< back to full list of articles
The Language of Publishing: D, E, F

or Article Tags

The Language of Publishing


October 2012

by Linda Carlson


This is installment #2 of the Independent’s series on the language of publishing, which began in September. Designed both for old-timers adjusting to the demands of digital publishing and for newcomers mystified by what Joel Friedlander calls the mumbo-jumbo you need to understand when speaking to designers, book manufacturers, wholesalers, and POD specialists, the glossary will also be of use to all of us whenever we have to deal with an author or a customer who needs a translation of traditional publishing terms.

We’ve included some of the terms Friedlander defines in his post “The Language of the Book” at bookdesigner.com, and some that Pete Masterson covers in his Book Design and Production, as well as terms that industry specialists tell us are frequently misunderstood and jargon that members report being confused by.

The next installment—covering G, H, and I—will appear in the December Independent. After that, the series will continue, probably in alternate months, through Z.

If we miss (or misconstrue) a term, let us know via linda@ibpa-online.org. If you’d like us to add a term or terms, let us know that too. When the glossary is complete, it will be available as a single publication.

For an advanced degree in everything from Ascender to ZIP file, you’ll find more resources at the end of each installment of the series. Terms printed in purple within a definition have been (or will be) defined elsewhere in the glossary.



DAISY: Digital Accessible Information System Standards, a digital format that makes text accessible to people with visual or other difficulties in reading books. See DAISY, daisy.org.

Dash: A typographical line longer than a hyphen (which should not be used to create it). Short ones are en dashes; long ones are em dashes.

Debossing: The opposite of embossing, in which a die is pressed against paper to create raised type or a raised image. With debossing, the die creates depressed images.

Decoration: A decorative character often used as part of a folio (i.e., page number) or to indicate transitions, such as those between sections, or at the end of an article. Prior to offset lithography, decorations provided small images without the expense of custom engraving.

Dedication: An inscription by the author (and sometimes the illustrator and/or editor) that appears in the front matter, usually following the verso (the reverse side of the title page) but sometimes on the top of the verso page.

Delimiter: A character that is used to separate items of information, which is important when information is transferred from one format to another. A mailing service may ask that a mailing list be exported from a database in tab- or comma-delimited format.

Density: The degree of darkness (blackness) of a photographic image.

Deposit copies: The copies of a book sent with the completed copyright application and fee to the Library of Congress. See “Mandatory Deposit,” copyright.gov/help/faq/mandatory_deposit.html.

Descender: That portion of a letter—the tails of lower-case gj, and p, for example—that extends below the baseline. When type is leaded too tightly, descenders and ascenders can overlap.

Developmental edit: Editing that deals with the content and quality of a manuscript, addressing organization, transitions, tone, voice, and complexity.

Die-cutting: Cutting a shape out of paper, usually out of the cover of a paperback book. This bindery process can be done with standard dies that the printer or bindery has in stock (e.g., an oval shape) or with a custom die, such as a company logo, which increases costs. Dies are also required for debossing and embossing.

Digital: Used to describe type and images that exist on computers rather than paper and are transferred electronically or with such storage devices as flash drives.

Digital content aggregator: An online entity that gathers and disseminates digital content from a variety of sources.

Digital rights management (DRM): Encryption or coding of e-books and other digital publications to make it impossible (or at least difficult) to copy, save, download, or print the material. Some publishers want all material protected, which means an e-book can be read only on the device for which it is purchased; others have chosen to make their e-book content available for use on as many electronic devices as the customer chooses.

Digitization: The conversion of material from printed to digital format, often with a process such as scanning.

Dingbat: A printing symbol such as a bullet, heart, box, or diamond. Most desktop publishing programs provide dingbats in the Zapf Dingbats font.

Direct mail (aka direct response advertising): Promotional material snail-mailed to prospective customers. “Direct response” means it solicits immediate orders. Direct mail is usually sent at bulk rates, which are significantly lower than first-class postal rates, but require permits, indicia, presorting, and delivery to a bulk mail processing facility.

Discounts: In book wholesaling and retailing, the percentage deducted from a book’s cover price. A wholesaler may pay $4.50 for $10 book with a 55 percent wholesale discount and sell it to a bookseller at a 40 percent discount from cover price, or $6, grossing $1.50 in this example.

