Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 3 NO. 12 / JULY 1989

Business Applications

Desktop Publishing Terminology


From the Editor: This month START introduces our new Desktop Publishing Column. Author Dan Fruchey has extensive experience in this realm--he wrote ST Applications' DTP column for a year, and for nearly three years he has produced monthly newsletters and brochures for the company he works for.

Desktop publishing can be one of the most satisfying and productive tasks you can perform on your home computer. It can also be one of the most frustrating, time-consuming and hopeless tasks you will ever undertake.

You can create attractive, eye-catching documents that will match anything a layout specialist could produce--at a fraction of the cost--or you can create a piece of abstract garbage no one will ever read. What can you do to achieve better results? That's what this column is all about.

Speaking DTP

Just like computing itself, desktop publishing uses its own specialized vocabulary. The language used by desktop publishers is a form of pidgin computerese and publishing terminology rolled into one. Interpretation is sometimes confusing: what is a gutter and how does it affect orphans and widows? What are vector and raster graphics? Is there a difference? Is a banner the same as a headline or a caption? The questions come faster than the answers.

Listed below are terms used by a variety of publishing programs including Calamus, PageStream, Timeworks Publisher, Fleet Street Publisher and Easy Draw. I've also included some common publishing terms that will make discussion of DTP easier and more informative.

These terms are specific to page layout and the options provided by your software. They don't address the subject of typography, which we'll examine later.

Append/Merge: Adding graphics, text or pages to a document without deleting graphics, text or pages currently in memory; a real time-saver when adding a standard file to something like a cover or advertisement.

Aspect Ratio: The height-to-width ratio of pixels in a picture. To obtain an accurate reproduction of a picture, the aspect ratio must be preserved proportionally.

Banner: A major headline; the title of a publication. Used most commonly in newspapers.

Block/Quad: A single word or line of text that is to be set right, left or centered in a column or page. Usually used for headings or titles. A centered title would be referred to as "center-quadded" or "center-blocked."

Body Text/Body Copy: The main portion of text in a document, such as the columns of text in an article or the main portion of a letter.

Caption: The title or heading of a document. Also, a short explanation or description accompanying a picture.

Columns: Vertical strips containing text.

Copy: Text waiting to be placed in a document.

Crop: To cut off undesired portions of a picture.

Dummy: A preliminary page layout where components are placed in their approximate positions to obtain a rough idea of what the finished document will look like.

Frames: Boxes containing text or graphics. These are not borders. Frames are used to define working areas and resize objects once they have been imported or created. Frames are commonly surrounded by handles for sizing and stretching.

Fully Justified/Full Out: Text that stretches horizontally across a column to touch both right and left sides of the frame.

Gutter: A vertical strip of space between columns of text. It separates columns to make reading easier and gives a uniform appearance to documents.

Greeking: A method of displaying text representations on the computer screen when letters are too large or too small to be legible. Usually used in fullpage viewing modes, especially with fonts sizes under six points.

Grouping: Joining two or more graphics into a single unit so they can be moved, copied, or manipulated together. Objects can be ungrouped and used separately at any time.


Header/Running Head: A line of text appearing at the top of every page or every other page, such as a book title.

Headline: A title or caption, usually set in a large type size.

Landscape: The orientation of a page in which the paper is wider than it is tall.

Leading/Line Spacing: The amount of white (blank) space between lines of text. Leading (pronounced "leading") is essential to legibility. Too much leading makes a page look empty, too little leading makes a page look crowded and difficult to read.

Masthead: A body of information appearing in approximately the same location in most issues of a periodical, usually containing the title of the publication, information about the staff, frequency of issues, operation, and subscription and editorial policies.

Orphan: A single word isolated at the top or bottom of a page or column. An orphan is significantly different from a headline or subheadline as its meaning is derived from a previous portion of text from which it has been separated. The isolated word "assassination" at the top of a page could cause puzzlement or concern unless you flipped back one page and saw that it was the last word in an article about terrorism.

Pagination: An option that lets you number pages in a document.

Piping/Text Routing: A program function that lets you specify which frame(s) imported text should flow into if it exceeds the length of a single frame.

Portrait: The orientation of a page in which the paper is taller than it is wide (the pages in this magazine are printed in a portrait orientation).

Ragged/Justified: Columns of text which are pushed to the right or left side to ensure even spacing between words. The result is a column that has an uneven or ragged appearance on one side. Ragged columns of text are easier to read than fully justified columns, but they are not as pleasing to the eye. Text lined up evenly along the left side of a column only would be referred to as "left-justified" or "ragged right."

Raster/Bit-Mapped Graphic: A picture composed of individual dots or bits. These graphics are extremely detailed but they don't resize well. They tend to develop jagged stairstep patterns if they are enlarged too much. Raster graphics are produced by paint programs such as DEGAS Elite, SEURAT and Touch-Up.

Size: A program function that allows proportional adjustment to the shape of a frame. Especially important when using raster graphics so background patterns won't become distorted.

Stretch: A program function that allows non-proportional adjustment to the shape of a frame. Useful when increasing the length of a column for text routing.

Style Sheet/Master Page: A form of template that stores program options such as text style, grids, spacing and the locations of frames. Master pages can be copied automatically to subsequent pages. They are especially useful for standardized publications such as magazines and newsletters.

Subhead: A subordinate headline or title that explains or contrasts the headline. Subheads are also used as titles for subdivisions in a document.

Tag: A program option that lets you label or identify portions of text as they are loaded. A tagged document might load with all indented words in a different font style, or all bold text in a different size.

Text Runaround: This option controls the flow of text around frames that overlap each other. Text can be moved to the right and/or left of graphics or other text automatically.

Title: A descriptive heading that indicates the contents of an article or document. Usually set in a larger type size with a distinctive style.

Vector/Object-Oriented Graphic: A picture composed of geometric lines and shapes. The graphic is endlessly resizable without loss of resolution as each adjustment in size causes a readjustment of the mathematical data needed to create all the other components in the graphic. Vector graphics are created by programs that save GEM metafiles, such as Easy Draw and Athena II.

Widow: A single short line of text isolated at the top or bottom of a page or column.


I hope this brief (?) listing of publishing terms will make your job easier and help you create more effective documents. In the future we will use these definitions and concepts as we examine some "tricks of the trade" that will help make your documents stand out.

Dan Fruchey, formally the desktop publishing columnist for ST Applications, works as a paramedic in Santa Rosa, California and runs a small clip-art business on the side.


Calamus, $299.95. ISD Marketing, Inc., 2651 John Street, Unit 3, Markham Onatrio, Canada L3R 2W5, (416) 479-1880.

PageStream, $199.95. SoftLogik Corp., P.O. Box 290071, St. Louis, MO 63129, (314) 894-8608.

Timeworks Desktop Publisher, $129.95. Timeworks, 444 Lake Cook Road Deerfield, IL 60015, (312) 948-9200.

Fleet Street Publisher, $149.95. MichTron, 576 S. Telegraph, Pontiac, MI 48053, (313) 334-5700.

Easy Draw, $99.95. Migraph, Inc., 200 S. 333 Suite #220, Federated Way, WA 98003, (206) 838-4677 for information or (800) 223-3729 for orders.