The ability of a material to take up moisture.


A transparent or translucent plastic sheet material of a variety of colors, used as a basis for artwork and overlays.


The condition of type and or art materials as they level up on a horizontal or vertical line.


Finish Paper with a rough, sized surface used for book and cover stock.

Art-Lined Envelope

An envelope that is lined with an extra fine paper; can be colored or patterned.


Any materials or images that are prepared for graphic reproduction.


That portion of an image that appears furthest from the eye; the surface upon which the main image is superimposed.


Any type that tilts to the left or backward direction; opposite of italic type.


A term used to describe the aesthetic or harmony of elements, whether they are photos, art or copy, within a layout or design.

Basis Weight

Basis or basic weight refers to the weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to a given standard size for that particular paper grade.


Various methods of securing folded sections together and or fastening them to a cover, to form single copies of a book.


On offset presses a fabric-reinforced sheet of rubber to transfer the impression from the plate onto the paper.


Extra ink area that crosses trim line, used to allow for variations that occur when the reproduction is trimmed or die-cut.

Blind Emboss

A design or bas relief impression that is made without using inks or metal foils.


A grade of durable writing, printing and typing paper that has a standard size of 17x22 inches.


A general classification to describe papers used to print books; its standard size is 25x38 inches. A printed work which contains more than 64 pages.

Bristol Board

A board paper of various thickness; having a smooth finish and used for printing and drawing.


Computer assisted drafting or computer assisted design and drafting


The measurement of thickness of paper expressed in thousandths of an inch or mils.

Camera Ready

A term given to any copy, artwork etc., that is prepared for photographic reproduction.

Cast Coated

A paper that is coated and then pressure dried using a polished roller which imparts an enamel like hard gloss finish.

Coarse Screen

Halftone screens commonly used in newsprint; up to 85 lines per inch.

Coated Stock

Any paper that has a mineral coating applied after the paper is made, giving the paper a smoother finish.


To gather sheets or pages together in their correct order. (see Gather)

Color Bars

This term refers to a color test strip, which is printed on the waste portion of a press sheet. It is a standardized (GATF-Graphic Arts Technical Foundation) process which allows a pressman to determine the quality of the printed material relative to ink density, registration, and dot gain. It also includes the Star Target, which is a similar system designed to detect inking problems.

Color Separating

The processes of separating the primary color components for printing.

Continuous Tone

Image made of non-discernable picture elements which give appearance of continuous spectrum of grey values or tones.


The degree of tonal separation or gradation in the range from black to white.


Refers to any typewritten material, art, photos etc., to be used for the printing process.

Corner Marks

Marks on a final printed sheet that indicate the trim lines or register indicators.


A term describing a general type of papers used for the covers of books, pamphlets etc.


When the rubber blanket on a cylinder moves forward due to contact with the plate or paper. Result of added thickness of folded sheets being behind one another in a folded signature. Outer edges of sheets creep away from back most fold as more folded sheets are inserted inside the middle.


To eliminate a portion of the art or copy as indicated by crop marks.

Crop Mark

Markings at edges of original or on guide sheet to indicate the area desired in reproduction with negative or plate trimmed (cropped) at the markings.


Not lying flat and tending to form into cylindrical or wavy shapes. A term to describe the differences of either side of a sheet relative to coatings, absorbency etc.; the concave side is the curl side.


Machine for accurately cutting stacks of paper to desired dimensions...can also be used to crease. Also trims out final bound books' top size (soft cover).

Cutting Die

Sharp edged device, usually made of steel, to cut paper, cardboard, etc., on a printing press.


A shade of blue used in the four-color process; it reflects blue and green and absorbs red.


An instruction given to remove an element from a layout.


An optical device used by printers and photographers to measure and control the density of color.


The degree of tone, weight of darkness or color within a photo or reproduction; measurable by the densitometer. Reference, densitometer.


Design, letters or shapes, cut into metal (mostly brass) for stamping book covers or embossing. An engraved stamp used for impressing an image or design.

Die Cutting

A method of using sharp steel ruled stamps or rollers to cut various shapes i.e. labels, boxes, tabs, image shapes, either post press or in line. The process of cutting paper in a shape or design by the use of a wooden die or block in which are positioned steel rules in the shape of the desired pattern.

Display Type

Any type that stands out from the rest of the type on a page which attracts attention of the reader.

Distribution Rollers

In the printing process, the rubber coated rollers responsible for the distribution of ink from the fountain to the ink drum.


The smallest individual element of a halftone.

Dot Gain

Darkening of halftone image due to ink absorption in paper causing halftone dots to enlarge. Terms to describe the occurrence whereby dots are printing larger than they should.

Double Sided

Print applied to both sides of a sheet of paper.


The actual drilling of holes into paper for ring or comb binding.

Dry Mount

Pasting with heat sensitive adhesives.

Dull Finish

Any matte finished paper.


Color reproduction from monochrome original. Keyplate usually printed in dark color for detail, second plate printed in light flat tints. A two-color halftone reproduction generated from a one-color photo.


Refers to printing on both sides of the paper Refers to printing on both sides of the paper.

Duplex Paper

Paper which has a different color or finish on each side.

Dye-Based Ink

Any ink that acquires its color by the use of aniline pigments or dyes. Reference, aniline.

Eggshell Finish

The finish of paper surface that resembles an eggshell achieved by omitting the calendar process. Reference, calendar rolls.


A unit of measurement equaling 12 points or 4.5mm.


A method of paper finishing whereby a pattern is pressed into the paper when it is dry.


A light sensitive substance used as a coating for film; made from a silver halide compound. This side should face the lens when the film is exposed.


A term that describes a glossy coating on paper.


Usually referring to scale change or adjustment in image size


The form used by the printer to calculate the project for the print buyer. This form contains the basic parameters of the project including size, quantity, colors, bleeds, photos etc.


One who computes or approximates the cost of work to be done on which quotation may be based.


That stage of the photographic process where the image is produced on the light sensitive coating.

Farm out

To subcontract work.

Filling In

A fault in printing where the ink fills in the fine line or halftone dot areas.


The surface quality of paper.


In lithography, the assembly of photographic negatives or positives on vinyl acetate for exposure in vacuum frame in contact with sensitized metal press plate.

Fluid Ink

Also called liquid ink; ink with a low viscosity.

Flush Cover

A bound book or booklet etc. having the cover trimmed to the same size as the text.


Papers that have a surface resembling metal.

Fold Marks

Markings at top edges that show where folds should occur.


Machine used to fold signatures down into sections.

Folio or Page Number

Number of page at top or bottom either centered, flushed left or flushed right often with running headline.

Form Rollers

The rollers that come into direct contact with the plate of a printing press.


The bundling of two or more different printing projects on the same sheet of paper.


Assembling sheets of paper and signatures into their proper sequence; collating.


Image which appears as a lighter area on a subsequent print due to local blanket depressions from previous image areas on a letterpress rotary machine as well as on an offset press.


An orange colored paper with gridlines, used to assemble materials for exposure for platemaking.

Graduated Screen

An area of image where halftone dots range continuously from one density to another.


Direction of fibers in a sheet of paper governing paper properties such as increased size changes with relative humidity, across the grain, and better folding properties along the grain.


A series of metal fingers that hold each sheet of paper as it passes through the various stages of the printing process.

Gripper Edge

The grippers of the printing press move the paper through the press by holding onto the leading edge of the sheet; this edge is the gripper edge.


Tone graduated image composed of varying sized dots or lines, with equidistant centers.

Halftone Screen

A sheet of film or glass containing ruled right-angled lines, used to translate the full tone of a photo to the halftone dot image required for printing.


Imperfections in presswork due to dirt on press, trapping errors, etc.


The lightest tones of a photo, printed halftone or illustration. In the finished halftone, these highlights are represented by the finest dots.

House Sheet

This is a term that refers to a paper that a printer keeps on hand in his shop.

Image Area

That portion of the printing plate that carries the ink and prints on paper.


Arrangement of pages so that they print correctly on a press sheet, and the pages are in proper order when the sheets are folded.


Product resulting from one cycle of printing machine. The pressure of the image carrier, whether it be the type, plate or blanket, when it contacts the paper.

Index Bristol

A relatively thick paper stock; basis size - 25 1/2 x 30 1/2.


Markings pre-printed on mailing envelopes to replace the stamp.

Ink Fountain

The device which stores and meters ink to the inking rollers.


