04 Wendy Hobson logo wendy hobson logo opaque

A round-up of publishing and printing terms that you may find useful.

Publishing terms

ascender  the part of a letter extending above the x-height


back cover copy (bcc) the blurb on the back cover

blad advance information on a book, including sample pages and sales information

bleeds when the print, usually images, runs over the edge of the page

blurb  information about a book

bromide  glossy photographic print

bulk  the thickness of a sheet of paper or a book

by-line  the name of the author(s) and major contributors


casebound  hardback

cast-off  the number of words in a book, which used to have to be calculated

chapter breakdown  a list of the chapters in a proposed book and notes on what they contain

CMYK cyan, magenta, yellow and black – the four print colours – using K instead of B so it is not confused with blue

co-edition  an agreement between two publishers to publish a book in two different languages; usually changing only the black plate

coated paper  paper with a smooth, shiny surface

copyright  the person who owns the text and images; determined by the contract terms

cross-head  a subordinate heading to break up the text


descender  the part of a letter extending below the x-height

dpi  dots per inch, designating the quality of an image, usually 300 dpi for printing, 72 dpi for onscreen

dps  double-page spread

dummy  a mock-up of a book using blank, or mainly blank, pages


EAN  European article number, the same as the ISBN

em rule  a measurement equal to the point size of a font; in general a pica, or 12pt, em is about 1.6mm

en rule  half an em and the average width of the type characters in a font; it is used as a spaced rule instead of parenthesis or for instances that mean ‘to’ (15–30 ml, London–Brighton race)

endpapers  separate sheets at the front and back of a hardback book pasted to the cover

extent  the number of pages making up the book, traditionally in blocks of 32pp


flatplan  a page-by-page plan of a book

folio  page number; every book starts with page 1 on the right-hand side, so odd numbers are always the right-hand side of the spread

font a complete set of type of a given design

fore-edge  the outer edge of a page

foreword  introductory matter usually written by the an expert in the subject other than the author

free-flow text in electronic formats that re-runs as you change the dimensions of the window

full point  full stop


gutter  the central margins along the spine


half-title page  a page at the front of the book containing just the title


imposition the arrangement of pages on a sheet so that they appear in the right order when printed and folded

imprint  the publisher’s name under which the book is published

imprint page  usually page 4 of the book (after the half-title and the title spread), containing the publisher’s details, ISBN, copyright notices, printer and other information

indent move the text to the right so there’s a white space at the start of the line

InDesign  the industry standard design program

ISBN  International standard book number, which identifies any specific book; UK numbers begin 978, followed by four digits for the publisher, then a five-digit book number followed by a check digit


jacket  a paper wrap-around that goes over the cover

jpeg or jpg  joint photographic experts group, the most common file format for images

justify  to space the words so both left and right sides are even

kerning  adjusting the space between characters


landscape  a book size that is wider than it is tall

layout  design showing the text and images in position

leading  additional spacing between lines of text


manuscript  the original text of the book, usually in the form of a Word document

measure  the length of a line

mono  single colour


orphan  a single word on a line at the end of a paragraph

out-turns  a print-out of the book before binding

overmatter  text that exceeds the space available


pagination  how the text fits within the pages of the manuscript allowing the book to meet its target extent

pdf  portable document format, a stable file format that provides an electronic image of text/graphics/pictures

pixelate  when an image breaks down into pixels or tiny squares

pixels  the tiny squares that make up a digital image

plc  printed laminated cover

portrait  a book size that is taller than it is wide

preface  introductory matter usually written by the author

prelims  the preliminary pages at the front of the book, comprising the half-title, title, imprint and contents

print run  the number of copies to be printed

proof correction marks  standard symbols for correcting proofs

proofs  print-outs or pdfs of a book in progress for checking purposes


range left  to align lines to the left margin

range right  to align lines to the right margin

recto  the right-hand page of a book

reverse out  text white out of black (or light out of dark)

RGB  the colour mode for an image to be displayed onscreen

running heads / feet  headings at the top / bottom of a book page giving the book, chapter or section name


sans-serif  a plain font like Verdana with no little ‘ticks’, or serifs, on the ends of the letters

self-ends when page 1 and the final page are pasted to the cover

serif  a font like Palatino that has little ‘ticks’, or serifs, on the ends of the letters

signature  most books are bound in sections – or signatures – of 32 pages, although modern options are more flexible

small caps  capital letter forms but only as big as the x-height

smart quote a curly apostrophe (as opposed to a straight one)

specifications  details of a book: extent, trim size, binding, illustrations, colour, ISBN, etc.

sub-head  a subordinate heading to break up the text

synopsis  an outline of a proposed book


tiff  tagged image file format, used sometimes for images

title page  page containing the title of the book, the author(s) and publisher or imprint

TPS  trimmed page size

trim allowance  text printed on the page should be at least 10mm from the trim to avoid being cropped when the book is trimmed

trim size the page size of the book


unjustified  ranged left – to align lines to the left margin

USP  unique selling point


verso  the left-hand page of a book


widow  the last short line of a paragraph appearing at the top of a page

wraps  colour pages bound around the mono signatures of a book


x-height  the central part of a font without ascenders or descenders

Use the main menu or the links below to find out about my editorial services.