Discover Bookbinding
Surf's Up
Meet Chris Lipscombe


Glossary of Bookbinding Terms

A-E | F-I | J-O | P-S | T-Z

The bottom of a binding or page.
A true headband consists of coloured threads entwined tightly round a core of vellum backed with leather, and is sewn through the sections, filling the gap at the spine between the bottom of the section and the edges of the boards. It thus helps to prevent the sections collapsing through the effect of gravity, and also serves to lessen the damage done when the book is pulled off the shelf by its headcap. Imitation headbands, which are purely decorative, are merely stuck to the back folds of the sections. The band at the tail of the book is sometimes called the tailband, and both head and tailbands are collectively referred to as endbands.
the preparation of a skin which turns it into leather. Immersion in tanning liquid made from vegetable materials renders it durable and suitable for bookbinding. See also tawing.
The preparation of a skin (usually pig or goat) by treating it with a mixture based on aluminium salts, which renders it flexible. An early alternative to tanning.
text block
The sections, sewn or unsewn, that make up the text of the book. See also sewn block.
Sewing three sections at a time, with one length of thread, to reduce swell.
One of several loops of thread taken under the kettle stitches at intervals when embroidering a headband. It secures the headband to the book.
tight back
A spine where the covering material, usually leather, is attached directly to the lined or unlined backs of the sections. This is a much more durable method than the hollow back, which consists of a paper tube attached to the cover.
tip on, tip in, tip up
To incorporate a single sheet, plate, endpaper or section into a book by applying a narrow strip of adhesive to its back margin and sticking it to the back edge of a section.
title page
The recto of the third or fourth leaf of a book, on which is printed the complete title of the book, with other information such as author, volume number, date, patron, publisher's name, and place and date of publication.
To title and decorate a binding by impressing engraved tools into the surface of the covering material. The impression can be in gold (gold foil or leaf), in colour (coloured foil) or 'blind' (a dark or black impression caused either by heat and pressure alone or by using a tool dabbed in printer's ink).
trade binding
Prestige and miscellaneous bookbinding done by commercial firms employing journeymen (qualified binders) and apprentices trained in the craft. Most of the work is done by hand, but some machines are used. Any book pre-nineteenth century that was not bound up to the taste of the purchaser, but bound before sale.
treasure binding
Cases, often made of precious or jewelled metal, that were not an integral part of the binding, but could be passed from text to text, with the text blocks slipped inside.
tree calf (tree marble)
Calfskin treated with acid to form a design on the covers, resembling the branches of a tree.
tub sizing, surface sizing
The addition of size to paper after it has been manufactured, by passing it through a bath of animal gelatine size.
Type of goatskin, later known as morocco.
turn-in, turnover, overlap
The part of the covering material which is turned in over the edges of the boards to protect them. It is a characteristic of all books except for some flush bindings.
Sewing two sections at a time, with one length of thread, to reduce swell.
The practice of winding a cord around a new cover on both sides of raised bands to ensure the setting and adhesion of the leather.
unsewn binding
See adhesive binding.
Calfskin (with the hair removed) that has been soaked, limed and dried under tension, not tanned like leather.
A left-hand page of a book, usually with an even page number.
In cloth, the threads which run the length of the roll. Sometimes referred to as the grain direction. See also weft.
waste sheet, protection sheet
A protective sheet of paper incorporated in the endpapers and either cut down or removed during binding.
weaver's knot
A secure knot for joining thread together.
In cloth, the threads which run at right angles to the length of the roll.
whole binding, full binding
A binding that is covered entirely in the same material.
wire part
In papermaking, the moving belt of woven phosphor bronze or nylon on which the pulp falls to make the paper web and which thus determines the grain direction of the fibres.
wove (paper)
Paper without a pattern of wires, normally visible when held to the light.
The covers of a binding that has no boards. They can be paper or vellum.
Yapp binding
A form of binding with squares extended to overlap the exposed edges of the paper and cover them completely. Yapp bindings are usually limp, with rounded corners, and are used mainly for devotional books (e.g. prayer books).

A-E | F-I | J-O | P-S | T-Z

Back to Bookbinding