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Create a Paperback Cover

This resource covers the formatting requirements you’ll need to create a paperback cover yourself, using your chosen design software. For simple cover designs that meet KDP’s specifications, you can try our Cover Creator tool.

Your cover must be a single PDF file that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image.

Note: To include spine text, your book must have at least 79 pages. If your manuscript is less than 79 pages, and spine text is included on the cover, the cover will be rejected and require adjustment before your book can go live. To calculate the size of your spine, based on your book’s page count, see the formula below, or try our calculator.

You have two cover finish options: glossy and matte. Learn more about print options.

Recorded webinar: Creative Cover Solutions


Supported file types and size limits

  • File type. Your cover must be a single PDF file that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image.
  • File size. Cover files larger than 650MB won't convert. We recommend a file size of 40MB or less because large files can slow down printing.

Setting your cover size

Your cover needs to be sized with bleed in order to meet our quality standards. Bleed is a printing term that refers to when printed items on a page, such as images or backgrounds, reach all the way to the edge of the page. To size your cover file with bleed, add 0.125" (3.2 mm) to the top, bottom, and outside edges of your cover.

Our templates make it easier to create a print-ready paperback cover with programs that can open a PNG or PDF file and save a PDF file.

If you want to set up your file yourself, try our calculator. After you enter your ink and paper choices, trim size, and page count, the calculator will generate a layout like this:




Finding your spine measurement


To format your paperback cover, you’ll first need to calculate the spine measurements.

Insert the spine measurements, selected trim size width and height, and the 0.125" (3.2 mm) bleed requirement into the following equations to find your cover size:

  • Cover Width = Bleed + Back Cover Width + Spine Width + Front Cover Width + Bleed
  • Cover Height = Bleed + Trim Height + Bleed

Spine measurements for black and white books

  • White paper: page count x 0.002252" (0.0572 mm)
  • Cream paper: page count x 0.0025" (0.0635 mm)

Spine measurements for color books
  • Color paper: page count x 0.002347" (0.0596 mm)


Spine text


We only print spine text on books with more than 79 pages. Text on larger spines must be sized to fit the spine, with at least 0.0625" (1.6 mm) of space between the text and the edge of the spine. Every book varies slightly when bound. Allow for 0.0625" (1.6 mm) variance on either side of the fold lines for your cover.


Formatting your cover background



  • Bleed. All covers have bleed. If you want to add a background (e.g. color or image), make sure it extends 0.125" (3.2 mm) beyond the final trim line on all outside edges. All books are trimmed to size, and to ensure that the background fills the page, it needs to extend 0.125" (3.2 mm) past where the book will be trimmed on the top, bottom, and outside edges. This will prevent a white border from appearing at the edge when your book is trimmed.
  • Illegible text. When choosing a background, consider how much it contrasts with the text. If the colors are too similar, the text might blend into the background and be hard to read.
  • Borders. We don't recommend borders because we must allow for a 0.125" (3.2 mm) production variance that may trim the border or cause it to appear uneven. If your file includes borders, they should cover at least 0.25" (6.4 mm) inside the trim line. If you include a white border, it must meet our minimum border width or we may reject your file.

Shifting of the spine up to 0.0125" (3.2mm) in either direction is within acceptable print variance. If the shift is greater, the copy is considered defective. We don’t recommend hard edges on the spine due to the known 0.0125" (3.2mm) shift variance, as hard edges make this shift more apparent.



Adding images



  • Bleed. When adding images, make sure they extend 0.125" (3.2 mm) beyond the final trim line on all edges. This will prevent a white border from appearing at the edge when your book is trimmed.
  • Image color, size, and quality. Images should be in CMYK color to ensure your cover looks good in print. All images should be sized at 100%, flattened to one layer, and placed in your document at a minimum resolution of 300 DPI (dots per inch). Learn more about high-resolution images.


