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ICT - Glossary

Term Definition
.css See cascading stylesheet
.csv See comma separated values
.gif SeeGIF
.htm See HTML
.jpg SeeJPEG
.mp3 See MPEG-3
.mp4 SeeMPEG-4
.pdf SeePDF
.png SeePNG
.rar SeeRAR
.rtf See rich text format
.txt See text file
.zip Seezip
3D inkjet printer An output device that produces solid 3D models using a modified inkjet printer
and resins to replace inks.
A
abnormal data Data that is of the wrong type (e.g. text in a numeric field) or is outside the
accepted range (e.g. an exam mark percentage of 110).
absolute Fixes a cell reference within a spreadsheet so that when the formula is copied
referencing this cell reference never changes.
absolute value Fixes a value so that it cannot change, for example in a webpage a table width
can be set to 300 points. This table will always remain 300 points wide and will
not change if the size of the browser window is changed.
access point Used in wireless networks to allow access to the network at various points using
wireless technology (e.g. an airport will have several APs allowing 100 per cent
coverage for users).
actuator A transducer which takes signals from a computer and converts them into some
form of motion (e.g. motors, pumps, valves etc.).
administrator The person who is in control of a computer network.
ADSL Seeasymmetric digital subscriber
algorithm A set of rules which shows how to solve a problem.
alphanumeric A field type where any character is acceptable input – sometimes called text.
analogue data Data which represents physical constantly varying quantities such as time,
temperature, etc.
analogue device A device/apparatus that measures information that is continuously changing
(analogue data), e.g. an analogue sensor.
analogue sensor Seeanalogue device
analogue to digital A device used to convert analogue signals (usually from sensors) into digital
converter (ADC) signals which can then be understood and processed by a computer.
animation A rapidly changing set of images (either in 2D or 3D) which creates the illusion of
actual movement.
anti-spyware Software that detects and removes/isolates spyware.
anti-virus Software that detects and removes/ isolates computer viruses.
AP See access point
applications Software that enables a user to carry out a specific function on a computer e.g.
software spreadsheet, word processor, database, etc.
ascender The part of a lowercase letter (b, d, f, h, k, l or t), that extends above the body of
the letters.
ascii An abbreviation for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This is
the standard set of codes (numbers) used by the computer to identify each letter
and symbol of the character set (on the keyboard).
aspect ratio The proportion of length to width of an image. Maintaining the aspect ratio means
to keep the original proportion of the image (without distortion) and is usually
needed when images are resized.
asymmetric digital High-speed internet access service that uses existing telephone networks to
subscriber line send/receive data at much faster speeds than a dial-up modem.
ATM See automatic teller machine
attachment A document/file sent with an email which requires the recipient to open it to read/
see/listen to the contents.
attribute Provide additional information about HTML elements. Attributes follow the start
tag and come in name/value pairs. E.g. <table border=”1”> where the table tag
has an attribute called border which has a value set to 1.
audience notes Printed copies of the slides from a presentation, which are given to the audience
so that they can take them away and refer to them after the presentation.
authentication The process of determining whether someone is in fact who they claim to be; the
most common form of authentication is user IDs and passwords, but there are
others (e.g. biometric data).
automatic teller A machine where customers can access their bank accounts using a card and
machine PIN; usually used to withdraw cash from their account.
AutoSum A function within Microsoft Excel that adds together the contents of a number of
cells.
AVERAGE A function within Microsoft Excel that calculates the mean (average) of a list of
numbers.
B
back-end database Is a database that is accessed through an application program rather than the
database software. It does not store database elements like queries, forms or
reports.
back up A copy of a file/data on a different medium (e.g. disk, flash drive, CD, etc.) in case
of problems with the internal hard disk drive.
backing storage Secondary storage device that allows a user to back up data from a computer
system (e.g. CD, DVD, floppy disk, memory stick).
bandwidth This is a reference to the range of frequencies a communication channel can
handle. The bigger the bandwidth the more data can be sent and received at the
same time. The amount of data that can be communicated also relies upon the
transfer rate. This is often used to describe Internet connection, with the term
broadband meaning it has more than 3KHz (although in real terms at least
300MHz is needed in current systems).
barcode Optical machine-readable representation of data that uses thick and thin lines to
represent numbers.
barcode reader An input device that can read/scan barcodes using laser light.
basic input/output Code used to tell computer what to do when it first starts up (sometimes referred
system (BIOS) to as the boot).
batch processing System where all the data is first gathered together before it is processed all in
one go without further need of human intervention. It is used in billing systems
and cheque processing, for example.

behaviour layer One of the 3 layers in webpage development. The behaviour layer is used to do
‘an action’ (rather than just display or link to other pages) and often uses script
languages embedded into the HTML. There are many different script languages
but the most common for web development are Javascript, PHP, Perl and CGI.
BIOS Seebasic input/output system
bit Short for binary digit and equal to a 1 or a 0; the fundamental memory unit.
bit map Representation, consisting of rows and columns of dots, of a graphical image in a
computer. The density of the dots is called the resolution. In computer
screens/monitors the dots are referred to as a pixels.
blogger Someone who maintains a blog.
blogs Short for weblog; a webpage which is accessed by the public, who can read or
write messages.
Bluetooth Open wireless protocol over a short distance that allows devices to communicate
using radio waves instead of wires.
blu-ray disk An optical disk with very large capacity (currently the largest of all the optical
media) using laser light close to the blue/violet spectra, which permits much larger
storage capacity.
body The section of HTML in a webpage that contains the contents (e.g. text, images,
etc) and the tags describing the content, hyperlinks and structure (e.g. tables
used to lay out the page) of a webpage.
body text The basic style of text within a document, commonly used for all of the
paragraphs.
bookmark The address (URL) of a webpage saved by a user so that it can be revisited at
some later date.
Boolean data Data that can have only two possible answers: true (1) or false (0).
boot file Code used to tell computer what to do when it first starts up (sometimes referred
to as the BIOS).
break A split between two pages, sections or columns, or inserted to force text wrapping
at the end of a line of text.
bridge A device that connects one LAN to another LAN that uses the same protocol.

