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Printing Terms A - D

AA (Author's Alterations)

Copy that is changed or altered from the original manuscript after it is typeset, at the request of the author or client.Will also indicate to the customer those corrections that are chargeable to them by the printer.


Distinguishing marks that are positioned over a character. Most commonly used in foreign languages.

Adobe Acrobat

A popular portable document file (PDF) format. Through Acrobat or another PDF, users can read electronic versions of printed documents that maintain the attributes assigned to a printed original.

Aluminum Plate

A thin sheet of specially grained aluminum used as a lithographic image carrier.

Analog Proofs

Proofs that are created from film negatives and are used to give the customer a view of how the final job will look prior to printing.

ANSI (American National Standard Institute)

The organization that establishes the standards that govern many areas, i.e., computers, data transmission, communication protocols, etc.

Application Program

A computer software program that was designed and developed to perform a specific job, i.e., invoicing, label preparation, etc.


The process of storing long-term data on low cost media, usually backup copies or seldom used information.


A text file containing no special formatting.


A copy or duplicate of a program or file that is created for protection against loss in the event of a lost original and for archiving purposes.


An electronic pre-press term referring to visible steps in shades of a gradient.


A frequency measurement expressed in cycles per second (hertz) or bits per second (bps) of the amount of information that can flow through a channel.

Batch Processing

Automated execution of a set of instructions on a sequence of computer files.


The standard measure for speed of data-transmission, i.e. bits a second.

Baud Rate

The number of signal changes that actually occur per second. However, it usually refers to the speed a modem is able to send data.

Bimetal Plate

A lithographic printing plate made from two metals, one forming the in-receptive image area (usually copper) and one forming the water-receptive non-image area (chromium, stainless steel, aluminum, zinc, etc).

Binary Code

A representation of information using a sequence of zeros and ones.


The smallest unit of information used in a computer file. It has one of two possible values "zero or one" used to indicate "on" or "off," "yes" or "no" in the storage and transfer of electronic information and images.

Bit Mapped Fonts

Non-scalable pixel maps of a given typeface. They create a jagged look if increased or decreased in size.


An image represented by an array of picture elements, each of which is encoded as a single binary digit.


A rubber-coated fabric mounted on a cylinder that receives the inked impression from the plate and transfers (or offsets) it to the paper.

Blanket Cylinder

The cylinder that carries the offset rubber blanket, placing it in contact with the inked image on the plate cylinder and then transferring the inked image to the paper carried by the impression cylinder. The blanket cylinder has a gap where the blanket clamps are located. The outer ends of the cylinder house the bearers.


1) A printing area that extends to the edge of the sheet or page after it is trimmed. (2) A slight extension or thickening of printing detail, usually of a lighter color or tint, to produce color overlap zones, so that a white gap will not show in printing when slight variations in register occur.


A blue-on-white print made by exposing sensitized paper to a negative in contact. It is used as a final proof before platemaking.


A single character or unit of information that consists of eight bits. All computer storage is expressed as a specific amount of bytes, i.e., megabytes, gigabytes, and terabytes.


A unique memory subdivision of central or main memory which is faster than RAM memory. Commonly used data and instructions are stored in cache for faster access.


A process by which a scanner, monitor, or output device is adjusted to provide a more accurate display and reproduction of an image.


A removable and transportable magnetic storage medium.

CCD Array

A group of light-sensitive recording elements often arranged in a line (linear array) and used as a scanner image-sensing device.

CD-ROM (Compact Disk-Read Only Memory)

Optical storage media.


An abbreviation for Color Electronic Prepress System.

Charged-Coupled Device

A component of an electronic scanner that digitizes images. A CCD consists of a set of image-sensing elements (photosites) arranged in a linear or area array. Images are digitized by an external light source that illuminates the source document, which reflects the light through optics into the silicon light sensors in the array. This generates electrical signals in each photosite proportional to the intensity of the illumination.


Scales adopted by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) to serve as a world-wide standard for color management.

Closed Loop System

An automated and usually electronic system in which all operations and functions are interrelated for self-diagnosis, correction, and evaluation.


A color model that is based on the four colors: (C) Cyan, (M) Magenta, (Y) Yellow, (K) Black. It is the basis for all four-color printing. The letters are occasionally rearranged to indicate a specific printing sequence.

Color Balance

(1) The correct combination of cyan, magenta, and yellow needed to reproduce a specific photograph without an unwanted color cast or color bias. (2) The specific combination of yellow, magenta, and cyan needed to produce a neutral gray in the color separation process. (3) The ability of a film to reproduce the colors in an original scene. Color films are balanced during manufacture to compensate for exposure to specific light sources.

Color Central

An Open Prepress Interface (OPI) print and image server running on Mac,Windows, Windows NT, DEC Alpha, and Power Mac.

Color Conversion

Producing a color transparency from a color reflection original so that a flexible copy of the original can be color-separated on a rotary-drum scanner.

Color Correction

A photographic, electronic, or manual procedure used to compensate for the deficiencies of the process inks and color separation.

Color Gamut

The range of colors that can be formed by all possible combinations of the colorants in a color reproduction system.

Color Management System

An electronic prepress tool that provides a way to correlate the colorrendering capabilities of input devices (scanners and digital cameras), color monitors, and output devices (digital color proofers, imagesetters, color printers) to produce predictable, consistent color. Color management consists of three steps: (1) calibration of input devices, monitors, and output devices to know specifications, (2) characterization, which is a way of determining the color "profile" of a particular device, and (3) conversion, which performs the "color correction" function between color-imaging devices.

