Creating Print On Demand Interiors and Covers Using Scribus Part 9

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, then Part 2Part 3  Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7 and Part 8.

Part 9

Creating Book Covers

Create template

First, I calculate the measurements of the cover.

Remember, 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.

You need to confirm your book size and the total number of pages, including Front and Back Matter.

My front cover, when completed, will be 6” x 9” plus bleed. I will be using .25” bleed on top, bottom and right side. So, my measurements for the front are 6.00” x 9.00”, and the same measurements for the back.

The spine is book height  x width of spine which is calculated by number of pages X thickness of paper.

My spine width will be calculated as 170 pages x 0.0025 (for cream paper) and height will be 9.0”,  so the spine measurements are 0.425” x 9.0”.

Back Cover Spine Front Cover
6.00” x 9.00” 0.425” x 9.00” 6.00” x 9.00”

Note: You can check with CreateSpace in case of recent changes to any measurements at but at the time of writing this, CreateSpace advises the width of the spine is calculated with the following measurements.

For black and white-interior books:

White paper: multiply page count by 0.002252

Cream paper: multiply page count by 0.0025

For color-interior books:

Multiply page count by 0.002347

Minimum Cover Width:

Bleed + Back Cover Trim Size + Spine Width + Front Cover Trim Size + Bleed


calculation at 6″ x 9″ cover with 60 B&W pages on white paper:

0.125″ + 6″ + 0.135″ + 6″ + .125″ = 12.385″

Minimum Cover Height:

Bleed + Book Height Trim Size + Bleed

Example calculation: 6″ x 9″: 0.125″ + 9″ + .125″ = 9.25″


  1. Calculate the size of the front and back cover, excluding the bleed area.
  2. Calculate the thickness of spine by multiplying number of pages (including front and back matter) x .0025 (cream paper) or .002252 (white paper) or .002347 (colour interior)

Create template with calculated measurements

I Open Scribus and select File => New and the New Document window opens.

First I select Inches as the measurement in Default Unit:

You can use Single page or 3-Fold but I select the Single Page icon. The width will be the sum of the Back, Spine and Front pages width (6.00 + 0.425 + 6.00 totaling 12.425”). The height remains 9.00”. I enter width 12.4250” and height 9.0000”. Remember, your spine width will vary, depending on the number of pages used in your spine width calculation.

I select Landscape Orientation.

Next I click on the Bleeds Tab and enter 0.2500” in Inside. I confirm the chain icon to the right of the Bleeds area is not broken. If it is, I click on it to join the chain links, and the other three fields will change to 0.2500”.

I click on the Margin Guides tab and enter 0.2500” in Left. I confirm the chain icon to the right of the Margin Guides area is not broken. If it is, I click on it to join the chain links, and the other three fields will change to 0.2500”.

I leave the rest of the settings as they are and click OK.

The New Document window closes, and the new page appears in the main Scribus window. I make sure the new page is selected, and click on the menu item Page => Manage Guides to open the Guide Manager window.

Under the Verticals (in) area of the Guide Manager window, I click the Add button and enter 6.2500 to make a guide for the left side of the spine. I click the Add button again and enter 6.6750” to make a guide for the right of the spine

I add two more guides, entering 6.3125 and 6.6125 for guides for adding text to the spine because I must leave .0625” space either side of the spine free to allow CreateSpace to adjust when printing. These guides will help me align the text frames on the spine.

I click the Apply to All Pages button and close the Guides Manager window.

I am now ready to add the image and text frames to the cover layout.


  1. Create your template using your calculated measurements in the previous exercise
  2. Add two guides for your spine width, and two guides .0625” inside your right and left spine guides
  3. Save your template

Insert Image

How you design your cover is up to you.

Your choices are:

  • One image covering front, spine and back.
  • Front cover only with Spine and Back cover plain colour
  • Or front and back covers both the same image, and a plain colour for the spine

For my fiction novels, I use one image covering the front, spine and back.

I use the – or + magnifying glasses at the bottom of the main Scribus window to make the whole cover visible in the main Scribus window.

Then I go to the Insert menu item and select Insert Image Frame. The mouse pointer changes to a + sign with an icon of an image.

I move the mouse pointer to the top left corner of the back cover area on the template and while holding down the left mouse button, I drag the icon down and across the page to the bottom right corner of the front template, then release the mouse.

If the image is not exact, I move the mouse pointer to the red squares in the middle of each side, or the corner red squares until the mouse pointer changes to arrows and drag the frame to the correct size.

I right click the mouse inside the image frame and select Get Image from the drop down menu list.

I navigate to the correct path of the image file in the Open window and once selected, I click the OK button.

I right click the mouse on the imported image and select Adjust Image to Frame from the drop down menu list.

If the image still does not cover the whole cover template including the bleed area, then I place the mouse pointer on the corner red square and drag the image down and out until it does cover the entire template area, even if the image frame extends below the actual template frame.

I right click on the image and select Properties from the drop down menu.  I click on the Colours tab and set Opacity to 50% so I can see the guide lines and bleed lines through the picture. I then drag the image frame left or right until I am satisfied image is the best fit for the cover taking into account what part of the image is displayed on the spine.

I close the Properties box, right click on the image and select Size is Locked so the image is not accidentally moved while I add and arrange the text frames.


  1. Click the Zoom Out (-) or Zoom In (+) Magnifying Glass icons at the bottom of the Scribus main window so you can see the whole cover template
  2. Add an Image Frame
  3. Add your image
  4. Bring the Opacity down to 50% so you can confirm the image covers the whole template. You can leave the opacity at 50% until after you add your text frames and text because you will use your guides for aligning the text frames.
  5. Lock the image to your selected correct size
  6. Save the file

Part 10 adds text to front, spine and back cover areas.


3 comments so far

  1. fionamcglynn on

    Thank you! This is so useful. A quick question for you. If you make your page size 6.25 (page + bleed) and then set your bleeds at .25 then does that not double your bleed size?

    • D J Mills on

      Short answer is yes. 🙂 I will check my measurements and steps and fix the article. Thanks.

    • D J Mills on

      I updated the measurements to exclude the bleed from the calculations. 🙂

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