Design and Artwork Production

You may produce your own design or you may get help from a professional designer. Our internal designers are happy to help at an hourly rate and there are also many freelance designers out there. You may want to check that they have experience in book design, as it is quite different from other commercial design. And yes, people do judge a book by its cover.

If you are designing and setting up your own cover you will need to include a spine in your artwork.

Standard Book Sizes

While you can make your book virtually any size, there are standard book sizes (All sizes in millimetres, width x height):

A format: 111 x 181 mm
B format: 128 x 198 mm
B+ format: 135 x 210 mm
C format: 153 x 234 mm
Demy: 152 x 229 mm
Royal: 191 x 235 mm
A5: 148.5 x 210 mm
A4: 210 x 297 mm
Please note that there may be different interpretations of “standard” book sizes (as you can see after spending a little time online). Only the DIN sizes(A4 etc) are ISO standardized worldwide.

Spine Width

To calculate the width of the spine of your book you need to know the number of pages and the thickness of the paper your book will be printed on.

Spine = [(No of pages)/2] x Paper Bulk + 0.5mm, then round up to the nearest half millimetre.

Standard paper bulks are as follows (measured in microns, paper bulking characteristics can vary):
70gsm Creamy Book Paper: 0.140
80gsm Offset (Bond): 0.100
90gsm Offset: 0.111
100gsm Offset: 0.120
So as an example, if your book has 320 pages and you would like it printed on the creamy book paper, your spine would be

320 / 2 = 160
160 x 0.14 = 22.4
22.4 + 0.5 = 22.9
rounded up to 23 mm

Colour or Black Only?

The decision of whether to include any colour sections usually depends on cost: colour pages still currently cost about 5 times more than black only pages and they also have to be inserted into the book. A colour section has to have a minimum of 2 pages. It can be printed on a different stock than the text, e.g. a glossy coated stock. Our standard stock for colour sections is 130 gsm matt or gloss coated paper.

Text Page Margins

There are rules to set up typical text page margins:

Inside to Outside 1:2
The inside margin is 1/2 of the outside margin.
Top to Bottom 1:2
The top margin is 1/2 of the bottom margin.
Inside to Bottom 1:3
The inside margin is 1/3 of the bottom margin.
Outside to Bottom 2:3
The outside margin is 2/3 of the bottom margin.
There are many articles and guides about book design online, a good start about margins is here.

Printer’s Key

The printer’s key is a row of numbers indicating the print run. It was designed so that numbers could easily be blanked out without having to run new expensive plates. It looks similar to this and on the second run the 1 would be covered, indicating the second print run


In the age of digital short run printing of the long tail it is not used that much any more, as books often have regular (small) print runs and the number of print runs can be in the hundreds.

File Specifications

Our preferred file format to submit your artwork is pdf. A print ready pdf contains high resolution images, all fonts, trim marks and at least 3mm bleed.

The cover should be in one file with back cover, spine and front cover on one sheet. As an example, if the above book was an A format with 320 pages, the cover would be 111 + 23 + 111 = 245mm wide and 181 mm deep.

If your text is black only, please make sure the text is black only, and not a combination of all colours.

File specifications for books are generally similar to other print jobs, and so are the issues with incorrect files, see our top seven file issues for what NOT to do.