Definitions of Common Terms




The binding edge of a book. Also referred to as the spine

Back board
The board inlayed into the case which protects the end of a book.
Back trim
The back trim process is performed with a guillotine paper cutter, and removes previous binding to create a loose text block of single sheets for subsequent binding or rebinding. The back trim station also squares crooked sheets and issues, as well as creating more uniform materials size when multiple issues are bound together. The person performing back trimming must also label and account for different binding styles that have been determined in preparation.
This process begins after a job is completed and shipped. The docket information entered by staff, and direct labor charges recorded from the touch screen stations are used to determine actual costs for a job. Billing occurs on a monthly cycle.
Binding edge
The side of a text block where the leaves (pages) are attached by sewing, adhesive binding or other method such as stapling or stitching. Also sometimes referred to as the “spine” of a text block.
Binding margin
The distance between the print and the edge of the page at the binding edge. As much binding margin as possible should always be preserved. Oversewn books need a minimum of 3/8 binding margin; otherwise printed work is bound into.
Book block
The text block, including the endpapers and other materials added by the binder, before casing in.
Buckram is a strong cloth used to make hardbound book covers. It is produced in a variety of colors and made from blended cotton with an acrylic coating. The smooth, luster surface accepts foil stamping. It was originally designed to replace leather book covers for libraries.It is the perfect material for protecting and labeling heavily used hardbound materials that are housed in library collections.

Merriam Webster’s online dictionary:, defines buckram:

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C-1 cloth
This is a lightweight, woven book cloth suitable for monograph binding, and binding of volumes that are less than 2 pounds in weight.
A book cover consisting of two boards and an inlay (spine liner) covered with paper, cloth, leather or some other covering material. The case is made separately from the text block and is later attached at casing in. A cased-in book is often referred to as a hardcover book.
Casing in
The process of applying adhesive to the outside endpapers of a text block and fitting the text block into its case.
This process is where materials are first handled in the production stream. After orders are entered into the computer system and dockets are written-up, check-in occurs. Books are counted and sized. Buckram bound books receive a job number on each binding slip, and mylar books receive a sequential number that is duplicated on the text block, cover and tags so that all pieces are correctly returned intact to the customer. Variations between count at check-in and customer indicated counts are noted on the docket, and a supervisor is alerted so they may inform the customer of the discrepancy. A cost estimate is calculated based upon quantity and finished product. Limited prep covers have their covers sanded if necessary for adhesive binding.
The fabric used for book covers; a term used indiscriminately for any clothbound volume.
Cloth pocket
Loose material over ¼ “ thick is placed in a cloth pocket that is manufactured using chip board and woven book cloth.
In library binding, the process of checking books and periodicals for completeness, physical characteristics, margin width, condition of paper, and overall suitability for binding. It also refers to the preparation and arrangement of material in proper sequence for binding.
Books returned from the libraries are either errors from the libraries or errors that occurred in the binding process. Volumes needing correction as a result of mistakes at the bindery are designated as “corrections not in the count”. These books are corrected with no charge to the library customer. Corrections resulting from errors made at the library are designated as “corrections in the count,” and these corrections are charged to the library customers.

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Dissertation – see thesis
The preprinted open-sided envelope that accompanies every job. Information is added by staff at various stages in the production process to record information about quantities and categories of binding and materials. This information tracks where different parts of a job are in the shop. It is also used to record material usage directly chargeable to that job.
Double fan adhesive binding
An LBI approved method for adhesive binding. This type of binding takes place at the hand fan station and the ultrabind. Double fan adhesive binding is suitable for uncoated, lighter weight papers. The process begins with a text block of loose sheets. The text block is clamped parallel to, and a few inches away from the binding side. The unclamped pages are pushed to fan or separate each sheet about 1/16”. Adhesive is applied to the fanned sheets and the pages are then pushed in the opposite direction for another application of glue. The fanning process allows glue to penetrate into the binding and adds significant strength to the bound book.
Downstream workflow
Work processes that follow a particular process in the production line. For example, the workflow downstream to preparation is at back-trimming and the ultrabinder.