Distributor: One of the possible intermediaries between a publisher and booksellers. In traditional publishing with books printed offset, the distributor sells to book wholesalers and retailers, purchasing books directly from the publisher at a discount from cover price, sometimes as much as 70 percent. Some distributors handle all sales except those explicitly retained by the publisher, such as sales in bulk to corporations. Distributors usually have sales reps who call on bookstore chains and large independent bookstores and on wholesalers. (Wholesalers, typically, do not have salespeople.) Some publisher-distributor relationships are exclusive. Relationships with distributors for special markets such as gift shops or health-food stores are often nonexclusive. Most large and many small publishers self-distribute to wholesalers and/or bookstores and/or libraries. For digital products, a vendor such as Amazon’s CreateSpace may be the distributor. E-book distributors include such companies as OverDrive and Smashwords.

Distribute and print/distributive printing: The process of sending a file for a book to have it printed as close to the end user as possible. With digital printing, a U.S. publisher can have books printed by European partners at significant saving in time and freight cost.

Ditch: The space between columns of type on a page.

Dithering: The process of varying a pattern of dots to create the illusion of colors that are not available with the printing process and inks being used. For example, with CMYK, dots of different red, cream, and white shades might create a pattern that makes the eye think it is seeing pink. Halftones, the reproducible images of black-and-white photos, are produced with dithering; the pattern of interspersed black and white dots creates the illusion of different grays.

Dot gain: When ink spreads past the specified dot size and thus makes tones darker or colors stronger. Dot gain can also make images look muddy or blurred. It affects highly absorbent papers such as newsprint more than hard, coated stock, which is why paper should be specified before screening is selected for an image. A photo to be printed on newsprint should be prepared with a coarser line screen (fewer lines per inch; or lower lpi) and thus fewer dots per inch to compensate for dot gain.

Dots per inch (dpi): A measurement of the resolution of a laser or inkjet printer. A higher dpi yields crisper images and type. Sources differ on how dpi compares to lines per inch (lpi): some printers and designers recommend that images be created as TIFs with dpi at least double the lpi that will be used when a halftone is made for printing. Following this recommendation, a photo would be created at no less than 600 dpi if it were to be screened at 300 lpi. Other sources recommend a much greater difference: 600 dpi for an image to be used in a newspaper, which may have an 85-line screen (lpi); or 2400 dpi for an image that will appear in a glossy magazine, which may have a 150–200 line screen (lpi).

Double bump: To print twice so a page has two layers of the same color ink, which may be necessary because the stock (usually a cover) is heavily textured and requires two applications for good coverage. Images printed with a double bump provide an extra-rich, or deep, color.

Doubletruck: Two facing pages of a publication used for an image, usually an advertisement.

Drilling: The print industry term for punching holes, as for pages to be inserted in ring binders.

Drop cap: An oversized initial capital sometimes used at the beginning of a magazine story or book chapter. It will be the height of several lines of type.

Drop folio: A page number printed at the bottom of the page.

Drop ship: Shipping of products such as books directly from the manufacturer to a wholesaler, distributor, retailer, or end user. A publisher that uses an exclusive distributor will probably have almost all its inventory shipped directly to the distributor’s warehouse. A publisher that has received significant advance orders for a title (say, quantities of 1,000 or more) may have those orders fulfilled via drop shipping. Drop shipping usually increases the freight costs from the point of manufacture but reduces the labor and cost for fulfilling large orders from the publisher’s warehouse. (With drop shipping, the publisher may not see the finished book before fulfillment of orders has begun. This means that if an error occurs after the publisher has reviewed the laser output, blueline, or F&Gs, poor-quality copies may be received by retailers before the publisher is aware of the problem.) Many POD vendors now ship directly from printing plant to retail customers who have ordered online.

Dummy: A stand-in for the finished book. A folding dummy is compiled of blank pages of specified cover stock and text stock, usually to determine spine width (for the purpose of creating spine artwork), and possibly also to determine weight (for estimating freight costs) and number of copies per carton (when discounts are based on full-carton sales). Sometimes pages are dummied with actual text to determine space available for photos and photo placement.

