Preparing A Book For Print with Affinity Publisher

This basic tutorial provides guidance on how to use Affinity Publisher and Affinity Photo to create your content and prepare print-ready PDF files. Books can be prepped using Affinity for black-and-white, standard 70 color, and premium color formats. No matter the format, the process is nearly identical.

The only exception involves creating the cover template. Templates for the interior and cover can be downloaded on the Template Generator Page. If you want to prepare a book in different formats, download the specific PDF cover templates and prepare different color cover files. (Paper stock varies between the formats, so it's important to create different covers for each format you wish to create.)

What is Affinity?

Affinity is a software suite that includes Affinity Designer, Affinity Publisher, and Affinity Photo. All are available for both Windows and Mac OS. Affinity Publisher is a desktop publishing application; Affinity Photo is a raster graphics image editor; and Affinity Designer is a vector graphics image editor.

The software publisher, Serif, offers Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher at a very low cost for each, but does not offer them as a package currently.

Affinity Software:

What Do I Need?

In this tutorial, we will address how to set up one digital file for the interior and a separate one for the cover. All books going into DriveThru's print-on-demand program require these two PDF files, the cover file and the interior file. 

The screenshots shown in this tutorial use Affinity Publisher and Affinity Photo for Mac OS. If you are using a different OS, some of the instructions and screenshots may be slightly different, but hopefully you can find the right feature in your software version. 

To install color profiles:

Download the CGATS21_CRPC1.icc profile.

  • For Windows, right-click on profile and select Install Profile. Alternatively, copy the profiles into the WINDOWS\system32\spool\drivers\color folder.
  • For Mac OS, copy profiles into the /Library/ColorSync/Profiles folder or the /Users/[username]/Library/ColorSync/Profiles folder.
  • Big Sur 11.1 and Affinity Publisher ver. 1.8.6 custom color profile should be installed into /Users/<user>/Library/ Containers/Affinity Photo/Data/Library/Application Support/profiles

After installing color profiles, restart any Affinity applications that were open while installing.

1. Getting Started

Getting to Know Your Workspace

You will use the Dock Toolbar, the Context Toolbar, the toolbar at the top of your workspace, and various palettes throughout your document production. What remains open in your workspace is customizable.

Be sure to explore the View drop-down menu under Studio to see what palettes are available to make your work faster and more efficient.


Checking Ink Coverage 

Books cannot have ink coverage that exceeds 240%. When selecting colors in layout, set blacks to use the following values:

  • Cyan 0%
  • Magenta 0%
  • Yellow 0%
  • Black 100%

If you want a richer black, you can set values as follows:

  • Cyan 60%
  • Magenta 40%
  • Yellow 40%
  • Black 100%

Warning! This richer black may look better, but if it is layered with other elements in your layout, it can push the combination to be over ink. 

Unfortunately, you can not check ink in Affinity Publisher, but you can in Affinity Photo. We recommend making sure your resolution and color are correct in Affinity Photo before starting layout in Publisher.

To Check Ink Coverage in Photo

Open the art file in Photo. In the View pull-down menu, under Studio, select info.

In the Info window, click the three gray dots on the left (see 1 in the screen capture below) and select Total Ink (2); do the same on the right and select CMYK (3).

Now you can hover over the darkest areas to see the total ink coverage and the ink mix. If the total is over 240%, it will need to be corrected. 


To Correct Ink Coverage in Photo

In the Document pull-down menu, select "Convert Format / ICCProfile..." and in the new window select the CGATS21_CRPC1 profile that you have just installed.

Save the file as a .tif. 


High Resolution Image/Graphics

The images you will be using for your book need to be high-resolution, at least 300 dpi for color and grayscale and 600 dpi for line art. The physical size of the image at resolution needs to be at least the same size as it will be in printed form. 

For example, if your background color image is 300 dpi but measures 1½” x 2”, but it will be 3½” x 4” on the page, then you have a problem. You cannot scale this image up to meet the correct size and resolution, so your image will be degraded because the physical size of the image is not large enough.

2. Format Your Book Interior

For your convenience, we have created templates to make your layout work easier. You can download templates on the Template Generator page.

Set Color Profiles

If you have not yet downloaded or installed the color profile, go back to the "What Do I Need?" section above and follow the instructions in the "To Install Color Profiles" section.

Next, open the correct Publisher template for your book. In the File pull-down menu, select "Document Setup" and set the menu that opens as shown below, then click OK.

Note that each window below is a different tab in the lower part of the menu.




What are all these lines?

