Get Inword News

Book Printing Glossary for Self-Publishers

Book Printing

Below you will find Terms and Definitions related to book printing.

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

4/0: The cover will be printed in full color on the front cover, with no printing on the inside front cover or inside back cover, and full color on the back cover.

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

4-Color Printing: The process of using cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink to produce book covers and/or pages in full color.

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.”

Back Flap: Hardcover books that have a separate paper cover with flaps, this is the one that tucks in front of the back cover. It can contain text continued from the front flap, a photo, bio, or other text.

Bleed: When an image or type is intended to run off the edge of the printed page, it is said to “bleed.” Printers have their own specifications for how far the image has to extend past the edge of the paper to allow enough room for manufacturing variances. In offset printing it is standard to allow one-eighth of an inch for bleed. Some digital printers, due to the looser manufacturing standards of their equipment, require one-quarter of an inch for bleed.

Blind Embossing: A design pressed on paper without ink or foil. The embossing so done is called blind as there is no ink or foil used in forming the design.

Brightness: In paper, the reflectance or brilliance of the paper.

Book Paper: A general term for coated and uncoated papers.

C1S (Coated One Side): Paper that has a coating or finish on only one side. This paper is often used for book covers.

Caliper: The thickness of paper, usually expressed in thousandths of an inch (mils). This calculation is used by the book designer to determine the width of the spine.

Casebound: Hardcover books are created by manufacturing a case from binders board and a covering such as cloth, leather, or paper, then covering the book block with the case. In the bindery this is known as “casing in” and results in a casebound book.

Coated Paper: Paper having a surface coating that produces a smooth finish. Surfaces include matte, dull, and gloss.

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.

Die-Cutting: Cutting images in or out of paper.

Digital Printing: Printing by plateless imaging systems that are imaged by digital data from prepress systems. While POD is technically digital printing, this term refers to printing on an offset press.

Direct-to-Press: When a project is printed by skipping the film and printing plate step and going directly from digital files to the press.

Debossing: Image pressed into a material’s surface, sitting below the product surface.

Dots Per Inch (dpi): A measure of the resolution of a screen image or printed page. The amount of information contained within an image file is expressed as dots per inch. Screen images are usually displayed at 72 dpi on monitors, but printers typically require images of 300 dpi to produce acceptable results.

Dust Jacket (Jacket): The paper wrap of a hardcover book, which wraps around the case wrap but isn’t permanently attached.

Embossing: The process of raising (or impressing) letters or designs on strong paper.

Endpaper (Endsheets): The decorative or colorful paper used to bind a book’s front and back pages to its cover, traditionally in hardcover books.

Foil Stamp: The application of metallic or pigmented foil on to a book cover or case by application of a heated die onto foil, making it permanently adhere to the surface below, leaving the design of the die.

Gutter, Margin: Margins are the blank spaces around the type area on a book page, but the inside margin has the special name “gutter,” and it is always the margin on the bound edge of the book page. When you’re looking at a book page spread, you’ll have two gutters together, doubling the apparent space.

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

Insert: A printed piece prepared for insertion into another printed piece.

Landscape: A book bound on the shorter dimension. When specifying the trim size of a book, the second number represents the side the book will be bound on. Hence an 8.5” x 11” book will be bound on the 11” side. An 11” x 8.5” book will be bound on the 8.5” side.

Lamination, Gloss or Matte: A plastic film is bonded by heat and pressure to the book cover for protection and/or appearance.

Makeready: Everything that must be done to make a file ready to be sent to a press.

Matte Finish: Dull paper finish without gloss or luster.

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

Opacity: The property of paper that minimizes or prevents the passage of light through the sheet. A term often used in reference to the amount of “show-through” of printed areas on the reverse or adjoining page that can be observed. Less show-through will occur on papers with high opacity.

PMS, Pantone Matching System: The industry’s standard color system used for printing your book in any process other than full-color, such as 2-color.

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 book bound on the longer dimension. When specifying the trim size of a book, the second number represents the side the book will be bound on. Hence an 8.5” x 11” book will be bound on the 11” side. An 11” x 8.5” book will be bound on the 8.5” side.

Press Date: The scheduled date for the book to go to press.

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.

Print (or Press) Run: The total number of books you are producing.

Process Colors: In printing, the subtractive primaries—yellow, magenta, and cyan—plus black (CMYK) in 4-color process printing.

Proof (Page Proof, or Book Proof): A general term for a variety of options for seeing what your file will look like when printed.

Saddle Stitch: In binding, to fasten a booklet by wiring it through the middle fold of the sheets.

Score: To impress or indent a mark with a string or rule in the paper to make folding easier.

Self Cover: A cover of the same paper as inside text pages.

Side Sewn: A special binding method used for hardcover books with low page counts (fewer than 64 pages). Printing signatures 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 is sewn individually before all signatures are sewn together and then glued into the hardcover case. This binding affords maximum durability.

Spine: The binding that joins the front and rear covers where the pages hinge.

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).

Spot Varnish: When only a small piece, or “spot”, of your printed project is to receive a varnish.

Stock (Paper or Material): Refers to the paper or material that is to be printed on.

Trim Size: The outer dimensions (horizontal and vertical) of a finished book.