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Glossary of Technical Terms

Book Design, Layout, Printing, and Binding


© 2008 12/14


See Author’s Alterations.
2s 2 Side, as in "prints 2s"
A.A. Author's Alterations
bf bold face
b1s Bleed 1 side
c. and s.c. caps and small caps
c. and l.c. caps and lower case
cap capitals
ctr center
dpi dots per inch
it also ital: italic
eq equal
lc lower case
lsp letter space
PE printer’s error
rb run back
rd run down
rom roman
sc small cap
sp spell out
ss same size
stet let stand
tr transpose
wf wrong font
In binding, also perfect binding. An adhesive is one where an adhesive is applied to the text block spine—gluing the individual leaves along their inside/spine edges.
Unit of measure used in newspaper advertising: 14 agates to an inch.
In layout and typesetting, alignment is the placement of text or images relative to a page, column, or table cell. See Type PDF.
Changes made in the original copy: see Author’s Alterations and Printer’s Errors.
The “and” symbol: “&.”
A technique for minimizing distortion known as aliasing: reducing distortion when representing a high-resolution image at a lower resolution.

Refers to the quality of preservation. In books it refers to the materials used to construct the book. Paper: most paper is made from wood pulp. Wood pulp contains lignum, which if it is not removed, acidifies and causes the paper to become brittle and yellow. Wood pulp paper can be deacidified during manufacture, and buffers can be added to prevent the formation of additional acids due to environmental contaminants. Cotton or rag paper, also known and museum grade, is both acid and lignum free. Plastics can gas out and cause deterioration. Plastics such as polyethylene or Mylar can be used archivally. Ink, too, can be lightfast or fugitive.

Visible defects caused by digital encoding. There are two main types: purple fringing and compression artifacts.
The part of a lowercase letter that extends about the x-height: e.g. d, b, or h. See Type PDF.

Author’s Alterations

Author’s alterations (AA): usually companies setting type or laying out books, ads, etc., limit AA’s and charge for AA’s beyond the limit. Changing “from” to “form” won’t disturb the page layout, but adding or removing even one word may add or remove a line, which, in turn could alter many pages before and after: creating widows, uneven page lengths etc. These are different from PE’s, printer’s error, corrections made to eliminate an error introduced in converting the manuscript to type, or a variation from the approved layout.
Black and white: traditionally referring to silver-gelatin photograph prints: continuous tone prints in shades from white to black. In digital art, a good B&W conversion from a full color image involves using certain percentages of information from the red, green, and blue channels. See grayscale. See Color PDF.
Back Matter
See End Matter.
The Spine of a book.
The horizontal line on which all letters and punctuation stand.
Basis Weight
Also “basic weight.” The weight in pounds of a ream of paper cut to a standard, or basic, size: The basic size for bond, ledger, laser jet, ink jet, and writing paper that size is 17” X 22”; for book and offset paper it is 25” X 38”; for glassine, newsprint, and tissues, it is 24” X 26”. For example, a ream of 8 1/2 X 11 inch 24 pound laserjet paper doesn't weigh 24 lbs, although four reams (at 17 X 22) would.
Bastard Title
See Half Title
Bézier Curves
In vector graphics, Bézier curves are used to create smooth curves that can be scaled indefinitely. In some programs they remain vector based, in others they are rasterized to be used.
A list of books on a particular topic or by a specific author.
Binder’s Board
The heavy pasteboard stiffener in a book cover—hardbound, casebound—over which cloth, leather, or paper, is applied.
The covering for the pages of a book. Commonly:

Case binding:

a case or binding made of hard covers. Synonymous with hardbound.

Smyth sewing:


passes a thread through the fold of each signature. Case bound books are normally Smyth sewn. Dover books are Smythe sewn then paper bound.

Side stitching:


if sewn, a thread is passed through the entire book from the side to side; if stapled, a staple is passed through the entire book from side to side.

Saddle stitch:

a binding stitch made by stapling folded and gathered sheets with a staple through the center of the folded sheets.

