For each project, we will need two PDF files; one for the cover and one for the interior text, also known as “The Block.” The cover file includes the back cover, front cover and spine. “The Block” contains all the rest of the copy. Files submitted for print must be in PDF form.
Sacramento Public Library does not provide graphic design or editing services for I Street Press customers. Download a contact list of local graphic designers and editors.
5” x 5” (Minimum size)
This format is often used for small square books that are great for gift-giving. This would be a good choice for poetry books.
5.5” x 8.5”
This is a good option for journals and other general printing.
6” x 9”
This is called “trade paperback size” or “quality paperback.” This works well for novels or other general printing.
7” x 10”
This format is referred to as “textbook size.” It is often used for cookbooks or manuals.
8” x 5”
This size is great for comics or even black-and-white photo albums.
8”x10” (Maximum size)
This format is also known as “workbook size” Many “how-to” books and some magazines are printed at this size.
The Book Block ("The Block")
The Espresso Book Machine prints in black and white on double-sided paper measuring 8.5” x 11.” Excess margins are trimmed during binding. The final page size of your Block PDF should match the trim size for your book. For example, if your finished book is to be 5.5” x 8.5” then your PDF should also be 5.5” x 8.5.”
To print properly, your Block must adhere to these requirements. Are margins set up the way you want them? Check that all text and images lie inside those margins. Headers and footers can lie outside the margins as long as they are still close enough to the margin lines to not cause a problem. Using images? Scan them at 300 DPI.
Determining Page Count
The final page count is the number of pages in your PDF document. Note that each sheet of paper has two sides, a front and back, and thus counts as two pages. To find your page count, open your PDF and open Tools/Page Count. The minimum page length to print is 40 pages; the maximum is 700 pages.
In the process of mechanical trimming, it’s natural for a cover to shift slightly. The bleed allowance gives room for this shift and is an industry standard. The trim is the small distance between the edge of your design and anything you don’t want to be cut off. We recommend 0.25.”
When formatting for trim size, do not include crop or registration marks. The machine knows where to trim the book based on the files submitted. Books do not have to be any of the specific sizes listed; they can be any size between the minimum and maximum.
The maximum trim size for a book changes, depending on page length. If your book is a hundred pages or more, refer to the list below.
Maximum Trim: Width x Height
8”x10” – Up to 300 pages
7.875”x10” – Up to 400 pages
7.75”x10” – Up to 500 pages
7.6”x10” – Up to 600 pages
7.5”x10” – Up to 700 pages
When an image or element on a page touches the edge of the page, extending beyond the trim edge, leaving no margin, it is said to bleed. It may bleed or extend off one or more sides of the page. Allow for a 0.25" to 0.50” bleed on all sides so that your images or color will print to the edge after book trimming.
The margin is the distance from the page edge to where your content starts. The EBM offers many choices for printing margins, but a few suggested minimums can make your book easier to read. A margin of at least 0.75” on the top, bottom, left, and right of the page is recommended to assure pages print properly.
Generally, tabs (used to indent paragraphs) are set between 0.25” and 0.50.” Specify this distance under your Paragraph settings to ensure uniform indentations throughout your book.
An inadequate gutter is usually the hallmark of a poorly designed book. The gutter is the area directly to the left of these words. It’s the trough between two opened pages. It tends to make the inside margins — on the left side of odd-numbered pages and the right side of even-numbered pages — appear smaller. If you want your book to look like it came from a major publishing house, make your inside margins .35”.
This is fairly easy In Microsoft WordTM: From the Format menu, select Document, then click on Margins; there is a value called “Gutter.” Set it to .35”.
Books usually use a setting between 1.15 and 1.25. Double-spaced lines are too large to read comfortably, single-spaced too cramped. The Paragraph Settings Panel lets you adjust this line spacing.
You must own the rights to, or have permission to use, any images included in your book. Images included in The Block will print in black and white. If there is shading in the artwork (i.e. photographs or paintings), scan as Grayscale. Otherwise, scan as line art. The higher the resolution, the better it looks when printed. When saving images, make sure your original files are as large or larger than the size intended for the final document. Larger images scale down without quality loss, but enlarging an image may make it hard to view. For best quality, images should be 300 dpi and saved as .tiff files.
We recommend designing your cover using InDesign. If you haven’t designed a book before, we suggest you check a “how-to” book out of the library, take one of our classes or consult a professional designer.
Before you can create your cover, you must know the total number of interior book pages in your PDF, including blanks, front and back. Your cover is the back, plus the spine, plus the front of your book, centered vertically and horizontally in a landscape-oriented 17" x 11" PDF document. It will be printed on a 17” x 11” (tabloid) sheet of coverstock, which will wrap around the printed bookblock and be trimmed to the book’s trim size.
The maximum dimensions of your cover image cannot exceed 10.75” x 16.75”. No crop registration marks are necessary. Allow for a bleed of at least 0.25” on all sides.
To ensure the most accurate reproduction when printing your cover, please make sure the PDF cover file you bring us is in CYMK color mode, not RGB. CYMK is meant specifically for printing, not computer screen display.
Paper and Color Options
Our books have satin-finish covers and white 28-lb. text (50-lb offset) paper. A cream 60-lb paper is also available. All our papers are bookstore quality.
Make sure that the fonts used on the cover are easily read and properly aligned within the margins and the spine.
Keep at least a 0.50" margin around all sides of the document. Keep all text and information within this border. Don’t crowd the edges of the document. Your file will print and look best when everything is kept within the margins.
The margin requirement doesn’t pertain to graphic elements that you want to reach the final trimmed edges of your cover.
Create a 0.5" bleed around the document. Make your graphic elements (backgrounds, images, etc.) extend to this line. This is to ensure that no white borders appear surrounding your images and that the printed area goes from edge-to-edge of the cover. Don’t crowd the edges of the document. Your file will print and look best when everything is kept within the margins.
Calculating Your Spine Width
In order to have room to print on the spine of your book, it needs to be at least 100 pages. The width of your book’s spine depends on the page count of your book and the paper thickness used to print your bookblock. Use as many numbers after the decimal point as possible. Do not round up or down. This will make the alignment of your cover much more precise:
Page Count / Pages per Inch (PPI) = Spine Width
Ex. 250 pages / 432 PPI – Spine width of .58 inches
What is a PDF?
Can the book be illustrated?
Can I make modification to my book once it is printed?
What naming format should I use when submitting the book block and cover files?
What kind of paper do you use for the Book Block?
How is the book block printed?
How is the cover printed?