The exchange of ideas is essential to everyone, regardless of his vocation or position. Usually, this exchange is carried on by the oral or written word; but under some conditions the use of these alone is impractical. Industry discovered that it could not depend entirely upon written or spoken words for the exchange of ideas because misunderstanding and misinterpretation arose frequently. A written description of an object can be changed in meaning just by misplacing a comma; the meaning of an oral description can be completely changed by the use of a wrong word. To avoid these possible errors, industry uses drawings to describe objects. For this reason, drawing is called the Draftsman's Language.

Drawing, as we use it, is a method of conveying ideas concerning the construction or assembly of objects. This is done with the help of lines, notes, abbreviations, and symbols. It is very important that the aviation mechanic who is to make or assemble the object understand the meaning of the different lines, notes, abbreviations, and symbols that are used in a drawing. (See especially "The Meaning of Lines" section of this chapter.)

Prints are the link between the engineers who design an aircraft and the men who build, maintain, and repair it. A print may be a copy of a working drawing for an aircraft part or group of parts, or for a design of a system or group of systems. They are made by placing a tracing of the drawing over a sheet of chemically treated paper and exposing it to a strong light for a short period of time. When the exposed paper is developed, it turns blue where the light has penetrated the transparent tracing. The inked lines of the tracing, having blocked out the light, show as white lines on a blue background. Other types of sensitized paper have been developed; prints may have a white background with colored lines or a colored background with white lines.

A print shows the various steps required in building anything from a simple component to a complete aircraft.