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Glossary of Binding Terms

From the Preservation Department of the University of Florida, Gainesville.

This glossary of binding terms is designed to aid binding staff in making decisions on leaf attachment specifications to ensure appropriate choice of binding styles as well as interpreting and enhancing communication with the Commercial Bindery. References made refer to the Library Binding Institute Standard for Libraries, 8th edition, (ALA: Chicago, 1990) and the accompanying Guide.

For further assistance or other information, please check Etherington & Roberts' Dictionary of binding terminology

Adhesive Binding is type of binding in which single leaves are secured together solely with an adhesive applied to the textblock spine. Animal glue, polyvinyl acetate glues, and hot melt adhesives are mostly used. This type is sometimes called a perfect binding. Sections with perforations along the folds (or adhesive penetration into the folds to hold each section together) is a type of adhesive binding. It is known as perfo-, burst, or perfopunch binding. (see Double Fan Adhesive Binding)

All Along refers to a method of sewing signature through the fold by hand. Sewing thread travels in and pout of the fold of one signature, from kettle stitch to kettle stitch, then passes to the next signature and travel in and out of the fold from kettle stitch to kettle stitch; so that each pass of thread along the length of the spine attaches one signature to the text block. When sewing "two- on", the thread travels in and out of the fold of one signature, then in and out of the fold of another, as it passes from kettle stitch to kettle stitch, so that two signatures are attached to the text block with a single pass of the thread along the length of the spine. Sewing all along is the stronger method, in which case sewing all along would result in an excessive buildup of thread in the spine. Library binders may sew "two-on" only in rare cases. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 13).

Artifactual Value A text that has Artifactual Value is important as a physical object, in addition to (or rather than) being important for the information it contains. For example, an unnotable edition of the Bible may have artifactual value because of its unique binding or because it contains hand-colored illustrations; a novel because it was signed by or belonged to a major author. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 13).

Backing is the process of shaping a ridge or shoulder on each side of the spine of a text block after rounding it, and prior to lining it. Backing accommodates the thickness of the boards, and provides a hinge along which they swing. Backing also helps to prevent the spine of the text block from collapsing into a concave shape over time. (see rounding) (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 13).

Bench Sewing is any form of sewing through the fold by hand to attach signatures to form textblock. (LBI Guide, pgs. 15-16).

Board is a general term used for pasteboard, millboard, strawboard, etc., all of which are used to form the foundation for book covers. They are made of various pulped or laminated fibrous materials pressed into large, flat sheets, which are then cut to size and covered with cloth, leather, paper, or other materials, to form the book covers. Also called cover boards, or book boards.

Book Cloth is specially prepared cloth material used as a covering material for book covers. A thin, woven cloth (like muslin) that has been dyed, filled, impregnated or coated with some compound, and subjected to heat and pressure. Book cloth falls into three main categories: starch-filled (where the spaces in the cloth weave are filled with starch, sometimes called sized book cloth), acrylic-, pyrozylin-, or vinyl-impregnated (where these compounds fill the spaces in the cloth weave, as with starch-filled, and plastic coated. Book cloth is lighter weight than buckram and is available in a range of grades and colors.

Bristol Board is a thin paperboard with a smooth surface suitable for writing and printing. Used for lining the spine of a case. Index cards are made of Bristol.

Buckram Cloth is a heavy-weave cotton cloth filled, impregnated, or coated with different compounds (mainly, starch and pyroxylin but also other materials) to enhance body, finish, and durability. Most UF Library commercial bindings from Heckman have buckram cloth.

The Case of a book cover that consists of two boards, an inlay, and covering material. The case is made separately from the text block and is later attached to it in a step called casing-in. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 13).

Case Binding is a method of binding in which the book case (cover) is made separately from the textblock and later attached to it. (As distinguished from leather bindings where the cover is assembled on the book.)The textblock is attached to its case by means of super hinge endsheets, and an adhesive.

Casing is the process of applying adhesive to the outermost endpapers of a text block and fitting the text block into its case. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 14).

Coated Paper is type of paper coated with white clay or a similar substance to provide a smooth surface for printing detailed illustrations. The finish is often glossy but can be dull.

Cover spine is the space between the boards of a case to accommodate the thickness of the textblock. The inside of this space is stiffened with a spine strip, usually made of Bristol. A hinge area left on either side of the spine strip allows for the movement of the cover boards on the shoulders of the textblock as the book is opened and used.The outside part of the cover spine usually receives stamping for author, title, and publisher. Also called spine, backbone, back backstrip, and shelfback.