Extra printed pages inserted loosely into printed pieces.

Iridescent Paper

A coated stock finished in mother-of-pearl.

Job Number

A number assigned to a printing project used for record keeping and job tracking. Also used to retrieve old jobs for reprints or reworking by customer.


To vibrate a stack of finished pages so that they are tightly aligned for final trimming.


Vibrating, sloping platform that evens up the edges of stacks of paper.


A coarse unbleached paper used for printing and industrial products.


A clear gloss coating applied to printed material for strength, appearance and protection.

Laid Finish

A parallel lined paper that has a handmade look.


A paper that emulates the look and texture of linen cloth.


The process of printing that utilizes flat inked surfaces to create the printed images.

M weight

The actual weight of 1000 sheets of any given size of paper.

Make Ready

Process of adjusting final plate on the press to fine tune or modify plate surface.


Imprinted space around edge of page.


To write up instructions, as on a draft.

Matte Finish

A coated paper finish that goes through minimal calendaring. Reference, calendaring.

Mock up (proof)

A draft version used in printing as a guide to how the final product will look.


An undesirable halftone pattern produced by the incorrect angles of overprinting halftone screens.


A term used to describe spotty or uneven ink absorption.


Refers to a ‘no carbon required’ form created by National Cash Register. It is a multi-part form made of a type of paper which acts like a carbon so that whatever is marked on the top copy reproduces on the lower copies. Usually each copy is a different color, marked to identify their various uses, departments or destinations.


A term to describe papers that have a color similar to that of wood; also called cream, off-white or ivory.


Film that contains the same images as the original print, except that all colors and shades are reversed. Reference, positive.


A light, low cost groundwood paper made especially for newspapers. Reference, groundwood.

Nominal Weight

When the basis weight of paper differs from the actual weight, the term nominal weight is used.


Outside back cover.


Outside front cover.

Off-shore Paper

Any papers made outside the US and Canada.


A printing method using a press, whereby the printed material does not receive the ink directly from the printing plate but from an intermediary cylinder called a blanket which receives the ink from the plate and transfers it to the paper.

Offset Paper

A term for uncoated book paper.


A light bond paper used for typing and used with carbon paper because of its thinness.


Quality of papers that defines its opaqueness or ability to prevent two-sided printing from showing through.


A quality of paper that allows relatively little light to pass through.

Opaque Ink

Ink that completely covers any ink under itself.


"Items used to print from, often a digital file or hard copy print. These may or may not be truly “original”; in other words, you may be copying from a copy but referring to it as an original."

Over Run

Surplus of copies printed.

Overhang Cover

A cover of a book that extends over the trimmed signatures it contains.


A transparent sheet placed over artwork, in register with the work it covers; this is used to call out other color components of the work, instructions or corrections.


Any printing that is done on an area that has already been printed.


A document that is too large to copy on regular copying equipment; Anything over 12”x18” in size./p>

Pad - Padding

The process of gathering a specific number of sheets together and applying glue at one end to form a pad; this is done in the bindery department.


A hard finished paper that emulates animal skin; used for documents, such as awards, that require writing by hand.

Parent Sheet

A sheet that is larger than the cut stock of the same paper.

Perf Marks

Markings usually dotted lines at edges showing where perforations should occur.

Perfect Binding

Binding process where backs of sections are cut off, roughened and glued together, and rung in a cover.


Punching small holes or slits in a sheet of paper or cardboard to facilitate tearing along a desired line.


Standard of measurement, 1/6 inch. 1 pica = 12 points 72 points = 1 inch

Plastic Comb

A method of binding books whereby holes are drilled on the side closest the spine, and a plastic grasping device is inserted to hold the pages together. Also referred to as “cerlox”.


Reproduction of type or cuts in metal, plastic, rubber, or other material, to form a plate bearing a relief, planographic or intaglio printing surface.

Plate Cylinder

The cylinder on a printing press on which the plate is mounted.


Making a printing plate from a film or flat including preparation of the plate surface, sensitizing, exposing through the flat, developing or processing, and finishing.


A measurement unit equal to 1/72 of an inch. 12 points to a pica, 72 points to an inch.


Film that contains an image with the same tonal values as the original; opposite of a negative.


Pixels per inch.


Actual press sheet to show image, tone values and colors as well as imposition of frame or press-plate.


The quality of papers to show reproduced printed images.

Printers Pairs

Two consecutive pages as they appear on a flat or signature.

Process Inks

Printing inks, usually in sets of four colors. The most frequent combination is yellow, magenta, cyan, and black, which are printed, one over another in that order, to obtain a colored print with the desired hues, whites, blacks, and grays.


The final product is what we dleiver to the customer, whether we create or reproduce it in print.


A draft version used in printing as a guide to how the final product will look; to check accuracy of layout, type matter, tone and color reproduction.

Ragged Left

The term given to right-justified type that is uneven on the left.

Ragged Right

The term given to left-justified type that is uneven on the right.


500 sheets of paper.


The odd numbered pages (right hand side) of books.


To make smaller; The term is often used when referring to an image.


The arrangement of two or more images in exact alignment with each other.

Register Marks

Any crossmarks or other symbols used on layout to assure proper registration.


A copy or facsimile made by one or more processes in reprographics, not an original.


The technology of reproducing, through various processes, items outside the realm of standard copying; for example, items which may be oversize or damaged or non-reproducible by using standard copying methods.


A term used to define on which side of the product the image is made; the reverse usually means the back of the product.


A term used to describe how well a paper runs on a printing press.

Running Head

A title at the top of a page that appears on all pages of a book or chapter of a book.

Saddle Stitching

Stitching where the wire staples pass through the spine from the outside and are clinched in the center. Only used with folded sections, either single sections or two or more sections inset to form a single section.

Satin Finish

A smooth delicately embossed finished paper with sheen.


The enlargement or reduction of an image or copy to fit a specific area.


Impressions or cuts in flat material to facilitate bending or tearing.

Self Cover

A cover made out of the same paper stock as the internal sheets.

Show Through

A problem that occurs when the printing on one side of a sheet is seen from the other side.

Signature (Section)

Printed sheet (or its flat) that consists of a number of pages of a book, placed so that they will fold and bind together as a section of a book. The printed sheet after folding.

Single Sided

Print applied to only one side of a sheet of paper.


That quality of paper defined by its levelness which allows for pressure consistency in printing, assuring uniformity of print.


Back edge of a book.

Spiral Bind

A binding whereby a wire or plastic is spiraled through holes punched along the binding side.

Spot Color

Small area printed in a second color.


A term for unprinted paper or other material to be printed.

Synthetic Papers

Any petroleum based waterproof papers with a high tensile strength.


The adhesive quality of inks.


A dense, strong paper stock.

Tensile Strength

A paper's ability to withstand pressure.


A high quality printing paper.


A printing process whereby slow drying ink is applied to paper and while the ink is still wet, it is lightly dusted with a resinous powder. The paper then passes through a heat chamber where the powder melts and fuses with the ink to produce a raised surface.


A halftone screen that contains all the same sized dots.


Dry ink; the material used in most photocopiers to create the reproduction image


The rough surfaced finish of papers such as vellum or antique.


Inks that do not block out the colored inks that they print over, but instead blend with them to create intermediate colors.


The process of printing wet ink over printed ink which may be wet or dry.

Trim Marks

Marks placed on the sheet to indicate where to cut the page.


To print on both sides of the paper with the images head to foot


Papers that are not smoothed by going through the calendaring process.


A term used to describe how many similar sheets can be produced on a larger sheet; two up, four up, etc.


A clear shiny ink used to add gloss to printed pieces. The primary component of the ink vehicle. Reference, vehicle.


A finish of paper that is rough, bulky and has a degree of tooth.


A term given to the left-hand or even-numbered pages of a book.


Fade to white or small decorative design or illustration. A photo or illustration etc., in which the tones fade gradually away until they blend with the surface they are printed on.


The procedure of cleaning a particular ink from all of the printing elements (rollers, plate, ink fountain etc.) of a press.


A translucent logo that is embossed during the papermaking process while the paper slurry is on the dandy roll. Reference, dandy roll.


The roll of paper that is used in web or rotary printing.

Web Press

Cylinder printing machine in which the paper is fed from a continuous reel, as opposed to sheet fed.

Web Tension

The term given to the tension or pull exerted by the web press on the web roll.

Wire Stitching Or Stapling

To fasten together sheets, signatures, or sections with wire staples. 3 methods... saddle stitching, side stitching, and stabbing.

