Monday, June 6, 2011     17:19

Design Articles

Creating Visual Impact

A print design project communicates a message, but that message will go unnoticed unless your marketing project has the visual impact to get a reader's attention...Read More

Typography: Choosing the Right Typeface for your Project

The typeface that you choose for your print project is an important piece of the overall design process. With over 20,000 typefaces available and more being created every day, where do you begin? Read More

Optimizing Website Photographs and Graphics

How long do you wait for a website to load before clicking away and trying another URL? Most people won’t wait longer than an average of 8 seconds with a 56K modem. Although many things can effect the load time of a website, improper and overuse of graphics and images is one of the more frequent problems...Read More

Principles of Design

In design, balance is best understood when compared to the physical world. Think of a physical object, such as a glass of water. When the glass is tipped or off balance, it falls over and spills. To keep a scale in balance it must have equal weight...
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Using Dashes in Typography

The shortest dash; should only be used between words or to break syllables at the end of a line of type...
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A glossary of common terms used in the Design and Printing industries.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Acid Free (Paper)

Paper that has had the acid removed from the pulp (neutral 7.0pH). Used for fine art prints, limited edition printing, permanent records.


Occurs in computer generated images or text when the resolution is not high enough to display a clean line or curve. This results in “jaggies” or additional pixels along the edge of the image which give a blurred or step-like appearance. This can also result in Moiré patterns.


The method of correcting or preventing jagged edges in computer generated text and/or images. (See aliasing). Many graphics computer programs offer features to minimize this effect created when a resolution is not high enough for the image/text to display cleanly.

Aqueous Coating

Coating in a water base and applied like ink by a printing press to protect and enhance the printing underneath.

Archival (Paper)

Acid free and lignin free. Lasts longer (100 years or more); holds color well. Used for critical, permanent records.

Author's Alterations

Also know as "AA's". Changes and additions in copy after it has been typeset.



Computer image consisting of pixels or halftone dots.

Bitmap Image(bmp)

(Or Bitmap Image) Most computer images are bitmapped, meaning they are made up of individual colored pixels (one bit of information per pixel). A close examination of these images will reveal jagged edges (see aliasing).

Black Font

A font that has more weight than the bold version of a typeface.


In graphic design and printing, refers to an ink color or image extending past the trim edge of a page. This occurs when the design of the final printed piece has color or images right up to the edge of the paper. The effect is accomplished by printing the item on a larger sized paper and trimming it to the actual size. Bleeds usually extend at least 1/8” past the actual edge.

Blueline Prepress

Proof where all colors show as blue images on white paper. Blueline is a generic term for proofs made from a variety of materials having similar appearances that may also be called blueprint, position proof, silverprint, Dylux and VanDyke.

Bond (Paper)

A grade of writing or printing paper where strength, durability and permanence are essential requirements. Used for letterheads, business forms, etc. The basic size is 17"x22".

Book (Paper)

(Text Paper, Offset Paper) Suitable for offset printing, comes in different finishes, coated or uncoated. More opaque than Bond Paper, good for two sided printing. Basic size is 25” x 38”. 22 lb.– 150lb. Used for books, brochures, annual reports, collateral marketing materials, newsletters, and booklets.

Bristol (Paper)

(Bristol board) Heavyweight stock. Used for paperback book covers or catalog covers, file folders, tags, tickets.


Printing with a sizing ink, then applying bronze powder while still wet to produce a metallic luster.



Copy which is ready for photography. Mechanicals, photographs and art that are fully prepared for reproduction according to the technical requirements of the printing process being used. Final publication material that is ready to be made into a negative for a printing plate. May be a computer file or actual print and images on a board

Catalog (Paper)

Strong, but lightweight paper. Comes coated or uncoated. Basic size is24” x 36”, 9lb – 28lb. Used for mail order catalogs, and directories

Clip art

Ready-made artwork sold or distributed for clipping and pasting into publications. Available in hard-copy books, and in electronic form, as files on disk.


Stands for the four primary colors used in a printing process; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. In a “four-color” printing process, these colored inks are combined to closely resemble the actual colors in a photograph or design.