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This is an economy style hard binding sewn with a flex-hinge end sheet that does not get folded and tipped back. Books are square back, regardless of thickness, and not rounded and backed. Boards are cut to allow for the widest joint possible. This wide joint allows opening the books without placing undue stress upon the case at the spine.
End paper
Leaves variously formed and constructed which protect the first and last sections, and provide an inner link between the body of a book and its boards. The outside surface of the outer endpapers receive glue at casing-in to adhere the case to the text block.
End sheets
Also called end papers. Acid-free or PH neutral pages adhered or sewn to the front and back of the text block. Outermost leaves are glued to the cover to create a finished book. There are a variety of end sheet constructions used to accommodate the various leaf attachment options, e.g. single folio folded sheet for double fan adhesive binding, oversewn or flex hinge ends sheets for oversewing, conservation AA or BB for sewing through the fold.
Extend covers
A strip of flexible material is tipped to the binding margin of a paperback cover in preparation for binding. This allows the finished text block to open easier and lay flat.

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The edge of a leaf, board, text block or finished bound volume that is opposite and parallel to the binding edge. A finished book opens at the face.
The lettering and decoration of a book.
Flat back (square back)
A text block that has not been rounded and backed.
The bottom edge of a leaf, board, or bound volume on which the volume rests when it is shelved upright. The foot is opposite from the top or head.
Fore edge
The edge of a leaf or a board opposite from, and parallel to, its binding edge (i.e., opposite from its spine edge). Fore edge is also used in a more general way to refer to any part of a volume opposite from, and parallel to, its spine. Sometimes referred to as the face.
This process prepares the binder’s board and spine material for every case, and completes text block construction. Boards are pulled, trimmed, and numbered for each text block. Security strips are applied to the text block as needed. Spine material is pulled to match the spine width and then trimmed to the correct length. These sets are stacked in numerical order and ready for making cases. Super liner is applied to machine sewn text blocks after the boards are stacked.
Front board
The board that protects the beginning of a book.

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Grain direction
The direction in which the majority of the fibers in a piece of paper or board are aligned, and the direction in which the warp threads run in cloth. Grain direction in all man-made materials used in bookbinding should run parallel to the spine of a volume.
A thin strip of cloth or paper used as a hinge for a map, illustration, or a single sheet.

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Hand fan
A text block of loose pages is clamped parallel to, and a few inches away from the binding side.  Glue is applied with a paint roller and gentle pressure is applied during glue application to fan the pages.  Mylar books with narrow gutter margins have the spine removed at the polar cutter. Text blocks are placed in a clamp. The paper is fanned to expose more surface area when glue is applied.
The cover of a book produced from a flexible material, usually cloth or paper supported by rigid boards.
The top edge of a leaf, board, or bound volume, opposite from the surface on which the volume rests when it is shelved upright.
An extension of flexible material (paper or cloth) added to a stiff or heavy sheet of paper by “tipping” with adhesive along the binding margin. The extensions are bound into the book by gluing or sewing. This allows a book with stiff pages to open easily and lay flat.
A hydraulic machine used to compress and adhere the glued text block to the book case. Oversize books are pressed off in the hand book press. The cased-in text block is placed between the platens of the machine, which then close and exert great pressure. Heated jaws compress the case along its hinges to form tight front and back joints.

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Imitation leather
Imitation leather is made from 100% cotton base. The skiver grain embossing gives it the tactile feel of leather. This material resists water, mildew and abrasion. Imitation leather can be stamped by hand or by machine in the computer room. Although it is more costly than buckram, some clients prefer this to buckram for their dissertation binding.
Inlay (spine liner)
A .020 board inlayed into the case that backs the spine. It is centrally placed between the front and back cover boards at case making. The material is flexible enough to receive slight rounding for rounded text blocks. Also refers to “spine liner”.
A loose piece that belongs inside a bound book is considered an insert. This can include maps or CD’s. Stubbing is added to accommodate the insert material over ¼ “ thick. Stubbing is removed after binding to build a pocket on the inside cover. Inserts less than ¼” are encased inside an envelope that is attached to the back end sheet. Pockets and envelopes are added after binding is complete. Inserts are put aside at preparation and the book is labeled with an orange tag so the book can return to preparation for final processing.

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Job count
This is the total quantity of books sent or material ordered for a particular job, and is used to determine the cost per piece and subsequent recharges to the bindery customers. This number is included on every docket. It is a check for all stages of production to ensure books are accurately accounted for as they move from one production area to another.
Job number
The library bindery number that is assigned for every job. This number appears on every docket, rush tag, or identification tag that identifies different stacked materials for a particular job.
The point of hinge between the body of a book, its boards and its spine. The gap between the spine board and cover board allows the cover to open. The joint runs parallel to the spine.