Working Copy

A piece of material that is not going to be printed from but indicates the desires and requirements needed to do the job.


A smooth paper made on finely textured wire that gives the paper a gentle patterned finish.

Writing Paper

Another name for bond paper.

Xerographic Paper

Papers made to reproduce well in copy machines and laser printers.


A process for making copies of written or printed material, pictures, etc., by the action of magnetic attraction rather than ink and pressure. Tiny, negatively-charged particles are spread on a positively-charged receptor (drum or belt) then transferred to paper to form a copy.


A product developed by Adobe systems to create PDF (Portable Document Format) files. Acrobat is an independent means of creating, viewing, and printing documents.


A propellant using compressed air that to spray a liquid, such as paint, and ink. Often used in used in illustration and photo retouching.


The adjustment of arrangement or position in lines of a text or an image — left, right, centered, etc.

Alpha Channel

The process of incorporating an image with a background to create the appearance of partial transparency. Alpha channels are used to create masks that allow you to confine or protect parts of an image you want to apply color, opacity, or make other changes.

Analog Proof (Prepress Proof)

A proof that uses ink jet, toner, dyes, overlays, photographic, film, or other methods to give a an idea of what the finished product should look like.

Anchor Point

Anchor points allow the user to manipulate a path’s shape or direction by clicking the point and moving it in a direction. They appear along the beginning of a path, at every curve, and at the end of a path. You can also add or subtract anchor points on a path.

Animated GIF

A small animation based on continuous GIF images, giving the impression of movement or action.


Generating movement by displaying a series of images using frames.

Art Director

The individual responsible for the selection, execution, production, so on, of graphic art.


Any part of a lower case letter which rises above the main body of the letter such as in "d", "b" and "h".


This is when graphics and/or text are not identical on both sides of a central line.

Bad Break

Refers to widows or orphans in text copy; any break that causes awkward reading.


The horizontal or vertical line drawn through a grapheme (unit of writing, such as a letter). Sometimes added to distinguish one grapheme from another.


An imaginary line upon which letters sit and descenders extend below the baseline.


A tool in design software for drawing angles or modifying the surface of your work to a certain inclination.

Bezier Curve

A parametric curve that represents a vector path in computer graphics. They are frequently drawn using a pen tool and by placing anchor points which can be controlled to form shapes or lines.


A series of bits that forms a structure representing a graphic image. The color of each pixel is individually defined.


When a graphic object extends through another in an unwanted manner. It is then trimmed so there is no chance for a white line on the edges.

Body Type

The typeface used in the main text of a printed matter.


A series of bits that forms a structure representing a graphic image. The color of each pixel is individually defined.


The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers‘ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme.


Stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key color (aka — black); this color model (also called process color, four color) is a subtractive color model used in color printing.

Canvas Size

Allows you to change the complete size of the document without adjusting the contents of the document.

Clipping Path

A tool or shape that’s used to cut out an image.

Cloning Pixels

A function that allows you to replicate pixels from one place to another.

Color Palette

A set of colors that make up the total range of colors used in graphic computers.

Comp (Comprehensive)

Comps are made to see what the initial design project will look like before it’s printed, showing the layout of the text and illustrations.

Complementary Colors

The colors that are opposite of each other when viewed on the color wheel.


The difference in color found between the light and dark parts of an image.


Copy refers to editorial text supplied for incorporation into a design or website.


A tool that removes portions of an image. It is usually used in digital photography.

DPI (Dots Per Inch)

A term to describe the measure of sharpness within an image.


The part of a lowercase letter that stretches below the body.

Die Cut

A die that cut shapes or holes in different materials to make the design stand out.


An ornament used in typesetting to add space around an image or a symbol.


This is when you lighten or reduce part of an image by shading.

Dot Gain

When the ink hits the paper, it is absorbered and it somewhat spreads out.

Double Page Spread

A double page spread is a layout that extends across two pages.

Drop Shadow

Is a visual effect added to an image to give the impression the image is raised above the background by duplicating the shadow.


A prototype or mock-up of a book, page, or any project designed to resemble and serve as a substitute for the real thing.


A method of printing an image using two colors, usually black and a spot color.


Stands for electronic magazine. Refers to the name of a website that is represented by a print magazine; an web-based magazine that you can subscribe to.


Stands for Encapsulated Post Script. This is a graphics file format used to transfer PostScript documents that contain an image, within another PostScript document.


The rounded part of the lowercase letters such as ‘g’ and ‘q’.


Any distinct part of a layout such as the logo, headline, images, or borders.


Process of transferring all the data of a font or image into the file itself.


To give a three-dimensional effect to a text or an image by using highlights and shadows on the sides of the illustration.


To print designs by cutting the surface of a metal plate.


To imprint a design onto the surface of a plate by using a chemical such as acid.


To save a file in a format supported by other programs.


The part of a letter which extends above the mid line, such as ‘b’ or ‘d’.


A tool used in graphic design software that makes the edges of an image appear softer.


A tool used to fill selected parts of an image with a selected color.


A filter is a pre-created effect that can be applied to images to acquire a certain look.


A printing technique where printing plates are made of rubber or soft plastic material and then stretched around a drum on the press that rotates.


A single sheet of paper handed out or posted on a wall to advertise or announce something.

Focal Point

In graphic design terms, the focal point is where you want to draw the reader’s or viewer’s eye.


A complete combination of characters created in a specific type, style, and size. The set of characters in a font entails the letter set, the number set, and all of the special characters and marks you get when pressing the shift key or other command keys on your keyboard.

Four-Color Process

A printing technique that creates colors by combining, cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.


Refers to animation. A frame is a single graphic in a distribution of graphic images. The speed of an animation is judged by frames per second.


GIF (Graphics Interchange Format ) images display up to 256 colors. It supports animation and allows an individual palette of 256 color for each frame. The color limitation makes the GIF format inappropriate for reproducing color photographs and other images with consistent color. GIF images are compressed using the LZW lossless data compression method to decrease the size of the file without corrupting the visual quality.


The range of colors available to a particular output device or a given color space, such as a laser printer or an image setter. If the color range is too wide for that specific device, it is indicated as ‘out of gamut’.


To combine multiple jobs on one print plate in order to reduce costs and setup charges.


A type of fold in which the paper is folded inward to form four or more panels.


A function in graphic software that permits the user to fill an object or image with a smooth transition of colors.

Graphic Design

Visual communication using text or images to represent an idea or concept. It is also a term used for all activities relating to visual design, including web design, logo design, etc.


Visual presentations that feature printed messages that are clear and appealing.


Grayscale images consist of black, white, no color, and up to 256 shades of gray.


Is a two-dimensional format made up of a set of horizontal and vertical axes used to structure content.


In book production, the white space formed by the inner margins of a spread near the books spine.


A color space that stands for hue, lightness, and saturation.


A color space stands for hue, saturation, and brightness.

  1. A photograph or scan of a consistent tone image to alter the image into halftone dots.
  2. A photograph or continuous-tone illustration that has been halftoned and that is displayed on film, paper, printing plate, or the final printed product.
Halo Effect

A vague shadow sometimes surrounding halftone dots printed. Also called halation. The halo itself is called a fringe.

Hard Copy

The permanent reproduction of the output of a computer or printer. For example: teleprinter pages, continuous printed tapes, computer printouts, etc.


The text which appears at the top of a printed page


A large text illustrating the opening statement used in a layout.

High-Resolution Image

An image with an extreme level of sharpness/clarity.


Lightest part of a photograph or halftone, as opposed to mid-tones and shadows.


One of the three primary attributes of color. A hue is a variety of color such as red, blue, green, or yellow.


The form the pointer assumes when the text tool is chosen.

Image Map

An image map is an HTML document containing multiple clickable hyperlinks.


Laser output device for producing professional-quality text with extremely high resolution.


A layout of pages on mechanicals or flats so they will appear in proper order after press sheets are folded and bound.


A set in or back from the margin.

Initial Cap

Big, capital letters which are found at the beginning of paragraphs or chapters.

Inkjet Printer

A printer that electrostatically sprays tiny ink droplets onto paper.


Inversion of the tonal values or colors of an image. On an inverted image, black becomes white, blue becomes orange, etc.


The style of letters that usually slope to the right. Used for emphasis within text.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Electronic Group)

A common process for compressing digital images.


To arrange sheets of paper into a compact pile.


