Book Printing FAQ

Book Printing FAQ Terms and Tips

Colours and Inks

Book Printing FAQ Terms and Tips. Created to help our clients understand the terminology used, in book printing and publishing.

  • CMYK: CMYK is short for Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black, and is normally pronounced as separate letters. CMYK is a colour model in which all colours in the printed piece are described as a mixture of these four process colours. CMYK is the standard colour model used in offset printing for full-colour documents & produces full photographic colour. Because this printing uses inks of these four basic colours, it is often called four colour printing.
  • PANTONE® Matching System (PMS): A standard colour-matching system used for printing spot colours (see below). A PMS colour is a standard colour defined by percentage mixtures of different inks.
    Most applications that support colour printing allow you to specify colours by indicating the Pantone name or number. This assures that you get the right colour when the file is printed, even though the colour may not look right when displayed on your monitor.
    A spot colour refers to a method of specifying and printing colours in which each colour is printed with its own ink. Spot colour printing is effective when the printed matter contains one to three different colours, but it becomes prohibitively expensive for more colours.

Print Coatings

  • Lamination: The ultimate in protection, film lamination forms a strong, protective layer of plastic to the printed sheet. Usually available in gloss and matte finishes.
  • Varnish: Varnish is essentially ink without pigment/colour. It is applied as another ink colour on the press.
  • UV Varnishing: A method of adding a gloss finish to printed surfaces. The advantage of UV varnishing is that it is similar to printing an extra colour and can be applied to selected areas to produce special effects. The UV refers to the Ultra-Violet lamp under which the varnished sheets pass for rapid drying.

A Note about coatings:
Use coatings to avoid fingerprinting, scuffing, smudging or cracking on glossy Substrate stock. Some coatings deepen the ink colour they cover, yellow with age and/or may discolour white Substrate. You cannot glue or foil stamp over some coatings.


Bleed is where an image goes the whole way to the edge of a printed sheet. In order to print ink to the edge of a page, the piece will be printed on larger material (printing the ink beyond the final edge) and trimmed to the final size.

Print Finishing

  • Collating: The process of assembling the various sections or sheets of a document in the correct order.
  • Crease: A printed job can be creased mechanically to make folding easier. There are times when you might want a printed piece delivered flat for ease of storage and then do the folding yourself, manually.
  • Drilling: Making the holes in Substrate for use in a ring binder. Drills can neatly perforate a much greater thickness of Substrate than can the kind of hole punch you have in the office.
  • Perfect Binding: A type of book binding where the pages are held in the spine by glue. Many magazines and most paperback books are perfect bound.
  • Saddle Stitch: A simple way of assembling a small booklet or magazine with a wire stitch through the fold. You may call it stapling but printers call it stitching.

Glossary of Book Terminology

  • Basis weight of paper – The weight of a material defined by g/m2 (grammes per square metre).
  • Bleed – Printed matter which runs off the edge of the paper. The bleed is the amount by which the illustration extends beyond the trim size (We require 3mm of bleed).
  • Blocking – Impressing a design or lettering on a book cover, the blocking may be in ink or metal foil, or it may be blind blocked to produce a recessed surface.
  • Book-block – The pages of a book when prepared for casing in, before the case is added. Also book pages trimmed all round ready for punching.
  • Brass – A brass die used for blocking.
  • Bulk – The thickness of a book or sheet of paper.
  • Case – The cover of a book, prepared beforehand for affixing to the book-block.
  • Casebinding – A method of binding in which the cover is made separately but consists of rigid or flexible boards covered with paper, cloth or other material, in such a manner that the covering material surrounds the outside and the edges of the board. Covers always project beyond the trimmed edges of the next pages.
  • Casing in – Inserting the book block into its case and pasting down.
  • Collate – To check the sections of a gathered book to ensure that they are all present and are in the correct order.
  • Cut – The act of cutting flat printed or unprinted paper on a guillotine or three knife trimmer.
  • Draw on cover – A paperback cover which is attached to the book block by gluing the spine.
  • Edges – The three cut sides of a book-block.
  • Endpapers – A piece of plain, fancy printed paper folded into four pages to the page size, sewn or pasted to the first and lastsection to secure the book to the case or binding.
  • Extent – The length of a book in terms of the number of pages.
  • Flyleaf – The inside leaf of a four page endpaper which is pasted along the folded edge of the first or last page of the book.
  • Foil – Sized metallic or pigment leaf used in blocking lettering or designs on the surface. Used primarily for blocking book covers.
  • Foredge – The outer edge of a book, opposite the spine.
  • Foot – The bottom edge of a book.
  • Frontispiece – An illustration on the page facing the title page of the book.
  • Head – The top cut edge of a book.
  • Jacket – The printed paper outer cover which wraps round a case bound book in order to protect it and to act as a point of sale display.
  • Laminating – The application of a film, either gloss or matt finish, to the surface of the printed book cover to enhance its appearance and to increase durability.
  • Landscape – The Shape of an illustration or book is referred to as ‘Landscape’ when its width is greater than its height.
  • Leaf – A sheet of a book containing two pages, one on each side. Thus, a book containing 32 leaves has 64 pages.
  • Limp cover – A flexible book cover from 240gsm (Standard) up to 300gsm in weight distinct from a board cover.
  • Perfect binding – A style of unsewn binding in which the leaves of a book are held together at the binding edge by adhesive.
  • Portrait – The shape of a book or illustration is referred to as portrait when its height is greater than its width.
  • Saddle stitching – A method of binding one or more sections with or without a cover by means of wire staples through the centrefold.
  • Section – A sequence of pages forming part of a book.
  • Self Cover – A booklet cover of the same paper as the inside leaves, generally the first and last pages on the sheet.
  • Side gluing – A line of adhesive on the front and back of a book-block to strengthen the hinge opening.
  • Spine – The bound edge of a book, also known as the ‘back’.
  • Spiral Binding – Attaching single sheets by means of a wire or plastic coil passed through punched holes.
  • Square back – A binding which has been collated and trimmed but not round and backed. Also called ‘Flat Back’.

To discuss your printing requirements call us on 01525 793480.