Resources → Glossary



A book structure made without stitches by simply folding a sheet of paper back and forth in page-width increments.

Ace Bandage

This breathable elastic bandage can be used in bookbinding to tie up the book and hold reattached book spines in place while they dry.


A plastic transparent cover sheet.


Used in bookmaking and conservation to clean and disinfect books having laminated surfaces, modern dust jackets and other non-porous surfaces.

Artist Books

Artwork in the form of a book. Artist books are a unique intersection between the world of fine art and bookbinding. They can be almost anything, from altered books to fine bindings, large sculptural objects to miniature books, scrolls to codices, and so much more.

Artist’s Proof

Originally used to check the progress of prints during their production, artist’s proofs (or APs) are produced especially for the artist. These prints are not included in the count of the edition, but are otherwise identical to the editioned prints. Typically, they are kept for the artist’s archives and used for exhibition purposes. 



The process that flares the spine of a book block, forming a hinge area along the binding edge of the sheets and leaving a ridge that will accommodate the thickness of the cover.

Backing Press

BAT (Bon á tirer)

The  “okay-to-print” (AKA, the final) trial proof that the artist has approved, telling the printer that this is the way they want the edition to look.


Thread can be coated with wax to prevent it from tangling when sewing together a book.
Alternative: candle wax, paraffin (vegan)

Blotter paper

Very absorbent paper that is perfect for pressing and drying glued book covers without causing any damage.

Board Shears

A large, hand-operated machine for cutting board or paper. Like scissors, a board shear uses two blades to apply shear stress in order to cut.

Bone Folder

A dull-edged hand tool used to fold and crease material in crafts such as bookbinding, cardmaking, origami, and other paper crafts that require a sharp crease or fold.
Alternative: a straight-edge and any object with a hard, flat surface like a knife, spatula, or credit card.

Book Art

The field of art that involves the creation of works that use or refer to structural and conceptual properties of books.

Book Arts

The book arts refer to the creative practices related to the making of or manufacture of books, such as binding, printing, gilding, leatherwork, paper marbling, hot stamping, design, and publishing to name a few.


The method by which book are physically assembled, usually by hand but can also refer to mechanical binding.

Bookbinding Leather

Vegetable-tanned calf, goat, and sheepskin hides provide an excellent tooling surface and are traditionally used to cover and bind books.
Alternative: natural flax paper (vegan)

Book Cloth

A fabric that has been made suitable for use as a book covering by backing it with paper or impregnating it with starch or sizing to make it impenetrable to adhesives.

Bookbinding Needle

Needles with varying shapes and sizes can be used in bookbinding, depending on thread and paper materials. Similar to darning needles, bookbinding needles are longer and less sharp than sewing needles.


A printer’s hand inking roller.


A sheet of paper printed on one side only. Historically, broadsides were cheap print used as posters, announcing events or proclamations, commentary in the form of ballads, or advertisements.



California Job Case

A compartmentalized wooden box used to store movable type used in letterpress printing. It has 89 compartments for individual capital letters, lowercase letters, figures, special characters, and punctuation marks for one size and face of type. The location of the letters in the case—the lay of the case—is made so that the most used letters are grouped together within convenient reach of the typesetter. 

California Wash

When a water-miscible solvent is mixed with water and used to clean up ink after printing (this means less odor and you use less of the solvent).

Carousel Book



A chapbook is a small publication of up to about 40 pages, sometimes bound with a saddle stitch. Often used for poetry and self published.


A long-bladed hand tool used in bookbinding to trim the edges of a book.


A brace, band, or clasp used for strengthening or holding the book together when binding or trimming.


A collage of materials of various textures glued on to a printing plate, often a thin wood or cardboard. During the inking process the ink will rub off surfaces that are smooth or higher and stay on surfaces that hold more ink, at edges and at lower points thus creating the image.


