A Devil's Glossary of Typesetting


Art Also known as graphics or pictures. Simply put, the stuff on a page that isn’t text. Art often holds up the typesetting because author’s photos often need to be retouched and line drawings need to be redrawn to make them consistent to the style of the book design (color, line width, fonts for labels).
Book Design The layout of the information on the pages of a book. Such questions are book design questions: Do new chapters start with a big roman numeral on a right-hand page or do they start with a blue stripe and a reversed Arabic numeral? What font is the body text? How much room for footnotes is allowed before the flow to the next page? Should art always be on the outside edge of the page?
Cold Type Cold type was neither particularly cold nor exactly type. Cold type was any process for making pages that didn’t require hot lead. The first systems, which used photographic images of letterforms exposed over photographic film to make negative images of pages that could then be made into positive printing plates, were called phototypesetting. The earliest in the 1950s were complicated electro-mechanical contraptions. In the 1970s minicomputers began to be used in conjunction with complicated electro-mechanical contraptions, and in the 1980s desktop publishing emerged. By the year 2000, the entire process could be done from initial data entry to printed book by computer.
Composition see Typesetting.
Copyediting Copyediting is any editorial review of a manuscript. Copyediting mayb light, medium, or heavy.  A light copyedit is usually limited ot a review of punctuation and grammar. A medium copyedit focuses on reviewing for sentence structure and sense. A heavy copyedit often requires rewriting. Editorial marks are done with different color pencils to indicate who has made the edit: the author, the editor at the publishing house, or the editor at a copy-editing firm (such as Clarinda’s St. Paul facility). Copyediting is still primarily done with colored pencils on printed manuscripts. However, more and more editing happens electronically and is called “online” or “softcopy” editing.
Correction or Alteration (Alt) Changes made to a manuscript after it has been laid out as final pages. Corrections are charged for “by the line,” which dates back to hot lead when individual lines had to be reset by hand with movable type or photocomposition where errors had to be cut out of the photographic film and then corrected text pasted back in. With desktop publishing corrections are much easier, and by charging by the line, it is a rare opportunity for the profit by the typesetter.
Cut and Paste Cut and paste was originally a term from photocomposition. Individual columns of text set on photographic film were cut into appropriate lengths and then pasted together with art to make final pages. Errors were cut out of the film and corrections pasted in. People who performed these tasks were sometimes called “film strippers” and at least one lady at Clarinda was denied a credit card on the basis of this being her listed profession.
Desktop Publishing (DTP) Desktop publishing is a generic term for personal computer based typesetting software such as QuarkXpress. It is generally used in contrast to older minicomputer based “batch” composition systems such as Xyvision or Penta. However, nowadays there is no real difference between the systems as all of them can run on desktop computers and all can work in network environments. Desktop publishing also is used in contrast to word processing software which doesn’t have the page layout features of typesetting software.
Double Keyboarding Double keyboarding is a process for reducing errors in entering data into the computer. One operator types the hard copy page that is to be made electronic and then another operator does the same. A third operator uses computer software to compare the two files and fix any discrepancies. There are variations on this method that use two, three, and four operators, and include triple-keyboarding (mostly used by non-English speaking operators such as in China) and double keying with proofing. Double keying supposedly guarantees 99.995% accuracy or higher, which isn’t really all that accurate, as it equates to an error every six pages or so. It is used primarily to convert huge amounts of printed material (like converting all the U.S. tax law cases into a CD-ROM database—a project I worked on).
Educational Publishing Educational publishing is all those books you got in school and never read: textbooks, standardized tests, workbooks, and so on. In the United States, educational publishing is driven by the government textbook review boards in California and Texas. Because they by so many books and other states allow books to be chosen by markets as small as an individual district, these two boards end up setting the standards for the rest of the country. The dominant educational publishers are Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and Thomson.
Film Film is used during the printing process to create metal printing plates with raised type that will then ink actual paper. It is a replacement for directly inking hot lead type and then printing with that. Photocomposition is the typesetting process for making film without the need for lead.
Font Font is the way the letters look. Here’s some trivia about fonts you can whip out the next time you want to give somebody heck about their document:- In Roman times, when words were inscribed in stone, the finishing chisel mark produced small lines at the end of a character, now termed serifs. Later, with calligraphic style pen, serifs became part of the writing style for another reason—instead of letting the ink blob at the end of a stroke, it was finished neatly with a serif. - Sans serif (no serif) typefaces did not appear until the early 1800s—then it was discovered that the little serif lines actually aided legibility, the explanation being that they lead the eye from one character to another.- The words “uppercase” and “lowercase” come from the fact that the different size letters were stored in the upper and lower drawers of the California job case that was used for storing lead type.- Times font was invented in 1931 for the London Times newspaper to pack as many letters in as small a space as possible, while maintaining readability.- Arial font was invented in the 1980s as a cheap replacement for software developers who didn’t want to buy Helvetica. Microsoft was one such developer. (For a professional graphic designer, Arial is just like Helvetica in the same way two cans and a string are just like a telephone.) - Book Antiqua font is, like Arial, a knockoff off the more expensive Palantino. But, unlike Arial, Microsoft eventually paid the font designer, Hermann Zapf. So if you check your font choices (starting with Office 2000), you get both Book Antiqua and Palantino.
