vary in size.  In FM screening the dots are very small and usually all the same size.

DOT GAIN: In printing, a defect in which dots print larger than they should,
causing darker tones or stronger colors.

DRAWDOWN: In ink-making, a term used to describe ink chemist’s method of roughly determining color shade.  A small glob of ink is placed on paper and drawn down with the edge of a putty knife spatula to get a thin film of ink.

DTP: Acronym for Desktop Publishing.

DUMMY: A preliminary layout showing the position of illustrations and text as they are to appear in the final reproduction.  A set of blank pages made up in advance to show the size, shape form and general style of a piece of printing.

DUOTONE: In photomechanics, a term for a two-color halftone reproduction from a
one-color photograph. Generally a PMS color + Black.  However, many designers will
use 2 PMS colors for special effects. A good duotone image can simulate a wider range of the color spectrum than two colors used separately. Duotones also use a hue (color) to set the mood for a photo in a more stunning way than a full-color image can.

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EPS: (Encapsulated PostScript) In digital prepress, a file format used to transfer graphic images within compatible applications.  A file containing structured PostScript code,
comments and a screen display image. TIFF, JPEG, BMP, etc, other file formats commonly
used in files supplied to us. 

"Error 404": This error message means Page Not Found (on a server). 

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FILE:  A group of related information, such as text, graphics, page instructions and picture information stored on magnetic disks.

"Flash":  Video and Vector graphic animation software from Macromedia that allows Flash graphics to look the same across all browsers, as long as the plug-in is installed. One of the advantages of Flash animations is their relatively fast download time.

FLATBED SCANNER: A device that scans images in a manner similar to a photocopy machine: the original art is positioned face down on a glass plate.

FOLIO: The page number.

FONT: In composition, a complete assortment of letters, numbers, punctuations, etc.,
of a given size and design. A font is a complete set of characters in a particular size and style of type. This includes the letter set, the number set, and all of the special character and diacritical marks you get by pressing the shift, option, or command/control keys. For example, Times NewRoman Bold Italic is one font, and Times NewRoman Bold is another font. Times NewRoman is a single typeface.

FPO: (For Position Only) In digital imaging, typically a low-resolution image positioned in
a document to be replaced later with a higher resolution version of the same image.

FTP: Stands for File Transfer Protocol. FTP allows you to copy or send files (HTML-documents, graphic images, spreadsheets) from one computer to another via the Internet.

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GIF: Stands for Graphics Interchange Format. GIF images are the most widely used graphic format on the web. GIF images display up to 256 colors.

GRAIN: In papermaking, the direction in which most fibers lie which corresponds
with the direction in which the paper is made on paper machine.

GRAY SCALE: A strip of standard gray tones, ranging from white to black, placed
at the side of the original copy during photography to measure tonal range and contrast (gamma) obtained.

GRADIENT: A gradient is a gradual transition of colors. Many metallic images are gradients. Web images that use gradient fills as a special effect should be saved in a JPEG rather than a GIF format.

GRAYSCALE: An application of black ink (for print) or the color black (for the screen)
that simulates a range of tones. Grayscale images have no hue (color). In print design,
a grayscale graphic image appears to be black, white, and shades of gray, but it only
uses a single color ink.

GRIPPER EDGE: The leading edge of paper as it passes through a printing press. 
Also, the front edge of a lithographic or wrap-around plate secured to the front clamp
of a plate cylinder.

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HALFTONE: The reproduction of continuous-tone images, through a screening process, which converts the image into dots of various sizes and equal spacing between centers
(AM screening), or dots of equal size with variable spacing between them (FM screening)

HARD COPY: the permanent visual record of the output of a computer or printer
on a substrate.

HICKEYS: In offset lithography, spots or imperfections in the printing due to dirt on the press, dried ink skin, paper particles.

HUE: The actual color of an object. Hue is measured as a location on a color wheel, expressed in degrees. Hue is also understood as the names of specific colors, like blue,
red, yellow, etc.

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IMPOSETTER: In digital imaging, an imagesetter capable of outputting a printing plate with 4,8 or more pages in imposed position.

IMPOSITION: In image assemble, the positioning of pages on a signature so that after printing, folding and cutting, all pages will appear in the proper sequence. 

INK-JET PRINTING: In digital printing, a plateless printing system that produces
images directly on paper from digital date using steams of very fine drops of dyes
which are controlled by digital signals to produce images on paper.

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JPEG: Abbreviation for Joint Photographic Experts Group. File format for full-color and black-and-white graphic images. JPEG images allow for more colors than GIF images and are usually smaller in size.

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LAMINATION:  A plastic film bonded by heat and pressure to a printed sheet for protection or appearance.

LAYOUT: The drawing or sketch of a proposed printed piece.  In plate making,
a sheet indicating the settings for a step-and repeat machine.

LINE COPY: Any copy suitable for reproduction without using a halftone screen.

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MONOTONE: The term of a one-color halftone.  This can be any one color, CMYK,
PMS, metallic, etc. (This & Quadratone to supplement Duotone).

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NETWORK:  Two or more computers, which are linked and share resources to perform related tasks.  Group of computers that are connected to each other by communications
lines to share information and resources.

