PCL Glossary




24-bit color

A display standard in which the red, green, and blue dots that compose a pixel each carry 8 bits of information, allowing each pixel to represent one of 16.7 million (28-x-28-x-28, or 224) colors.

active server page (ASP)

A web page that contains code that will be run by the server prior to delivering content to the requestor. Runs on Microsoft IIS.

Adobe Font Metrics

See glossary term AFM.

Advanced Function Presentation (AFP)

The IBM strategic environment for presentation of digital documents; formerly known as Advanced Function Printing.

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

Is a symmetric-key encryption standard adopted by the U.S. government. The standard comprises three block ciphers, AES-128, AES-192 and AES-256, adopted from a larger collection originally published as Rijndael.


See glossary term Advanced Function Presentation (AFP).


Adobe Font Metrics: A specification for storing (in a text file) font metrics information such as character widths, kerning pairs, and character bounding boxes.


The undesirable stair-step appearance of diagonal lines in computer graphics, also called the “jaggies.” Anti-aliasing refers to a category of techniques used to smooth the ‘jaggies.’


Text alignment defines how text is aligned within the left and right indent paragraph: either flush left, flush right, centered, or justified. Graphic alignment defines how objects align: along their sides, centers, tops, or bottoms.”

All Points Addressability (APA)

The ability to present text or graphics at any point on the output medium.


See glossary term All Points Addressability.


See Application Program Interface.

Application Program Interface (API)

A term used to describe a set of functions provided for application programs to access operating system services.

application service provider (ASP)

A hosted service whereby a software application is delivered for use to an end-user through an external data processing facility, with access typically provided via the Internet.


American Standard Code for Information Interchange. The character set used by personal computers to represent stored information. Represents a series of characters (upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols using a numeric value from 0 to 255. The key to the ASCII coding systems is that any of these characters can be represented using a single byte.


The part of upward-reaching lowercase letters, such as ‘b,’ ‘d,’ ‘f,’ ‘h,’ ‘k,’ and ‘l’ that extends above the x-height (main body). An ascender should be in proportion with the x-height for legibility. See glossary term ascender line.

ascender line

The imaginary horizontal line that represents the uppermost point of an ascender.


A font’s maximum distance above the baseline.


See glossary term Active Server Page (ASP).

backfile conversion

The process of converting historical documents, whether images from file cabinets or COLD Reports saved on host tapes, so that they can be used with a newly installed system. When no back file conversion is performed, the system is considered a “Day Forward ” solution.


The imaginary horizontal line on which all capitals and lowercase letters in a font rest. Leading is measured from baseline to baseline. Also known as the “reading line.”


The distance from the baseline of one line to the baseline of the following line, usually measured in points. See glossary term leading.

batch processing

A technique in which a number of similar data or transactions are collected over a period of time and aggregated (batched) for sequential processing as a group during a machine run. The scheduled, sequential processing of a program or group of programs. The alternative is on-line processing.

Binary Large Object (BLOB)

Used to store any information that can be represented as binary data. The BLOB data type is part of a database structure which provides complete DBMS functionality for the manipulation of the BLOB item.

body size

The type’s print size which is determined by measuring from the highest ascender to the lowest descender (plus any additional white space to the descender line).


A matrix of individual dots or pixels that makes up the graphic display. Each pixel (or picture element) corresponds to bits in the processor’s memory.

bitmap font

A font which is made up of pixels (or square dots). Bitmap fonts typically work in tandem with outline fonts, with bitmap fonts being used on the screen, and connected outline fonts automatically used in the printer. Also known as a “screen font.” Bitmap fonts process fast but require a large amount of storage space and do not scale well to different sizes, hence the development of a different font technology called outline or contour fonts.


Represented by a pattern of dots. A bitmapped graphic is described by specifying the placement of the dots that compose the graphic.


See glossary term Binary Large Object (BLOB).


The stored paragraphs or documents that may be combined or recalled to create a new document. Variable information, either prerecorded or input via keyboard, may be combined with boilerplates in most systems.


