Printing Terms

When it comes to printing, there are many words and phrases used by our team that you may not have come across before. From bleed to paper types; there is a whole load of terminology out there for you to understand. Thus, we introduce Imprint Digital’s very own jargon buster.

So let’s get started:


Made with an ISBN: it is a code made up of lines and number that is used mainly for stock take. When scanned people can find out information about the book; price, author, publisher etc.


Joining paper (pages/leafs) together with some form of binding material. For example glue, wire or staples. With Imprint, we join our papers with glue.


A sector within a printing company. With Imprint it is the process of the printing where books are trimmed, bound and packaged up for delivery.


A 3mm area which is added to the trimmed size to ensure that the print runs completely off the edge of the paper.


This refers to the text/insides of your book, the actual pages.

Book Block

Collated pages of a book that has been trimmed to size and is waiting to be bound and covered.

Case Bind

A book in the style of a hardback. Instead of being bound with a paper cover, they are bound using a thick card with is normally covered in a cloth-like material or printed paper.


This stands for the four colour process which is Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black.

Coated Paper

Paper that has a coating applied to it. At Imprint, our coated paper stock has a gloss or matte coating.


Can either be a thick paper or card that wraps around the pages of a book. The cover protects the internals and is also used to show details of the book (title, image, blurb etc)

Crop Marks

These are small marks that are normally on the corners of your artwork to show the trim size and/or where the bleed starts.


A design that is cut into a certain material, normally metal, which is used to do embellishments such as; embossing, foiling, debossing etc.


A paper cover that is normally wrapped around a cloth-covered hardback, to protect the material. They are removable and usually designed like a book cover.

French Flaps

An extension of a cover that folds into the book. These are also known as gatefolds.


A design that has been applied to a cover to give it a raised effect.


Pages that come right after the front cover and before the back cover. Also known as end sheets.


A hot melt adhesive (glue) that binds a book together. EVA stands for Ethylene Vinyl Acetate. This glue is what we use for most of our paperbacks.

Finished Size

Size of the book after it has completed/made.

Grain Direction

The direction of which the fibers of the paper run. This is important to know when making/binding books because, if the grain direction is wrong it can affect the way the book opens.


Stands for Grams per Square Metre. We use this unit when referring to paperweight/thickness.


A very small line that is missing print. Normally where two elements of a cover don’t quite join together.

Head & Tail Bands

You can find these on the top and bottom of the spine on hardback books. They are thin pieces of material that give a nice neat look and finish to the book.


This refers to the organisation and setup of the PDF file a person sends to a printer before we pass to print.


It is the 13 digit number that you will usually find on the copyright page of a book. It stands for International Standard Book Number. We also use this to create a barcode.


Applying this very thin sheet of plastic to the cover gives it either a shiny look (gloss) or matte look. Laminate will also give the cover protection against damages that may arise.


This is where the width of the paper is greater than the height (opposite to portrait).


The leaf is one piece of paper. Each side of the leaf is a page.

Long Grain

When the fibers of the paper run lengthways up to the paper. This is the correct direction in which the grain needs to be for a book to open nicely. We also try to make sure our books are bound with long grain.

Loose Leaf Proof

All elements of a book, the cover, and pages, just not bound together.


This is the original form of what a writer/author has written whether that’s handwritten or typed. They will send their manuscript to a publisher or typesetter.

Marker Ribbon

Is a piece of ribbon attached to the top of a book that is used as a bookmark. Generally used just on hardbacks.


Each side of a leaf in a book.

Page Count

How many pages there are in a book.


The numbering/organisation of pages in a book.


A file format usually used when sending text and cover files to a printer.

Perfect Bind

Leafs/pages that are bound together by glue.

Plate Section

Normally found in memoirs or autobiographies. These are the section of coated paper that generally contain images.


This is where the height of the paper is greater than the width (opposite to landscape).


PPC or Printed Paper Case is a type of hardback, which has a printed cover wrapped and stuck onto the boards.


Is the stage before printing, it is to ensure that files are the correct size and processed correctly to be printed to your specifications.

Print on Demand

Also known as POD. This is a printing process which allows you to print books as demand arises. You only print the exact quantity you need for distribution/use.


Is a glue used in perfect binding? It is a premium glue and is the most durable glue available. Used mainly on books with coated paper or pages with full bleed.


Another print run of a book.


The sharpness/quality of an image.


A binding method where pages are folded in half and stapled together. Normally used on magazine, brochures, and leaflets. Materials with a small page count.

Short Grain

When the fibers of the paper run widthways across to the paper. At Imprint, we tend not to bind books with short-grain, as it causes the book not to have a nice opening.

Short-run Printing

Print run of books that is slightly more than is required, which means you have the book in stock in case there is an urgent need for copies.


Elements of your book; paper type, lamination, page count, quantity etc.


Binding edge of a publication. Normally has the name of the book, author and publisher logo on it.

Spine Blocking

Used on cloth hardbacks, it has similar details of a normal paperback spine but instead of print the information is foiled in gold or silver.

Trim Size

The size of the book when it is complete.

About Jamie Rand

I'm the Business Development Manager at Imprint Digital, a leading book printing company. This blog is where I share insights and strategies from my journey, offering advice for everyone in the publishing and printing industry.