Publishing a book starts from idea stage, where the author develops the concept into a finished manuscript. The book will then go through the different stages of editing. Once editing, design and proofreading are complete, preparations for the printing process begin, starting with an accurate and correct way of updating the document files and images.

What is Printing?

The decision to print is made at the beginning of the publishing process. As the author works on the book, the Editor is thinking about the final book layout, size and binding.

As book design begins, the publisher’s use of colour and pictures has the printing process in mind. The use of high-resolution images influences a high printing output.

When everything is complete, the designer will carefully update all images and save a high-resolution print file with crop marks and a bleed. This may also depend on the printer one will hire as some printers will always know what to do but to avoid disappointments, save your file with sufficient bleed and crop marks. The crop marks will guide the printer to cut the book to the perfect size, in order to avoid having a smaller sized book or larger.

Preparing the Print File

Publications for print are designed using different programs such as Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, QuarkXPress or some even settle for their word processor.  The most important thing is to produce a high-quality file that meet your needs.

For instance, in QuarkXPress, when saving a print file, you go to:

File – Export As – Pdf then the dialogue box appears.

You then go to the bottom and click on PDF style and click on Press – High Quality/High Resolution.

You then go to where it says Options and at the bottom, a dialog box will appear, you then go to ‘Registration Marks’ and choose Centred.

Then go to ‘Bleed’ and choose Asymmetric and add in the value you want, which is:

Top = 5

Inside = 0

Bottom = 5

Outside = 5

Then you go on Transparency and choose Flatten Transparency.

Click ok.

Where it says pages, you click on All and type in the number of the pages that you want to save or if it’s all pages, you leave it as All.

Well done on successfully saving your high-resolution print file.

Once this step is complete, the file is sent for print, either on a flash stick or on WeSend or WeTransfer. The printer will take care to originate and produce a pre-press proof, for final checking and sign-off by the publisher. This ammonia proof shows the book precisely as it will appear once printed and represents the final opportunity for the publisher to correct errors. Some printing companies use electronic proofs rather than printed proofs. Once approved, printing begins.

Number of pages

Printers print pages in multiples of 4, 8, 16 and 32. It is important to keep the book’s extent within these multiples when developing it for publishing. Publishers try to keep all their text within the multiples. However, in cases where the publisher cannot help it, additional blank pages may then be added to balance off the number pages.

Book binding forms

Binding follows after the printing process. It involves folding the printed sheets, securing them together, affixing boards or sides to it, and covering the whole with leather or other materials.

The book’s extent determines the binding process. Perfect binding does not work on thick books, while saddle stitching will not work with thick books.

Perfect binding

This type of binding is suitable for books that range from 92 pages and above.


This is suitable for thicker books although some thin books such as notebooks are adopting this form of binding.

Saddle stitching

This is suitable for thin books, maximum of 72 pages. Rarely can this go to 80 pages.

Hardcover and book jacket

This type is mainly used on thick books with a perfect bound plain hardcover which will be dressed with the dust jacket.


Finishing refers to value-added operations that are performed after the ink has been applied to the paper. Some finishing operations can occur before the printing comes off the press (inline), but many finishing operations are performed after the printing comes off the press (offline), giving the book the final look before dispatch.

The most commonly used types of finishing in book printing are:


This is the process of bonding a clear plastic film onto printed paper to protect it against stains, smudges, moisture, wrinkles, and tears. Laminating greatly improves durability. It also enhances the vibrancy of the ink colours. Lamination is a popular choice for printed publications that must endure heavy use.


This is a tough clear-coat applied over printed materials to improve resilience and appearance. This coating is applied in liquid form, then exposed to Ultra-Violet light which bonds and dries it instantly.

Aqueous Coating

This is an economical water-based clear-coat applied to printed pieces to help protect the ink and paper against minor scuffs and abrasions.

The publisher chooses the best type of finishing depending on the publication being produced. Once the printer is done with the final finishing process, books are checked for quality and cleared for dispatch – to the publisher’s warehouse.

Printers charge warehousing fees for books that may not be dispatched on time due to non-payment or other logistical glitches.

Recently new printing process have emerged, such as printing on demand (POD) and web-to-print. The book is written, edited, and designed as usual, but it is not printed until the publisher receives an order for the book from a customer. This procedure ensures low costs for storage and reduces the likelihood of printing more books than will be sold. Web-to-print enables a more streamlined way of connecting customers to printing through an online medium. An example of such services are found on Amazon.


Best of wishes in your writing project. Make sure you think of the printing process, binding choice and finishing that best work for your publication.

Send me a WhatsApp message, e-mail or call for your editing and book publishing quote.

I’m always free to give publishing advice.




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