Graphic Design Glossary 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 Print-specific Terms
Additive Color Additive colors are produced by light. The more light produced, the brighter the colors. This is in direct contrast to subtractive colors.

Red, green and blue are the primary additive colors and are used in computer monitors.

See also: Subtractive colors

Ajax shorthand for asynchronous JavaScript and XML - is a group of interrelated web development techniques used on the client-side to create interactive web applications. With Ajax, web applications can retrieve data from the server asynchronously in the background without interfering with the display and behavior of the existing page. The use of Ajax techniques has led to an increase in interactive or dynamic interfaces on web pages.
Anti aliasing The technique of minimizing aliasing (jagged or blocky patterns) when representing a high-resolution signal at a lower resolution. Most common in typefaces, this technique offers a mixture of pixels between the font color and the background color to "smooth out" differences particularly in curved fonts. Example
API Abbreviation for Applications Program Interface, method of interfacing applications programs with an operating system.
ASCII ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Computers can only understand numbers, so an ASCII code is the numerical representation of a character such as 'a' or '@' or an action of some sort. ASCII was developed a long time ago and now the non-printing characters are rarely used for their original purpose. More.
Behavior This is Dreamweaver-speak for JavaScript. Event + Action = Behavior. For example if the "Event" is moving the cursor over a button, the "Action" could be that the image of a button swaps with one that appears pressed down (a "rollover"), and when clicked you go to another part of the Website - the "Behavior".
Bitmap A raster graphics image, digital image, or bitmap, is a data file or structure representing a generally rectangular grid of pixels, or points of color, on a computer monitor, paper, or other display device. Example.
Bleed In desktop publishing, where color or images overlap the intended finished size of a publication. To let the ink bleed to the edge of the printed page. Once the paper is printed it is usually trimmed so the “bleed” is clean to the edge. Usually 3mm or 1/8th of an inch.
Captcha Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Where a site user is required to enter, for example distorted text to cut down on spam. More.
Choking A method of trapping where an object surrounds a second object and the surrounding object is made larger to overlap the object being surrounded.
Clipping Path A clipping path is a means to make parts of an image opaque and parts of an image transparent. Usually it is used to "knock out" the background. It is also a way of changing the rectangular-shaped boundary of a bitmap image into a shape of your choice. Clipping paths are made with the pen tool in Photoshop. The path itself is a vector object, while the image is a bitmap. Together, the vector path and the bitmap image can be exported as an EPS file - a file format which is capable of having both vector and bitmap data in the same image.
CMYK A print color model. It stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (the black being K - or "Key" -so not to confuse it with the B in RGB).
Color Gamut The range of colors that a device such as a monitor or printer can produce.
Cookie A message given to a Web browser by a Web server. The browser stores the message in a text file. The message is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server. The main purpose of cookies is to identify users and possibly prepare customized Web pages for them.
Copyleft A general method for making a program or other work free, and requiring all modified and extended versions of the program to be free as well. The simplest way to make program free software is to put it in the public domain, uncopyrighted. This allows people to share the program and their improvements, if they are so minded.

