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see printingprinting,
means of producing reproductions of written material or images in multiple copies. There are four traditional types of printing: relief printing (with which this article is mainly concerned), intaglio, lithography, and screen process printing.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(or composition), processes leading to the production of printing plates for the purpose of obtaining impressions from the plates.

Typesetting may be done manually or by machine. The manual method is the oldest and least productive (at most 2,000 characters per hour). It is mainly used for complex composition, such as formulas, heads, and tables. In composing a type page, the typesetter takes letters from the type case one at a time; spaces between words are filled with spacing material. Lines are justified by varying the width of the spaces between words. Machine (hot metal) composition is performed on semiautomatic or automatic Linotype machines (productivity is as high as 9,000 and 12,000 characters per hour, respectively). Hot metal composition results in a metal printing plate, which is suitable for direct printing or making duplicate plates. The basic stages of machine typesetting are composition of the text, heads, formulas, and tables; make-up, or assembly of the type page, incorporating the heads, page numbers, formulas, illustrations, and other elements; printing and proofreading of trial impressions (proofs); correction of type matter; and approval for printing. Proofs are pulled during machine typesetting in order to correct inadvertent errors and to allow the author and publisher to make changes. The exchange of corrected proofs between the printing plant and the publishing house greatly slows down the typesetting cycle.

Hot metal composition is being replaced by photocomposition, which produces transparencies (negatives) of the pages of books, journals, newspapers, and other printed matter. The transparencies of the text and other elements (formulas, tables, and illustrations) are then pasted onto a transparent base, and subsequent copying produces the required printing plates (letterpress, offset, or gravure). The main stages of photocomposition are production of a punched or magnetic tape of the text and instructions that specify the typeface and other composition data; production of a transparency using a photocomposition machine (simultaneous preparation of type pages for checking is possible); proofreading; and approval for printing. Transparencies may also be produced in hot metal typesetting by one of the following methods: photographing a page that is printed on coated paper; producing an impression directly on a thin transparent film; producing an impression on special film, which is then treated in a developing solution (Electrotex); or photographing composed matter directly (Brightype).

In a photocomposition machine, the images of the required characters are projected one at a time by type carriers or an electronic memory onto a light-sensitive film and are photographed. Because of their optical and other systems, photocomposition machines make possible the use of a wide range of type sizes and fonts. Photocomposition machines operate at very high speeds and also have other advantages. The use of electronic computers for photocomposition is also possible. Approval for printing may be performed simultaneously with submission of the manuscript for photocomposition. The high productivity of automatic photocomposition machines (1 million characters or more per hour), as well as the reduction or elimination of the exchange of proofs, sharply reduces the length of the production cycle.

Rapid publications that do not require high quality are set on composing typewriters, which produce an impression on transparent film or paper. Impressions on film are used as transparencies for make-up and production of the printing plate by copying; impressions on paper are photographed to produce transparencies.

Design of systems that include reading devices, automatic proofreading, photoelectronic automatic devices, computers, and other innovations will make possible complete automation of typesetting.


Tekhnologiia poligraficheskogo proizvodstva, book 1. Moscow, 1956.
Popov, V. V. Obshchii kurs poligrafii, 6th ed. Moscow, 1964.
Shul’meister, M. V. Ruchnoi nabor. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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