Glossary Of Terms

The SGIA Glossary of Terms serves as an excellent industry terminology resource. It is the language by which we all communicate, without it universal understanding would be impossible. Language and our ideas about how it is interpreted change rapidly. SGIA is aware of this and continues its effort to keep our constituents well informed about changes to the increasingly complex industry terminology. The definitions are for general reference only. Usage may vary between companies, individuals, or national and country customs. The information presented is as accurate as the authors and editors can ascertain and SGIA assumes no responsibility for the use of information presented herein.


  • Collotype
    A printing process in which a glass plate with a gelatin surface carries the image to be produced.
  • Color
    (1) A visual sensation produced in the brain when the eye views various wavelengths of light; (2) The appearance of objects or light sources described in terms of individual’s perception of them, involving hue, lightness, and saturation for objects, and hue, brightness, and saturation for light sources.
  • Color attribute
    Three dimensional characteristics of the appearance or an object; one dimension defines the lightness, the other two together define chromaticity.
  • Color balance
    (1) Correct combination of cyan, magenta, and yellow needed to reproduce an original without unwanted color variation; (2) The specific combination of cyan, magenta, and yellow needed to produce a neutral gray in the color separation process.
  • Color bar
    A measurement device printed in the trim area consisting of test targets to measure print attributes such as dot gain, density, slur, doubling, contrast, and trapping.
  • Color burn out
    An objectionable change in the color of a printing ink which may occur either in bulk or after application to the substrate that is caused by a chemical reaction between certain components in the ink formula or by the generation of heat in a pile of freshly printed material during drying.
  • Color calibration
    A system of software and/or hardware that adjusts and coordinates colors between two or more digital devices. Color calibration systems commonly compare device color profiles and translate one color model into a device-independent language.
  • Color cards (color charts)
    A reference sheet or folder exhibiting a range of colors from which selection of ink, paper, films or other commodities may be selected in the desired hue.
  • Color compression
    Shrinking the color gamut of the original to the color gamut a device will represent.
  • Color correction
    (1) A photographic, electronic, or manual procedure used to compensate for the deficiencies in process inks and color separations; (2) Any change in color requested by the customer; (3) Adjustment in color reproduction to compensate for color variations.
  • Color curve
    A graphic mechanism for displaying color measurements and for making color changes to an image. User adjustments to the angle and slope of the curve implement color changes to one or all of an image’s color channels.
  • Color density
    The opacity, purity, or brilliance of a color.
  • Color difference
    The magnitude and character of the difference between two object colors viewed under specified conditions.
  • Color dimension
    Hue, value, and intensity.
  • Color fastness (color permanence) (color stability)
    (1) The property of a screen printed or digital imprint to retain its color under normal storage or age conditions and to resist color change when exposed to light, heat, or other environmental influences; (2) Ability of a dyed fabric to resist fading due to washing, exposure to sunlight, or other environmental conditions.
  • Color fidelity
    The degree to which the printed piece matches the original art.
  • Color filters
    Transparent colored glass or dyed gelatin discs (or squares) used in photography to modify light passing through the camera lens or light falling on a subject. Filters are used to separate colors in color separation work; they pass almost all of the light of the apparent color of the filter and hold back colors other than the color of the filter.
  • Color gamut
    Any color medium representing its own range of colors including that which is applied to film, a monitor, printed images, and the human eye.
  • Color harmonies
    The blending of hues, shades and tints to produce a pleasing effect.
  • Color Hi-Fi
    A special high fidelity color reproduction process based on the Küppers model that uses seven basic colors of cyan, magenta, yellow, orange, green, violet, and black instead of four to expand the color gamut of printing, separations are generated using stochastic screening technology to prevent moiré.
  • Color Key
    A registered trademark of the 3M Company for an overlay color proofing system that allows the checking of registration and tint screen combinations in process color reproductions prior to actual press proofs.
  • Color Management System (CMS)
    A combination of software and hardware devices to produce accurate color results throughout a digital imaging system.
  • Color match
    Condition resulting when no significant difference in hue, saturation, and lightness can be detected between two color samples when examined under specified illumination and viewing conditions.
  • Color matching functions
    Relative amounts of three additive primaries required to match each wavelength of light. The term is generally used to refer to the CIE Standard Observer color matching functions.
  • Color model
    A color measurement scale or system that numerically specifies the perceived attributes of color.