The essential prepress guide.
Prepress Guide Helpful Hint 1: When you first set-up a book file in InDesign, make sure that you check “Facing Pages”. You can find it by going to File > Document Setup.
Prepress Guide Helpful Hint 2: The crop marks, bleed marks, and printer’s marks are generated when making the PDF, not in the InDesign file.
A prepress guide to help prepare book files to print on press.
The prepress guide helps to ensure files are prepared properly for printing on press. SPB will provide a template for the cover, cover wrap, and dust jacket. Spine width is determined by the weight and thickness of the text, cover, and board.
Prepress guide advice … use our free download of InDesign templates to start.
InDesign is used most often to design books, unless the book is a novel. Then Microsoft Word is used. Our prepress guide advice it to start with one of our free InDesign templates. Note: Although we suggest templates in this prepress guide, Star Print Brokers does not use templates when we design books. They are all created from scratch.
Important prepress guide rules to follow!
- Color images – Color images in CMYK, not RGB. Convert with Photoshop by going to Edit > Convert to Profile. Select U.S. Sheetfed Coated v2. If we are printing on uncoated or wood free paper, select U.S. Sheetfed Uncoated v2.
- Black & white images – Can be either Greyscale or CMYK. If CMYK, adjust to the black and white to look you want.
- Text – Small lettering including the text in the book should be in black, but not process black, just black. One Spot (not Process) PMS ink is fine, if in your quote.
- Image size and resolution – note both rules:
- 300 ppi (or larger) – I use 350 ppi, or larger
- and at the approximate size (or larger) that the image will be when printed
- Cover, and or cover wrap and dust jacket – Once final age count count, binding, and paper thickness is determined, ask us for template measurement to complete these files.
- Bar code sizing – 92 percent is standard, but can be as small as 80 percent of the original size.
- Making PDFs – Convert images in your book before making PDFs. When making the PDFs:
- Select “Press Quality”.
- “Compatibility” is set to “Acrobat 4 (PDF 1.3”).
- “Pages” set to “Pages”, not “Spreads”.
- “Mark’s” is set to “All Printer’s Marks”.
- “Bleed and Slug” box is checked and “Use Document Bleed Settings” if there are bleeds in the book.
The prepress guide for images … U.S. Sheetfed Coated v2.
All process color images need to be saved in CMYK, not RGB. Star Print Brokers suggests in this Prepress Guide, that you convert images in Photoshop, by going to Edit > Convert to Profile. Select U.S. Sheetfed Coated v2. If we are printing on uncoated or wood free paper, select U.S. Sheetfed Uncoated v2. Caution: Another printer may use different profiles.
When printing on press, four inks are used; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. They are the four inks used in process color (full color) printing. RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue and RGB is used for viewing color on monitors and televisions.
However, if you are printing a book with black ink only, or use black and white images, then the black and white images should be converted to grayscale. Black and white images can also be reproduced in CMYK for a richer look. Choosing between CMYK and grayscale depends on two factors. They are artistic determination, and whether the book was quoted for printing in black and white (1/1), or process color (4/4).
What to look out for when scanning images.
Our prepress guide advice is to save photos in JPG or TIFF format. TIFFs are preferred. They need to be scanned at 300 dpi (dots per inch) or ppi (pixels per inch).
Tip: 350 ppi
If you are unsure of the final size, scan the images at 350 pixels per inch, or more. Then you will have more resolution to enlarge the image on the page.
Are your images 72 ppi, but the dimensions are much larger than the book needs? Before doing anything, read about Effective Resolution. Your images might work!
Save photos as TIFs instead of JPGs. TIFs are stable, whereas JPGs can lose resolution when saved. This is particularly important for those of you who don’t have the full version of Photoshop.
Tip: do not artificially increase in resolution
Although Photoshop allows you to increase resolution, it is unwise to do so. The reason is because to increase resolution, Photoshop borrows little bits of adjacent pixels to fill in. There is no substitute for an original scan at the proper resolution, and size. Always want to keep this in mind for a fine photography or art book. If optimum resolution is not so important, you can increase resolution knowing your results will not be optimal. This means you may use a 250 dpi image, but not 72 dpi. We do not recommend resolution less than 300.
What you see on a monitor when preparing a book to print on press, can give you a false sense of security. The images may look great on screen, but when proofing on a high-quality digital output device, you may find the images pixelated. Not to worry. Star Print Brokers always checks this before going to press. But, it costs authors time and perhaps additional cost to correct. Take the advice in this prepress guide to save time and money!
The prepress guide would be incomplete without a section on resolution and sizing images.
The minimum resolution for fine quality book printing is 300 dpi, dots per inch, or greater. Images to be viewed on the web are typically lower resolution, 72 dpi. Image dimensions should be the same size, or large, than they will appear in the printed book. You don’t want to print images that look pixelated, as seen below at 72 dpi.
Very low Resolution example:
What is a bleed?
If an image prints off the trimmed page, it is called a ‘bleed’. Be sure to allow 1/8 inch (0.125″) extra for any bleeds. If working in millimeters, set a 3 mm bleed. The bleed settings are set-up in InDesign under File > Document Setup, and then click on Bleed and Slug.
The example shows the bleed area, page trim lines, and the printed page area:
Instructions for working with Full page bleeds and 2-page spreads.
In InDesign, you will be viewing the book in 2-page spreads, showing the bleed set-up. If an image goes to the gutter, or overlaps the gutter, don’t be concerned about the gutter bleed.
Example of a Full page that bleeds: If your page size is 8″ wide x 10″ tall. You want it to bleed on all four sides. The actual image size would be 8.125″ x 10.25″. The width would not be 8.25″ wide, because you do not need to bleed the image into the gutter. The image stops at the gutter, whether it is a right-hand page or left-hand page.
Example of a two-page spread with bleeds: The image would be 16.25″ wide x 10.25″ tall. It has bleed 0.125″ on all 4 sides. You do not have to account for bleed in the gutter.
The prepress guide for bar code and ISBN, and are necessary to sell your books.
Leave the bar code background white or clear for best results. Do not modify or crop it. Also, do not change the name. And please, do not open it in Photoshop!
Bar code sizing: 92 percent is standard, but can be as small as 80 percent of the original size.
When you receive the bar code, use the Save as command to add it to your art files. Use the Place command to then place it on the lower right-hand corner of the back cover. Then you can reduce it if you wish, to 80 percent. The standard reduction size 92 percent. If you would like us to place the bar code, forward it to us in the original email.
We are an agent of the US ISBN Agency. We can sell a single ISBN and/or bar code.
When the InDesign files are complete, see our Sending Files guide. You can include the optional Submission Form. It is a good idea to review it if troubleshooting your files. After you receive proofs from us, please sign the Book Proof Approval form. We will also include it with the proof set and / or email.
Do you have any questions about the prepress guide? If all else fails … we design books too! Call (844) 603-1777 toll-free, or (425) 603-1777 in the Seattle area.