Printing Vocabulary

There are a lot of industry terms to learn when printing a book and we know it can feel overwhelming. That’s why we’ve created this cheat sheet of words and phrases to help you through the process:

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

4/4: This means 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: This shorthand refers to how the cover will be printed, in the following order: front cover/inside front cover/inside back cover/back cover. Most books do not include printing on the inside covers, so they are 4/0/0/4 (0 refers to no ink). A book with color printing on the inside back cover only, for example, would be noted as 4/0/4/4.

Adhesive Casebound: This is a standard binding for hardcover books, which utilizes glue to hold the interior text block to the cover. It is the hardcover equivalent of a “perfect binding.”

Bleed: This refers to the area of a file where the background is extended to allow for any variances in trimming without losing content. We require a 0.25” bleed on all sides for cover files and any interior files in which images extend to the edge of the page. The bleed area should be an extension of the background only, and should not include any key content elements.

Case Wrap: The case of a hardcover book is the 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 to denote the author name and book title.

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

Dust Jacket: This is a separate paper "cover" for a hardcover book, which wraps around the case wrap but is not permanently attached.

Embossing: This is 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, as a hardcover case wrap is too thick to raise.

Endsheets: The paper that is glued to the inside of the hardcover case, as well as being 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: This is 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. However, 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 is 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, where the book would be bound on the 5-inch side).

Matte Lamination: Laminate is a thin piece of plastic that coats the cover of your book. Matte lamination gives your cover a non-reflective cover finish. Matte laminations are sometimes referred to as “soft touch.” While beautiful, they do tend to show scratches more easily than glossy laminations.

Perfect Bind (also Perfectbound): This is 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). 

Press-Ready files: In order to print your book, we need files that are “press ready,” which includes two PDFs: one for your interior, and one for your full cover (including front, back, and spine). You can download our specifications for press ready files here.

Saddle Stitch: This is a binding method commonly used for booklets. These days, it typically utilizes 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 (< 64). Each printing signature is 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 very 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 edge of the book’s binding, which faces outward on a bookshelf.

Spine Width: This is a very specific 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 (PPI, or pounds per inch) of your selected paper stock.

Have questions? Not sure where to start? Give us a call!