A historical tradition in book arts. A short description of the book that may include the artist’s name, printer or press name, signature, year, edition number, printing methods, typefaces used, paper type, any other materials used, publisher, author, and any other information you’d like to include.


A stitchless, folded binding that can be assembled with or without adhesive. The concertina method is used interchangeably with the accordion structure, but technically the concertina is hexagonal in shape.

Coptic Binding

A popular bookbinding method that uses the coptic (AKA chain) stitch to bind all the page signatures and covers together with one long thread. This allows the pages of the book to open up completely flat.


An outer surface nearly the size of the pages and attached to the spine by a hinge mechanism. Front and back covers are usually the same material as the spine, forming a one piece protective “case” around the book.

Cover Weight Paper

A heavier weight paper that is rigid enough for use as a soft book cover. Common weights range from 175 to 350 grams or 60 to 130l b cover.


Curved Needle

A type of needle commonly used in bookbinding, especially useful for the coptic stitch. The curve allows you to “hook” around as you are sewing. 



Cutting Mat

A rectangular piece of durable material, such as vinyl or rubber. They are marked on one side with a grid guide of specific measurements. Cutting mats are used both to protect the surface you are cutting on, and to provide measurement guidelines and references to ensure a clean and straight cut.


Davey Board

A rigid archival Board that is suitable for use as a hard book cover and for box making. Often covered with book cloth, paper, or pared leather during the process of bookbinding or box making. It comes in several thicknesses.

Decorative Paper

Democratic Multiples

“Democratic multiples” are inexpensive artists’ books sold cheaply or even given away to as many people as possible. Typically democratic multiples convey a social or political message. The artist wants to get the word out with low production costs and self-distribution, by-passing the art gallery.

Dos – i – do

A binding method that creates one book from two. The “two books” share a back cover so when you look at it from the top, the covers form the letter “N”. In French, Dos-á-dos literally means “back-to-back.”

Double Sided Tape

Driving Roller

Drum Leaf Binding

An adhesive-based bookbinding method that allows for full page spreads, a book that opens pretty flat, and no stitching through the center folds.

Drying Rack

Used for drying screen prints without smearing, in room air or in a heat chamber.



In printmaking, edition commonly refers to a series of identical impressions or prints made from the same printing surface.

End Paper

End Sheets

The pages that consist of a double-size sheet folded, with one half pasted against an inside cover (the pastedown), and the other serving as the first free page (the free endpaper or flyleaf).


Fine Binding

Follows in the tradition of the book as precious object. An elaborate and decorative binding, example including a leather-bound book with gilt edges, raised blind stamps, raised ribs, or even a cover that is embedded with jewels or embroidered.

Flat Backed Case

A simple type of bookbinding which has a flat spine and is cased or has a one-piece covering. This type of binding is suitable for typescript, some pamphlets, and adhesive-bound paperbacks.

Flutter Binding


A sheet of paper folded once to form two leaves (four pages) of a book.

Fore Edge

The fourth edge – not the spine, the top, or the bottom edge, but the outside edge that a reader would use to thumb through the pages.

Full Binding

A complete binding of a volume in any one material, generally leather.

Fun Foam


German Case

AKA bradel binding – a style of book binding with a hollow back. It most resembles a case binding in that it has a hollow back and visible joint, but unlike a case binding, it is built up on the book.

Glue Brushes

Gold Leaf

Gold (or an imitation) that has been beaten into a very thin sheet, used in gilding and bookbinding.

Gold Leaf Knife

A long-bladed roundnosed knife for cutting gold leaf.

Grain Direction

The grain in paper comes from how the fibers of the paper are arranged. The fibers are typically parallel to each other across the sheet and knowing the grain direction is important when folding the sheet of paper.

Guillotine Cutter

A tool designed to cut a large amount of paper sheets to be able to issue your document with a straight line in one quick swift slice.


Half Binding

A style of bookbinding in which leather or other ornamental material covers the spine and corners.

Hand Press

A printing press that is manipulated by hand.

