What does it all mean?

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Here’s our explanation of common graphic, web and print terms — all in easy to understand plain English.

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    Adobe Acrobat / Adobe Acrobat Reader

    Two products produced by the software company Adobe which are used to view PDF files. Adobe Acrobat is a paid-for commercial product, but Adobe Reader is a free download that allows anyone to view PDF files on their computer.

    AI file

    Native file format of Adobe Illustrator that saves artwork as a Vector file. All Pixooma logos are created as Vector EPS/AI files


    Binding Method

    There are many ways that printed materials have their pages bound together. Most common is ‘Saddle Stitching’ which involves folding the printed sheets in half and laying them inside one another. The document is then ‘Stitched’ together through the folded spine of all the pages using metal staples. This method works fine for most documents where the page count is small, but as they get larger the effect of ‘creep’ becomes more prominent. To counter this, larger documents are quite often ‘Perfect bound’ together instead. With this method, small bunches of pages are folded in half and laid inside one another as with saddle stitching, but they are then piled one on top of the other and the spines are all glued into a wrap-around cover which incorporates a spine wide enough to accommodate them all. This is the method used for larger brochures and some paperback books. Book-binding is a different method, but it is related to perfect binding. | Back to top

    Bitmap/Raster image

    File format for an image or graphic made of ‘pixels’. All photographic image file formats will be ‘Bitmap’ or ‘Raster’ images. This type of image will pixelate when enlarged excessively unlike vector files which can be scaled to any size without loss of quality more…


    The area outside of the ‘trim’ area of a printed piece of work (leaflet etc) that is trimmed off when the job is finished by the printer. When produced by a professional printer, the job is always printed onto a sheet that is larger than the page(s) being printed. Images and blocks of colour near the edge of a page ‘bleed’ off, which means that when the job is trimmed down to finished size there is a clean edge and there is no chance of a white edge.

    Browser / Web browser

    Software used to view web pages, such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Every browser displays ‘HTML’ in subtly different ways. It is important that your website looks its best no matter what browsers your visitors are using. Pixooma ensures that all its web designs are tested across a suite of the latest browsers available.



    This is the colour system used in 4-colour process printing and stands for the 4 colours used: Cyan (c), Magenta (m), Yellow (y) and Key (k – which is usually black)

    Compressed file / Compression

    When you use compression software on your file or folder it produces a smaller file so that it can be distributed more easily, but which when opened returns to its original (larger) file size. Some methods, such as ‘Zip’ are ‘loss-less’, i.e no information is lost, but others such as the compressed image format ‘JPEG’ are ‘lossy’ meaning that there is a trade-off between compressed file size and quality of the final file when opened.


    When documents are ‘Saddle-stitched’ beyond a certain page-count they can suffer from creep. This is simply the effect of the folded pages being inside one another: Each folded page is pushed out (or creeps) from the one it sits inside, so when the job is trimmed to size it means that as you leaf through the document towards the centre, each page gets smaller and the content on it gets pushed closer and closer to the edge, thereby reducing the margins. There are various ways to counter this using software, but beyond a certain page-count it is generally advisable to go for the option of ‘Perfect Binding’.

    Creative commons

    A set of licences created by an American not-for-profit company to allow people to share their images and other artistic works for free, but clearly specify the legal ways in which the image can be used, i.e whether there needs to be a credit to the author of the work, whether it is personal use only, etc. More info can be found at

    Crop Marks / Trim Marks

    These indicate where the final document should be trimmed (or guillotined) down to.

    Cutting forme / Cutter / Cutter guide / knife / CAD

    For jobs such as packaging or folders where the job is more complicated than just page folds and trimming to size, a cutting forme provides all the detail of where all the fold lines, trim lines, cut marks, tabs and slots will appear on a piece of printed artwork.


    Desktop Publishing (DTP)

    Design, artwork and final file production of a magazine, brochure or other printed literature using dedicated DTP software software on a computer.

    Digital print

    Rather than use traditional printing inks, digital printing uses coloured toner or inkjet inks. Digital printers can vary enormously, from entry-level machines that are essentially high-end photocopiers up to sophisticated specialist digital ‘presses’. In general digital printing has no ‘economy of scale’, i.e if one print costs X then every subsequent print will cost X as well. Unlike traditional litho printing there is no setup process (and associated cost), but neither is there any reduction in cost at lower volumes.



