Quick Specifications for Print Books

Before you submit your files for print with our Upload and manage printed book files tool, double check your cover and interior files meet the specifications below. Feel free to use this as a checklist before submission to prevent errors during the proofing process and to ensure you're delivering the highest quality print product to your customers!

For print-on-demand books, we offer Perfect Bound (softcover) and Case Laminate (hardcover) in standard color, black and white, and premium. For more information, visit Printed Book Formats and Cost.


Please use Affinity Publisher or InDesign for print-on-demand books only, as other programs can cause issues with specs and layout. Many of our tutorials mention using Photoshop and Illustrator for image editing, not for layout.

All Cover and Interior Files

  • File format: PDF (.pdf). Your cover template must be generated using our Template Generator.
  • PDF Output Compliance: PDF/X-1a:2001 or PDF/X-3:2002
  • Color Space: For color covers and interiors, use CMYK. Do not use RGB, Lab, or spot colors (PMS / PANTONE). For black & white interiors, use grayscale.
  • Ink Coverage
    • Total ink coverage should not exceed 240%.
    • Use the CGATS21_CRPC1.icc color profile to keep your book in range. To learn how to install and to check your ink coverage, visit our Correcting Most Common Print Errors article.
    • Black Text Density: We recommend a rich black with CMYK values of 60% Cyan (C), 40% Magenta (M), 40% Yellow (Y), and 100% Black (K).
      • When using text that is 24 pt. or below, use 100% black only: i.e., CMYK values of 0% Cyan (C), 0% Magenta (M), 0% Yellow (Y), and 100% Black (K).
      • Never use Registration Black.
  • Image Resolution:
    • 300 dots per inch (dpi) for CMYK or Grayscale.
    • 600 dpi for black & white line art.
      • Dimensions of your images should be the same size (i.e. in inches) as you’d want it to print in your physical book.
    • Preferred image formats are TIFF or EPS files.
  • LPI (lines per inch):
    • Premium color and covers - 180
    • Standard color - 175
    • Black and white - 106
  • Fonts: All fonts must be embedded.
  • Bleed: All books need a .125" bleed on the three outside (non-binding) edges. Do NOT add bleed to the inside (binding) edge.
    • Crop Marks: Do not include crop, printer, or registration marks in a file.
  • Margins/Safety: All text is recommended to be a minimum of 0.5” inside the page edge, and non-bleeding art should have a safety of 0.25" from the page edge on the outside three edges and 0.5" on the binding edge. Text or images too close to the page edges may be trimmed during printing.

Cover Specifications

  • Cover Template: Use this Template Generator regardless of the software used to layout your book.
    • Page Count: Your page count must match your book’s signature. For more information, see the section below on Page Count.
  • Spine Text: No spine text is allowed for page counts below 48.
  • Cover Artwork: Must be placed within the crop marks on the template. Do not reposition items on the template (except the barcode); all items (trim size / crop marks / spine calculation) are required for the printer's workflow.
    • The pink and blue areas can be removed or covered up before submission. Artwork should not extend past the crop marks.
  • Barcode: The barcode on the back cover of the template must be deleted.
    • To designate where the printer SKU should be placed, place a white box, exactly 0.75” x 0.5”, where you would like it on the back cover. Then, the barcode will be placed on that box.
    • This barcode is not an ISBN. You should not include an ISBN-based UPC on the back of your books. If you want to include an ISBN on the cover, it should be text-based.

Page Count and Signatures

The page count of your interior file must be either one page fewer than the signature count OR the final page must be completely blank (devoid of page backgrounds, page numbers, etc.), as the final page is reserved for printer information.

  • Books that are 6.69” x 9.61” and larger use 4 page signatures.
  • Books that are 6.14” x 9.21” and smaller use 6 page signatures.

First, when generating a cover template, be sure the Page Count divisible by the page signature (4 or 6). Second, your interior file page count should be one less page than the number you entered for your cover template, OR your book's last page should be blank.

For example, a book that is 8.5" x 11" has a 4 page signature. If your interior is 129 pages, you'll either create a cover template for 132 pages and submit a 131-page interior, or you'll remove a few pages to create a cover template for 128 pages, and submit a 127-page interior.

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