CSS Cascading Style Sheets "override" conventional HTML, allowing far greater formatting of page elements. Example
Dithering Dithering is a technique used in computer graphics to create the illusion of color depth in images with a limited color palette (quantization). In a dithered image, colors not available in the palette are approximated by a diffusion of colored pixels from within the available palette.
dpi Dots per inch. See Resolution
EPS EPS stands for Encapsulated PostScript. An EPS file is a PostScript language program describing the appearance of a single page. Usually, the purpose of the EPS file is to be embedded inside another PostScript language page description. The EPS file can contain any combination of text, graphics and images, and it is the same as any other PostScript language page description with only a few limitations.
Folio The page number and identifying material (such as the publication name or month) that appear at the bottom or top of every page (as in Headers & Footers)
Font From “foundry” and “type foundry.” Font specifically refers to one set of a face, e.g., 12 point Caslon. Therefore it’s generally misused to mean typeface but so commonly misused it’s become synonymous.
GIF Graphics Interchange Format. Standard file format for the exchange of graphics on the World Wide Web. Especially suitable for simple graphics with few colors (logos etc.). Will support transparency, animation and interlacing.
GNU More
Greek Text or images rendered nonsensically to demonstrate a design without the need for—or the distraction of—real content. Greeking is most often rendered in Latin since English uses the Roman alphabet.
Gutter Either the space between columns or the space between the left-hand side of a text box and the binding. The thicker the publication in terms of page numbers, the greater the gutter needs to be so the beginnining of the text or image isn't "lost" into the fold of the binding.
Halftone To create the illusion of continuous tone when printed, images are broken down into a series of dots. This process is called halftoning. Varying the sizes and densities of the dots in a halftone screen creates the optical illusion of variations of grey or continuous colour in the image.
Hexadecimal A form of classifying Web safe colors, made up from a combination of sixteen characters 0-9 and A-F. Always preceded by a hash (#) and then six characters. Based on the RGB color model, the first two of the six characters represent the Reds, the second set of two the Greens and the last two the Blues. Therefore a hexadecimal reference of #FF0000 would be pure red (the f denoting "Full" and the next four digits meaning nothing or empty.
Hexachrome Pantone's six-color alternative to CMYK. It adds green and orange inks for more accurate color reproduction in those hues as well as enhanced versions of the four colors in CMYK.
H & J's Hyphenation & Justification. The specification of the number of letters in a word before hyphenation occurs. H & J sets set the spacing in paragraphs and help the attractiveness of the finished document.
HSB Hue, Saturation, Brightness, a color model in which hue refers to a color's light frequency, saturation is the amount or strength of the hue (its purity), and brightness is the amount of black in the color (its lightness or darkness). See also RGB.
ICC International Color Consortium. The purpose of the ICC is to promote the use and adoption of open, vendor-neutral, cross-platform color management systems. The ICC encourages vendors to support the ICC profile format and the workflows required to use ICC profiles.
The ICC specification is now widely used and is referred to in many International and other de-facto standards. It has recently been approved as an International Standard, ISO 15076.
Index Color Index color images are created from RGB images. RGB images can contain up to 16-million colors. When an image is converted to index color, the 16-million colors are converted to 256. This color reduction can create some image distortions as well as some banding (less-than-smooth gradations). Index color makes use of something called dithering. Dithering is the process of using a few colors to create the illusion of more colors (not unlike the dot patterns used in CMYK printing).
Interlacing An interlaced graphic image, such as an interlaced GIF, an interlaced image is an image that, when opened or loaded, loads every other line, allowing the image to be viewed more quickly. This method of loading images is most commonly noticed with slow internet connections when downloading an image.
An interpolated bitmap image is one where pixels have been artificially added either by the input device, such as a digital camera or during in the scanning process, or afterwards in graphics editor such as Photoshop. This is done to artificially enhance the resolution of an image.
Interpolating an image's resolution generally results in a 'soft' or fuzzy image, as the software has added pixels by 'guessing' where they should go, based on the shades of the pixels in proximity.
JPEG Joint Photographic Experts Group. A file format for Web graphics. Most suitable for photography-type images. A "lossy" file compression method results in extremely small file sizes, but the "lost" data cannot be retrieved so a copy of the original is recommended.
Kerning In typography, the adjustment of horizontal distance, usually of 2-3 characters such as T,A,V- characters which "tuck under" others.
Knockout DTP term. When one element cuts out the part of another element that it overlaps. Different to overlay where transparency or overprinting allows lower element(s) to be visible.
Lab color The most complete color model used conventionally to describe all the colors visible to the human eye. The three parameters in the model represent the lightness of the color (L*, L*=0 yields black and L*=100 indicates white), its position between magenta and green (a*, negative values indicate green while positive values indicate magenta) and its position between yellow and blue (b*, negative values indicate blue and positive values indicate yellow).
Leading Pronounced "ledding" this is the adjustment vertically of the space between rows of text. Originated in the old world of typesetting where strips of lead were placed between the rows of text, the thickness of which depended on the desired vertical space between the lines of text.
Ligature In writing and typography, a ligature occurs where two or more letterforms are written or printed as a unit. Generally, ligatures replace characters that occur next to each other when they share common components. A letter with an accent mark is not usually called a ligature, though it would require a separate block of type just as a ligature does. Ligatures are a subset of a more general class of figures called "contextual forms", where the particular shape of a letter depends upon its context, such as surrounding letters or whether or not it appears at the end of a line.
LPI LPI (lines per inch) is the resolution used in printing. When documents that include photographs or shades or tints of a color are printed, they're screened. This used to be done by laying a piece of film with dots printed on it over the film before exposing it, but now it's all done through the imagesetter. The principles are the same. The dots were arranged in rows, or lines. LPI referred to the number of lines per inch. The higher the LPI, the smoother the shades look.

