In heraldry, a bend is a coloured band running from the upper right corner of the shield to the lower left (from the point of view of a person bearing the shield). Writers differ in how much of the field they say it covers, ranging from one-fifth (if shown between other charges) up to one-third (if charged itself). Although the theory that the bend may occupy one-third of the field is sometimes said to exclude the possibility of two or three bends being specified to be shown together on a shield, there are contrary examples.
A bend sinister is a bend which runs in the other direction to a bend. As the shield would have been carried with the design facing outwards from the bearer, the bend sinister would slant in the same direction a sash worn diagonally on the left shoulder; sinister coming from the Latin and meaning left — to be seen in the coat of Lincolnshire County Council, England, and The Corporation of the Township of McNab/Braeside, Canada.
The diminutives (the names of narrower versions) of the bend are (in descending order)
- One-half as wide as a bend, as in the coat of Vincent Leonard Knight, and in the coat of Manchester City Council, England.
- One-fourth the width of a bend; it appears only in pairs, usually one on either side of a bend, in which case the bend is said to be cotised as in the coats of John Stewart Archibald LeForte, and Hyndburn Borough Council, England; also called a cost as in the coat of Abernethie of Auchincloich (Or, a lion rampant gules surmounted of a cost sable, all within a bordure engrailed azure — first and fourth quarters) (Public Register volume 1, page 69); and also called a riband or ribbon (also one-fourth), as in the coat of Douglas of Douglas (Or, a lion rampant gules surmounted by a ribbon in bend sable — 2nd quarter for Abernethy) (Public Register volume 1, pages143, 231).
Note, these width ratios are approximate and should be taken with large pinches of salt.
A bendlet couped is also known as a baton, as in the coat of Elliot of Stobs (Public Register volume 1, page 144).
The phrase in bend refers to the appearance of several items on the shield being lined up in the direction of a bend, as in the coat of Gilbert Rioux. But it is also used when something is slanted in the direction of a bend, as in the coat of Surrey County Council, England.
A charge bendwise or bendways is slanted like a bend, as in the Canadian coat of Barry Lereng Wilmont. When a charge is placed on a bend, by default it is shown bendways, as in the coat of Wilmslow Urban District Council, England.
A shield party per bend (or simply per bend) is divided into two parts by a single line which runs in the direction of a bend, as in the coat of Michael George Levy. Applies not only to the fields of shields but also to charges.
Analogous terms are derived from the bend sinister: per bend sinister, bendwise sinister, bendy sinister.
In current sovereign flags 
Further reading 
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- Boutell, Charles (1890). Heraldry, Ancient and Modern: Including Boutell's Heraldry. London: Frederick Warne. OCLC 6102523
- Brooke-Little, J P, Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, An heraldic alphabet (new and revisded edition), Robson Books, London, 1985 (first edition 1975); sadly very few illustrations
- Civic Heraldry of England and Wales, fully searchable with illustrations, http://www.civicheraldry.co.uk
- Clark, Hugh (1892). An Introduction to Heraldry, 18th ed. (Revised by J. R. Planché). London: George Bell & Sons. First published 1775. ISBN 1-4325-3999-X. LCCN 26-5078
- Canadian Heraldic Authority, Public Register, with many useful official versions of modern coats of arms, searchable online http://archive.gg.ca/heraldry/pub-reg/main.asp?lang=e
- Cussans, John E. (2003). Handbook of Heraldry. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-7338-0. LCCN 04-24470
- Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles (1909). A Complete Guide to Heraldry. New York: Dodge Pub. Co. ISBN 0-517-26643-1. LCCN 09-23803
- Friar, Stephen (ed) A New Dictionary of Heraldry Alphabooks, Sherborne, 1987
- Greaves, Kevin, A Canadian Heraldic Primer, Heraldry Society of Canada, Ottawa, 2000, lots but not enough illustrations
- Heraldry Society (England), members' arms, with illustrations of bearings, only accessible by armiger's name (though a Google site search would provide full searchability), http://www.theheraldrysociety.com/resources/members.htm
- Heraldry Society of Scotland, members' arms, fully searchable with illustrations of bearings, http://heraldry-scotland.com/copgal/thumbnails.php?album=7
- Innes of Learney, Sir Thomas, Lord Lyon King of Arms Scots Heraldry (second edition)Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, 1956
- Moncreiffe of Easter Moncreiffe, Iain, Kintyre Pursuivant of Arms, and Pottinger, Don, Herald Painter Extraordinary to the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms Simple Heraldry, Thomas Nelson and Sons, London andf Edinburgh, 1953; splendidly illustrated
- Neubecker, Ottfried (1976). Heraldry: Sources, Symbols and Meaning. Maidenhead, England: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-046312-3.
- Royal Heraldry Society of Canada, Members' Roll of Arms, with illustrations of bearings, only accessible by armiger's name (though a Google site search would provide full searchability), http://www.heraldry.ca/main.php?pg=l1
- South African Bureau of Heraldry, data on registered heraldic representations (part of National Archives of South Africa); searchable online (but sadly no illustration), http://www.national.archsrch.gov.za/sm300cv/smws/sm300dl
- Volborth, Carl-Alexander von (1981). Heraldry: Customs, Rules and Styles. Poole, England: Blandford Press. ISBN 0-7137-0940-5. LCCN 81-670212
- Woodcock, Thomas and John Martin Robinson (1988). The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. Oxford: University Press. ISBN 0-19-211658-4. LCCN 88-23554
- Woodward, John and George Burnett (1969). Woodward's a treatise on heraldry, British and foreign. Originally published 1892, Edinburgh: W. & A. B. Johnson. ISBN 0-7153-4464-1. LCCN 02-20303
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- Boutell, Charles (1914). In Fox-Davies, A.C. Handbook to English Heraldry, The (11th ed.). London: Reeves & Turner. pp. 58–59.