    One of a number of ‘Stock image licences’ which means that you are free to use the image for factual ‘editorial’ uses only, you cannot use the image for ‘Promotional’ or ‘Creative’ purposes. This means that you cannot use them to market your business in any way. More…


    The 'three dots' (...) used to show you've omitted a word, phrase, line or paragraph from a quote. It can also create suspense by adding a pause before the end of the sentence as well as being used to show the trailing off of a thought.

    It's important to use the ellipsis character rather than three full stops as the spacing is then correct, and if it breaks over onto another line in your document the entire character will move. If you simply use three full-stops then part of it will end up on one line with the rest on the second line - which looks wrong.

    How can I insert it properly rather than adding three full stops?

    If you are using Microsoft Word, you have two choices for adding an ellipsis:

    1. Simply click on the "Insert" tab on the Word banner and click on "Symbol" on the far right of the tab. When the window opens, click on "More Symbols." In the Symbol window, click on "Special Characters" and find the ellipses about half-way down the list. Click on "ellipses" and then click on "Insert."
    2. Press Ctrl, Alt and then full stop key all at once.
    If you are on a Mac keyboard, you can simply do the following:
    • Press Option + (Alt) and then the ; key.

    Encapsulated PostScript. A file format that is predominantly used for ‘vector’ graphics.

    Extended licence

    One of a number of ‘Stock image licences’ which is an extension of the Royalty-free licence meaning you can exceed the maximum print run allowed within the standard Royalty-free licence, and can also use the image on items you resell, such as mugs, t-shirts etc. More…


    File Size

    All digital files (i.e photos, text files, spreadsheets etc) take up physical space on your hard drive and the size of the file is measured in ‘Bytes’. Small files such as text documents maybe a number of Kilobytes (kb) in size where 1kb is 1000 bytes. Images that are intended to be used on a website would normally be a number of kb in size, however for print they need to be much larger due to the much higher resolution required. Artwork files for print and images intended for printed work would normally be in the order of several Megabytes (mb) where 1mb is 1000kb. The next orders of size generally would only be used for collections of files that may be zipped together, or to describe the storage space on a hard drive: Gigabytes (gb) where 1gb is 1000mb and Terabytes (tb) where 1tb is 1000gb.


    The part of a page that contains the page number and sometimes other information such as the publication title or publication date.


    The electronic files for the typeface(s) used within a document. These are generally treated as licensed software and therefore cannot be freely distributed as that is effectively copyright infringement. Fonts can be transferred between different parties (if required by a printer for instance), but the licence cannot. Therefore the receiving party can only use those fonts for the specific job in hand. For some work it may be appropriate to ‘outline’ the fonts, but this can cause complications and means the file can no longer be edited.

    Four-Colour (4-col) Process Printing

    Standard 4-colour ‘CMYK’ printing uses four process colours in differing amounts to fool the eye into seeing a wide range of other colours. Look at any printed material closely (especially photographs) and you will see that they are actually comprised of dots of just these four colours (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) in various tints


    File Transfer Protocol. A method of transfering files over the internet that are too large to send as email attachments. One party ‘uploads’ to the ftp site where it is stored ready for the other party to download when ready.



    Graphic Interchange Format. A file format mostly used in web and other screen-based applications.


    An image that is ‘black and white’ but is not simply blocks of solid black or white. Greyscale images have a subtle range of tones from black, through grey to white.


    The clear area of space in the fold of a printed document, or the space between paragraphs of text in a printed publication.



    High resolution. A hires image would generally mean an image suitable for reproduction in print (300dpi minimum).

    Hosting / Web Hosting

    The service that stores all your webpages and web content on its servers so that it can be accessed 24hrs a day by anyone who wants to visit your site. Pixooma can provide a hosting solution for your website as part of an overall web design package.

    Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML)

    One of the computer-programming languages used to build websites, and still the predominant language used in millions of web pages. It consists basically of a list of text instructions that in conjunction with other web-technologies tells the web-browser what to display, how to display it and how to act when the user interacts with the site.



    Graphics software package sold by Adobe. This predominently is used to produce ‘vector’ artwork.


