The following are a few helpful tips and guidelines for setting up files and understanding the print and manufacturing processes.
Including a border in your cover or interior files makes any trim variation much more noticeable. Per the File Creation Guide, for cover art, we recommend at least .25” from the trim mark for perfect bound books. For Case Laminate hardcover books, we recommend at least .25” from the edge of the board. For interior pages, we recommend at least .50” from trim marks.
Any variation in the horizontal binding position of the cover is much less noticeable on a cover design than has an image or same color that wraps from the front cover, across the spine, and onto the back cover. To avoid emphasizing the allowed variance of .0625” when binding a cover, we recommend that there be no ‘hard’ breaks of images or background color at the spine fold. Having color or image breaks at the spine highlight any variance, even those within the stated tolerance.
Black and white halftone quality is more consistent and visually pleasing when printed on the inkjet printer with our Standard 50 color interior print option, printed on 50lb/ white paper. Standard 50 is an affordable alternative to other color products. If the image quality is vital to the book, we would recommend either Standard 70 or Premium Color, both printed on 70lb/ gsm white paper. If very little color or light color in a book is needed, Standard 50 Color may be the perfect solution and costs a little more than black and white.
Due to the nature of inkjet technology, voids – lines 1/660 of an inch in width – may occur. These voids should not exceed one or more of the following criteria: a void consisting of two adjacent lines that result in a void of 1/300 of an inch or greater or more than three voids on any given page.
If black fonts look light this is often due to RGB or CMYK ‘black’ text. Black fonts will look light due to the presence of an ICC color profile. Using the default PDF/X-1a:2001 setting will address this issue.
We use high-quality inkjet and laser printers at our print facilities; however, due to the nature of these printers, there may be some variation in the look of the covers we print.
Our new automated case binding equipment employs the same barcode matching system that’s used on our perfect bound binders. The cover barcode gets scanned first and when the book block is loaded, its barcode gets scanned. An electronic match of the barcode on the interior book block and the barcode on the cover allows the binding of the two to take place. We still employ the manual barcode matching process in our shops as well, a process that requires an associate to read the barcodes to confirm the match.
Fold creases, on the front and back cover, along the spine edge, are a common occurrence due to our binding processes. Fold creases can be more noticeable with matte laminated covers. Additionally, cover designs with heavy ink coverage are more prone to lamination adhesion issues in the crease area.
Laminate popping usually happens on dark covers (dark blues, dark reds, black) and is sometimes caused by the cover file being above 240 TAC (density). CMYK's total value should not exceed 240%.
An interior file should be submitted with 1/8” bleed on the three trim edges. We do not accept files with bleed on the binding side of the page. When a file is stored, it is cropped down to the bleed dimensions. ‘Extra’ bleed will be cropped out of the file before it gets to the printer.
Minor defects can occur during the manufacturing process of your book. Below is a list including, but not limited to, defects that when minor, are not considered to make a product unsaleable:
- Cover scratches
- Smudges in the lamination (This is the glue which can be wiped off with a damp cloth)
- Folded pages
- Lamination creases or scored hinges
- Gutter read marks
We recommend that you spot check more than one carton of books if a manufacturing error or defect is suspected. If you feel the books received are not in good condition, instructions and additional information are available in our Order Claims article.
POD and offset printing processes are not identical so the final products may not be exactly alike. There may be slight variances in areas like color or binding.
Submit files for black and white printing in Grayscale mode, without the use of ICC profiles - text should be 100% Black (C-0, M-0, Y-0, K-100) and images should be grayscale. Images that are not converted and exported properly, may appear visually black and white in the digital file, however, when reviewed in Acrobat, they are in CMYK or RGB mode. Color text, graphics, or images, including CMYK/RGB images that appear visually black and white, may print darker or different than intended.
Submit color files in CMYK mode, without the use of ICC profiles. Files submitted in RGB or with an ICC profile may appear as intended in the digital file and/or eproof, however, once converted to CMYK, the colors may appear washed out or muddy.
Barcodes should be built to the following specifications to ensure successful processing: - black only (0 Cyan / 0 Magenta / 0 Yellow / 100 Black) - placed over a white box/background - vector graphic or high quality rasterized barcode Barcodes are mandatory on all POD covers. Barcodes from the template can be moved, however, they should not be re-sized. Barcodes that do not scan will either be rejected (Title Processing Error) or replaced.
IngramSpark requires all fonts to be embedded in print files. This ensures the look and placement of text on the page, and it is important for keeping the document fonts and layouts as intended.
Base 14 fonts are the common fonts installed as a part of the Adobe Acrobat installation.
