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Troubleshoot Paperback Formatting Issues

To make sure your paperback meets our quality standards, we review it in two ways:

  1. Automated check. When you set up your book and upload your file, our Print Previewer tool checks for errors you need to fix before submitting for publication. If the previewer finds any formatting issues that need to be fixed, you’ll need to update your file in its original program to make the required formatting changes, then create a new PDF to upload to your account. Some of the main formatting checks that Print Previewer scans for include margins, cover size, and fonts. Print Previewer will also try to fix some issues by scaling or reflowing text to fit within the margins. Since Print Previewer looks at the structure of a file, it will sometimes catch formatting errors that are not obvious to someone viewing the manuscript pages.
  2. Manual check. After you submit your book, we manually check your interior and cover files. If we find any issues, we'll email instructions on what to fix.

Browse the topics on this page to learn how to fix issues identified during our reviews.



Trim size and bleed

Chose the wrong trim or page size? Do your images that bleed not extend far enough beyond the trim line?

To update your page size:
  1. Open the original Word file.
  2. In the "Page Setup" section of the Layout tab, click Size.
  3. Select More Paper Sizes. This will open a dialog box.
  4. Set your page width and height according to your book's trim size. If your book has bleed, add 0.125" (3.2 mm) to the width and 0.25" (6.4 mm) to the height. For example, if your trim size is 6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm), set the page size to 6.125" wide x 9.25" high (15.54 x 23.46 cm). For help calculating your book dimensions, try our calculator.
  5. Enter your book's trim size, including bleed if necessary, into the "Width" and "Height" fields.
  6. Click OK.

Note: After you change the page size, the text will shift and the page count will change. Make sure the margins you entered are correct based on the new page count. See the Margins and gutter section for steps how to update your margins. Once you’ve selected the correct page size and margins for your page count, you should go through your file an ensure that any images intended to reach all the way to the edge of your page extend 0.125” (3.2 mm) beyond the trim line. For more information on bleed, see our Print Options Help page.

Once you've updated your page size, checked your margins, and checked your bleed images, save your revised file as a PDF and re-upload your file.



Margins and gutter

Is your content outside the margins? Does it extend into the gutter?
If your pages have a background color or graphic and Print Previewer is showing a margin error, first try changing the Bleed Settings option to “Bleed” and also review the trim and bleed section.

  1. Open your original file. Reposition content that is outside the margins or continue to Step 2 to reset your margins.
  2. In the "Page Setup" section of the Layout tab, click Margins.
  3. Select Custom Margins. This will open a dialog box.
  4. In the "Pages" section, select Mirror margins from the "Multiple pages" drop-down menu.
  5. In the "Preview" section, select Whole document from the "Apply to" drop-down menu.
  6. Enter your top, bottom, inside, and outside margins based on your books page count* and whether it contains bleed (see margin requirements) and click OK.
  7. Upload your revised file to KDP.

*Note: We'll calculate your page count based on your manuscript file, rounding up to an even number if necessary. (In paperbacks, every page has a front and back side, equaling two pages.) The minimum page count is 24 pages; the maximum page count depends on ink, paper, and trim size options.



Text boxes, spaces, and hidden characters

We do not allow text to bleed off the page, so all text should appear within the margins. Sometimes, Print Previewer will flag text as appearing outside the margin when no text is visible in the location. This can occur when text characters, visible or otherwise, or spaces extend outside the margins unintentionally. Please see two common examples including italicized text and invisible spaces below.

Example one: Plain text versus italicized text
The image below titled "Text box with plain text" shows text in a text box with a 0.375” (9.53 mm) margin and all text fits perfectly within the box. However, when the text is changed to an italic version of the same font, as seen in "Text box with italic text," some of the font’s characters extend slightly outside of the text box and outside the margin, which will trigger the error in Print Previewer. When setting your margins, it may be beneficial to make them slightly larger than the minimum required sizes to compensate for text that may eclipse its text box.

