Glossary of terms

I have included this glossary of publishing jargon in case any of the terms used on this site are unfamiliar or confusing.

Feel free to contact me by email if there is a term used on this site that is not on this list, but which you feel should be.

  • Design specification: A document, drawn up by someone in a publishing company’s design department, which specifies the overall look of the publication. This includes specifying the font or fonts used in the publication, the appearance of chapter headings and other headings, the positioning of page numbers and the paragraph style (indented first line and no space between paragraphs, or an unindented first line and space between paragraphs, for example), among other things.

  • Manuscript: This is the document that an author submits to a publishing company; the copy-editor works on the manuscript to produce a document from which proofs can be produced.

  • Orphan: A first line of a paragraph which is isolated at the bottom of a page; this does not include paragraphs which consist of a single line.

  • Proof (galley, page): A preliminary version of a publication, which is produced in order to check for errors before the publication foes to press. Galley proofs are proofs in which the text runs on from one page to the next; headings are in place, but footnotes, pictures and other such features will need their position in the text to be flagged up. Page proofs are proofs in which the text has been laid out as it will appear in the finished publication, with all headings, footnotes, pictures and diagrams in their correct places in the text (hopefully!). Usually, publishing companies go straight to the page proof stage.
  • Style sheet: This is a document in which the copy-editor records all of their editorial decisions. These decisions may include: variant spellings (e.g. -ise/ize), hyphenation (e.g. rank and file/rank-and-file), whether to use words or numerals for numbers mentioned in the text, or the format used for dates (to give a few examples).
  • Widow: A single last line of a paragraph at the top of a page, or a too-short last line of a paragraph (‘too-short’ may be defined as five characters or fewer, being less than 1/3 of the page width in length, or simply not full page width). Widows may be dealt with in a variety of ways, depending on how they are defined and where they appear.
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