    A ‘desktop publishing’ package produced by Adobe. Used predominently for producing layouts for all types of printed work.


    JPEG / JPG

    Joint Photographics Experts Group. A widely used, compressed image file format. JPEGS use a ‘Lossy’ compression method which means that unlike PNG they lose some of the image data when saved. The amount of data loss will depend on the amount of ‘compression’ selected when the file is saved, but this flexibility will allow for smaller file sizes than PNG


    Litho / Litho printing

    The ‘traditional’ printing process that involves ink, plates and a printing press. This form of printing has an ‘economy of scale’: There are various processes and materials involved in getting the first printed sheet out of a press and because this takes time, small quantities can be more expensive per print than ‘digital’ printing. However,as the volume increases the cost per print continually reduces (unlike digital printing)


    A low resolution image is only suitable for screen work or proofing purposes and is typically around 72dpi.



    The clear area around the edges of a page. Pixooma understands the importance of margins and that generous page margins allow the content to ‘breathe’, which in turn makes it easier to read and digest. Squeezing more and more content onto a page in order to save on print costs is a counter-productive move as it cheapens the look of your product.


    Outlined fonts

    Outlining fonts means that all the text is converted to graphics. The advantages are that the font files no longer need to be supplied with the job (to a printer for example) and it eliminates any possibility of any font issues. However it is only really practical for small amounts of text that you will never want to change (in logos for example) as it means the text can not be edited anymore.


    Pages Printed (pp)

    You are probably aware of A4 as a paper size, but you may not know that it is part of a larger standard paper-size system. The most commonly used paper sizes in terms of printed material are those in the ‘A’ series. A4 is 210mm x 297mm and if you double the shortest measurement (210mm) you get A3 (420mm x 297mm). This doubling method continues for each paper-size in the series: A2 is 420mm x 594mm, A1 is 841mm x 594mm and A0 is 1189mm x 841mm. Similarly if you halve the largest measurement in each case you go down the series. So from A4 (210mm x 297mm), you get A5 (210mm x 148mm), A6 (105mm x 148mm), A7 (105mm x 74mm) etc. You will notice that there is some rounding up or down of some of the measurements to the nearest mm. A more detailed explanation can be found in the wikipedia article which also details the some of the related paper size series.

    Pantone Colour / Pantone Matching System (PMS)

    Colour definition system developed and sold by the Pantone company. This enables customers and designers to specify standardised colours for logos and printed layouts, and printing companies to understand exactly what colour the customer is expecting. Different paper stocks and artwork methods can produce differing results and the PMS system is not an absolute guarantee, however Pixooma can help advise you on this when producing any artwork.

    Paper Sizes

    You are probably aware of A4 as a paper size, but you may not know that it is part of a larger standard paper-size system. The most commonly used paper sizes in terms of printed material are those in the ‘A’ series. A4 is 210mm x 297mm and if you double the shortest measurement (210mm) you get A3 (420mm x 297mm). This doubling method continues for each paper-size in the series: A2 is 420mm x 594mm, A1 is 841mm x 594mm and A0 is 1189mm x 841mm. Similarly if you halve the largest measurement in each case you go down the series. So from A4 (210mm x 297mm), you get A5 (210mm x 148mm), A6 (105mm x 148mm), A7 (105mm x 74mm) etc. You will notice that there is some rounding up or down of some of the measurements to the nearest mm. A more detailed explanation can be found in the wikipedia article which also details the some of the related paper size series.


    PDF files are a ‘cross-platform’ document file format meaning that they can be viewed on PCs and Macs. All that is needed is Adobe Acrobat (a commercial software program) or Adobe Reader (free downloadable software from Pixooma regularly uses lores pdfs for proofing and most printers accept press-ready pdfs for printing final artwork.


    Image manipulation software created by Adobe. A powerful program that can save files in a variety of formats.


    When a Bitmap or Raster image is enlarged excessively it will become ‘pixelated’. This means that the image’s quality diminishes and starts to become visibly ‘blocky’


    Stands for Pixel Element. All computer generated images are displayed by coloured pixels (or blocks) that when viewed together create the finished image


    Portable Network Graphics file format. An alternative to ‘GIF‘ files regularly used for graphics on websites, especially where transparency is required. It’s a ‘Lossless’ compression format which means that data is not lost – in comparison to JPEG which is a ‘Lossy’ format. This means that the quality of the image is maintained, but it can also mean less effective ‘compression‘ and therefore larger files.