Lorem Ipsum Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.
LZW Lempel-Ziv-Welch is a universal lossless data compression algorithm used mainly for Web images. It became very widely used after it became part of the GIF image format in 1987. It may also (optionally) be used in TIFF files.
M-dash (or em-dash) and N-dash (or en-dash) The dashes that are the width of an M (—) and an N (–) in a given face. They will always be wider than a plain dash or hyphen, excepting monospace faces.
Moiré If a scene contains areas with repetitive detail which exceeds the resolution of the camera, scanner etc., a wavy moiré pattern can appear. This also appears on TV when, say a presenter is wearing a fine herringbone cloth.
MP3 An audio file format (.mp3) which features high quality digital audio files with excellent compression. MP3 has become the standard for downloadable music and plays in QuickTime, RealPlayer and Windows Media Player.
A noisy image or noisy scan is one where there are random or extra pixels that have degraded the image quality.
Noise in a graphics image can be generated at the scanning stage, by artificially enlarging an image by interpolating the pixels, or by over-sharpening a digital photograph. Noise can sometimes also be found in photographs taken by some cheaper digital cameras.
See also: Interpolation
Open Type® OpenType® is a new cross-platform font file format developed jointly by Adobe and Microsoft. Adobe now offers hundreds of fonts in the OpenType format. The two main benefits of the OpenType format are its cross-platform compatibility (the same font file works on Macintosh and Windows computers), and its ability to support widely expanded character sets and layout features, which provide richer linguistic support and advanced typographic control.


The Pantone Color Matching System is largely a standardized colour reproduction system.  By standardizing the colours, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colours match without direct contact with one another.

One such use is standardizing colours in the CMYK process.  The CMYK process is a method of printing colour by using four inks - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK.  The vast majority of the world's printed material is produced using the CMYK process, and there is a special subset of Pantone colours that can be reproduced using CMYK.  Those that are possible to simulate through the CMYK process are labelled as such within the company's guidlines.

However, most of the Pantone systems 1,114 spot colours cannot be simulated with CMYK but with 13 base pigments (15, including white and black) mixed in specified amounts.

Perfect binding The assembly of a whole book by gluing the trimmed pages to a wrap-around cover in paperback fashion
Pica A measurement unit that specifies the width and depth of columns and pages. A pica is just a little less than 1/8th of an inch.
PNG Portable Network Graphics is a losslessly compressed bitmap image format for use with Web images. PNG was created to both improve upon and replace the GIF format with an image file format that does not require a patent license to use.
Point A desktop publishing term denoting the height of a font. A point is 1/72nd of an inch.
PPD Files PostScript Printer Description (PPD) files describe the fonts, paper sizes, resolution capabilities, and other features that are standard for your PostScript printer. PPD files are used by PostScript printer drivers to determine how to print your document. If you do not print using the correct PPD file, your document might not print correctly, or not all of the printer’s
features will be available when you print.
PostScript PostScript is a programming language optimized for printing graphics and text (whether on paper, film, or CRT). In the jargon of the day, it is a page description language. It was introduced by Adobe in 1985 and first appeared in the Apple LaserWriter. The main purpose of PostScript was to provide a convenient language in which to describe images in a device- independent manner. This device independence means that the image is described without reference to any specific device features (e.g. printer resolution) so that the same description could be used on any PostScript printer (say, a LaserWriter or a Linotron) without modification. In practice, some PostScript files do make assumptions about the target device (such as its resolution or the number of paper trays it has), but this is bad practice and limits portability.
Process Color In printing, any of the four colors that make up CMYK.
Raster See bitmap
Registration Adding marks and crop marks for professional printing. Used to line up the finished edges of documents, print color separations etc.
Resolution Refers to the sharpness and clarity of an image. The term is most often used to describe monitors, printers, and bit-mapped graphic images. Resolutionis usually indicated in dpi (dots per inch). For example, a 300-dpi (dots per inch) printer is one that is capable of printing 300 distinct dots in a line 1 inch long. This means it can print 90,000 dots per square inch. For graphics monitors, the screen resolution signifies the number of dots (pixels) on the entire screen. For example, a 640-by-480 pixel screen is capable of displaying 640 distinct dots on each of 480 lines, or about 300,000 pixels. This translates into different dpi measurements depending on the size of the screen. For example, a 15-inch VGA monitor (640x480) displays about 50 dots per inch.

