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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


In newspaper publishing, a page size of a newspaper corresponding to 11 inches wide by 15 or 17 inches long, or roughly half the size of a standard size newspaper. As tabloid size paper was often used to print so-called "scandal sheets," the term "tabloid" itself has come to refer to splashy, attention-grabbing (and, some would say, somewhat "sleazy") journalism, hence the popular term "tabloid TV."


Grade of dense, strong paper used for products such as badges and file folders.

Tagged Image File Format

Tagged Image File Format (abbreviated TIFF) is a file format for storing images, including photographs and line art. It is as of 2009 under the control of Adobe Systems. Originally created by the company Aldus[1] for use with what was then called "desktop publishing", the TIFF format is widely supported by image-manipulation applications, by publishing and page layout applications, by scanning, faxing, word processing, optical character recognition and other applications.[2] Adobe Systems, which acquired Aldus, now holds the copyright to the TIFF specification. TIFF has not had a major update since 1992, though several Aldus/Adobe technical notes have been published with minor extensions to the format, and several specifications, including TIFF/EP and TIFF/IT (ISO 12639)[3][4] have been based on the TIFF 6.0 specification.

Target Ink Densities

This term refers to the density of CMYK as recommended for various printing processes and grades of paper.
See also Total Area Coverage.


In page layout, a background grid, image, or shape used to indicate where page elements are to be inserted. Templates are used to define the default page layout for a publication.
In computer-based page layout, templates are created digitally, and function much like the non-reproducible blue lines drawn on mechanicals, indicating where column and page margins are to be, where folios, running head, etc., should be positioned.

Text Paper

A paper grade that offers highly aesthetic yet functional papers with a variety of colors, textures, surfaces, and finishes. Text papers can be wood-pulp or cotton-content paper. Text papers are elegant and durable, and are used for programs, menus, annual reports, advertising circulars, announcements, etc.
The basic size of text paper is 25 x 38 in., and comes in basis weights of 60, 70, 80, and 100-lb.


This is a printing process designed to simulate raised printing by dusting the wet printed ink film with a resin-based powder and fusing the resin particles together with heat to produce a raised effect.


A Thumbnail is a small, crude sketch of a proposed page layout, usually generated in bunches during the brainstorming phase of design. Used primarily to seek approval as to which design warrants further development. A slightly more finalized layout sketch is known as a rough.


In printing, an alternate term for flat tint.
The term tint is also occasionally used as an alternate term for spot color.
In subtractive color theory, tint refers to a primary hue to which some quantity of white pigment has been added.
The term tint is also an alternate term for saturation, or how white (or light) a particular hue is.
In ink mixing, a colored printing ink to which a quantity of extender or white pigment has been added in order to reduce the color strength of the primary color.
In halftone photography, tint refers to a halftone produced with a dot percentage of less than 100%.

Total Area Coverage

In halftone photography and reproduction, the total surface area of a press sheet or color separation negative occupied by halftone dots. Often incorrectly known as total density (it's not really a measure of density).

Touch Plate

A Touch Plate is a means of adding extra-trinary colors to process color printing. A touch plate consists of a plate of a special color beyond the traditional cyan, magenta, or yellow. Touch plates are used to reproduce a color which is out of the gamut of CMY mixing, used especially to reproduce a unique color in the original artwork. See Extra-Trinary Color. See also Color Substitution and Bump Plate.
In multi-color screen printing, a touch plate is a fifth (or otherwise additional) screen for the printing of so-called non-reproducible colors such as fluorescents or whites.

Trade Shop

A Trade Shop is a printer or bindery working primarily for other graphic arts professionals. Trade Shops do not typically offer their services to the general public.


In multi-color printing, an allowance of overlap for two colors printed adjacent to each other, as a means of compensating for misregister and to avoid gaps between colors.
In typography, an indentation cut into the intersection of strokes on a letter, particularly in early photographic typesetting and especially when setting bold typefaces. The problem of bleed arose often, due to changes in focus, light-exposure intensity, and ink bleeding during printing. Any alteration of one or more of these factors resulted in the intersections of the letters not looking sharp on the final print. As a means of compensating for this problem, traps are cut into these problem spots, so that photographic and ink bleed will bring the intersection optically out where it belongs. As can be expected, this form of type needs to be redesigned a number of times before the correct amount of compensation is achieved.
One particular problem with traps is that they become visible when setting large point sizes.

Trim Size

The ultimate, desired size of a printed piece, which may or may not be a standard size, but is often arrived at by trimming the printed sheets following printing.