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Upskilling Dictionary: Art & Design

By Sukhpreet Chana, Misha Manani and Joe Pilbrow

When you visit a bookshop and see a cover you are completely blown away by, there is a

design team behind it working their magic. They are involved early in the publication

schedule liaising with editors, illustrators, production etc. trying to create a package that will

appeal to and reach the intended demographic. They have an important role because first

impressions count! There are different roles, including Design Assistant, Senior Designer

and Studio Manager where you can work on a range of books. We hope this article helps

demystify the terminology, so you have a better understanding of applications, interviews

and job roles.

Art Director: Usually the head of the art and design department, they oversee a

whole team of designers and are responsible for guiding the vision of a project. They

can be less hands-on than the designers, but they’re integral to the smooth running

of the department.

Audience: When designing a book cover, it will have to appeal to the target reader in

several ways, including the genre, title, colours, display and illustrations. It should be

eye-catching and enticing to a specific demographic.

● Canva: An easy-to-use online graphic design tool. It can be used to create social

media posts, presentations, posters and book covers. We even use it to create our

Publishing Post article thumbnails! Try it for free here.

● CMYK: This stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black in the four-colour printing

process, which forms the basis of most inks to create hundreds of colours. It is used

for the majority of book covers.

● Cover Brief: This tends to be written by the editorial team for the art team or

freelance illustrators that design the jacket cover with comparison titles, mood

boards, imagery, the audience, book blurb, character profiles, key plotlines etc.

● Cover File: The digital version of the jacket cover is uploaded to Biblio (book

management system) for Amazon, other retailers or distributors such as Lightning


● Cromalin Proofs: The product of a proofing process. They are used to approve

offset CMYK printing before going on press.

● Dummy/Filler Text: A randomly generated text that shares characteristics with real

written text. It can be used to display font samples or simply to fill the gaps in a

design if the actual copy isn’t available. Lorem Ipsum is the industry standard.

● Foil Blocking: This is usually applied on the spine or cover of a hardback book that

involves coloured foil lettering using a stamp. It is done with a heated pressure block


● Holographic Laminate: A thin matte or glossy laminate film with a holographic 3D

pattern to amplify the effect of a book cover. This could be on special edition books

or a revamped version.

● InDesign: Adobe’s industry-leading software specifically for creating layouts and

page design. In publishing, it can be used for everything from creating promotional

material to cover design. Get a free trial and practise your design skills.

● Jacket Cover: The packaging of the book includes the front cover, back cover, spine

and, if it is a hardback, the inner flaps as well. These can include illustrations and

metadata like the price, the publisher, title, author name, pull quotes etc.

● Plates: An eight or sixteen-page section in the middle of the interior text file with

images and their captions. This mainly appears in non-fiction books or film tie-in

books with behind-the-scenes photos of the film. This used to be popular in the late

nineties and early noughties.

● Portfolio: A collection of various book cover designs that demonstrate creative flair

and your own skills. You can enter the British Book Design and Production Awards

events sponsored by literary agencies, or even sign up for the Penguin Cover

Designs Award.

● Pull Quote: This is usually a quote from a media review, provided by the publicity

team, which can be included on the jacket cover. It’s meant to grab the reader’s

attention and give them an idea of what they can expect from the book.

● QuarkXPress: An online application used for design and layouts. Ideal for

professional publishing on macOS or Windows. It allows you to experiment and try

out new ideas. Get a free trial now to unleash your potential.

● Special Editions: A huge demand in the Science Fiction and Fantasy (SFF) and

romance fiction book communities. The two biggest players responsible for selling

these are FairyLoot and Illumicrate. There are also separate special editions sold in

bookshops with sprayed and stencilled edges like Yellowface and Lessons in


● Typography: Refers to the arrangement of written words on the page, ensuring it is

eye-catching but still legible. It includes selecting a typeface, point size and line


Thank you for reading issue eighty-one! Join us again for issue eighty-two where we will

cover Upskilling Tips for the Finance Department.


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