Hand Tools

A tool held in the hand and operated without electricity or other power. Examples in bookbinding: chisel, hammer, awl, clamps.

Hard Cover

A book cover made from a rigid material such as davey binders board that is often covered with bookcloth, paper, or pared leather.


Head Cap

The covering leather at the head and foot of the backbone of a hand-covered book shaped over the headbands.


Heavy Duty Awl

A tool with which holes can be punctured in a variety of materials, or existing holes can be enlarged. It is also used for sewing heavy materials, such as leather or canvas. large handle allows control and a strong grip.


The flexible part of the cover on which the boards swing open. 

Hot plate

Hot Stamping Foils

Hot Stamping Machine



A colored fluid used for writing, drawing, printing, or duplicating.

Ink Slab

A tool used to mix and roll ink; basically the equivalent of a painting palette for printmaking. Most ink slabs are made out of marble (natural or artificial) or thick chamfered glass (approximately 1 cm thick).

Inking Rollers

Rubber rolls that either contain ink within the roller itself or are engraved with the pattern desired to be printed.


Japanese Screw Punch

A hand tool that allows you to punch effortless holes in material. As pressure is applied downwards on the drill, the bit spins, producing a drilling action, and cutting a super clean hole through your material. 


A device that holds a piece of work and guides the tools operating on it.



Kettle Stitch

A stitch used in hand-sewn books, at the head and tail, to hold sheets or sections together.


Lead Type



Refers to the smallest, standard physical unit of paper in a printed piece; in the case of books and pamphlets, usually with a printed page on each side of a leaf


A technique of relief printing. Using a printing press, the process allows many copies to be produced by repeated direct impression of an inked, raised surface against sheets or a continuous roll of paper. 

Light Duty Awl/ Pin Tool

Limp Vellum Binding

A bookbinding method in which the book has flexible cloth, leather, vellum, or paper sides.

Line Gauge

Linen Cord

Used in bookbinding for sewing on cords, where sections are sewn onto lengths of twine which wrap around the text block perpendicular to the sections, and used to create raised bands when leather is applied and worked over the top. 

Linen Tapes

Linen Thread

Lino cut

A printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum is used for a relief surface.

Linoleum Block

The relief surface used in linocut printmaking.

Long Stitch

A bookbinding technique used for sewing together the sections of a book. There are different forms of longstitch sewings. Longstitch binding does not require glue.


Magnesiaum Carbonate

A common additive used in printmaking to thicken and alter ink’s viscosity.

Make Ready

Metal Triangle

A tool used for cutting the corners of bookcloth when making cases. Triangles are also used to mark and measure the accuracy of a 90° or 45° angle.

Methyl Cellulose

When mixed with water, it can be used as a low-tack adhesive that is often added to PVA in bookbinding.

Micro Spatula

Handy tools used for removing labels, separating pages, pressing flaking paint, and applying adhesive in hard to reach areas. 

Monastic Endbands

Mono print

A technique in which an artist creates a reusable template of the intended image. A mono print is one of a series—therefore, not wholly unique. A monoprint begins with an etched plate, a serigraph, lithograph or collograph.

Mono type

A technique that generally yields only one good impression from each prepared plate. A monotype is one of a kind, a unique piece of artwork They are made by drawing on glass or a plate of smooth metal or stone with a greasy substance such as printer’s ink or oil paint.

Mounting Adhesive

An application for attaching a graphic – a photograph, print, or poster, for example – to a board or substrate, which may be rigid or semi-rigid.

Multi Signature

Multiple Signature Binding

A kind of bookbinding in which multiple sections of paper, or signatures, are sewn together.


News Print

An uncoated groundwood paper made by mechanically grinding wood pulp without first removing lignin and other wood pulp components.

Nipping Press

A small press consisting essentially of a fixed, horizontal iron base plate, and an upper, movable platen that is raised and lowered by means of a relatively long, vertical screw. The nipping press is used to apply quick and uniform pressure in a variety of bookbinding operations.


