Glossary of Publishing Terms​

Advance - the amount of money paid to an author by a publisher before a book is published. The amount varies widely depending on the publisher, the author's reputation and the type of book. Advances are often paid in installments as the work progresses to publication. The money is taken from the author's projected royalties.


Appendix - part of the end matter following the text. It may contain information such as supporting data, sample calculations, formula derivations, and computer printouts.


ASCII - American Standard Code for Information Interchange. One of the standard formats for representing characters on a computer. It contains text, spaces, and returns, but no formatting codes.


Backlist - books in print that have not been recently published.


Bookland EAN Bar Code – this is a worldwide number issued to identify your book in the retail market place.  It is established by the ISBN Agency, the Uniform Code Council (UCC) and the International Article Numbering System (EAN).


Block Quotation - quoted material set off from the main text.


Callout - word or phase used in text to refer to a table or figure, or to identify a table, figure, illustration, or reference.


Camera-Ready Copy - final text and artwork ready for printing.


Caption - heading or title of a figure, table, or illustration.


Caret - the editing symbol ^, used to indicate that an insertion is to be made in a line.


Collate - to arrange the pages of a document in correct order for binding.


Conversion - the process by which files created in one application are changed to a format that can be used in another application.


Copyright © - protection granted by law to certain kinds of property. The copyright assigns to holders the exclusive right to make copies or have copies made of their work.


Copy Editor - corrects grammar and spelling in a manuscript and checks facts for accuracy and conformity.


Cover Art - the design of the book jacket generally produced in-house by the publisher's art department.


Cover Letter - short letter of introduction sent along with a manuscript. The letter is usually only one page long and is normally used to remind an editor that the manuscript was expected or requested. A cover letter also accompanies a book proposal. A cover letter is not the same as a query letter.


Cover Stock - heavy paper used for covers booklets.


Crop - to cut down portions of a photograph or illustration to make it the desired size or to eliminate unwanted details. Cropping marks are placed along the edges of the photograph or illustration.


Default - a program's predetermined setting or action that takes effect unless specifically changed.


Distributor/Wholesaler - a distributor sells books to retailers such as bookstores, as well as libraries and other institutions (such as non-profit organizations). Distributors are also called wholesalers in the bookselling industry. Distributors and wholesalers do not typically sell to consumers. Additionally, booksellers may access basic information (title, ISBN, price, etc.) about our titles from the databases of book distributors.


Electronic Submission - manuscript or proposal submission to an editor through electronic means, usually by e-mail or on computer disk.


Ellipsis - three periods used to indicate an omission in text such as this . . . Leave one space before, between, and after the three dots; end with the correct punctuation mark.


Em Dash - typeset dash the size of the typeset letter M in a given typeface.


En Dash - typeset dash one-half the length of an em dash (about the size of a typewritten hyphen).


Even Pages - the left-hand, or verso, pages of a book, numbered 2, 4, 6, and so on.


Flush Left, Flush Right - to align type vertically to the left or right margin.


Folio - page number.


Foldout - oversized (11 x 17 inches or 8 x 14 inches) illustration or table that is folded to fit within the trim size of a document.


Font - classical term for a set of type of a specific face and size.


Format - shape, size, style, and general appearance of a document; format is determined by typeface, margins, headings, spacings, and binding.


Front Matter - printed matter preceding the main text; includes the title page, preface, summary, acknowledgments, and contents.


Galley - bound edition of a work available for review and publicity purposes before publication.


Genre/Category - A classification of a work by its content. Examples of genre include western, gothic, romance and science fiction. Fiction that fits into these classifications is often called category fiction.


Glossy Print - photograph with a hard, shiny finish, used in printing.


Gutter - the inner, or binding, margins of facing pages; also, the space between columns of text when using a multi-column format.


Halftone - process in which a black-and-white photograph is rephotographed through a screen so that the gradations of light and dark in the original photograph are reproduced as a series of tiny dots that print as a continuous tone. Used for photographs printed in journals and books.