To make a line of type a certain length by spacing out the words and numbers.


Modifying the horizontal space between letters.


Any frame in which a specific aspect of an item (its size, location, color, etc.) is specifically defined.


A keyline is another name for a rule, line, or even a frame border. Keyline options can be set through design software applications to adjust the width, to be solid or dotted, or to show different patterns.


A tool within graphic software that permits the user to gather, organize, and re-edit their artwork.


Refers to the amount of added vertical spacing between lines of text.


One piece of paper in a publication.


A table inside a project that lists vital illustrations or instructions; footnote that helps users better understand information.


A technique of printing where movable type is inked and then pressed against paper to create an impression. Also called block printing.


Refers to a form of data compression where the detail is maintained and no data is lost after file downsizing. The lossless compression method is often used in TIFF and GIF formats.


A form of data compression where detail is deleted as the file size is decreased. JPEG is an example of a lossy compression method.

Low-Resolution Image

A low-quality scan made from a photograph or the like.

Lower Case

The smaller form of letter used in type.


The brightness of an area arranged by the amount of light it reflects or diffuses.

Magic Wand Tool

A tool in graphic software that permits the user to select fractions of an image such as areas with the same color.


Guidelines in a page layout software that shows a user the body copy areas. It also allows the user to indicate the dimensions. Margins are not supposed to be printed.


See clipping path.

Master Page

A property found in a page layout software that allows the user to create a constant page layout. Repeating elements—like page numbers—are created once on a master. This permits the user to stay clear of adding the numbers for each page manually.

Matte Finish

Non-glossy finish on photographic paper or coated printing paper.

Mean Line

Also called x-height. The imaginary point of all lowercase characters without ascenders.


In a photograph or illustration, tones composed by dots between 30 percent and 70 percent of coverage, as opposed to highlights and shadows.

Mock Up

A recreation of the original printed material; could possibly contain instructions or directions.


An altered version of Old Style. these high-contrast letters have heavy, untapered stems and light serifs. Originally established by Firmin Didot and Giambattista Bodoni during the late 18th to early 19th centuries.


Offering the use of various communications such as text, sound, and still or moving images.

Negative Space

Also known as white space. The area of a page that doesn’t contain images or words.

Neon Glow

A type of glow on a graphic image that gives the appearance of neon lighting.

News Print

Paper used in printing newspapers; not considered a high-quality paper.


Noise is a term used to describe the development of pixels that contain random colors.


A Roman typeface which slants to the right. Often confused with italics.

Offset Printing

A printing method that transfers ink from a plate to a blanket to paper as opposed to directly inking from plate to paper.

Old Style

A style of type characterized by slight contrast between light and heavy strokes and slanting serif.


The degree of a color or tonal value. The opacity of an image or object that can range from transparent (0% opacity) to opaque (100% opacity). The ability to edit the opacity of specific objects allows the designer to create images that seem to flow into and through one another.


A font format created by Adobe and Microsoft. Open Type font can include a set of glyphs defined as True Type or Type 1 curves.

Orphan Line

The first line of a paragraph appearing on its own at the bottom on a page with the remaining part of the paragraph appearing on the next page.


This can refer to the outside edge of a font or the outer edge of a vector graphic image drawn in a package such as Illustrator or Freehand.

Over Run

Additional printed material beyond order. Over run policy differs in the printing industry, usually within 10% of the original quantity run.


Layer of material taped to a mechanical photo or proof. Acetate overlays are used to divide colors by having some type or art on them instead of on the mounting board. Tissue overlays are used to carry instructions about the underlying copy and to protect the base art.


To print additional material or another color over a previously printed image.


Stands for Portable Document Format. Developed by Adobe Systems in its software program, Adobe Acrobat, to serve as a universal browser. Files can be downloaded over the web and viewed page by page, provided the user’s computer has installed the application.


Portable Network Graphics format. PNG (usually pronounced “ping”), is used for lossless compression. The PNG format displays images without jagged edges while keeping file sizes rather small, making them popular on the web. PNG files are generally larger than GIF files.


Pixels Per Inch. A measurement of the resolution of a computer display.

Page Layout

Deals with the setup and style of content on a page. An example of a page layout is the pages in magazines or brochures.

Page Size

A setting that allows the user to define the size of the page they are creating their artwork on.

Pantone Matching System

The Pantone matching system is used for defining and blending match colors. It accommodates designers with swatches of over 700 colors and gives printers the formulas for making those colors.


A unit of measurement for type. Commonly used for typewriters.


The smallest picture content that can be individually assigned a color.


A piece of paper, metal, plastic, or rubber carrying an image to be duplicated using a printing press.

Primary Colors

The primary colors are put together to produce the full range of other colors (non-primary colors), within a color model. The primary colors for the additive color model is red, green, and blue. The primary colors for the subtractive color model is cyan, magenta, and yellow.

Quark Express

Quark Express is page layout application usually used for magazines and brochures.

Quick Mask

A filter in Photoshop in which a translucent colored mask covers selective areas of an image.

Quick Time

QuickTime was developed by Apple Computer. It’s built into the Macintosh operating system computers and is used for displaying and editing animation.

RGB (Red, Green, Blue)

RGB is the color model used to project color on a computer monitor. By combining these three colors, a large percentage of the visible color spectrum can be represented.

RIP (Raster Image Processor)

Transfers fonts and graphics into raster images, which are used by the printer to draw onto the page.


The imbalanced alignment of text lines. Ragged is the opposite of flush. A text block may be formatted to be evenly flush (align) right and unevenly aligned (ragged) on the left.


An image is said to be rasterized when transformed from vector image to a bitmapped image. When opening a vector image in a bitmap-based editing program, you are generally presented with a dialog box of options for rasterizing the image.


A function accessible in image editing that permits the user to change the resolution of the image while keeping its pixel count intact.


The resolution of an image is an important factor in deciding the attainable output quality. The higher the resolution of an image, the less pixelated it will be and the curves of the image will appear smoother.

Rich Media

Rich media are banner ads that use technology more developed than standard GIF animation. For example: Flash, Shockwave, streaming video, etc.

Right Justified

Type aligned with its right margin. Also known as “flush right.”


A river is a typographic term for the ugly white gaps that can appear in justified columns of type when there is too much space between words on concurrent lines of text. Rivers are particularly common in narrow columns of text, where the type size is relatively large.

Royalty-Free Photos

Intellectual property like photos and graphic images that are sold for a single standard fee. These can be used repeatedly by the purchaser only, but the company that sold the images usually still owns all the rights to it.

Sans Serif

A style of typeface that means “without feet.” Usual sans serif typefaces include Arial, Helvetica, AvantGarde, and Verdana.


The intensity of hue. The quality of difference from a gray of the same lightness or brightness.


A design or program is said to scale if it is relevantly efficient and reasonable when applied to larger situations.

Screen Printing

Technique of printing by using a squeegee to force ink through an assembly of mesh fabric and a stencil.


Selection refers to an area of an image that is isolated so it can be edited while the rest of the image is protected.

Shadow Detail

Shadow detail refers to the amount of detail held in the dark areas of an image. If the shadow is lightened too much in an attempt to expose more detail, you run the risk of reducing the overall contrast of the image.


To reduce in color strength, as when halftone dots become smaller; opposite of “thicken” or “dot spread.”

Small Caps

Capital letters that are about the same height as the tvpeface’s x-height. Some software programs automatically create their own small caps, but true small caps are often only found in expert typefaces.

  1. Two pages that face each other and are created as one visual or production unit.
  2. Method of slightly enlarging the size of an image to make a hairline trap with another image. Also called fatty.
Subtractive Color

A term defining the three subtractive primary colors: cyan, magenta, and yellow. As opposed to the three additive colors: red, blue, and green.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

A graphic file format used for storing images . TIFF is a commonly used file format for high color depth images.


Refers to a printing project’s basic details with regard to its dimensions. A general layout.

Text Wrap

A term used in page layout software, specifically to the way text can be shaped around the edges of images.


A thumbnail is a reduced-size version of the original image.


A color is made lighter by adding white, this is called a tint.


Tolerance is the range of pixels a tool in graphic software functions in. Or the range of shade or color pixels a Magic Wand selects, etc.

Tonal Distribution

Tones can be redistributed during the scanning or image editing process. To lighten dark images or to darken light images.

Trim Size

The size of the printed material in its finished stage.


A typeface consists of a series of fonts and a full range of characters such as, numbers, letters, marks, and punctuation.


