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Publishing Terms You Need to Know Before You Print Your First Book

Keith Riegert

6 min read

Jun 23





This is the working title for you book project (it does not have to be final but should be original)



An ISBN is the 13-digit tracking number of a project or book. If you do not have one, you can visit to purchase an ISBN. (Note that a 10-digit ISBN will also be applied to your unique title; but you will purchase a 13-digit ISBN.)


Paper Stock

There are many different paper weights, colors and coatings you can choose from. This is something you can discuss with your printer based on the scope of your project. As a primer, here are some stock options to consider:

50# (75 gsm): This is a basic paper stock that is commonly used for text-only projects. It's fairly thin and inexpensive.

60# (90 gsm): A slightly thicker paper, usually white or natural (cream) colored that is ideal for basic projects that have photos.

70# (105 gsm): A thick paper that adds bulk to your book and is also ideal for projects like coloring books where preventing bleed-through is essential.

80# (120 gsm): The glossy version of this paper is ideal for high-end projects where photos or full-color art is the main focus. Images will pop off of this stock.

86# (128 gsm / bulking): This thick paper stock is often found in paper-over-board cookbooks. The weighty paper is ideal for food photography and creates a thick spine that's ideal for the bookshelf. 128 gsm bulking is the same weight with a different fiber grain that adds even more to your spine width.


Interior Color

The main options for interior color are:

B&W: Basic black and white

2-Color: Two different colors like black and red, but not the full spectrum.

4-Color: Based on CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, key (black)) gives you all colors you would see in a color photograph (or rainbow).

CMYK+: Looking to stand out from the standard four colors with five- or six-color printing? CMYK+ printing allows you to add custom metallic, neon, fluorescent colors and more.


Print Method

Standard Offset: Cost-effective and high-quality way to print books with large quantity orders.

Web Offset: This type of offset printing involves feeding a single, long sheet of paper through the printer and then cutting the individual pages after printing. This type of offset is typically faster and cheaper than sheet-fed.

Sheet-fed Offset: Sheet-fed printing uses separate sheets of paper instead of a single roll. This allows for more paper stock options and specialty inks and finishes. It may cost more than web offset.

Digital: Better for short print runs (under 1,000 copies) digital printing does not require the use of plates. Instead, ink is applied directly to the paper. This is ideal for fast, inexpensive jobs that do not require quite as high as quality.


Binding Method

Perfect Bound: The classic bookbinding method where pages are glued into the cover. The book will have a square spine.

Saddle Stitch: Simple binding method where the leaves are folded and stapled (only used for low-page count projects.)

Casebound: Similar to perfect binding, casebound books have pages smyth-sewn together and then glued into a spine that is attached to the hardcover case with end pages helping hold the pages in place.

Comb, Spiral and Wire: Spiral-bound books aren’t glued or sewn but rather held together by wire or plastic loops. The resulting book may not have a spine but will allow the book to lay flat when it’s open.

Smyth-Sewn: A hallmark of high-quality book production, smyth-sewn books contain signatures of about 24 pages that are folded and sewn together with thread.

Notch Binding: Similar to smyth-sewn and perfect bound bindings, notch bound books are sewn together with each signature forming a notch in the spine of the book.

Other: Other binding techniques include lay-flat, an upgraded perfect binding that allows the book to lay completely flat when opened.


Trim Size

4.25’’ x 6.87’’: Typically used for the mass-market paperbacks you might find at grocery stores checkout aisles, this compact format is inexpensive both in terms of production and sales value.

5’’ x 8’’: Standard trim size for novellas and other books that are 100 pages or less.

5.25’’ x 8’’: This trim size is often used for fiction books and memoirs.

5.25’’ x 8.5’’: Another trim commonly used for memoirs.

5.5’’ x 8.5 in: Also known as the digest size, this trim is ideal for shorter works of fiction and nonfiction. Works well for poetry books and journals.

6’’ x 9’’: The most commonly used trim size that offers the ideal page proportions. In trade paperback form, it’s used to publish fiction and nonfiction alike, and is considered a popular choice for self-help books and memoirs. Some hardcover titles and textbooks may also use this trim size.

7.5’’ x 7.5’’: The standard trim size used for children’s books that fits easily into smaller hands.