Type that is heavier or thicker than the normal type: A dark typeface used for emphasis, usually heavier in weight.


See Business Transaction Management (BTM).

business transaction management (BTM)

The storage and retrieval of day-to-day business processes; examples include creation of a purchase order, shipping of goods, and creation of an invoice. These transactions may be data-based (XML or SQL), computer-generated (COLD/ERM documents) or scanned images, and are key to the ongoing management of any organization’s relationships with customers, vendors and employees.


The process that saves bitmaps in memory or on the printer’s hard disk in order to minimize the amount of time spent generating bitmaps. The first time a particular letter is imaged, its bitmap is generated and cached. Subsequent uses of that letter can use the cached version for huge performance gains.

cap height

The height of uppercase letters. See glossary term cap line.

cap line

The imaginary line which represents the uppermost part of capital letters and some character’s ascenders.

carriage return

The act of returning to the beginning of a line.


A member of a set of elements used for the organization, control, or representation of data. A character is a basic unit of language, and is independent of any designed form or treatment such as a ligature. The distinction between character and glyph (see glossary term glyph, below) is useful so that spell checking, alphabetization, and other lexical operations might be performed on character data, while another part of the system can be concerned with the exact form that is used for presentation (i.e. final imaging on a screen, paper, or other output device).

character recognition

The identification and inputting of printed characters by automatic means. See glossary term magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) and glossary term Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

character set

A finite set of characters that is considered complete for some purpose. The electronic font set contains the character graphics and their descriptions.

characters per inch (CPI)

The number of mono-spaced characters in a specified font that equals the length of one inch.


Cyan, magenta, yellow, black. The subtractive primaries, or process colors, used in full-color printing. Black is usually added to enhance contrast.

code page

A font library member name that gives the association between the code points and the character names in a font, the mapping from 8-bit character codes to graphic characters.


See glossary term Computer Output to Laser Disk (COLD).

column inch

A measure of area used by newspapers and magazines. A column inch is the area one column wide by one inch high, and column inches is the number obtained by multiplying inches high times the number of columns. Publishers use this measurement to determine advertising costs in a publication.

command driven

Programs requiring that the task to be performed be described in a special language with strict adherence to syntax. Compare to glossary term menu driven.

Computer Output to Laser Disk (COLD)

COLD technology is integrated software and hardware solutions which store and index formatted computer output on various media, such as magnetic or optical disks, enabling electronic retrieval, viewing, printing, fixing, distribution, and archival.


Characters that are narrower than the standard in order to fit into a compact space. A properly condensed character should fit into a smaller space without making it too thin and without reducing the character’s height.


See glossary term characters per inch (cpi).


See glossary term Double-Byte character set (DBCS).


The opposite of collate (as in sets of copies). The removal of carbon paper from multi-part forms.


A character that separates and organizes elements of data.

descender line

The lowest line that a character’s descender extends to, like the bottom stem of the lowercase ‘j’ and ‘y.’


The adjustment made to an image to make up for physical distortions inherent in the system, or the adjustment made to an image to compensate for justification errors in scanning.

device independence

The ability to request I/O operations without regard for the characteristics of specific types of devices.


Once known as “printer’s flowers,” these are the small decorative marks, bullets, or symbols that usually make up a specialty face. Zapf Dingbats is one well-known example of a dingbat font.


The creation of additional colors and shades from an existing palette. Dithering is used to create background, shading, fills, and halftones. In monochrome displays, shades of gray are simulated by varying the density and patterns of the black dots. In color monitors, the patterns are created by mixing the colors of existing dots. Also an anti-aliasing technique.

dots per inch (DPI)

See glossary term DPI.

Double-Byte character set (DBCS)

Single-Byte character sets (SBCS) provide 256 character codes. This is an adequate number to encode most of the characters needed for Western Europe. However, 256 character codes are not enough to represent all the characters needed by multi-lingual users in a single font, or by users in the Far East, where over 12,000 characters may need to be addressed at any one time. Consequently, Multi-Byte character sets (commonly known as Double-Byte character sets) are necessary. Double-Byte character sets (DBCS) are a mixture of Single-Byte and Double-Byte character encodings and provide over 65,000 character codes (2 to the 16th power).


