Printing and binding glossary


A chemical process, similar to a cyanotype, that turns an emulsion blue through light sensitive paper. Also sometimes referred to in reference to architectural floor plans.

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Example of Blueprint: The Jericho Map, Paul Zelevansky


Digital printing processes are set apart from those used in analog practices primarily because of the absence of a printing plate. Rather than continuously inking a plate or matrix and applying the image to the substrate through pressure, digital printing sets a thin layer of ink onto the top of the substrate, creating a much more efficient but less embedded image. The visual product of digital printing sometimes lacks the detail and/or descriptive line quality possible in analog printing processes, however its relative ease and manufacturability has made it the predominant source of high-volume printing in the 21st century.

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Example of Digital printed: Expedition, Evan Crankshaw


A type of computer printing that recreates a digital image by propelling droplets of ink onto paper, plastic, or other substrates.


An electrostatic digital printing process. It produces text and graphics (and moderate-quality photographs) by repeatedly passing a laser beam back and forth over a negatively charged cylinder called a “drum” to define a differentially charged image.

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Example of Laser Printed: Maille, Tauba Auerbach


A technique of relief printing of text and images using movable type and plates, in which a reversed, raised surface is inked to create an impression onto a piece of paper.


Similar to woodcut printing, a type of relief print in which the image is cut into a piece of linoleum. The raised surface is then inked or covered with color and stamped on paper or another surface.


A planographic printmaking process that exploits the antipathy between grease and water. On a stone or aluminum plate, the artist draws or paints with a greasy medium. The stone or plate is etched with gum Arabic and acid, making the drawn areas attract ink and the non-image area reject ink. The printer dampens the stone or plate with water, applying ink with a roller which will only adhere to the area drawn or printed. Paper is placed over the image and it is run through the press.

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Example of Lithography: Dumpy Lithograph, Panayiotis Terzis


A method of mass-production printing in which the images on metal plates are transferred (offset) to rubber blankets or rollers and then to the print media. The print media, usually paper, does not come into direct contact with the metal plates. This prolongs the life of the plates. In addition, the flexible rubber conforms readily to the print media surface, allowing the process to be used effectively on rough-surfaced media such as canvas, cloth or wood.

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Example of Offset: Metallen, Emma Hammar


A copy of printed or written material made with a photocopier. Most current photocopiers use a technology called xerography, a dry process that uses electrostatic charges on a light-sensitive photoreceptor to first attract and then transfer toner particles (a powder) onto paper in the form of an image. Heat, pressure or a combination of both is then used to fuse the toner onto the paper.

Example of Photocopy: Who Pays?, Bobby G


A risograph is a stencil duplicator, similar to a mimeograph. The process lies somewhere between photocopying, offset, and screen printing. The risograph machine can print either directly from a computer, or from the scanning table on top of the machine. The image is transfixed to a master sheet, which wraps around a color drum in the center of the machine. The master copy acts as a screen that the ink is pressed through, directly onto the paper, which travels in a straight trajectory through the printer and out the other end. For multi colored prints, the paper is sent through the printer multiple times, once for each color.

Rubber Stamp

A tool consisting of a handle attached to a piece of carved rubber. The stamp is pressed into ink and then onto paper, similar to a relief print.

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Example of Rubber Stamp: Hand Stamped 2009, Robert Jacks

Screen Print

A print made by forcing ink through a woven mesh screen with a squeegee. The screen has certain areas blocked out to prevent ink from getting through those areas. Today cheaper fabrics are used and because silk is not usually used, the more generic name screen print may be more appropriate.


A type of relief print in which the image is cut into a block of wood. The raised surface is then inked or covered with color and stamped on paper or another surface.

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Example of Woodcut: Vista, Dan Walsh



A folded structure; the book block is made by folding a sheet of paper back and forth in a zig zag in page-width increments.

Example of Accordion Book: In Mexico, Helen Douglas

Bolt, Screw, or Post Binding

In bolt, screw, or post binding, first holes are drilled through the complete document. Then a barrel post is inserted through the holes and a cap screw is added to the post to hold everything together.

Example of Screw Binding: Reminiscensijos, Jonas Mekas

Clip Bound

A clip binding technique utilizes the strength of one or several clips as a semi-permanent binding mechanism for a publication. The appeal of this binding comes from the ease of its installment/de-installment, as well as its aesthetic relationship to office materials and a DIY sensibility towards routes of publishing.

Example of Clip Bound: Secret Recipes, & amp ;

French Fold

Double-wide paper that has been folded individually (also known as a folded leaf) and stacked into a book block. French folded books are commonly either perfect bound, spiral bound, or stab bound.

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Example of French Fold: Bardo, Christina Martinelli

Japanese Binding (Stab Binding)

Sheets of paper are stacked together, but unlike glued or sewn books, the stacked pages (the block) are bound by stabbing holes along one edge of the book block and then sewing the loose edge with thread. A variation of this binding can be made using double-wide paper that have been folded individually (also known as a folded leaf) and then stacked together.

Example of Japanese Binding: Obscurity, Lucia Gioiello

Perfect Bound

An adhesive based binding. The interior pages are stacked together to form a book block. The spinal edge of the block is roughed up with blades or abrasives. This exposes more paper fibers and increases the bonding area for the glue. Hot glue is then applied to the spine of book block. The cover of the book is then wrapped around the block of pages and it adheres to the glue along the spine.

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Example of Perfect Binding: One Valencia Lane, Bettina Davis

Ring Bound

Pages are punched with holes then bound with ring combs.

Example of Ring Binding: Fly Paper Book, Barbara Rosenthal

Sewn Bound

A book binding style where gathered book blocks are sewn, one signature at a time, by an automatic sewing machine. Each signature is sewn together through the spine with a sewing thread that passes continuously through the entire book. This method can be used for both hardcover and softcover books. It is also known as Smyth sewing and can produce a book that will lay flat.

Example of Sewn Binding: History Database

Spiral Bound

Pages are punched with holes on the bound edge, and a spiral, or coil, is threaded through the holes to create a book. Ends of the spiral are crimped to prevent wire slipping off. This binding allows the book to lie flat when open or pages can be turned all the way around to the back if desired. Spirals or coils are available in variety of colors.

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Example of Spiral Binding: Kraag, Cole Barash

Staple Bound

Book binding method in which folded sheets are gathered together one inside the other and then stapled through the fold line.

Example of Staple Binding: Vivid Penetration, Emma Kohlmann

Stitch Bound

Pages are bound together with thread by hand. Can include pamphlet stitch, stab stitch, long stitch, and coptic stitch.

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Example of Stitch Bound: Reading Teeth, Ruth Babe

Tape Bound

This method involves an adhesive tape being wrapped around the spine to hold the covers and inside pages in place.