Terms Used on This Site

all-size folder  a folder capable of folding different widths of pages (also called variable cut-off folder)

apprenticeship  a set period during which a new inductee learns, and becomes proficient in, a trade (see also indenture)

arc lamp  a lamp in which electric current arcs between two electrodes, providing an intense light source for illuminating both transparent copy (negatives, colour transparencies) and reflective copy (flat original art), and for burning-in printing plates

assistant  a non-indentured worker whose activities are supervised by a journeyman

binding  the sewing, stapling, or glueing together of collated sections of a publication to form the finished product

boat  see ship

chapel  the collective name for the members of a trade union within a printing company in the U.K.

chargehand  the lead machine minder, responsible for the operation of a large printing press or other production line

chase  the rectangular metal frame in which metal type and plates are tightly locked up for letterpress printing

clicker  the foreman of a companionship of compositors (see ship); at the Sun, a clicker would often be responsible for a particular publication

collate  to bring together the printed, folded sheets in the right sequence

composition  (a) the setting or composing of text matter into type prior to printing (hence compositor); (b) the creation of pages using type and images in a form suitable for printing

doctor blade  a flexible steel strip, the width of a gravure cylinder, that wipes excess ink from the surface of the cylinder before printing

Dultgen process  a method of etching cells whereby both cell area and cell depth are varied, in contrast with conventional gravure in which only cell depth is varied; the process leaves more bearing surface for the doctor blade and, in doing so, extends the life of the cylinder

etching  making an image below the surface of a printing plate or cylinder by chemical means

fixed folder  a folder that can handle only a single width of page

flat-bed press  a type of printing press in which an inked forme of type lies in a chase on a reciprocating flat metal bed and a cylinder rotates through two revolutions, the first revolution taking the impression over the type in the forme, the second occuring as the cylinder rises to permit the bed that is carrying the forme to return to its original position; during this second revolution, the cylinder releases the printed sheet and grips a new one to repeat the process

fly  that part of the folder of a printing press that delivers the printed and folded material

flying paster  a device (sometimes called a spider) used to facilitate changing a supply reel of paper while a web press is running; typically, the paster consists of a rotatable mount capable of holding three reels: (a) the reel that is running into the press; (b) the new reel that is awaiting use; and (c) a spindle or hub that contains the core of the most-recently exhausted reel and on which the next full reel will be mounted; as the paper on the current reel dwindles, the new reel is brought up to speed and rotated closer to the moving web of paper until it touches and adheres to the expiring web just as a slicer cuts the old reel away; the operation happens in a split second with a loud bang

FOC  (father of the chapel) British printing unions are called chapels, and the shop steward is called the father of the chapel; the term is said to hark back to the first English print shop, established by William Caxton in a chapel in Westminster

forme  pages of metal type that have been imposed (see imposition) and locked up in a chase prior to printing on a flat-bed press; a single forme could comprise material for 8, 16, or 32 pages of a publication

gravure  a method of transferring inked images to paper from an intaglio (recessed) surface, as from an etching or engraving; sheet-fed gravure prints on individual sheets; rotary gravure prints onto a web (reel) of paper

gravure cylinder  the cylinder used in the rotary gravure process, consisting of a steel core with an outer coating of copper; all copy, whether pictorial or textual, is etched into the smooth copper surface; an ultra-thin layer of chromium is then added to prolong the life of the cylinder

halftone  the method od breaking down an image into dots of varying sizes to create an optical illusion of tonal variation, from highlight to deepest shadow, of the original continuous-tone image

heliogravure  the process of photographic engraving invented in France in the early 1800s by Joseph Niépce; he covered a bitumenized pewter plate with a design and exposed it to sunlight; the exposed parts of the plate turned white and became insoluble, the unexposed parts could be dissolved with gasoline, leaving a negative print; the plate could then be etched in the usual way

HelioKlischograph  a system invented in Germany by Dr Rudolph Hell (and named in honour of Karl Klisch) for engraving gravure cylinders using electronically controlled diamond styli

hot metal  printing type that is cast from molten metal

impression  (a) the act of printing; (b) the printed result

indenture  legal articles defining the responsibilities of employer and employee in an apprenticeship relationship

inset  pre-printed material that is run from a reel into another press and registered with the material that is being printed on that press  

intaglio  a process for transferring images to paper by printing from an image etched into a surface

interleaving  the practice of inserting an unprinted sheet of paper between each pair of printed sheets as they come off the press, to prevent ink transfer from printed sheet to printed sheet

journeyman  a former apprentice who has completed the terms of his indenture

letterpress  a method of transferring inked images to paper from a raised (or ‘relief’) surface, as from a wood-cut or from metal type

