Here you will find definitions of common graphic design, advertising and printing terms. Click on a term to find its definition. Hope it helps!
- ‘A’ Sizes
- Agency Commission
- American Quarto
- Art Paper
- ‘B’ Sizes
- Bézier Curve
- Black, K
- Blind Embossing
- Body Text
- Brand, Branding
- Business Card
- ‘C’ Sizes
- Cap Height
- Cartridge (Stock)
- Coated (Stock)
- Compliment Slip
- Concertina Fold
- Corporate Identity
- Corporate Image
- Crop Marks
- Cutout, Cutout Image
- Cutter Guide
- Cyan, C
- Desk Top Publishing, DTP
- Die Cutting
- Digital Print
- Dot Gain
- Dot Screen
- Drop Shadow
- Finished Artwork
- Foil Blocking
- Full Colour
- Gloss (Stock)
- Grain (Stock)
- Hot Foil
- Hot Metal
- ISO Paper Sizes
- JPEG, JPG
- K (Black)
- Laid (Stock)
- Line Art
- Litho, Lithography
- Lowercase, Lower Case
- Machine Varnish
- Magenta, M
- Make Ready
- Matt (Stock)
- Mono, Monochrome, Monotone
- Native Format
- Octavo (or 8vo)
- Perfect Binding
- Planning Up
- Point Size
- Process Colour
- Registered Trade Mark
- Registration Marks
- Reverse Out
- Roll Fold
- Rubber Stereo
- Saddle Stitching
- Sans Serif, Sans
- Screen Process
- Screen Res
- Silk (Stock)
- Silk Screen Printing
- Slab Serif
- Spot Colour
- Spot Varnish
- Squared-Up Image
- TIFF, TIF
- Trade Mark
- Trim Marks
- Uncoated (Stock)
- Uppercase, Upper Case
- UV Varnish
- Weight (Font)
- Weight (Stock)
- Wet Proof
- White Out
- Wove (Stock)
- Yellow, Y
See ISO Paper Sizes.
The commission earned by an advertising agency from a publication or other advertising medium for booking advertising space on behalf of a client – commonly 10-15%.
The vertical arrangement of lines of text. This can be left aligned (also known as ranged left or left justified), right aligned (also known as ranged right or right justified), centred, or justified (also known as fully justified) where the text is aligned both left and right.
Justified text in a narrow column width can lead to unsightly rivers opening up in the text.
A standard US document size, also known as Letter, which measures 11 x 8.5 inches (279 x 216 mm). See also Quarto.
Jagged or smudgy areas in a digital image resulting from file compression.
See also Lossy.
See Finished Artwork.
See also Descender.
See ISO Paper Sizes.
The imaginary line on which a typographical character sits.
A line or path in a vector graphic.
One of the four process colours used in full colour litho, digital and screen printing. There are any number of reasons why K is used to represent black. B would be confused with Blue in the RGB colour model. K could stand for kohl (a black substance) or simply be used as it’s the last letter of ‘black’! See also CMYK.
Also known as Gothic Script or Old English, this is a design of letterform that originates from written scripts of the Middle Ages.
The extension of print beyond the edge of the page prior to trimming.
Pure embossing, not combined with any other process such as printing.
Heavier weights of paper, characterised by thickness and stiffness. Also known as card.
The main text or text style of a document.
Associations the World at large makes with a company, product or service; the building of this.
A promotional or informative document designed to elicit a response.
An item of stationery providing contact details for filing.
See ISO Paper Sizes.
A high-quality paper used for drawing and stationery.
A typographical letter, symbol or punctuation mark.
The colour model most commonly used to replicate full colour in print, especially litho, digital and screen printing. Uses four colours of ink overlaid in varying tints; the colours are Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y) and Black (K). Also known as full colour, process colour and full colour process. See also RGB, Spot Colour.
An item of stationery often enclosed with consignments to impart a “with compliments” message.
Reduction in the amount of data used to describe a bitmap (raster) image, resulting in a lower file size but also a reduction in image quality. The most commonly-used image file format allowing compression is JPEG. See also Artefacts, Lossy.
A zigzag-type fold giving a pleated effect. See also Roll Fold.
The text content of a document, advertisement or web site. See also Copywriting.
Abbreviated to ©, this is the automatic establishment of the intellectual property rights of the author or creator of a piece of work. This bars any use of the work in whole or part by unauthorised individuals or organisations for a period of time.
The writing of text for a promotional or informative document, advertisement or web site. See also Copy.
See Corporate Identity.
The closed space within a letterform (e.g. the centre of an ‘o’).
The indentation of a material (e.g. paper or board) to enable clean folding and to minimise cracking.
See Trim Marks.
Computer to Plate; a technology that allows printing plates to be made directly from computer files without the need for an intermediate film stage.
Cutout, Cutout Image
An image of irregular shape isolated on a plain or patterned background. See also Squared-Up Image.
The reverse of an embossed surface.
Desk Top Publishing, DTP
The original term for page layout and graphics creation on computer.
The increase in dot size in a printed halftone image due to ink absorption.
A shadow placed ‘under’ a graphic object to give the appearance of it being raised over what’s behind it.
