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Printed Book 101: common manuscript prep mistakesTo a large degree, the beauty of a physical book depends on how well the manuscript file was prepared before the book went to print.

If you want your printed book to look professional, be sure to avoid these common manuscript mistakes:

1. Fonts aren’t embedded. By far, missing fonts is the most common reason print projects get delayed. Please remember to embed your fonts in your PDF file.

2. Page numbers are all on the same side of the page. Remember, even page numbers on left-side pages should be on the left side of the page, and odd page numbers on the right-side pages should be on the right side of the page. (Of course, you won’t have to worry about this if you center your page numbers.)

3. Image resolution is too low or supplied in RGB instead of CMYK. Don’t forget: images must be at 300 DPI and color must be converted to CMYk.

4. Insufficient bleed or safety margins. Remember to setup your margins after you setup your page size.

5. Failure to include the spine in the cover file. Every book needs a spine!

Have you made any of these manuscript file preparation mistakes? How did you remedy it? Let us know in the comments below.

Printed Book Design 101

[Oops picture from Shutterstock.]

Chris Robley

About Chris Robley

Chris Robley has written 502 posts in this blog.

is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."

2 thoughts on “Printed Books 101: the five most common manuscript file preparation problems

  1. Trish Causey says:

    I’ve read almost all of the info on the BookBaby site and downloaded every instructional .PDF they offer. I have also read several of these “blogs”, which contradict what BookBaby says to do in the formatting of books, ebooks, and pictures. I’m really tired of reading one thing, being directed to a “blog”, which says the exact opposite, and then sitting here confused. So, from here on out, I’m not reading these blogs; I’m just going to do what BookBaby says to do in their directives.

    This is confusing and ridiculous.


    1. BookBaby BookBaby says:

      Hi Trish,

      I’m sorry to hear there has been some confusion. If you would, could you please tell me which information you found to be contradictory? I’ve reread this article, and it matches the information we provide in our Help section. This post was intended to be a “what not to do” story, so the bullet points are the opposite of what you should do. Hope that helps!


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