Linotype  a hot-metal linecasting machine that assembles complete lines of type (called ‘slugs’) from matrices delivered from a cartridge

litho[graphy]  the method of transferring images from a flat inked surface to paper, using the principle that certain portions of the printing surface can be rendered ink-receptive while others can be rendered ink-resistant

logs [off the fly]  highly compressed copies of magazines capped at each end and strapped for ease of handling, fed from the ‘fly’ (the folder delivery belt) of the folder

MOC  (mother of the chapel) a female shop steward (see also FOC)

minder  a journeyman in control of a press and responsible for making adjustments to achieve and maintain appropriate quality output

Monotype  a two-part system that composes and casts single letters into justified or unjustified lines, the first part being a keyboard that punches holes in a spool of paper tape, and the second part being a caster that uses the tape to govern the metal casting of the individual letters and lines

NATSOPA  National Society of Operative Printers and Assistants

NGA  National Graphical Association

offset  (also called offset litho[graphy]) a printing process so called because the plate does not print directly onto the paper (as in most other processes), but onto an intermediate cylinder covered with a rubber blanket which in turn transfers the inked image to the paper

oilcloth  canvas coated with a preparation containing a drying oil to make it waterproof; used for tablecloths, shelf liners, etc.

overprint  to print one colour on top of another to obtain a third colour

photocomposition  the setting of type photographically (or electronically) directly onto film or paper

photogravure  gravure printing using a photomechanically prepared surface

planning  determining the arrangement of pages on printing cylinders, taking into account colour, bleeds, and register-mark positioning

platen press  a type of press (generally a smaller press) in which the entire sheet of paper is pressed against the inked printing surface

process engravings or plates  printing plates produced from a full-colour original by breaking the original down first into colour separations and then into primary colours by photo-mechanical means; generally, yellow, magenta, cyan (blue), and black are the colours used to reproduce four-colour originals

register  to make precise adjustments to the position of the printing surface to ensure that the ink goes down exactly where it should; also, the accurate alignment of printed material on both sides of the paper

reel  a roll of paper used on a rotary printing press

revolution  one rotation of a printing cylinder

rinco  a process for converting hot-metal type and images into negative form by printing with white ink on black paper

rotary press  a type of printing press in which the printing surfaces are cylinders (or are flexible plates mounted on cylinders); hence rotary letterpress, rotary gravure; a web-offset press is also a rotary press

rotogravure  gravure printing using a rotary press

section  see signature

sectionalised  all (or, more often, part) of a magazine prepared for a specific region or area of interest (for instance, with TVTimes, the editorial pages, common to all regions, were combined with regional sections to produce a customized issue for each region)

set-off  an undesirable effect that can occur post-printing when one printed sheet transfers ink to the sheet next to it on the stacker (also called off-set)

ship  a companionship of compositors: a group of compositors assigned to work on the same publication or project; ‘companionship’ became contracted to ‘ship,’ and ‘ship’ evolved into ‘boat’ in some companies

signature  (also known as a section) a printed and folded sheet, usually containing 8, 16, or 32 pages, collated with others to form a complete book or magazine

SLADE  Society of Lithographic Artists, Designers and Engravers

snuff  powdered tobacco taken into the nose (popular with smokers forced to work in areas where smoking was prohibited, thus particularly popular in segments of the printing industry)

SOGAT  Society of Graphic Arts Technicians

solvent  a volatile liquid used to control ink viscosity

solvent recovery  the mechanical extraction of evaporated solvent for re-use

spider  see flying paster

stitching  a method of fastening folded sheets together, generally with wire staples (also called saddle-stitching) to make a brochure, a magazine, or a newspaper insert

trim  the part of a signature or sheet that is cut off after printing and folding, so as to bring the publication or printed item to its finished size

two-set  (also two-up) a method of printing two identical items at the same time, after which they are cut apart, thus halving the press run to effect cost savings (also three-set, four-set, or three-up, four-up)

unit  usually, that part of a press at which the printing takes place; a press may contain one unit or many (a perfecting press has a minimum of two units, a colour press usually has a minimum of four units)

vellum  untanned animal skin prepared for use as a printing medium in place of paper; its superior durability has caused it to be widely used for legal documents

wayzgoose  an entertainment given by a master printer to his workmen in August, marking the beginning of the season of working by candlelight; later, an annual festival held in summer by the employees of a printing establishment, consisting of a dinner and usually an excursion into the country (OED).

web  all paper from paper-making machines emerges in an unbroken stream (a web) and is fed onto a reel; some of this paper is sheeted into standard or other sizes for use on sheet-fed presses, some of it is left on reels for use on web-fed presses

web-fed press, web press   a press that prints on paper fed into it from a reel

web offset  lithographic printing using a rotary (web) press

white paper  unprinted paper in storage


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