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Format Images in Your Book

For the best results, all images should be sized at 100%, flattened to one layer, and inserted into your manuscript file at a minimum resolution of 300 DPI (dots per inch). Color photos only print in color if you chose a color ink printing option for your book. Black-and-white photos print in black and white no matter whether you choose black or color ink.

Want to preview your paperback or hardcover before making it available to customers? Order a proof copy.

A paperback manuscript formatting guide

Top tips for formatting images in your paperback or hardcover

  • 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. Select 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.

What is DPI (dots per inch)?

Video: Why high-resolution images?

Images are made up of dots (pixels). The amount of dots per inch measures the quality or resolution of an image. Images that contain 300 DPI produce the best print quality. As the DPI increases, so does the resolution and print quality, showing more detail in the image. We recommend images at a minimum resolution of 300 DPI. There is no set maximum DPI for images, however, images with excessively high resolutions may result in files timing out during processing, or cause manufacturing delays. The maximum file size for upload is 650MB.

What is pixelation?

Pixelation occurs when the dots that make up an image are visible to the naked eye. Pixelation can also refer to blurry, grainy, fuzzy, or out-of-focus images.

What is low resolution?

Any image containing less than 200 DPI.

How can I increase image resolution or DPI?

To increase the quality of an image, set your camera at a high resolution and retake the photograph. To increase the quality of stock photography, purchase a "print quality" or "commercial quality" image. Manually altering the DPI of an image on your computer may display a higher DPI reading but will not actually increase the quality of the image. Reducing the size at which we print your image can also increase the DPI for printing.

What if the image says 300 DPI, but it looks blurry or pixelated?

Either the DPI was manually altered, or the image is out of focus. If the image's DPI was altered, it will not accurately reflect the resolution because it is not possible to add dots or pixels to an image.

What are transparencies and how do I remove them from my file?

When printed, images with transparencies can look different than they do on-screen. It's common that the transparent areas of the image print with a slightly different color than the surrounding area.


To avoid this, flatten all layers in the final file. Learn how to print your manuscript to a PDF file so that layers are flattened and your images print as intended.

For cover art, we recommend flattening all layers into a single, high-resolution (300 DPI) image.

To flatten an image with Adobe Photoshop:

  1. Save a copy of your original editable file. You won’t be able to edit the flattened image.
  2. Make sure all layers you want to keep are visible. Photoshop CS6 and higher will discard all hidden transparencies.
  3. Choose Layer → Flatten Image or Flatten Image from the Layers panel.

These steps are consistent between Mac and PC versions of Photoshop.

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