brightness Is a measure of the intensity of light from a point on an image. It is a measure of


the amount of red, green and blue light reflected from, or transmitted through any
given point on an image. It is sometimes called luminous brightness.
broadband A telecommunications method in which a wide band of frequencies is available to
transmit data. It allows internet traffic and normal telephone traffic to share the
same communication lines.
browse To read and navigate through a series of webpages received from the internet.
browser Seeweb browser
bus network Type of network where all the stations are connected to a central cable.
byte A unit of memory (usually equal to eight binary bits); more commonly shown as
Kbyte (just over one thousand bytes), Mbyte (one million bytes), Gbyte (1000MB)
or Terrabyte (1000GB).
C
CAD software See computer-aided design software
cascading A stylesheet saved in CSS format with a .css file extension. This allows the
stylesheet stylesheet to be attached to each webpage to define how to display the content
layer of a webpage, without the page needing to contain the style tags. If a
number of cascading stylesheets are used, the multiple style definitions will
cascade into one.
cathode ray tube An older type of monitor that has an electron beam directed towards a screen
monitor coated in phosphors which glow when hit by the beam. Screens are refreshed 25
times a second.
CD-R Optical storage device that can be recorded on only once.
CD-RW Optical storage device that can be recorded on more than once, i.e. can be
rewritten.
cell padding An HTML attribute used with the table tag to specify the space between the cell
wall and the cell content.
cell spacing An HTML attribute used with the table tag to specify the space between the cells.
central processing The part of the computer that interprets and executes commands from computer
unit hardware and software.
changeover A stage in systems analysis where the new system is introduced by one of four
methods: direct, parallel, pilot or phased changeover.
check digit An extra digit added to a number (often at the end) which is used to check for
errors during transmission/reading of the number, e.g. in barcodes.
chip and PIN A technology that is used in debit and credit cards for payment in stores or use
with ATMS. The chip is read by a card reader machine and compares it with the
number typed in by the customer. It helps to ensures security of transactions.
chip and PIN A technology that is used with credit/debit/loyalty cards which contain a chip as
readers well as a magnetic stripe. These are used at EFTPOS terminals, where the
customer enters their PIN using a keypad and this is compared with the number
stored on the chip.
CLI Seecommand line interface
clipboard A temporary storage area used by the operating system to hold information that
you cut or copy it, ready to be pasted at a later time.
closed question Is a question which has only specified answers like "yes" or "no", or a multiple
choice question. Users are always restricted to the answers that they can give in
a closed question. For example: “Do you like school? Answer Y or N”. A similar
open question is “How do you feel about school?”
CMOS Seecomplementary metal oxide semiconductor
colour depth Is the number of bits used to store the colours in each pixel. It is sometimes called
bit depth or bits per pixel (bpp). For example: If an image has 24bit colour depth
tis would be displayed as 224 colours (about 16.7 million), which would only be
visible on a computer with a 24 bit graphics card (video adapter) and suitable
monitor. A 24 bit colour depth has 8 bits per channel (red, green, blue).
comma separated A file format (.csv) used to hold tabular data, e.g. from a spreadsheet or
values database table. It stores it as a text-based file using commas (or semi-colons in
some locations) to separate the data items.
command line A user interface that requires a user to type in instructions, choose options from
interface a menu, open software, etc.
complementary Type of semi-conductor chip that holds data (usually the BIOS) without the need
metal oxide for an external power source.
semiconductor
concept keyboard A type of keyboard where icons or phrases replace letters and numbers.
content layer One of the 3 layers in web page development. The content layer is used to define
the structure of the webpage, often using tables or frames and the content of the
pages including text or images and hyperlinks to other pages. The content layer is
often written in html or xhtml.
contiguous data Data that is placed together and can be selected in a single range.
contrast Is the difference between the amount of colour (or greyscale) between two
different features within an image.
control system A set of devices which manage, command or regulate the behaviour of other
devices or systems.
cookie Small files sent to a user’s computer via their web browser when they visit certain
websites. They store information about the user, which is accessed each time
they visit the website.
copy To take a highlighted object and place a copy of it into the clipboard, leaving the
original object intact.
copyright Legislation in almost all countries that is used to discourage the illegal use of text,
images, software or music.
cordless mouse A mouse that uses WiFi or Bluetooth technology to interface with the computer
without the need for any connecting wires.
COUNT A function within Microsoft Excel that looks at the cells within a given range and
counts the number of these cells containing numbers.
COUNTA A function within Microsoft Excel that looks at the cells within a given range and
counts the number of non-blank (not empty) cells.
COUNTIF A function within Microsoft Excel that looks at the cells within a given range and
counts the number of these cells that meet a given condition.
CPU Seecentralprocessing unit
CSS A language used for the presentation layer in web development. This language
is used to define how elements of a webpage appear in the web browser. CSS
elements can be embedded within HTML or attached to a web page as a
cascading stylesheet.
crash A computer stops functioning normally and will not respond to other parts of the
system – it appears to freeze.
crop To remove unwanted areas of an image – this may change the aspect ratio but
will not distort the image.
CRT Seecathode ray tube monitor

currency The unit of money used by countries, e.g. Egyptian pounds, Kenyan shillings and
rupees in India and Pakistan.
cursor The screen symbol that shows where the next action will take place. In some
applications such as word processors the cursor may flash on and off.
cut To take a highlighted object and place it into the clipboard, removing it from its
original location.
cut and paste To move a highlighted object by cutting the object and pasting the object into a
new location. This holds another copy of the object in the clipboard for if it needs
to be pasted again into another location.
D
DAC Seedigital to analogue converter
data file A collection of records where each record is made up of fields for the individual
data items (e.g. name, address, etc.).
data integrity Refers to maintaining the validity of data which can be compromised in a number
of ways, e.g. by data entry errors, viruses, hardware malfunctions, etc. The risks
can be minimised by security systems, backing up data and by having interfaces
with built-in error traps.
data logger A device that automatically captures data from its surroundings over a period of
time. It usually uses sensors to gather the data, which is then stored on a
computer for later analysis.
data packet The basic unit of communication over a digital network.
database A collection of information structured in some way to permit manipulation and
searching of the data.
date and time A field type within Microsoft Access that is used to store dates and times.
decimal A data type used within numeric fields in Microsoft Access to store the data in
decimal format.
deprecate A deprecated markup command or attribute is one that is outdated and may not
work with future web browsers. Deprecated commands should not be used in
your markup.
descender The part of a lowercase letter (g, j, p, q or y), that falls below the baseline of the
letters.
desktop publisher Software that allows text and graphics to be imported from other applications and
then arranged and laid out for the production of a printed document.
dial-up modem A modem that uses the normal telephone network, dialling up the internet
service provider whenever internet access is required. Unlike with a broadband
modem, the system is not always on. It also ties up the telephone lines since it
uses the same bandwidth as normal telephone signals.
digital camera Cameras that don’t use film to record photographs. Light is picked up by sensors
and the resultant image stored on a solid state memory in the camera.
digital data Discrete data (such as 0s and 1s).
digital to analogue A device used to convert digital signals into analogue signals (so the computer
converter can control another device such as a pump, motor, etc.).
disk operating Type of operating system developed for PCs in the 1980s.
system
domain name Is the name given to the place we can find a particular website on the Internet.
dongle A form of memory stick used as a security device when using software, in order
to reduce the risk of software piracy.
