Glossary of Printing & Digital Media Terms

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Term Definition
K (Kilobyte):

1024 bytes, a binary 1,000. 1,000 kilobytes makes one megabyte.

K and N Ink Absorbency Test:

A test comparing the ability of different papers to absorb an ink. The various papers to be tested are overlapped and the ink is thickly applied to the samples for a given time. At the end of the time, the ink is wiped off and the relative ink absorption is observed.

K Film:
  1. The wood pulp created by the sulfate process. 2. Paper made from pulp created by the sulfate process.

Abbreviation for black in four-color process printing. Hence the 'K' in CMYK.


An aluminum silica compound used in gravure and screen printing inks.

Kelvin (K):

A thermometric scale used to measure light temperature. Kelvin temperatures describe lighting sources for viewing and analyzing color. A standard balanced light source, neutral in hue and with the brightness of midday sunlight, measures 5000K.

Kern Pair:

A specific letter combination that has been kerned for better appearance.


To adjust the space between characters so that the characters appear better fitted together.


The adjustment of horizontal space between individual characters in a line of text. Adjustments in kerning are especially important in large display and headline text lines. Without kerning adjustments, many letter combinations can look awkward. The objective of kerning is to create visually equal spaces between all letters so that the eye can move smoothly along the text.

Key Flat:

-(1) The screw that controls ink flow from the ink fountain of a printing press. (2) To relate loose pieces of copy to their positions on a layout or mechanical using a system of numbers or letters. (3) Alternate term for the color black, as in 'key plate.'

Key Negative or Plate:

Negative or plate that prints the most detail, thus whose image guides the register of images from other plates. Also called key printer.

Key Plate:

The printing plate that is used as a guide for the other plates in the color printing process; it usually has the most detail.

Keyboard Layout:

Sometimes known as a character mapping, a keyboard layout or mapping is a table used by a computer operating system to govern which character code is generated when a key or key combination is pressed.


The device to input information directly into a typesetter, computer, workstation or, as a stand-alone unit, to record it on paper or magnetic tape.

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