  • In the image below, the light gray outer lines, outside of the white page area, define the bleed box. Any graphics you want extended to the edge of the page should reach this line. 
  • The white edge represents the edge of the page.
  • The thin blue line is the safety area. Anything beyond this line should be non-essential, as it may be affected when the pages are cut to size.
  • The thick blue box defines the margin. All text should stay inside this area.
  • The black line in the center is called the gutter and is the inside spine of the book.


Master Pages

Master pages allow you to place borders, text, and other information to be used universally, or at least repeatedly, throughout the file. These template elements will appear on all of the pages to which you assign that master page, in the exact same location on each page. A master page is thus very useful for recurring items, such as page borders. 

In your Pages Palette, open the Master Pages tab (the small arrow next to the Master Pages listing), and click on the "new page" icon.

Name your new master page something easy to recognize. In this same window, make sure the correct measurements for the page and the safe area are applied to your new master page. 


Click on the master page you just made to make sure you’re actually working on that page. It will highlight in the Pages Palette (you will also see it on the bottom left of the window).


Now, begin your work by adding text, images, and graphics. When you are done, you’ll be ready to apply this template to multiple pages across your document. 

Keep the Master Pages tab open and open the Pages tab (it’s the small arrow next to the Page listing); from there, you can right-click on any page and select "Apply Master." 


In the window that opens, use the pull-down to select the proper master page and select the pages on which you want to apply that master page. You can list specific page numbers or select any of the preset options, and Affinity will populate that template to all the pages you have selected. 

Alternately, with your Selection Tool, you can grab the Master Page icon from the Pages Palette and drag it on top of the page you wish to apply it to. The master page template will be applied to that page. 


Now, if you need to make changes to recurring elements throughout your document, you can simply update the relevant master page. The changes you make there will automatically be update throughout your document, on all of the pages styled using that master. 

Adding Text

There are two ways to add text to an Affinity Publisher file.

First Option

Using the Text Tool (see image below), click and drag on the page to place a text frame. You can manually resize the frame by clicking and dragging the blocks or handles on the Frame box edges.


Next, using the Type tool, click inside the frame on the page. Your cursor will become a blinking text cursor inside the box. You’ll also notice the Context Toolbar has changed to reflect your use of the Type Tool. Paragraph and Character Formatting options are now available.


To place text, open the file with your text content, select the text you want to place, and copy it. Go back to your Publisher file and click inside the text box, right-click or control-click, and then Paste to import and place all of the selected text.

Second Option

14.png Another helpful way to place text if you have a lot to import is to use the Place command. You can import Word files, text files, and rich text files.

Using the Type Tool, make a text box as explained above, then go to the File pull-down menu and select Place. Navigate to the document you’d like to import. When you select the document, Publisher will autofill the text box on the page, with the remaining text to be filled indicated by the little crossed red box, as shown above. 

Adding Pages

If you need to add pages, open the Page pallet on the right, right-click the page, then select "add pages." (You can always add more or remove pages later.) Use the Text Tool to put text boxes in, then click the little crossed red box. When you click on the next text box, it will autofill it with the rest of the text.

If there is more text than will fit in the current text box, you can resize the box or make another, continuing to click the little crossed red box and place more text each time until all of the text is placed.

You can change the size of the text boxes and move them at any time. You can also change the text formatting at any time as well.


Once all of the text is imported, you can format it, move it around, and add art to finalize the book.

Formatting Text and Style Sheets

Paragraph Styles and Character Styles are created in much the same way. Starting with Paragraph Styles, select the text you would like to change. You can style the text initially in the Control Bar using any options available.

When your text looks the way you want it, select the text you have just altered, and then click on the New Paragraph Style on the bottom left of the Text Style pallet, which will open the Paragraph Style Menu.


In the Paragraph Style Menu, start by naming the Paragraph Style something that will easily identify it later. Now look at the Character options. You’ll notice Affinity has already picked up the attributes of the text you styled and selected earlier. You can further alter the style in this dialog box, and in the ones below.

When you’re done, click OK to save your choices. From now on, you can apply this style to any paragraph. 


Similarly, Character Styles can be made, saved, and applied easily later. Use Character Style choices to italicize or bold words, make words a different color, or underline certain words. Start by clicking the Character Style Menu (next to Paragraph; see previous screen shot). 

To change fonts or attributes easily, simply update your Style Sheets. The changes will be made globally throughout your document.


Pro Tip: Things to avoid as you style text in your document.

