Some of the terms we use in the book printing industry.

AA — Abbreviation for author alteration.

Accordion fold — In binding, a term used for two or more parallel folds, which open like an accordion.

Alteration — Any change made by the customer after copy or artwork has been given to the service bureau or printer. The change could be a copy, specifications or both. Also called AA, author alteration and customer alteration.

Aqueous Coating — A water-soluable protective coating put on printed materials; used by book and commercial printers.

Artwork — All original copy, including type, photos, and illustrations, intended for printing; also called art.

Back Matter — The unnumbered pages located at the back of the book, i.e., order forms, note pages, etc.

Banding — Defect in halftone screens or screen tints output by laser printers or imagesetters in which parallel breaks (stair steps) or streaks appear in the dot pattern.

Basis weight — The weight, in pounds, of a ream (five hundred sheets) of paper cut to the basic size. The word “pound” is abbreviated with the symbol “#”.

Bind — To join pages of a book together by thread, wire, adhesive, or other means; to enclose them in a cover when so specified.

Bitmap Image — An image constructed from individual dots or pixels set to a grid like mosaic. These types of images cannot be enlarged or printed at higher resolutions without developing jagged edges.

Bleed — Printing that extends to the edge of a sheet or page after trimming.

Bold type — Type that appears darker than the next type of the same typeface.

Book paper — A general term used to define a class or group of papers suitable for book manufacturing. Book paper is made to close tolerances on “caliper” (pages per inch). Surface finishes vary and include dull, matte, glossy, coated, etc.

Brightness — Characteristic of paper or ink referring to how much light it reflects.

Book Rate — Fourth-class mail with a special rate for books, less than ordinary fourth class.

Business reply card — Pre-addressed card meeting postal regulations for size, caliper, bar coding, and prepayment. Also called BRC and reply card.

C1S  — (coated one side) Cover or test paper coated on side only; used for covers.

C2S  — (coated two sides) Cover or text paper that has been coated on both sides.

Camera-ready copy — Old term used for photographing materials with a camera. Today, we use scanners and scan individual pages or covers..

Casebound — Term denoting a book bound with a stiff or hard cover.

Character — Any letter, numeral, punctuation mark, or other alphanumeric symbol.

Clip art — Copyright-free drawings available for purchase for unlimited reproduction. Clip art illustrations are printed on glossy paper or stored on computer disks. They are ready for placement on mechanicals or pages designed on computer screens.

CMYK — Acronym for the 4-color process colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

Coated paper — Paper with a coating of clay and other substances that improves reflectivity and ink holdout. Mills produce coated paper appropriate for newsletters in three major categories of surface shine — gloss, dull, and matte.

Color separation — The conversion of a color photograph or drawing into its component spectral colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK), with one screened negative produced per color.

Commercial printer — Color printer producing a wide range of products such as posters, calendars, flyers, books, or specialty color items. Commercial printers usually produce high-end color printing.

Composition — 1) In photography, the manner in which an image is arranged and framed to give an overall effect. 2) In typography, the assembly of typographic elements, such as words and paragraphs, into pages ready for printing.  3) In graphic design, the arrangement of type, graphics, and other elements on the page.

Continuous-tone copy — All photographs and those illustrations having a range of shades not made up of dots, as compared to line copy or halftones. Abbreviated contone.

Copy — 1) For an editor or typesetter, all written material.  2) For a graphic designer or printer, everything to be printed — art, photographs, and graphics, as well as words.

Copy editor — Person who checks and corrects a manuscript for spelling, grammar, punctuation, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and conformity to style requirements; also called line editor.

Copyright — Ownership of creative work by the writer, photographer, or artist who made it or, if work for hire, the organization that paid for it.

Copyright notice — Statement of copyright ownership that has the word “copyright” or symbol C, the year of publication, and the name of the copyright owner.

Credit line — Line of relatively small type next to a photo or illustration giving its source and/or the name of the photographer or artist. May include copyright notice; also called courtesy line.

Crop — To eliminate portions of an image so the remainder is more useful, pleasing, or able to fit the layout.