Coated Paper

Paper with clay or other coating applied to one or both sides. They are finished in high or dull gloss or matte. Coated papers are best used for four-color photographs or graphics, as they produce sharper, brighter images. Coated papers are categorized into grades by their brightness and gloss levels.


In graphic design refers to the supporting printed pieces in an advertising or marketing campaign. Can include brochures, sell sheets, presentation folders, etc. and usually will maintain a similar look and feel for branding.

Color Separation

Technique of using a camera, scanner or computer to divide continuous-tone color images into four halftone negatives. The film, proof or printed product resulting from color separating.

Column Gutter

The space between columns of type.

Commercial Printer

Printer producing a wide range of products such brochures, posters, booklets, stationery and business forms.


(Comprehensive Dummy) Visualization of an idea; a comprehensive representation of finished piece used for purposes of discussion. The look of the actual piece may differ. The degree of rendering is referred to as "tight" or "loose." A "rough" comp is usually little more than a sketch used to visualize a design concept. The amount of time and quality of materials used affects both the appearance and cost of the comp. It is common for some comps to "look better' than the finished piece.


Refers to text ( typewritten pages, word-processing files, typeset galleys or pages) although sometimes refers to all source materials (text and graphics) used in a publication.


The fitting of a variable amount of copy within a specific and fixed amount of space.

Corporate Identity

A visual presentation of an organization's unique personality. Usually centered around a Logo, the overall package may contain stationary, signage, and other relevant physical expressions used by the organization. Guidelines governing proper usage of the design elements, color scheme, typography, photos, etc. are established and may be provided in the form of a "graphics standards manual."

Cover Paper

(Card Stock) Heavy, stiff paper. Basic size 20” x 38”. Matching book (color/finish) in some stocks. Used for book covers, file folders, presentation folders, greeting cards, business cards, postcards, and brochures.

Crop marks

Horizontal and vertical lines that indicate the edge of the printed piece.


Cutting out the extraneous parts of an image, usually a photograph.


Printing across the gutter or from one page to the facing page of a publication.



Metal rule or imaged block used to cut or place an image on paper in the finishing process.

Die Cutting

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.


An intaglio process for the production of letterheads, business cards, etc., printing from lettering or other designs engraved into copper or steel.

Digital Color Proof

A color proof produced from digital data without the need for separation films.

Digital Printing

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


In order to display a full-color graphic image on a 256-color monitor, computers must simulate the colors it cannot display. They do this by dithering which is combining pixels from a 256-color palette into patterns that approximate other colors. At a distance, the human eye merges the pixels into a single color. Up close, the graphic image will appear pixilated and speckled.

Dot Gain

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


dots per inch: the unit of measurement used to describe the resolution of printed output. The most common desktop laser printers output a 300 dpi. Medium-resolution printers output at 600 dpi. Image setters output at 1270-2540 dpi.


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.


A halftone image printed with two colors, one dark and the other light. The same photograph is half toned twice, using the same screen at two different angles; combining the two improves the detail and contrast.


Photographic paper made by DuPont and used for bluelines.



In composition, a unit of measurement exactly as wide and high as the point size being set. So named because the letter "M" in early fonts was usually cast on a square body.

Embossed Finish

Paper with a raised or depressed surface resembling wood, cloth, leather or other pattern.


Impressing an image in relief to achieve a raised surface; either overprinting or on blank paper (called blind embossing).


(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.


Facing Pages

In a double-sided document, the two pages that appear as a spread when the publication is opened.

Flush Left

In composition, type set to line up at the left (or right). This page is set flush left and right.


A metallic or pigmented coating on plastic sheets or rolls used in foil stamping and foil embossing.

Foil Emboss

Foil stamping and embossing a image on paper with a die.

Foil Stamping

Using a die to place a metallic or pigmented image on paper.


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 New Roman Bold Italic is one font, and Times New Roman Bold is another font. Times New Roman is a single typeface.

Four-Color Process

The process of combining four basic colors (CMYK) to create a printed color picture or colors composed from the basic four colors.


(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.