Full-Service Full-service refers to a company that provides all of the functions of a publisher’s production editor as an outsourced business. This includes project management, copy editing, book design, management of typesetting, and rights management for copyrighted art. Clarinda’s full service division was in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Galley A galley was a single column version of a book that was essentially partially typeset to the point just before cutting and pasting (in photocomposition) or page composition in a composition box (hot lead). The galley would be reviewed by the publisher and author for errors at this stage because the cost of making changes in final pages was much higher than at the galley stage. With desktop publishing, there is no galley stage, but some publishers will call proof pages (see proof pages) galleys, and some publishers simply won’t understand that galleys don’t exist and get mad at you for suggesting otherwise.
Hot Lead or Metal Type Gutenberg’s invention in 1440 or so. Also called “movable type.” It allowed the reuse of cast lead letters in building lines, blocks, and pages of text, thereby eliminating the need to rewrite every copy of a book by hand. So good it forced spelling to become consistent for the first time in history. So good it lasted until the 1950s. Actually, it is still used in less developed parts of the world and by the occasional typesetting nut who is convinced that the uniqueness of each letter somehow makes it look better. And here’s a little fact to throw around at the next cocktail party you are attending with people you’d like to impress: the saying “mind your ‘p’s and ‘q’s” comes from the fact that lead type had to be set in reverse (from right to left) like a mirror.
HTML HTML is the typesetting language of the Web. HTML is a set of tags for telling an Internet browser what to do with text. For example <b>word</b> would cause a browser to show the text in bold, “word.” HTML is a direct descendant of SGML (see SGML), which is a direct descendant of the original computer typesetting systems such as Penta, Xyvision, troff, IBM DCF/Script, and so on.
Keyboarding Keyboarding is typing of manuscripts or corrections to manuscripts into the computer. In the past, all manuscripts arrived from the authors’ typewriters and had to be keyboarded. Nowadays manuscripts arrive “on disk” (the term is used even for e-mail), but corrections are still often marked on the hard copy printout of the manuscript. These corrections need to be keyed. Keying was traditionally done by homeworkers, such as the wives of farmers, and paid on a piece work basis. Keyboarding today mostly happens overseas. (See double keyboarding.)
LaTeX LaTeX is a descendant of the math typesetting language TeX developed by computer scientist and church organist Donald Knuth. (When I met him he was playing an organ at a cathedral in Boston and was quite good, I might add.) LaTeX is just one, albeit popular, variant of TeX. TeX, like open source software, allows for individual user customization. It is therefore very powerful for an author who might have invented their own mathematical notation to write their journal articles, and very difficult for a typesetter who is used to the click-and-drag world of QuarkXpress to take the highly marked up and programmer-oriented TeX and compose said article into a journal’s official style. TeX disks sent in by authors were lovingly referred to by such typesetters as “coasters,” and an opportunity to provide some work for their favorite keyboarder.
Legal Publishing Legal publishing includes all the material published by the courts and legislatures of the world. Legal publishing is dominated almost entirely by Thomson, Reed Elsevier, and Wolters Kluwer. Legal publishing is as close to a license to print money as is available. Given their regular, but complex information structures. Legal publishers were the first to switch to computer-based typesetting systems in the 1970s, the first to make online databases in the 1980s (Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis). and the first to make CD-ROMs in the 1990s.
Macintosh Macs have better typesetting ability than PCs because of the native ability with graphics and multiple fonts. That was true in the 1980s and hasn’t been true since, but it doesn’t stop people from believing it. Realistically though, the Macintosh made typesetting at the desktop possible with a machine that cost $5,000 instead of $100,000 and thereby convinced an era of publishers that they could bring typesetting in house—not realizing the real costs of typesetting were people, their management, office space, and the constant need to upgrade those Macs and their software. Most New York publishers abandoned their inhouse efforts shortly after setting them up (unless, like McGraw-Hill their typesetting was in rural New Jersey), but not before training a generation of “freelancers” who they could then use without any of the costs of management, office space, or computer upgrades to do production work. As for typesetting companies, they were squeezed into the market segments that required complex but regular page designs, such as professional, reference, university, STM and legal publishing.
Manuscript A manuscript is the thing that the author thinks is a book, but isn’t yet.
Page Makeup see Typesetting.
