Publishing glossary

Publishing glossary

Whether you work in book publishing, for any organisation that publishes print or online publications, or you want to self publish a book, understanding the key publishing terms can help you negotiate your way through the publishing world. Here are just some of the publishing jargon you may encounter along the way. For professional editing and proofreading, call Susie Stevens from Bold Type (Sydney) for a obligation free quote: 0410 037 635 or email Susie with your editing/proofreading requirements.

A series

This is a system of paper sizes including A2, A3, A4, A5 and so forth


Author’s alteration, author’s correction


Abbreviation for artwork


Transparent plastic sheet with images sometimes in layers or placed over artwork to protect and allow a graphic designer to write instructions


Usually positioned in the preliminary pages of a publication, an acknowledgments page is where special permissions are listed


Paper that resists yellowing from age – it is made from pulp containing little or no acid


Money paid to the writer at the signing of a contract that provides living expenses while the book is written and published and which is then taken out of royalties from book sales

Advance copies

These are the books sent by the printer before publication date


Is the sign used instead of ‘and’ – & – not usually used in the body of a text

Angle brackets

The < > characters


Refers to additional comments or explanations to a text

Appendix, appendices

Supplementary material to a text that follows the main text at the end of a book

Arabic numerals

The widely used numbering system – 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (see Roman numerals)


Original photos and illustrations including copy; abbreviation A/W


For any lower-case letter, this is the upper half of the vertical in letters such as b or d

Author’s copies

Complimentary copies given to an author on publication – normally six

Bar code

The system of bars printed on the back cover of a book with the ISBN; used around the world in the book industry for automated ordering and inventory purposes


The process of affixing pages together in a single-bound book


The proof sheets of a book that show how the pages and/or cover will look when printed


Short comments that endorse the book and/or author that appear on the back cover or in preliminary pages (front matter)


A bound publication of at least 49 pages that is not a periodical or other form of magazine

Books in print

A database managed by Thorpe-Bowker of books in print, or about to be printed, based on the ISBN numbers issued by Thorpe-Bowker to publishers

Camera ready

Final artwork including typesetting (desktop publishing) and graphics, usually prepared in a publishing program such as InDesign, that is ready for the final production processes including the final print


Stands for Cataloguing in Publication; is the bibliographic information supplied by the National Library of Australia and printed on the imprint page in the preliminary pages of a book

Content edit

An edit of a book that checks the flow of the text, its organisation, continuity and content; also known as structural edit or substantive edit (see substantive edit below)

Copy edit

An edit that checks for grammar, spelling, punctuation and other ‘typos’ – copy editing is usually done after the pages have been typeset ready for printing – read more about copy editing


Legal protection is given to intellectual property, for example, for written and published works in a variety of forms including books, artwork, music, Internet content and software programs

Cover art

The design of the book’s jacket


For any lower-case letter, this is the lower half of the vertical in letters such as ‘g’ or ‘y’


The page layout of a publication and other graphic imagery used to enhance the text of the publication; the artistic process of creating images, illustrations and other graphic elements and incorporating them with the words in camera-ready format

Desktop publishing

Book design, layout and production completed on a computer using publishing software such as InDesign; the preferred computer system in many publishing houses, art studios and design departments is Apple Macintosh


A company that buys books from from other distributors or publishers and resells them to retail accounts


The abbreviated term used for an electronic book, that is, published in electronic formats, such as PDF, that can be downloaded to computers or mobile devices


Changes and corrections to the content of a book to polish the raw material of a manuscript, to improve the structure, fix grammar and spelling; may also involve managing the process as in the work of a Production Editor which involves working with authors, graphic designers, desktop publishers and others to see the book through to print-ready stage; see also substantive editing and copy editing

Em rule

Is double the length of an en rule and used by some to define a change of context, introduce an amplification or set apart parenthetic elements such as ‘the paint on the wall was dry—and after only 10 seconds

En rule

Double the length of a hyphen, the en rule is used to separate text such as a span of figures, to show an association between two things or to join compound adjectives, or sometimes to set apart parenthetic elements such as 128–130, Australian–French relations or ‘It was said – and I couldn’t quite believe it – that the election was rigged’; sometimes referred to as an en-dash


The last part of a book that follows the last chapter or the last part of the body of the text; may include appendices, endnotes, bibliography and index


Additional text at the end of the book that provides the reader with additional information on the book, topic or author

Final draft

The final proof after all the editing and proofreading processes have been completed


Designates a specific characteristic within a typeface family such as roman, italic and boldface fonts that may belong to the typeface (see typeface below)

Foreign rights

Rights granted or sold that allow a book to be printed and sold in other countries

