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Book Printing Dictionary

Many terms exist in the book printing industry that are helpful to know when printing a book. We understand it can feel bit overwhelming, that’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the more common terminology and phrases used to help you through the process.

1/1: This means the book’s interior will be printed in only 1 color (typically black). This one “color” will print on both sides of the page.

4/4: This means the book’s interior will be printed in Four Color Process or Full Color (CMYK), with Full color on both sides of the page.

4/0/0/4: This refers to the “4” covers on a book cover (outside front cover. inside front cover. inside back cover and the outside back cover). The number refers to the number of inks on the corresponding cover. In this example the book cover would print: 4 colors on the outside front cover, 0 colors (or blank) on the inside front cover, 0 colors on the inside back cover and 4 colors on the outside back cover.

Adhesive Case: Uses glue to adhere the text pages to the hardcover case. Similar to Perfect binding

Bleed: Printing that continues past the trim edge so when the book is trimmed the image “runs” or “bleeds” off the edge of the sheet.

Crossovers/Gutter Jump: A term referring to an image that starts on left hand page and continues across to the adjacent right hand page without interruption at the bind edge. Also referred to as a two-page spread.

Dust Jacket: A printed paper sleeve that is wrapped around a hardcover book, but is not permanently attached.

Embossing: This is a special cover treatment where a die is made and used to raise a portion of a book cover giving it a 3-D effect. Most commonly used on the title of a book.

Foil Stamp: Is a special process where a thin film of metal is applied to paper (or cloth) with a custom made die. Foil stamping is used instead of inks to create a special affect.

Gutter: The margin in the middle of a book where the book is bound together when you open it.

Headband/Footband: Is a decorative piece of fabric seen at the top and bottom of a hardcover book at the bound edge.

Lamination: Is a thin plastic film that is adhered to the cover with heat. Lamination gives your book a durable finish that protects the printed cover. Lamination is available in Gloss (shiny) or Matte (dull) finishes.

Landscape: Describes the orientation of a book. When a book is bound on the shorter dimension so the book is wider then it is tall. (E.g., a 9 x 6 trim size would mean the book is 9 inches wide and 6 inches tall. The book would be bound on the 6-inch side).

Portrait: Describes the orientation of a book. When a book is bound on the longer dimension so book is taller then it is wide. Most books are bound in this orientation. (E.g., a 6 x 9 trim size would mean the book is 6 inches wide and 9 inches tall, and is bound on the 9-inch side).

Perfect Bind (also Perfect bound): This is the standard binding for softcover (paperback) books that uses glue to hold the text pages to the cover.

Print-Ready files: Files that are “print ready,” are typically PDF files that have all fonts, graphics and pictures embedded in the files. We prefer to have separate files for the text and cover. Covers should be sent to us assembled (front, back, and spine continuous). We will be happy to send you a cover template with all the dimensions needed to build your cover file.

Saddle Stitch: Wire stitches (staples) are used to hold the pages to the cover together instead of glue. This is a common binding for magazines and other low page count books.

Signatures: In offset printing, interior pages are printed on large sheets of paper that are then folded down, to create a “signature.” “Signature” sizes can vary depending on the printer’s equipment. Signatures can be as small as 4 pages or as large as 64 pages or more. If your page count cannot be easily divided by 8, then additional blank pages may need to be added to complete full signatures.

Smyth Sewn: A common binding method used mainly for hardcover books. Each printed signature is sewn individually and then all the signatures are sewn together and then glued into a soft cover or hardcover case.

Spine: The edge of the book’s binding, which faces outward on a bookshelf.  Also called the “bind edge.”

Spine Width: This is a calculation to determine the thickness of your book’s spine (bind edge). Spine width is calculated by dividing your page count by the PPI (thickness) of the paper being used.  (PPI = Pages Per Inch).