Perfect binding:


after folding and gathering, the folded edges are trimmed and roughened, that is the spine, to which an adhesive is applied. The book is finished with a wraparound paper cover.



a mechanical binding that feeds a continuous spiral of metal or plastic through small holes that go through the entire book from side to side.



is a mechanical binding that feeds a plastic, curved, “comb” the fingers of which curve through holes running from side to side of the book along the spine.
a mechanical binding that uses metal rings that go through holes running through the book from side to side.



a mechanical binding, that uses threaded male and female posts, lick a bold and nut, through holes in the book running side to side, to hold the book together.
Black Letter
Originally, Gothic or German handwriting, common in the 15th century. Now, any type based on the handwriting, text type. See Type PDF.
When a image extends beyond the trim line of a page; e.g. B1S, bleeds one side. To ensure a perfect bleed, it is important to work to the printer or binder's tolerances.
Blind Folio
A page number that is counted but not shown in the makeup.
Blind Stamp
An impression—embossed or debossed—made in the cover, letterhead, etc. without the use of color.
Block Quotes
See Extract.
Blow Up
To enlarge; or that which has been enlarged (photograph, chart, map, etc.) is called a blowup.
Descriptive text on a book jacket.
Body Type
The typeface used for the main part of a job; also text type.
A heavy version of a regular typeface. See Type PDF.
Book Cloth
Sized, glazed, or impregnated cloth used for book covers.
Book Paper
Paper made for manufacturing books, magazines, and pamphlets, as opposed to newsprint, writing, or cover stock.
A glyph used for enclosing material [thus].
Break Line
Short lines used to separate footnotes from text body.



A broadside page is designed to be read when the book is turned 90 degrees, also called landscape. More commonly, also broadsheet, a large sheet of paper, printed on one or two sides such as an advertising circular.
Heavy book cloth used for library bindings, or for large books.

Bulking Dummy


A dummy book constructed to match the finished book except made of blank pages, used to determine the feel of the book and to confirm or assist in size and position of elements on the cover and confirming the width of the spine.
Originally, a large dot used as an ornamental element, especially for lists. These can now be squares, diamonds, arrows, etc.
To pass paper between steel rollers to give the paper a smother surface or finish.
Fine handwriting with a brush or a pen. Calligraphic type is designed after various styles of calligraphy. See Type PDF.
Artwork, type proofs, etc., ready to be photographed for reproduction. Complete, finished digital files--PDFs, TIFFs, etc.--ready for printing would be the digital equivalent.
Cap Height
The height of a capital letter in a specific font; often different from the height of the biggest ascender.
Capital letters, also uppercase; e.g. A, B, C, D.
The title of an illustration, table, etc. It is either set above or below. When set below, it is the title of the legend.
A sign (^) directing the typesetter to insert a correction or additional material immediately above the line in the manuscript or at the side in a galley.
Also casebound. A cover or binding, usually synonymous with hardbound.
Casting Off
See copyfitting.
Centered Dot
See bullet. A heavy dot used as an ornament before paragraphs or in lists.
Centered Head
See Heading


In photo editing software, color information is carried by separate grayscale bands, one each for red, green, and blue in RGB; cyan, magenta, yellow, and black in CMYK. Each band is a channel. CMYK channels correspond to printer’s colors; RGB to the scanner sensor or monitor phosphors.
Chapter Heading
The number and tile of a chapter on the opening page of a chapter. Considered display matter. See Chapter PDF.
Character Count
Total number of characters of a piece of copy. In copyfitting, used to determine the number of pages.
See hardbound.



A subtractive color scheme of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black—as used form most color printing. This color space does not directly and absolutely translate from RGB—colors that cannot be printed or reproduced are called out of gamut. In digital image editing software, in CMYK mode there are four channels (each a grayscale) for each color.
Coated Paper
See paper.
In book making, to examine the folded signatures to make sure they are complete and in the proper order. See Collating Mark.
Collating Mark
A mark on the outside of the folded signature that enables collating. For example, a short rule positioned step-wise on the signatures would clearly and quickly show if a signature were missing or out of order.
1) The publisher’s trademark or logo. 2) A statement placed at the end of the book. 3) A statement giving information about the design and printing of the book.
Color (of type)
Tone or density of a block of text. See Type PDF.
Color Printing
The process of printing in color. In offset printing, halftone reproduction of full-color art or photographs is done with four color plates, CMYK. A four color press does this in one pass; a once color press does this in four passes. Other colors can be used. Some high end printers may use seven or eight colors. In inkjet printing, the print head applies very fine droplets of ink in one pass with a dot pattern that approximated continuous tone. See screen and separations.
Color Space
Hue, saturation and brightness are the three distinct attributes of color:
Hue: as in red, green, or blue.
Saturation analogous to adding white to red making pink. Red with no white would be fully saturated.
Brightness is dependent on the luminance and reflectivity of the colored surface.
Together, they form a color space. Commonly, in Photoshop, for example, one can work in RGB (Adobe RGB is different from sRGB), CMYK, LAB, etc.
The study of color perception.
A vertical block of text positioned on a page.
Column Inch
A measurement us in newspaper advertising: 1 inch deep by one column wide.
Composing Stick
Used for handset type. An adjustable, handheld, open, three-sided box—the width being set to the width of the line of type (measure). Held in the left hand, the typesetter inserts several lines of type, letter by letter, space by space.
Setting a manuscript in type.
Also comp: an accurate layout showing type and illustrations in position.
A method of making digital files smaller for storage or transmission, but which when open reconstruct the original at a larger size. See lossy and lossless.
Computer Font

