What is a word for the colored edges of book pages, opposite the spine. Is there a term for this?

I'm not looking for gilded or gold leaf, as those are both specific to golden edges, nor am I seeking a term used for especially ornamental usages. The question came to mind after looking at a math textbook that used blue color to highlight a supplemental chapter, so the usage was mostly functional.

Anyway, in case my description is lacking, here's a cool picture (a book's cover actually) showing some antique books that demonstrate rather elaborate edge designs.

edges of books - steven galbraith

  • Please add a sample sentence. Are you looking for the word which describes the edge marker like your maths book, or one which a seller might use to describe the books in your image?
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 25, 2018 at 6:40
  • @AndrewLeach Both, either. If there is more than one word used to distinguish, it would be useful to know. "I turned to the _____ section - the one with the highlighted edges." "This lovely book has dyed edges, an example of ____"
    – zahbaz
    Jul 25, 2018 at 6:46
  • @AndrewLeach A picture is worth a thousand words.
    – Kris
    Jul 25, 2018 at 6:58
  • @Kris Yes, but different forms have different terms.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 25, 2018 at 6:59
  • @AndrewLeach There are hypernyms at various levels.
    – Kris
    Jul 25, 2018 at 7:06

2 Answers 2


The coloured edge-pages are called, unsurprisingly, edge painting or fore-edge painting: that's actually already come up on a Stack Exchange site: Why do some books have colors on the edges of the pages?

Print Ninja corroborate that, and even call the speckled effect you see on some books fore-edge splatter. There are even people who do remarkably detailed work.

An edge mark which defines a particular section is called an edge index. This is produced slightly differently (by printing on the face of the page, at the edge, rather than on the closed edge) but has a similar effect.


book edge coloring

A broader term not limiting to coloring: edge decoration.

Hope that helps.

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