Letterpress Glossary

Letterpress Glossary
  1. Bite: The impression made by the type or plate into the paper.

  2. Blind Deboss: Printing without ink so that the image is pressed into the paper and creates an indented impression.

  3. Chase: The metal frame in which type and blocks are locked into place for printing on a press.

  4. Composing Stick: A handheld tool used by typesetters to assemble lines of type.

  5. Dampening: The process of moistening paper before printing to help the fibers of the paper receive the ink more effectively.

  6. Embossing: A technique where the paper is raised, rather than indented.

  7. Furniture: Wooden or metal blocks used to fill the empty space in a chase.

  8. Galley: A metal tray used to hold type after it has been set but before it's locked into a form.

  9. Impression Cylinder: The part of the press that applies pressure, pushing the paper onto the type or plate.

  10. Inking System: The rollers and other parts of the press that apply ink to the type or plate.

  11. Jobbing Press: A type of press used primarily for short-run work.

  12. Kerning: Adjusting the space between individual letters.

  13. Leading: Thin strips of metal or other materials used to separate lines of type.

  14. Ligature: Two or more letters combined into a single character.

  15. Linotype: A machine that casts lines of type out of molten metal, based on a keyboard input.

  16. Lock-up: The process of securing type and plates in the chase.

  17. Makeready: The process of adjusting the press, type, and paper to ensure a clean and even impression.

  18. Monotype: A system where individual letters are cast as separate pieces of type in response to keyboard input.

  19. Orphan: A single line of a paragraph that appears by itself at the bottom of a page.

  20. Pica: A unit of measurement in typesetting, approximately 1/6th of an inch.

  21. Platen: The part of the press that holds the paper in place during printing.

  22. Point: A unit of measurement for type size, with 72 points to an inch.

  23. Quoin: A device used to lock up a form within a chase.

  24. Registration: The alignment of the different colored inks on the printed page.

  25. Relief Printing: A printing method where the inked image is raised above the non-inking surface.

  26. Slugs: Metal or other dense material used to create space between lines of type.

  27. Type High: The standardized height of type, which is .918 inches in the United States.

  28. Typeface: The design or style of a set of characters.

  29. Vandercook: A popular brand of proofing press used in letterpress printing.

  30. Widow: A single line of a paragraph that appears by itself at the top of a page.

  31. Set-off: The unwanted transfer of ink from one printed sheet to another.
  32. California Job Case: A type of type case with compartments used to store movable type. It's known for its unique layout that places frequently used letters in convenient reach of the typesetter.

  33. Forme: The assembled type and blocks, ready for printing.

  34. Galley Proof: A preliminary version of a printed piece, used for proofreading and layout arrangement.

  35. Justification: The process of adjusting the spacing within a line of type so that it aligns both on the left and right margins.

  36. Ligature: Two or more letters combined into one character, such as "æ".

  37. Makeready: Preparations made to ensure even pressure and inking before the actual print run.

  38. Pull: A single impression or print.

  39. Quads: Small metal spacers used to justify lines of type.

  40. Rivers: Gaps in typesetting which appear to run through a paragraph of text, due to a coincidental alignment of spaces.

  41. Type Foundry: A company that designs and/or produces typefaces.

  42. Vignette: A small decorative design or illustration.

  43. Wayzgoose: A traditional printer's holiday or an annual event for printers and bibliophiles.
Austin Terrill

Austin Terrill: Texas born, Berlin-based creative and print designer. Founder of Mint Letterpress and the Peppermint Brands family of companies. Former touring musician on the Van's Warped Tour. Passionate about music, photography, arts, and synthesizers. Family man with wife, two kids, and Havapoo, Paule.