Type fonts in digital format. There are three kinds:

also called raster font. These are pixel representations—raster images—of each glyph. If a font is in three sizes, there must be three complete set of images (fonts).
also called vector fonts. These fonts give instructions for creating each glyph, which can be scalable to any size.
a glyph’s outline is defined by the a stroke’s profile and by the vertices of strokes. Common in Asia.
Condensed Type
A narrow version of regular type.
Continuous Tone
Continuous tone images have the appearance of unlimited colors or shades: photographs, TV images—a natural look. Whereas in offset lithography, images are screened, called halftone, which use regular patterns of dots, typically in four colors, CMYK, to create the illusion of continuous tone. Collotype and most inkjet prints print continuous tone images.
Control Color
An ink color that matches a specific color formula; e.g. Pantone colors. See process color. Control colors are often called "spot color."
Copy (Text)
Usually refers to the original text that has not be type set.
Copy Editor
See editor.
Also casting off or casting up, The process of determining the area required for a given amount of copy. With word processing this process is easier because no estimate of the character or word count has to be made. The total word or character count is divided by the per page word or character count for the specified text font to estimate the total number of pages.
Copyright is a legal concept protecting the creator of a work. Printed matter uses the word, “copyright,” and/or the symbol, “©,” and/or the abbreviation, “copr.”
Copyright Page
The verso of the title page of a book. This is where the copyright notice, publication information, ISBN, credits, etc. go. See Parts of a Book PDF.
The enclosed, hollow space of a letter: e.g. the space within the letter “o,” “e,” “b,” etc.
The two hinged parts of a book, the front and the back. Also the four surfaces when used to carry printed matter.
To remove unwanted portions of art from its width and or height.
Crop Marks
Marks that indicate where an image is to be trimmed.
An instruction to the user to look for information elsewhere; a reference from the text to some other part of the book.
The horizontal strokes of an “f” or “t.”
Cursive Type
Type that resemble handwriting but in which the letters are disconnected. See Type PDF.
A punctuation mark, different from a hyphen. The em dash—the length is the same as the type size; thus in 12 point type the em dash is 12 points in length; an en dash is ½ as long as the em dash—is used to set off parenthetical thought. In dialogue it is used when the sentence is stopped before completion.
Deckle Edge
The untrimmed edge of paper, more often, the rough, irregular edge of handmade paper. A deckle edge is sometimes created on a machine-made paper.
To remove.
The part of a lowercase letter that extends below the x-height.
Desktop Publishing
Also abbreviated DTP. Combines page layout and typesetting software and the personal computer to enable the design and publication of documents at either large or small scale levels.
Small signs added to a letter to alter pronunciation: á,è,é,ñ, ö, etc.
The use of a die to cut out shapes from paper.
Die Stamping
A die, usually of metal, used to stamp a raised or lowered element usually into the cover.
Typographic decorations or ornaments:
Display Matter
Matter set in a larger or different type from the text, and set on separate lines: title page, chapter headings, etc.
Display Type
Type used for headings, usually 18 points or bigger; often eye catching.
Dot Gain
When dots of ink spread on the printed substrate, this is called dot gain. Adjustments for dot gain are made based on the ink, paper, and printing method to anticipate more or less spread.
See ellipsis points.
Dots per Inch. This is an often misleading terms. In a graphics program, an image may be 300 dpi, which means 300 pixels (dots) per inch; however, an inkjet printer requires many times more dots to create the effect of each single pixel. In scanners dpi is often a selling feature, but there is the optical resolution in dpi and an extrapolated dpi.
Drop Cap
An initial that is set in a large size to drop down two or more lines, that is, the first and second lines (or more as necessary) are indented to permit the initial to be dropped down, flush with the top of the first line of type. Used for the first sentence of a book or chapter. See raised cap.
Drop Folio
A page number located at the foot of the page.
Halftone picture in which the screen dots have been removed in the highlights; or when a picture with a white background is photographed through a halftone screen, pinpoint dots—in digital art “artifacts”—are left in the white and have to be removed or “dropped out.”
Layout showing how text, headings, page numbers, illustrations, etc., will be arranged. See comprehensive, bulking dummy.
Two-color reproduction of a black-and-white image. See Color PDF.
Dust Wrapper
See jacket.
An edition consists of all copies of a book printed from the same type or plates, and subsequent printing from plates prepared photographically from the original typography. The rare-book trade often uses edition and impression as synonymous, because after a book was printed, early printed distributed (put back, or with hot type, melted) the type after each printing.