The art of arranging type—which includes letters, numbers, and symbols—so that it is pleasing to the eye. This includes not only the font that is used but how it is arranged on the page: letter by letter, size, line spacing, etc.

UV Coating

A glossy coating applied to the paper surface and dried using ultraviolet light. It is glossy and adds a certain level of protection to the printed material.

Uncoated Paper

This is paper that doesn’t have a coating applied to it for smoothness.

Unsharp Mask

A method used to heighten the sharpness or focus of images by selecting and increasing the contrast of pixels alongside the edges of images.


Also known as capital letters, they are the larger characters in a typeface.


This refers to the degree of lightness or darkness of a color.


This is a liquid coating applied to a surface for protection and for a glossy effect.

Vector Graphic

Vector graphics allow the designer to expand or reduce the vector graphic in size without any loss in quality using curves, points, lines, and polygons.


The left-hand page of a book or a manuscript.


Translucent design impressed on paper created during manufacture, it is visible when held to light.

Web-Safe Colors

A color table containing only 216 out of a possible 256 colors, used to accurately match the colors of graphics and pictures in cross-platform web browsers.


The range of a stroke’s width. Also knows as semi-bold, light, and bold. Some typeface families have many weights like ultra-bold and extra-light. Associated to the heaviness of the stroke for a specific font, such as Light, Regular, Book, Demi, Heavy, Black, and Extra Bold.

White Point

One of a handful of reference illuminants used to define the color “white”. Based on the application, different definitions of white are needed to give sufficient results.

White Point Adjustment

A white point adjustment establishes the amount of highlighted detail in an image.

Widow Line

A single line of a paragraph at the bottom of a page or column.


Refers to whether the basic typeface has been lengthened or compressed horizontally. The typical variations are Condensed, Normal, or Extended.

Word Processing Program

A software application package that assists in creating, editing, and printing


Abbreviation for Application Program Interface which is a set of routines, protocols, or tools that provide the building blocks to specify how software components should interact. An API is the bridge between applications and hardware or information.


This is the amount of a webserver’s network resources which a website is allowed to or can use. Like a road, the wider it is, the more traffic (users) it can handle. The narrower the road, the less that can use it. A website will use a lot of bandwidth when it gets a lot of visitors (users).


Is a software application for retrieving, sharing and bridging information by visiting webpages and using web applications across the World Wide Web (“www.”). When you visit a website you are seeing it on a browser. Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer (IE), Edge and Opera are all web browsers.


Abbreviation for Cascading Style Sheet, is used hand in hand with HTML coding. It brings in style and design to the basic HTML code: Backgrounds, font sizes, colours, layouts and more.


The latest version of CSS bringing new design features which can be used in combo with HTML. Rounded corners, shadows, gradients, transitions and animations are just some of the new attributes relating to backgrounds, font sizes, colours, layouts. It is backward compatible with CSS.


A cache is a location, on your computer, where your computer stores information temporarily for quick access. This improves performance the next time your computer tries to do the same thing, rather than starting from scratch. However, if the cache becomes too full it will affect the overall speed of your computer operating. Browser Cache clearing allows you to clear local space and connect with updated websites.


Everything digital, how it appears down to the last detail is written in code. In computer programs, software and web development, there are many different types of code and coding languages – each is its own discipline.

Content Management System

Shortened to CMS, is a software or a group of applications and tools which allows an organization to modify the content (text, images and files) of their website through a secure login via an internet browser.


Bits of information from websites, stored locally on your computer, serving multiple purposes such as storing information required for the website, and tracking visits.


Abbreviation for Domain Name System. The DNS is a service which translates the Domain Name into the IP address and vice versa.


When changing where your domain is hosted, DNS servers across the internet need to update their records to know where to find your new domain. This process is called DNS propagation and can take up to 48 hours.

Domain (Name)

Often used to mean the name of one’s website, a domain is an individual’s or organizations’ unique place on the internet. It is translated by the DNS server into an IP address which is used to connect to a website or service.


A social networking service started in 2004. Now the number 2 top ranked social media site just behind YouTube.


A small icon, designed unique to each website, displayed in browser tab by the web address bar and used to quickly identify a website when saved under favorites. Favicons are generally 16x16 pixel .gif or .png file formats.

Google Tag Manager

A tag management system, offered by Google, which allows you to quickly and easily add and update tags and code snippets on your website or mobile app, without the need for a Web developer to do so. The tags are intended to aid in traffic analysis (Google Analytics) and Marketing Optimization (AdWords) of the website.


Abbreviation for Hypertext Markup Language, HTML as a programming language is the standard building block for the web. Currently HTML 4 is the most widely used version. Over the next ten years we will expect a shift to HTML5.


The latest version of HTML, once universally accepted, will allow for a more dynamic and complex web experience. This language is still rarely used as only approximately 15% of North Americans will be able to properly view pages developed using this language.


Abbreviation for HyperText Transfer Protocol; this is the text before the domain name of website in the address bar. HTTP is a protocol for information transfer on the internet.


Similar to HTTP, this is an abbreviation for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (or over SSL (Secure Socket Layer)); this is a secure method (encrypted connection) for information requests between browsers and servers.


A link from a hypertext file, document or webpage to another location, file, document or webpage. Generally these can be text or images, and are emphasized in some way: by an underlined, a different font colour or weight.

Host/ Hosting

A web host (or email host) is a service provider company, to which website owners pay a fee, for them to host their Domain address, physically store all the files of their website, and to provide the bandwidth for the information traffic to and from their website.


This is short for “Inline Frame”. An iframe is an HTML document within another HTML document, meaning it is a floating frame used to display a webpage(s) within another normal webpage (one that isn’t a frameset page).


An Abbreviation for Internet Protocol Address. Very simply, the IP address refers to the actual address that a domain name translates to (also see "domain"). The IP number is the computer or device’s real address.


This is the abbreviation for Internet Service Provider. This is the company you pay to provide you with an access connection to the internet. Many companies also provide other services.


Abbreviation for JavaScript Object Notation, is a set of rules for humans and software (or machines) to follow to allow for more accessibility and usability in data handling.


Not to be confused at all with Java. JavaScript is a scripting language that allows for dynamic web content without the need to reload a page. Combined with XML, JSON or other data transfer formats, this creates powerful interactive web applications, such as Google Maps.


Text which is actually a small snippet of code that is clickable, leading you to a new webpage or folder location. Links provide effortless movement from one page to another over the internet. This link can also be a method by which documents, files or programs can be downloaded.


Based on the restrictions of early text messaging. Microblogging allows users to exchange small bits of content over the internet.


This is a database system running on the server and allows powerful access to multiple databases. Commonly integrated on the web via server side code.


An OS is an operating system. This is the system software that runs on a device (desktop computer/ tablet/ phone) and manages the computer hardware and software and provides basic functionality for the device.


Oddly enough, this is an abbreviation for PHP: Hypertext Processor. PHP is a scripting language that exists on a websites server to allow for the development of dynamic web pages. PHP has been around since 1995 and is a well-documented and stable language, this makes PHP an ideal language to develop with. While PHP can be used as a general purpose programming language it is designed primarily to serve dynamic web pages.


A plug-in is an add-on or add-in which extends the functionality of a specific feature to an existing computer program. They are usually third party designed and often used with blogging and CMS platforms.


“Root Access” means you have full administrative privileges on a device or server.


A section of code that is written to perform a specific function on a website. The code will vary based on the type of script, its use and the language it is written in.

Search Engine

A software or program that is used to search for resources on the World Wide Web, via specified words. Common search engines are Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask and AOL. The idea is similar to the yellow pages

Search Engine Marketing

Shortened to SEM, is the process of improving the visibility of a web page on a search engine via paid advertising, contextual advertising and paid inclusion.

Search Engine Optimization

Shortened to SEO, this is the process for improving the visibility of a web page on a search engine (i.e. Google) via a natural (organic) process (for example, following web standards in coding, strong content etc).


This is a computer, usually housed by hosting companies in special facilities, which makes your website or service visible on the Internet. The computer can, depending on the service required and the configuration, store files, run databases, run programs, and/or serve content.


Is literally a map indexing all the content on a website, to help users to find the information they need on the site. This can be useful for SEO.

Social Networking

The online process of developing social relations (networks).


A tag has multiple meanings.

