Who uses it: Printers
What it means: A printer's mock-up of pages ready for printing, made from film on photo-sensitive paper; the last stage at which an editor can make changes before printing.
How you can use it: When you're looking at a final draft.
Digital printing has made bluelines nearly obsolete, for most printing jobs, and that's a mixed blessing. Our digital world has made proofreaders sloppy; I just finished reading another book that was full of misspellings and typographical errors.
On the other hand, technological improvements have ended printers' long tyranny. When I first started writing a weekly newsletter, in the early 1990s, I lived in terror of making changes at the blueline stage -- not only because it was expensive, but also because it annoyed my printer so much. But I know I was much more careful back then.
We're living in a virtual world. I went to a concert last night with my friend Matt, although he lives in New York, I live in Maine, and the concert was in Washington, D.C. Belle and Sebastian were playing at the 9:30 Club, streaming audio on National Public Radio; Matt and I were listening and chatting via Instant Message. Instead of standing in a smoky club with a plastic cup of wine in my hand, I was sitting on my living room sofa, sipping a mug of Theraflu (yes, I'm catching another cold). I am a complete geezer. Also, I need some real speakers for my laptop.
The crack about geezer-dom is a little too close to home this morning, after news of two deaths -- from natural causes -- of people who were roughly my contemporaries. Kirby Puckett is dead at 45, from a stroke, and Dana Reeve is gone at 44, from lung cancer. How does that happen? Terribly unfair, and sad beyond words.