Generally, one who selects and prepares a work for publication. There are different types of editing: developmental, copy, line, manuscript, fact, procurement, style editing.
Elite Type
Typewriter type: 12 characters to the inch. See pica.
Ellipsis Points
Spaced periods used to indicate omitted words in quoted matter: ". . ."
The square of the type size: in 14 pt type an em would be 14 X 14 pts.
Using italics, bold, or bold italics to highlight a word, phrase, or sentence.
One half the width of an em.
End Matter
Also back matter or reference matter. The printed matter at the end of a book, after the text: appendixes, bibliographies, glossaries, indexes. See Parts of a Book PDF.
End Sheet
Also end paper. The heavy weight paper that connects the cover to the pages of a book.
Generally a print made from an intaglio plate, prepared by cutting below the surface.
A short quote at the head of a chapter or in the front matter that is suggestive of the matter to come.
Errors found after the book has been printed, and of such a serious nature that an errata slip is printed and tipped in.
Etaoin Shrdlu
At one time, what was thought to be the twelve most common letters in English: defining the first two keyboard rows on a Linotype machine.
A wide version of a regular typeface. See Type PDF.
Also secondary text. A long quotation set off from the text in smaller type, indentations, less leading.
The style or cut of type.
Related typefaces; e.g. Minion Regular, Minion, Italic, Minion Bold. See Type PDF.
Felt Side
Uncoated paper has two sides, a wire side (in contact with the wire mesh) and the felt side, or top. A felt finish: such as linen, laid, or wove.
1) A numeral. 2) An illustration printed with text (also text figure), as distinct from a plate, which is printed separately and tipped in.



An image carrying transparent plastic sheet for transmitted rather than reflective use. In photography, prints are made from film. In offset printing, metal, plastic, or paper printing plates are made from film. See separations.
Type set with no indentation. See Type PDF.
Flush Paragraph
A paragraph with no indentation.
Other than the end sheet, any blank leaf at the front or end of a book.
An oversized leaf—map, illustration, table—folded to fit within the trim size of a book and tipped in.
Page number—blind folio if unprinted; expressed folio if printed. Also, a book made from a standard size sheet folded once forming two leaves, four pages; see octavo and quarto.
All the characters in one size of type.
Introduction to a book written by someone other than the author. Sometimes used as in place of “Preface.”
Generally used to indicate the assembly of all images/image carriers (type, images, decorative elements) to be combined for the same press run. In book making, a form usually contains a multiple of 8 pages--one side of one sheet. See imposition.
Size and shape of a publication.
"Age spots" on vintage paper. These yellow-rust colored spots are commonly found on 19th century paper. They may have some association with iron contaminants in the paper and fungal growth. A personal observation: the cheaper papers commonly used in books for wood cuts do not have foxing, although the paper is yellowed and brittle due to acidification; whereas the better papers used for steel engravings or simply better printing, are more likely to show foxing. For the most part, foxing itself does not affect the integrity of the paper, as opposed to acidification which breaks the molecular chains that give paper its strength, resulting in embrittlement.
Common fractions ( ¼, ½, ¾) can be found in many common fonts; however other fractions have to be built up from either lining figures and a solidus (4/9) or super and subscript numbers with either a solidus () or a dash ().
French Spacing
A justifying space added only after the period ending a sentence.
“From line”
The line citing the source of a quotation or extract, e.g, “From The Materials of the Artist.”
Front Matter
Also “Preliminaries” or “Prelims.” The opening pages of a book, including: half title, full title, copyright, dedication, preface, and foreword. Usually folioed with lowercase roman numerals. See Parts of a Book PDF.
An illustrated page that faces the title page of a book.
Full Binding:
A fully bound book is entirely encased in leather, i.e. the binding boards and spine are covered in leather. See three-quarter and half bound.
Full Measure
The length of a line (width of column) in which type is set. Full measure refers to copy set to the full width; as opposed to narrow measure, which refer to a block of copy such as an extract, that is set to a narrower measure. See measure.


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