DOS Seedisk operating system
download To transfer a file from a central computer/server/internet to the user’s computer/
workstation.
DVD-R Optical storage device that can be recorded on only once.
DVD-RAM Optical storage device that uses concentric tracks (rather than single spiral as
used with normal CD and DVD) to record data. It can be written to and read from
many times
DVD-RW Optical storage device that can be recorded on more than once, i.e. can be
rewritten.
E
EEPROM Seeelectrically erasable programmable read only memory
EFTPOS Seeelectronic point of sale
electrically Memory system used in flash memory cards.
erasable
programmable
read only memory
electronic funds System of transferring money from one bank account to another without any
transfer (EFT) paper money changing hands. It is often used at supermarket checkouts when
credit card transactions are being made.
electronic point of Terminal used to carry out an electronic funds transfer.
sale terminal
email An electronic method of sending documents and other items such as photos from
one computer to another, usually by way of the internet.
embedded Small computer on a single integrated circuit consisting of a relatively simple
microprocessor central processing unit. Often used in car engine management systems,
household appliances, etc.
embedded object One format of data that is inserted and saved within data of another format.
embedded web A system that uses the internet in real time to control or interact with devices in
technology the home or as part of an industrial application. Use of a web-enabled mobile
phone, for example, allows instructions to be sent remotely to devices in the home
(containing embedded microprocessors), thus controlling their operation.
encryption The scrambling or encoding of data using software to make data unreadable to
unauthorised users.
EPOS Seeelectronic point of sale terminal
ergonomic A type of keyboard designed to help relieve health-related problems such as
keyboard repetitive strain injury (RSI).
e-ticket Replacement for paper tickets that customers normally receive when booking a
plane ticket. The electronic ticket (e-ticket) number is stored on the airline
computer system and the customer picks up the paper ticket on arrival at the
airport.
evaluation A stage in systems analysis where the effectiveness of the new system is
reviewed and any necessary changes are advised.
expert system A system that attempts to reproduce the ability of human experts in carrying out
complex tasks such as medical diagnosis, etc.
extreme data Data which is on the boundaries of acceptable data; for example if people’s ages
can be in the range 18 to 65 then the values 18 and 65 are seen as extreme data.
F
fact finding Formal process of using research, interviews, observation and examining
documents to find out how a system works.
fax Short for facsimile machine; used to send pages of text over the telephone
network.
feasibility study Used to determine whether or not it is possible to proceed with a new system
based on a number of arguments such as cost, constraints, etc.
field A place used to hold a single data item within a database.
field codes Individual information taken from the data source in a mail merged document.
file A logically organised collection of records, usually where all the records are
organised so that they can be stored together within a database.
file server A computer that provides network computers/workstations with controlled access
to shared resources.
finalise The final stage in writing to a CD. It turns the CD into a CD-ROM and it is then
impossible to write any more data on it. Finalising also allows the CD to played on
other systems (e.g. home entertainment systems).
firewall A suite of software, located on a network gateway server, which protects the
resources of a network or computer from users on another network.
fixed hard disk A memory device inside a computer which cannot be removed. It uses a hard
drive disk to save programs, data, etc.
flash memory Form of EEPROM – solid state memory used as memory cards in cameras and
cards mobile phones, for example.
flat file structure All records in a database joined together to form one large file rather than using
linked tables.
flat-file database A database structure using a simple two-dimensional table.
folksonomy Closely related to tagging and literally means ‘management of people’.
footer The area at the bottom of a document between the bottom of the page and the
bottom margin.
foreign key Is the name given to a field in a table within a relational database, which is linked
by a relationship to a primary key field in another table.
format painter A tool used in many packages to copy the formatting from one part of a document
and apply it to another.
formula A set of instructions used to perform a calculation in a spreadsheet. A formula
can include cell references, numbers, mathematical symbols and, in some cases,
pre-defined functions.
frame Allows the user to display more than one HTML document in the same browser
window. Each HTML document is called a frame, and each frame is separate
from the others.
front end User interface to complex structures such as databases, whereby only required
fields and the user interface can be seen. The software in the background
appears ‘invisible’ and can only be accessed by an authorised person.
FTP File Transfer Protocolallows a copy of data to be sent from one computer to
another. It controls the data and sends it in blocks, checking each block as it
arrives for errors.
G
generic font family A term used to describe a collection of fonts with similar properties, e.g. serif or
sans serif. In web programming, using a generic font family allows the web
browser to select any font stored on the computer with the specified properties.
GIF Graphics Interchange Format: a format used to save still or moving images. This
is an efficient method of storing images using a smaller file size, particularly
where there are large areas of solid colour. It is widely used in webpages.
global positioning Used to determine the exact location of a vehicle using a number of satellites
satellite system positioned around the Earth. Each satellite transmits its position and time so that
the system can calculate the exact location.
GPS Seeglobal positioning satellite system

graphical user A user interface that allows a user to interact with a computer (or other electronic
interface device) using pictures or symbols (icons).
graphics tablet A device used to produce freehand drawings (using a stylus) which are stored in a
computer file.
GUI See graphical user interface
H
hacker A person who gains unauthorised access to a computer system.
hard disk The computer’s main back-up memory where applications software, documents
and data files are stored.
hardware The term to describe the physical components that make up the computer (e.g.
keyboard, mouse).
head The section of HTML in a webpage that contains page titles (visible in the
browser tab but not on the page), styles (e.g. the links to external stylesheets),
and the meta data (e.g. the tags used by search engines).
header The area at the top of a document between the top of the page and the top
margin.
hexadecimal A counting system based on sixteens rather than tens, also known as Hex. It uses
base 16 arithmetic and includes the characters 0-9 and A-F.
highlight To select an object, e.g. a piece of text, image, file, cell, etc., so that it can be
edited or manipulated.
hit Used to describe when the criteria has been met during a search (e.g. when
searching a database or using a search engine).
