Toronto Publisher – Book Cover Design Guide

Submit your cover file to TLAC as one PDF that includes the front and back covers as well as the spine information. We’ve included some helpful publisher guidelines on this page for your reference in creating great book covers.

Publisher File Formats

All files must converted to and submitted as PDFs.  The guts and cover should be separate PDFs.

Sizing Specifications

  • The more pages in your guts and the thicker the paper stock, the bigger the spine you will need. In order to complete your cover design you will at least need the final page count of your interior pages.
  • Your cover PDF should consist of one file, landscape orientated, which includes the back cover, spine and front cover.
  • The cover image must be centred horizontally and vertically on the page.
  • Do not include crop or registration marks.
  • Include a 0.25” (.635 cm) bleed area beyond the trim size on all four sides to allow for trimming. This will prevent white uneven borders on the edges of your cover.

Books are trimmed in batches and sometimes individually.  Variations in size does happen, and happens less so on larger runs.  Be sure the edges of your cover design do not include important text or edges.


Spine measurements and considerations

  • The number of pages in the guts (Book Interior) determines the width of your spine.
  • For books with fewer than 100 pages, it is best to not place text on the spine.
  • Orient your spine text to start at the top of the book and the bottom of the text oriented towards the back cover.
  • Ensure a minimum of 0.125” (.3175 cm) cushion on the top and bottom of spine text.

E.g. On a 1” (2.54 cm) spine, the text should be no more than 0.75” (1.905 cm).

Normal spine widths, based upon printing the book interior on 70-lb digital press paper, are:

60 pages: 0.15” (.39 cm)
100 pages: 0.27” (.66 cm)
200 Pages: 0.55” (1.32 cm)
400 pages: 1.125” (2.62 cm)


Normally you place your ISBN and Barcode on the back cover.

Self publishers can receive their ISBN Library and Archives Canada:

Text and Design Considerations

  • Ensure text and necessary graphic elements are at least 0.25” (.635 cm) within the trim margin.
  • Do not include and bleed text or images. Extend background colour or graphic to the edge of the bleed area. [0.25” (.635 cm) beyond the trim margin.]
  • Vertical lines separating the front and back covers and the spine should be avoided.
  • Ensure a minimum of 0.125” (.3175 cm) cushion on the top and bottom of spine text.

E.g. On a 1” (2.54 cm) spine, the text should be no more than 0.75” (1.905 cm).

Be consistent with fonts and proofread your cover text. Use a minimum of 300dpi for all graphic elements and make sure your images are converted to CMYK. Higher resolution creates better results, but creating a huge file is not worth the slowdown in printing time and can crash a press server.

Photos and Illustrations

Photos and images should be converted to CMYK and at least 300dpi.  You must be the copyright owner of all of your image, text, and illustration assets.

TLAC Publishing Book Cover Samples

You can also hire a TLAC designer to design, illustrate, and publish your book cover.

More information on our graphic design service is available here.

Ebook Publishing Conversion & Design Illustrated CoverHarper's Awakening Self Published Book Design Sample
Hal the Pal Book Printing Publishing & Design SampleGramps Book Publishing & Design, Self-Publishing Sample

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