Let's Talk Book Design & Anatomy

Below is an alphabetical list of common terms related to children's book design. Click on a term to skip down, and check out more of these really cool book details in the highlights section of my Instagram page here.

Back Matter

Material at the end of a book (additional resources, biographies, bibliographies, suggested further reading, glossaries, etc.) after the main story has finished.

Back matter from We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell and Frane Lessac (Charlesbridge, 2018)


The white box on the back of the book that contains a series of numbers and parallel black lines encoded with the book's unique data, including purchase price. Check out some beautiful barcode designs here.

Barcode from How to Say Hello to a Worm by Kari Percival (Rise X Penguin Workshop, 2022)


An image that extends past the edge of where the paper will be trimmed. Anything beyond the bleed will not be printed, so full-bleed images extend beyond the trimmed page/spread.

Spread from Heartbeat by Evan Turk (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018)

Carousel Book

Also known as a 360° book, the front and back covers touch to form a circle. Some carousel books have ribbons that tie the front and back together. See many examples and more information on carousel books here.

The Carousel of Animals by Gerard Lo Monaco (Little Gestalten, 2018)


Also known as a case cover or hard case (or an “Undie” on this site!), the hard casing of the book made from printed paper wrapped around cardboard. The dust jacket covers up the casewrap on many books. See many examples, and my favorite reveals, here.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Anna Bond (Puffin Books, 2015)

Complementary Colors

These are colors that are across from each other on the color wheel: red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and purple.

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013), Waterloo & Trafalgar by Olivier Tallec (Enchanted Lion Books, 2012), Flora and the Ostrich by Molly Idle (Chronicle Books, 2017)


An indented pattern on the surface of a book, like the title or another detail. The opposite of debossing is embossing. See examples here.

Debossed title treatment on Tiny, Perfect Things by M. H. Clark and Madeline Kloepper (Compendium Publishing & Communications, 2018)

Die Cutting

Cutting paper, pages, and books into specific shapes. See some examples here.

A Forest's Seasons by Ingela P. Arrhenius (Chronicle Books, 2019)

Dust Jacket

The removable paper cover wrapped around a casewrap. Underneath the dust jacket is the casewrap. See many examples, and my favorite reveals, here.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Anna Bond (Puffin Books, 2015)


A raised pattern on the surface of a book, like the title or another detail. The opposite of embossing is debossing. See examples here.

Embossing on the dust jacket of The Boy with Flowers in His Hair by Jarvis (Candlewick Press, 2022)


Also known as an endsheet, the paper at the beginning and/or end of the book that is glued to the inside cover. See many examples here.

Front endpaper from Hello, World!: Happy County Book 1 by Ethan Long (Henry Holt and Co., 2020)

Fifth Color

A solid spot color ink (often neon) outside of the usual four print colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (also known as CMYK). See some examples here.

Fifth color (neon pink) in Princess Kevin by Michael Escoffier and Roland Garrigue (Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2020)

Foil Stamping

A metallic effect added to specific details and/or text. See examples here.

Foil in The Little Kitten by Nicola Killen (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2020)


The edges of a book's pages. Sometimes these are treated with paint, stencils, or foil, and sometimes the treatment is only visible when the pages are slightly fanned. See some examples here.

Painted fore-edges on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Andrea D'Aquino (Rockport Publishers, 2015)

Front Matter

Also known as preliminary matter, this is the material at the front of a book (table of contents, author's note, copyright information, title page, etc.) before the main story starts.

Front matter from A Natural History of Fairies by Emily Hawkins and Jessica Roux (Wide Eyed Editions, 2020)


A folded, oversized page in a book designed to be opened out past the book's trim size.

Gatefold in Most of the Natural Better Things in the World by David Eggers and Angel Cheng (Chronicle Books, 2019)


The space in the middle of an open book where two facing pages meet. The binding on the outside of the book is called the spine. Take a closer look at books that are designed to emphasize the gutter here.

Interior from Shy by Deborah Freedman (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2016)


An accordion-pleat, or zig-zag, book. See many examples and learn more about leporellos here.

Both sides of the leporello Undocumented: A Worker's Fight by Duncan Tonatiuh (Harry N. Abrams, 2018)


The righthand page of a spread. The lefthand page of a spread is called the verso page.

Interior from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Anna Bond (Puffin Books, 2015)


The outside edge of the book where the pages are gathered and bound. The binding on the inside of the book is called the gutter.

Spine from Bearnard's Book by Deborah Underwood and Misa Saburi (Henry Holt, 2019)

Spot Gloss

A high gloss UV coating on a selective area. See examples here.

Spot gloss on the cover of The Night Walk by Marie Dorleans (Floris Books, 2021)


Two facing pages (verso and recto), side by side.

Spread from The Human Body: A Pop-Up Guide to Anatomy by Richard Walker and Rachel Caldwell (Templar Books, 2018)

Trim Size

The actual size of a book (width, height, and depth, ie: 9.4 x 12.2 x 1.0 inches).

Pop-Up Earth by Anne Jankeliowitch, Olivier Charbonnel, and Annabelle Buxton (Thames & Hudson, 2021)


The lefthand page of a spread. The righthand page of a spread is called the recto page.

Interior from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Anna Bond (Puffin Books, 2015)