Dump bin: A floor display, often a self-contained shipping carton that is assembled as a display unit for paperback books or sidelines (nonbook products such as notecards, toys, or jewelry). Publishers that offer dump bins describe them, and the number of books included, in their trade catalogs and/or on their Web sites. The counter prepack is a smaller version of a dump bin.

Duotone: A two-color halftone. Often used for special effects or when the budget does not permit full-color images. Technically, a halftone (grayscale image) with a second color overlaid on a portion of the image.

Dust jacket: The paper or acetate cover folded over a bound book, usually a hardcover. Also called a dust cover, a book jacket, or simply a jacket, it usually includes more graphics, promotional text, and author biographical information than the cover accommodates. Publishers that order extra copies of the dust jacket can often use them to replace damaged dust jackets on books returned from retailers, allowing those books to be resold as new.



EAN, European Article Number: EANs are 13-digit identifiers assigned to all kinds of products available for retail sale worldwide. The 13-digit ISBNs now used on books are part of the larger EAN system.

Early readers: Beginning chapter books usually oriented to children ages 8–11 who are advancing to them from picture books; typically 64 pages long and generously illustrated, often in black-and-white.

Earn out: When a book has sold enough copies so that royalties due equal the amount of the author’s advance, the advance is said to have “earned out.”

E-book: A book published in digital form and usually accessible via a computer, a Kindle, NOOK, iPad, smartphone, tablet, or other handheld device.

Edition: The paperback reprint of a hardcover title is technically the same edition, but each version requires a different ISBN; in general, different versions are referred to as editions—e.g., “trade paper edition,” “mass market edition,” “movie tie-in edition.” A version with significant revisions is considered a new edition. Editions can be numbered (e.g., “Second Edition”) or described (e.g., “Revised”).

Editor: In a large publishing company, editorial responsibilities are divided among such positions as acquisitions editor, developmental editor, copy editor, production editor, and technical editor. In smaller publishing companies, one person called simply “editor” may fulfill several editorial roles. In some publishing companies, a “production editor” coordinates and trafficks the editorial side of the production process; in others this is the job of the “production director” or “production manager.” Editor is also the word used to describe the person who assembles content for an anthology.

Electronic data interchange, EDI: EDI refers to standards for electronic transactions that allow automated ordering. For example, after a publisher places a print order from its inventory system, the publisher-generated purchase order and specifications are uploaded to the print vendor’s system, which then sends a shipping confirmation to the publisher and eventually sends the publisher a bill.

Elhi: The abbreviation for the elementary and secondary school markets and for texts and other materials produced for those markets.

Em: An American unit of measure in typesetting. The em of a particular face is as wide as its capital letter M and as deep as its point size (e.g., in 10 point type text, an em bullet will be the width of the upper case M and 10 points high). Because some type styles are condensed and some are expanded, the size of an em varies from font to font even within the same point size. Dashes are often specified as “em” or “en,” with en being half the width of em.

Embossed: Printed or stamped with a design or type created from a die (see die-cutting regarding standard and custom dies). The design or type may be blank, covered with foil, or printed.

Enamel: A form of coated paper.

End matter: Also known as back matter; the material following the text of a book. For example, appendixes, endnotes, glossaries, and indexes.

Endnote: With the same content as footnotes, endnotes appear at the end of a chapter or in end matter.

E.O.M.: End of the month, a financial term referring to when payments are scheduled. Wholesalers typically pay 60 or 90 days after the end of the month in which they shipped books to retailers, which may be several months after they received the books from the publisher.

Epigraph: A quotation at the beginning of a book or chapter intended to convey an idea that will be developed in the text.

Epilog: Usually a brief summary of what occurred after the plot or action in a book. Sometimes epilogs are added to successive editions of a nonfiction book to update the content of the original. Part of the end matter.

EPS: Encapsulated PostScript, a common file format for exporting Adobe Illustrator files. It uses PostScript coding and so can be output to a PostScript printer, but it cannot be used instead of a JPG or TIF image for printing.

E-pub and EPUB: E-pub is a generic term broader than e-book that also describes periodicals delivered as digital publications. EPUB is the standard for representing, packaging, and encoding structured and semantically enhanced Web content—including XHTML, CSS, SVG, images, and other resources—for distribution in a single-file format. The current version is EPUB 3; detailed information is available from the International Digital Publishing Forum via http://idpf.org.

