From the Design Desk: Ends

A few months ago we blogged about an oft-overlooked, but important component of a book, head and tail bands. Another integral element of every hardcover which deserves some special attention are the endpapers. Also commonly known as end sheets, or endleaves, around here we usually just refer to them as “ends.”

These are first and last pages found in a hardbound book. Half of each endpaper is glued onto the inside of one of the covers and the other half joins that cover to the textblock. (The inside pages of a book all together are referred to as the text block or book block.) The part of the endpaper which is pasted to a cover is called the pastedown endpaper, and the unattached half is called the loose endpaper or flyleaf.

The form of a book is so fundamental that we take the mechanics of it for granted. The endpapers are what allows a book to hinge open and closed and what attaches the cover to the pages. Without them, a hardcover would fall apart. The ends are what you see when you first open a book and when you close it at after finishing—the hello and goodbye of a reading experience. So, even though they serve such a practical purpose, they are very key to setting the tone of the book, and, since around the 1600s, they have been decorated.

Marbled endpapers were common in the 17th and 18th centuries. L: London: Printed by J. Downing, 1708, R: Paris: Guillyn, 1769. Via the Princeton University Library

Nowadays, ends come in many forms—solid colors, patterns, maps, photos—the possibilities are endless. (Sorry, couldn’t resist). I’ve rounded up a bunch of great examples from some of our recent publishing:

The Bear’s Song
For this beautifully illustrated children’s book, the patterned ends hint at a story about a honey-loving bear.

Beauty Rules
These photographic endpapers highlight many of the real girls and makeup looks shown within the book’s pages.

Rad Boombox Journal
Illustrations of speakers and cassette tapes are perfect for this old-school boombox concept.

The Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History
Some ends have informative content, like this map showing the states and regions detailed in the book.

Girl Scouts One Line a Day Journal
Here, the ends utilize art from the Girl Scouts’ historical archive and evoke the organization’s early days for a nostalgic feel.

I Love My Bike
This book shares the stories of many bike owners. Their hand-lettered names by designer Chris Piascik form a fun pattern on the endpapers.

Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal
Designer Michael Morris created a whimsical pattern from some of Jim Henson’s sketchbook doodles and drawings.

Well-Read Women
Bookplates (subject of this interesting post) are traditionally found on a book’s front endpapers. Here’s a gorgeous example by illustrator Samantha Hahn.

The Where, the Why, and the How
For a book in which 75 artists illustrate “wondrous mysteries of science,” these ends illustrated by Dan Funderburgh are quite fitting.

The next time you pick up a hardcover, take a minute to notice how the endpapers tie the whole book together, physically, and, perhaps, conceptually as well!

Emily Dubin

Emily Dubin

Emily Dubin

Senior Designer at Chronicle Books, collector of magazines, watches, and vintage ephemera. See more of her work at
Emily Dubin



  • Jeannie Pitts June 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    I love exciting endpapers! I always look to see if the endpapers are marbled. I even learned how to make marbled paper myself. Marbled paper makes interesting origami! and lots of other things!. I am 83 now and still enjoy playing with paper! have you tried a 4 piece kalidescope design? take 4 identical prints of almost any design – leaves ect…..and stack them so the designs match exactly on top of each other. ( use pins) then cut the stack into smaller square stacks. Take a stack apart and turn them so the same point is in the center of a block made of them. It is sorta like the green one above, but that one is a two piece design. enjoy! Jeannie


Leave a Comment