Short for File Transfer Protocol, the protocol used on the Internet for exchanging files. FTP works in the same way as HTTP for transferring Web pages from a server to a user's browser and SMTP for transferring electronic mail across the Internet in that, like these technologies, FTP uses the Internet's TCP/IP protocols to enable data transfer. FTP is most commonly used to download a file from a server using the Internet or to upload a file to a server (e.g., uploading a Web page file to a server).



Getting the most out of a printing press by using the maximum sheet size to print multiple images or jobs on the same sheet. A way to save money.


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


A shiny look reflecting light.


A gradient is a gradual transition of colors.


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


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.

Greeked Text

In page layout programs, text that appears as gray bars approximating the lines of type rather than actual characters. This speeds up the amount of time it takes to draw images on the screen.

Gripper Edge

The leading edge of paper as it passes through a printing press.

Gripper Margin

Unprintable blank edge of paper on which grippers bear, usually 1/2" or less.


In double-sided documents, the combination of the inside margins of facing pages; the gutter should be wide enough to accommodate binding.



A very thin line or gap about the width of a hair or 1/100 inch.


(hypertext Markup Language) In imaging for the World Wide Web, the coding language that is used to create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web.


The main attribute of a color which distinguishes it from other colors



A process in which a design, text, etc., is engraved into the surface of a plate so that when ink is applied and the excess is wiped off, ink remains in the grooves and is transferred to paper in printing, as in engraving or etching.


Slanted or leaning letter designed to complement or be compatible with a companion roman typeface.



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.


To space out lines uniformly to line up left and right.


Subtracting space between two characters, making them closer together.


When one color is to be printed immediately adjacent to another color; actually they are printed with a slight overlap.



A clear resin/solvent coating, usually glossy applied to a printed sheet for protection or appearance.

Laid Finish

Paper with a pattern of parallel lines at equal distances, giving a ribbed effect, simulating the surface of handmade paper.


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

Landscape (orientation)

Page or layout that is wider than it is tall.

Layout Proof

A physical representation of the final piece created for the purpose of checking the elements for errors and omissions. Usually an inexpensive digital print that may or may not be the size of the actual final printed piece. Higher quality digital proofs are available, at considerable cost, that more closely represent the final in size and color. None of these processes is capable of duplicating every aspect of the final unless it is to be done on the same piece of equipment.


An instruction set or "blueprint" for the actual work to be done. In prepress work this may be an electronic file with an assemblage of related parts (scanned photos, postscript art, fonts, and other related pieces).


(pronounced "led-ding") The space between lines of type, traditionally measured baseline-to-baseline, in points. Text type is generally set with one or two points of leading; for example, 10-point type with 2 points of leading. This is described as 10/12, read ten on twelve.

Letter spacing

The placing of additional space between each letter of a word.

Line art

Black-and-white artwork with no gray areas. Pen-and-ink drawings are line art, and most graphic images produced with desktop publishing graphics programs can be treated as line art. For printing purposes, positive halftones can be handled as line art.

Logo or Logotype

A distinctive design, symbol, or style of type associated with the company name. Specifically, a logo is a symbol or mark and a logotype is an alphabetical configuration.

Lower Case

The small letters in type, as distinguished from the capital letters.



All work done to set up a press for printing.


A masthead is a graphic image placed on top of a web page that tells end users what page they are on. Masthead images can contain photos, text, shapes, and/or image maps. The credit box, headed by the publication name, that lists sponsors, editors, writers, designers, illustrators, photographers, and others, along with the publication office address, subscription and advertising information, etc.


Trade name for 3M integral color proof.

Matte Finish

Dull paper finish without gloss or luster.


Meta-tags are HTML tags that can be used to identify the creator of a web page, what HTML specifications a web page follows, the keywords and description of the page, etc. The most common use of a meta-tag in online marketing is the keyword and description tags, which tell the search engines that index meta-tags what description to use in their search query results.

Moiré Patterns

(pronounced "mo-ray") Irregular plaid-like patterns that occur when a bit-mapped image is reduced, enlarged, displayed, or printed at a resolution different from the resolution of the original

Monospaced Type

A (typewriter) typeface in which the amount of horizontal space taken up by each character is the same.


Several photographs combined to form a composite illustration.


