Definitions of Book-Binding Terms                                      Home Up

We're often asked what a "flyleaf" is, or the meaning of "points" in a font size.  Hopefully this will help you distinguish some of the terms that we use on this site.

Endpaper:  Paper that is pasted to the inside cover.  Almost always blank, but can be different colors; the most common place to find an owner's name inscribed.  Sometimes called an "endsheet".

Flyleaf: The first and/or last free-standing leaves in a book.  The flyleaf that is pasted down to the cover is called an endpaper.  Usually blank, and used for structural reinforcement.

Folio:  A sheet of paper folded in half, which becomes two leaves in a book.

Font:  Text style, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, etc.

Gutter:  The junction of two facing pages at the spine.

Gutter Margin:  Space on a page between the edge of the page (binding-side) and the actual text.  Without a gutter, the text on a page would disappear into the binding.

Halftone:  A technique most often used in newspaper pictures -- a series of fine (black) dots, that when viewed from a distance, give the appearance of varying shades of grey. This process is relatively cheap-- you only have to run one color through your offset press.

Hinge:  The point where the endpaper and flyleaf meet and join the spine.

Leaf:  A sheet of paper in a book.  Commonly referred to as a "page", but a page is only one side of a leaf.

Offset.  Commonly used in mass-production of magazines, newspapers, and D&D modules.  First, a master copy is created (today it's done on a computer; prior to the mid-1980's, it was typed, typeset, and/or hand-drawn).  Next, this master is photographed.  The negative images are then developed -- however, instead of shining the light onto a piece of white paper (a photo), the light is shone onto a chemically-treated, flexible aluminum plate.  Another chemical is applied (technically, a "fixer"), and then the plates are scrubbed clean of the chemicals.  The latent (now positive) image is left behind on the plate.  These plates are then wrapped around metal drums in the press, and paper is wrapped around another drum.  That's where the term "offset" comes from -- the printing drum is offset from the paper drum.  The printing drum is rolled through ink, the paper drum is brought into contact with it, and voila -- you have a final, printed image.  Note that this final print is only one color.  To get a second color (or more), you need to run it through the machine with another ink well.  A way to "fake" a lighter shade of color (i.e., gray) is to use the halftone process.

Page:  One side of a leaf.

Point:  Size of a font.  72 points = 1 inch in height.  Typical font sizes for reading purposes are 8, 10, and 12.

Signature:  A group of folios (folded leaves) that together form a textblock.  In other words, a signature is a type of textblock.

Spine:  Binding point of all the leaves in a book.  If the book is placed nornally on a shelf, upright, it's the side facing you.

Spine Inlay:  A paper reinforcement applied to the inside spine or spinal edge of a textblock.

Square:  An overhanging outer edge. The square of a book is the edge of its cover that overhangs the textblock.

Textblock:  The entire "group" of leaves in a book, usually sewn or stapled together.

Typeset:  A generic term meaning to lay out text elements on a page.  In olden days, to "typeset" meant to physically set each piece of "type" -- or letter -- into the press, prior to inking and printing.