E-reader: A handheld digital device—Kindle, iPad, or NOOK, for example—onto which electronic publications can be downloaded. Most e-readers require reformatting of text originally prepared for print.

Erotica: Fiction with sex as the major plot activity. Similar to soft porn.

Erotic romance: Fiction with sex as an important element in a plot that includes the conflict and resolution typical of romance fiction.

Errata: The common name for the sheet slipped into or pasted into a book noting corrections of errors found after the book was printed.

Escalation (or escalator) clause: In an author’s contract with a publisher, this clause defines what entitles the author to additional or increased royalty payments. For example, the royalty rate may be 5 percent of the cover price on the first 5,000 copies sold, and escalate to 7.5 percent on the second 5,000 copies and to 10 percent on all sales in excess of 10,000.

Espresso Book Machine: The EBM is one of several recently introduced point-of-purchase “kiosks” that can print, bind, and trim a book while a customer waits. See On Demand Books, ondemandbooks.com.

EspressNet: The online database of book texts available for printing on Espresso Book Machines.

Evergreen: A publication that is considered to always be in demand and thus is never allowed to go out of print; e.g., a classic.

Examination copy: A copy sent on approval or at no charge to a prospective customer, usually an educator considering a book for a course. Some publishers specify that the recipient will be billed for the book if it is not adopted for the course and not returned within 30 days. Also called an inspection copy.

Excerpt: Material from a larger source. When an excerpt appears in a book, it is usually set off with indenting. On the verso page of a book, a publisher often specifies that only brief excerpts of the book can be reprinted and only in reviews unless written permission is granted by the copyright holder. Authors and publishers often excerpt material from their books for use as articles and posts.

Expanded face: A font with especially wide characters, usually more rounded and often with heavier stroke. Expanded faces are often used for titles or chapter headings, and in advertising. Desktop publishing programs such as InDesign allow type to be increased in width and extra space to be added between characters to create the impression of an expanded face.


4-0-0-4: A printing specification that indicates a book cover is to be printed in four colors on the front and back with no printing on the inside of the front and back covers. 4-1-1-4 means four colors on the front and back with one color (usually black) on the inside front and back covers. Digital presses typically produce covers 4-0-0-4.

Face: Traditionally, a type style, such as Bodoni, Arial, or Times Roman. Now more commonly used to refer to a given style of a font (e.g., Bodoni italic, Bodoni book, Bodoni bold).

Facsimile edition: An exact reproduction of an original (usually vintage) work, today made by scanning the pages of the original, which often requires removing the binding. A facsimile edition will show any errors on the original printed pages.

Fact-checking: Reviewing material presented as fact in a manuscript to verify its accuracy. For fiction, fact-checking may involve researching the historical accuracy of such story elements as places, events, modes of transportation, and available technology. For nonfiction, it may include verifying quotations. Today fact-checking also may entail confirming that URLs are cited correctly. Authors are often primarily responsible for checking facts, although editors and copy editors may do some fact-checking.

Fair use: Often claimed when copyrighted material is used without authorization from the copyright holder, fair use is a legal term. Whether a use is legally “fair” is determined by considering four factors: the purpose and character of the use, including whether it is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The verso page of a book sometimes explains how much of the text can be excerpted and for what purpose without obtaining the copyright holder’s authorization.

Family, font, or type: See font, below.

Fantasy: A genre often linked with science fiction. Characters in fantasy include anthropomorphized animals and objects (talking cars, say), aliens, humanoids, robots, dwarves, elves, goblins, and vampires.

Fiction: A literary genre with characters and/or plot lines created by the author, and therefore not basically factual.

File transfer protocol (FTP): A common means of exchanging electronic files, usually such large ones as book files, over the Internet from one computer to another or from one server to another. For receipt of files, most printers and book manufacturers have FTP portals with specific addresses and passwords.

Film: In traditional offset printing, a mechanical (comprehensive, pasteup) was photographed, and the film—actually the film negative—was used to create printing plates. Every dust spot or scratch on a negative would create a spot on the printed page, so negatives were proofed on a light table and defects were “opaqued” out with a special masking fluid.