  1. In general, it is a label attached to someone or something for identifying or providing more information.
  2. In information systems, it is a keyword word assigned to a piece of information - metadata.
  3. In coding a tag is used to specify how an element should look and behave. These markup characters indicate where it starts < > and ends </ >.

Tags are used in blogs, image metadata, google analytics and much more.


A timeout occurs when your computer is trying to connect to the internet or a server and it has taken too long, so the connecting process is aborted. Simply trying again usually fixes the problem.


Traffic general refers to the amount of visitors to a web page or site. In website hosting, there is always a limit on the amount of traffic allowed to visit a website at one time, before it becomes congested. That limit is usually called the bandwidth (how much of the server or network’s network resources you are allowed to use).


Offers social networking and microblogging services free over the web. Started in 2006, Twitter is one of the top ranked social media services currently offered on the web.


Abbreviation for Uniform Resource Locator. A url specifies the known location of a resource and provides a means for retrieving it. For 99% of people, this is demonstrated by the use of a website address (such as to pull information from a server. This info is displayed in the address bar at the top of the web browser.

Web Server

A web server is an integral part helping deliver content accessed over the internet. It serves content over HTTP (or HTTPS) to users. When you access content through a web browser, the browser is connecting to a web server.


When a web browser goes to your website address (the location of your website on the web: typed as www.the-name-of-the, the website displays the content that people see. Websites normally contain a number of web pages not just one page.


A small element that performs a specific function in a graphical user interface. A widget can:

  1. display information or
  2. dictate the way for a user to interact with an OS or application. Widget can be:

Widget can be:

  1. icons, toggle buttons, forms, buttons, pull-down menus, windows, check mark or selection boxes. A widget can also be
  2. a small program written to define appearance, behavior or response to the users actions. Today, programmers can pull from an OS library of ready-made customizable widgets to use in applications.

In a classical sense, a widget was a name for a small discrete object of a mechanical nature. If the object didn’t have a name, or the name was forgotten or unknown – it was a widget.


Abbreviation for Extensible Hypertext Markup Language. XHTML is fundamentally the same as HTML 4.0 but is written to comply with XML rules.


Abbreviation for Extensible Markup Language, it is a set of rules for humans and software (or machines) to follow to allow for more accessibility and usability in handling data.

A-Frame Sign

A sign which is ordinarily in the shape of an "A" when folded out for display; easily moveable and freestanding, it is not permanently attached to the ground or any structure. Also referred to as a Sidewalk Sign or Sandwich Board Sign. See also the T-frame Sign.

Advertising Mural

A large-scale Temporary or Permanent Sign that covers all or a major portion of a multi-story blank or unfinished wall, building or structure.

Animated Sign

A sign depicting action, motion, light or color changes, flashing on/off animation, through electrical, mechanical or environmental means utilizing fluorescent lamps, cathode tubes, LEDs or incandescent bulbs. Technologically similar to Flashing Signs, but the animated sign emphasizes graphics and artistic display.

Architectural Sign

Signage in a built environment that provides wayfinding or other site specific information.


Design, graphics, images and logos which are used to create a sign.

Awning Sign

A projecting sign (from a building) displayed on or attached flat against the surface or surfaces, composed of a covering of rigid or non-rigid materials and/or fabric that rests upon a supporting framework. The awning has lettering and/or graphics painted or screen printed on its exterior surface. It often also functions as a shaded cover or protection from weather and may or may not be illuminated.

Back-to-Back Sign

A sign which has two face fronts mounted in opposite directions. For example, a Pole Sign typically has back-to-back sign faces. See also Double Faced Sign.

Backlit Letter

Also referred to as "silhouette lit" or "halo lit" letter. This is an illuminated Reverse Channel Letter, which has an open or translucent back, so light from the letter is directed against the surface behind the letter producing a halo lighting effect around the letter.

Backlit Sign

A sign where the sign face is illuminated from behind. See also Internally Illuminated Sign.

Balloon Sign

A sign that is an air inflated object made of flexible material or fabric that takes on a three-dimensional shape when filled with air or gas. Balloon signs are restrained, attached or held in place by a cord, rope, cable, or similar method. See also Inflatable Sign.

Banner Mesh

Extremely lightweight, durable mesh polyester banner material which is sewn, seamed and/or with grommets. This is ideal for large exterior wall murals or signage whereby wind and/or weight could be an issue using other substrates. Wind passes through the banner mesh material.

Banner Sign

A Temporary Sign composed of light weight material such as cloth, canvas, plastic, fabric or similar lightweight, non-rigid material that can be mounted to a structure with a cord, rope, cable, or a similar method or that may be supported by stakes in the ground.

Banner Vinyl

Used for indoor and outdoor Banner Signs. The durable scrim within the fabric makes the banner extremely durable for outdoor use. As with Banner Mesh, Banner Vinyl can be sewn, seamed and/or grommeted.

Bench Sign

A sign located on the seat or back of a bench or seat placed on or adjacent to a public right-of-way. A bus stop bench is a prime example.


A large, outdoor Off-Premise Sign displaying advertising intended for viewing from extended distances, generally more than 50 feet. Typically seen along highways, main streets and other high traffic areas. Billboards are typically rented to display advertisements for a set period of time.

Blade Sign (Feather, Teardrop or Flag)

A Temporary Sign that is constructed of cloth, canvas, plastic fabric or similar lightweight, non-rigid material and that is supported by a single vertical pole mounted into the ground or on a portable structure.

Box Sign

A sign that is typically enclosed in a square or rectangular structure that is with or without internal lighting. See also Light Box and Sign Cabinet.
Also referred to as a Marquee.

Building Mounted Sign

A sign that is applied or attached to a building.

Cabinet Sign

A sign structure consisting of the frame and face(s), not including the internal components, embellishments or support structure.

Canopy (Attached)

A multisided overhead structure or Architectural projection supported by attachment to a building on one or more sides and either cantilevered from such building or also supported by columns at additional points. Usually made of nonrigid material.

Canopy Sign

A sign affixed to the visible surface(s) of an attached or freestanding canopy.


A tightly woven, heavy, durable fabric made of cotton, linen or synthetic material.

Carved Sign

A sign made by routing, engraving, sandblasting or chiselling of lettering, shapes and/or patterns into the substrate of a sign face either computer generated or by hand.

Cast Metal Sign

A metal sign made through a casting process. Aluminum and bronze are commonly used for cast metal signs such as Plaques.

Changeable Copy Panel

A section of a sign that functions like a Changeable Copy Sign.

Changeable Copy Sign

A variable message sign whose content can be changed by manual or electrical means.

Channel Letter

Fabricated or formed three-dimensional letter that may accommodate a light source.


A cover that is added to a sign to conceal or decorate the base or supporting structure.

Coated Fabric

A fabric that has been treated or coated with a substance, such as plastics, rubber or oils, to make it stronger and/or more durable.

Concrete Sign

A cast or poured sign made of concrete.

Conforming Sign

A legal sign in accordance with all applicable provincial and local regulations, when installed.

Construction Site Sign

An informational sign, displayed at a construction site. These are usually temporary, and can be freestanding to promote and provide information about the company and/or companies. These can include the contractor, architect, developer, etc. Also referred to as a Job Site Sign.


The written text in the content of a sign.

Corrugated Board

A sign board created by gluing a corrugated piece of material to a flat piece of material or between two flat pieces. Plastic is the most common type of corrugated material used in sign making.

Custom Sign

A sign designed, manufactured and installed to meet the requirements of a specific location.

Dead Load

The total weight of the materials used in a sign along with its supporting structure. The dead load, including its distribution within the sign structure, must be taken into account when calculating load bearing requirements.


Printed lettering and/or graphics that can be transferred and affixed to another surface through the application of water and/or heat.

Dimensional Letter

Any letter, logo or symbol that has a raised profile in relation to the sign substrate. It can be either cut out, cast, molded or fabricated in material such as metal or plastic to create a raised condition.

Direct Illumination

The illumination of a sign by means of an external light source directed at the Sign Face. See also Exterior Illuminated Sign.

Directional Sign

Signs designed to provide directional information, either written and/or visual, to direct a person to a destination.

Directory Sign

A sign that identifies the names and locations of tenants in a multi-tenant building or in a development made up of a group of buildings. Typically located at a public access point such as a building lobby. Directional signs may provide simple text listings or also include maps and other Wayfinding information.

Double-Faced Sign

A sign with content on both sides, facing in opposite directions (two faces mounted in opposite directions). Pole Signs are typically double-faced. Also called a Back-to Back Sign.