See glossary term duplex.

downloadable font

A font file that contains character descriptions that are copied from the computer and temporarily stored in the printer’s memory while a document is printing.


Dots per inch. The measure of resolution for a video monitor or printer. High-resolution printers are usually at least 1000 dpi. Laser printers typically have a resolution of 300 dpi; monitors are usually 72 dpi.


A publication that will be reproduced on both sides of a sheet of paper. The front side of a page is the odd-numbered side; the back side is the even-numbered side.


See Electronic Bill Presentment & Payment (EBPP).


See glossary term Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

electronic bill presentment & payment (EBPP)

The delivery of bills or statements in an electronic manner with associated payment occurring electronically.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

The computer-to-computer transmission of business documents in standardized, computer-readable format. This technology falls under a broader range of electronic technologies known as electronic commerce (EC).


Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code. A character encoding scheme, similar to ASCII, that originated with IBM mainframe systems. Still used by most IBM mainframe and mini-computer systems.”

electronic overlay

Constant data for a page (such as a form) that is electronically composed in the host processor and can be merged with variable data on a page during printing. Electronic forms may also be created on PCs.


A typeface with letters that are wider than the standard without visibly adding weight.


A typeface with letters that are stretched (or expanded) horizontally while still retaining their original height.

extended markup language (XML)

A specification developed by the W3C, XML is a pared down version of SGML which was designed especially for Web documents. It allows designers to create their own customized tags used for intelligent searching and formatting.


All the type sizes and styles of one typeface. A complete character set of a font. The group shares a common design but can differ in attributes such as character width, weight, and posture (i.e. Roman vs. Italic). A typical computer family unit frequently contains four fonts–Roman, Italic, Bold, and Bold Italic–in all sizes.


See glossary termForms Description Language (FDL).


One complete collection of letters, punctuation marks, numbers, and special characters in a single typeface, weight (Roman or bold), posture (upright or italic) and –for bitmapped fonts– point size, such as 12-point Helvetica italic. A font family is a set of fonts in several sizes and weights that share the same typeface, such as Helvetica bold 10, Helvetica Roman 12, etc. A font is an implementation of a typeface design in any medium. In the days of metal type, the implementation was, necessarily, a single point size. In the current digital era, an implementation is a set of outline-format characters that are infinitely scalable, and therefore not limited to a particular point size. For example, it is correct to say that type designers design a typeface (not a font), and hint information is encoded in the font (not the typeface). There is obviously some overlap here: you can say, for example, that the font — or the typeface — seen on the screen is Garamond. But there are many situations where it is appropriate to use typeface to refer to the design, and font to refer to any given implementation of the design. See glossary term typeface.

font weight

A degree of thickness or darkness (light medium, bold and extra bold).

forms data

Lines, text, graphics, and logos that are part of the design of the form (and so are the same on every page).

form overlay

A process utilized in ERM systems and COM to recreate the look of an original document by laying a form over the associated text. Examples include: invoices, purchase orders, and statements.

Forms Description Language (FDL)

A keyword oriented language used to define the appearance of forms including lines, boxes, text, etc.

full text indexing

The process of pre-indexing data that does not have a specific format, such as word processing documents. The full text index performs an extraction for every word that exists in the document and creates an index file based on those values.

full text search

The ability to search data on the fly for specific text values, without creating a pre-built index (see Full Text Indexing). Results in a slower search because each page of a document must be loaded and scanned in order to find the “hits.”

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

A user interface to a computer that uses icons to represent desktop objects, such as documents and programs, that the user can access and manipulate with a pointing device.


See glossary term: Graphics Device Interface (GDI).


See glossary term: Graphic Interchange Format (GIF).


A recognizable abstract graphic symbol which is independent of any specific design. A glyph is the final presentation form of one or more characters. For example, ‘f’ and ‘i’ are both characters (when used in a document) and glyphs (as included in a font). The ‘fi’ ligature is only a glyph.