A popular special effect for web graphics, generally programmed in JavaScript, that changes switches color or a graphic image when you place your cursor over it.


Negative Space

The space where the figure isn't. In artwork, usually the background; in a publication, the parts of the page not occupied by type or graphics.


Inexpensive; but has a shorter life span than other papers. Basic size is 24” x 35”. Used for newspapers, trade magazines.


Oblique Type

Characters that are slanted to the right; sans serif typefaces often have oblique rather than true italics, which are a separate font.

Offset Paper

See About Paper - Book

Offset printing

For high-volume reproduction. Utilizes three rotating drums: a plate cylinder, a blanket cylinder, and an impression cylinder. The printing plate is wrapped around the plate cylinder, inked and dampened. The plate image is transferred, or offset, onto the blanket cylinder. Paper passes between the blanket cylinder and the impression cylinder, and the image is transferred onto the paper.


In a page layout, the first line of a paragraph separated from the rest of the paragraph by a column or page break. Headings without enough type under them may be considered as orphans; there should be as much type below the heading as the height of the heading itself, including white space.



Hard surface, high wet-strength. Is resistant to grease and dirt. Used for certificates, diplomas, and old-fashioned looks.


Stands for Portable Document Format. Created by Adobe Systems in its software program Adobe Acrobat as a universal browser. Files can be downloaded via the web and viewed page by page, provided the user of the computer has installed the necessary plug-in which can be downloaded from Adobe's own web site.

Perfect Bind

A type of binding that glues the edge of sheets to a cover (i.e. paperback book).


A measurement used in typography for column widths and other space specifications in a page layout. There are 12 points in a pica, and approximately 6 picas to an inch.


(picture element): the smallest unit that a device can address. Most often refers to display monitors, a pixel being the smallest spot of phosphor that can be lit up on the screen.


(Pantone Matching System): a standard color-matching system used by printers and graphic designers for inks, papers, and other materials. A PMS color is a standard color defined by percentage mixtures of different primary inks.


Stands for Portable Network Graphics format, and is generally pronounced "ping." PNG is used for lossless compression and displaying images on the web. The advantages of PNG is that it supports images with millions of colors and produces background transparency without jagged edges. The disadvantages are that PNG images will not show up on older browsers, and still can be comparatively larger in file size than GIFs


A measurement used in typography for type size, leading, and other space specifications in a page layout. There are 12 points in a pica, and approximately 70 points to an inch.


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.


The act of preparing the overall layout of a work before it is printed. Includes proofing document for content, photo resolution, trapping, color separation, etc.

Prepress Proof

A test print run from the actual printing materials. May be done photographically at a reduced charge from the printing film (a "blue line" is one such proof).

Process color separation:

In commercial printing, used for reproduction of color photographs. The various hues are created by superimposition of halftone dots of the process colors: cyan (a greenish blue), magenta (a purplish red), yellow, and black.

Process Colors

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


The literal work of transforming a concept into a reality. Taking the required photos, creating illustrations and charts, retouching images, and other aspects of the finished piece. Usually requires the creation of a layout, into which all the other elements are combined.


A detailed analysis of the cost and components for a design project used to come to an agreement or contract before commencing work.


Ragged Left

Type that is justified on the right margin and ragged on the left.

Ragged Right

Type that is justified on the left margin and ragged on the right.


Five hundred sheets of paper.


Fitting of two or more printing images in exact alignment with each other.


The crispness of detail or fineness of grain in an image. Screen resolution is measured in dots by lines (for example, 640 x 350); printer resolution is measured in dpi (for example, 300 dpi).


Stands for the colors Red-Green-Blue. In web design and design for computer monitors, colors are defined in terms of a combination of these three colors. For example, the RGB abbreviation for the color blue shown below is 0-0-255. In contrast, print designers typically define colors using CMYK.


(raster image processor) 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.


Spaces between words that create irregular lines of white space in body type, particularly occurs when the lines of type have been set with excessive word spacing.


A refined thumbnail sketch for a publication design, done at actual size, with more detail. Roughs are often used for the first client review.