Oil Based Ink

Contains pigments, hydrocarbons, and oil (often soy oil and sometimes mineral oil). Oil based inks adhere to materials primarily through absorption. As a result, they are best paired with substrates like newsprint, commonly used in the publication industry. 


In printing, general term for decorative designs, not usually part of a type font.



One side of a sheet of paper in a collection of sheets bound together.

Pallet Knives

A blunt hand tool used for mixing or applying paint, with a flexible steel blade. In bookmaking, it is used in marbling or when adding texture to decorative end papers.


An unbound book consisting of a single sheet of paper that is printed on both sides and folded in half, in thirds, or in fourths, called a leaflet or it may consist of a few pages that are folded in half and saddle stapled at the crease to make a simple book.

Pamphlet Binding

A simple stitch to bind folded pages, often as an alternative to stapling.

Paper Burnisher

A (machine or hand) tool to smooth and compress the paper when book binding. Typical objects that are used for burnishing include agate, glass, bone, and horn.

Paper Case

A method of book binding that involves tying sheets of paper together and then securing the block of text into a protective housing.

Paper Knife

Hand tool used to sharpen the creases of a fold when book binding.

Paring Knife

Specialty knives intended to thin leather for bookbinding.  There are different styles based on personal preference, training, and technique. 


Paste Downs

The portion of the endpaper that is glued to the inner boards of a hardback book. 


Photopolymer Plate

A sheet of polymer with one side that is light sensitive. The digitally created design is transferred to a photo negative that is placed on top of the sheet of polymer. It is then exposed to light in a controlled exposing unit


A typographic unit of measure corresponding to approximately 1⁄6 of an inch.

Platen Press

A small printing press in which a platen presses the paper against a form secured to an opposed vertical flat bed.

Point Size

In typography, the point is the smallest unit of measure. It is used for measuring font size, leading, and other items on a printed page

Press Bed

In the cylinder printing-machine, a flat table of iron which upholds the form of type and passes to and fro under the impression cylinder.

Press Boards

Typically unfinished plywood used for providing a smooth surface inside a press while pressing books during the drying process. 

Press Grippers

A space on a sheet of paper that allows for the press to physically grip the paper during the printing process.

Press Guides

Pressure Print

An alternative image-making technique by which a flexible plate (backing sheet) is placed behind the press sheet and run over a type-high, inked surface.


A work of graphic art which has been conceived by the artist to be realized as an original work of art, rather than a copy of a work in another medium. Produced by drawing or carving an image onto a hard surface (known as a matrix) such as a wood block, metal plate, or stone.

Printers Proof

A preliminary version of a printed piece provided by the printer. It provides a close representation of how the piece will appear when printed.


An artistic process based on the principle of transferring images from a matrix onto another surface, most often paper or fabric.

Printmaking Paper

A durable kind of paper able to withstand multiple soakings and press runs without falling apart.


A preliminary version of a printed piece.

Proofing Press

Punch Tools

A small and narrow piece metal rod featuring a sharp point used in binding.


Polyvinyl acetate, commonly known as wood glue, white glue, carpenter’s glue, school glue, or Elmer’s glue in the US, is a widely available adhesive used for porous materials like wood, paper, and cloth. 


Quarter Binding

A type of bookbinding in which the spine is covered in one material (usually leather) and the rest of the cover in another.


A metal or wooden wedge or an expanding mechanical device used to lock type up in a chase.

Quoin Key

The tool to tighten and loosen letterpress quoins.


Relief print

Relief printing

A family of printing methods where a printing block, plate or matrix that has had ink applied to its surface, but not to any recessed areas, is brought into contact with paper.


Roller Setting Gauge

A tool in all letterpress shops to nail correct roller height. 

Rotary Blade

A hand tool typically used to cut fabric.

Rounded Spine


Rounding Hammer

Rubber Based Ink

Rubber Rollers




Sanding block

A block of rubber or plastic to which the sandpaper is fastened, offering the operator a good grip.