Color Match

Condition resulting when no significant difference in hue, saturation, and lightness can be detected between two color samples viewed under standard illumination.

Color Patch

Small samples of the inks that will be used for a process-color job. They are printed on the required paper stock and attached to the original art to serve as a reference in the color separation process.

Color Reproduction Guide

A test image containing samples of solid primary colors, secondary colors, three- and four-color images, and tint areas that serves as the standard for correcting defects in printing ink pigments and the color separation process.

Color Scanner

A device incorporating a digital or analog computer that separates colored originals electronically by using the three additive primary colors of light in the form of blue, green and red filters, plus a pre-programmed black printer correctly balanced with the color separations. A light beam moves over the image point by point, generating a separate, color-corrected, continuous-tone intermediate or screened halftone film negative or positive representing each of the process colors and black.

Color Separation

Using red, green, and blue filters to divide the colors of a multicolored original into the three process colors and black. The four resulting film intermediates are used to prepare the yellow, magenta, cyan, and black printing plates. Color separation is most often accomplished with an electronic color scanner.

Color Space

The three-dimensional area where three color attributes, such as hue, value, and chroma, can be depicted, calculated, and chartered.


An instrument that measures and compares the hue, purity and brightness of colors in a manner that simulates how people receive color.


Reducing the size of a file for storage purposes or to enhance the speed of data transfer by eliminating the redundancies and other unnecessary elements from the original.

Computer Graphics

Producing graphic material from computer systems. This process often involves integrating text and art and completing page layout on the computer before outputting it to a laser printer or an imagesetter.

Continuous Tone

A photographic image or art that has not been screened. It has infinite tone gradations between the lightest and the deepest shadows.

Continuous Tone Grayscale

A scale of uniform tones, from white to black or transparent to opaque, without a visible texture or dot formation.

Copy Range

The density difference between the lightest neutral highlights where detail appears and the darkest neutral shadow where detail appears in original artwork for preproduction, i.e., the black and white photographs, and the color prints and transparencies.

Copydot Technique

Photographing halftone illustrations and associated line copy without rescreening the illustration. The halftone dots of the original are copied as line material.

CPU (Central Processing Unit)

The computer's central brain. The main control and computational section of the computer which executes all instructions and sends or receives all information to and from I/O (Input/Output Devices).


A failure of either the computer, the software, or one of the other computer peripherals (printers, external storage, etc) within the computer system.


(1) Movement of the blanket surface or plate packing caused by static conditions or by the squeezing action that occurs during image transfer. (2) The displacement of each page location in the layout of a book signature as a result of folding the press sheet.


A roller with grippers that hold and press the sheet against the inked form roller on a printing press.


The light-tight chamber in which photographic materials are handled and processed.


Text, audio, video, and images stored in a form that can be understood by the computer.

Data Compression

Data or files that have been introduced in size to free memory for additional data.

Data Conversion

Technique of changing digital information from its original code so that it can be recorded by an electronic device using a different code.


An electronic program that is used to efficiently organize, store, retrieve, and modify information, such as a mailing list.


(Direct Digital Color Proof) – A proof printed directly from computer data to paper or another substrate without creating separation films first.


An instrument for measuring the optical density of a negative or positive transparency, or of a print.


(1) The light-stopping ability of an image or base material, sometimes referred to as optical density. (2) A photographic term used to describe the tonal value of an area. (3) The specific gravity or weight per unit volume of paper.

Desktop Publishing

A special type of computing that involves the use of special desktop computers (Mac or PC) and software to create flyers, newsletters, ads and other graphics. Output is typically on laser printers, color proofers, and high-end typesetting equipment or imagesetters. Film or plates are created directly from these electronic files that are suitable for printing.


Numerically discrete signals or values.

Digital Camera

A photographic system using a charged-coupled device (CCD) to transform visual information into pixels that are assigned binary codes so that they can be manipulated, compressed, stored, or transmitted as electronic files.

Digital Image

An image that is composed of discrete pixels. Each pixel is characterized by different brightness levels.

Digital Proof

Proofs that are produced on special printers or proofing devices and they are direct output of a digital electronic files.


The conversion of data to digital formats. The task is performed by digitizers and scanners.

Direct Imaging

Imaging that by-passes the need for film such as imaging from original copy direct to plate or electronic imaging from digital data directly to a proof or printing plate.

Direct-To-Plate Technology

Those imaging systems that receive fully paginated materials electronically from computers and expose this information to plates in platesetters or imagesetters without creating film intermediates. Also called CTP or Computer-to-plate.


A magnetic storage device that contains information, files, programs, and data needed by the computer to perform a task.

Disk Drive

The device that enables the CPU to read and write to and from magnetic disks.


The individual element of a halftone. It may be square, elliptical, or a variety of other shapes.

Dot Gain

The optical increase in the size of a halftone dot during prepress operations or the mechanical increase in halftone dot size that occurs as the image is transferred from plate to blanket to paper.


To send a file from one computer to another via a network or modem.


The period of time in which a device is not working because the system is malfunctioning or maintenance is being performed.

DPI (Dots Per Inch)

The resolution of the images that are output on the printer, imagesetter, or monitor.

Drum Scanner

Color separation equipment on which the original transparency is wrapped around a hollow, plastic rotary cylinder.