Here's some interesting explanations for trade vocabulary.

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Adhesive binding

The type of binding in which single leaves are secured together with an adhesive applied to the textblock spine. In traditional systems animal glue or polyvinyl acetate glues are mostly used, in the modern Fastbind method a hot melt adhesive is used. This type of binding is also called perfect binding. Sections with perforations along the fold (for adhesive penetration into the folds to hold each section together) is a type of adhesive binding. It is known as perfo-, burst, or perfopunch binding. (see also Double Fan Adhesive Binding)

Art or Copy

The final design and text ready for printing.


A book's backstrap, backstrip or spine.


In traditional binding method the process of shaping a ridge or shoulder on each side of the spine of a text block after rounding it, and prior to lining it. Backing accommodates the thickness of the boards, and provides a hinge along which they swing. Backing also helps to prevent the spine of the text block from collapsing into a concave shape over time. (see also Rounding). Not needed in Fastbind perfect binding.

Basis weight

In the United States and Canada, the weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to the basic size. Also called ream weight and substance weight (sub weight). In countries using ISO paper sizes, the weight, in grams, of one square meter of paper. Also called grammage and ream weight.


To fasten sheets or signatures with wire, thread, glue. or by other means.


The finishing department of a print shop or firm specializing in finishing printed products (collating, folding and trimming). In a library the department responsible for binding periodicals between hard covers and repair of items with damaged bindings.


The thick rubber mat on a printing press that transfers ink from the plate to paper.


The extra amount of printed image which extends beyond the trim edge of the sheet of paper, to allow for printing up to the edge of the cut sheet.

Blind embossing

An image pressed into a sheet without ink or foil.


a general term used for pasteboard, millboard, strawboard, etc., all of which are used to form the foundation for book covers. They are made of various pulped or laminated fibrous materials pressed into large, flat sheets, which are then cut to size and covered with cloth, leather, paper, or other materials, to form the book covers. Also called cover boards, or book boards.

Board paper

General term for paper over 110# index, 80# cover or 200 g/m² that is commonly used for products such as file folders, displays and post cards. Also called paperboard.


The stiff front and back parts of a hardcover book.

Bond paper

Category of paper commonly used for writing, printing and photocopying. Also called business paper, communication paper, correspondence paper and writing paper.

Book cloth

In traditional perfect binding a specially prepared cloth used as a covering material for book covers. A thin, woven cloth that has been dyed, filled, impregnated or coated with some compound, and subjected to heat and pressure. There are three main categories: starch-filled (sometimes called sized book cloth), acrylic-, pyrozylin-, or vinyl-impregnated and plastic coated. Book cloth is quite light and it is available in a range of grades and colors.

Book paper

Paper which is suitable for books, catalogs, magazines, advertising and general printing needs. It is divided into uncoated paper (usually offset paper), coated paper (also called art paper, enamel paper, gloss paper and slick paper) and text paper.

Bound periodical

Several issues of a journal or magazine that are fastened together between hard covers so that they resemble a book. Back issues which have been sent to the bindery, covered with a binding, and placed in the stacks. Several issues of a magazine or journal arranged together under one cover.


The brilliance or reflectance of paper.

Bristol board

A thin paperboard with a smooth surface suitable for writing and printing. Used for lining the spine of a case. In Libraries e.g. a typical use of Bristol board are the ndex cards.

Buckram cloth

A heavy-weave cotton cloth filled, impregnated, or coated with different compounds (mainly, starch and pyroxylin) to get better durability, body and finish.


Thickness of paper relative to its basic weight.


Paper thickness in US in thousandths of an inch.


Pressure sensitive writing paper that does not use carbon.

Case of a book

Cover that usually consists of two boards, an inlay, and covering material. Covers and spine that, as a unit, enclose the pages of a case bound book. The case is made separately from the text block and is later attached to it in a step called casing-in.

Case binding

A method of binding in which the book cover (=case) is made separately from the textblock and later attached to it. The binding is made using adhesive to hold signatures (=textblock) to a case (made of binder board covered with fabric, plastic or leather). Also called perfect binding, cloth bind, edition bind, hard bind and hard cover.


the process of applying adhesive to the outermost end papers of a text block and fitting the text block into its case.