- Times or Times New Roman - 4 versions*
- Helvetica or Arial- 4 versions
- Courier - 4 versions
- Zapf Dingbats
* (regular, bold, italic or oblique, and bold-italic of each)
Programs often default to the PDF setting 'Standard'; this setting does not automatically embed Base 14 fonts. Because these fonts are available in Acrobat Reader, it is assumed they will be available to any viewer and embedding the fonts would add to the file size.
Because we are doing more than simply viewing the file (we are printing) it's important to choose a PDF setting that is intended for printing purposes. The preferred PDF setting to ensure the fonts are embedded (and to have a stable, print-ready PDF overall) is PDF/X-1a:2001 or PDF/X-3:2002. If you don't have this option available, the second recommendation is High-Quality Print.
Due to licensing and copyright restrictions, we do not have a font library, therefore, the publisher’s PDF files need to have the embedded font information to ensure a proper printing representation of the book cover or interior.
How to embed fonts will vary depending on the program you use.
If using Microsoft Word, the last tab in this program should be Adobe PDF. Select this tab, then select Change Conversion Settings. Once this opens, select the Settings tab, pull the Conversion Setting down to “High Quality”, then select OK.
Now create your PDF. (You should have three icons in your Word toolbar, click on the first one).
To ensure your fonts are embedded after you have created your PDF, open your PDF after you have successfully distilled it. Next select File, Document Properties, and then the Fonts tab. Next to each font name it should say Font Name (Embedded Subset). If any of the fonts do not have this next to the font name, it is not embedded.
If using Photoshop or InDesign, the fonts will be embedded when a PDF is created. Unless it is a free font that doesn't come with printing rights.
RGB blue is a vibrant and beautiful blue--however--because we cannot print in RGB, the color has to be converted to CMYK. When RGB blue is converted to CMYK, it becomes a combination of 99.6% Cyan and 95.7% Magenta. This conversion results in a ratio of Cyan to Magenta that produces a purple hue, and this is how it will print.
RGB blue is outside of CMYK's gamut: CMYK simply cannot reproduce that shade of blue. The computer and software substitute the closest color to it. Technically, that color is purple. It's best to choose your blue in CMYK, and to be careful how much Magenta is in the values range––especially if the Magenta is as high as, or close to the same value of Cyan.
A barcode, inserted on the last page of the book facing the inside back cover, is used as part of our manufacturing process to match up the interior book block with the cover on the print floor. Additionally, we are required as a manufacturer to state where the book was produced. The bar code also provides information for that book throughout the manufacturing process. This assists us during an investigation if there are any manufacturing issues with the finished product.
Complex images can sometimes cause delays in the printing process and should be flattened/rasterized.
Due to the 1/16th inch (0.0625 in / 2 mm) allowed production variance, cover and interior files submitted with specific positioning of content and/or design elements may shift from the originally intended placement, when printed. These may appear correct in the digital file and/or eproof but may shift during the book manufacturing process. It is advisable to order a printed copy of the book before placing a larger order, to ensure the book prints the way you intend it to. This includes, but is not limited to the list below:
- Margins less than the recommended 0.5 in (13mm)
- Outside borders that sit close to the trim/fold edges
- Page numbers that sit outside the recommended 0.5 in (13mm) safety
- Numbered or labeled tabs that sit outside the recommended 0.5 in (13mm) safety
- Text on spines with a spine width smaller than 0.35 in (9mm)
- Text on spines/covers that sit close to or extend past the safety edges
- Images or design elements that cross the interior gutter
- Images or design elements that sit close to the wrap area on dust jackets
and/or case laminate covers
- Cover designs with a different spine background color/image then the front and/or back cover
If cover artwork is submitted at an unrecognizable trim size or undeterminable design intent, the Premedia technician will recommend the use of the Cover Template.
Publishers and their designers are encouraged to use the Cover Template Generator tool to layout the cover file on and to see specifications for the cover. The template displays bleed and safety areas, and it also provides a free barcode. In addition, the template provides information such as spine width and document size.
We recommend using our cover template generator which is available on our website at RESOURCES>TOOLS and through your IngramSpark account under the HELP tab. This provides all the necessary layout guidelines.
This message means you have uploaded your interior file where the cover file should be uploaded or vice versa. To ensure your book prints correctly, you may resubmit the files in their proper locations on the file upload page.
Why were blank pages added? Am I charged for these additional pages? Lightning Source will automatically add blank pages when processing the files for a book or when printing and binding the book, if necessary.
Reasons why blank pages are added to the book’s interior/text file:
All interior/text files for print books are processed and stored in our digital library and the page count must be divisible by two. Pages that are added during the processing of the files are included in the book’s final page count and the additional pages will incur print fees.
The last page of the book, facing the inside back cover, must be completely blank for the barcode we add to that page, which allows us to match the interior book block with the book cover during the manufacturing process. We also add manufacturing and batch information to the same last page of the book, to help us investigate any production issues that may occur.