Crop marks — Lines near the edges of an image indicating portions to be reproduced. Also called cut marks and tick marks. Sun Graphics does not require crop marks.

Debossing — A process in which an image is pressed down into the paper surface; differs from embossing, which is a raised image.

Density — The degree of blackness of the type on the printed page.

Die — A design, letters or pattern cut in metal for stamping, embossing, or die-cutting.

Dot Gain — When an ink dot enlarges through absorbtion on a porous paper. This affects the overall tone of the image as the size of the dot is equivalent to the tone it represents.

Drop shadow — Screen tint or rule touching an illustration, box, or type to give a three-dimensional shadow effect. Also called flat shadow.

Dropped cap — Large capital letter that extends down into the first two or more lines; used as a design element.

Dull finish — Flat (not glossy) finish or coated paper, slightly smoother than matte; also called suede finish, velour finish, and velvet finish.

Dummy — A set of blank pages made up in advance to show the size, shape, form, and general style of a piece of printing; also called mock-up.

Dust Jacket — Printed piece that wraps around a casebound (hard cover) book.

Edition — One version of a newsletter, such as the western regional edition.

Element — One part of an image or page. Elements of an image may include subject, background, and foreground. Elements of a page may include headlines, body copy, and halftones.

Embossing — Process performed after printing to stamp a raised image (type or artwork) into the surface of paper, using engraved metal embossing dies, extreme pressure, and heat.

EPS — Acronym for encapsulated PostScript, a single page PostScript file that contains grayscale or color information and can be imported into many electronic layout and design applications. EPS files cannot be manipulated and need to be trapped into the parent program.

Estimate — Price that states what a job will probably cost; also called bid or quote. Printers base estimates on specifications provided by customers.

Finish — 1) Surface characteristics of paper. 2) General term for trimming, folding, binding, and all other postpress operations. 3) Coating on printed covers. (Aqueous, UV, plastic lamination.)

Finished size — Size of product after production is complete, as compared to flat size; also called trim size.

Flush left — Type aligning vertically along the left side of the column; also called left justified and ranged left.

Flush right — Type aligning vertically along the right side of the column; also called right justified and ranged right.

Fold marks — Lines on a mechanical, film, printing plate, or press sheet indicating where to fold the final product.

Folio — Page number.

Font — Complete assortment of upper- and lowercase characters, numerals, punctuation, and other symbols of one typeface. A font is a concept, not a physical object. Fonts can be held in the storage or memory of a computer, on sheets of transfer lettering, on film, or in job cases holding metal type.

Footer — Information, such as page number or chapter title, that appears at the bottom of every page; also called running foot.

Format — Size or layout, depending on context. “The format is 8 1/2 x 11.” “Our newsletter has a one-column format.”

For position only — Refers to inexpensive copies of photos or art used on mechanicals to indicate placement and scaling, but not intended for reproduction. Abbreviated FPO.

Four-color process — The four basic colors of ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) , also known as CMYK, which reproduce full color photographs or art.

French Flaps / Gate Fold Cover — A cover with 3- 3.5″ flaps that fold on the ends of a cover, to simulate a dust jacket.

Front Matter — The pages preceding the text of the book; sometimes unnumbered or Roman numerals.

Gang — To group several printing jobs on the same sheet and accomplish a number of tasks with one print run.

Gloss finish — Paper with a coating that reflects light well, as compared to dull- or matte-coated paper; also called art paper, enamel paper, and slick paper.

Glossy print — Photography term for black-and-white print made on glossy paper.

Grain direction — Predominant direction in which fibers in paper become aligned during manufacturing; also called machine direction.

Grainy — Appearance of a photograph or halftone that has been enlarged so much that the pattern of crystals in the emulsion can be seen in the photo or its reproduction.

Graphic arts — The crafts, industries, and professions related to designing and printing on paper and other substrates.

Graphic design — Arrangement of type and visual elements along with specifications for paper, ink colors, and printing processes that, when combined, convey a visual message.

Graphic designer — Professional who designs, plans, and may coordinate production of a printed piece.