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Kasemake box
The Kasemake box is produced on the Kasemake machine primarily with an archival e-flute corrugated material. The box configuration has a similar design to a pizza box and is less costly to produce than the phase box. Piece identification is offered on the inside of the box only, and measurements are provided in millimeters
Kettle stitch
A stitch closest to the head and tail of each signature of a text block that has been sewn through the fold by hand. Kettle stitches lock the sewing thread after each complete pass of the thread along the spine of the text block, and link each signature to the one sewn on previously.

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Acronym for “limited circulation”. LC binding does not receive a true case. Boards are directly glued onto the outer end sheets. The boards are positioned ½” away from the spine. A cloth strip is stamped with title, variable and call number information and adhered to the spine overlapping the boards.
A single sheet of paper, or one half of a folded sheet of paper. Each side of the leaf is a page. Leaves can be printed or blank.
Leaf attachment
The means by which the leaves of a text block are attached, one to another. Leaves are most often attached along their binding edges by means of thread, adhesive, or staples. The latter method of leaf attachment does not comply with the ANSI/NISO/LBI Standard for Library Binding.
Library Binding Institute - LBI
A national organization that is an information resource for library bookbinding, and serves to create awareness that library binding is the best preservation option for long-term collections maintenance. Members of the LBI must adhere to manufacturing standards established by the organization.
Lock stitch
A stitch formed by a primary thread that runs along the top surface of the text block being sewn; and a bobbin thread that runs along the bottom surface, and locks with the top thread at regular intervals. Lock stitches are the type made by household sewing machines, although the machines used by library binders are often larger.

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The distance between the print on a page and the outermost edge of the sheet. Books with close margins must be carefully trimmed to avoid cutting into the printed work.
To cut away on a milling machine to prepare spines of books for double-fan adhesive binding or oversewing. The machine clamps the text block, spine down, and moves it over a series of rotating blades that cut away approximately 1/8 inch (3mm) of the binding margin, thus removing old adhesive, thread, staples, and/or folds of signatures. After milling, a text block consists of loose leaves.
A book or singular publication that is bound by itself. Title information is not saved into the library bindery database for future use.
A clear, polyester film that is adhered to an original or photocopied book cover to produce a hard bound case. The cover is encapsulated between the clear polyester and paper backing with a heat set laminator.

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National sew
A machine is used to affix individual signatures of a book into a single text block by sewing through the fold.
New Case Only (NCO)
This style of binding removes the cover and leaves the original binding. Folded end sheets are placed outside the text block, and glue is applied to the spine. A glued liner is placed over the spine and end sheets to adhere this into a single text block.
Non-chargeable time
This is time that cannot be allocated to a specific job, and includes activities such as machine maintenance, clean-up, attending meetings, or stocking materials.
Parallel grooves cut into the spine perpendicular to the binding edge. Notching increases the amount of surface area on the spine that comes in contact with the adhesive, and increases the strength of double-fan adhesive bindings. Spines of text blocks can be notched by machine prior to double-fan adhesive binding.

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On-the-job training
This describes the learning of a specific function while performing that function in a production environment. Job-related training occurs while engaged in the occupation; hands-on instruction.
A leaf attachment method for sewing (binding) loose pages together with thread. Generally used for coated stock papers, stiff covers, papers printed cross grain, or heavy text blocks weighing more than 5 pounds. Sewing is performed on the oversewing machine.

