Friday, 12 April 2013

Design and Print Glossary

by JD Smith

Front Cover - the front cover of your book. This can be the front cover of a paperback, or the image used to display on a webpage selling an ebook.

Spine - specific to printed books only, the spine is the part of the book where the ends of the pages are glued together. When referring to the cover, the spine is the imagery which covers the ends of the pages, typically having an author name and title on display when a book is placed on a book shelf. Designers will ask for your page count so they can calculate your spine width. This is usually done using a calculator on a publisher/printer's website i.e. spine width = number of pages x page thickness

Back Cover – the back cover of a printed book, generally containing blurb

So that’s the basics. Now for some techy stuff …

ISBN/Barcode – sometimes confused as the same thing. They are in fact two different things. An ISBN is the number allocated to books, bought from Some publishers buy them in bulk and sell them on or give them away free with their publishing packages. This number goes on the copyright page. On the back goes the image reference of the number i.e. the barcode. This is an image representation of the ISBN number and usually has the number sat just below it. This is so shops can scan the book on their system, rather than having to manually input a 13 digit number. These days the barcodes are usually generated by the printer/publisher using a funky bit of software and placed on the back of the cover at the bottom (sometimes on the right hand side) after the cover has been designed and submitted for publication. Occasionally, or if you specifically want more control over the ISBN, you can ask the publisher for the barcode, or generate your own using an online company, and have the designer place this for you.

[Image] Resolution - references the quality. The higher the resolution, the better quality the image. For printed books, images are generally required to be 300 dpi at the size they are to be used. For web (i.e. images for covers of ebook) images are only required to be around 72 dpi at the size they are to be displayed.

[Image] DPI - Dots Per Inch. Think of painting an image by making lots of little dots with coloured pens. The more dots, the more complex and complete the image will look. Enough dots and you won’t notice there are any dots.

[Image] Raster/Rasterised – images are either raster or vector. Rasterised images are made up of pixels/dot matrix. They’re images such as photographs and any other images which has been saved down as a JPEG, TIFF and such like.

[Image] Vector – vector images are a designer’s best friend when it comes to scale-ability. Rather than pixels/dots, they are made up of vectors (also known as paths or strokes), which means they can be scaled to any size imaginable. Complex graphics are made up of a series of paths and strokes that you wouldn’t realise are there. These file formats can be saved as EPS or AI (Adobe Illustrator) files. Commonly they are cartoons or digital drawing, although some are so complex you wouldn’t realise they are, and have a photographic quality to them.

Images of a better quality/resolution, generally cost more from a stock image library than a lower resolution image

Stock Image Library
- generally speaking these are online sites which sell images in much the same way as you can pay for and download music or software. Many of them sell Royalty Free images.

Royalty Free Image - an image for which you pay a one off fee to use as much as you wish, as opposed to licensing an image where you are limited for example to how many books you can have printed with the image on, and for how long (in years).

Formatting/Typesetting - generally speaking the formatting of text for the interior of a book (i.e. the words/story/prose).

Gutter - the gutter on a book is the margin on the inside edge of a page. It is generally larger than the margin on the outer edge of the page. The reason is that when the spine is glued, and you open a book, you would not be able to see easily any text that runs too close to the spine.

Spread(s) - the left and right and pages of a book which face each other is known as a ‘spread’ or ‘facing pages’. If a designer sends you a PDF in spreads, which they potentially will when proofing a book, it means that the PDF will look as it would when you open a book, with the left and right hand pages next to one another as opposed to single pages.

Book Size - i.e the overall height and width of a book: 6 x 9”, 5 x 8”.

MOBI - Kindle specific file.

Software - Graphic Designers, for the purposes of book covers and paperback formatting, at least, use Adobe Indesign/Quark Express, Adobe Photoshop for image manipulation, and Adobe Illustrator for manipulating or drawing vector illustrations. Anyone who actually does any formatting or page layout in Adobe Illustrator needs to serious rethink their working practice. Kindle documents, however, are best laid out in Word and subsequently converted to MOBI files using a generator.

Bleed - my favourite to explain. Bleed is the image or colour which extends beyond the edge of the cover or page (normally 3mm or .0125”). Designers will deliberately set up cover files so that when they export a print-ready file for the publisher, there is excess image (bleed). This means that when the printer has printed your book covers and subsequently trims them (cuts them out of the large sheet on which they were printed) you do not end up with areas of cover which have no print on them. Think of it like this, if you are going to roll out pastry to line a pie dish, you roll it out larger than you need, line the pie dish, then trim off the excess. This is effectively what bleed is.

Crop Marks (also known as registration marks, trim marks, cutting marks) - fine hairlines printed on the outer edge of your cover file. They tell the printer exactly where they need to trim/cut your cover on each edge. Some publishers add these themselves, others require the final cover files to include them (this difference between printers is fairly specific to publishing books – in the rest of the print industry it is standard to simply supply files WITH crop marks).

Artwork - depending on what you’re referring to, this can mean a multitude of things: 1) An illustration placed on the cover (as in a piece of art, painting, drawing etc); 2) A printer might refer to the finished cover design file, the print PDF, as ‘artwork’; 3) Some designers refer to the process of design as ‘artworking’.

Illustration - painting, drawing (in any medium – pencil through to computer graphics) that may go on the cover or, indeed, the interior or the book. Illustration is NOT the same as cover design, and authors should be careful when employing an illustrator for their cover, that they are also a competent graphic designer, or that they are working with a graphic designer. Many graphic designers will employ an illustrator when occasion arises instead of using stock illustrator or photography. Not to do a disservice to illustrators out there, but as I wouldn’t take it upon myself to draw or paint something for a cover, many illustrators I have come across in my career don’t have the knowledge of typography and setting files for print that a graphic designer should have.

Fonts - the style of the characters of the alphabet. Most computer come with what are known as ‘system fonts’. Many of them are good, some are recognisable as being cheap fonts that come free with software. You can download many free fonts to install on your system from the internet. These also tend to look cheap. And lastly you can also buy fonts, in much the same way as you can buy stock imagery, from websites specialising in selling fonts.

Typography - the art of arranging type (words/titles/author name/body copy). And, yes, this does involve much more than simply centring your name and title.

Body copy/text - the bulk of text in your manuscript.

Blurb - the copy on the back of your book which sells it.

Strapline - it’s amazing how many people don’t know what ‘strapline’ means. It’s the line which goes on the front of your book which gives a further snippet as to what you book might be about (e.g. One kingdom, three brothers, three claims to the throne …)

Pantone - Pantone is a range of ink colours used by the design industry. Most publishers will, however, print the interiors of books in black only, and the covers in colours make of up Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK).

Drop Capitals - an enlarged letter generally used at the beginning of a chapter.

PDF – most people have got to grips with the file format PDF these days. Most printers will require one for printing your cover and/or inside pages; others, rarely, just a high resolution JPEG. PDF is a more secure file, which has the capability of embedding fonts and minimising anything in your file being disturbed during the printing process. Designers will also use them to proof your work to you. Proofing will usually be done using low-resolution (low quality), and therefore small file size, PDFs. When it comes to printing, the printer/publisher will require a high-resolution, print-ready, print-quality, PDF.

Mock Up - generally a term used for coming up with visuals of say a cover. Mock-up/concept/ideas/visuals.

JD Smith (Jane) lives and works in the English Lake District. Having worked as a graphic designer for over 12 years, her passion for books and everything literary took over and she now works predominantly on book cover design and typesetting. She is the editor of the writing magazine Words with JAM, and the author of historical fiction.

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