Graphic Interchange Format (GIF)

A widely-used bitmap image format that originated on the CompuServe network. It supports black and white and color.

Graphics Device Interface (GDI)

The interface specifications for Windows graphic devices. GDI compatible printers use the host computer for interpreting the PDL used to describe the document. The GDI technique provides for less expensive printers but could block the host computer during the printing of the document.


See glossary term: Graphical User Interface (GUI).


Is the reprographic technique that simulates continuous tone imagery through the use of dots, varying either in size, in shape or in spacing. “Halftone” can also be used to refer specifically to the image that is produced by this process.


A set of rules in an outline font, (usually stored with the font) used to improve the appearance of the font when printed at smaller sizes.


Computer algorithms which enhance the appearance of characters printed or imaged at low resolutions (72-600 dpi). Adobe Type Manager can take advantage of hints in Type I PostScript fonts to render more uniformly shaped screen fonts across the character set.


Hewlett-Packard Graphics Language. Vector graphics file format developed by HP as a standard plotter language and used only in HP peripherals.


Enhanced version of HPGL that was added to PCL5


Hewlett Packard Printer Control Language. See glossary term: HPGL/2 and PCL.


See glossary term: Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR).

imaging area

The portion of a sheet that the printer can actually print on. Some printers can print all the way to each edge of a sheet, but many cannot.

Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR)

The optical character recognition systems capable of reading text regardless of typeface, style, or size.

Intelligent Printer Data Stream (IPDS)

A datastream consisting of structured fields to control the printer. Functions are grouped into classes. A specific printer can normally only perform a set of function classes, not the total set of functions specified in IPDS.


See Intelligent Printer Data Stream (IPDS)

Internet Printing Protocol (IPP)

Provides a standard network protocol for remote printing as well as for managing print jobs, media size, resolution, and so forth.


Best used to represent quotes, special phrases, and foreign words, italic letters have a redesigned structure that allows them to slant to the right. The first italic type was designed by Aldus Manutius in AD 1501 and was based on the handwriting style of that time.”

Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPG/JPEG)

A lossy image compression method typically used for high color photographs or images.


See Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPG/JPEG).

justified text

Text that lines up at both the left and right margins. Also known as “fully justified.”


The process of improving appearance and legibility of type by adjusting the white space between certain paired characters, such as ‘Ty,’ ‘To,’ or ‘Ye.’ which are known as ‘kerning pairs.’ Manual kerning allows the desktop publisher to move letters either closer or farther apart to adjust and improve the space between them. Automatic kerning on the computer is done through the use of a kerning table (an AFM file) that contains pre-defined, font-specific kerning pairs. Kerning data is usually stored in a font metrics file such as the PFM file (for Windows). Sometimes kerning is incorrectly referred to as “minus setting.”

landscape printing

The rotation of a page design to print text and graphics horizontally across the 11-inch width of the paper. See also glossary term: portrait printing.


Pronounced “ledding,” this is the space (measured in points) between rows of text, from baseline to baseline (e.g. 12 on 12 means there is no additional leading; 12 on 13 is 12-point type with one additional point of leading). This term is taken from the days when thin strips of lead were placed between lines of type to space them apart.

left justified

Type that is aligned with its left margin. Also called “flush left.”


See glossary term: legacy system.

legacy system

A 10-to-20-year-old application system that performs necessary functions, (often in a painfully inconvenient way), that is difficult to maintain, and uses outdated technology. The only thing more painful and/or expensive than a legacy system is replacing it.

lines per inch (LPI)

A unit of measure of the distance between successive lines between baselines. On a printer, a measure of the number of lines per vertical inch; LPI also refers to the frequency of dots on a halftone screen.


1. An identifying symbol, as for an organization. 2. In typography, two or more frequently-used, combinations of letters which are not joined together; but are treated as a character for convenience of composition and to provide character kerning.


See glossary term: lines per inch (LPI).

magnetic ink character recognition (MICR)

A technique for making printed text machine-readable through the use of magnetic ink or toner to encode the textual data.