Scalpel/ X-acto knife

A utility knife with a very sharp replaceable blade.

Scharf Fix/ Leather Paring Machine

An adjustable tool to cut leather that allows for easy and accurate adjustment in terms of depth as well as the angle of the cut.

Self Inking

A type of stamping in which ink is transferred from an inner pad (as opposed to pre-inked stamps that have an ink cell and impression pad built into one).

Sets Well/ ink modifiers

Sewing Frame

A wooden device for bookbinding having a baseboard and two screw-threaded uprights supporting a crossbar from which cords used in hand sewing are stretched to the baseboard

Sewing Frame Keys


A group of sheets folded in half, to be worked into the binding as a unit.

Signed and Numbered

Silk Thread

Commonly used for sewing headbands on books.


Incidental typeset lines of type that are intended either for the printer’s or binder’s benefit (such as a collation mark, a catch line, or a galley slug).

Snap Blade Knife

A type of knife with a blade that is automatically released by a spring mechanism or other mechanical device

Soft Cover

A book cover made from a flexible material such as cover weight paper.


The amount of space between successive words, letters, or lines.


The back portion of a book’s binding which is visible when a book is shelved in a bookcase; the portion which is attached at the joints to the front and rear covers.

Splicing Knot


Spray Bottle

Spring Divider

AKA a compass; used for marking out work. Sharp points can be used to scribe the workpiece, creating arcs and circles. 

Square Knot


Standing Press

A vertical press in which printed and folded sheets and books are piled and pressed.


Supported Binding



 The bottom portion of the cover spine, also called the foot.


The little pieces of colored twine found on the bottom of the spine of hard case, hardcover books. 

Teflon Folder

A folding tool considered superior to the traditional bone folders in that Teflon will not glaze or mar delicate papers or fabrics.

Text Block

The main block of sections or leaves, including endsheets and spine linings, which is bound together and then attached to the case (cover).

Text Weight Paper

A light weight paper suitable for use as the pages of a book. Common weights are between 75 to 150 grams or 20lb to 100lb text.

Tin Sheet

Tipping in

A method for incorporating loose pages — a detached leaf, replacement page, errata sheet, or other insert — into a bound volume. 

Transparent Base/ Transparent White

Tunnel Book

Tunnel books are “read” through a hole in the cover. Each page features openings that allow the reader to see through the entire book to the back cover. 

Turn In


A term generally to mean letters and other characters assembled into pages for printing or other means of reproduction.

Type Cabinet

A large container with multiple shelves with drawers containing type cases.

Type Case

A compartmentalized wooden box used to store movable type used in letterpress printing

Type Face

A particular design of type.

Type Form

Type High

Refers to the standardized height of each piece of type (0.918 inch in English-speaking countries).


Unsupported Binding



A valley fold is the first basic fold, in which the paper is folded in front of itself.


Vandercook & Sons was a manufacturer of proof presses, founded in 1909 by Robert Vandercook. They dominated the 20th century proof press industry by developing the first and the most widely used proof presses that did not rely on gravity for the force of their impression.

Variable Edition

With a variable edition, most of the image information is still coming from the plates, but the artist is intentionally manipulating the printing in some way. 


Wax Paper

A nonstick and water-resistant type of paper used for image transfers.

Waxed Linen Thread

A more durable and strong thread used in bookbinding.

Weaver’s Knot

A popular knot that bookbinders use to attach more thread to sew signatures together.


Used to press down on a book after it has been bound so the covers stay closed.

Wood cut

A print of a type made from a design cut in a block of wood, formerly widely used for illustrations in books.

Wood Type

 There are three types of wood each with different purposes: softwoods, hardwoods, and engineered wood.





Small booklets that are used to disseminate information usually related to a single topic, issue, or political or social movement. They are usually produced in a fast and inexpensive way in order to make them accessible to the most amount of people. An example of Democratic Multiples.

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