File Requirements for Print Books

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Before your print content can be sold, it must first be uploaded into a portal so that it can be processed, printed, and then distributed. There are a few rules that must be followed to ensure the successful processing of your content. Avoid paying a revision fee to fix unnecessary mistakes by using the below guidelines to get it right the first time.

Files Needed

For every print book, two files should be uploaded:

  • One complete interior book file (formatted as .pdf): Every page that you see when you open a physical copy of a book. This includes any blank pages, whether they are numbered or not, from beginning to end. Individual PDFs of each chapter or parts do not make a “complete” book.
  • One complete book cover file (formatted as .pdf): This means all the information (text and images) on the front cover, back cover, spine and flaps (if cover is a dust jacket) assembled into a single PDF. A PDF of the front cover alone is not a complete cover PDF.

If you're uploading your own files, you can review our File Creation Guide for a more detailed list of instructions, or you can create your print book's cover and interior using IngramSpark's Free Book-Building Tool.


Try IngramSpark's FREE Book-Building Tool

File Checklist (for Print on Demand Titles)

The following lists contain basic guidelines to help avoid what we’ve found to be the most common causes of file rejection and delays for content formatted for print on demand (POD).

Interior Files

  • Must be uploaded as a separate file from the cover
  • Use single-page format (1-up per page)
  • Do not include crop, registration, or printer marks
  • All fonts must be embedded
  • The final page should be blank. If there is no blank page, we’ll add one for you.
  • Margins must be a minimum of 0.5” (13mm) from final trim size on all sides. This includes page numbers and non-bleeding text and art. We allow for a 1/16” (0.0625 in / 2 mm) variance in printing. If text/ images are too close to the trim edges, they could be cut in the printing and binding process.
  • Gutter Margin (no ink area):
    • 0.125” (3mm) is recommended on the bind side of interior
  • Bleed: B&W and Color interior – Full 0.125” (3mm) past final trim size, except on bind/spine side
  • Spot Colors: B&W interior – Do not include spot colors or ICC profiles and all images should be converted to grayscale
  • Color interior: Must include CMYK images at/72ppi or higher. 300ppi is recommended. CMYK value should not exceed 240%. Elements should not be built in “Registration”. All spot colors with/without transparencies must be converted to CMYK.
  • For revisions, the entire file must be re-uploaded. Partial pages cannot be accepted.

Cover Files

  • To ensure accuracy, use our custom cover template generator tool. Simply fill in the required fields and a custom template will be emailed to you.
  • Must be uploaded as a separate PDF from the interior.
  • Barcodes are mandatory on all covers. 100% black only and placed on a white box/background.
  • Resolution: 300ppi
  • Printed Line Screen: 175 visual equivalent
  • Color Space: CMYK
  • Bleed: 0.125” (3mm) on all four sides except hardcover files, which require a 0.625” (16mm) wrap
  • Type safety: 0.25” (6mm) minimum on all sides
  • Spine Type Safety:
    • For page counts below 48, spine text is not available
    • Spines 0.35” and larger – 0.0625” (2mm) left/right sides
    • Spines smaller than 0.35” – 0.03125” (1mm) left/right sides 
  • Text that is 24 pt. or below, please use 100% black only
  • All spot colors with/without transparencies must be converted to CMYK

Final Reminders

  • Don’t forget that all versions of a title that will be distributed must be supplied with a unique ISBN. For example, the print paperback must be submitted under its own unique ISBN which is different from the print hardback. Likewise, the ebook edition would have its own unique ISBN that is different from the print editions.
  • When an updated or revised file is uploaded for a title already submitted to IngramSpark, the new version replaces the older version. The new file goes through the same ingestion process as the original and will be the version distributed to our retail partners for purchase or download.
  • IngramSpark ingestion is fully automated. There is little or no human intervention as the files process through our system.

For indie publishers, formatting content can be one of the most frustrating parts in the publishing process. Following these guidelines will help you make sure your print book is ready for upload, however, if you are not experienced in creating digital content or don’t have access to book layout software, consider enlisting the help of a professional book designer or using IngramSpark's free book-building tool.


Try IngramSpark's FREE Book-Building Tool

IngramSpark Staff

IngramSpark® is an award-winning independent publishing platform, offering indie authors and publishers the ability to create, manage, and globally distribute print and ebooks.