The areas that act as a perimeter to type and illustrations on a page; usually, the dimensions and placement of the perimeter are consistent throughout a publication or document. (If an image bleeds, the margin cannot surround it.)

mean line

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

menu driven

A system/program in which the user directs operations by selecting choices on menus.


The internal code used to describe the content of a page (such as where to place each character) in Xerox centralized printers.


Font information such as ascent, descent, leading, character widths, and kerning.


See magnetic ink character recognition (MICR).


A font in which each character has the same width is said to occupy the same amount of space — to be monospaced. The same as fixed font or fixed pitch font.

monospaced type

Like typewritten characters, these all have the same width and use the same amount of space. Use of this type allows figures to be set in vertical rows without leaving a ragged appearance (as opposed to proportional type).

multi-byte character set

Character sets that use multiple-byte encodings to access glyphs. See Double-Byte character set (DBCS).

multiple master font

A single Type 1 font that contains from 2 to 16 master designs (the current implementation limit) to form one or more design axes. A weight vector specifies the contribution of each master design for the on-the-fly interpolation of a font instance. Typical axes may be weight, width, or optical size.


Having no value.

null characters

Characters having no value that can be added to a data stream without altering its information content. Null characters are used to satisfy timing requirements or to fill out unused but necessary portions of message fields.


In computer graphics, a technique for representing a picture as points, lines, and other geometric entities rather than as pixels in a bitmap.


A right-slanted version of a Roman typeface without changes to the letter’s design. This term is often confused with Italic.


See Optical Character Recognition (OCR)


See Optical Character Recognition (OCR)


See Optical Character Recognition (OCR)


Office Document Architecture (ODA)


Open Document Language (ODL)


Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)

Office Document Architecture (ODA)

ISO 8613 — The name of the standard has been changed. See Open Document Architecture (ODA)


Optical Mark Recognition (OMR)

Open Document Architecture (ODA)

ISO 8613 — Formerly known as the Office Document Architecture. ODA is an interchange standard for multi-media documents to be exchanged between conforming computer systems which preserves the original layout. As the ODA definition provides for the logical structures of the information to be exchanged, the documents can be edited or reformatted or the information contained can be used within other applications.

Open Document Language (ODL)

The SGML-based clear text encoding which is used to represent and process documents structured in accordance with ISO 8613 (ODA); it was previously known Office Document Architecture (ODA).

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

OCR-A and OCR-B are two typefaces especially designed for OCR applications; a technique for reading a font optically. OCR may refer to either the technique or the system. The ability to read any printed text regardless of typeface is usually called Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR).

Optical Mark Recognition (OMR)

Single marks that are located on each page that can be read by insertion equipment.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)

A company that manufactures and sells a component to another company that repackages the component, usually adding certain enhancements.

outline font

A printer or screen font in which a mathematical formula, rather than a bit-map, describes each character, producing a graceful and undistorted outline of the character that the printer then fills in at maximum resolution. It is made up typically of Bezier curves for PostScript fonts and quadratic splines for TrueType fonts. Outline fonts are scalable, unlike bit-mapped fonts, so only one outline is needed in the printer’s memory to produce any type size. Type 1 fonts and Type 3 fonts.


1. To repeatedly use the same area of internal memory for bringing routines into memory from bulk storage. 2. A transparent sheet used in preparing for multicolor printing. Can either be a physical one (photographic negative plate which causes a form to appear) or an electronic form using OGL or Forms Description Language(FDL).

page description language (PDL)

A computer language for describing how text and graphics should be placed on a page for display or printing.


To analyze the operands entered with a command and create a parameter list in the command processor from the information.

pattern matching

The ability to intelligently locate data, based on a defined pattern. A typical pattern matching engine matches constant values (i.e. “ACCT:”), while a more advanced pattern matching engine includes the ability to concurrently match numeric/alphanumeric patterns and constant values, using “@” to match alphanumeric and “#” to match numeric values (i.e. “ACCT: @@##-####”).


