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The Language of Publishing: T-Z

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The Language of Publishing T-Z

November 2013

by Linda Carlson

Welcome to the concluding installment of our printing and publishing glossary. We’ve now demystified both centuries-old printing lingo and the jargon of 21st-century publishing, starting with acid-free and acquisitions editor, and wrapping up this month with x-height and Zip file. If you’ve missed any of the issues with A through S, see Independent magazine at ibpa-online.org.

Coming soon: the entire printing and publishing glossary consolidated and published in a single volume.


Tear sheets: Now often replaced by online copies of printed or broadcast material, or by a PDF of a printed piece, tear sheets were originally print-on-paper copies of articles, published reviews, and the like. Requested by book publishers when providing review copies, tear sheets of reviews are useful as sources of comments about books to post on Websites and to use in getting publicity.

Template: Page layout information, usually saved in a desktop publishing program, that specifies text area, margins, running heads, page numbers, and other design elements along with type and paragraph styles.

Text-to-Speech, TTS: Creation of audible speech from computer-readable text. A TTS engine converts written text to a phonemic representation, and then converts the phonemic representation to waveforms that can be output as sound. The most important commercial applications are probably help desks and voice response systems that provide information such as account balances in response to spoken questions or questions via keypads. In publishing, the most common use is as an assistive technology—such as screen-readers—for the visually impaired and others who have difficulty reading. TTS is available for e-books, both through such hardware as e-readers and through software such as Firefox’s Text-to-Voice (addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/text-to-voice).

Thumbnails: Small rough sketches that show how a book cover, Web page, or graphic image might look; valuable for exploring initial design concepts. Also, images of book covers or book pages shown in miniature.

Tie-in: A new product created to capitalize on interest in an existing product, such as a book, movie, video game, or toy. A movie or television feature based on a book usually leads to a tie-in edition of the book, often with a cover using a photo from the movie or TV program and including photos from it. Dolls and stuffed toys of the characters in a book are tie-in products. Tie-in products are often cross-promoted with the work that they’re based on.

TIFF: Tagged image file format, a standard graphic image usually generated by scanners. Capable of high resolution, this is the standard format for graphics to be printed on paper.

Tip in: Individual sheets can be tipped in—that is, glued into—a book after binding. Tip-ins provide a way to correct a problem such as incorrect text or images printed on one page, and a way to add material, such as high-quality color photographs, that must be printed on different paper and/or on a different press than the rest of a book.

Title metadata: Descriptive information about a book, including ISBN, author, title, page count, binding, and text colors. Digital printers and vendors usually want all title metadata submitted with the printing files. (For more about metadata, see “Desperately Seeking Good Data,” Parts 1, 2, and 3, via Independent magazine at ibpa-online.org.)

TK: Abbreviation for “to come,” an acknowledgment that some material is missing but will be provided in due time.

Trade paperback: A perfect bound paperback with a heavy paper cover, usually in a trim size between 5 × 7 and 7 × 10 inches. Many trade titles are launched as trade paper originals. Titles launched as hardcover books are often reissued in trade paper or as mass market paperbacks that typically have a smaller trim size to accommodate the wire racks in which they are often displayed.

Trade sales channels: Routes to bookstores and libraries used by wholesalers and distributors that sell books they buy or consign from publishers. Contrast with special sales, direct mail, and back-of-the-room channels.

Transparency: Color positive film, such as a slide, which provides a better quality image when printed in a book than color negative film does.

Trapping: A prepress technique that eliminates white lines between adjacent colors in printing by overprinting each color very slightly.

Trim, trim size: The finished size of a book after binding and trimming. Many book manufacturers offer a limited number of trims. Especially with digital printing, these may be only such standard sizes as 5 × 7, 6 × 9 and 8 × 10 inches. Unconventional trims and binding on the short edge can increase the cost of book manufacture.

True POD (print-on-demand): A book that is digitally printed after the order is received and drop-shipped directly to the customer with or without the invoice included.

Typeface: The characters that form a given type’s “family,” such as all the characters in Helvetica, Helvetica bold, Helvetica extra bold, Helvetica light, and Helvetica italic. Contrast with font, which is the type name, such as Helvetica, Times Roman, or Bodoni.

Type gauge: A ruler, usually metal, calibrated in picas for measuring type. Also called a pica pole. Commonly used before electronic prepress measuring options were available.

Type size: The size of characters in type is described in points, although letters called the same size will not necessarily be the same size in different fonts. This is especially true in terms of horizontal measure, because versions such as “thin” or “light” will be narrower, and versions such as “extra bold” will be wider. Some fonts also have shorter ascenders and descenders than others. Today’s technology allows for the selection of a wide variety of point sizes, and standard sizes can be stretched or condensed with desktop publishing software’s character styles.

The letter size of these fonts varies in height and more dramatically in width. 


