Full Perfect Bound Book Guide

Full Perfect Bound Book Guide

 Perfect bound books have two main components.

  • The Cover - this is the outside portion of the book. Typically, it's printed on thicker paper. The cover wraps around the interior pages and then holds together the paper using glue.
    • We use PUR glue for most projects since it helps the book lay flatter when opened and the glue lasts longer.
  • the interior pages - the pages that go inside the cover. Typically these sheets are not as thick for easier reading. 

We need a file for each component or everything in single pages to easily separate cover from interior.

We'll start with the interior since the cover file is dependent on the number of pages for the interior as well as the type of paper that will be used. Our guides exclusively use Adobe InDesign. It's the best program for this type of work and you can install a free trial for 7 days. Our guide will help teach you the basics of InDesign. Adobe has great videos on getting started as well. 

Selecting the Paper and Ink for Interior Pages

A good way to describe print is that it is like constructing a pizza! The interior pages of the book house your project's content, so it's important to select the right paper and printing method to convey the correct tone!

Paper - the "dough"

 If print was pizza the paper is the "dough". When you get the base right, it sets the tone for creating a great book. It's why we have a wide variety of paper for book printing. Here a quick guide on what paper to select for your interior pages.

Paper thickness

For book interiors, we typically stick to "text" weight papers. 60# text is the closest to "copy" paper we have. 100# text will give you the least amount of ghosting (seeing the contents of the previous page faintly through the page) when flipping through the pages. As you increase the thickness of your book, it'll make the book feel more "stiff". 

The above image is 80# text desert storm with matte black ink

Paper type

  • Silk/Satin - this is matte-coated paper. The paper itself is not glossy but you can tell that there's a coating. This paper is great if you need the color of your books to "pop" as the smooth surface helps the ink stay nice and bold. If you move your book around light you will see a slight sheen on the paper, where there is ink you will see a stronger sheen. This is the most economical sheet we have.
  • Uncoated - this is completely uncoated. Most novels are printed on uncoated paper as it no sheen on the paper. The ink type you select will affect how the sheen looks on uncoated paper. 
  • Textured - this includes vellum, eggshell, and felt paper. This is a great option for people that want the most matte printing possible. The texture of the paper helps further dampen the sheen. Textured papers are the most expensive, however, since it requires the highest paper quality.

Ink - the "sauce"

The ink provides the next layer of print. We have two types of ink. 

Glossy Ink

This ink has a wax that provides a sheen to the ink. This is great combined with satin paper because where there is more ink, there will be more sheen. It completely overpowers the paper underneath it. It's great if you want an image to really "pop".

Matte Ink

This ink has little gloss effect and will take on the character of the paper. This is not as common for digital printers. We are able to accomplish this more matte look using our HP Indigo for color jobs and our Canon Oce for black and white jobs. This gives the print a more vintage finish and can aid in the flow of the book whether it be text, images or both

Interior Pages File Setup

Our indesign template will help get you started in creating a great file. Click here to download.

How to use our InDesign interior pages template

We have built this template for you to set up your book files perfectly! Here are the steps to get you started.

Download the template and double click on it to open it in InDesign.

Familiarize yourself with the layers, pages, master pages, and lines. Once you change the document size, the notes may look funky and out of place so familiarizing yourself with it first is the best way to go. After that, change the document size


Master Pages and Pages 
Go to the “A-master page” in the page palette and set up page numbers or other elements that will be on each page. You can delete the elements we placed in this area.

Look at the layers palette to see all binding reference layers. You can turn them on and off by pressing the eye icon. You can delete them as well using the icon on the lower right corner. When you’re ready to send a file, hide all layers except for your artwork. 

Look at the preset lines

Bleeds: the red line in your document. If you do not want white borders, then make sure to place background art all the way to the red line. 

Margins: the purple line in your document. Place critical artwork in this area that you do not want cut off. We’ve also added extra space in the spine area so that you can make sure your critical art is always easy  to read. 

Trim: This is the white area of the document. This is what your final document will look like after we trim it down. Press “w” on your keyboard to give a nice preview of your work.

Now that you've familiarized yourself with the different elements of the template, you're ready to start working! Go to the document settings ("file"- "document setup") and insert your final document width and height.  

Note: Once you change the size, much of the text in the guide will look wonky now which is normal. You can delete the reference layers so it doesn't bother you.

Once your file is complete, hide all layers except your artwork. Export the file using our export settings for the perfect file! Click here to learn how to export your

Cover File Setup

    Individual Paper Thickness - thickness of paper you got from step 2.
    # Pages - number of pages you got from step 1
    Book Block Width - width of the interior pages (from step 6 in the interior page guide)
    Book Block Height  - height of the interior pages (from step 6 in the interior page guide)

Determine the final interior page count. Since the cover wraps around an interior book block for perfect bound books, we need to know the spine thickness to create the cover accurately. 

Find the thickness of each sheet of paper of your interior pages by clicking here (https://orders.nonstopprinting.com/category/perfect-bound-book-nonstop to our book cover specifications calculator. Multiply the point thickness by .001. Based on photo below, the thickness is 6.6 * .001 = 0.0066". 

Once you have the thickness of each sheet in inches, go to the book cover calculator by clicking here and plug in your numbers!
Now you have all your specs! Open InDesign and create a new document (command+N on a mac).  Plug in the softcover specs into the corresponding fields like the photos below. Then press OK.
On our cover tool you copy the numbers in the softcover specs section. 
Copy the corresponding numbers to your new InDesign document page.
If you plugged in the numbers correctly and press OK, your cover layout should look something like the above (12w x 9h example above)

Start designing! If you want to print on the inside of the cover, just duplicate the page! Bonus pro tip! Add crease lines so that we know exactly where the spine should be and nudge them just inside the red line like the photo below. 

Export your file using our "Nonstop Printing - Softcover and Scoring" PDF export preset. You can download all our PDF export presets to export perfect files by clicking here. 

Preview and order your book! Our online portal will be up soon when clicking here or you can place a custom quote and upload your files by clicking here. 

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