HLOOKUP A function within Microsoft Excel that looks up data using data organised in
horizontal rows.
hologram Photographic image that is 3D and also appears to have depth. They are often
used on credit cards as an additional security device.
hosted server Any computer on a network which provides a service to other computers on the
network.
HTML HyperTextMarkup Language: a text-based language used to create markup, so
that web browser software will be able to display information in different ways.
hub A hardware device whose main task is to take data received at one of its ports
and then send it out to all devices which are connected to the other ports of the
hub.
hyperlink Allows a user to navigate between webpages/websites and is often shown as a
blue underlined text or as a small pointed finger.
I
identity theft A form of fraud that involves somebody pretending to be somebody else in order
to steal money or gain other benefits.
IF A function within Microsoft Excel that looks at a given condition and performs an
operation if the condition is met, or a different operation if the condition is not met.
image source The name (and in some cases URL) of an image file, used so the web browser
can find and display the image.
inference engine Software in an expert system that attempts to derive answers from the
knowledge base using a form of reasoning. It is effectively how expert systems
appear to use human-like reasoning when accessing information from the
knowledge base in an effort to find a conclusion to a given problem.
infrared The far red end of the light spectrum, between the visible and microwave part of
the electromagnetic spectrum.
inkjet printer A type of printer which uses inkjets to produce low-volume, high-quality printing.
input screen The part of a computer screen where a user types in the data or uses a touch
screen or pointing device to choose an option.
INT A function within Microsoft Excel that calculates the integer (whole number) part
of a number and ignores all digits after the decimal point.
integer A whole number with no decimal places (e.g. 18, 107).
internet A wide area network consisting of an international network of computer
networks. It enables anyone connected to it to get information from any other
computer on the system (if permitted).
internet protocol A numerical identification and logical address that is given to a device using a
(IP) address computer network. It uses the internet protocol to allow communication between
devices on the network.
internet service A company that provides users with access to the internet for an agreed monthly
provider rental.
interview Asking people questions face to face as part of the fact finding stage in systems
analysis.
intranet A computer network based on internet technology that is designed to meet the
internal needs for sharing information within a single organisation.
IP Seeinternet protocol address
ISP Seeinternetservice provider
itemised bill A bill which includes all the items bought and the price of each item plus any
discounts or other offers.
J
job queue A series of tasks automatically carried out, one after the other, by a computer
system – often used in a batch processing system.
joystick A device that consists of a stick that is moved about to control a pointer on the
screen and has buttons to make selections.
JPEG A format used to save still images, originally named by the Joint Photographic
Expert Group. This is an efficient method of storing images using a smaller file
size and is widely used in webpages.
junk mail Unsolicited mail sent to a user’s computer, often referred to as ‘spam’.
K
key field A unique field in a record which is used to identify it uniquely.
keyboard A device used to input text, numbers and instructions into a computer by pressing
keys.
knowledge base A database designed to allow the complex storage and retrieval requirements of a
computerised knowledge-based management system (in support of an expert
system).
L
label A value entered as text (or alphanumeric), often in a spreadsheet cell or text
control box displayed within elements of a database package. This term is also
used within programming but is not within the scope of this book.
LAN Seelocal area network
laptop A type of computer where the monitor, keyboard, pointing device and processor
are integrated into one portable unit.
laser printer A type of printer that uses laser technology to produce high-volume, high-quality
output on paper.
lasso tool A tool used to select objects by holding down the left mouse button and dragging
the mouse around it, then letting go.
layer Is used with images in graphics software to allow other objects (or parts of an
image) to be placed in front of or behind other layers. Layers can be transparent
(see through) or used to hide other objects or parts of an image.
light pen An input device are used to draw on screen or select items on screen – currently,
they only work with CRT monitors.
local area network A number of computers connected together, usually located close to each other
(e.g. in one building).
logical operator The logic operators such as AND, OR and NOT which use Boolean algebra to
make decisions.
login The process of entering a system or webpage, usually by supplying a username
and password.
LOOKUP A function within Microsoft Excel which looks up data using the first row or the first
column of a range of cells and returns a relative value.
M
MAC Seemedia access control address
magnetic ink A system which can read characters printed in magnetic ink (e.g. characters on
character the bottom of a cheque).
recognition
magnetic stripe Brown coloured magnetic stripes, found most often on the back of credit/debit
cards, which hold information such as the account number.
magnetic tape A data storage device that uses magnetised plastic tape. 1s and 0s have a
different magnetic signatures, which allows data to be stored and read.
mail merging The process of combining a main document (e.g. a word-processed document)
with a data source (e.g. a database), for example adding names and addresses
automatically to a document so it can be easily set up for multiple mailings.
mainframe A very large, very powerful computer system.
computer
malware Short for malicious software – any program/software that is harmful to a computer
system, e.g. spyware.
MAX A function within Microsoft Excel that calculates the maximum value in a list of
numbers.
media access Hardware address that uniquely identifies each device on a network.
control (MAC)
address
memory stick/pen A solid state technology that is used as back-up memories. It connects to the
drive computer via the universal serial bus port.
merge codes Instructions coded (programmed) into a mail merge document which control the
format of the merged document and may produce different results (for example:
text or images) depending upon other conditions.
MICR Seemagnetic ink character recognition
microprocessor A single integrated circuit that is the basis of most PCs and is in many household
devices. It has essentially the same function as a computer processing unit.
MIN A function within Microsoft Excel that calculates the minimum value in a list of
numbers.
model A programmed simulation of a situation or process that will allow data to be
changed in order to examine the effect that this has on other data. This is often
done with a spreadsheet and can be used to predict future trends.
modem A device that allows computers to connect to a network using the existing
telephone cable network.
monitoring Taking data from the surroundings so that it can be compared with previously
stored data on a computer or computer file.
morphing A special effect in motion pictures and animations that changes (or morphs) one
image into another through a seamless transition. Most often it is used to show
one object turning into another through use of animation software.
mouse An example of a pointing device, which controls a pointer on screen, allowing
selections to be made by clicking a button.
MPEG-3 Moving Pictures Experts Group layer 3 is a file format used for storing audio
files. It compressed the original audio (sound) file to about 1/12 of the original file
size while keeping the original sound quality.
