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Printing Glossary

This glossary of printing terms was created by people working in today's printing industry and is brought to you by It has been revised and edited and we have rewritten some technical descriptions in every day language to help the non technical person. Any suggestions that you may have on how we can improve this glossary will be carefully considered. Please send your comments and any new definitions to us at

Data conversion

Data Conversion is the conversion of computer data from one format to another before it can be used by a different computer, operating system or program. Data conversions may as simple as the conversion of a text file, or more complex, such as the conversion of office file formats, or image file formats.


Debossing is an inverted form of embossing in which a relief plate is placed under a sheet of paper as it is run through the printing press, thus recessing and lowering rather than raising that area of the paper.


Density refers to the intensity of color or darkness of an image or photograph.


A Die is a specialized tool used to cut, shape, form or place an image on paper in the finishing process. Like molds and templates, dies are generally customized and uniquely matched to the product they are used to create.


Digital usually refers to the master Digital File or Files that pertain to the current job and will be used for printing. Usually they are in JPEG, GIF, TIFF, PSD, AI, INDD, PSD and PDF formats.

Digital Printers

A Digital Printer is used for the reproduction of digital images on physical surfaces, such as common or photographic paper, film, cloth, plastic, etc. A Flatbed Digital Printer allows for a wide range of rigid or flat objects to be printed on, like wood or metal. Digital printers can directly interface to electronic media such as memory sticks or memory cards, or to image capture devices such as digital cameras, scanners; some printers are combined with a scanners and/or fax machines in a single unit, and can function as photocopiers.

Dot Matrix Printer

A Dot Matrix Printer or impact matrix printer is a type of computer printer with a print head that runs back and forth, or in an up and down motion, on the page and prints by impact, striking an ink-soaked cloth ribbon against the paper, much like a typewriter. Unlike a typewriter or daisy wheel printer, letters are drawn out of a dot matrix, and thus, varied fonts and arbitrary graphics can be produced. Because the printing involves mechanical pressure, these printers can create carbon copies and carbonless copies.

Each dot is produced by a tiny metal rod, also called a "wire" or "pin", which is driven forward by the power of a tiny electromagnet or solenoid, either directly or through small levers (pawls). Facing the ribbon and the paper is a small guide plate (often made of an artificial jewel such as sapphire or ruby) pierced with holes to serve as guides for the pins. The moving portion of the printer is called the print head, and when running the printer as a generic text device generally prints one line of text at a time. Most dot matrix printers have a single vertical line of dot-making equipment on their print heads; others have a few interleaved rows in order to improve dot density.