Four-colour process

CMYK colours – cyan, magenta, yellow and black (key) – to produce illustrations, photographs and other elements in the full-colour range


A commentary about the book or an endorsement by a high-profile person; included in the preliminary pages


An independent contractor hired to work on a specific project: book, magazine, report, thesis, or on a particular part of the publishing process: writing, design, editing, proofreading, typesetting

Front matter

See preliminary pages

Galley proofs

Pre-print copies of a book or publication that may be uncut and unbound and used in the copy editing and proofreading stages of the print production process; may also be used to promote and/or preview the publication; also sent to the author for the final review


A specific category of literature marked by a distinctive style form or content such as crime fiction, children’s literature, biographical, historical non-fiction


Elements of a book such as drawings, illustrations, photographs, charts, maps that are used to enhance the text content of a publication

Hard copy

A printout of the manuscript or galley proof in contrast to an electronic version of the same thing

House style

Many publishing organisations have a well-developed house style that provides guidelines for different textual and graphic elements: maps, tables, graphs; spelling, capitalisation and hyphenation standards; and a range of other publishing conventions that provide consistency across publications and in terms of corporate branding


The name of the publishing company on the imprint page or title page


Stands for International Standard Book Number or the 13-digit identifying number code uniquely assigned to a book – ISBN Agency Australia is responsible for the allocation of ISBNs in Australia


The adjustment of spacing between letters in a font; the space between letters can be adjusted to improve the overall appearance of the text


Pronounced ‘ledding’, this refers to the space between the highest ascender of one line of text and the lowest descender of the previous line; leading that is not spaced enough makes it difficult for the eye to track from one line to the next and hinders readability (and looks very unattractive too); also known as ‘line spacing’

List price

The sales price printed on your book or the retail sales price


The identification mark or symbol used by a publishing house or organisation such as BT for Bold Type


The publication in pre-typeset format usually produced in a word-processing format such as Microsoft Word

Mass-market edition

A small format paperback edition usually sold in airports, supermarkets, newsagencies and post offices


Refers to a title (or the author) that does not become a bestseller

Out of print

A title no longer listed in the publisher’s catalogue


Text that explains why the book was written or what the book is about; included in the prelim pages

Prelim pages

Also called front matter, preliminary pages appear before the body of the text; numbered in Roman numerals: i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi and so on


The final check of the typeset publication after the substantive and copy editing processes; the purpose is to identify any last minute corrections that need to be made before printing


A stock library of images for use in publications now readily availalble on the Internet at minimal cost; Stockxpert and Dreamstime are two examples of photolibraries on the Internet

Proofreading marks

Are universally recognised publishing marks used to indicate corrections required for a manuscript; made in both text and the margin

Publication date

The date that the book is available for purchase by the public/target audience


The person or company responsible for the process of producing books; includes overseeing the writing, editing, design, production, printing and marketing of a book or publication

Pull quote

A quotation or excerpt from a page of text that is set in a larger typeface and designed to capture the attention of readers and lead them to read the rest of the text

Roman numerals

A numbering system that come from ancient Roman times and which are based on the letters of the alphabet: traditionally used to number preliminary pages of a book or other publication


Percentage of the sales price earned by a writer, illustrator or designer


The bound area on the side of a book that usually has the author’s name, title of the book and publisher’s logo

Structural editing

See substantive edit and content edit

Subsidiary rights

Additional rights including foreign, television, movie and/or serial that enable a publication to be published or produced in a different form

Substantive edit

The art of checking a manuscript for overall structure and cohesion such as the heading hierarchy, linkages between headings and body text, and the language level for intended audience – read more about substantive editing, sometimes called structural editing


Name of a book or other publication

Trim marks

The typesetter’s marks that identify for the printer where to trim the pages; ‘trim’ is the final dimension of a book after the printer has cut it to size


A term that originally referred to the setting of lead type for printing presses or phototypesetting; with advancing technology nearly all ‘typesetting’ is now done on the computer


Is a set of fonts such as roman, bold and italic, within a family such as Helvetica, Arial and Verdana; usually includes all the letters of the alphabet, numerals and punctuation marks


The art of arranging type, type design and design elements to create a cohesive layout for a publication; involves selecting typefaces, point sizes for headings, body text, bullet points, caption titles and other text styles, establishing a suitable line length, determining the appropriate leading (line spacing), adjusting the spaces between groups of letters (tracking) and defining the space between pairs of letters (kerning)


A collection of web pages on the Internet that is accessed by using a unique address (URL) of an individual, company, community or other entity; see web glossary

Need a professional editor to work on your next publishing project? Contact Sue Stevens today.