MPEG-4 Moving Pictures Experts Group layer 4 is a file format (multimedia container)
used for storing video files. It is also used to store audio (the soundtrack to the
video) and other data like subtitles and still images.
MP3 MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 – a method of storing music files in a compressed format.
Typically, an MP3 music file is 90 per cent less than a conventional music file
used on a CD.
multimedia An output device that receives signals from computers (and other electronic
projector devices), magnifies the image and projects it onto a large screen.
N
navigate To move around, e.g. navigating a screen or webpage means to move about the
page (often using a pointing device) to select suitable items.
netbook computer A computer that is similar to a laptop but with smaller dimensions.
network A series of nodes or workstations interconnected by communication paths.
network hub A hardware device that can have a number of devices/computers connected to it.
non-contiguous Data that occupies rows or columns that are not placed together (often in a
data spreadsheet) and cannot be selected using a single range.
normal data Data that is within an acceptable range and is usual for the situation.
notebook Seelaptop
computer
number A value entered in numerical format, e.g. ‘5’ is a number, whereas ‘five’
represents a number but is in text format.
numeric data Consisting of numbers: real, integer or fixed decimal.
numeric keypad A type of keyboard usually consisting of numbers and simple mathematical
operations.
O
observation Part of the fact finding stage in systems analysis, which involves watching
people doing tasks.
OCR See optical character recognition
OMR See optical mark recognition
online Connected to a computer or to a network. Often used to describe somebody who
is currently connected to the internet.
online processing Using the internet to process information and carry out transactions, e.g. in online
booking systems.
online shopping Shopping and banking using the internet to purchase goods, transfer money
and banking between accounts, pay bills, etc.
operating system Allows users to communicate with computer systems, controlling many tasks such
as maintaining security, loading software, etc.
optical character A system that takes scanned text and converts it into computer readable form so
recognition it can be used in a word processor and other applications software.
optical mark A system which can read marks written in pencil or pen on a paper – used to read
recognition answers on questionnaires, multiple choice exam papers, etc.
optical mouse Mouse that uses a red LED light source to detect movement rather than a rubber
ball.
optical storage A storage device that uses light (lasers) to read and write data on optically active
device surfaces. They include CDs, DVDs and DVD-RAMs.
ordered list A list of objects within a webpage that are in numerical order.
orphan The first line of the paragraph at the bottom of the page, with the rest of the
paragraph appearing on the next page.
P
password A sequence of letters and/or numbers used as an additional security to user ID
when logging onto a network or single computer.
paste To take a copy of an object from the clipboard and place it in a new location.
PC See personal computer
PDA See personal digital assistant
PDF Portable Document Format is a method of allowing documents to be read/used
on most computers. The pages look just like they would when they are printed but
can contain clickable links and buttons, form fields, video, and audio. You can
protect a document to stop others editing it.
PNG Portable Network Graphics is a graphics file format that supports data
compression. PNG is the most used loss less image compression format used on
the Internet.
percentage A system used in web authoring to ensure that objects have relative sizes rather
than absolute sizes. For example, if a table has the width attribute set to 50 per
cent, the table will fill 50 per cent of the screen, irrespective of the screen size or
resolution.
personal computer A general purpose computer which is usually IBM-compatible.
personal digital A small handheld computer that comes with a touch screen activated by a stylus.
assistant
personal A form of password, often a four-digit code used to gain access to an account
identification (e.g. when internet banking or when purchasing an item using a credit card).
number
pharming A scam in which malicious code is installed on a computer hard disk or server.
The code has the ability to misdirect users to fraudulent websites without their
knowledge.
phishing A fraudulent operation involving the use of emails. The creator sends out a
legitimate-looking email hoping to gather personal information once the recipient
opens the email.
pica An absolute measure of size used in website authoring. 1 pica is the same as 12
points.
PIN See personal identification number
pinching Using two fingers together to shrink something on a display screen (e.g. on a
personal digital assistant).
pixel One dot or square on the screen. It is the smallest item that can appear on a
screen. The number of pixels displayed on the screen depends upon the screen
resolution.
placeholder A control placed within a mail merge document that is used to hold field codes or
to hold merge codes.
plotter An output device that produces very large and very accurate printed copies on
paper, generally used in CAD software.
PNG Portable Network Graphics: a format used to store still images. This is an efficient
method of storing images and was designed to replace JPG (JPEG). It is widely
used in webpages.
podcasting Audio broadcasts that can be downloaded from the internet and listened to using
personal media players
point An absolute measure of size used in website authoring. 1 point is the same as 12
points.
pointing device A device used to navigate a graphical user interface, e.g mouse, tracker ball or
joystick.
pop-up A form of online advertising on the internet intended to attract web visitors or
capture email addresses.
post-WIMP An interaction where fingers are in contact with a small touch screen, allowing
actions such as pinching and rotating.
precision framing The accurate placing of an image (or other object) to align to the page, column
margins or other objects upon the page
presentation Software that allows you to create multimedia presentations and displays using a
authoring package series of linked slides

presentation layer One of the 3 layers in web page development. The presentation layer is used to
define how a webpage will look to the viewer. It dictates the colour schemes,
themes and styles seen when a webpage is displayed and is usually written in
CSS.
presenter notes Printed copies of the slides from a presentation, with the additional notes to be
read from (or used as prompts) by the person delivering the presentation. These
notes are not usually given to the audience.
price comparison A website that gives a comparison of prices from different retailers together with
service a link to the retailer’s website
primary key A single field within a relational database table that contains unique data (no two
records within this field can contain the same data). A primary key field cannot
contain a blank record.
primary research A method of data gathering used in market research whereby prospective or
existing customers are interviewed by the organization themselves. See also
secondary research
process control The use of computers or microprocessors to control a process, usually industrial,
such as the maintaining of a production line
processing The manipulation of input data to produce a required output from an ICT system
program (verb) To create a set of instructions that will produce a required output from an ICT
system
program The written documents that accompany a program upon implementation. It
documentation advises on how the program works, what the instructions mean and how to make
future amendments
programmable A type of computer or microcomputer that is used for a single purpose. It is able to
logic controller accept analogue and digital inputs, and a set of logic statements is used to
compare the input with a pre-set value. Depending on the result, it activates the
output devices. See also proportional-integral-derivative
programmer Somebody who writes programs. See also computer programmer
programming A computer-based language that is used to write code that will use a sequence of
language instructions to perform a task within the computer
project A method of ensuring that a project is completed within the timescale and
management monetary budget allowed by a business
prompt Text used to instruct the user what information they are required to enter when a
mail merge is run
proportional- An algorithm that is an integral part of closed loop computer controlled systems. It
integral-derivative calculates the difference between the input value and the pre-set value, and then
causes the programmable logic controller (PLC)to make proportional changes
to the output so that the pre-set value is eventually reached
protocol A set of rules that governs how communication between two devices will occur
proxy server A computer that lies between a user and a server in order to intercept requests.
