Saturday, June 11, 2016

Quirky Publishing Terms

Much of the language of publishing can be confusing to those new to the industry. Abbreviations and intialisms abound. Additionally, many of the industry terms are founded in outdated, obsolete, or antiquated technology. It can be helpful not only to understand what these terms mean, but why they are called what they are.

Take, for example, the terms uppercase and lowercase. Most everybody understands that and uppercase letter is a capital letter, or big letter, and that a lowercase letter is a small letter.
Big a: A
Little a: a
But, where did these terms originate? These are examples of terms dating back centuries to when type for printing presses was set by hand. Each individual letter was formed on the end of a piece of metal. These pieces of metal, or type sets, were stored in cases where the typesetter would assemble each page. The small letters were stored in the case on the bottom—the lower case. Thus, these letters became known as lowercase letters. Likewise, the big letters were stored in the upper case, thus uppercase letters.

Another publishing-industry term originated in this same era. Leading, pronounced led-ing, is the amount of space between lines, including the height of the characters. For example, 14 point type on 16 point leading results in two points of blank space between the characters in one line and the characters in the lines above and below it. When type was hand set, the way the spacing between lines was created was by adding thin strips of lead above or below the type, and the spacing became known as leading.

A more modern example of a term based on obsolete technology is blue line. This refers to a type of proof that was used to review and approve one- and two-color printed products before the actual printing. What you would see as black on the printed page appeared as a blue on the proof, and what would be a second color would be a shade of the same blue. The “paper” itself was a yellowish, vellum-like sheet. These proofs were often called by the trade name Dylux. Today, this type of proof is usually electronic, either in PDF or a proprietary soft-proofing system, but in some cases may be printed on plain paper from a laser or inkjet primer. However, the term blue line is still bantered about in the industry, especially among veterans of the industry.

Tin Whiskers Publisher is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). IBPA’s mission is “to lead and serve the independent publishing community by providing advocacy, education, and tools for success.” IBPA is a not-for-profit membership organization serving and leading the independent publishing community. Founded in 1983, it is the largest publishing trade organization in the United States. IBPA members pledge to uphold the organization’s code of ethics.

No comments:

Post a Comment