Common Printing Term Definitions

For those new to the printing industry, there are often a lot of terms tossed around that refer to characteristics of a book.  As veterans of the industry, we don’t always realize that people could be confused by the book printing terms we use.  As we migrate to working with content creators, we thought it would be helpful to shed some light on what some common printing terms mean.

What is bleed?

This is a common printing term used to describe when ink reaches beyond the edge of the page after trimming.  Related terms are kiss bleed or bleed allowance.  This allows for printers to account for movement of the paper during a job and design inconsistencies.  It also ensures that there are no unprinted edges on the final product.  A common bleed allowance is about one eighth of an inch however this may vary based on the printer and type of machine that pages are printed on.  Not accounting for this characteristic often produces a thin line at the edges of pages where no ink has been printed.

What is pagination?

what is paginationThe basic definition of pagination is the process of dividing information into discrete pages.  This process can vary based on the type of book being printed or the medium.  For example pagination for a printed book will vary from pagination for an eBook.  Many printers use a pagination chart to determine which pages will be positioned with each other.  For example page 2 may be printed on the back of page 1.  Paginating is a process that was once performed by hand however in modern printing most decisions are made by machine/software combinations.

What is trim size?

This is the final size of a book after excess paper has been trimmed off pages and cover.  This process is performed by a cutting machine and crop marks are printed on the book to determine where it should be cut.  A variety of trim sizes exist and choosing the right one is less a matter of preference and more of user intent and industry standards.  For instance many fictional titles often have smaller trim sizes.  Non-fiction titles are in the middle of the road as far as trim size goes and technical manuals or workbooks tend to be larger.  What a book will eventually be used for will largely determine its final trim size.

What other terms have you heard when getting your book printed that were downright confusing?  If you have any questions we are happy to help.  You can also check out our help for new publishers fact sheet on our website.

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