pseudo code A type of code which resembles computer programming code but is easily
readable by a person. They are often used in algorithms as a description of what
a computer program is going to do.
public key A feature of encryption that allows one computer to know that a computer trying
authentication to communicate with it is genuine
public-key A type of encryption key that is given out by a computer to enable other
computers to encrypt data to send to it
purpose-built Software that is especially created by programmers for a particular situation
software
Q
questionnaire A collection of questions written down on a form that enables collection of data.
The answers to the questions are normally completed on the form itself
QWERTY Type of keyboard format where the letters are arranged as QWERTY….
R
radio button A type of graphical user interface element that allows the user to choose only
one of a pre-defined set of options. They are usually shown as a dot on the
screen next to the option.
RAM See random access memory
random access An internal chip where data is temporarily stored while running applications. It can
memory be written to as well as read from.
range check Checks that the data is within a given range
RAR Is a file format for a container (like a zip file) that can hold other files and folders.
It its name from Roshal Archive and was developed by a Russian software
engineer Eugene Roshal.
RAS See remote access services
read only Allows a user to view the document/file but not to make changes to it
read only memory A memory used to store information that needs to be permanent (e.g.
configuration data for a computer system).
real number A number containing a decimal (e.g. 2.75, 8.5, <minus sign>12.55).
real-time An online system where any changes lead to an immediate update of the filing
(transaction) system, e.g. if a flight is booked, the seat is immediately marked on a database as
processing no longer available thus preventing, for example, double booking.
real-time process A system involving sensors and feedback loops to control or monitor a process.
control
record A collection of fields containing information about one data subject (usually a
person) or one object within a database
relational database A database structure where data items are linked together with relational tables.
It maintains a set of separate, related files (tables), but combines data elements
from the files for queries and reports when required
relative referencing Automatically adjusts a cell reference within a spreadsheet to refer to different
cells relative to the position of the formula during the replication process
relative value Allows a value to change depending upon other factors, for example in a
webpage a table width can be set to 50%. This table will always remain 50% of
the window/frame width, but will not appear the same if the size of the browser
window is changed.
remote access Services that allow people working away from home to access the desktop on
services their own PC remotely
remote control An input device that allows the user to control other devices from a distance. It is
most frequently used with home entertainment systems
rendering The process of adding realism to computer graphics (usually in 3D) using
computer software. It usually involves adding such affects as shadows, variations
in colour and shade, etc. to give the illusion of 3D.
report layout How a report(an output form) is set out in terms of, for example, headings and the
output from the system
repository Single storage area for files edited by multiple users, usually managed by a single
user with files saved using version control
requirements An element of the analysis phase of the systems life cycle. It is a list of the
specification features of a system that is required, including general user requirements and
specific requirements
rich text format A file format (.rtf) used for text-based files that saves the formatting within the
document, so allowing some formatting to be passed from one applications
package to another
ring network An increasingly rare type of network topology. Each computer is connected to
each of its neighbours and data is transmitted around the network
robot A device often used in industrial applications to act independently, having been
programmed to carry out a specific task or tasks
ROM See read only memory
ROUND Function within Microsoft Excel that rounds a number up to a specified number of
decimal places
Router A device which enables data to be routed between different networks e.g.
between a local area network and a wide area network.
rules base In an expert system, a set of rules that an inference engine uses, together with
the data or facts in the knowledge base, to reason through a problem
S
sans serif A font style where the ends of characters do not contain small strokes called
serifs, e.g. Arial.
satellite navigation See global positioning satellite system
system
scam An attempt to defraud somebody.
scanner A device that converts information on paper into an image which can be stored in
a computer file.
scenario A description of a set of circumstances. It is used to set the scene forsome
examination questions
screen display Sometimes used interchangeably with screen layout, but usually refers to input
as displayed on a computer monitor
screen layout The layout of output as displayed on a computer monitor
screenshot An image of the screen taken at a particular moment in time. There are software
packages that will obtain screenshot (sometimes called screen grab) evidence for
you. The easiest way is to press the <Print Screen> (sometimes labelled <Prt
Scr>) button on the keyboard to place what is currently on the screen in the
clipboard. This can then be pasted into a document as evidence of your work.
SD memory card See secure digital memory card
search engine Software that retrieves documents or files or data from a database or from a
computer network (especially from the internet).
SECOND Function within Microsoft Excel that returns a number between 0 and 59 as the
number of seconds shown on a clock from a given time
secondary A method of market research that involves the examination of research that either
research the organisation concerned or another organisation has carried out before. See
also primary research
section The area of a document that has page formatting that applies throughout that
section
secure digital A type of memory card used to record digital audio broadcast (DAB) radio
memory card programmes and used in digital cameras, handheld computers and global
positioning system (GPS) devices
secure shell A network protocol that is used for remotely accessing a computer or server
using encryption security
sensor A device used to monitor physical variables such as temperature and pressure.
They are used in monitoring and control systems
serial access A method of accessing data, used primarily on magnetic tapes where it is
necessary to start at the beginning and access each piece of data in turn until the
required data is found.
serif A font style where the ends of characters contain small strokes called serifs, e.g.