See Desk Top Publishing.
An image using two base colours to create its range of tones.
Raising the surface of a material (e.g. paper) by use of punch or die. See also Blind Embossing.
Sandwiching a material between two clear plastic layers. See also Lamination.
Encapsulated Post Script; a digital image file format that can include vector and/or raster components and supports spot colour. If purely vector, it will reproduce clearly and faithfully at any magnification. Ideal base file format for logos and line art in vector form.
The final layout of text and images ready for press.
One variant of a typeface, e.g. Helvetica Bold Oblique.
The range of possible colours within a given colour model.
Graphics Interchange Format; graphics format which allows a range of 256 colours and supports transparency. Good for simple web graphics.
The direction of the fibres within a paper or board. Folding a sheet along the grain rather than across it can limit cracking. A sheet of board trimmed long-grain (with the grain running parallel to the long edge) will have a greater stiffness than one trimmed short-grain.
An intaglio printing process whereby recesses etched into the printing plate hold the ink to be printed. Used widely in colour magazine printing.
An aid to page layout which can show margins, columns and line spacing as necessary.
An array of dots (round, elliptical or square) of varying sizes allowing the illusion of a continuous-tone (or photographic) image to be created in commercial print processes such as litho and silk screen.
A printing process that uses six colours to achieve a more vivid result than can be achieved with CMYK alone.
A letterpress method of printing using metal type.
The positioning of multiple pages on a sheet so that when folded, bound and trimmed they appear in the correct order.
An advertisement booking in a publication.
A printing process whereby recesses in the printing plate or block hold the ink to be printed. Gravure is an intaglio process.
ISO Paper Sizes
ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, responsible for the creation of the A and B standard paper sizes and the C standard envelope sizes. A sizes fit unfolded within the corresponding C size envelopes (with one fold allowing them to fit into the next C size down and a DL envelope fitting an A4 sheet folded twice). B sizes are used mainly on printing presses to enable trimming to suitable A sizes. The RA and SRA series of sizes are also used for this purpose.
A Sizes (mm)
4A0 1682 x 2378
2A0 1189 x 1682
A0 841 x 1189
A1 594 x 841
A2 420 x 594
A3 297 x 420
A4 210 x 297
A5 148 x 210
A6 105 x 148
A7 74 x 105
A8 52 x 74
A9 37 x 52
A10 26 x 37
B Sizes (mm)
B0 1000 x 1414
B1 707 x 1000
B2 500 x 707
B3 353 x 500
B4 250 x 353
B5 176 x 250
B6 125 x 176
B7 88 x 125
B8 62 x 88
B9 44 x 62
B10 31 x 44
C Sizes (mm)
C0 917 x 1297
C1 648 x 917
C2 458 x 648
C3 324 x 458
C4 229 x 324
C5 162 x 229
C6 114 x 162
C7 81 x 114
C8 57 x 81
C9 40 x 57
C10 28 x 40
DL 110 x 220
RA Sizes (mm)
RA0 860 x 1220
RA1 610 x 860
RA2 430 x 610
RA3 305 x 430
RA4 215 x 305
SRA Sizes (mm)
SRA0 900 x 1280
SRA1 640 x 900
SRA2 450 x 640
SRA3 320 x 450
SRA4 225 x 320
Joint Photographic Experts Group; an image file format that allows compression of the data. This balances file size against quality – the more compression is applied the smaller the file will be and the lower the quality of the image.
Altering the space between two type characters to make a better visual fit.
Paper or board with a lined texture created during manufacture.
A standard US paper size measuring 14 x 8.5 inches (356 x 216 mm).
A relief printing method whereby ink is transferred onto the paper by raised areas composed of type, complete blocks or other elements. See also Rubber Stereo.
The joining of two type characters which naturally overlap, to make a single character.
Artwork made up of solid areas only.
The basis for most commercial print work, this is a printing process which uses the repulsion of water by oil on a single flat surface or plate (commonly metal but can be paper). Water-based ink remains on the areas of the plate where there is no oil-based substance and is then transferred to the paper or board. This transfer often happens via an intermediate surface, a process known as offset lithography.
A graphical representation of a company, product or other entity, comprising either a symbol (logogram) or name (logotype) or both.
Lowercase, Lower Case
The ‘small’, as opposed to capital, letters. The name comes from the days of letterpress printing when this set of letters was kept in a compartment or case beneath the capital (or uppercase) letters.
The preparatory work at the start of a print run.
See Finished Artwork.
Mono, Monochrome, Monotone
An image produced using only one colour.
The default file format of a software program. E.g. PSD is the native format of Photoshop®, AI is the native format of Illustrator®, INDD is the native format of InDesign®.
In typography, another word for an italic version of a typeface.
Octavo (or 8vo)
A paper size derived from a sheet being folded three times to make eight leaves (sixteen pages). In modern use, this refers to a book of around 200-250 mm in height.
In typography, a word or group of words on its own at the bottom a column of text separated from the rest of its paragraph which is in another column. See also Widow.
The overlay of one ink on another during the printing process.
