Preparing Files for Print — Important Self-Publishing Tips

book printing prepressSometimes people that are new to the book printing world are not aware of subtleties that affect the process.

Content creators spend endless hours perfecting their book and all that is left to do is send it to the printer for the magic of book manufacturing to happen right?


Think again.  If you ask any pre-press department what the largest obstacle is for serving self-publishers, it is receiving files that are not ready for printing a book.  The following are some quick self-publishing tips for making sure you are not in for more hard work after writing your book.

Hammer and ToolsUse The Right Tools for Self-Publishing

Although it may seem ok, a pre-press department cannot do much with a Microsoft word file that contains your content.

Instead, use design software such as Adobe Creative Suite or QuarkXPress to develop your content.

This does not mean using the option within Word to save your content as a PDF.

This method changes black type to “rich black” which translates to a multitude of problems when your content goes to press.

Configuring Bleed Marks

Sometimes self-publishers want images to extend past the trimmed edge of pages in their book.  If this is what you desire you will need to configure your document to bleed.

Many presses commonly require about 1/8” bleed allowance and this should be accounted for in your original file submitted to the printer.

Adobe InDesign or Illustrator CS4 are both excellent programs for easily managing this element of your files.  You can create a bleed allowance within a document, show crop marks and manage bleed settings.

What’s in a Name?

New FolderIf you ask a pre-press department at any printer, the name of a file is pretty important.

Naming conventions that include special characters such as @, #, %, or & as well as conventions that do not follow any sort of logic are a complete nightmare to deal with.

Avoid generic naming conventions such as or  Be specific and use a logical naming convention.  Do not use more than 25 characters for a name and always use alphanumeric characters.

Many first time self-publishers overlook the importance of file structure when they are ready to submit their content to a printer.

Much of the time spent by employees in a pre-press department is devoted to fixing files that come in so they are ready to go to press.

Although the tips in this post can be helpful, your best bet is to contact your printer’s pre-press department for specific instructions on how to configure your files.

If you have questions about how you should proceed check out our fact sheets on preparing files for print.  You can also give us a call if there is a question you can’t seem to find the answer for.

What are some of the challenges you face when you go to have your book printed?  Join in the conversation by commenting below.

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