    The assertion that a given file(s) is ready for ‘press’, i.e all the fonts are in place and all the imagery is of a high enough resolution. Pixooma’s experience in the print industry means that you can be assured that all files we send to print are put through a ‘Pre-flight’ process ensuring they are Press-Ready.

    Public domain

    Means that the author of a creative work (photograph, story, etc) has waived the usual copyright and provided the work for public use without restriction. It means the public can use the work for any purpose as it effectively has no ‘owner’. The Creative Commons CC0 licence is a public domain licence


    This is the default Photoshop file format, which most other software programs cannot import. Artwork needs to be saved as an alternative file format before it can be placed into artwork for print or the web.


    Quark Xpress

    A Desktop Publishing (DTP) program similar to Adobe Indesign.



    With traditional CMYK printing each of the 4 process colours is applied to the paper using a different plate. The images laid down on the paper need to match up (or ‘register’) precisely in order to get the expected effect. If registration is poor then the illusion of a continous image (or block of colour or text) will be lost and you will start to see the individual process colours instead.

    Resolution / DPI

    The number of pixels for a given area (normally a Square Inch or Centimetre). Higher resolutions allow more detail as there are more pixels in each square Inch (or Centimetre) with which to display the image


    Colour model which stands for Red, Green, Blue. This is an additive colour model and is based on the way light works. As such it is used in televisions and computer monitors


    One of a number of ‘Stock image licences’ which means that the fee you pay is dependent on how, where and for how long you want to use the image. For example a full page front cover image for a 2,000,000 print-run brochure distributed 10 countries worldwide and with a life of 6 months will cost you more than using the same image smaller, for less time, on a shorter print run and/or in less countries. The fee you pay only applies to the specific usage you specify, so although you would then hold a high-res file of the image, you are legally required to pay additional fees for each subsequent use of the same image. More…


    One of a number of ‘Stock image licences’ which means that you are free to use the images whenever and however you wish, as long as you aren’t using it in an abusive, obscene or defamatory way, or adding it to your own library to sell on. Mostly there is a cap on how many times it can be printed and you are forbidden to put it onto items you sell such as t-shirts, mugs etc. It does not mean that it is ‘free’ of cost, because there is normally a charge to download the image under the royalty-free licence. More…


    SEO / Search Engine Optimisation

    The aim of getting your website a higher position in the ‘organic’ listings on search engines. The organic listings are the ones which meet the search engine’s quality criteria and best match the search query entered by the user. There is no guaranteed way to achieve a higher organic position as the search engines regularly change the algorithms that they use to analyse websites. You can improve your position on each page with Pay-per-click advertising, but these results are clearly displayed separately to the ‘organic’ listings.  The advice is generally to think of your site visitor first rather than the search engine, by following HTML standards and providing interesting and useful content. If you do this the search engine ranking should naturally increase. Pixooma always designs websites with good web standards in mind.

    Spot Colour / Special / Pantone colour

    4-colour process printing has a limited range (or Gamut) of colours that it can produce, and it can give varying results. Where a more predictable result is required or where a required colour is beyond the CMYK gamut, spot colours can be used. These are standardised colours that can be purchased from the Pantone company and can be used straight from the tin or created by mixing other Pantone inks in defined proportions.



    Tagged Image File Format. A standard uncompressed file format for images (although it can also be used with a ‘lossless’ compression method) which means they are usually larger file sizes than an equivalent JPEG, but are of higher quality.


    The finished size of a printed piece. All printed work is produced on a sheet easily large enough to contain the page or pages and the required bleed amount.



    A graphics file format which doesn’t represent the image in the same way as a bitmap, i.e it doesn’t use pixels. Instead it uses mathematical points, curves and lines to create complex shapes (polygons) in order to render the artwork, which means it can be scaled to any size without any loss of quality (it is resolution-independent) as it will not pixelate. It is only an applicable format for computer-drawn imagery, not photographs.



    One of several compression systems. Several files and/or folders can be ‘zipped-up’ so that they are in a single, more easily managed Zip file for uploading to an FTP or sending by email.

    Have we missed anything? Suggest an addition…

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