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Most Commonly Used Desktop Publishing Terms

written by: Camesha White•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 5/31/2010

This article describes the most used terms in the desktop publishing field. If you work in desktop publishing, I’m sure you've seen or heard these terms at some point. Whether novice or expert, however, this terminology guide can help you feel more comfortable and confident with your DTP expertise.

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    The first term of course is…

    Desktop Publishing. Designing of a document using a word processing program or other document-creating program.

    Bit-Mapped Graphics. Images composed of pixels (see Pixel). These images are often known as TIFF’s JPG’s, and GIF’s.

    Bleed Through. When the ink soaks through the paper and is visible on the back (or if you are printing on both sides, it will bleed through on both sides).

    Bullets. Dashes, dots or images used to organize portions of text to add emphasis or clarity.

    CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black). These are the four process colors. These colors are used for a variety of projects and are default for a variety of desktop publishing programs. Whether or not all these colors are necessary depends solely on your project.

    Font. This is the actual type and size of the set of characters you choose to use in your document.

    Footer. Text repeated throughout the document at the bottom of every page.

    Header. Text repeated throughout the document at the top of every page.

    Headline. A large statement or phrase designed specifically to catch the reader’s attention or better prepare the reader for the text that follows. The headline makes the reader decide whether or not he or she will be interested in reading further.

    Landscape. This the horizontal view of a document.

    Logo. Text and/or an illustration designed to represent a company or organization.

    Margin. The space located between the outside boundaries of your actual document and the outside boundary (or edge) of the actual page

    Pixel. The smallest component used to form images. This component is also referred to as a bit. Hence the term bit-mapped.

    Portrait. This is the typical 8’ 11" document.

    Proofreading. This is the action of reviewing of a document for grammatical errors, etc.

    RGB. This is an acronym for red, green, and blue. Knowing this term will help you to solve possible formatting issues when printing.

    Rule. An actual ruler that is visible at the top of your document or on the side. With the ruler you can create tabs and indentions wherever needed.

    Typeface. Not to be confused with font, this is the actual “type" of characters in a specific set. Size is irrelevant.

    Underline. The act of using the Underline function (with text) to add emphasis or imply importance.

    White Space. Simply put, this is just the areas in your document where there is absolutely nothing. No images, text, etc.

    Xerography. This is just a fancy term for Xeroxing or simply making a copy of a document.

    These are only a few of the desktop publishing terms you will encounter as you work on your day-to-day projects, and as you become more involved in the DTP field, there will be more terms to learn. To make your DTP vocabulary more impressive, take a look at Printing Terms 101 and A Glossary of Photoshop Terms "A to Z".