Film lamination: Bonding plastic film to paper, usually cover stock, to protect the paper and improve its appearance.

Finished size: The final size of a book after binding and trimming. Similar to trim size, which specifies the height and width.

Finishing: Specialty binding operations such as die-cutting, hand-gluing, inserting CDs, and shrinkwrapping—everything that occurs after the book is printed.

First serial rights: The legal right to publish a forthcoming book in installments or to publish an excerpt from it in a periodical. Magazine and newspaper publishers may pay for first serial rights to big books. For other titles, publicists offer free serial rights to generate interest in the book either before publication (first serial) or after (second serial).

Flap copy: Promotional text that appears on the front and back flaps of the dust cover of a hardcover book. On a paperback, similar promotional text may appear on the inside front cover and/or on the back cover.

Flat: The large sheet to which offset negatives or positives are physically attached for the production of an offset printing plate. With digital or computer-to-plate technology, it is no longer used.

Flat fee: One-time compensation for a writer, illustrator, or photographer in exchange for all rights.

Flood coating: Varnish or a similar coating applied to an entire sheet, usually the outside of the paper for the book cover, to protect it and/or enhance its appearance.

Fluorescent inks: Inks that add radiance. More expensive than regular PMS colors and more likely to fade, they may require a second pass (aka double bump) for adequate coverage.

Flush: Even with. Flush left means that type is set block style with all lines except paragraph indents even with the left margin. Flush right, occasionally used for titles and display type, means the right side of a text block aligns with the right margin.

Flyleaf: A blank page in the front of a book. Part of the front matter.

F.O.B.: Freight on board, free on board. Refers to where goods will be delivered without freight charges. If the book manufacturer’s quote specifies FOB Ann Arbor, the publisher will pay for delivery from Ann Arbor, MI.

Foil: Tissue-thin material with metal or pigment that is pressed onto the cover of a book with a heated die (see embossing).

Folded and gathered sheets (F&Gs): Printed signatures of a book that have been collated but not yet glued or bound. They are used sometimes for proofing and sometimes for prepublication promotion.

Folding: In offset printing, book blocks are produced in signatures, with the number of pages always a multiple of eight. Children’s picture books, for example, are usually created in 32-page signatures, which means that each sheet coming off the press has 16 pages on each side. The sheet is folded to create the pages in sequence. Most folding of book signatures is done on the press, or inline. Check copies of dust jackets may be hand folded, and may misrepresent the accuracy available with machine-folded jackets; to ensure that a book’s dust jacket artwork will be the exact size needed, ask the book manufacturer for the exact spine width, and for a hardcover ask whether the spine will be flat or curved. When changing book manufacturers for a subsequent edition, determine the spine width and style before submitting dust cover artwork.

Folio: The numeral in a paginated book, including any artwork used with the numeral; also, the number on a right-hand page.

Font: The complete set of characters, including numbers, punctuation, and bullets, in a given typeface. Traditionally each font included one size and one style; for example, 24 point Times italic. All the sizes and styles were called a font (or type) family, with typeface variations usually including roman (regular), bold, and italic; light, semibold, bold italic, book, black, and extra-bold; condensed and expanded faces could also be included. Today style is usually denoted by a “face” such as bold or italic. When a print job is submitted in native or PostScript files, all the fonts used in the publication must be submitted to the book manufacturer, including dingbats, decorations, and symbols. (In desktop publishing some of these will be in the “glyphs” file.) A job submitted as a PDF does not require submission of fonts.

Font metrics: The spacing attributes of type. This is part of the reason that a Times font on one computer is unlikely to match the Times font on another computer, unless both were loaded from the same release of the same software, and it is why an electronic file must be accompanied by its fonts when sent to the printer unless submitted as a PDF.

Font size: The size (height) of a character in a particular font as measured in points from the lowest descender to the highest ascender. Because there are 72 points to an inch, a character in 36-point type is theoretically a half-inch high—but no single character has both an ascender and descender.

Foot: The bottom of a page.

Footnote: A note at the bottom of a page, usually a reference, authority, translation, or explanation of text appearing on the same page. The information in footnotes can appear instead in endnotes at the end of each chapter or in a book’s end matter.