Cast coated

Coated paper with a high gloss reflective finish.


Abbreviation for cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and key (black), the four process colors.

Coated paper

Type of paper coated with white clay or a similar substance to provide a smooth surface for printing detailed illustrations. The finish is often glossy but can be satin or silk (dull).


In binding, the gathering of sheets or signatures.

Comb binding

A book bound with plastic combs inserted through holes punched along the binding side.


The tonal change in color from light to dark.

Cover paper

A heavy printing paper used to cover books, make presentation folders, etc.

Cover spine

the space between the boards of a case to accommodate the thickness of the textblock. The inside of this space is stiffened with a spine strip (usually made of Bristol). A hinge area left on either side of the spine strip allows for the movement of the cover boards on the shoulders of the textblock as the book is opened and used. The outside part of the cover spine usually receives stamping for author, title, and publisher. Also called spine, backbone, back backstrip, and shelfback.

Crop marks

Printed lines showing where to trim a printed sheet.

Die cutting

The process of using sharp steel rules to cut special shapes for labels, boxes and containers.


To release the textblock from its cover by easing the tipped-on end sheets away from the textblock and by slitting the super with a sharp knife or scalpel. Sometimes called disbinding.

Double Fan Adhesive Binding

A type of adhesive binding where the back margin of each leaf in an unglued textblock is exposed about 1.5 mm or less for an application of adhesive. The margin is exposed on both sides of each leaf by clamping the textblock on a vice-like press and then pushing against the textblock, first in one direction, then the other, thereby fanning or separating the edges of the leaves.


A preliminary layout showing the position of illustrations and text as they are to appear in the final reproduction or a binding made of the final materials to test the look, feel, weight etc. of the book.


Pressing an image into paper so that it will create a raised relief.


A patented exceptionally fast method of binding perfect bound books so they will open and lay flat. An exeptionally strong and durable bind.

Flat back

A casebound textblock that has not been rounded or backed. Sometimes also called square back.


The leaf (or leaves) forming that part of the folded end sheet not pasted down to the inside of the cover board. Its function is to protect the first or last leaves of the textblock. See also pastedown.


A metallic or pigmented coating on plastic sheets or rolls used in foil stamping and foil embossing.

Foil emboss

Foil stamping and embossing a image on paper with a die.

Foil stamping

Using a die to place a metallic or pigmented image on paper.


A bend in any flexible material, such as paper, made by turning a sheet over upon itself -as to fold in half. The fold along the backs of sections through which they are sewn, stapled, glued, or otherwise fastened to each other is called a back fold.


A complete assortment of letters, numbers, punctuation marks, etc. of a given design.

Fore edge

The edge of a leaf or a board opposite from, and parallel to, its binding edge (i.e. opposite from its spine edge. Fore edge is also used in a more general way to refer to any part of a volume opposite from and parallel to its spine.


the size, type page, margins, printing requirements, etc., of a final piece


The process of combining four basic colors to create a printed color picture or colors composed from the basic four colors

French fold

Two folds at right angles to each other.

Grain direction

The direction in which the majority of the fibers in a piece of paper or board are aligned and the direction in which the warp threads run in cloth. Grain direction in all man-made materials used in bookbinding should run parallel to the spine of a volume.

Gripper edge

The leading edge of the paper as it passes through the press. The unprintable edge is usually about 1.2 mm to 10 mm.


The channel and combined marginal space formed by the two inner or back margins of facing pages of a volume.

Hard copy

The output of a computer printer, or typed text sent for typesetting.


The top edge of a leaf, board, or bound volume, opposite from the surface on which the volume rests when it is shelved upright.


A small ornamental band (usually mercerized cotton or silk) which is glued on the head as well as the tail of the textblock spine of a book in most publisher's trade bindings,. Headbands today imitate the sewn-on headbands that were used to protect the head and tail of early bindings. Both bands are usually called the headbands but the band at the tail of the book is also sometimes called the tailboard.

