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Upskilling Dictionary: Production

By Meghan Capper, Sukhpreet Chana, Misha Manani and Joe Pilbrow


The production department is the engine room in publishing. The staff are responsible for project managing the different files from manuscript to final copy. These unsung heroes ensure there is progress through different stages of the schedule, so a book can be delivered on publication day. They oversee the typesetting, printing, binding, budgeting and much more. Production liaises with the editorial, design, operations and sales teams frequently, as well as the printers and typesetters. If you have a strong eye for detail, communication and organisation, this might be the team for you! We hope this article helps to demystify the terminology, so you have a better understanding for applications and interviews.


  • Binding: The printed pages are fixed to a case or cover during the printing process.

  • Bleed: This is the area that goes around the edge of the cover or pages of a book that is trimmed off. If a chapter title goes beyond the trim line, it will be cut off. Look for this when checking proofs and jacket covers before publication.

  • Bound proofs: These are the preliminary bound copies that should match the end product as closely as possible. They are used by the production team to run final checks on various aspects of the printing, including the binding and construction of the book. They are also used by the sales and marketing teams as review copies.

  • Colophon: This usually refers to the logo of the imprint or publisher on the jacket cover of the book including the spine and the back cover.

  • Digital proof/soft proof: An electronic file that allows you to see the page layout as it will be in the finished book before it goes to the printer to be used for the physical proof.

  • DPI (dots per inch): A measurement of print resolution which is important to consider when printing illustrations or photos. A higher DPI would result in a clearer image and a lower DPI would result in a blurry image.

  • Endpaper: The double-sided sheet of paper with one half glued to the inside cover. This is prominent in hardbacks where the colour of the endpaper usually complements the cover.

  • Extent: The length of a book in pages, including the prelims (as mentioned below).

  • Embossing/debossing: The process of raising or recessing an image, the title or the author’s name on the front cover to make it stand out.

  • End matter: The pages of the book after the main text which can include acknowledgements, sample chapters of related books, author interviews, an index or adverts.

  • Finishes: These are decorations on the book that include foil, spot UV, sprayed edges, digital edges, matt/gloss lamination, embossing/debossing and more. Look at examples online and visit a bookshop to see if you can spot them!

  • GSM (grams per square metre): A measure of paper density. Paper with a higher GSM is considered better quality, but will also be more expensive to use.

  • Interior file: The inside of the book except for the cover. This includes the contents page, preface, foreword, title page, copyright information and the edited manuscript.

  • Jacket cover: A paper cover that wraps around a book, usually found on hardcovers. It can contain a blurb or an author biography and photograph.

  • Overrun: The excess production of books when a print run is larger than the one ordered. There can be a +/- 10% variability in the total number of books printed, compared to those ordered. These additional copies account for possible spoilage of materials. However, if there is no spoilage, the publisher may be required to purchase additional copies.

  • Preface: The introduction part of a book which is written by the author. It may contain information about why it was written and how to use it.

  • Prelims/front matter: The pages before the first chapter, present in both self-published and traditionally published books. Sometimes, prelims have a separate numbering structure from the rest of the novel.

  • Paper specifications: This considers opacity, smoothness, GSM, calliper (thickness) and brightness, e.g. white, cream or yellow tint.

  • Printed paper case (PPC/PLC): Cover art is printed directly onto the hardback cover, producing a high gloss finish that is different to a paper jacket. Also known as a printed laminated case (PLC).

  • Recto/verso: The right-hand and left-hand side pages. Rectos are odd-numbered and versos are even-numbered. A new chapter always starts on the right-hand side.

  • Typesetting: The arrangement of words to enhance the reading experience. A typesetter will have an excellent understanding of fonts, size and line spacing, composing the text for readers to enjoy without interruption.


Thank you for reading Issue Seventy-Seven! Join us again for Issue Seventy-Eight, where we will cover Upskilling Tips for Academic Publishing.





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