Adding text

 

  • Front and back cover text. When adding text, make sure it's at least 0.125" (3.2 mm) inside the trim lines. Also, no front or back cover text should extend into the spine area.
  • Spine text. Your book must have at least 79 pages to add spine text. If your book has fewer than 79 pages, don’t add spine text. Also, spine text needs at least 0.0625" (1.6 mm) on either side so the text doesn't wrap onto the front or back cover.
  • Book details. As you add text to your cover, make sure it exactly matches the book details (e.g., title, author name, edition, ISBN) entered during title setup.
  • Font size and color. Text should be at least 7-point font so it's large enough for customers to read. Also, make sure the text doesn't blend into the background. This may happen if the text and background colors are too similar.

Barcode size and placement



When you upload your cover, you can choose to provide your own barcode, or we can provide one for you.

All barcodes must meet these requirements:

  • Image quality:
    • Vector images are preferred
    • Rasterized images should be 300 PPI (pixels per inch)
  • 100% black (not RGB/CMYK color or registration black)
  • Suggested size is 2" x 1.25" (50.8 x 31.75 mm)
  • Minimum size is 1.4" x .8" (35.56 x 203 mm)
  • Positioned at least .25” (6.3 mm) from the spin and trim of the cover
  • Solid white background
  • Right-side up and square to the cover
  • Image is not flattened into the main cover as a single image

Note: If a barcode doesn't meet our specifications, we'll replace it.

If you don’t have your own barcode. We’ll place an ISBN barcode in a 2" (50.8 mm) by 1.2" (30.5 mm) white box in the lower right-hand corner of your book's back cover. If you leave images or text on this part of the cover, the barcode will cover them during printing, so don't leave anything important there.

ISBN barcodes must meet these requirements:

  • Include a valid ISBN
  • Not overlap with any text
  • Price code should match list price (if included)

You can include a QR Code or UPC barcode in addition to the ISBN barcode. It can't appear in the space reserved for the ISBN barcode. Covers with images or text in the barcode location will be rejected.


Color requirements

 

  • Color profiles. Color management added to an image or file. We don't recommend including color profiles in your file. Color profiles can produce unexpected results. They are automatically removed before publishing.
  • Spot colors. Color generated from ink chosen from a color system (such as Pantone Matching System). Spot colors are used in offset printing and aren't compatible with KDP's print-on-demand model, so please don't include spot colors in your files. We recommend converting spot colors to CMYK.
  • Color spaces. Describes color numerically, such as RGB (digital cameras and computer monitors), CMYK (full-color printing), and grayscale (black and white printing). We don't recommend using multiple color spaces in a file because it can cause color variance and unexpected results when your book is printed.
  • Color Variance. With our print on demand model, we have acceptable levels of color tolerance. Most color variance happens as a result of environmental and mechanical factors. We always strive for the best quality when printing your title. Color variance occurs for many reasons that are not related to your file, however, taking all the steps you can to perfect your file will reduce the chances of it occurring.


Pre-publication checklist

 

Before you upload your file to KDP, make sure you:

  1. Save as a PDF. Your cover must be a single PDF that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image.
  2. Flatten all transparencies. These can cause the file to print with missing or distorted content. Consult your software's documentation to learn how.
  3. Embed your fonts. Consult your software's documentation to learn how.
  4. Remove crop marks, color bars, template text. Crop marks are lines showing where pages should be trimmed. Color bars are strips with a series of patches used to ensure color balance during printing. Also, remove any template text, PDF creation guides, or software references.
  5. Ensure your cover image meets the minimum resolution of 300 DPI (dots per inch).
  6. Optimize PDFs. Optimization is useful to reduce your file size, allowing for higher performance when transferring, uploading, viewing, and printing the files.
  7. Remove file security. Locked or encrypted files will fail review.
  8. Check for missing or blank pages. Manuscripts with missing pages, or excessive blank pages will be rejected.


Want to preview your book before making it available to customers? Order a proof copy.


Update an existing cover

 

To update your cover, go to your Bookshelf and follow these instructions.

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