High-bulk paper

A paper made thicker than its standard basis weight.


The flexible part of the cover on which the boards swing open. To hinge in a leaf or a group of leaves that are attached to one another, a paper or cloth strip is adhered along the binding edge of the leaf (or leaves) so that the strip extends beyond the binding edge. This assembly can then be hinged into a text block by pasting up the part of the paper or cloth strip that extends beyond the leaf (or leaves), and adhering the strip to the binding edge of a leaf in the text block. (see also inner hinge and outer hinge)


The part or space of a case binding between the textblock spine and the inside of the cover spine.

Inner hinge

The fold of the channel lying between the two halves of an endsheet where the textblock is attached to its cover (case). Also called a front hinge and inner joint.

Japanese tissue

A soft, strong, slightly transparent, long-fibered, and absorbent paper made from the fibers of a variety of plants common to Japan, especially the mulberry. Available in a variety of thicknesses and colors. Depending on the thickness, it can be used for patching leaves, for overall lining of leaves as a reinforcement, for mending tears, for reinforcing the folds of sections, or for mending inner hinges.

Kettle stitches

In traditional book binding they are the stitches closest to the head and tail of each signature of a text block that has been sewn through the fold by hand. The kettle stitches lock the sewing thread after each complete pass of the thread along the spine of the text block, and link each signature to the one sewn on previously.

Kraft paper

A strong brown machine-made paper widely used for wrapping purposes, and in publisher's bindings for lining the inside cover spine (spine strip) of a case bound book.


To cover with film, to bond or glue one surface to another.


A single sheet of paper or half of a folded sheet of paper.

Leaf Attachment

The means by which leaves of a textblock are attached one to another along the binding edge.


In traditional method layers of cloth and paper used for reinforcing and stiffening the textblock spine. One or two layers of material are frequently glued to the textblock spine after it has been rounded and backed. Usually the first spine lining is Super, and the second lining is a strip of light weight paper (the paper lining). In some modern big commercial publisher's bindings super may not be used at all (or be of an inferior quality), with only a paper lining being glued down. In many publisher's adhesive bindings, linings may not be used at all; the textblock is not reinforced at all and is held together simply with a layer of glue. The basic idea is that textblock spine linings should reinforce the glue and help hold the sections together.

Lock stitches

The type made by household sewing machines, and also in traditional method book binding eg. in libraries - the machines used by library binders are usually larger. Stiches are formed by a primer thread that runs along the top surface of the text block being sewn and a bobbin thread that runs along the bottom surface, and locks with the top thread at regular intervals.


The space around the edges of a page outside the printed or written matter. The four margins are commonly designated as: head or top margin; tail, lower, or bottom margin; fore edge, outer or outside margin; and back, inner, inside, or gutter margin.

Matte finish

Dull paper or ink finish.


The spines of books can be cut away on a milling machine to prepare them for double-fan adhesive binding or over sewing. The machine clamps the text block, spine down, and moves it over a series of rotating blades that cut away approximately 0.8 mm to 1.5 mm of the binding margin, thus removing old adhesive, thread, staples, and/or the folds of signatures. After milling, a text block is comprised of loose leaves.


The process of cutting parallel groves into the spine perpendicular to the binding edge to strengthen adhesive binding.

Offset paper

Term for uncoated book paper


That property of paper which minimizes the show-through of printing from the back side or the next sheet.

Outer hinge

The flexible channel of covering material on the outside of a book on which the cover board opens; the space between the cover boards and the shoulder of the textblock spine in which the covering material is pressed. Also called a French joint or French groove, joint, hinge, groove, gully, channel, and outer joint.

Overrun or overs

Copies printed in excess of the specified quantity. (Printing trade terms allow for + - 10 % to represent a completed order.) Not needed in modern print-on-demand production with Fastbind binding.

Over sewing

In traditional binding the method leaf attachment by the means of sewing sections of loose leaves one to another by hand or by machine through a 1.5 mm or more binding margin to create a text block.

Page count

Total number of pages in a book including blanks.