Times New Roman.
server A device used to control networks (e.g. file servers allow users on a network to
save/load data).
shell Software that provides the user interface, knowledge base editor, inference
engine and explanation system in an expert system. The knowledge engineer
uses it to build a system to solve a particular set of problems
shopping cart Software used to create the representation of a shopping cart for customers to
software buy goods online
simulation The process of imitating something using a computer system. The software uses
mathematical formulae or models to simulate the actual environment.
simulator A machine that simulates an environment for the purpose of training or for
research.
single stepping A type of testing after a system has been developed. The system is run one step
at a time so that the exact point where the any differences between actual results
and expected results occurred can be clearly seen in the programming code
skimming A type of identity fraud where a card that is swiped legitimately in a retail outlet is
swiped again on another machine that reads all the details from the card. This
data is then transferred to a blank card for further use
SKIPIF Function within mail merge that allows the mail merge to omit documents if certain
conditions are met when the mail merge is run
smart card A type of credit/debit/loyalty card which contains a chip as well as a magnetic
stripe. The chip contains information which can be read but can also be updated.
social networking A website that focuses on building online communities of users who share the
site same interests and activities. They are fast becoming the modern way of socially
interacting and allow people to communicate across the globe.
software The term to describe programs that control computer systems such as systems
software and applications programs.
software piracy Unauthorised duplication, distribution or use of computer software.
solid state backing A type of magnetic storage media that uses microchip technology rather than thin
store film magnetic surfaces.
speech recognition Software that is able to convert input speech to text for use with text-based
software applications
spread spectrum Can be implemented in several different ways, but the most common type
technology involves frequency hopping: instead of just transmitting on one frequency, a
spread spectrum system switches rapidly from one frequency to the next. The
choice of the next frequency is random, so it is almost impossible for someone to
eavesdrop or jam the signal). It is used on cordless phones and in WiFi networks.
spreadsheet Software used for performing calculations and for modelling situations using data
arranged in a grid consisting of rows and columns
spreadsheet model A spreadsheet that is used to investigate different outcomes by changing one or
more variables within it.
spyware Software put on a computer with malicious intent that allows people to access that
computer and control its functions
SSH See secure shell
SSL See secure sockets layer
star network A network topology where each computer or device is connected to a central hub
or switch
sticky keys A feature used in many types of software that allows the user to press
combination keys such as <Ctrl>C consecutively rather than simultaneously. It is
very helpful for people with poor motor coordination
storage medium A medium used for storing data, e.g. magnetic disk, tape or optical disk
style Pre-defined settings relating to the formatting of text, such as font size, typeface,
font alignment, etc. that can be applied to text to ensure the consistency of display
stylesheet A basic structure for a document. In terms of a webpage, it is set of pre-defined
styles for some or all page elements which can be embedded into a web page
submit button A button or icon found in many input forms that when pressed causes the data on
the screen to be stored
subscript Characters that sit below the baseline in a piece of text and usually have a
reduced point size, e.g. the number 2 in H2O
SUBTOTAL Function within Microsoft Excel that calculates the function for a range of value or
cells. The parameters passed to this function determine how it will work, e.g. it
could be used to calculate the SUM, the AVERAGE, etc.
SUM Function within Microsoft Excel that adds up a list of numbers or specified cells
SUMIF Function within Microsoft Excel that looks at the cells within a given range and
adds the total from those cells that meet a given condition
supercomputer A computer that has hundreds of thousands of dual processors. It is a collection
of computers that are connected through a high-speed network
superscript Characters that sit above the baseline in a piece of text and usually have a
reduced point size, e.g. the number 2 in 7 m2
switch A device that can have a number of other devices or computers connected to it. It
is able to direct network traffic using the MAC address of a data packet
syntax A set of rules defining how, for example, software must be written so the
computer can understand it. It is equivalent to syntax in normal language where
rules determine how we write down sentences with commas, etc.
systems analysis A phase in the systems life cycle. When an existing system is to be replaced by
a new system, this phase involves examining the existing system in detail using
some or all of interviewing users, giving questionnaires to users, observation
of people using the existing system and examination of documents used in the
existing system
systems analyst An individual who is responsible for the phases of the systems life cycle being
carried out
systems A detailed overview of the whole system, including test plans, test results, the
documentation results of the analysis of the existing system, what is expected of the system and
decisions that were made at the design stage
systems flowchart Used in the design of a new system, a diagrammatical representation of how data
will flow through the new system. It includes programming requirements, although
not the detail of programming required
systems life cycle The stages in the creation or modification of a new information system
T
table A two-dimensional grid of data organised by rows and columns within a
database. Each row of the table contains a record. Each column in the table
represents a field and each cell in that column has the same (pre-defined) field
type
tag A command used in HTML to instruct a web browser how to display text, images
or other objects. The tags are not displayed with the webpage. Some tags are
used with attributes.
tagging The practice of creating and managing labels (or ‘tags’) that label content using
simple keywords. They are often used on social networking websites to tag
photographs and bookmark other websites, for example.
TAN See transaction number
TCP See transmission control protocol
technical Documentation that accompanies a new or modified information system. It is
documentation developed to help any systems analyst or programmer understand the technical
aspects of the system
teleworking A method of working that involves employees spending all or some of their
working week at home, using their home as an office and making use of ICT to do
so
terminator The endpoint at either end of the spine in a bus network
TEXT Function within Microsoft Excel that changes the formatting of the current cell
from a numeric or date/time value into text format
text editor Software that allows you to type and edit plain text. It contains few or no features
that allow formatting of documents
text file A file format (.txt) used for text-based files that contains an unformatted ASCII file,
although there are file format variations depending upon the operating system.
These files can be opened in any word processor.
text wrapping To make the text automatically wrap around any object (e.g. a text box or frame)
in a document
TFT See thin film transistor monitor
thin film transistor Flat panel liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors. There is a separate tiny transistor
monitor for each pixel which means they use very little power.
topology An arrangement of computers/devices in a network (e.g. bus, star, ring or tree).
touch screen An input device that allows the user to choose from options on the screen by
pressing the option on the screen with a finger
touchpad Used on laptops as a type of pointing device.
trackerball A pointing device with a ball on the top which controls the on-screen cursor.
Unlike a mouse, the tracker ball does not physically move.
tracked changes An electronic record of all changes made to a document during editing. This
shows the changes made and usually includes the editor’s name and when the
changes were made
tracking See tracked changes
transaction A password that is used once only as a security method in online banking
number
transducer An electrical device that converts one form of energy into another (e.g. a
microphone converts sound energy into electrical energy).
transmission A network protocol for the transmission of data that ensures that data is
control protocol delivered accurately
transponder A device used for transmitting television programmes. It is attached to a
communications satellite, which receives signals from the uplink satellite dish
and transmits them back to earth to receiving satellite dishes
tree network A combination of two or more star networks connected together. The central
hubs of each star network are connected to a central cable as with a bus
network – thus a tree network is a bus network of star networks.