Text box with plain textText box with italic text
Screenshot of text box woth plain text that fits inside the marginScreenshot of text box with italic text that does not fit inside the margin


Example two: Hidden spaces
The image below titled "Text box with normal view" shows text within a text box that extends outside the margin to the page’s edge. In normal view, it appears that all text appears to be within the margin area. However, when the same text is highlighted, as shown in "text box with all text highlighted," you can see that each line includes a string of spaces that extend outside the margin. The spaces that extend outside the margins are considered text characters and will trigger an error in Print Previewer.

Text box with normal viewText box with all text highlighted
Screenshot of text box woth text that appears to fit inside the marginScreenshot of text box with everything highlighted, which shows extra spaces that go outside the margin.


Scaling challenges

When Previewer fixes the margins or trim size of a file, it scans each page to identify all of the content on the page and then scales it down to fit inside the required margin size. If you notice pages that scale differently than others, it’s typically caused by invisible characters, spaces, or text boxes mentioned in the section above. To identify these objects in your file, try the following:
  • In the original file, go to the page you are working on and select all the content on the page by clicking anywhere on that page and then keying CTRL + A. This will highlight all objects in the file and allow you to visually identify any unintentional objects.
  • If the interior file was created using Microsoft Word, you can view all character objects and formatting marks, including hidden objects, by navigating to the “Home” ribbon and then in the “Paragraph” section, click the pilcrow (“¶”) to reveal all characters (alternatively, you can key CTRL + SHIFT + 8 to toggle this feature).
  • Likewise, in Microsoft Word you can review all formatting settings applied to any text by highlighting it and then keying CTRL + F1 to “Reveal Formatting.” This can be useful in revealing any styles or formatting applied to text that is overriding the intended style.

If your pages have invisible or blank elements such as a blank text box or an art box that you forgot to remove, then please remove it before uploading.


Image resolution

For the best results, include images with the highest resolution possible. We recommend that images have at least 300 dots per inch (dpi). Here are our top tips for adding high-resolution images to your book:

  • Insert images at their original size. Insert images into your file; don't cut and paste. After you insert your images, don't enlarge them because this will decrease the resolution. To insert an image:
    1. Go to the Insert tab.
    2. In the Illustrations section, click Pictures.
    3. Choose the file from your computer and click Insert.

  • Check your device settings. Most cameras and scanners offer high-resolution settings. Make sure they're set to high resolution before using them.

  • Turn off image compression. To reduce file size, Word is set to compress images. To change the setting:
    1. Go to the File tab and click Options.
    2. Under "Advanced," find the "Image Size and Quality" section.
    3. Check the Do not compress images in file box.

  • Check the image resolution. If you don't know if your images are high resolution, check the image details and calculate the DPI:
    1. Right-click on the image file and select Properties.
    2. In the window that opens, click the Details tab.
    3. Look for the number of pixels under the "Image" header.
    4. Divide the number of pixels by the image size. For example, the pixel count of your image is 1200 x 1800, and the image is 4" x 6". That means your image has 300 DPI.

For details on adding images to paperbacks with bleed and without bleed, see step 8 of the Build Your Book guide.



Book details

Make sure the information in your interior and cover files exactly matches the book details (e.g., title, author name, ISBN, language) you entered during title setup.

  1. Compare the book details you entered with the information in your manuscript an on your cover. Be sure to check all locations where book details appear (e.g., copyright page, headers, etc.).
  2. Correct any differences, including minor ones (e.g., author name John T. Smith entered in book details and J.T. Smith on the title page).
  3. Be sure to check all locations where book details appear (e.g., copyright page, headers, etc.).
  4. Update your book details or upload your revised file to KDP.



Fonts

All fonts should be fully embedded in all interior and cover files submitted for publishing. If fonts are properly set to be fully embedded within your original file but Previewer shows unembedded font errors after upload, it is possible that the specific fonts do not allow for commercial usage, which prevents embedding and printing. For the best results, save your completed manuscript file as a PDF with the fonts embedded before submitting it for publication.