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PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEMS (PMS): Color charts that have over 700 preprinted color patches of blended inks, used to identify, display or define special colors.

PARALLEL FOLDS vs. RIGHT ANGLE FOLDS: The first fold of any folding style is always a parallel fold. The next fold can be a parallel fold or a right angle fold, depending upon the folding style. Parallel folds are parallel to each other. Right angle folds combine with parallel folds to make right angles. So, a right angle fold cannot happen without a parallel fold. Many times you will impose for parallel folds due to difficult crossovers.

PDF: (Portable Document File) A proprietary format for the transfer of designs across multiple computer platforms.  PDF is a universal electronic file format, modeled after the postscript language and is device – and resolution-independent.  Documents in the PDF format can be viewed, navigated, and printed from any computer regardless of the fonts
or software programs used to create the original.

PE’s: Abbreviation for Publisher’s Errors.

PIXEL:  Short for “picture element.”  A pixel is the smallest resolvable point of a raster image.  It is the basic unit of digital imaging.

POSTSCRIPT:  A page description language developed by Adobe Systems, Inc.  To describe an image for printing.  It handles both text and graphics.  A PostScript file is a purely text –based description of a page.

PREFLIGHTING: In digital prepress, the test used to evaluate or analyze every component of a file, as well as confirm the type of disk being submitted.  The color gamut, color breaks, and any art required (illustration, transparencies, reflective photos, etc.) plus layout files, screen fonts, printer fonts, EPS or TIFF files, laser proofs, pages size, print driver, crop marks, etc.

PROCESS COLORS: In printing, the subtractive primaries: yellow, magenta and cyan, plus black in four-color process printing.

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QUADRATONE: This term generally refers to a 4/C (CMYK) image that appears to be black & white.  It is used generally by high-end agencies/clients who want a black & white image with greater depth of field.

QUALITY CONTROL: Is a program of activities including customer service, process control and sampling with the objective of eliminating causes of process variability.

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RASTER IMAGE PROCESS (RIP): In digital imaging, a combination of computer software and hardware that controls the printing process by calculating the bitmaps of
images and instructing a printing device to create the images.  Most PostScript systems
use a hardware RIP built into the printer.

REGISTER: In printing, fitting of two or more printing images in exact alignment
with each other.

RESOLUTION: In electronic imaging, the quantification of printout quality using the number of spots per inch.

RGB (RED, GREEN and BLUE): The primary additive colors used in display devices and scanners.  Commonly used to refer to the color space, mixing system or monitor in color computer graphics.

RIGHT-ANGLE FOLD: In binding, a term used for two or more folds that are at
90-degree angles to each other.

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SADDLE STITCH: In binding, to fasten a booklet by wiring it through the middle folds
of the sheets.  Also called saddle wire.

SCORE: To impress or indent a mark in the paper to make folding easier.

SCREEN ANGLES: In color reproduction, angles at which the half-tone screens are placed in relation to one another, to avoid undesirable moirè patterns.  A set of angels
often used is: black 45, magenta 75, yellow 90, and cyan 105.

SELF-COVER: A cover of the same paper as inside text pages.

SERVER:  A file server provides file data interchange between compatible peripheral devices on a local area network.  Servers are identified by the type of resource they
provide (e.g., disk server, file server, printer server, communications server.)

SET-OFF: In presswork, when ink of a printed sheet rubs off or marks the next sheet
as it is being delivered.  Also called offset.

SHEETWISE: To print one side of a sheet of paper with one plate, then turn the sheet
over and print the other side with another plate using same gripper and opposite side guide.

SHOW-THROUGH: In printing, the undesirable condition in which the printing on the reverse side of a sheet can be seen through the sheet under normal lighting conditions.

SIGNATURE: In printing and binding, the name given to a printed sheet after it
has been folded.

SPIRAL BINDING: A book bound with wires in spiral form inserted through holes punched along the binding side.

STOCK: paper or other material to be printed.

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TAGGED IMAGE FILE FORMAT (TIFF): A file format for graphics suited for representing scanned images and other large bitmaps. TIFF is a neutral format designed for compatibility with all applications.  TIFF was created specifically for storing gray scale images, and it is the standard format for scanned images such as photographs – now called TIFF/IT.

TRAPPING: In printing, the ability to print a wet ink film over previously printed ink.
Dry trapping is printing wet ink over dry ink.  Wet trapping is printing wet ink over previously printed wet ink.  In prepress, refers to how much overprinting colors overlap to eliminate
white lines between colors in printing.

TRIM MARKS: In printing, marks placed on the copy to indicate the edge of the page.

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VARNISH:  A thin, protective coating applied to a printed sheet for protection or appearance.  Also, ink-making, it can be all or part of the ink vehicle.

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WEB PRESS: A press, which prints on a roll of paper.

WIRE-O-BINDING:  A continuous double series of wire loops run through punched
slots along the binding side of a booklet.

WITH THE GRAIN: Folding or feeding paper into a press with the grain of the paper parallel to the blade of the folder or the axis of the impression cylinder. 

WORK AND TUMBLE: To print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn it over from gripper to back using the same side guide and plate to print the second side.

WORK AND TURN: To print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn it over from left
to right and print the second side using the same gripper and plate but opposite side guide.

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