Disbinding means to release the textblock from its cover by easing the tipped-on endsheets away from the textblock and by slitting the super with a sharp knife or scalpel.

Double Fan Adhesive Binding is a type of adhesive binding where the back margin of each leaf in an unglued textblock is exposed 1/16" or less for an application of adhesive. The margin is exposed on both sides of each leaf by clamping the textblock on a vise-like press and then pushing against the textblock, first in one direction, then the other, thereby fanning or separating the edges of the leaves. (LBI Standard, Sect. 6.3, pg. 5).

Flat Back (sometimes referred to as square back) is a casebound textblock that has not been rounded or backed. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 14).

Flyleaf is the leaf (or leaves) forming that part of the folded endsheet not pasted down to the inside of the cover board. Its function is to protect the first or last leaves of the textblock. (see pastedown)

A fold is a bend in any flexible material, such as paper, made by turning a sheet over upon itself-as to fold in half. The fold along the backs of sections through which they are sewn, stapled, glued, or otherwise fastened to each other is called a back fold.

Fore Edge is the edge of a leaf or a board opposite from, and parallel to, its binding edge (i.e. opposite from its spine edge). Fore edge is also used in a more general way to refer to any part of a volume opposite from and parallel to its spine. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 14).

Grain Direction refers to the direction in which the majority of the fibers in a piece of paper or board are aligned and to the direction in which the warp threads run in cloth. Grain direction in all man-made materials used in bookbinding should run parallel to the spine of a volume. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 14).

Gutter of a volume is the channel and combined marginal space formed by the two inner or back margins of facing pages of a volume.

Head is the top edge of a leaf, board, or bound volume, opposite from the surface on which the volume rests when it is shelved upright. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 14).

Headband is a small ornamental band, generally of mercerized cotton or silk, which, in most modern publisher's trade bindings, is glued on the head as well as the tail of the textblock spine of a book. Modern headbands imitate the sewn-on headbands that functioned to protect the head and tail of early bindings. The band at the tail of the book is sometimes called the tailboard; although both bands are usually called the headbands.

Hinge is the flexible part of the cover on which the boards swing open. (see inner hinge and outer hinge)

To Hinge in a leaf or a group of leaves that are attached to one another, a paper or cloth strip is adhered along the binding edge of the leaf (or leaves) so that the strip extends beyond the binding edge. This assembly can then be hinged into a text block by pasting up the part of the paper or cloth strip that extends beyond the leaf (or leaves), and adhering the strip to the binding edge of a leaf in the text block. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 14).

Hollow is that part or space of a case binding between the textblock spine and the inside of the cover spine.

Inner Hinge is the fold of the channel lying between the two halves of an endsheet where the textblock is attached to its cover (case). Also called a front hinge and inner joint.

Japanese Tissue is a soft, strong, slightly transparent, long-fibered, and absorbent paper made from the fibers of a variety of plants common to Japan, especially the mulberry. It is available in a variety of thicknesses and colors. It is a very versatile paper, and according to the thickness used, it can be employed for patching leaves, for overall lining of leaves as a reinforcement, for mending tears, for reinforcing the folds of sections, or for mending inner hinges.

Kettle Stitches are the stitches closest to the head and tail of each signature of a text block that has been sewn through the fold by hand. The kettle stitches lock the sewing thread after each complete pass of the thread along the spine of the text block, and link each signature to the one sewn on previously. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 15).

Kraft Paper is a strong brown machine-made paper widely used for wrapping purposes, and in publisher's bindings for lining the inside cover spine (spine strip) of a casebound book.

Leaf is a single sheet of paper or half of a folded sheet of paper. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 15).

Leaf Attachment is the means by which leaves of a textblock are attached one to another along the binding edge. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 15).

Linings are layers of cloth (super) and paper used for reinforcing and stiffening the textblock spine. One of two layers of material are frequently glued to the textblock spine after it has been rounded and backed. Super is usually the first spine lining, and the second lining is a strip of light weight paper, called a paper lining. In some modern publisher's bindings super may not be used at all (or be of an inferior quality), with only a paper lining being glued down. In many publisher's adhesive bindings, linings may not be used at all; the textblock is not reinforced at all and is held together simply with a layer of glue. Ideally, textblock spine linings should reinforce the glue and help hold the sections together.

