How to create a print-ready book cover
By Jessica Colley
Print ready book cover

The elements of a book cover

A book cover is more than just the front page of the outside of a book. When we talk about a book cover, we mean the back cover, the spine and the front cover connected as a spread. A print-ready book cover also needs to be a PDF with at least a 3 mm bleed and crop marks. Read on to learn how to create a print-ready book cover!

What a print-ready book cover looks like

The front and back covers will be the same height and width of the interior layout. The spine will need to be calculated (https://printondemand-worldwide.com/resources/spine-width-calculator-and-book-sizes-explained/) according to the final page count, paper gsm and type of book. The typical gsm we use for a paperback book interior is 80 gsm, bond.

The bleed is there to ensure that if there is any error when printing or cutting the cover, there will not be a white border. The cover image/ colour of the cover needs to extent over to the bleed.

Below you can see a diagram showing the back cover, spine, front cover, bleed, and crop marks.

Print-ready cover

How to export a print-ready PDF cover file
with Adobe InDesign

First you need to set up the document so that the back cover, spine, and front cover are each its own page, not one long page. Then, remove the margins from the spine page and adjust the width to the calculated spine width. Note that you must always confirm spine width with the printer once you go to print. Select all the pages in your pages tool and right click to deselect ‘Allow document pages to shuffle’. You can then simply drag the spine page between the back and front covers.

Creating the cover

Once you have done this and designed the cover, ensure you have the following elements:

  • The ISBN – on back cover
  • Barcode – on back cover
  • Book title – on front cover and spine
  • The blurb – on back cover
  • Author’s name – on front cover and spine.
Cover elements

Go to file and select ‘Export’. Ensure that by page options you have selected ‘All’ and that ‘Spreads’ is selected.

Export – pages

Move down to ‘Marks and Bleeds’ on the left panel and ensure you have selected ‘Crop Marks’, ‘Bleed Marks’ and selected to use document bleed settings or include 3mm manually. Then select ‘Export’.

Print marks and bleed

You will now have a fully functional print-ready PDF. Armed with this new knowledge, you will now be able to provide a publisher or a printer with a usable cover PDF document. That is how you create a print-ready book cover.

At Preflight Books, our designers know exactly what the printers require and can produce a stunning print-ready PDF, e-book  cover or can prepare your single-page cover for print. Click here to request a quote or email info@preflightbooks.co.za with your requirements. We can assist with all your book design and publishing needs!


You might also like:

Lift-Off with Preflight Books

Lift-Off with Preflight Books

The lift-off service is a way for us to help you, the author, sell the book you worked so hard on! We use our platform and expert knowledge to advertise your book.

Book Sizes and Why They Matter

Book Sizes and Why They Matter

So you've just completed your manuscript, how exciting! The next step is sending your work off to have it published and printed, but wait – which of the available book sizes should you choose? Should you do a custom size? What in the world is going on? Do not fear for...