Graphics — Visual elements that supplement type to make printed messages clearer or more interesting.

Grayscale — The representation of colors in varying shades of gray.

Gutter — The paper edge that binds.

Halftone — A photograph or illustration that has been converted into dots for reproduction.

Hardbound — Another term for casebound.

Hard copy — A proof that is output to paper.

Hard proof — Proof on paper or other substrate, as compared to a soft proof.

Header — Information, such as page number or chapter title, that appears at the top of every page of a book.

Hickey — Spot or imperfection in printing, most visible in areas of heavy ink coverage, caused by dirt on the plate or blanket; also called bull’s eye and fish eye.

Highlights — Lightest portions of a photograph or halftone, as compared to midtones and shadows.

House sheet — Paper kept in stock by a printer and suitable for a wide variety of printing jobs.

Image — Type, illustration, or other original as it has been reproduced on computer screen, film, printing plate, or paper.

Imagesetter — Laser output device using photosensitive paper or film.

Imposition — Arrangement of pages on mechanicals or flats, so they will appear in proper sequence after press sheets are folded and bound.

Imprint — To print new copy on a previously printed sheet, such as imprinting an employee’s name on business cards; also called surprint.

Indicia — Postal permit information printed on objects to be mailed and accepted by U.S. Postal Service in place of stamps.

In-house — All work performed in-house, no outsourcing.

ISBN — Abbreviation for International Standard Book Number. Go to to order your ISBN numbers.

ISSN — Abbreviation for International Standard Serial Number issue. 1) All copies of a newsletter having content related to one theme, such as the 10th anniversary issue, or location, such as the western issue.  2) All copies of a newsletter on the same date, such as the September issue.

Jpeg — A file format for photos. It is typically used because of its ability to compress files. (It creates a smaller file than a TIFF file, and it is used mainly on the Internet.) Printers prefer TIFF over Jpeg files.

Jump — Point at which text moves from one page to another. When the second page does not immediately follow the first, the jump is indicated with “continued on p. __”.

Jumpover — Type that continues from above a photo or illustration to below it, so the reader’s eyes must jump over the visual to continue reading the copy.

Justified type — Type set flush right and left.

Keyline — A thin border around a picture or box indicating where to place pictures. In digital files, the keylines are often vector objects, while photographs are usually bitmapped images.

Knockout — A printing technique that prints overlapping objects without mixing inks. The ink or the underlined element does not print (knocks out) in the area where the objects overlap; opposite of overprinting.

Laminated — A clear plastic sheet that is applied with a heated roller onto the printed object. Choices are gloss or matte lamination.

Laser printer — Device using a laser beam and xerography to reproduce type, graphics, and halftone dots.

Laser type — Type made using a laser printer. Imagesetters also use lasers to make type, but the term “laser type” refers to type produced by toner on plain paper.

Layout — Sketch or plan of how a page or sheet will look when printed.

Leading — Space between lines of type expressed as the distance between baselines. Pronounced “ledding” because the term originated with strips of metal (lead) used to separate lines of hot type; also called interline spacing and line spacing.

Legible — Referring to type having sufficient contrast with its background so readers can easily perceive the characters, as compared to readable.

Letter fold — Two folds creating three panels that allow a sheet of letterhead to fit a business envelope; also called barrel fold and wrap-around fold.

Letter spacing — Amount of space between all characters; also called character spacing.

Line copy — Any copy that is solid black with no gradation in tone and is suitable for reproduction without using a halftone screen; also called line art.

Lines per inch — Linear measure of screen ruling expressing how many lines of dots there are per inch in a screen tint, halftone or separation. Abbreviated lpi.

Matte finish — Flat (not glossy) finish on photographic paper or coated printing paper, or lamination.

Moire’ — Undesirable pattern created when overlapping screen angles are incorrect. Screens should be at 30 degree angles to each other.

Monotone (mono) — Printed with a single ink, black, or any color.

Natural — A paper color, such as cream or ivory.

Newsletter — Short, usually informal periodical presenting specialized information to a limited audience.