Royalty-Free Photos

Photos, graphic images, or other intellectual property that are sold for a single standard fee and may be used repeatedly by the purchaser. Typically with royalty-free clauses, the company that sells you the images still owns all of the rights to the images, and they are allowed for use only by the purchaser.


The term describing type set to fit around a picture or other element of the design.


Saddle Stitch

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

Sans Serif

A style of typeface that means "without feet." Common sans serif typefaces include Arial, Helvetica, AvantGarde and Verdana.


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


Connected, flowing letters resembling hand writing with pen or quill. Either slanted or upright.

Search Engine

A search engines is a program that searches documents (i.e. web pages, which are HTML-documents) for specified keywords and returns the list of documents. A search engine has two parts, a spider and an indexer. The spider is the program that fetches the documents, and the indexer reads the documents and creates an index based on the words or ideas contained in each document.

Self Cover

A cover of the same paper as inside text pages.


A style of typeface that has "little feet." Common serif typefaces include Times Roman, Garamond, and Palatino.


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.

Side Stitch

Binding by stapling along one side of a sheet.


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

Small Caps

Capital letters set at the x-height of the font.


A precise description of a print order.


A software program that search engines use which visits every site on the web, follows all of the links, and catalogs all of the text of every web page that text.


The binding edge of a book or publication. Also backbone.

Spiral Binding

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


Planned paper waste for all printing operations.

Spot Varnish

Varnish used to highlight a specific part of the printed sheet.


In a double-sided document, the combination of two facing pages, which are designed as a unit. Also, the adjacent inside panels of a brochure when opened.


Term for foil stamping.


Paper or other material to be printed.

Stroke Weight

In a typeface, the amount of contrast between thick and thin strokes. Different typefaces have distinguishing stroke-weight characteristics.


A character slightly smaller than the rest of the font, set below the baseline.


A character slightly smaller than the rest of the font, set above the baseline.


Text (Paper)

Grades of uncoated paper with textured surfaces and attractive colors. Used for announcements, booklets and brochures.


Various even tone areas (strengths) of a solid color.


Refers to how much overprinting colors overlap to eliminate white lines between colors in printing.

Trim Marks

Marks placed on the copy to indicate the edge of the page.

Trim Size

The final size of one printed image after the last trim is made.

Type Alignment

The distribution of white space in a line of type where the characters at their normal set width do not fill the entire line length exactly. Type maybe aligned left, right, centered, or right-justified.

Type Families

A group of typefaces of the same basic design but with different weights and proportions.


The set of characters created by a type designer, including uppercase and lowercase alphabetical characters, numbers, punctuation, and special characters. A single typeface contains many fonts, at different sizes and styles.


Upper Case

Capital letters in type.


URL is the abbreviation for Uniform Resource Locator and is an address referring to a document on the Internet. In other words, it is the address of an individual web page element or web document on the Internet. The syntax of a URL consists of three elements: The http:// is the protocol. The is the domain name. The index.html is the path name.

UV Coating

Liquid laminate bonded and cured with ultraviolet light. Environmentally friendly.

UV Inks

In printing, solventless inks that are cured by ultraviolet radiation. They are used extensively in screen printing, narrow web letterpress and flexographic printing.



A thin, protective coating applied to a printed sheet for protection or appearance.

Vector Graphic

A graphic image drawn in shapes and lines, called paths. Images created in Illustrator and Freehand (graphic design software) are vector graphics. They are usually exported to be bitmap images


Warm Color

A color with a yellowish or reddish cast.


A distinctive design created in paper at the time of manufacture that can be easily seen by holding the paper up to a light.

Web Site

A web site is a collection of electronic pages generally formatted in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) that can contain text, graphic images, and multimedia effects such as sound files, video and/or animation files, and other programming elements such as Java and JavaScript.

White Space

The areas where there is no text or graphics. Essentially, the negative space of the page design.


A single word or part of a word on a line by itself, ending a paragraph, or starting a page, frowned upon in good typography.


A continuous double series of wire loops run through punched slots along the binding side of a booklet. Allows the book to lay open flat.


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.


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.

Wove Paper

Paper having a uniform unlined surface and a soft smooth finish.



The height of the lowercase "s." Sometimes referred to as "body height." More generally, the height of the lowercase letters.