Printed Books 101: How to Prepare Graphic Files for Book Printing, Pt. 1

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You want your books to appear great when they’re printed, right? You need to deliver your printer manuscript files that are in perfect condition if you want that high-quality print.


If you’re wondering how to prep your manuscript files to make sure your printed books come out perfect, read these instructions carefully. Make sure to provide your book printer with the highest quality graphic files possible for both your book’s cover and body text.


[And hey, if you’re printing books with BookFuel and have questions about the process, just give us a call or send an email. We are available to assist you! Visit our website at or become a YouTube subscriber.]


Decide Your Trim Size, Binding Style, and Paper Stock


The first step in prepping your book files is deciding on your book’s trim size, binding style, and paper stock. Use our online book quote configurator to get started if you’re using BookFuel for your book printing.

Once that’s finished, you’ll need to make two PDF files, one for your book’s cover and the other for the text within.


Preparing Your Cover File PDF


  • Your cover PDF file must include the back cover panel, spine panel, and front cover panel as a spread showing all three parts from left to right: back cover, spine, and front cover.
  • After you configure and save your quote, you’ll be taken to the upload page where you can download your unique book cover and interior text templates.
  • Every book’s spine is a different width. The spine width is calculated using a formula that considers the number of pages in the book, the text paper stock, and the binding style you selected. If any of these factors change, make sure to update the cover template after saving your revised quote on the upload page.
  • Always proofread your manuscript and make sure your book cover looks exactly how you want it to appear in print.
  • All color must be converted to CMYK.
  • All fonts must be embedded.
  • Images must be 300 DPI.
  • Save black & white images in grayscale mode.
  • A 1/8″ bleed is required.

Your BookFuel ISBN Number on the Cover


ISBN numbers are crucial for booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers, and distributors to identify and catalog books. If you purchase an ISBN from BookFuel, you’ll be taken to the ISBN placement wizard after uploading your cover and text PDF files. The wizard will help you place the bar-coded ISBN number on the cover of your book. After placing it, you’ll be shown a proof for your approval.


Additional Hard Cover Information


  • A minimum 1/2″ left side margin on the front cover and a minimum 1/2″ right side margin on the back cover are required to account for the outside gutter where the spine die pinches the binding closed.
  • A 5/8″ bleed is necessary for hard covers in order to guarantee that the design of your book continues to the edges, giving it a professional appearance.

Additional Dust Jacket Information


  • If you’re ordering a dust jacket, you’ll need to supply a third PDF file in addition to your cover and text PDF files. When you select a dust jacket in the book quote configurator, a template will be created and available for download on the upload page.
  • The dust jacket PDF file should be a flat spread showing all five parts from left to right: inside back 3” flap, back cover panel, spine panel, front cover panel, and inside front 3” flap.

For more detailed guidance, feel free to visit our website or check out our instructional videos on our YouTube channel.

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