Trojan horse A program similar in effect to a virus except that it does not replicate itself. It
appears to be a useful piece of software, but when executed deletes files on the
hard disk
troubleshooting Part of user documentation that comes with a new ICT system. It advises users
guide on how to overcome commonly occurring problems
tunnelling The use of a publicly accessible network to carry encrypted data from source to
destination computers
turtle graphics A popular way of drawing shapes on a computer screen (or by controlling a ‘floor
turtle’ that can move around). There are a set number of commands such as
RIGHT x, LEFT x, TURN d, etc.
tweening The process of generating intermediate frames between two graphic computer
images to give the appearance that the first image transforms smoothly into the
second image.
twisted pair Type of network cable used to transmit data between devices on a network. It
consists of two conducting wires twisted around each other. This reduces the
magnetic interference and hence data loss during transmission

type check A validation check that makes sure that the data is of a particular data type
U
uniform resource The unique address of any document found on the internet. Typically the address
location is divided into parts. The first part of the address gives the protocol, commonly
HTTP, the second part gives the name of the computer (e.g. www.cie.org.uk).
There is sometimes a third part which gives the directory on the computer where
the document file name can be found
universal serial Serial bus standard to connect devices to a computer.
bus
universal serial A type of port that allows a variety of devices to connect to computers or
bus port microprocessors so that data can be received from or sent to the devices
unordered An unordered file of data is one wherein the data is not in any particular order. It is
not sorted on any particular field
unordered list A list of objects within a webpage that are prefixed with bullet points.
updating The process whereby an existing system or store is changed to bring it up to date.
uplink satellite dish A very large satellite dish used by television broadcasters to transmit programme
signals to a communications satellite for onward transmission to satellite receivers
upload To copy files from a smaller computer system to a larger central system (e.g.
uploading some photographs from your computer to a website).
URL See uniform resource locator
USB See universal serial bus
USB port See universal serial bus port
user Documentation that is provided to the user of a new ICT system to enable the
documentation user to understand how to operate the new system
user ID A sequence of characters that identifies a user when logging onto any network or
single computer.
user interface The method by which a computer interacts with a user. It normally consists of a
specially designed screen that allows the user to input information as well as
providing output to the user
username The identifier a user types into an ICT system in order to gain access to the
system. Every user has a unique username so that authentication can be carried
out
V
validation A process where the software checks that the data entered into it is reasonable,
often in a database or spreadsheet
verification A process that checks the accuracy of data entry or that data has not been
corrupted during transmission, often using double entry or visual verification
version control A file naming convention used to manage files edited by multiple users, where
each saved version of a file is given a managed naming convention, often
identifying sequential version numbers and sometimes authors’ initials
video conferencing Audio and visual communication between people at different geographical sites
using the internet or some other wide area network. It makes use of special
hardware (such as webcams, microphones and speakers) and special software
(such as CODEC or communications software).
video-on-demand A system that allows viewers to watch video over a network. The film is either
constantly being transmitted over the network or downloaded in one go to a set-
top box, allowing the viewer to watch it at their convenience
virtual private The use of publicly accessible networks to communicate private information. It is
network not physically private but involves the use of security methods that make it
practically impenetrable
virus A software program that can replicate itself over and over again on a hard disk. It
also transfers from one computer to another and may modify or delete files from a
hard disk
visual verification A type of verification where data is entered and the original data is compared
visually to the data entered into the system
VLOOKUP Function within Microsoft Excel that looks up data using data organised in vertical
columns
VOD See video-on-demand
voice over IP The use of the internet to send voice data in the form of digital data packets
using internet protocols.
VOIP See voice over IP
W
WAN See wide area network
war driving The act of searching for WiFi networks by driving around in a vehicle. It requires
some form of antenna, a portable computer/personal digital assistant and special
software.
Web See world wide web
Web 2.0 Second generation of internet development and design.
web authoring Software used for creating web pages
package
web browser Software that allows you to display webpages from an intranet or the internet.
Webcams Miniature video cameras that are connected to computers to transmit video
across a network. Their main use is in videoconferencing
web-enabled A mobile phone that allows the user access to the internet.
mobile phone
weblog See blog
Webpage A single page of information displayed in a format that can be viewed on a web
browser through either the intranet or the internet.
Website A collection of interrelated webpages that relate to one topic or organisation and
usually accessible via the internet.
white space An area of a document that contains no text or images and just contains the
paper, hence the term ‘white space’ referring to the blank colour of the paper.
Documents normally have ‘white space’ between the margin settings and the
edge of the page.
wide area network A network formed by connecting several local area networks together using
routers or modems
Widow A last line of text of a paragraph that appears at the top of a page, with the rest of
the paragraph on the previous page
WiFi A system where it is possible to connect to a network or single computer through
wireless communications.
WiFi protected A method of wireless network security that has very complex encryption, with long
keys, and that also incorporates user authentication
Wiki A website created for the purpose of any user who has access to it being able to
edit it
wildcard search A character that may be used in a search term to represent one or more other
characters. In terms of a database wildcard searches are often used to find
specified text within a field. The question mark ‘?’ is often used to represent a
single alphanumeric character in a search and the * character is often used to
represent a number of alphanumeric characters.
WIMP See windows icons menu and pointing system
windows icons A form of graphical user interface where a mouse is used to control a cursor and
menu and pointing icons are selected to open/run windows.
system
wireless local area A local area network with no wires or cables, other than the wiring that connects
network the WLAN access points together. A WLAN uses either spread spectrum radio
waves or infrared signals to enable devices to communicate with each other
wireless network A device that acts like a network card but communicates by transmitting data in
interface controller the form of radio waves rather than by using cables
wireless personal A small communications network usually created for use by just one person using
area network Bluetooth technology
WLAN See wireless local area network
WNIC See wireless network interface controller
word processor Software that allows you to create, edit and format documents
worldwide web A system of connected HTML documents accessed via the internet using a web
browser
worm A piece of destructive software that replicates like a virus but uses information
about the method of communication a networked computer uses to cause itself to
be transported to another computer
WPA See WiFi protected access
WPAN See wireless personal area network
WYSIWYG What You See Is What You Get: in terms of website authoring, relates to
packages that create or edit HTML markup using a graphics interface. For
example, you may enlarge or reduce the size of an image on a webpage by using
the drag handles. The WYSIWYG package will edit the HTML markup so that this
change will appear whenever the page is opened.
Y
YEAR Function within Microsoft Excel that returns the year from a given date
Z
zip To reduce the number of bytes needed to save a file, either to save storage space
or to reduce transmission time