In printing, a continuous tone image, such as a photograph, that has been converted into a black-and-white image. Halftones are created through a process called dithering, in which the density and pattern of black and white dots are varied to simulate different shades of gray.
In conventional printing, halftones are created by photographing an image through a screen. The screen frequency, measured in lines per inch, determines how many dots are used to make each spot of gray. In theory, the higher the screen frequency (the more lines per inch), the more accurate the halftone will be. However, actual screen frequencies are limited by the technology because higher screen frequencies create smaller, more tightly packed dots. If you are printing on a low resolution device, therefore, you may get better results with a lower screen frequency.
Modern desktop publishing systems can create halftones by simulating the conventional photographic process. This is why some programs allow you to specify a screen frequency even when no actual screen is used.