The most widely-used ink colour formulation system in the printing industry. Each colour is made with proscribed constituents in specified proportions and is given a reference number or name like Pantone® (or PMS for Pantone Matching System®) 286 C or Pantone Warm Red U. ‘C’ and ‘U’ denote reproduction of the colour on coated or uncoated stock. Includes special colours like metallics and fluorescents. See also Spot Colour.
Portable Document Format; Produced by Adobe® and revolving around its Acrobat® software, it is a widely-adopted format for the viewing and reproduction of documents outside their native software. It has various levels of encoding such as Standard, which is useful for viewing and desktop printing purposes where a low file size is preferable, and Press Quality which, depending on content, might have a much larger file size but is of a sufficient quality to be used in commercial print.
A document binding method that uses a spine of hot glue to secure the leaves, which are trimmed prior to binding. Many paperback books and large magazines are bound this way.
A measurement of type height no longer in common use, which is equal to 1/6th inch or 12 points. See also Point Size.
Picture cells; the square cells of colour that make up a digital image. See also Raster.
Arranging several pieces of artwork together on a sheet for printing.
Portable Network Graphics; a digital image format with a wider colour range than GIF which is therefore better for photographic images. Like GIF it also supports transparency. This format is not though widely supported on the Internet, but is useful for cutout images in PowerPoint® presentations!
A measurement of type height, abbreviated as pt. There are 12 points to a pica (1/6th inch). The point size of a font includes the space above and below the letters that gives it its standard line spacing or leading, a throwback to the days of metal type.
A sample of a document for checking before the production run. Can be digital (on screen) or hard copy. See also Wet Proof.
Where a sheet of paper is folded twice to produce a document of four leaves (eight pages) when trimmed. See also American Quarto.
Registered Trade Mark
Abbreviated to ®, this is a trade mark which has been registered with the relevant authority to further guard against ‘passing off’.
A printing term for the alignment of separate ink colours. See also Registration Marks.
Marks placed on finished artwork to aid the correct registration (alignment) of separate ink colours.
The number of pixels that make up a digital image, normally measured in pixels per centimetre or pixels per inch. In theory, the higher the resolution, the higher the image quality and amount of detail the image can hold.
To make type or other elements lighter than the background they’re on. See also White Out.
A colour model with three constituent colours – Red (R), Green (G) and Blue (B). Used mainly for photographic and on-screen applications. See also CMYK.
A large, unsightly gap between words that runs through multiple lines in a block of text, often caused by justifying text in a narrow column. See also Alignment.
Where a material is folded over and over on itself in the same direction. See also Concertina Fold.
No, not a shockproof hi-fi, but a type of letterpress printing plate produced in one piece and used commonly in newspaper printing, where high volumes of print need to be produced quickly.
A binding process that uses metal staples.
Sans Serif, Sans
A quick, rough visual of a design concept.
A printing process which uses a fine mesh screen (often known as a silk screen). A relatively opaque and viscose ink is passed through untreated areas of the screen onto the substrate. Good for printing objects like corporate gifts and t-shirts.
The standard resolution of a graphic or image for use on a computer monitor or other screen. This is the standard for Web-based imagery and is currently 72 ppi (pixels per inch).
A typeface style with a fluid or ‘handwritten’ design.
Details added to the ends of the strokes on letterforms.
A sheet folded at least once to form part of a book, brochure or other publication when trimmed down.
A coated paper or board with a smooth matt finish.
Silk Screen Printing
See Screen Process.
A printing term for a specified colour. Jobs printed in spot colour usually use the Pantone Matching System® to specify the colour(s) to be printed.
An image of rectangular area. See also Cutout.
A printing term for paper and board.
A phrase attached to a name or logo that attempts to sum up the organisation or product in a memorable way.
(1) Part of the shape of a letterform. (2) The thickness of a line or path in vector artwork, usually expressed in millimetres (mm) or points (pt).
In printing, the material which is being printed on, e.g. paper or board.
Small type that is aligned to the top of the capital letters or numerals, used for reference and in mathematical expressions. See also Subscript.
A process where a metallic foil is applied to a substrate in a specific area or areas.
Abbreviated to ™, this is commonly applied to business and product names and phrases to establish the intellectual property rights of the owner and guard against ‘passing off’ by others. See also Registered Trade Mark.
The overlapping of printing inks so as to avoid gaps due to misregistration of ink colours during the print run. See also Registration.
Fine lines placed on finished artwork to indicate where the printed sheet should be trimmed.
Uppercase, Upper Case
A digital graphic comprising lines and fills. Vector graphics are totally scalable without loss of quality and can be created in ‘drawing’ software packages like Illustrator®, Freehand® and CorelDraw®. See also EPS, Raster.
A graphic design mock-up.
The mass or thickness of a paper or board, usually measured in grams per square metre (abbreviated to gm-2, gram or gm). Heavier/thicker stocks such as boards tend to be measured in microns (thickness).
To make type or other elements white on a darker background. Usually involves not printing the areas to remain white (paper colour). See also Reverse Out.
In typography, an isolated word on a line on its own at the end of a paragraph. See also Orphan.
An uncoated paper with a uniform texture.