Edge Lit Sign

A sign that has been illuminated by a light source positioned outside of the Sign Face. The light is along one or more of its edges so that the light shines back on to the sign.

Electric Sign

Any sign containing or using electrical wiring/components.

Electronic Display

An electronic programmable display. See also LED or LCD Signs.

Electronic Message Centre (EMC)

A changeable Copy sign that utilizes computer-generated messages or some other electronic means of changing Copy. These signs include displays using Incandescent Bulbs, LEDs, LCDs or other display technologies.

Electrostatic Film

An electrostatically charged (static cling) thin material used for lettering and graphics on smooth surfaces like glass, and mirrors. The removable material firmly adheres to the smooth surfaces via the static charge but can be peeled off with relative ease.


To create raised relief lettering or graphics on the material surface of a sign through molding, stamping, or hammering.

Embossed Plastic Sign Face

A vacuum molded (embossed) plastic sign that has three dimensional lettering or graphical elements on its surface. Also called Pan Face.

Entrance Canopy

A Canopy or Awning that covers or highlights the entrance to a building or place of business.

Exterior Illuminated Sign

A sign that is illuminated by a light source that is directed towards, and shines on the Sign Face. Also called direct illumination.

Fabricated Letter

A dimensional letter which can be fabricated from sheet metal.


Typically the front exterior wall of a building. The customer facing side.


The surface area on a sign where advertising copy is displayed. Also called Copy Area or Sign Face.


The portion of any elevation of a building extending vertically from the grade to the top parapet wall or eaves, and horizontally across the entire width of the building elevation.

Fascia Sign

See Wall Sign.

Fiber Optic Display

A sign that uses Fiber Optics to create or illuminate a sign’s copy.

Fiber Optics

Manufactured plastic or glass wires used to transport and direct a light source to a given destination.

Fingerpost Sign

A multi-paneled, multidirectional sign with all sings mounted to a post, providing direction to a destination.


A sign made of fabric, Canvas or Vinyl, and having no enclosing or supporting framework. Typically attached at one end to a pole. See also Banner and Pennant.

Flashing Sign

A sign with an intermittent or flashing light source. Generally, the sign’s message is constantly repeated, and the sign is most often used as a primary attention-getting device. Government highway departments frequently use flashing signs to improve highway safety.

Flat Cutout Letter

A Dimensional Letter cut from plate stock or metal sheet.

Flex Face

A Sign Face made of flexible material stretched over a supporting frame. See also Flexible Face Material.

Flexible Face Material

A reinforced, translucent fabric made of PVC or polyester used for awnings, canopies and other types of signage.


The supporting base of a sign that is typically anchored to a foundation or a building’s roof.


A concrete substructure of a building that can be used to anchor and support a sign. See also Footing.

Freestanding Sign or Yard Sign

A Permanent or Temporary Sign that is not attached to a building, has its own support structure and is placed on the ground or is attached to a supporting structure, post or pole or with guy wires.

Front Lit Letter

An illuminated channel letter having a translucent face.

Gateway Sign

An entrance sign to a town, neighbourhood, development, park or other public area.

Ground Sign

A Freestanding Sign with no visible support structure.

Guardian Letter

A highly polished stainless steel metal letter with a curved face.

H-Channel Letter

A cross sectional shaped Dimensional Letter (like an "H") that allows for neon tubing mounting within the letter.

Halo Lighting

A back lit sign, where the light source is located within or behind the sign creating a halo of light effect surrounding the sign.

Hanging Sign

A Double-Faced Sign mounted to a wall or pole, projecting from a bracket or support arm.

High-Rise Sign

A tall Freestanding Sign tall visible by motorists from a distance.

Identification Sign

A sign that displays the name of the business.

Illuminated Sign

A sign characterized by the use of artificial light, either projecting through its surface (internally illuminated), or reflecting off its surface (externally illuminated).

Incandescent Lamp

A lamp that produces light through the application of electrical energy to a wire filament, which glows as it is heated. These light generally have a warm yellow-orange light cast.

Incidental Sign

An informational sign, providing designation or direction, some examples include parking, restroom, and entrance and exit signs.

Inflatable Sign

A 3 dimensional sign, filled with air or gas and made of flexible material or fabric. A temporary sign for special events or promotions like a Balloon Sign.

Interior Signs

Signs that are located inside a building, structure or other facility.

Internally Illuminated Sign

An internally illuminated sign, meaning the light source is contained inside the sign structure or housing. See also Backlit Sign and Exterior Illuminated Sign.

Job Site Sign

A construction site sign providing information about the architect or development Company and/or companies. The sign is temporary and typically large and freestanding. Also referred to as a Construction Site Sign.


A small, freestanding structure either used for posting temporary signs and notices or equipped with an interactive computer screen to provide services such as event ticket sales.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

A flat panel display that recreates an image and/or message by emitting electrically sensitive crystals suspended in a liquid medium. Commonly uses in Electronic Message Centres (EMCs).

LED (Light-Emitting Diode)

An electronic device that emits light when electrically charged to create patterns that can produce changing video displays. May be used to create an Electronic Message Centre (EMC).


The artwork arrangement of lettering and/or graphics on the Face of a sign.

Light Box

A self-enclosed rectangular sign whose structure has an internal light system that illuminates the Sign Face. See also Box Sign and Sign Cabinet.

Light Pole Banner/Support Pole Banner

A temporary Banner or sign that is designed to be attached to a permanent light pole or other pole structure whereby the temporary sign element can be changed without modifying the permanent structure.

Low Profile Sign

A Freestanding Sign which is close to or sitting on the ground. See also Monument Sign.

Mall Signage

A wide variety of typical On-Premise Sign types located within the interior of a multi-tenant building or mall.

Marquee Sign

A variable message sign mounted on a permanent Canopy, which usually projects over an entrance. The sign is typically illuminated and often ornately designed. An example would be storefront signs at movie theaters and concert halls.

Memorial Sign

As plaque sign, which commemorates a person, place or event.

Menu Board

A Variable Message Sign that allows a retailer to list products and prices. Commonly used to display menus at fast food restaurants.

Message Area

The artboard of a sign that displays meaning through words and/or graphics.

Message Centre

A Variable Message Sign that allows for changes to be made either mechanically or electronically.

Mobile Sign

A Portable Sign mounted on a trailer or back of a truck. The sign may or may not be illuminated. Also called a mobile billboard.

Monument Sign

A Ground Sign with low overall height that is often used to mark a place of significance or the entrance to a location. See also Low Profile Sign or Free Standing Sign.


A wall surface decorated with a direct application of paint, tile or printed graphics. See also Wall Mural.


A small wall or door mounted sign made of plastic or metal stating the name, position etc. of the office/ building occupant.

Neon Sign

A sign manufactured utilizing neon tubing that is bent and formed into lettering and/or graphical shapes.

Off-Premise Sign

A sign that advertises or otherwise directs attention to a product sold, service provided, or an activity that occurs but is not located on or directly adjacent to the business or property to which it relates. Also referred to as Outdoor Advertising. A Billboard is an example of an Off-Premise Sign.

On-Premise Sign

A sign that advertises or otherwise directs attention to a business, event, profession or service being conducted, product sold or offered and is located on or directly adjacent to the business or property to which it relates.

Open Channel Letter

A Dimensional Letter that has no face and, if illuminated with a light source (such as neon tubing), is visible. A clear face for physical protection of internal components may be used.

Outdoor Advertising Sign

See Off-Premise Sign.

Painted Wall Sign

See Building Mounted Sign.

Pan Channel Letter

A Dimensional Letter that is constructed with side walls, back and a face. This makes the letter appear as a solid integral unit, with the side walls and back having a pan-shaped cross section.

Pan Face

A plastic sign face molded into a three dimensional shape. Also called molded face, molded and embossed face, or molded and debossed face.


Any visible face of a sign that has Copy and/or artwork present. A Sign Face is made up of one or more panels.

Parapet Sign

A sign mounted on or to the low protective wall along the edge of a roof, bridge or balcony of a building. A type of Building Mounted Sign.

Pavement Graphics

Copy and/or artwork that are applied to parking areas and roadways to direct and guide traffic or supplement other signs.


A triangular flag or irregular piece of fabric or material, whether or not containing a message of any kind, commonly attached in strings or strands, or supported on small poles intended to flap in the wind. See also Banner.