Halftone Screen - grid used in the halftone process to break an image into dots.  The fineness of the screen is denoted by lines per inch, such as a 133-line screen.


Hanging Indentation - type that is set with the first line of the paragraph flush left and the lines following it indented.


Hard Copy - readable printed copy output by an automated system.


Hardware - a computer term referring to the equipment rather than the software, procedures, or programming.


Head, Heading - word or words identifying specific divisions or paragraphs and different in some manner from straight text.


Image Area - typing area for text, tables, and figures. The vertical image area for standard reports is 6 x 8 inches. The horizontal image area for standard reports is 8 x 6 inches.


Impression - inked image on paper created during a single printing (that is, a printed page). For example, 100 copies of a 250-page book equals 25,000 impressions.


ISBN (International Standard Book Number) - 10-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products.


ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) - The number issued for serial publications like magazines and newsletters.


Kerning - amount of white space between characters of type.


Kill Fee - an amount paid to an author when an article they wrote (on assignment) has been canceled. The amount varies depending on the publication and the length/research done on the piece.


Layout - arrangement of printed text and illustrations on a page within document.


Lay Up - assembling text and figures in a document for printing.


LCCN (Library of Congress Catalog Number) – Libraries require this number for your book to be carried in the library.


Leaders - evenly spaced periods or dots used in the contents, designed to carry the reader's eyes across a page.


Leading - the amount of white space between lines of type.


Legend - a "key" that appears on an illustration, chart, or table to explain the symbols, colors, or designs used.


Line Drawing - drawings prepared entirely with lines of various widths; the drawings can range from simple diagrams to finely drawn pen-and-ink sketches.     


Little/Literary - small circulation publication that focuses more on providing literary voices a chance to be heard rather than making a profit. These publications normally offer little or no pay, or may compensate writers by giving them copies of the issue in which their work appeared.


Manuscript - the work as prepared by the author. Although the word may suggest handwriting, handwritten manuscripts are seldom considered for publication anymore. The manuscript is the author's typewritten or electronically printed version of the work.


Mass Market - books intended for a general audience as opposed to a specialized group. These books are expected to appeal to a majority of people and sales are expected to be higher than for books that target special interest groups.


Multiple Submissions - submitting more than one piece of work at a time.


Margins - the blank areas that border the printed page.


Newspaper Columns - describes columns where the text flows down a column to the bottom of the page, and then starts again at the top of the next column to the right.


OCR (optical character reader) - a computerized device that scans hard copy and interprets the typed characters digitally, recording them on magnetic disks.


Orphan - a single line of a paragraph at the bottom of the page. At least 2 lines of text in a paragraph should be left at the top or bottom of a page.


On Spec - An article written after an editor has expressed an interest in the topic or idea, but has not made a specific request or assignment for the piece. The editor has no obligation to accept the final article.


Over Burn - photographic process in which a negative is used to add line copy on slides, viewgraphs, or color prints. Normally appears as white letters ("reversed-out") on a colored background.


Overlay - hinged flap of paper or transparent acetate sheet that covers a piece of artwork. The overlay shows the printer where color or a screen is to be used in the drawing.


Over-the-transom - manuscripts that have arrived un-requested at an editor or publisher's office.


Packager - a broker who puts together a book idea along with the writer, illustrator, and experts.


Parallel Columns - describes columns where text is grouped across the page in rows, such as in a table, a glossary, or a speaker's script. The next row starts below the longest column of the previous row.


Payment on Acceptance - payment is sent to the author as soon as a piece is accepted by the editor.


Payment on Publication - payment for an accepted piece is delayed until the work appears in print.


PDF - Portable Document Format - developed by Adobe Systems, Inc., (and read by Adobe Acrobat) this format has become a standard for document transfer across platforms.


Pen Name/Pseudonym - a name other than an author's legal name. Works are published under a pen name or pseudonym when the author wishes to remain anonymous.


Perfect Binding - binding method that features a wraparound paper cover to allow a title to be printed on the spine.


