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File Preparation Guidelines

If you are supplying files for us to provide typesetting and layout see section A.

If you are supplying a print ready PDF file, or a composed print-ready Microsoft Word file please follow the guidelines in section B. If you are not sure if your file is print-ready see paragraphs 1 and 2 in section B.

Section A

If we will be composing your book and setting out the pages into an attractive professional book layout please supply your files like this:

  1. Please supply text files in Microsoft Word or a format like Open Office that can be opened in Microsoft Word. If you are not using Microsoft Word please check to see if your software will export in Microsoft Word format.
  2. If you have more than one file please number them sequentially. Filenames should be not more than 40 characters.
  3. Please supply images as separate jpg files at 300 pixels per inch. You can send us an image to check its resolution before we proceed. Please start the file name with a number that cross references to a separate caption list. If an image has no caption please include it on the list but state “no caption required”.
  4. Please put markers in the typescript, with the appropriate image filename, to show us where images should appear. 5. You may wish to embed the images in the typescript but we still require the images to be supplied as separate image files because otherwise we will need to extract them from your Word file to handle them.

Section B

Section B applies if:

  1. You are supplying a print ready PDF file, or
  2. You are supplying a composed ready to print Microsoft Word file.

1. What is a print-ready PDF file?

A print-ready file is an Acrobat PDF file with all the printer fonts embedded and ready to be printed without any intervention. Images and text must be positioned exactly as they are to be printed because no alteration of the content of the file will be done. We will assist with the preliminary pages to ensure the correct presentation of the title, ISBN and copyright information is included.

The cover will need to be a SEPARATE file and should include the back cover and spine. If you are preparing your own cover file we will tell you what the spine thickness should be. This varies depending on the printing method and paper you have selected.

If you would prefer us to assemble the cover from your components or if you have several files which make up the main text we can join them together.

2. What is a composed ready to print Microsoft Word file?

A composed ready to print file in Microsoft Word must contain all images and text positioned exactly as they are to be printed including page numbers and running heads if applicable because no alteration of the content of the file will be done without incurring additional charges. We will assist with the preliminary pages to ensure the correct presentation of the title, ISBN and copyright information is included.

Microsoft Word files will sometimes change when they are moved from one computer to another (e.g. from you to us), due to differences in fonts and versions of software, so we will make a PDF file and send this to you for approval. Please check this file carefully to ensure the layout of text and images is what you intended. We will accept no liability for errors in the printed book that were in the PDF file.

3. Creating your book


If you don’t have a cover we can create this for you. Please ask for a quote.

If you are using a graphic designer to prepare your cover please check the likely spine dimension with us before you proceed. To get an exact spine dimension we will need to know the exact number of pages and this is often unknown when the cover design is first discussed. However, we can give you an estimate of the spine thickness on request.

Page size

Your files should be the correct size of the finished book. We strongly recommend you discuss the height and width of your finished book with us before you start the composition process. A small difference in size can have a significant impact on cost savings or increases. It is sometimes possible to scale PDF files to fit other sizes BUT this presents adds to the cost and may present quality issues.

Landscape orientation

We are unable to offer global distribution for landscape print on demand books. Landscape books present more manufacturing issues and this is usually reflected in the price, when compared to portrait orientation. However, if your book is not print on demand and the quantity is over 1000 books the additional cost of landscape compared to portrait is smaller.


We recommended that you provide a minimum of 0.5" (13 mm) margin on all sides of your text area. You may improve the aesthetics of your page by allowing more.

Bookbinding does not work to engineering grade tolerances and we recommend you allow 1/16" (1.6 mm) tolerance for critical text or design elements. If text/images are too close to trim edges, they could be cut in the printing and binding process.

Spine text must be at least 1.6mm from the joins to the front and back covers. If your spine is 6mm wide this means your text should only be 2.8mm tall.

Page numbering

When we talk about a page in a book we mean one side of the leaf. So, a leaf is two pages. It’s the same in a magazine or newspaper. By convention a right-hand page should be an odd numbered page (regardless of whether the page number is printed on it) and so it follows a left-hand page is even numbered. The practice of numbering the other way round, is called non-traditional folioing, and is best avoided in our opinion because of the potential for causing confusion in binderies.

For the avoidance of doubt:

When numbering the pages the front cover is not page 1. The cover is a separate file. If your book is 192 pages we do not call the front cover pages 1 and 2 or the back-cover pages 193 and 194. The book is described as 192 pages PLUS the cover. The cover is a separate file. Similarly, when we talk about the last page of a book that means the last page of the inside pages and does not refer to the cover. If we are talking about the back cover . . . well, we’ll call it the back cover.


The bleed is a printed area that extends beyond the edge of the final trimmed sheet. In other words, the bleed is the area to be trimmed off. The bleed gives the printer a small amount of space to account for movement of the paper in printing and binding and any design inconsistencies. Artwork and background colours can extend into the bleed area. After trimming, the bleed ensures that no unprinted edges occur in the final trimmed document.

