I often talk with people who are new to printing or publishing, and find some confusion over technical terms. This is understandable, because every industry has its own language and printing is no exception. To help clarify, here are a few that arise. I will add to the list in subsequent posts, and invite your questions.

Page. In printing, a page is one side of a printed sheet. Two sides is called a full “sheet.” In other words, if you have a book that is 32 pages, there are actually 16 sheets printed on both sides. Therefore, when you talk to a printer and specify the page count, count “sides” not sheets.

File. When a printer asks how you plan to submit “files,” they mean the digital or electronic art. These files will include both text and graphics. There are various software programs used for this purpose, but the most widely accepted by modern printers is InDesign.

Scanning. This is a process for creating digital files or images from photographic prints or text. Images can be saved in various formats including JPG for Website use, and TIF for inserting into material for printing.

PDF (Short for portable document format) was introduced to ease the sharing of documents between computers across operating system platforms. PDF files cannot be modified, but are easily shared and printed.  Today almost everyone has a version of Adobe Reader or other Adobe program on their computer that can read a PDF file. It is a widely accepted format for submitting files for printing.

Screening. This is the process used in pre-press to break down a continuous tone image, such as a photograph, into dots for print reproduction.

Halftone. A halftone is simply a group of large and small dots that when viewed at a distance has the appearance of continuous shades of gray or color in an image. Creating a halftone is how a continuous tone image is made for printing. Halftone dots are not actually dots, but small ellipses that have a definite pattern and angle to them 

LPI is short for Lines Per Inch. Halftone dots are referred to by a number, which is based on the number of dots per linear inch. This number is called the “frequency” or “Lines-per-inch – LPI.” The greater the number of dots, or density, the higher (or finer) the resolution is in printing.

Stay tuned for more discussion about printing terms in upcoming blog posts! Thanks for being here!


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