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Printmaking & Typography Resources in Special Collections & Archives

An introduction to printed art, ephemera, broadsides, specimens, and secondary sources in Special Collections & Archives

Printing Methods


Intaglio is a printing process in which a matrix is incised using either manual or chemical processes. Those incisions hold the ink that will be printed onto the substrate. Etching, more specifically, refers to the process in which a matrix, traditionally a metal plate (usually copper) is incised. Ink is then spread all over the plate and wiped off, making sure not to remove the ink in the grooves. The substrate (traditionally a thicker paper/rag), is then wet with water, placed over the matrix, and ran through the press.

Image from Flowers in a Box: a poem from behind the wallpaper by Amy Schmierbach, Special Coll Rare -- N7433.4.S29 F56 1999.

Examples of art

Relief: Wood Engraving

Wood engraving is a form of relief printing where an image is carved into a piece of wood. The non-printing parts are removed with tools, such as knives, chisels, or gouges, and the remaining wood will become the printed image. The wood block is then inked, traditionally using a brayer to roll it onto the surface. Afterwards, the block is laid down (ink side up) with the substrate lined up on top and it is then either run through a press or manually printed to transfer the image onto the substrate.

Image from Treasure by Katie Baldwin, Special Coll Rare -- N7433.4.B344 T74 2008.

Treasure by Katie Baldwin.


Screenprinting is a printing process in which ink is pushed through a mesh, allowing the ink to pass through in the desired areas. The mesh/screen is coated with UV emulsion fluid, and once dried it is then placed over a stencil and exposed to UV light. The light will harden the emulsion except for the areas where the stencil is placed. The screen is then washed, dried, and ready to be printed.

Image from Scattered Memory by Edie Tsong, Special Coll Rare -- N7433.4.T76 S23 2005.

Example of art


Lithography is a printing process in which a matrix is treated to repel ink except in the desired area. This process works off the principle that water and oil repel each other. Traditionally done using limestone, the image is drawn onto the stone using fat/oil based mediums. The non-image surfaces are then treated to repel the ink so your image is able to be transferred. The surface is then inked, the substrate is then placed on top of the stone and ran through a press. 

Image from Hotel Ponce de Leon and Alcazar, Special Coll Florida -- GT3811.S2 H67.

Art example:


Letterpress printing is a technique of relief printing using a printing press, a process by which many copies are produced by repeated direct impression of an inked, raised surface against sheets or a continuous roll of paper. A worker composes and locks movable type into the "bed" or "chase" of a press, inks it, and presses paper against it to transfer the ink from the type which creates an impression on the paper.

Image from How to Transition on Sixty-Three Cents a Day by Lee Krist, Special Coll Rare -- N7433.4.K75 H69 2013. 

Example letter

Digital Printing

Digital printing refers to methods of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media. It usually refers to professional printing where small-run jobs from desktop publishing and other digital sources are printed using large-format and/or high-volume laser or inkjet printers.

Image from LAP: Loretta's Acronym Primer by Stephanie Copoulos-Selle, Special Coll Rare -- N7433.4.C68 L36 2008.

Example of art

Offset Printing

Offset printing is a process in which the image is transferred onto a rubber belt then printed onto the substrate. Can be used in combination with lithography as well to produce off lithographs.

Image from South of Heave by Jim Thompson and Raymond Pettibon, Special Coll Rare -- PS3539.H6733 S68 2010.

Example of art

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Printmaking @ FSU

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Hannah Davis - Preservation Librarian
Gino Romero - Rare Books Assistant
Leah Sherman - Visual & Performing Arts Librarian

Preservation Librarian

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Hannah Davis
Special Collections & Archives Research Center
Robert Manning Strozier Library
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