At Hurtwood Press we understand that printing and printers have their own language. We hope this glossary of printing terms will assist you in producing your book and printed items.

Archival Paper

Acid free paper with a life of over 100 years without discolouration.

Binding styles

Fully Bound: The entire book covered in a single material.

Quarter Bound: The spine and a small proportion of both sides covered in one material and rest of the sides in another.

Half Bound: The spine and corners covered in one material and the sides in another.

Three-quarter Bound: The spine and the back covered in one material and front in another.


The allowance on an image, page or printing plate that extends beyond the trimmed and finished size, to ensure a clean cut off (bleed is usually 3mm).

Blind embossing

Impressing a design or pattern into a cover or paper without the use of foils or inks.


A brass block bearing relief letters or designs used for blocking the cover of a book.


Cyan, magenta, yellow and black (key). The colours that are used in four-colour printing inks. All four colours combine to make a very dark brown.


A brief statement containing information about the publication of a book such as the place of publication, the publisher, and the date of publication. A colophon may also be emblematic or pictorial in nature.

Colour space

A defined range of colours. Well known colour spaces include RGB and CMYK.

Dust jacket

A paper cover that protects a book and can be removed.


Sheet that attaches the first and last pages of text in a case bound book to its cover.


In the context of this site, a calculation of the expected cost of a book or publication.


Total number of pages within a publication.

Foil blocking

A technique to apply an image to paper or board using metallic or coloured foil.

Folio (page number)

The number of a page in a publication.

Gathered & sewn

Signatures (folded sections) assembled next to each other in the proper sequence for binding, which are then sewn together.

Head & Tail Bands

The ornamental decorative addition of a cloth piece at the top and bottom of a book, just inside the spine.

Grain Direction

The direction in which the majority of fibres lie in a sheet of paper. The grain of the paper must run parallel to the spine (this is the law!).


In the book arena, the inside margins toward the back or the binding edges.

Half Title

The title of the book printed on the page preceding the title.

Head, Tail & Fore-edge

The margin at the top, bottom and side of a page respectively


The correct sequential arrangement of pages to be printed, with all margins in proper alignment, so, that once folded and trimmed the pages run sequentially.


An abbreviation for printed pages. Not to be confused with the number of sheets of paper – for example a 2pp document would be a single sheet of paper printed both sides.


Those pages of a book which precede the text. The order (if the elements appear) should be: half-title, frontispiece, title page, dedication, preface, acknowledgements, contents, list of illustrations and introduction. Also known as front matter.

Register (ribbon)

A slim ribbon marker bound into a book.


Red, Green & Blue. An additive colour model in which red, green, and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colours. Red, Green & Blue light combine to make white and this is how the human eye and cameras see colour.


A folded sheet of paper that will make up part of a book or booklet, usually printed in 4, 8, 12, 16, 32 or 64 page sections.


A printed sheet to be folded.


Complete and precise written description of features of a printing job such as type size and leading, paper grade and quantity, printing or binding method. Abbreviated to spec(s).


Adding an additional page or pages into a book by gluing as a separate element to the main binding

Uncoated paper

Paper that does not have a surface coating of clay to make it smooth.