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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 MirPrint.com. 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 MirPrint.com.

Rag Paper

The term Rag Paper refers to a type of paper containing at least 25% rag or cotton pulp, rather than wood. Papers can range from 25-100% cotton fibers. Cotton-content papers are typically higher in quality than wood-pulp papers.

Raster Image Processor

Device that translates page description commands into bitmapped information for an output device such as a laser printer or imagesetter.

Reader Spread

Reader Spread is a term that refers to non-reproduction-quality proofs of typeset copy used to check the material for typos or other errors.

Ream

500 sheets of paper

Recycled Paper

New paper made entirely or in part from old paper.

Reflective Copy

Products, such as fabrics, illustrations and photographic prints, viewed by light reflected from them, as compared to transparent copy. Also called reflex copy.

Register

The term Register refers to the degree to which successively-printed colors (or images) are accurately positioned with respect to each other. Accurate register ensures that a final printed piece has the effect of a "single image," with no color gaps or overlaps. Register is initially set by correct exposure, positioning, and mounting of printing plates (or other image carriers), but proper register on the printed piece can be mitigated against by many different variables, such as dimensional changes in the substrate due to changes in moisture content and/or mechanical stretching, deficiencies in the press feeding section, web tension, or changes in the image-carrying portions of the press, such as blanket compression (in offset lithography) or plate swelling (in flexography), among many other factors.
Depending on the application, accuracy of registration may be more or less necessary. See Absolute Register, Close Register, Commercial Register, Hairline Register, Lap Register, and Loose Register. Inaccuracies in registration are known as misregister. Process color printing is usually performed utilizing register marks, small shapes on successive plates which aid in the setting of proper register.

Register Marks

Cross-hair lines on mechanicals and film that help keep flats, plates, and printing in register. Also called crossmarks and position marks.

Relief Printing

Printing method whose image carriers are surfaces with two levels having inked areas higher than noninked areas. Relief printing includes block printing, flexography and letter press.

Repeatability

A measure of the extent to which an imagesetter or film plotter will place a specific dot in exactly the same position on successive pieces of film.

Reprographics

Reprographics is a blanket term encompassing multiple methods of reproducing content, such as scanning , photography, xerography and digital printing. The term applies to both physical ( hard copy ) and digital ( soft copy ) reproductions of documents and images.

Resolution

In computer graphics and imaging, the term resolution can mean a variety of different things, depending on the image and which particular aspect of a graphics system one is talking about.
Screen resolution can refer to both the color depth (i.e., 8-Bit color vs. 24-Bit color, or the total number of colors that can be displayed) and intensity of the displayed image, or to the number of pixels displayed per unit of length. (Though not really a measure of resolution per se, a monitor's dot pitch is a measure of the diameter of one screen pixel. The smaller the dot pitch, the greater the resolution.) When describing vector displays, screen resolution refers to the number of horizontal lines per inch. When describing raster displays, screen resolution refers to the number of horizontal and vertical pixels that can be displayed (i.e., 640 x 480).
Although dots per inch is commonly used as a measure of output resolution, a more preferable measure is of the number of discernible line pairs per inch (or millimeter), as in many types of output the dots are deliberately made to overlap, skewing the "dots per inch" measurement.
In desktop publishing, "dots per inch" or, more correctly, pixels per inch (to distinguish pixels from halftone dots), is the measurement of choice, and is the unit most often used in input and output device specifications. For example, a Macintosh monitor has a resolution of 72 ppi; a laser printer has a maximum resolution of 300:600 ppi; and an imagesetter has a resolution of 1270:3386 ppi. On the input side of things, a desktop scanner has a resolution of 300:600 ppi, while a high-end drum scanner has a resolution of up to 10,000 ppi. Resolution, therefore, is a combination of both the input resolution and the total number of dots (actually, more correctly called spots, to, again, distinguish them from halftone dots, which are themselves composed of printer spots) that the output device can print per inch.
As a general rule, the higher the resolution the better, but there is a caveat. Although scanning an image at the highest resolution that the device will allow may seem like a good idea, it is in vain if the output device's resolution is lower. And since digital file size increases with increasing resolution, one may be doing oneself a disservice by scanning higher than one needs to, which will result in longer image processing time, larger file sizes, and more RAM needed to work with the image.

Resolution Target

A Resolution Target is an image, such as the GATF Star Target, that permits evaluation of resolution on film, proofs or plates by utilizing pie shaped wedges of lines that converge in the center. (It is printed with color bars on the edge of a press sheet to detect dot gain, slur, and double images).

Reverse

Reverse is, essentially, the negative of an image, or the producing of the negative of an image.
The term reverse also refers to type or other matter that is designed to print as white on black (or colored), rather than as the typical black on white.
The term reverse should not be confused with the physical reversing of the orientation of an image, which is more correctly known as flopping.

RGB

Abbreviation for red, green, blue, the additive color primaries.

Right Reading

Copy that reads correctly in the language in which it is written. Also describes a photo whose orientation looks like the original scene, as compared to a flopped image.

Rotary Press

A Rotary Press is any type of printing press that uses a curved image carrier mounted on (or as) a cylinder, in contrast to a flatbed press.
A rotary press is also used to specifically describe a type of cylinder-based press used in letterpress printing.

Round Back Bind

A Round Back Bind is any type of binding on which the spine is curved, as opposed to a flat back.

Ruby Window

A Ruby Window is a mask made from rubylith that creates a window on film shot from the mechanical.

Ruleup

Ruleup, also known as Press Layout, is a drawing that shows how a printing job must be imposed using a specific press and sheet size. It shows where pieces will be cut, perforated and folded.