  • Widows. In publishing parlance, a widow is a word or bit of a line "left alone at the end," i.e., the first line of a new paragraph that starts at the bottom of a column of text or a page, with the rest of the paragraph in a new column or on the next page. 
  • Orphans. The counterpart to a widow, an orphan is "alone at the beginning," i.e., a single word or line from the previous column or page left by itself at the top of a new column or page.
  • Hyphens, when broken across columns of text or pages. 


Adding Art

Go to the File pull-down menu and select "Place," as you did with text, or you can click the Place Image Tool in the Dock Toolbar on the left. Then navigate to the art or logo you are placing and click Open. Your cursor will change shape; simply click and drag to place the item. 


Use any of the corner handles with the Move Tool (at the top of the Dock Toolbar) to resize the item.

Note! Avoid using the middle dots to resize your image; they do not scale proportionately and will cause the image to look odd. 


You can hover over any of the tools in the Toolbar and Context Toolbar to see what other options are offered, but placing and sizing are the basics. To move above or behind another item, select and right-click, go to Arrange, and select the level you want. 

3. Export Your File as a Print-Ready PDF

When your work is complete, thoroughly check for errors in the document, like missing fonts or broken image links. Affinity does not yet have a Preflight tool, but rumor has it that one is coming. (This tutorial will be updated if that happens.) 

After you’ve fixed your document, you’re now ready to export your Publisher file as a print-ready PDF.
Go to the File pull-down menu and select Export.


The pop-up will have all the file type options along the top. Make sure PDF is selected.

In the Preset pull-down menu, be sure to select PDF/X-1a:2003. If you do not see this profile there as an option, you can download and install it with a quick internet search.

Set the raster size to 300 and include the bleed.


Make sure when exporting the interior that under Area: you select All Pages. The software currently defaults to All Spreads, which will cause the book to export in the wrong format.


Then click the "More" button.

In the window that opens, there is a lot of info to cover. Be sure to follow the instructions here as closely as possible, as there are a few things here that are VERY important.

  1. Use DPI:  set to 300
  2. Compatibility: set to PDF/X-1a:2003
  3. Color Space: CMYK
  4. Profile: CGATS_CRPC1.icc (this is the profile you installed at the start of this tutorial)
  5. Honor spot colors: NOT checked
  6. Include bleed
  7. Do NOT include printer marks
  8. Embed fonts: All Fonts


Now click the "close" button and select Export. 

Once the file is done exporting, open the PDF and thoroughly proof it to make sure everything looks as you want it. This check is very important and can save you many days' worth of frustration. 

4. Create Your Cover File in Publisher

Filling out the Cover Template Page

To get the correct file for your book cover, fill out some details we will generate a template and email it to you.

You can find the Template Generator page here. 

Opening the Cover Template

The cover PDF that is emailed to you from the Template Generator page can be opened in Publisher. When you open it, make sure these fields (see image below) are filled out in the window that opens.


Breaking Down the Cover Template

What are all of these colors? Regardless of what type of cover you are producing, the guides will look the same (although in differing proportions); the book data will appear in different places depending on what format your book is. 

(Sample softcover template below.)

  • Pink boxes show the "safe area." No text, logos, borders, boxes, or barcodes should extend outside this area. Each part (back cover, spine, and front cover) has a safe area.
  • Blue boxes show the "bleed area." Any background color, pattern, gradient, or image that you wish to extend to the edge of your cover should extend to, but not past, the blue box.
  • White apace shows the "template area." None of your cover elements should be in this area.
    • (Note: Do not alter any of the information in this area!) 
  • Black horizontal and vertical lines are the "trim marks" and "fold marks." This is where your spine and cover will fold and where edges will be cut when it is bound with the interior pages.
  • The barcode that is on the back cover inside the pink area should be deleted or covered.



A production barcode will be placed for you.  If you do not remove or cover the sample one, or if there is no room for a barcode to be placed, your cover will be rejected.

However, if you would like to designate where the barcode should be placed, you can make an empty white box measuring exactly 0.5” Tall x 0.75” Wide, and place it where you would like the barcode to be. Our printer will then place the production barcode there during production. 

Creating and Formatting Your Cover

Creating the cover is much the same as creating the interior. However, before beginning, it’s best to lock the template so it isn't accidentally altered during layout. 

To do this, open the Layers menu by selecting it in the Pallets next to Pages. Then, holding the Shift key on your keyboard, select all the layers of the template. Then click the little lock on the top right corner. 


Next, create a new layer by clicking the layer icon at the bottom left corner. You should name it so you'll know which layer you're working on. 


Add text and art the same way, following the same instructions you used for the interior (but of course use the cover template guide lines instead of the ones for the interior). 

When you are placing art, if you get an Image Policy window, click "yes" to link the images instead of embedding.