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One side of a single, printed sheet belonging to a text block.
Pam bind
This is a common term for pamphlet bound materials.
A binding enclosure for pamphlets or magazines up to ½” thick. Original binding is left intact and pieces are center-stapled into the pamphlet. The pamphlet is constructed with .020pt point clear polyester (PETG) front cover and .056 dark grey, acid- free, acrylic coated board. The front and back covers are joined by acrylic-coated, poly-cotton C grade book cloth. An added strip with acid-neutral pressure sensitive acrylic adhesive folds over the materials that is stapled into the pamphlet, and serves to hide staples as well as providing strength to the overall product.
Paperback book
A book that is made with a stiff paper cover and bound directly to the text block. Many paperback books are converted to hardcover books by mylar binding.
Perfect bind
A high-speed binding process used in trade binderies to bind books. Perfect binding is not an LBI approved binding process.
Also referred to as a serial. This is a publication that is produced on a regular basis. It can be daily, weekly, monthly or some other time period. Periodical binding involves assembly of a library-determined set of issues into one volume.
Phase box
A phase box is handmade from a 60pt, ivory archival board. Two or more flat pieces are sized, glued together with buttons, and wax string fasteners installed to keep the box closed when material is encased inside. This material can be hand stamped or stamped on System 2. The library supplies stamping information and measurements, which are provided in inches with 1/16 increments. The phase box is a durable enclosure often requested by the Berkeley Law library.
A pocket is used to enclose inserts such as CDs, folded maps, or other items that belong to the bound product. It is most often placed at the back of a bound book. Materials less than ¼ inch receive a tyvek pocket. Thicker inserts require a cloth-covered pocket made from lightweight board.
Jobs with electronic stamping information may be marked up ahead of the actual binding process in order to allow more time for data entry. As with marking up, measurements of the height, width and spine thickness are made on the Bookmark machine, and these dimensions are used to calculate overall cloth size and starting line of a title. A library provided LOT/ITEM or BATCH/RECORD number is entered here. Bookmark software interfaces with LARS. By assigning an internal number to every piece premarked or marked up, the electronic stamping information will match each specific piece correctly. The proper set of end sheets that match the particular binding style are pulled at Premark for each piece, and the top end sheet of a set receives a piece number and board height dimension.
Preparation – “prep”
After books are checked-in, they move to preparation to determine leaf attachment and scan margins. Inserts are removed and labeled so they can be reinserted back into the finished product. Books are deconstructed. Staples and nail heads are removed. There are various levels of preparation. Full serial preparation involves checking issue order and removal of advertisements. Stubbing is prepared to accommodate pockets, different issue sizes, or label build up.
Price estimate
As jobs are checked-in at the check-in station, a calculation is made based upon quantities of items ordered for a particular job.
Process function
A designation for a particular activity in the touch screen time recording system (e.g. checking-in, cutting board, casing in).

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The number of books in a specific job is the quantity of that job. This number is accounted for at all stages in the binding process so pieces are not lost. Quantity may also refer to the number of pieces produced by an individual in a specific activity. Quantity produced in an activity can be used to determine performance comparable to other individuals or binding standards.

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A style of binding that removes the old cover and original binding. The text block can be rebound either by adhesive binding or sewing.
A single printed sheet of a book that is folded and fits within the confines of the text block. The folded sheets may be folded in the bindery. When books are prepared for binding, a pink tag is inserted into the text block to alert the finish trimmer to trim carefully so that refolded pages are not trimmed.
This is the library bindery version of the University work order. It specifies customer information, quantities and types of finished products, desired binding styles and form chargeable number provided.
Rounding and backing
This process is performed after marking up. The text block is squeezed between clamps with the spine protruding approximately 1/8”. A roller or hammer forms the rounded spine, and the hinges are shaped over the side of the clamped text block. This rounding process disperses the swelling of the spine. Backing accommodates the thickness of the boards and allows the case to open freely. Backing also helps prevent the spine of the text block from collapsing into a concave shape over time.
Rush job lots contain work that must be quickly returned to the library customer and meet their designated due dates. Rush job lots are returned in one- or two-week intervals after receipt from the library. A rush job often has priority over a job that is due on the same date.

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Sand covers
Books designated for double fan adhesive leaf attachment may need to have the covers sanded. If the covers are coated, the coating must be removed along the binding margin by sanding or abrading the cover. This allows the adhesive to bond with paper fibers of proximal sheets.
The basic component of the body of a book, formed by folding a sheet of plain or printed paper into its subdivisions. Sometimes referred to as a signature.
Also referred to as a periodical. This is a publication that is produced on a regular basis. It can be daily, weekly, monthly or some other time period. Serial binding involves the assembly of a library-determined set of issues into one bound volume.
Sewing on sawn-in cords
Hand-sewing of signatures through the fold onto sawn-in cords. Saw cuts are first made across the spine of the text block, perpendicular to the binding edge. These saw cuts then become the sewing holes through which the threaded needle passes on its way in and out of the fold of each signature. Cords are set into the saw cuts perpendicular to the spine, so that the sewing thread passes over the cords as it runs from kettle stitch to kettle stitch. The cords link the signature, one to another, across the spine.
Sew-thru-fold (STF)
A method of attaching individual signatures together or affixing end papers to a sewn text block by passing a needle and thread through the center of the fold of each signature or end sheet folio.
Shoulder (joint, ridge, flange)
The shoulder is formed when a text block is backed. During this process, the outermost leaves on each side of the text block are bent outward at a 45-degree angle along the binding edge to accommodate the boards and to allow them to hinge freely. The ridge that is thus formed on either side of the spine is the shoulder. (See Appendix B)
Signature (section or gathering)
A signature consists of a sheet of printed paper folded one, two, three, or four (and rarely five) times to make a section. Signatures are commonly eight, sixteen, or thirty-two pages.
An eight-hour workday begins at 6:30am and ends at 3:00pm. Overtime is included if the shift extends beyond eight hours, or work is required for Saturdays.
This process of organizing volumes based upon height is used at check-in of both buckram binding and mylar binding. Mylar bound books are numbered with the tallest book receiving the lowest number, and therefore becoming the first book in the sequence. Sizing books correctly aids back trimming and finish trimming.
Spine (backbone)
The surface of a volume that usually faces outward when a book sits on a shelf; i.e. the surface opposite the fore edge. It is the part of a bound text block between the two cover boards on which the lettering appears.
Spine lettering pattern
The arrangement of letters, numbers, and punctuation on the spine of a case. The color of stamping foil is also part of the lettering pattern.
Spine liner (inlay)
A .020 board inlayed into the case that backs the spine. It is centrally placed between the front and back cover boards at case making. The material is flexible enough to receive slight rounding for rounded text blocks.