Newsprint — Paper made from mainly groundwood pulp and small amounts of chemical pulp; mainly used for printing newspapers (inexpensive and uncoated).

Oblong — In binding, a term descriptive of a book bound on the shorter dimension.

Offset paper — Uncoated stock, available in several surface finishes.

Offset printing — Printing technique that transfer ink from a plate to a blanket to paper instead of directly from a plate to paper.

Opacity — The degree to which a paper will allow the characters, printed on it, “to show through” to the other side.

Original art — Initial photo or illustration prepared for reproduction.

Out of register — Characteristic of an image not printed in register; also called misregister.

Overprint — To print one image over a previously printed image, such as printing type over a screen tint.

Overrun/Overs — Copies printed in excess of the specified quantity.

Page — A sheet of paper equals two-pages.

Page count — Total number of pages.

Page proof — Proof of type and graphics as they will look on the finished page complete with elements, such as headings and rules.

PANTONE — Colors Brand name of colors in the PANTONE Matching System (see PMS).

Paperbound — A paper covered book; also called paperback or softcover.

Perfect Binding — (adhesive binding) — An inexpensive bookbinding technique in which the pages are glued, rather than sewn, to the cover, and used primarily for paperbacks; also known as adhesive binding.

Pica — Anglo-American unit of typographic measure equal to .166 inch (4.128mm). One pica has twelve points.

PMS — Obsolete reference to PANTONE Matching System. The correct trade name of the colors in the PANTONE Matching System is PANTONE Colors, not PMS Colors.

Portrait-Style — In binding, a term descriptive of a book bound on the longer dimension.

PostScript — A device. Independent page description language developed by Adobe Systems, Inc.

PPI (Pages per Inch) — A measure assigned to paper stock by the manufacturer to be used in calculating book spines, i.e., book pages divided by paper (PPI) plus .03” = spine.

Proof — Test sheet made to reveal errors or flaws, predict results on press, and record how a printing job is intended to appear when finished.

Proofread — To examine a manuscript or proof for errors in writing or typesetting.

Publisher — 1) Person or organization that coordinates creation, design, production, and distribution of newsletters.  2) Chief executive officer or owner of a publishing company.

PUR Glue — (Polyurethane Reactive) The most flexible and strong adhesive you can use in soft cover binding; also used in Adhesive Casebound books.

Quality Control — In printing, the process of taking random samples during the run to check the consistency of quality.

Quotation — Price offered by a printer to produce a specific job, thus alternate for estimate. The quoted price is the printer’s side of the contract based on specifications from the customer.

Ragged-left/right type — Type whose line beginnings/endings are not aligned vertically.

Raster Image Processing (RIP) — A process wherein a raster scan technique assembles an electronic page in a bitmapped format on a pixel by pixel basis.

Readable — Characteristic of printed messages that are easy to read and understand, as compared to legible.

Recycled Paper — Paper made from old paper pulp. Used paper is cooked in chemicals and reduced back to pulp after it is de-inked.

Register — To place printing properly with regard to the edges of paper and other printing on the same sheet, such printing is said to be in register.

Rescreen — To create a halftone of an image that is already printed as a half-tone; for example, rescreening a photo appearing in a magazine for reprinting in a newsletter. When not done properly, rescreening yields a moire’.

Resolution — Sharpness of an image on film, paper, computer screen, disk, tape, or other medium.

Reverse — Type, graphic, or illustration reproduced by printing ink around its outline, thus allowing the underlying color or paper to show through and form the image; also called knockout and liftout; the image “reverses out” of the ink color.

RGB — Acronym for Red, Green, Blue. The colors of projected light from a computer monitor. All submitted four-color artwork should be submitted as CMYK.

Rights — Conditions and terms of a licensing agreement between a copyright owner and a publisher.

Saddle stitch — To bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine, as compared to side stitch; also called pamphlet stitch, saddle wire, and stitch bind.

Satin finish — Alternate term for dull finish on coated paper.

Scan — To read an image using a pinpoint beam of light.

Scanner — Electronic device used to scan an image.