Penta The batch composition system software company that Dan Coyne went to work for as president. They zoomed to millions with their IPO and then zoomed back down again when they couldn’t keep up with technology changes. See Xyvision.
Phototypesetting see Cold Type.
Plates Plates are pieces of metal with raised type where ink can stick. Inked plates are pressed or rolled against paper or another roller (offset printing) to actually print. Plates can be made from photographic film in a chemical etching process, or made directly from computer files in a process called direct to plate, DTP, which, confusingly, is the same acronym as for desktop publishing. DTP is sometimes also called computer to plate, CTP. And, to further add to confusion DTP can mean direct to press, a process which removes the need for plates at all and turns a giant printing press into essentially a laser printer. Direct to press is sometimes called computer to press, CTP, which makes reading a printing industry trade journal utterly confusing. Technology change in printing is slowed down by the enormous capital investment in printing presses—a six-color Heidelberg can cost millions—but it also advances sometimes surprisingly fast. In 1995, Dan Coyne said film would last for another twenty years. In fact, it was all but gone from professional publishing by the beginning of 2001.
Printer Printers are the folks with the big machines that put ink on paper. These include R.R. Donnelly, World Color, and my friend Pete with his sheet-fed Multigraphic press over a pizza shop in the Bronx. Printers in Ben Franklin’s day did both typesetting and printing, because both happened from the same piece of hot lead. In the 21st century, printers rarely do typesetting, preferring to get final page images either on fim or preferably in an electronic format such as a PDF or PostScript file. The economics of the typesetting and printing business are fundamentally different. Typesetting is about skilled labor and profits are primarily made by being more efficient in the use of technology or finding cheaper labor. Printing is about the efficiency of the printing press and the primary issue is getting enough work to keep the presses rolling. Any printer worth his ink stained hands can tell you how much his press costs for every minute it isn’t churning out pages.
Professional and Reference Publishing Professional publishing is information used by, well, professionals. This could be a doctor, lawyer, or candlestick maker. Professional publishing is composed of part STM, part university, part legal, and part educational (post-graduate) publishing and partly unique items such as dictionaries and encyclopedias.
Proof Pages Proof pages are fully laid-out pages that contain the authors’ manuscript in the design template of the book or journal. Proofs can be sent either hardcopy or as “softcopy” files such as PDFs, which is considered terribly modern by any editor born before 1990, and they will ask you to send print copies of your proofs to make sure they match the softcopy. Other than looking for design errors or typos, the primary reason for checking proofs is to verify that colors are correct and there are no errors like printing yellow on top of black without “knocking out” the black area so the yellow can be seen.
Publisher “A desk and a phone,” as Dan Coyne would say. Publishers find authors or information to publish or republish, contract for its production (typesetting, printing, or webpage layout), find buyers or subscribers, and then market the product. Publishing used to be considered a “gentleman’s business,” but the economics of business led to many publishers being acquired by large multinationals that trimmed their book lists (how many poetry books do you really need anway? they asked themselves) and implemented MBA style management. The result has been that large publishing companies dominate the industry, make huge profits, and do not publish a great deal of diversity, but instead focus on the 10% of their list that generates the most sales. This has, however, opened an opportunity for small publishers to fill niche markets. Reduction in production and distribution costs (such as the offshore typesetting and printing that helped kill Clarinda), allows independent publishing to have larger lists, produce books on-demand, and be able to provide diversity to the market while making a profit (some people want a lot of poetry books or even a book about typesetting). One man’s loss is another’s gain.
QuarkXpress The desktop publishing program of the 1980s. It was invented in a joint effort between the software company and Time Magazine. Since it was built for the complex page layouts of magazines, it is very inefficient for use with text that “flows” across many pages, like science journals and textbooks. For example, Quark has no native ability to make footnotes. Because Quark was point-and-click and WYSWIG (what you see is what you get), it was easier to get to know that “batch” composition systems like Xyvision that were code driven, and it could be used for a wider variety of page layouts with less customization. Thus, Quark almost entirely supplanted all the batch systems even though it was ultimately slower at producing pages—a perfect example of a mass market tool winning out over a better, but more limited market, product. The conflict between the supporters of the two kinds of systems resulted in most typesetting companies, like Clarinda, having multiple typesetting systems and a workforce that knew how to use one or the other, but rarely be efficient with both.
Queries, Author Query (AQ), Editor Query (EQ), Printer’s Error (PE) Queries are questions on the manuscript from an editor to another editor (such as a copyeditor) or an author, or indications of an error to the printer. In this case printer means typesetter. Queries can be either written on the manuscript or attached via Post-It notes, which tend to fall off so editors cover them with too much tape, which makes them unremovable stickies.
Redacting Redaction is sometimes considered to be a synonymous term for copyediting, but in journal (and other periodical) publishing it specifically means matching a manuscript against house style. For example, redaction would make sure that all references to the United States are written as U.S.A. instead of US, U.S. or USA.