Another usage for “spine liner” refers to the woven cloth strips that are adhered to the back of the spine and overlap the end sheets along the binding edge.


The edges of the case that extend beyond the text block at the head, tail, and fore edge, and protect it. Normally, books receive 1/8” square on these three sides.


Material bound into the text block, which accommodates different thickness due to labels or different issue sizes. Stubbing is also used to build up the spine thickness when a pocket is constructed for enclosing inserts that are not bound into the text block.


A woven cloth material adhered to the text block along the spine and overlapping the end sheets.

Surface finish

The quality of the surface of a sheet of paper. Paper can be rough or smooth, absorbent or repellent, shiny or dull.

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Libraries often place circulation notes or location identifiers inside books that must be returned to their original volumes before sending finished work back to the libraries. Tags are removed and numbered at checking-in so they return to their correct location at final inspection.
The bottom edge of a leaf, board, or bound volume; that is, the surface on which a volume rests when shelved upright.
Archival mending tape, an acid free pressure sensitive adhesive material used in the repair of torn pages. Woven tape, a woven strip of cotton cloth approximately ½ inch thick to which individual signatures are affixed. Used in hand sewing of serial signatures.
Text block
A gathering of printed or written leaves that may be or have been bound, excluding all paper to be added by the bookbinder, such as the endpapers.
Thesis – (also dissertation)
An original research paper produced by students and teachers. These can be single or multiple issues. Issues not bound for library collections are most often produced with unprinted end sheets, and do not include security strips. Many individual theses require the hand stamping of a UC seal on the front cover, and are indicated as such on the binding slips.
Tip in
That part of the covering material that is turned over the outer edges of the boards and inlay, and onto their inner surfaces, in the process of making a case. The turn-in protects the boards and inlay from de-lamination and wear. Most of the turn-in will be covered by the paste-down after casing-in.
Touch screen
All staff members are required to track their time on computer stations placed in various locations in the shop. Time is charged to jobs by using assigned job numbers, designated activities, and quantities produced for a specific job while performing that activity. A new entry on the touch screen is required every time jobs or activities are changed.
Turn in
The overhang of material that extends beyond the edges of the boards and inlay before turning in. The overhang becomes the turn-in, and should be about ¾ inches all the way around.
Tyvek pocket
A pre-made tyvek envelope is used to produce a pocket which is glued to a finished book for holding loose materials under ¼ inch thick. Material over ¼ “ is placed in a specially-constructed cloth covered pocket. Tyvek pockets may also be stitched into pamphlets.

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The ultrabind is an automated adhesive binding machine that performs several functions. Books are loaded into the clamps with folded end sheets. The books are carried through a series of stations that mill spines and notch the spines of the text blocks. Books are then jogged manually with their end sheets, and paused over a set of glue application rollers to double-fan adhesive bind the text block. Another roller then applies glue which penetrates the notches. The backliner is glued and automatically cut to size, and adhered to the spine before delivery to the unloading station. Each book is carefully stacked with wax paper inserts and left overnight to dry.
Upstream workflow
Work processes that precede and allow a job to enter a work area. For example, the upstream workflow for preparation is checking-in.

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Whipstitch (overcasting)
Stitching through holes usually punched along the binding edge of a text block. Sewing thread passes into the top and out of the bottom of each hole in succession to attach the leaves. Library binders whipstitch new endpapers to oversewn and side-sewn text blocks in preparation for re-casing.
This describes the movement of materials from one binding process to another. An efficient workflow processes jobs as they enter a work area and eliminates bottlenecks. It provides all elements of a job to be accounted for, and moves in unison so that an entire job progresses from one binding process to another without leaving individual books behind.