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PostScript Language Reference, 3rd Edition

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PostScript Language Reference, 3rd Edition


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  • Copyright 1999
  • Dimensions: 7-3/8" x 9-1/8"
  • Edition: 3rd
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-201-37922-8
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-201-37922-8

The PostScript language is widely recognized as the industry standard for page description. Incorporated into a broad range of printers, imagesetters, and computer displays, PostScript describes exactly how text, sampled images, and graphics will appear on a printed page or on a computer screen.

The PostScript Language Reference, known as the Red Book, is the complete and authoritative reference manual for the PostScript language. Prepared by Adobe Systems Incorporated, the creators and stewards of the PostScript standard, it documents the syntax and semantics of the language, the Adobe imaging model, and the effects of the graphics operators. This Third Edition has been updated to include LanguageLevel 3 extensions, which unify a number of previous extensions and introduce many new features, such as high-fidelity color, support for masked images, and smooth shading capabilities.

Book Highlights:

  • Explains fundamentals of the PostScript language, graphics, fonts, device control, and rendering
  • Organizes all PostScript operators through LanguageLevel 3, both by function and alphabetically
  • Describes operands, results, side effects, and possible errors for each operator
  • Appendices include numerous useful tables and other valuable information

The Red Book is the definitive resource for all PostScript programmers.



Support File(s)

Untitled Document Download the CD Contents for PostScript® Language Reference, Third Edition

Sample Content

Table of Contents


1. Introduction.

About This Manual.

Evolution of the PostScript Language.

LanguageLevel 3 Overview.

Related Publications.

Copyrights and Trademarks.

2. Basic Ideas.

Raster Output Devices.

Scan Conversion.

Page Description Languages.

Using the PostScript Language.

3. Language.



Data Types and Objects.



Overview of Basic Operators.

Memory Management.

File Input and Output.

Named Resources.



Early Name Binding.

Filtered Files Details.

Binary Encoding Details.

4. Graphics.

Imaging Model.

Graphics State.

Coordinate Systems and Transformations.

Path Construction.


User Paths.


Color Spaces.



5. Fonts.

Organization and Use of Fonts.

Font Dictionaries.

Character Encoding.

Glyph Metric Information.

Font Cache.

Unique ID Generation.

Type 3 Fonts.

Additional Base Font Types.

Font Derivation and Modification.

Composite Fonts.

CID-Keyed Fonts.

6. Device Control.

Using Page Devices.

Page Device Parameters.

In-RIP Trapping.

Output Device Dictionary.

7. Rendering.

CIE-Based Color to Device Color.

Conversions among Device Color Spaces.

Transfer Functions.


Scan Conversion Details.

8. Operators.

Operator Summary.

Operator Details.

Appendix A. LanguageLevel Feature Summary.

LanguageLevel 3 Features.

LanguageLevel 2 Features.


Appendix B. Implementation Limits.

Typical Limits.

Virtual Memory Use.

Appendix C. Interpreter Parameters.

Properties of User and System Parameters.

Defined User and System Parameters.

Details of User and System Parameters.

Device Parameters.

Appendix D. Compatibility Strategies.

The LanguageLevel Approach.

When to Provide Compatibility.

Compatibility Techniques.

Installing Emulations.

Appendix E. Character Sets and Encoding Vectors.

Times Family.

Helvetica Family.

Courier Family.


Standard Latin Character Set.

StandardEncoding Encoding Vector.

ISOLatin1Encoding Encoding Vector.

CE Encoding Vector.

Expert Character Set.

Expert Encoding Vector.

ExpertSubset Encoding Vector.

Symbol Character Set 786.

Symbol Encoding Vector.

Appendix F. System Name Encodings.

Appendix G. Operator Usage Guidelines.


Index. 0201379228T04062001


In the 1980s, Adobe devised a powerful graphics imaging model that over time has formed the basis for the Adobe PostScript technologies. These technologies--a combination of the PostScript language and PostScript language-based graphics and text-formatting applications, drivers, and imaging systems--have forever changed the printing and publishing world by sparking the desktop and digital publishing revolutions. Since their inception, PostScript technologies have enabled unprecedented control of the look and feel of printed documents and have changed the overall process for designing and printing them as well. The capabilities PostScript makes possible have established it as the industry page description language standard.

Today, as never before, application developers and imaging systems vendors support the PostScript language as the industry standard. We at Adobe accept our responsibility as stewards of this standard to continually advance the standard in response to the creative needs of the industry.

With this third advance of the language, which we call LanguageLevel 3, Adobe has greatly expanded the boundaries of imaging capabilities made possible through the PostScript language. This most recent advance has yielded significant improvements in the efficiency and performance of the language as well as in the quality of final output.

To complement the strengths of LanguageLevel 3, Adobe PostScript 3 imaging system technologies have been engineered to exploit the new LanguageLevel 3 constructs to the fullest extent, fulfilling the Adobe commitment to provide printing solutions for the broad spectrum of users.

No significant change comes without the concerted effort of many individuals. The work to advance the PostScript language and to create Adobe PostScript 3 imaging system technologies is no exception. Our goal since the introduction of the first Adobe imaging model has been nothing less than to provide the most innovative, meaningful imaging solutions in the industry. Dedicated Adobe employees and many industry partners have striven to make that goal a reality. We take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed to this effort.

John Warnock and Chuck Geschke
January 1999




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