See Printer Control Language (PCL)


See Portable Document Format (PDF)


See Print Description Language (PDL) and Page Description Language (PDL)


An element of a raster pattern: a dot, a pixel, or a point about which a toned area on the photoconductor may appear.

permanent font

A font that is downloaded to the printer, onto a hard disk, or in ROM, and resides there until the power is turned off.

PFB file

A Printer Font Binary font file used for installing fonts in a Windows system. The font file must be unpacked into an ASCII form (the one described by the Type 1 font format specification) for downloading to PostScript-language printers.

PFM file

Printer Font Metrics file; a binary font metrics file containing information approximately equivalent to that in an AFM file. The PFM file includes character widths, the Windows font menu name, kerning information, and a flag indicating whether printer drivers should re-encode the font for printing (as well as other information).


The number of characters per inch a printer produces; 10-pitch, for example, means 10 characters per inch.


In digital imaging, a pixel (or picture element) is a single point in a raster image. The pixel is the smallest addressable screen element; it is the smallest unit of picture that can be controlled.

Printer Job Language (PJL)

Is a method developed by Hewlett-Packard for switching printer languages at the job level, and for status readback between the printer and the host computer. PJL adds job level controls, such as printer language switching, job separation, environment, status readback, device attendance and file system commands.


See Portable Network Graphics (PNG).


Smallest unit of measure in typographic measurement. There are 12 points in a pica, and 72 points in an inch. Point size is the height of the type body.


A channel through which data leaves or enters a computer.

Portable Document Format (PDF)

The Portable Document Format (PDF) is the file format used by Adobe Acrobat. PDF files contain a very compact representation of text and graphics, and enables documents with complex text and graphics to be viewed and printed on DOS, Macintosh, Windows, and UNIX (SGI, Sun Solaris and Linux) systems.

portable network graphics (PNG)

An open source standard for lossless image compression; designed to replace GIF.

portrait printing

The normal printing orientation for a page: horizontal text on an 81/2-inch-wide sheet of paper. See also landscape printing.


Postal Numeric Encoding Technique. The bar code system for encoding ZIP Codes on letter mail in the U.S.


An industry standard page description language licensed by Adobe Systems for desktop publishing applications. See Page Description Language (PDL)

print description language (PDL)

A formatting language that describes pages of text and graphics and reproduces the descriptions on a printer or other output device.

print direction

The specification of inline directions for the printing of text.

printable area

The surface on a sheet of paper where the page printer can place a pel for printing.

Printer Control Language (PCL)

The most commonly used page description language. Also called HPPCL (Hewlett Packard Printer Control Language).

printer font

A font (e.g., Helvetica or Times) that can be downloaded to the printer, onto a hard disk or in ROM, that then resides in the printer.”

proportional type

Type with character widths that vary according to the features of the letters (as opposed to monospaced type).

protocol converter

A device that translates from one communication protocol into another, such as IBM SNA/SDLC to ASCII.


A list of reports that are waiting to be printed, either spooled into the computer or spooled on the printing system.


A pattern of horizontal lines or stripes. A raster display is used in television sets and computer monitors to build an image out of rows of pixels. Dozens of times each second, the screen is scanned from top to bottom by a tightly focused electron beam that follows a zig-zag pattern as it moves line-by-line down the screen.

raster image processor (RIP)

A device or program that translates the instructions for a page in a page-description or graphics output language to the actual pattern of dots supplied to a printing or display system.


The process of converting outlines into bitmaps. The outlines are scaled to the target size and filled by turning on pixels inside the outline.


Software that converts outline font characters into bitmap characters for imaging on a raster device such as a computer monitor or laser printer.


A method of concealing parts of an electronic image or document from view.


The actual placement of rasterized pixels on the monitor’s display. Refers both to graphic objects and type, particularly for fonts using hints. Also called rasterization.

resident font

A font that resides permanently in the ROM of a printer.