People Sign

A person attired or decorated with commercial insignia, images, costumes, masks, or other symbols that display commercial messages to draw attention to or advertising for an on-premise activity. Also known as a human mascot, sign spinner or human sign.

Perforated Window Vinyl

A perforated vinyl window wrap displaying graphics but allowing for one way viewing through the window. An optically clear laminate is often applied to increase durability. See also Window Sign.

Permanent Sign

A sign attached to a building, structure, or the ground in a permanent fashion, where it can resist environmental conditions that might cause it to move.


A legal document or licence granted, by the appropriate government agency, giving official permission to erect a sign or display.


An inscribed, commemorative plate or tablet, usually made of cast metal.

Point-of-Purchase (POP) Sign

A form of interior signage that advertises a product at its point of sale or "point of purchase" location. It generally advertises product to spur impulse consumer purchases. Also known as point-of-sale advertising.

Pole Sign

A Freestanding Sign (double-faced) that is mounted on a single round pole, or square tube without any type of secondary support.

Portable Sign

A sign not permanently attached to the ground, building or other structure, which may be moved from place to place, including, but not limited to, signs designed to be transported by means of wheels. Such signs may include changeable copy that can be readily removed by hand tools.

Post Mounted Sign

A sign that is attached to one or more sign poles.

Post and Panel Sign

An unlit sign fabricated by using one or more visible posts to support the sign body.


For use as a billboard, a series of sheets printed on paper, plastic or cloth. For use as an interior sign printed on paper, plastic or cloth.

Projected-Image Sign

A sign which involves an image projected on the face of a wall, structure, sidewalk, or other surface, from a distant electronic device, such that the image does not originate from the plane of the wall, structure, sidewalk, or other surface.

Projecting Sign

As opposed to a Wall Sign, a sign (frequently double-sided) that is attached to a building face or wall, and projects more than eighteen inches from the surface. Also called a Blade Sign.


A letter or graphic cut out of a backing material that is as thick or thicker than the sign face material, and mounted on the inside of the Sign Face so that the backing material’s thickness extends flush with or through and beyond the front plane of the Sign Face.

Pylon Sign

A Freestanding Sign that is not a Pole or Ground Sign.


An electrical enclosure that may also serve as a mounting structure for the sign. See also Deck Cabinet.


A sign with panel where mounted letters and graphics can be changed manually. Often used to advertise special prices or events and placed so that the sign can be easily seen by passing motorists.

Reflective Vinyl

Vinyl that has been specifically treated to reflect when hit by artificial light at night, such as a vehicle’s headlights. Historically used for road and highway signs. With the advancement in manufacturing, reflective vinyl has also become popular for use in commercial business signage and vehicle wraps. Also referred to as vinyl reflective.

Regulatory Sign

A sign installed by a government body to inform the public of traffic laws and other regulations.


A framing member mounted around the perimeter of a Sign Face, and attached to the sign cabinet structure. It is designed to attach the face to the cabinet and/or intended to provide a decorating trim piece.


The sides of a Channel Letter.


An indented detail on a sign.

Reverse Channel Letter

A fabricated Dimensional Letter with an opaque face and side walls but no back. A halo effect around the letter is produced when a neon tube inside the letter is illuminated.

Revolving Sign

A 360° sign that revolves on an axis via an electric motor driving its movable parts. All or just portions of the sign may revolve at a variable or speed.

Right of Way (ROW)

The land on which a public thoroughfare is located and certain lands adjacent thereto. Permanent commercial signs are generally located on private land adjacent to the public right of way.

Roof Sign

A sign mounted on, and supported by, the main roof portion of a building, or above the uppermost edge of a Parapet wall of a building and which is wholly or partially supported by the building.

Sandwich Sign

A moveable sign, whose cross-sectional shape most often forms an A. The sign is not secured or attached to the ground or surface upon which it is located, but supported by its own frame. Also known as an A-Frame Sign or Sidewalk Sign.


Generally, the distance between a fixed object (for example, the outward most edge of a sign) and the pavement edge line of its adjacent roadway.

Sidewalk Sign

See Sandwich or A-Frame Sign.


Any object, device, display or structure visible from a public place intended to advertise, identify, display, direct or attract attention to an object, person, institution, organization, business, product, service, event or location by any means including words, letters, pictures, logos, figures, designs, symbols, fixtures, colors, illumination or projected images.

Sign Band

A horizontal area above a multi-tenants’ building’s entrances, architecturally designed to accommodate signage in a sign-centric manner.

Sign Cabinet

The enclosure of an electric sign, excluding the components and mounting structure. See also Box Sign and Light Box.

Sign Face

The area of a sign on which text or Copy is intended to be placed.

Sign-Centric Design

Building architectural design that reinforces signage, making it the most prominent visual feature.


A system of placed-based communication devices and graphics intended to relay information or attract attention. Such systems include Signature Buildings and product displays and dispensers, as well as traditional Projecting, Wall, Roof, and Freestanding signs.

Signature Building

Architectural design of a building or structure that makes the signage a prominent visual feature.

Single-Face Sign

A sign with only one face plane.

Small Hanging Blade Sign

A sign attached to the underside of a Canopy or Marquee. Also known as an "Under Canopy" or "Under Marquee" sign.

Snipe Sign

An overlay sign added to an existing sign layout as an additional message to the main sign. For example, adding "opening soon". Also a term for a sign illegally tacked, nailed, posted, pasted, glued, or otherwise attached to trees, poles, stakes, fences, or other objects without a permit.

Spinner Sign

A Freestanding or Wall Mounted Sign where the messages rotate in the wind. A Spinner Sign is not considered to be an Animated Sign.

Stationary Sign

A sign with a power-cord for attachment to a source of electrical power that is not readily moveable or portable.

Street Furniture

Advertising displays positioned at close to a pedestrian’s eye-level for viewing or at a curb-side to reach vehicular traffic. An example is a Bench Sign.


The material out of which the Sign Face is made or graphics are applied. Substrate examples include vinyl, wood, plastics, fabrics, metal sheeting, paper, acrylic and glass.

T-Frame Sign

A Freestanding Sign which is ordinarily in the shape of an upside down "T" or some variation thereof, which is readily moveable and is not permanently attached to the ground or any structure. See also the definition for A-Frame Signs.

Tactile Sign

A sign (or area of a sign) that conveys a message through raised or engraved letters or graphics for access by the visually impaired.

Temporary Sign

Portable Signs or any sign not intended for permanent installation, such as Banners and Construction Site Signs. They may also be incidental or miscellaneous in nature, such as political or real estate signs.

Time and Temperature Display

A Variable Message Sign which displays current time and temperature in a stationary or alternating manner. Some also display simple messages.

Under-Canopy Sign

A sign designed to be mounted underneath a Canopy.

V Sign

Signs containing two faces of approximately equal size, erected upon a common or separate structure, positioned in a "V" shape, with an interior angle between faces of not more than ninety degrees.

Variable Message Sign

A sign that includes provisions for message changes. See also Changeable Copy Panel, Changeable Copy Sign, Electronic Message Centre, Marquee Sign, Menu Board, Readerboard and Time and Temperature Sign.


Special administrative procedure by which one may obtain an exception to zoning rules such as height, setback and type of use.

Vehicle Sign

Any sign permanently or temporarily attached to or placed on a vehicle or trailer in any manner so that the sign is used primarily as a stationary identification or advertisement sign. Also referred to as a vehicle wrap or vehicle graphics.

Video Sign

A Variable Sign displayed on a monitor, display or television screen.

Vinyl (Flex/Flexible Face)

A substrate upon which an advertising message is rendered, either by computer production or hand painting.


The prominence of a letter, number, graphic, or symbol, to the observer, to distinguish it from its background or surroundings.

Wall Mural

Any piece of art or messaging which is printed on a material/substrate (e.g., vinyl or canvas), which is then applied directly to a wall, but can also be applied to almost any non-porous, flat, smooth and dry surface (e.g., doors, ceilings, windows, furniture, cabinets, etc.).

Wall Sign

A sign that is in any manner affixed to any exterior wall of a building or structure and that projects not more than eighteen inches from the building or structure wall. Also known as a Fascia Sign.


Directional signage enabling a person to find his or her way to a given destination.

Window Sign (see Perforated Window Vinyl)

Any sign viewable through and/or affixed in any manner to the surface of a window or exterior glass door such that it is intended to be visible and readable from the public way or from the adjacent property. This includes window paintings and signs located inside a building but visible primarily from the outside of the building.