Pica - unit of measurement in typesetting equal to 12 points or about 1/6 of an inch.


PMT (photomechanical transfer) - a photograph of a line drawing or photograph that is produced on a process camera without using a negative.


Point Size - unit of measure commonly used to indicate font size; one point is equal to about 1/72 inch.


Proof - first draft copy of typeset material; also called galley proofs or galleys.


Proofreaders' Marks - internationally known and understood symbols used (with some variations) to mark errors and changes on proofs.


Proofs - small photographic prints, sometimes called previews. Used to select the best negatives for enlargements.


Public Domain - work that has never been copyrighted or has had its copyright expire.


Query - a letter sent to ask an editor if s/he is interested in a piece on a certain topic. The query introduces the piece, outlines the writer's qualifications for writing it, and lists previous publications. A query letter is not the same as a cover letter.


Ragged Right - text set with an uneven right-hand margin.


Recto Pages - the odd pages of a book on the right-hand side.


Rule - decorative or straight line across the page.


Running Foot - author's name, title, section, chapter, or other division title placed at the bottom of a page of text. If it appears at the top of the page, it is called a running head.


Saddle-stitching - binding method where the pages are stitched through the back, with the thread, silk, or wire (Stapling) showing on the back and at the center spread (in the middle fold).


SASE - self-addressed, stamped envelope. SASEs are required if the author wishes to receive an answer from an editor. The SASE should be large enough and carry enough postage to return the manuscript if it is rejected.


Screen - pattern of evenly spaced dots used to print areas of flat tones; available in several densities from 10% to 90% of solid color.


Serif - typeface fonts with short cross-lines at the end of the main up-and-down strokes of a letter (produces a "footed" typeface). Times Roman and CG Times are serif fonts.


Simultaneous Submissions - Submitting a work to several publishers at the same time. Some publishers accept simultaneous submissions, others will refuse to even look at them. The author should always state when a work is being submitted to more than one publisher.


Slush Pile - A stack of unsolicited manuscripts that have arrived at an editor or publisher's office. These manuscripts will usually be read - unless the editor or publisher specifically states they will not read unsolicited works - but with less speed, interest, or enthusiasm than works submitted on spec or other request.


Spine - the back of a book connecting the front and back covers.


Spiral Binding - type of binding in which a cylindrical spiral of metal or plastic is wound through holes punched in the edges of pages.


Style - rules of consistency in punctuation, capitalization, word division, spelling, and other details of expression. Style may also include consistency of page design, i.e., boldface headings for figures, tables, captions, etc. House style is the set of rules adopted by a particular publisher


Subscript - character or symbol printed partly below the base line of the text.


Subsidy/Vanity Publisher - a publisher that requires an author to pay for the publication of his or her work.


Superscript - a character or symbol printed partly above the letters in a line of text.


Synopsis - a brief summary of work. Depending on the length of the piece, the synopsis may be from one paragraph to several pages long. The synopsis is not the same as an outline, as it rarely carries elements such as chapter headings.      


Title Page - first page of a book manuscript, bearing the author's return address and contact information, the title of the book, the author's byline, and a descriptive caption (such as "a novel" or "a story collection"). When the manuscript is represented by an agency, the agency's standard form may replace the author's title page.


Typesetting - arrangement of individual characters of a particular typeface into words, sentences, paragraphs and other structures for the purpose of printing and/or publishing.


Unsolicited Manuscript - manuscript sent to an editor or publisher without it being requested. Unsolicited manuscripts normally end up on the slush pile.


Verso Page - the side that appears to the reader's left in the open book. In the finished book, when pages are numbered, verso pages are even numbers.


Widow - a single line of a paragraph appearing at the top of a page. At least 2 lines of text in a paragraph should be left at the top or bottom of a page.


Work-for-hire - a piece of writing that is written to an editor or at a publisher's request and all rights to the work belong to the publication. The writer gives up the copyright to this work and can never receive additional income from it, even if it is resold.