Creating Print On Demand Interiors and Covers Using Scribus Part 2

I have taken a few weeks to document all the steps required to use Scribus to layout the interior and cover for Print on Demand (POD) PDF files and thought about publishing it.

I decided to first publish on this blog, because I will hopefully get good feedback on missed steps or other suggestions from others who are also preparing their stories for POD publication or creating bookmarks or whatever.

If I work on approximately 5 pages each blog, it will take 8 blog posts or more  to get it all up.

If you missed Part 1 read it first.

Part 2

CreateSpace Requirements

You can read CreateSpace basic requirements for layout of your Covers and Interiors but I will list the main points needed.

CreateSpace requires a print ready pdf file with fonts embedded to process a POD book . The maximum accepted file size for the book interior is 400 MB.

The next important area of information is knowing the requirements for creating the interior PDF.

There are terms you may be unfamiliar with, but you need to learn them to understand the measurements required to set up a template for the interior.

Trim area

Where the page will be cut.

Bleed area

To print at or off the very edge of a page by design. Commonly used to accommodate images and illustrations.


The part of the cover that wraps around the bound edge of the book.

Gutter margins

These are by the book’s binding. You’ll want a wider margin for longer  (thicker) books. See the table for what to set your inside margins to.

Page Count Gutter (Inside) Margins Outside Margins
24-150 pages .375” At least .25”
151-400 pages .75” At least .25”
401-600 pages .875” At least .25”
More than 600 pages 1.0” At least .25”

These are the correct measurements at the time of writing this, but you can check for changes on

Outside margin

These are the page edges opposite of the binding, and the top and bottom margins. All live text and images must have an outside margin of at least .25″ — but recommend an outside margin of at least .5″

Live Elements

The content within the viewable area (or safe zone) which is always seen. No essential elements are cut during the bookmaking process.

Expanded Distribution

To qualify for Expanded Distribution you have to have either your own ISBN or a CreateSpace assigned ISBN.

If you are using cream paper you have to use one of the following trim sizes to qualify for Expanded Distribution

Trim Sizes: 5” x 8”, 5.25” x 8”, 5.5” x 8.5” or 6” x 9”

Requirements before building templates

Size of book

The first requirement needed to create templates in Scribus is the Trim size of the book.

CreateSpace lists the Trim sizes available for Black and White and Full Colour books

Also needed are the number of pages to select gutter margin measurement, for both Black and White or Full Colour interiors.

Once the interior is formatted, the final page count is needed that includes front and back matter to calculate the spine of the cover.

I open my Word document, select all text, then set the page spacing to 1.5 and take a note of the number of pages.

My Example:

My example will be a 6” x 9” Black and White book with 152 pages. I need to include Front Matter (approximately 8 pages) and Back Matter (About the Author, Sample of next book, and list of available books and any links so another 8 – 10 pages) totalling 170 pages, so the Gutter Margin will be at least .75”. I want the outside margin to be .5”.

I also want to have headers and footers in the chapter pages, so I adjust the top margin to .82” and the bottom margin to .75”.

If you want to follow as I work through the process, do the exercises.


Prepare your text to calculate page count.

  1. Make a copy of your original draft and call it ScribusYourTitleName.doc or another recognisable name. You use this copy to make changes ready to import into Scribus
  2. Open YourNovelTitle document in Microsoft Word.
  3. Select all the text in your Word document.
  4. Click on Format menu item, select Paragraphs.
  5. The Paragraph window will open.
  6. The first tab is Indents and Spacing.
  7. Locate Spacing, click on the Line Spacing drop down list in and select 1.5 lines.

If you haven’t already set up First Line Indent for paragraphs, do so now while all the text is selected and the Paragraph window is open.

  1. Locate Indentation, click on the Special drop down list and select First Line.
  2. In the By drop down list select or type in 0.5.
  3. Close the Paragraphs window, and save your text.

Look at the number of pages now the format is changed, and take note. That is the number you require to work out the gutter margins. Enter the page count in the table below. If you have not already done so, enter the book size you required in the table below. Remember to use one of the book sizes listed in Expanded Distribution so your books will automatically be included in the book lists distributed to bricks and mortar book stores.

With your number of pages noted, add extra pages for your Front Matter (I add 10) and Back Matter (I add 5). Remember, you can add or delete extra pages later. Now go back to the Gutter Margins section above and work out your Gutter Margin measurement, and your Outside Margins.

Enter them in the table below.

Now look at other books in your genre to get an idea of the size of the top and bottom margins. Enter your top and bottom margins in the table below.

Book Size
Number of Pages
Gutter margins
Outside Margins
Top Margins
Bottom Margins

In Part 3 you will create the template layout for the book, using the measurements in this table.


2 comments so far

  1. curiocat on

    This may seem like a dumb question but I’m asking anyway. 🙂 Is this something you would use for an ebook as well or is that a whole other ballgame?

    • D J Mills on

      No, just for Print on Demand layout that looks professional once made into a PDF file.
      You can use Word or Scrivener or other programs to format you novel, but InDesign and Scribus allow for ease of using tracking, kerning, etc that is not used in Scrivener and hard to use in Word.

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