Glossary of Binding Terms *

Boards: the heavy card board or chipboard used for the covers of hardcover books; boards are covered with either leather, cloth or paper on hand bound books.

Endpapers:  the strong and often decorated or illustrated papers added by the binder at the front and back of the text to cover the inside book covers and to reinforce the cover and text block joints.

Fillet: a rolling wheel tool  with either a plain edge or with a design cut into the edge that is used to impress straight lines on a binding; term also used for the  line created by the tool.

Fore edge: the edge of the book that is opposite the spine; the side that opens.

Gouge: a brass finishing tool used to impress curved lines on a binding. 

Head and Tail: the top and the bottom of the book respectively.

Headband: a strip of leather or cord sewn into or glued at the head and sometimes the tail of a book for protection and reinforcement; in elaborate  bindings  coloured silk or linen threads are wound around the cord in sequence to create a decorative pattern.

 Inlay: a piece of leather contracting in either colour or texture from the binding’s leather covering and inserted into a space cut out for it in the cover design.

 Marbled paper: paper on which an ink pattern has been transferred; marbled papers are often used as the endpapers in high end binding and as the decorative feature on covers with partial paper covers.

Signature: a folded printed sheet of paper that comprises the sections of the book text.

Spine: the part of the book cover that protects where the signatures are sewn together; the author, book title, publisher and year of publication are often lettered on the spine so as to be visible when the book is placed up-right on a shelf.

Tooling: the process of applying lettering or decoration to a book cover by hand pressing heated metal letters, ornamental tools or lines onto the book cover and spine.

  1. Blind tooling impression made on book covers by heated tools when no additional decorative elements such as ink, foil or gold leaf are applied

  2. Gold tooling impression made when gold leaf is applied with heated tools

Turn-ins: the overhang of the book cover material pulled over the edges of the cover boards which forms a border or inside margin on the inside covers after the inside endpapers are pasted down; border created is often tooled in a decorative pattern consistent with the cover design.

*Definitions primarily based on the glossary in Douglas Cockerell’s own bookbinding manual, Bookbinding, and the care of books: A text-book for bookbinders and Librarians. 4th ed. (London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd., 1924).

Additional definitions have been added as terms considered common knowledge by Cockerell are now rarely used. Dictionaries and glossaries also consulted were Geoffrey A. Glaister’s Glossary of the Book. 2nd ed. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1979); Carolyn Horton’s Cleaning and preserving bindings and related materials. 2nd rev. ed. (Chicago: ALA, 1969), and Alex Vaughan’s Modern Bookbinding (London: Charles Skilton, 1960).