Scientific, Medical, Technical (STM) Publishing STM publishing includes scientific journals, books published by professional societies (like the American Vacuum Association—not the Hoovers, but the scientist who study nothing), monographs published by professors, and so on. STM material is often published by a professional society in partnership with a major publisher, such as Reed Elsevier. The society provides the material and the dedicated audience (all the members of the society) and the publisher provides technical production capability to make both print and online publications. Because the audience for the information is well defined, and often gets the material, such as a journal, by default with their membership dues, it is an extremely profitable publishing segment. If you are a dentist, you will get material from the ADA, making it even more of what is essentially a monopoly than legal publishing. In the 1990s a major portion of the STM market was swallowed by three major publishers: Reed Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, and Thomson. Other publishers, such as John Wiley, the American Physical Society, represent very small portions of the market. However, they are still large in their own right, and the APS is big enough to provide publishing services, such as typesetting and print buying for its member societies. STM publishing was the first to make significant use of offshore copy editing and typesetting.
SGML SGML stands for standard generalized markup language. It is the descendant of a generalized typesetting language developed at IBM called GML, which also stands for Goldfarb, Moshe and Laurie, the inventors of the thing. SGML was adopted by the US Defense Department’s CALS initiative—an acronym that isn’t worth trying to decode. The point was that military equipment came with tons of documentation—the rumor was that a destroyer would sit ten feet lower in the water because of all the manuals—and they wanted to be able to reprint and reuse parts of the documents and make electronic manuals that could be more easily carried, used, and updated than giant binders of paper. The problem was that all the manuals were typeset using all the different composition systems of the day: Xyvision, Penta, Miles 33, and so on. The goal of SGML was a universal text coding scheme. The result was a lot of hope by my former employers that there would be a mass conversion to SGML (and they would be paid to do a lot of it), the dashing of said hope because it was in no one individual company or military unit’s interest to pay for all that conversion, and the ultimate demise and then rebirth of SGML as HTML (see HTML) and XML, which is used nowadays, even by Microsoft.
Trade Book Publishing Trade books are the kind of book you see in Barnes and Noble. They include novels, cookbooks, how-tos, children’s books, and so on. Trade books are usually typeset in-house at the publisher, by the printing company, or by freelancers. Some are done by typesetting companies, but the layouts are either very simple, very consistent (the Dummies type books are done using Microsoft Word templates), or so unique (like the cookbook) as to require a freelancer to do all the careful individual work.
Typesetter, Typesetting, Composition, Page Layout Me! Actually, not me. A typesetter is a person or a company that takes manuscript pages and then lays them out to the design of the book or journal with all the fonts, page numbers, colored boxes and so on that the designer wanted. Typesetting originally referred to the actually setting of the bits of lead type into a “composing stick” for each line of type. That hasn’t been true for a long time and although the words “typesetting,” “page layout,” and “composition” are now interchangeable and done with software, people still respond when I say I ran a typesetting company with, “Isn’t that done with computers now?” as if I had been waving around a bit of lead in their faces. Given that most people spend a good part of their jobs fighting with Microsoft Word or PowerPoint to make a document look right, you’d think they understand there more to making a book than just typing it. But they don’t.
University Publishing University publishing programs include all types of publishing. Oxford university publishes everything from poetry, to trade books to highly specialized material such as the Encyclopedia of Dance. University publishing does not mean small. Harvard university’s business school publishing program is so large, it is a separate business from Harvard’s main publishing program and from the business school itself. One of the largest university publishing programs is at Chicago university, which does publishing services for other, smaller universities.
Word Word’s definition has been absconded from being a bunch of letters separated by a space by Microsoft for their word processing program that by trying to be all things to all people at all times tends to do bizarre and unexpected things every time you try to anything. It can do a lot of the functions for composition, but does not handle complex pages with art, math, and fine typographic control (like line and letter spacing) as well as QuarkXpress. The need for these fine typographic controls in the majority of published material is a matter for the kind of debate that makes people argue over Captain Kirk versus Captain Picard.
XML XML is the descendant of SGML that is used for technical documents and is the new language of the Web. XML fixes what was wrong with SGML in terms of being able to practically implement it. One of the key inventors of XML was Jon Bosak, who I sat next to as he prepared his speech for the SGML conference. I remarked that I had had my speech at the previous years’ SGML conference struck from the proceedings because I’d said SGML had these problems. He sympathized that I had a big mouth.

A batch composition system that tried to reinvent itself as a WSYWIG point-and-click system to compete with QuarkXpress, but never pulled it off, and thereby watched their stock sink to the penny level while the inventors of Quark rolled around in piles of money. A reminder that it is better to make something people want to buy than to be the first in the market.

© Copyright 2006, David Silverman (www.agman.com), Soft Skull Press (www.softskull.com)