Your interior file does not have to include a blank page at the end, we will make the adjustment if needed. A blank page is defined as totally absent of any content; this includes headers, footers, page numbers, and blank fields. Blank fields, which you can’t see, can be caused by pressing the space bar or not deleting all the blank spaces on the page.
Reasons why blank pages are added during the manufacturing process:
Books files created with a trim size of 6.14” x 9.21” (234 x 156) and smaller will be printed in either six-page (three front/three back) or four-page (two front/two back) single sheet signatures.
Books files created with a trim size larger than 6.14” x 9.21” (234 x 156) will be printed in four-page (two front/two back) single sheet signatures.
There are times during the manufacturing processes of printing and binding where a book may need to have additional pages added, which you are not charged for. (Example: the stored file is 26 pages (not divisible by 4 or 6) and 2 pages are added when printing as four-page or 4 pages are added when printing as six-page).
Premium Color book interior files are processed with page counts divisible by 2 and printed with page counts divisible by 4.
If you want to ensure no blank pages are added during the manufacturing process, the book’s page count should be divisible by 12.
If you currently have your book set up on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and attempted setting up your book on your IngramSpark account and received the message “ISBN already in use”, this means your ISBN is already on the KDP account within the Lightning Source system and your book is available for sale through the expanded distribution program with KDP. This means your book is available for sale through Ingram's global distribution network.
If you own the ISBN and you want to transfer the book to your IngramSpark account, you will need to remove the book from the expanded distribution with KDP. Once that is done, you can complete the Title Transfer process, giving us permission to transfer the files for the book and all the book information/metadata to your IngramSpark account.
For more information and instructions about the transfer process please see this article:
IngramSpark now offers free ISBNs to authors and publishers located in the United States.
- The imprint will be listed as Indy Pub
- Any title with a free ISBN must be placed in our wholesale distribution program
- ISBN cannot be transferred to another account in the future
- ISBN cannot be used on any other publishing platforms (KDP, Blurb, Bookbaby, etc.)
- Pricing for at least one market is required and the book will be available for sale through each market pricing is provided for
- If you use a free ISBN and later decide you want to own the ISBN, you will have to set up the book as a new or revised title and purchase a different ISBN for the book
- Promo codes cannot be used in conjunction with a free ISBN (Example: promo codes for free title setup)
Overprint Fill is a setting in most graphic design programs used to tell a printer when one graphic design element should print “over” another graphic element. Some graphic design programs, such as Adobe InDesign or Illustrator, set 100% Black to overprint by default. It’s assumed that 100% black will be used for black text and in most instances, should overprint.
Overprint Fill can become a problem, when 100% black is used for design elements set over other elements or when light-colored text/graphics, that sit over a darker color, are inadvertently set to overprint. Graphic elements inadvertently set to overprint fill may appear correct in the digital file or eproof, but will appear different when printed.
High ink density titles are those titles where a single or double-sided page(s) within the interior of a book contains a high level and/or area of Black or CMYK ink saturation, which, when printed on Lightning Source printing equipment, ultimately causes curling of pages. IngramSpark may be unable to fulfill a B&W or Color print order due to areas of high ink density coverage within these titles. Where we identify a title with high ink density coverage, we will move the title to Premium Color at no additional charge to the publisher and fulfill the order. IngramSpark will provide a 30-day notice for the publisher to either; (i) cancel the title or (ii) continue to print subsequent orders on Premium Color at the Premium Color price. The publisher is responsible for the title remaining at the Premium Color price after such notice period. See images below:
In the Print-on-Demand process used by Lightning Source/IngramSpark, books are printed and manufactured in a one-off model using both automated and manual processes. Each book is manufactured in its entirety, every time an order is placed. Due to slight changes in production from day to day, variations in printing and manufacturing are a common occurrence. Likewise, submitted files that do not meet our recommended technical specifications can produce a printed product that differs from the digital file and/or eproof.
We make provisions for and indicate in our company documentation, that there may be up to a 1/16” shift or +/-0.1 color density variation on any book manufactured by Lightning Source/IngramSpark. Orders outsourced to other printers we have partnered with will also meet Lightning Source/IngramSpark print requirements and acceptable variations.
Printer marks along the gutter side of the interior pages are utilized for calibration and help to keep toner levels consistent. These marks must be positioned just outside of the gutter edge and cannot be moved to an area that is trimmed off. The spines are milled prior to binding to minimize the visibility of the marks. Typically, they aren’t very visible, but printed books with slightly visible printer marks, within the gutter, may be considered within our production variance.
Files containing low-quality text or images may appear crisp when viewed digitally, especially when viewed at 100%. However, when printed and viewed on paper, low-quality text or images can be more perceptible.