Foreign rights: The rights to publish a book, either in its original language or in translation, outside the country of origin. Foreign rights may be limited to a specific language in a specific geographic area: for example, Mandarin Chinese in China, or Spanish in Mexico (but not South America or Spain). Given the number of languages and countries in the world today, agents and publishers can make many foreign rights sales for a single book, and, since foreign rights are usually sold for a specified number of years, they can sometimes resell rights.

Foreword: An introductory section of a book written by someone other than the author. Part of the front matter.

Four-color printing, four-color process: Creating full-color material during the printing process with the four process ink colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK). Offset printing requires a separation and plate for each of the four.

FPO: “For position only,” used to identify proxy images in a layout, often so that text can be paginated prior to the acquisition of the actual images.

French fold: A sheet, usually oversize, printed on one side and folded into quarters to be tipped in (bound into a book). The fold along the top edge is not cut, so that the sheet is whole when unfolded by a reader. Used with oversize images such as maps or pedigrees.

Frictionless file conversion: A highly scalable conversion process for transforming PDFs, native files, or physical books into POD print-ready files.

Front matter: The first pages of a book preceding the text, sometimes not numbered; sometimes numbered with lowercase Roman numerals. Front matter can include (in the traditional order) the half title, a list of books by the same author or in the same series, a frontispiece, a title page, a copyright page (verso), a dedication, a table of contents, a list of illustrations, a foreword, a preface, an introduction, and a second half title. Today few trade titles include all this, and front matter elements are often combined on a few pages. For example, the dedication may appear on the copyright (verso) page.

Frontispiece: An illustration facing the title page. In books produced by letterpress, the frontispiece was often the only illustration, or the only color illustration.

Frontlist: A publisher’s new books. Many large publishers issue books twice annually, and the spring list will be considered frontlist until the fall titles are introduced. At that point the spring titles become backlist. Smaller publishers may consider titles frontlist for a longer period and consider backlist “evergreen.”

Fulfillment: The processes included in shipping and billing books to a customer. Often also called order fulfillment in business in general. Distributors who sell books on an exclusive basis for their client publishers usually also handle fulfillment for them. Some publishers outsource fulfillment to fulfillment houses or warehousing services, which receive and store books, process the purchase orders sent by the publisher, pack and ship books, and receive and process returns.


Linda Carlson started her career on a newspaper that set type with hot lead, and waxed yard-long galleys of copy for pasteup. Her first book, The Publicity and Promotion Handbook: A Complete Guide for Small Business, was proofed in 1981 with long galleys and then with page proofs.




BISG Rights Controlled Vocabularybisg.org/docs/BISG%20Rights%20Controlled%20Vocabulary%201.0.pdf

Book Design and Production: A Guide for Authors and Publishers, by Pete Masterson, Aeonix Publishing Group

Bookmasters Publishing 101 by Bookmasters, bookmasters.com/authors.html

Don’t Let Me Find You Bleeding in the Gutter: Understanding Book Terminology

by Joel Friedlander, thebookdesigner.com/2011/06/dont-let-me-find-you-bleeding-in-the-gutter-understanding-book-terminology

Neenah Paper’s Glossary of Paper Termsneenahpaper.com/resources/glossaryterms

PBI Print Buyer Glossaryprintbuyersinternational.com/resources/print-buyer-glossary


Publishing Organizations

ABA, BIC, CCC and dozens of other key book industry associations are defined and described in the Book Industry Study Group’s Roadmap of Organizational Relationships, version 2.0 (bisg.org/what-we-do-18-33-roadmap-of-organizational-relationships.php), which is free at bisg.org.

Using the Roadmap’s links to Web sites, you can find various valuable resources. For example, the American Booksellers Association site has a directory of member stores, and, via the “education” tab, a list of regional bookseller trade shows; and the American Library Association site has, among other things, a fact sheet about 120,000 libraries of all kinds in the United States today.

Connect With Us

1020 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Suite 204 Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
P: 310-546-1818 F: 310-546-3939 E: info@IBPA-online.org
©2016 Independent Book Publishers Association

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On LinkedinCheck Our Feed