The number of dots per inch used to represent an alphanumeric character or a graphic image. High-resolution images look smoother and have more dots per inch than do low-resolution images. The resolution of images displayed on the screen is usually lower than that of the final laser printout. Laser printers print 300 dots per inch or more; typesetters print 1200 dots per inch or more. For more information, see DPI.

reverse type

White characters on a dark background. A good way to grab the reader’s attention. Also called reverse video.

reverse video

See reverse type.


A color model that represents colors in terms of red, green, and blue. To define a color, you specify the percentage of each of red, green, and blue that it contains. 100% of each of red, green, and blue produces white, 50% of each produces gray, and 0% of each is black; using equal amounts of red and green, but no blue produces yellow. RGB is an ‘additive model’. RGB is the system used by a color monitor, but not the model used in printing. In computer publishing, to produce electronic color separations, the RGB intensities must be converted to CMYK values. Also refer to CMYK.

right justified

Type aligned with its right margin. Also known as ‘flush right.’


See raster image processor (RIP)


In Macintosh font menus, this is called Plain, meaning text that has no style applied to it (i.e., Italic, Bold, BoldItalic). Roman fonts are upright, thick-and-thin weighted, and usually serifed type. The classical Roman letter style began in A.D. 114 with letters chiseled in the stone of the Trojan Columns in Rome.

sans serif

A typeface without serifs. Sans serif type is more legible in headings than in a long passage of text. Helvetica, Avant Garde and Geneva are examples of sans serif typefaces. See also serif.


See Single-Byte Character Set (SBCS).


Small, finishing strokes on the arms, stems, and tails of characters. Serif typefaces are usually used for text, because the serifs form a link between letters that lead the eye across a line of type. Typefaces that have serifs include Times Roman, Courier, New Century Schoolbook, Bookman, Palatino, and New York. See also sans serif.

service bureau

An establishment that sells a service, such as the use of its laser printer at a certain cost per page.


See Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML).

Single-Byte character set (SBCS)

Character sets that use one byte (8 bits, or 256 values) to address characters. Basic Type 1 Roman fonts are examples of single-byte character sets.


The amount of unused space that exists between words, letters, and lines in text. Spacing provides a method of avoiding overlapping shapes and letters in order to improve readability.

specific text indexing

The process of building indexes, based on formatted text, such as host generated reports and documents. Because the data format is constant, pattern matching can be used to locate specific data fields within documents. Specific text indexing can be used to create multiple specific indexes from the same data, such as customer number, invoice number, and item number. This type of indexing is in contrast to full text indexing which indexes all of the contents on a page, without regard to the type of data.


The space (usually on disk) used by a spooler to store jobs, or the collection of jobs waiting to be executed or printed.


Software that is part of a variety of computer and printing systems that holds files in the print queue and prints them in a specified order.

spot color

Printing with a second solid color in addition to black.

Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML)

ISO 8879, SGML, is an international standard for defining ways to represent the entities and elements that comprise a document of a particular type; it may be arranged or nested.

structured data

Data that are of fixed-length and stored in fixed-length fields.


A visual variation of a basic typeface used to create emphasis. Typestyle is important because it can attract (or repel) the reader’s eye. The four basic computer styles are Plain, Bold, Italic, Bold Italic. Additional styles include Roman, Outline, and Shadow.


A description (either on paper or in a file to be read by a text formatting program) of the style of a document. Includes the fonts to use for body and heads, where page numbers are to be placed, margins, etc.


Text that is set at half x-height below the baseline; often in a smaller type size.


A figure, or letter, designed to be smaller in size (but matching in weight) than normal and shifted above the baseline for mathematical and scientific typesetting and for the indication and numbering of references.


Text that is set at half x-height above the baseline, often in a smaller type size. For more information, see superior.


The rules that govern the correct construction of statements in a specific language, natural or artificial (programming).

Tagged Image File Format (TIFF)

A file format for graphics developed by Aldus, Adobe, and Apple that is particularly suited for representing scanned black and white or color images and other large bit maps. Currently in process of being adopted by ISO as the international standard ISO 12639 TIFF/IF.

text orientation

A description of the appearance of text as a combination of print direction and character rotation.


