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The final size of a printed page after excess edges have been cut off is the trim size. Crop marks indicating where to cut are printed at the edges of the paper that are then trimmed after printing.

Trim size is not the same as cut size, unless the project requires no trimming and the project is printed on cut size paper. One way to save money on printing and finishing is to design for and print on standard cut sizes to avoid the added time and expense of using larger sheets and cutting it down to trim size.

When designing layouts that have bleeds, the document is printed on a larger sheet of paper then cut down to the trim size.


Crop Marks


Crossed lines placed at the corners of an image or a page to indicate where to trim it are known as crop marks. Crop Marks may be drawn on manually or automatically applied with some desktop publishing software programs.

Crop marks are typically used when printing to a larger sheet of paper than the final trim size of the document, especially when doing bleeds. They indicate where to cut the paper. Similar to crop marks, center marksindicate the center of a spread and usually mean that is where the page is to be folded.



When any image or element on a page touches the edge of the page, extending beyond the trim edge, leaving no margin it is said to bleed. It may bleed or extend off one or more sides. Photos, rules, clip art, and decorative text elements can bleed off the page.

Elements that bleed off the page can sometimes add to the cost of printing if the printer must use a larger size of paper to accommodate the bleed allowance. To reduce costs, if possible redesign to eliminate the bleed or reduce the page size enough to fit the work on a smaller parent sheet of paper.




1) Several folios collected together for sewing as part of thebookbinding process make up a signature. Multiple signatures usually make up a book. A single signature is much like a booklet but it takes several together to create the longer publication. The signature is formed from a printed sheet of paper that has been folded (in half, quarters, eighths, etc.) and cut, if necessary, to create a set of pages in proper order for reading.

2) A signature also refers to a letter or other character printed on the first page of a section of a book (each sheet that becomes a signature when folded) and used as a guide for collating and binding the book.

3) The contact information of an ad or other document or the credit line (such as on the back of a custom greeting card) is sometimes referred to as the signature, contact block, or credits.




A general term for any of various methods of securing the loose pages or sections of a book or booklet, binding is usually accomplished using stitching, staples, wire, plastic, tape, or glue.

The use of ring binding, and staple binding are common binding methods for desktop printed documents. Other types of binding such as thermal binding, saddle-stitching,  perfect binding, and case binding are typically done as part of the commercial printing process.




Securing loose printed pages in a soft or hard-covered book with rings that hold the pages through holes punched in the pages isring binding.

3-ring binders (think school days) are common but binders may have any number of rings. A single ring is also a form of ring binding. Covers are less common. Single sheets of paper or cards (often laminated) are punched with a single hole, usually in a top corner, then put on a ring that snaps open and closed.

Ring binders come in many thicknesses and colors, can be imprinted or embossed, may be plastic, heavy paper or board, leather or fabric covered, and include pockets for inserting loose documents.


Saddle stitching


Securing loose printed, folded, and nested pages with stitches or staples down the middle of the fold (the spine) is known as saddle-stitched binding. The sheaf of papers or signature may be stitched with thread or staples. The name comes from the device or saddle on which the folded signatures is placed for stitching — with the saddle in the fold.

Saddle-stitching or saddle-stapling or “bookletmaking” is common for small booklets, calendars, pocket-size address books, and some magazines. Binding with saddle-stitching creates booklets that can be opened up flat.

The number of pages that can be bound using saddle-stitching is limited by the bulk of the papers. The larger the number of pages, the greater the amount of creep that occurs — inner pages that extend or creep further out than the outer pages when folded. Trimming the pages makes them neater but can result in uneven margins and possibly cut off text. This can be countered by building in a creep allowance after designing the pages which involves adjusting inner and outer margins. With a creep allowance, trimming the pages gives the neat appearance but keeps the margins and text intact.

Side-stitching is a similar method where the pages are stapled about 1/4″ from the spine but the booklet can no longer be opened flat.

Perfect Binding


Method of bookbinding where a flexible adhesive attaches a paper cover to the spine of the assembled signatures is called perfect binding.

Perfect binding puts all the pages or signatures together, roughens and flattens the edge, then a flexible adhesive attaches the paper cover to the spine. Paperback novels are one example of perfect binding.

Booklets, telephone directories, and some magazines use perfect binding methods. Compared to otherbinding methods, perfect binding is quite durable and has a low to medium cost. It can be used with publications that are several inches thick.

A variation of traditional perfect binding is lay-flat or Eurobind binding where the cover is glued only to the sides of the spine so that a perfect bound book can lay flat when open. Also, some books may combine glue with sewn together signatures.

For a more comprehensive list of printing terms please visit our section on the subject