RGB A screen color model (i.e. anything viewed via a monitor, be it computer, television etc.) Stands for Red, Green, Blue.
Saddlestitch The assembly of a publication by stapling the pages together, through the fold in the paper or, on thicker publications sideways, which is known as sidestitching and will then be hidden by the application of the cover.
Spot Color In printing this is a single color that is applied at one or more places on a page.
Spreading The reverse of choking where the surrounded object is enlarged so that it bleeds into the surrounding object.
Spry The Spry Framework is an open source Ajax framework developed by Adobe Systems. Unlike other pure JavaScript frameworks, Spry is geared towards web designers, not web developers.
Subtractive colors
Subtractive color is the process in color theory whereby color is seen as the result of light reflecting from a printed surface. Cyan, Magenta and Yellow inks are subtractive colors, as are any printed or 'solid' colors - as opposed to additive colors such as those produced by RGB computer monitors.

Cyan, Magenta and Yellow are known as subtractive colors because the more of each ink that is added the darker, or less reflective, the resultant shade. In theory, the application of a 100% mixture of Cyan Magenta and Yellow inks will produce a solid black. In practice, in the printing process, black ink nearly always has to be added due to impurities in commercial printing inks.

See also: Additive colors

TIFF TIFF or the Tagged Image File Format is a rather old standard that is still very popular today. It is a highly flexible and platform-independent format which is supported by numerous image processing applications and virtually all all prepress software on the market.
Thumbnails In pre-press printing a miniature version of the document printed several pages to a sheet for final checking.
Tracking In typography, the horizontal distance between any number of individual characters. (Not to be confused with Kerning)
Trapping The adjustment of the boundaries of colored objects to prevent gaps between abutting objects on the printed page. These gaps can occur because of misalignment of the negatives, plates or printing presses - all of which are unavoidable.
True Type An outline font standard originally developed by Apple in the late 1980s as a competitor to Adobe's Type 1 fonts used in PostScript. The primary strength of TrueType is that it offers font developers a high degree of control over precisely how their fonts are displayed, right down to particular pixels, at various font heights.
Tweening A term used in animation programs. You use the Tween command to automatically add or modify a series of frames between two existing frames--varying the layer attributes (position, opacity, or effect parameters) evenly between the new frames to create the appearance of movement. The term "tweening" is derived from "in betweening," the traditional animation term used to describe this process. Tweening significantly reduces the time required to create animation effects such as fading in or fading out, or moving an element across a frame.
Unsharp mask Digital process of sharpening the appearance of bitmap photographic images.
Used by professional graphics applications such as Photoshop. There are numerous settings to allow the sharpening of different types of photographic images, without adding too much noise that can result in a grainy appearance.

See also: Noise (noisy scan)

Vector The use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and polygons to represent images in computer graphics. Vectors are used by contrast to the term raster graphics, which is the representation of images as a collection of pixels (dots).
WAV The default audio format for Windows. Uncompressed versions play in browsers but WAV files should be avoided for inclusion on Web sites owing to their large file sizes.
Wrap In DTP when text follows the contours of an obstructing element such as graphics or other text. Example.
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