Book Printing Glossary

Below you'll find a list of terms and their definitions to common book printing terms.

1/1: The book’s interior will only be printed in black ink, with one "color" (black) on both sides of the page.

4/4: The book’s interior will be printed in full color (4-color CMYK), with ink on both sides of the page.

4/0/0/4: Shorthand for how the cover will be printed, in the following order: front cover/inside front cover/inside back cover/back cover. Most books don’t include printing on the inside covers, so they are 4/0/0/4, with 0 meaning no ink. A book with color printing on the two outside covers and the inside back cover, for example, would be noted as 4/0/4/4.

Adhesive Casebound: A standard binding for hardcover books, which uses glue to hold the interior text block to the cover. It’s the hardcover equivalent of a “perfect binding.”

Bleed: Excess printed area that’s trimmed after printing. Having bleed in your files ensures that full-page images take up the entire page and are not left with a fine, white edge after trimming.

Case Wrap: The case of a hardcover book is a cardboard cover, which can either be wrapped with printed paper (“printed case wrap”) or a solid color material such as colored paper (which can be textured to look like linen) or leatherette. Solid color case wraps are typically foil stamped on the spine with the author’s name and book title.

Crossovers or Crossover Images: A term referring to a two-page spread where an image crosses over onto both pages. Some bindings (side sewn, specifically) require special instruction for crossover images.

Digital Printing: An alternative to offset printing (see below) that eliminates many of the steps. Most digital printers apply ink in a single pass, similar to the process of a home printer.

Dust Jacket: A separate paper "cover" for a hardcover book, which wraps around the case wrap, but isn’t permanently attached.

Embossing: A special treatment used to raise a portion of a book cover. Most commonly, the book’s title will be raised for a dramatic effect. Embossing can only be applied to paperback books or dust jackets.

Endsheets: The paper glued to the inside of the hardcover case, which also becomes the first (unprinted) interior page of the book. Standard endsheets are white, but you can request colored endsheets or printed endsheets (color or black ink) for an additional fee.

Foil Stamp: A special treatment most often used for hardcover books with dust jackets. A foil stamp is used to print the title of the book and the author’s name on the spine of a solid color case wrap, beneath the dust jacket. Though less common, foil stamping can be done on any type of book, paperback, or hardcover to add a metallic effect to specific details or text on the cover.

Gloss Lamination: Laminate is a thin piece of plastic that coats the cover of your book. Glossy lamination gives your cover a shiny cover finish.

Gutter: The margin in the middle of a book when you open it (usually there’s some "extra" blank space near the center fold to make it easier to read).

Headband/Footband: The small piece of fabric seen at the top and bottom of a hardcover binding, with optional color variations.

Landscape: A term used to describe the orientation of a book, where the book is wider than it is tall (e.g., a 10 x 5 trim size would mean the book is 10 inches wide and 5 inches tall, and the book is bound on the 5-inch side). Compare this to “Portrait,” below.

Matte Lamination: Laminate is a thin piece of plastic that coats the cover of your book. Matte lamination gives your cover a non-reflective finish. Matte laminations are sometimes referred to as “soft touch.” While beautiful, they tend to show scratches more easily than glossy laminations and aren’t typically recommended for dark covers.

Offset Printing: A type of printing in which the ink is transferred (or “offset”) from a plate to the printed surface (the paper).

Paper Weight: The thickness and sturdiness of the paper, not the actual weight of the sheet. For example, the kind of everyday paper used in most home printers usually has a 20 lb. (20 #) paper weight.

Perfect Bind (also Perfectbound): A standard binding for paperback books that uses glue to hold the text block to the cover.

Portrait: A term used to describe the orientation of a book, where the book is taller than it is wide. Most books are portrait-sized (e.g., a 5 x 8 trim size would mean the book is 5 inches wide and 8 inches tall, and is bound on the 8-inch side). Compare this to “Landscape,” above.

Press-Ready Files: Generally, two PDFs, one of your fully laid out interior and one of your full cover (including front, back, and spine), make up your press-ready files, which means you can go directly to print.

Saddle Stitch: A binding method commonly used for booklets that typically uses staples (instead of actual stitching) in the gutter where the book folds to bind the book together.

Side Sewn: A special binding method used for hardcover books with low page counts (fewer than 64 pages). Printing signatures (see below) are stacked on top of one another and then sewn together as one before being glued into the hardcover case. Side-sewn bindings require special file preparation for books with crossover images.

Signatures: In offset printing, interior pages are printed on large sheets of paper that are then folded into a group, called a “signature.” Printing signatures typically come in groups of 16 or 32, but can sometimes be broken down into smaller sections of 8 or 4 pages each. If your page count cannot be easily divided by 16 or 32, additional blank pages may need to be added to complete printing signatures.

Smyth Sewn: A special binding method used for hardcover books. Each printing signature (see above) is sewn individually before all signatures are sewn together and then glued into the hardcover case. This binding affords maximum durability.

Spine: The edge of the book’s binding, which faces outward on a bookshelf.

Spine Width: A calculation for the thickness of your book’s spine in your cover file. Spine width is based on your exact page count (including any additional blank pages needed to complete printing signatures) and the exact weight of your selected paper stock (which impacts each page’s thickness).

Trim Size: The dimensions of the final printed book. Width is always listed first, then height.

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