Lock Stitches are the type made by household sewing machines, although the machines used by library binders are often larger. Stiches are formed by a primer thread that runs along the top surface of the text block being sewn; and a bobbin thread that runs along the bottom surface, and locks with the top thread at regular intervals.

Margin is the space around the edges of a page outside the printed or written matter. The four margins are commonly designated as: head or top margin; tail, lower, or bottom margin; fore edge, outer or outside margin; and back, inner, inside, or gutter margin.

Milling. The spines of books can be cut away on a milling machine to prepare them for double-fan adhesive binding or oversewing. The machine clamps the text block, spine down, and moves it over a series of rotating blades that cut away approximately 1/32 to 1/16 inch of the binding margin, thus removing old adhesive, thread, staples, and/or the folds of signatures. After milling, a text block is comprised of loose leaves.

Notching is the process of cutting parallel groves into the spine perpendicular to the binding edge to strengthen adhesive binding. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 15).

Outer Hinge is the flexible channel of covering material on the outside of a book on which the cover board opens; the space between the cover boards and the shoulder of the textblcok spine in which the covering material is pressed. Also called a French joint or French groove, joint, hinge, groove, gully, channel, and outer joint.

Oversewing is the method leaf attachment by the means of sewing sections of loose leaves one to another by hand or by machine through a 5/8 inch or more binding margin to create a textblock. (LBI Standard, Sect. 6.1, pg. 3).

Pastedown happens when half of an endsheet which is pasted to the inside of the cover board. Also called board paper, end lining, and lining paper.

PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) is an emulsion adhesive; a flexible adhesive that dries quickly and is considered permanent. Results in a very strong bond.

To Recase is the process of fitting the textblock with a new case when original sewing thread of the textblock is unbroken and intact. (LBI Standard, Sect. 6.4, pg. 6).

Rounding is the process of hammering or manipulations of the textblock spine into a convex shape preparatory to backing. Rounding diminishes the effect of swelling caused by the thickness of the sewing threads or the application of glue from an adhesive binding. It also helps to prevent the textblock spine from falling into a concave shape after years of use or of standing upright on a shelf. (see backing)

Shoulder is the outer edge of the curved (rounded) textblock spine against which the cover board fits. The shoulder is made when a book is rounded and backed. Also called a ridge, butt, flange, groove, abutment, and ledge.

Signatures are two or more sheets of paper stacked and folded as a group. (LBI Standard, Glossary, pg. 16).

Smyth Sewing Method of sewing through the fold by machine to join multiple signatures to form textblock. (LBI Guide, pgs. 16-17).

The term spine, for clarification, has been defferentiated between the spine of the cover, cover spine, and the spine of the textblock, textblock spine.

Stubbing is the process of adding sheets of paper to textblock to accommodate pockets, inserts or gaps. (LBI Guide, pg. 8).

Super is an open-weave variety of coarse, sized fabric - usually muslin or something looking like cheescloth - used for reinforcing or stiffening the textblock spine of a casebound book. The super forms the first spine lining on the textblock. The excess (super hinge) that extend (usually one inch) beyond the edges of the textblock spine is used to attch the textblock into its case. Also called mull, crash, and gauze.

Tail of a volume is the bottom portion of the cover spine. Also called the foot. (see head)

Text Block is the main block of sections or leaves, including ensheets and spine linings, which is bound together and then attached to the case (cover). Also called book clock and body of the book.

Textblock Spine is the back or folded edges of a group of sewn sections or the glued back edge of a block of leaves of an adhesvie binding.Whether flat backed or rounded and backed, it's usually glued and lined with cloth and paper (super and paper linings). Also called, spine, back, and backbone.

Tip-in, tipped-in, tipping-in is the attachment of one leaf to another in a book at or near the binding margin by means of a narron strip of adhesive along the folded edge.

Tip on is the attachment of endsheets (along the folded edge) to the front and back of the textblock at the shoulder by means of a narrow strip of adhesive along the folded edge.

Turn-in is the part of the covering material which is turned over the outer edges of the boards (and spine strip) from the outside to the inside. Also called a turn-over or overlap.

Whip Stitching In preparation for whip stitching, holes are usually punched along the binding edge of a text block. Sewing thread pases into the top and out the bottom of each hole in succession to attach the leaves. Library binders whip stitch new endpapers to oversewn and side sewn text blocks in preparation for recasing.

Last Revised: 1996 June 4

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