A bleed must be included if you want an image to go right to the edge of the paper.

Crop marks

If your book has pages with bleeds we need crop marks. If your book does not have bleeds we do not need crop marks.

Crop marks tell the bindery where to trim the final printed sheet to size. Crop marks are usually created/applied by your software on output to PDF.

Rules and tints

Rules and tints are often used in tables and charts. Rules should be not less than 0.125pt at 100% black. If your rules are thinner or use less than 100% black you are more likely to get inconsistent print results. Coloured rules are best a bit thicker, say 0.25pt.

If you have tinted areas such as cells in a table we recommend that the minimum tint value is 15%.

Use tinted text with great caution. Body text should be 100% black unless you are using a long run print process. Short run printing uses ink jet or laser technology and tinted text can give jagged edges that are wearing on the eye for readers. This is because the print resolution is more coarse than with a lithographic process. Point sizes of 10pt or less in running heads, footnotes, page numbers and diagram annotation etc should be 100% black.


We cannot accept files in spread format (i.e. 2 pages side by side). We need the files to be supplied as one single-page to view PDF or Word file. The file can be the whole inside of the book or a portion of it, such as a chapter, but if more than one file is submitted (e.g. a file per chapter), please number them in ascending order like this:

Your book title-001.pdf, Your book title-002.pdf, Your book title-003.pdf etc.

If your composition contains blank pages these must be included in the PDF file(s)

Blank pages

By convention the title page and copyright page are blind numbered. This means they form part of the numbering sequence but do not have page numbers printed on them.

If there are pages in your book that have no text on them, by convention they should not have a page number or a running head. For example, when you want a new chapter to start on a right-hand page and the previous chapter finishes on the previous right-hand page you have to add a blank left hand page to the previous chapter. Your software will have a programming solution for this but an easy way to remove a page number or running head is to mask it with a white text box but make sure it doesn’t have a printable border.

Blank pages throughout the book should not have page numbers printed on them i.e. they should be blind numbered.

If you are using roman numerals (i.e. i,ii,iii, iv etc) to number the preliminary pages at the front of the book you should ensure there are an even number of pages so that the first Arabic numbered page (i.e. page 1) is on a right hand page.

Sometimes it is necessary for us to add blank pages at the back of a book. This is because books are printed in sections and if the total pages in the book is not divisible by the number of pages in a section the shortfall is made up with blanks.

Image resolution

Aim for an image resolution of 300 pixels per inch (ppi) at the size the image will be printed. Although a 72 ppi image may look just fine on your monitor it will print poorly. When you print on paper the print process will reveal the lack of resolution. We will check image resolution before printing and if there are low resolution images we will explain the options available.


Fonts must be embedded in the PDF file. This is because if the font is not embedded the PDF file will call for the font from the printing device during printing. If the font does not exist on the printing device the font-call will fail and default to a random font which will give an unpredictable and invariably unacceptable result. We will check that fonts are embedded before printing and if they are not we will advise you how to resolve the issue.

Why colours change between the computer and the printed work

Computer monitors display colour as RGB (i.e. they emit Red, Green and Blue light) whereas paper is printed with CMYK inks (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black). In order to print a book RGB images are converted to CMYK. When an image is converted to CMYK you will lose some vibrancy between what you will saw on screen and what is now on the paper. It’s a bit like someone shining a torch in your face and then seeing a print of someone shining a torch – it’s different physics – one is transmission of light and the other is reflection of light.

Greyscale and colour images

If your book is to be printed with black ink only inside and your file includes colour images, those images will be converted to greyscale. Greyscale means a range of grey shades from white to black, but the key point is that if you select a non-colour print service images will be printed using black ink only.

Creating a PDF from Microsoft Word

If you are supplying files to us and your book contains images the shortcut button in Microsoft Word will not embed high resolution images in the PDF file. If you have Acrobat Professional 6 or later you should use the Print option to make your PDF file. If you don’t have a version of Acrobat Professional you can try one of the free PDF makers like Primo.

Ink density

The ink density of solids should not exceed 240 percent CMYK total value. This applies to the covers of all books and inside pages if your book contains colour inside. If that sounds like gobbledygook don’t worry about it now but we will check the files and we may ask you to make some changes.

Rich black

For solid black on covers or in books with colour inside we recommend a rich black with CMYK values of 60% Cyan / 40% Magenta / 40% Yellow / and 100% Black. CMYK total value should not exceed 240%. Elements should not be built in ‘Registration’ (100% of all colors).

File naming

Ideally we would like one file of the text. Cover files must be supplied separately. If it is not possible to supply one file of the text please ensure that file names are kept short and sequential and starting with a digit that tells us the file running order of your book.

What Our Customers Think

"At every stage you consulted, gave gentle advice and kept me up to date with progress. I could not have asked for more. What you predicted happened and the final appearance is totally down to your skills and I shall always be grateful to you for that. If ever I can help in any way do please ask; I would be more than happy to recommend you to anyone. "

Michael Jones. Author It May be Christian. I think it’s Silly.