Printing News
Book printing terms

Book printing, like many industries, has its own special vocabulary. These terms can be quite confusing to someone outside the printing industry. Modern technology has diversified the methods used in printing, but hasn't significantly changed the basic terminology. This list of some of the most commonly used words and phrases will help demystify book printing lingo for you.

General terms
Manuscript (MS): It all starts with the author's original form of the work (handwritten, typed or on a disk) submitted for publication.

Head(er): The margin and/or the printing at the top of the page

Gutter: The inside margins toward the back binding edges.

Interleaves: Printed pages loosely inserted (unattached) in a publication.

ISBN: International Standard Book Number, which is assigned to a published work and usually found on the title page.

Color sequence: The order in which inks are printed for color illustrations. Also called laydown sequence or rotation.

Layout: Sample of the original that shows position, direction and instructions for the final design of the book.

Proof: A test sheet made to reveal errors or flaws, predict results on press and record how a printing job is intended to appear when finished.

Proofreader marks: A standard set of symbols and abbreviations used to mark up manuscripts and proofs for corrections.

Specifications (specs): The complete, precise written description of a printing job including type size and face, paper quality and the printing and binding methods to be used.

Acid-free paper: Made from pulp containing little or no acid, so it resists deterioration from age. Also called alkaline paper, archival paper, neutral pH paper, permanent paper and thesis paper.

Deckle edge: The edge of is left ragged, as it comes from the paper-making machine instead of being cleanly cut. Sometimes called feather edge.

Finish: The surface characteristics of paper.

Leaf: One sheet of paper in a publication. Each side of a leaf is one page.

Quarto: Sheet folded twice, making pages one-fourth the size of the original sheet. A quarto makes an eight-page signature.

Signature: A printed sheet folded at least once, possibly many times, to become part of a book, magazine or other publication.

Bind: The joining of leafs or signatures together.

Book block: Folded signatures gathered, sewn and trimmed, but not yet covered.

Case binding: Uses glue to hold signatures to a case made of binder board covered with fabric, plastic or leather, more commonly known as hard cover.

End sheet or end papers: The paper that attaches the inside pages of a case-bound book to its cover.

Flush cover: Trimmed to the same size as inside pages, such as a paperback book.

Lay flat bind: A method of perfect binding that allows a book to lie fully open.

Mechanical bind: To bind using a comb, coil, or any other technique that is not gluing, sewing or stitching.

Saddle stitch: To bind a book by fastening sheets together where they fold at the spine with special thread.

Spine: Back or binding edge of a publication.


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