5. Export Your Cover File as a Print-Ready PDF

Exporting the file for your cover is much the same as exporting your interior, but with a few different settings that are very important

  1. Use DPI: set to 300
  2. Compatibility: set to PDF/X-1a:2003
  3. Color Space: CMYK
  4. Profile: CGATS_CRPC1.icc 
  5. Honor spot colors: NOT checked
  6. Do NOT include bleed
  7. Do NOT include printer marks
  8. Embed fonts: All Fonts

Then click close and hit Export! 

Once the file is done exporting, open it and thoroughly proof it to make sure everything looks as you want it. As with the interior, this final step is very important and can save you all manner of headaches.


6. Tips and Things to Remember

Interior Page Count

When preparing your cover, remember to add an extra page to the page count. Our printer requires that the final page of a book be completely blank, so that they can add an internal production tracking barcode to that page. (This production barcode is unrelated to any ISBN or UPC barcodes used elsewhere such as on the book cover and should not be confused with them.)

Depending on a book’s interior size, the final page count of a book must be evenly divisible by 2. Therefore, it is best to submit book interiors that are one page less than an evenly divisible page count. If you are concerned about blank pages at the pack of the book, you can be aware of the book signature size, see table below

Interior Type Size Divisible By
6.14 x 9.21 and smaller 6
6.69 x 9.61 and larger 4

When using the cover template, specify the final page count with the blank page included; however, when submitting your interior file, we recommend you actually make it with one page less than that final page count.

For example, when preparing a large book, you might want a final page count of 120 pages. Use 120 for the page count for the Template Generator. When you submit your book interior PDF file, though, actually make it 119 pages. 


Affinity Publisher does not (yet) have a "package" feature like the one in InDesign. (This section will be updated if that changes in the future.)

For now, it is very important to make sure you have your Affinity Publisher file, PDF, and all the linked or placed text, images, fonts, and graphics in one folder, and that you don't delete them afterward: If you try to open this file later or if you need to send the files to someone else, you will need all the parts used to compile this book. 

About Specifications

  • All images must be 300 dpi/ppi resolution. The physical size of the image should be at least the same physical size (i.e., in inches) that it will be in the book.
  • Final PDF can not be over 240% ink limit.
  • All images should be CMYK. Do not use RGB or Lab colors. The colors may shift unpredictably during the export to print ready PDF process.
  • Preferred image formats are TIFF or EPS files. Refrain from using JPG or PNG files, which are more suitable for web publishing.
  • Header fonts shouldn’t be too large. The optimal range is from 24 pts down to 14 pts.
  • Body fonts should be 10 to 12 pts. (Line spacing or leading is usually 2 points more than the font size.)
  • In making your text fit into small spaces, avoid Tracking your text more or less than 20%. Otherwise, it will look too tight or too loose. 
  • Avoid widows and orphans: leaving a single word at the end of a paragraph or a single line at the top or bottom of a column of text.
  • Embed all fonts used in the document (all font families used, include all screen/printer fonts).
  • Black text should be made with a 100% black swatch, with total CMYK values of 0% Cyan (C), 0% Magenta (M), 0% Yellow (Y), and 100% Black (K).
  • Black elements should not be built in “Registration” black or with the 100% black swatch used for text. They should be built out of “Rich” black. For best results, we recommend the CMYK values of 60% Cyan (C), 40% Magenta (M), 40% Yellow (Y), and 100% Black (K).
  • CMYK total value should never exceed 240%.
  • Text should be at least 0.25” from the trim edge and 0.5" from gutter edge.
  • Do not add information or printer marks such as crop marks, web-press comments, etc.
  • You can place a barcode box anywhere on your back cover. If you do, the box should be white, measuring exactly 0.75” wide x 0.5” tall. Our printer will place a production barcode there during production. 

7. What Do I Do Next?

Once you have your finished interior PDF file and cover PDF file, it’s time to upload them! 

Log into your account on the proper DriveThru site, and go to the PRINT section of your Publisher Hub tool menu. Use the "Upload and manage print products" tool. This tool will walk you through uploading your two PDF files (i.e., interior and cover) and setting price and other information for your print title. 

After a successful upload, your titles will go into premedia processing with the printer to verify that the files are suitable for print. You will receive email notifications with further information. 

8. I Need More Help!

If you feel stuck, take a look at the Check List for Print Books to double-check your files.

The Partner Relations team is always there to help: If you can not find what you are looking for, contact Partner Relations by submitting a request through our webform

You can also find professionals and hire them by contract to create your print files. You can find freelance layout professionals at sites like

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