Ultra-short run: A digital print run and assembly of a very small number of books, usually 5–50 units.

Underrun: The production of fewer copies than a printer’s customer specified, either because of a press run that results in a lower quantity or because of a high rate of unacceptable copies.

–Up: A suffix indicating how many copies of the same cover or piece of artwork are printed on a parent sheet. Paperback covers are often printed two-up. Standard-size postcards can be printed four-up on one letter-size sheet of cover stock.

UPC, Universal Product Code: A standard product identifier that many nonbook retailers (such as drugstores and mass merchandisers) once required on books, since their systems didn’t accommodate ISBNs. After ISBN-13s replaced ISBN-10s, ISBNs and UPCs became members of the same 13-digit identifier system (GTIN-13), making the use of more than one identifier unnecessary on books sold in nonbook channels. More than one identifier should never be used because dual identifiers and bar codes impede the ability to track sales. UPCs are available from GS1 US (gs1us.org), founded in 1974 as the Uniform Product Code Council and later known as the Uniform Code Council.

Upper case: Capital letters.

UV coating: A shiny, protective layer sometimes applied to a cover after it has been printed. UV coating enhances the appearance of uncoated stock and increases durability.


Varnish: A thin, clear coating applied after printing for protection, usually of a cover, or to enhance appearance or create a special effect. Varnish can be matte or gloss. A blanket varnish covers the entire printed area; a spot varnish highlights type or an image or simply adds a shine to certain parts of a sheet of paper

Velobind: A brand of plastic binding, uncommon in trade paperbacks; a low-cost alternative to layflat binding for cookbooks, teacher guides, and workbooks.

Violator: Signage that extends beyond (or violates) the edge of a package or a display, such as a starburst with a short promotional message that flares out from a cardboard dump bin.

Volume: Printed sheets bound together as a book. Also, one book in a set or series.


Web press: A large press that prints on rolls of paper; used for high-volume jobs such as newspapers and magazines. Because web presses use paper rolls that are wider than the paper sheets sheet-fed presses ordinarily use, they produce either very large pages (as for a newspaper) or several pages for a signature (a trade paperback printed on a web press might have as many as 64 pages per signature). Web presses use lower-quality paper such as newsprint. Since they run faster than sheet-fed presses, printing may be of lower quality, with some images not perfectly registered.

Wet proof: A press proof printed with the plates prepared for a job and the paper to be used, to allow a final check before printing. Corrections and changes at this point are very expensive, requiring a new plate for every page changed.

Wholesaler: Most booksellers and many libraries buy from wholesalers, which order books from distributors or directly from publishers. Unlike distributors, wholesalers typically employ few salespeople. Wholesalers fulfill book orders that result from promotion done by publishers, authors, and/or distributors. Most book wholesalers buy on a returnable basis and require a discount of 50 to 55 percent from cover price. Major wholesalers now also offer distribution services, at least for print books, and many distributors can handle book manufacturing and e-book conversions, either in-house or through contractors.

Widow: A short last line of a paragraph that appears at the top of a column or page. To be avoided. See Bad break and orphan.

Wire-O: A brand name for wire comb binding. Commonly used as an alternative to layflat binding, usually for cookbooks, directories, journals, and workbooks; seldom used for trade paperbacks unless they are shrinkwrapped or boxed, and almost never for hardcovers and rack-size paperbacks.

Work-and-tumble, work-and-turn: Used to describe what happens when artwork for both sides of a piece (such as a postcard or other advertising material) is arranged as a single image or plate to print on one side of a sheet, and then, after the sheet is turned over, to print on the other side. The sheet is then trimmed to create two or more copies of the finished piece. Work-and-tumble is easy today with the high-quality color printer-copiers used in many offices and in copy shops.

Work for hire: Writing commissioned by an individual or organization that will own the copyright. Someone writing on a work-for-hire basis may be compensated with a salary or with a flat fee rather than with royalties. An author employed on a work-for-hire basis may be listed as author or contributor or not identified at all. Work-for-hire is a legal category of the U.S. Copyright Act, and work-for-hire contracts must be carefully drafted. Payment of a flat fee does not in itself make anything a work for hire.

WYSIWYG: Pronounced “wizzy-wig,” the acronym for What You See Is What You Get—computer displays that accurately represent what printed material will look like. Because colors are displayed as RGB and printed as CMYK, they cannot be WYSIWYG.


X-height: The height of lower-case characters excluding their ascenders and descenders. A larger x-height usually makes a typeface more readable.

YA, Young Adult: Books written for people aged 12–18 years.


Zip file: A file that compresses one or more files into a smaller archive so that the material will take up less hard-drive space and transfer more quickly.

Linda Carlson (info@lindacarlson.com) writes for the Independent from Seattle. After a year’s work on this glossary, she feels prepared for triumph in almost any Scrabble competition.

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