7’’ x 10’’: A resourceful trim size often used not only for textbooks and non-fiction books, but also children’s picture books.

8.5’’ x 8.5’’: A slightly larger square trim size great for highly visual books, including cookbooks, art books, photography books, and children’s picture books.

8.5’’ x 11’’: The best format for textbooks, study guides, and technical manuals. This larger, US letter-sized trim allows for a two-column layout, which offers the most efficient use of space for delivering large swaths of information.

9’’ x 7’’: Landscape format recommended for more visual-heavy titles, such as art books and photography books.

10’’ x 8’’: A rectangular trim size sometimes used for children’s books.



FSC® Certification: The Forest Stewardship Council® or FSC® is an independent, not-for-profit organization that promotes sustainable forestry practices and responsible sourcing during the manufacturing of wood and paper products. An FSC® Certification is proof that the wood fiber and other byproducts used during manufacturing have been harvested following the FSC® standards for minimizing harmful environmental impacts. To learn more, please visit


Hardcover Case Type

Preprinted Cover: A fully customizable, budget-friendly hardcover printing method in which the art and text are printed directly onto the cover, creating a book that’s strong and durable.

Cloth Stamped: Unlike other cloths, book cloths include a tissue-backing to glue them seamlessly onto the boards. This hardcover option provides longevity by repelling dirt, oils, and water.


Cover Extras & Special Effects

Foil: A specialty printing process that uses heat, pressure, and metallic or pigmented paper (aka foil) to create bright and shiny designs that will accent and enhance your cover!

Embossing: Creates a three-dimensional effect that raises a particular area, using a customized metal plate cut into the desired design (a die) and stock (paper).

Die Cutting: A fabrication process utilizing specialized machines and tools to transform stock material through cutting, forming, and shearing.



Insert Pages: Also known as “printed inserts,” insert pages are a group of separately printed pages glued into a book at the spine to act like a regular bound-in page.


Jacket Cover Coating

Basic UV: A versatile, cost-effective finish that provides a bit of a shine and protects against curling and peeling. The lacquer poured onto the cover and cured with ultraviolet and infrared lights creates a finish more flexible than others.

Film Laminate: A very thin layer of plastic material attached using high heat and a roller press, this finish protects against water damage, tearing, cracking, sun damage, and other types of wear-and-tear.

Lay Flat Film Laminate: Perfect for single-sided applications and designed to minimize curling, this type of finish is a popular option for book covers, magazines, and dust jackets.

Soft Touch: A suede-like feel that provides a premium appearance without glare.

Mylar: Developed by DuPont Teijin using polyethylene terephthalate (or PET), this transparent film is 4 millimeters thick and will not tear or lose its shape over time.

Scuff-Resistant Mylar: A more durable version of the PET-based film produced by DuPont Teijin.

Glueable Stampable Polyester: A film made specifically to handle foil stamping and latex or animal glues.

Press Varnish: A type of varnish that allows you to highlight and add shine to specific areas of a printed piece using clear ink.

Aqueous Coat: Seals ink onto paper for extra protection against air exposure and other signs of everyday wear-and-tear. Especially good for collectible and frequently used items.

Spot Dimensional UV: The best option for making areas of your cover standout. Typically applied over a matte varnish or matte laminated finish to give those areas a high-gloss shine.



Gray Board: A strong type of paperboard made entirely from recycled paper pulp. Gets its name from the resulting gray color during the recycling process.

White Board: A high quality and expensive format made of pressed cardboard with a white laminated surface and white fibers.

Museum Board: A firm, flexible board of the highest archival/acid-free quality made of up to 100% cotton fibers. Typically used for framing and the restoration and conservation of books.

Davey Board: Superior quality binder’s board created using single ply wet lap construction, which results in a superior dimensional stability, great flexibility, and high density that prevents breakage and provides corner crush resistance. Named after the original manufacturers, The Davey Company.

Binder’s Board: Also known as “particle board” or “chip board,” this all-purpose craft board is made from various types of waste wood, such as milling leftovers and sawdust, which is then pressed together and glued using urea-formaldehyde and other chemicals. Can be either acidic or acid-free.

Bristol Board: A thinner board perfect for book spines, also known as “illustration board.”

Green Millboard: An eco-friendly board of the highest archival quality best for high budget restoration projects.