Screen — To convert a continuous-tone image into a halftone or a solid into a screen tint.

Service bureau — Business using imagesetters to make high-resolution printouts of files prepared on microcomputers; also called out-put house and prep service.

Shadows — Darkest areas of a photograph or illustration, as compared to midtones and highlights.

Sheet-fed Press — A printing press which takes paper previously cut into sheets, as opposed to paper in a continuous roll.

Show through — Printing on one side of a sheet that is visible from the other side due to insufficient opacity of the paper, as compared to strike through.

Skid — A platform support made of wood used to ship materials, usually in cartons, which have been strapped (banded) to the skid.

Smooth finish — The most level finish offered on offset paper.

Soft copy — Copy viewed on a computer screen, as compared to hard copy.

Solid — Any area of the sheet receiving 100 percent ink coverage, as compared to a screen tint.

Soy-based inks — Inks using vegetable oils instead of petroleum products as pigment vehicles, thus being easier on the environment.

Specifications — Complete and precisely written description of features of a printing job, such as type size and leading, paper grade and quantity, printing quality, or binding method. Abbreviated specs. Specifications can include the following: type specs define typeface, size, line measure, indentations, headlines, and other features of typography. Printing specs concentrate on press work, such as quantities, ink colors, and dot gains, but often include prepress, paper, and finishing. Finishing specs tell folding requirements and trim size.

Spine — The back of a bound book connecting the two covers; also called backbone.

Spiral Wire (Binding) — A type of mechanical binding using a continuous wire of corkscrew or spring-coil form run through round holes punched into the binding edge.

Spot Color — Any premixed ink that is not one of, or a combination of, the four process color inks.

Spread — 1) Two pages that face each other and are designed as one visual or production unit. 2) Layout of several photos, especially on facing pages.

Subtitle — Phrase in a nameplate that amplifies or supplements information in the newsletter name.

Tag line — Alternate term for subtitle.

Template — A guide for page and cover layouts.

Terms and conditions — Specifics of an order for printing that a printer and a customer make part of their contract.

Text — Main portion of type on a page, as opposed to such elements as headlines and captions.

Text paper — Designation for printing papers with textured surfaces, such as laid or linen.

Text type — Type used for text and captions, as compared to display type; also called body type and composition type.

Three-Knife Trimmer — A trimming device with 3-knives, two parallel and one right angle, which trims three sides at once at the end of the perfect binder.

Thumbnail sketch — Small rough sketch of a design.

TIFF files — A file format for bitmap images containing grayscale or color information. Printers prefer this over Jpeg files.

Tight register — Subjective term referring to nearly exact register.

Title Page — A page at the beginning of a book, usually a right-handed page, stating the title, author, and publisher.

Uncoated paper — Paper that has not been coated with clay; also called offset paper.

Underrun — Quantity of printing delivered that is less than the quantity ordered.

Unit cost — The cost of one item in a print run. Unit cost is computed by dividing the total cost of the printing job (variable costs plus fixed costs) by the quantity of products delivered.

UV Coating — A liquid laminate applied to covers after they are printed.

Variable costs — Costs of a printing job that change depending on how many pieces are produced, as compared to fixed costs. Costs for paper, printing, and binding are examples of variable costs.

Vector Objects — Artwork or text characters constructed from mathematical statements instead of individual pixels. Vector object usually take less disk space than bitmapped images and can be scaled to virtually any size without losing visual quality, i.e., fonts, illustrations, from drawing applications, and files from page layout applications are common examples of vector objects.

Vignette — An illustration in which the background fades gradually away until it blends into the unprinted paper.

Washed out — Characteristic of printing or a photograph whose images appear faded.

Waste — Unusable paper or paper damaged during normal makeready, printing, or bindery operations, as compared to spoilage.

Web-fed — A roll of paper which is fed into a perfecting offset press and is printed on both sides, dried, cut, and folded.

White space — Area of a printed piece that does not contain images or type; also called negative space.

Wire-O Binding — A continuous double series of wire loops run through punched slots along the binding edge of a book.