  1. Go to the File tab and select Options.
  2. Under the "Save" tab, check the Embed fonts in the file box.
  3. Make sure the Embed only the characters used in the document and Do not embed common system fonts boxes are unchecked.
  4. Click OK. Embedding fonts gives our printing presses information about how to properly render the fonts used in your file so that your book prints as intended.
  5. Go to back to the File tab and select Save as.
  6. Choose a location on your computer.
  7. In the "Save as type" dropdown menu, select PDF, and click Save.
  8. Resubmit your file.

Learn more about fonts.



Blank pages

We allow no more than two consecutive blank pages at the beginning or middle of a manuscript file and/or 10 consecutive blank pages at the end. To fix this:

  1. Open your original file.
  2. Remove the extra blank pages.
  3. Resubmit the revised file.


Pagination

Make sure the page numbers are ordered sequentially, with even numbers on left pages and odd numbers on right pages. A skip or change in page numbers could indicate pages are missing or ordered incorrectly, causing production issues and delays or customer returns. To fix pagination issues:

  1. Open your original file.
  2. Insert a section break at the end of your front matter so that page numbers start with your first chapter page. To insert a section break, go to the Layout tab. In the "Page Setup" section, click Breaks, and select Section Breaks – Next Page.
  3. Go to the first chapter page.
  4. Depending on whether you want your page numbers in the header or footer, double-click on the header or footer. This will open the Design tab.
  5. In the "Navigation section," click Link to Previous. This will prevent page numbers from showing up on your title, copyright, and table of contents pages.
  6. In the "Header & Footer" section, click Page Number and choose where you want the page numbers to be.
  7. Resubmit the revised file.

For details on adding section breaks and pagination, see steps 3 and 5 of the Build Your Book guide.


Template content

If you used a template, make sure you customized or removed all placeholder text.

  1. Open your original file.
  2. Check your front matter (e.g., table of contents, copyright page, etc.), headers, and footers for placeholder text.
  3. Customize or remove all placeholder text.
  4. Resubmit the revised file.



Illegible text

Your text should be large and clear enough so that readers can enjoy your book. To help ensure your text is legible, check the following:

  • Text is at least 7-point font
  • Other elements don't cut off or overlap text
  • Text doesn't blend into the background
Be sure to check the text in all parts of your book, including:

  • Manuscript
  • Images in your manuscript that contain text
  • Cover
To fix your text:

  1. Open your original file.
  2. Update your text size, position, or color to ensure it's legible.
  3. Upload the the revised file to KDP.



Cover and spine text

Cover file has more than one page

  1. Open your original file.
  2. Make sure your cover, including the front cover, spine, and back cover, fit on one page.
  3. Resubmit the revised file.

Book has fewer than 100 pages and can't have text on the spine

  1. Open your original file.
  2. Remove the spine text.
  3. Resubmit the revised file.

Learn more about cover formatting requirements.



Cover size

Your cover file should be a PDF sized sized with bleed and no surrounding white space or crop marks. If the file is sized at dimensions other than those expected, Print Previewer will note the discrepancy and prevent approval.

To correct this issue, check the following:
  • Set the width and height of your file to full cover size according to our File Size Calculator.
  • There should be no white space around the edges of the cover file or it may fail for bleed.
  • All images or backgrounds meant to reach all the way to the edge of the page, must extend 0.125” (3.2 mm) beyond the trim line. If it does not, it will be rejected.
  • Images or graphics that shouldn’t reach all the way to the edge of the page must fit within the safe zone, which is represented by the dashed red lines in Previewer.
  • All text must fit within the safe zone.
For more information about common cover size errors, please see the Cover and spine text section.



Transparencies

While creating a PDF file, ensure the transparencies and layers are flattened. When files are created and content is placed on top of other content, transparencies can occur. If you’re using a design program, this content is placed on another layer. Unflattened layers and transparencies can cause errors in upload and later on in production. When editing your native files ensure that all layers and transparencies are flattened so that, during processing, the order in which the content was placed on the page remains the same and nothing moves. If you’re using Microsoft Word, learn how to flatten your file by watching our video (skip ahead to 21:48).

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