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Glossary of industry terms 1/3

The following is an alphabetical list of terms, phrases and descriptions used in the graphics industry. These may be of use when creating files or for general reference.

1-bit colour
The lowest number of colours per pixel in which a graphics file can be stored.
In 1-bit colour, each pixel is either black or white.

8-bit colour/grayscale
In 8-bit colour, each pixel is has eight bits assigned to it, providing 256 colours or shades of gray, as in a grayscale image.

24-bit colour
In 24-bit colour, each pixel has 24 bits assigned to it, representing 16.7 million colours. 8 bits - or one byte - is assigned to each of the red, green, and blue components of a pixel.

32-bit colour
A display resolution setting that is often referred to as true colour and offers a colour palette of over 4 billion colours or 2³².


Additive Colours
Red, Green, and Blue are referred to as additive colours. Red+Green+Blue=White.

In bitmapped graphics, the jagged boundary along the edges of different coloured shapes within an image.

A technique for reducing the jagged appearance of aliased bitmapped images.


Background Processing
A feature that enables the computer operator to continue working while the computer executes another action, such as spooling data to a printer.

An artefact of colour gradation in computer imaging, when graduated colours break into largerblocks of a single colour, reducing the "smooth" look of a proper gradation.

Bit depth
The number of bits used to represent the colour of each pixel in a digital image, e.g. bit depth of 8 = 256 colours; bit depth of 16 = 65,536 colours; bit depth of 24 = 16 million colours. The more bits of information per pixel means more available colours and more accurate colour representation.

An image made up of dots, or pixels. Refers to a raster image, in which the image consists of rows or pixels rather than vector co-ordinates.

Image area (usually 3mm) beyond the trim area of a sheet or page. The "bleed" gets cut off during trimming.

The value of a pixel in an electronic image, representing its lightness value from black to white. Usually defined as brightness levels ranging in value from 0 (black) to 255 (white).


The act of adjusting the colour of one device relative to another, such as a monitor to a printer, or a scanner to a film recorder. Or, it may be the process of adjusting the colour of one device to some established standard.

Compact Disk - Read Only Memory - storage media capable of holding 650 Megabytes.

CMY (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow)
The three subtractive colour primaries.

CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black)
One of several colour encoding system used by printers for combining primary colours to produce a full-colour image. In CMYK, colours are expressed by the "subtractive primaries" (cyan, magenta, yellow) and black. Black is called "K" or keyline since black, keylined text appears on this layer.

Colour correction
The process of correcting or enhancing the colour of an image.

Colour Proof
A test print made on the output device to be used for a particular job. Proofs are commonly made at a fraction of the final size.

Colour Wheel
This is an aid to be used when selecting colours for a harmonious colour scheme. You can easily identify and split complementary colours.

Continuous Tone
An image where brightness appears consistent and uninterrupted. Each pixel in a continuous tone image file uses at least one byte each for its red, green, and blue values. This permits 256 density levels per colour or more than 16 million mixture colours.

A visual effect in an image as a result of low brightness resolution which appears as bands of sharp, distinct, brightness change. Very similar to banding

A measure of rate of change of brightness in an image.
-High contrast implies dark black and bright white content;
-Medium contrast implies a good spread from black to white;
-Low contrast implies a small spread of values from black to white.

Crop Marks:
Register marks used for accurate positioning of images in printing.