The quantity of data that is taken in, processed, and transferred to the output media as computed results. The rate at which printing actually occurs.


See Tagged Image File Format (TIFF).

Times Roman

One of the most popular typefaces in use today. Times is a serif style typeface with a generous x-height and slightly condensed proportions. Times is robust enough to work well even in poor printing conditions. Other names: CG Times, Dutch 801, English, English Times, London Roman, Pegasus, Press Roman, Sonoran Serif, Times New Roman, Toronto, etc.

transient font

A temporary font that remains in the printer’s memory until the current document has been printed.


A scalable outline font format developed by Apple Computers and adopted by Microsoft. These fonts can be used for both the screen display and printing, thereby eliminating the need to have two font files for each typeface.

two up

Two logical pages printed side-by-side or one above the other on the same side of a sheet.

typeface family

A collection of typefaces whose design includes common design elements such that the various styles relate in a harmonious way.

Type 1 fonts

Scalable outline fonts for use on low- and high-resolution devices that contain PostScript interpreters. Type 1 fonts, first produced by Adobe Systems, are hinted and encoded in such a way that the Adobe-licensed PostScript interpreter is used to full advantage. See outline font.

Type 3 fonts

A PostScript outline font lacking the features of a Type 1 font. Type 3 fonts don’t yield the optimum quality that Type 1 fonts do when processed by an Adobe-licensed, PostScript interpreter on a low-resolution device.


The design of a collection of characters (or glyphs) that are united by a recognizable design theme. For example, the typeface Times Roman Bold is a single typeface, and is a recognizable design regardless of whether it is implemented in metal, film, or as digital type. Contrast with the term, “font,” which refers to the implementation of the typeface, not the design. Often named after a designer, a typeface or “face” (e.g., Goudy Oldstyle) is an interpretation of a character set that shares a similar appearance and design. The character set includes letters, numbers, punctuation, and symbols. On computers,”typeface” is used interchangeably with the term “font.” See font.


A two-byte character code used to represent characters for languages that have more symbols than the ASCII character code can represent. Because it is a two-byte code, Unicode can represent up to 65,536 characters. The storage overhead is twice as large as it is with ASCII, which uses one byte per character. Unicode is generally only used in international applications that require more than 255 characters. Unicode is now a subset of ISO 10646.


A popular sans serif style typeface. Other names: Alphavers, Arial, Aries, Boston, Eterna, Universal, Galaxy, Kosmos, Swiss 742, Zurich, USA, Versatile, etc.

variable data

Data that is not part of a form’s design and varies from page to page on the form.

variable field

A field that may contain a varying number of characters.

variable text

Text of a changing nature. An example is the name and address information on a form letter.


A line segment of a specified length and direction.

vector graphics or images

Representing graphics or images by lines and curves, as opposed to using a bitmap. Graphical instructions include commands such as “draw a line”, “draw a box”, “draw a circle”, etc.”

vertical spacing

The distance between consecutive lines of text (measured from one baseline to the next). Often measured in units of lines per inch. See baseline-to-baseline.


The measurement of a stroke’s width. Common names for weights include demi-bold, light, and bold. Some typeface families have several weights, including ultra-bold and extra-light.

word wrap

Automatic adjustment of the number of words on a line of text to match the margin settings. The carriage returns that result from automatic word wrap are called “soft” carriage returns to distinguish them from the “hard” carriage returns, which result when the Return key is pressed to force a new line.


Hardware unit developed for use by a single user at any one time, capable of local processing and/or access to various network services.


The height of a face’s lowercase letters, or the size from mean line to baseline of the lowercase ‘x.’ The lowercase ‘x’ is used for measurement since it usually sits squarely on the baseline and has no ascenders or descenders. The size of the body of the letter, not counting the ascender or descender.


See Extended Markup Language.

XML Paper Specification (XPS)

Is an open specification for a page description language and a fixed-document format originally developed by Microsoft as XML Paper Specification (XPS) that was later standardized by Ecma International as international standard ECMA-388.

y axis

vertical axis on a graph, chart, or forms grid.