When half of an endsheet is pasted to the inside of the cover board. Also called board paper, end lining, and lining paper.

Perfect binding

Also known as case binding. A type of binding used in making hard cover books using adhesive to attach the separate cover to the inner sheets. Highest quality binding which used to be expensive, but thanks to Fastbind is now available for anyone.


The abbreviated name of the Pantone Color Matching System.

Process color printing

The subtractive primaries: yellow, magenta, cyan and black are used to achieve full color reproduction (CMYK).

PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate)

An emulsion adhesive; a flexible adhesive that dries quickly and is considered permanent. Results in a very strong bond.

Re case

The process of fitting the textblock with a new case when original sewing thread of the textblock is unbroken and intact.


500 sheets of paper.


The fitting of two or more images in exact alignment with one another in layout design or positioning the covers in Fastbind perfect binding.


In traditional binding the process of hammering or manipulating of the textblock spine into a convex shape preparatory to backing. Rounding diminishes the effect of swelling caused by the thickness of the sewing threads or the application of glue from an adhesive binding. It also helps to prevent the textblock spine from falling into a concave shape after years of use or of standing upright on a shelf. (see backing)

Saddle stich

To fasten a booklet by wiring (stapling) it through the middle of the folded sheets.


A crease put on paper to help it fold better.


Using the same paper as the text for the cover.

Sheet-fed press

A press which prints on stacked sheets of paper


The outer edge of the curved (rounded) textblock spine against which the cover board fits. The shoulder is made when a book is rounded and backed. Also called a ridge, butt, flange, groove, abutment, and ledge.


Printing on one side of a sheet that can be seen on the other side of the sheet.


Two or more sheets of paper stacked and folded as a group

Side stitch

Binding by stapling along one side of a sheet.

Smyth Sewing

Method of sewing through the fold by machine to join multiple signatures to form a textblock.


The binding edge of a book or publication. The term spine can be differentiated between the spine of the cover, cover spine, and the spine of the textblock, textblock spine.

Spiral binding

A book bound with wires in spiral form inserted through holes punched along the binding side.

Spot color printing

Specific ink colors are specified in this method from the Pantone© Matching System of inks. Black is one spot color.


The process of adding sheets of paper to textblock to accommodate pockets, inserts or gaps.

Substance weight

A term of basis weight when referring to bond papers.


In traditional binding an open-weave variety of coarse, sized fabric (usually muslin etc.) used for reinforcing or stiffening the textblock spine of a casebound book. The super forms the first spine lining on the textblock. The excess (super hinge) that extend (usually one inch, 25 mm) beyond the edges of the textblock spine is used to attch the textblock into its case. Also called mull, crash, and gauze.

Tail of a volume

The bottom portion of the cover spine. Also called the foot. See also head.

Text block

The main block of sections or leaves, including endsheets and spine linings, which is bound together and then attached to the case (cover). Also called book clock and body of the book.

Textblock spine

The back or folded edges of a group of sewn sections or the glued back edge of a block of leaves of an adhesvie binding. Whether flat backed or rounded and backed, it's usually glued and lined with cloth and paper (super and paper linings). Also called, spine, back, and backbone.


The attachment of one leaf to another in a book at or near the binding margin by means of a narrow strip of adhesive along the folded edge.

Tip on

The attachment of endsheets (along the folded edge) to the front and back of the textblock at the shoulder by means of a narrow strip of adhesive along the folded edge.


the part of the covering material which is turned over the outer edges of the boards (and spine strip) from the outside to the inside. Also called a turn-over or overlap.

Web press

a press which prints on roll-fed paper

Wire binding

A method of wire binding books along the binding edge, often using double loops. A time consuming method as it requires several manual steps to get a book punched carefully before the actual wire assembly.

Whip stitching

Traditional bookbinding; In preparation for whip stitching, holes are usually punched along the binding edge of a text block. Sewing thread passes into the top and out the bottom of each hole in succession to attach the leaves. Library binders whip stitch new endpapers to oversewn and side sewn text blocks in preparation for recasing.