The A - Z of Book Binding Terms

Bookbinding just like any other professional service, has a lot of industry-related jargon. In this article, we’ve defined a few of the more technical terms for easy understanding.

A - Z of Bookbinding

The A to Z of Bookbinding


Endpapers are folded papers found in the front and back of a book. Half of each endpaper is then glued to the inside of the front and back cover.


Rounding means to hammer the spine of a book into a convex shape. This process stops a book from swelling when thick sewing threads are used for binding.

Additionally, it prevents an old book’s spine from collapsing.


Backing is the process of shaping each side of a book’s spine into a ridge or shoulder.

This process accommodates board thickness and provides a hinge along which they swing.


Typically, boards are thin wood cores or cardboard around which book cloth, or leather is wrapped to make a book’s cover.


The front and back covers attached to the book’s spine – this process is called “casing in”.

Deckle-edged paper

This type of paper is used when a book is bound in a modern fashion but needs to look old-fashioned or from a time period when sections were not trimmed prior to being cased into a cover.

Older bookbinding techniques left folds of sections to be sliced open once purchased.

Dummy sheets

Dummy sheets are folded and numbered pages used to test the page imposition of a book prior to printing.

A dummy book is usually supplied by a bookbinder to the printer in order to plan layout and stripping during the preparation process.

Dust jacket

A temporary paper book cover aimed at attracting purchasers by using bright illustrations. These covers are not meant to last as long as a bound volume.


A flyleaf is the half of an end sheet that is loose and not glued down to the book cover.


Taken from Latin folio meaning ‘a leaf’.

Traditionally, a folio, otherwise known as a signature, is a sheet of paper folded once in the middle to created four pages of a book.

Moreover, in modern bookbinding, a folio refers to a numbered page of a book or the actual number printed on the page.

“Low folio” indicates the half of the folio in the front part of a book or the half of the folio with the lowest numbers.

“High folio” refers to the half of the folio in the back part of the book or the half of the folio with the highest numbers.

Occasionally used to describe a large book, 38,1 or more centimetres high, made with folded pages.


Thin, transparent paper used to provide protection between illustrations and text pages.


The inside fold of a cover hinge where it meets the book block spine. Also, the “valley” between two pages when a book is open that forms the inside page margins.

Imposition of 64 pages on a large sheet Imposition

The arrangement of multiple printed pages on a large sheet of paper so that when folded, the pages will fall in numerical order. An eight-page signature imposition will have four pages on each side of the sheet with the heads of the pages meeting in the centre.


Over-sewing means to sew groups of pages together instead of sewing one page at a time – this method offers more flexibility to a books spine.

Perfect binding otherwise known as Adhesive Binding

Perfect binding is used in pamphlet binding. The process uses only adhesive to secure the pages into a wrap-around cover.

Typical Perfect Binding products are telephone books and paperbacks.

Smythe sewing

A type of sewing whereby thread is sewn through folded centres of each section of pages. This type of sewing enables books to open easily and lie slightly flatter than side sewn books.

Side sewn

Side sewing involves sewing thread through all pages of a book about 2cm from the binding edge of the pages.

Although side sewing is very secure, books sewn with this technique seldom lie flat when open.

Bookbinding South Africa

We offer a wide range of bookbinding services. Contact us, for more information about how we can assist you and your bookbinding needs.

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