View Full Version : PDF formatting for Lightning Source

08-12-2011, 10:41 AM
I'm seeking assistance from anyone who's gone through the process of preparing a PDF and publishing their book via Lightning Source.

I'm using LaTeX to generate the PDF file (text, not cover) for my LS release. I've run off endless pages to check there's at least 0.5" all round and it's all looking fine. (5.25"x8" paper size printed on A4 with crop lines showing)

However, nowhere in the LS guides can I find any hints on allowing for the spine margin.

I don't mean the thickness of the book's physical spine - I know how to calculate that. I mean how much to shift the book block to the right/left on each page so it still looks centered after binding.

For example, if I set left and right margins of 0.5", after it's printed and bound each text block is going to look like it's disappearing into the fold. Does anyone have any idea how much to add for a ~200 page book?

Or do LS take the centered block and offset it themselves?

08-12-2011, 09:53 PM
Simon, excellent question.

One thing you need to know about LS books is that their equipment produces pretty tight spines. This means you need even more gutter margin than normal, and I've been shifting these margins outward.

I've done numerous books for LS in the same trim size of 5.25" x 8" and outside margins vary from 4p3 (.7083") to 5p (.8333"), gutter margins vary from 4p9 (.7917") to 5p6 (.9167").

These are larger than what you are contemplating, but I strongly advise a larger gutter margin, your book will be much more readable. Hope that helps.

There's also a free PDF download on my site that steps through the process of creating the LSI-compliant PDF if you need it. If you have other questions on this, feel free to email me. Hope that helps.

08-13-2011, 04:33 AM
Thanks for that - it's just the info I needed. Gutter margin - I knew the term, I've used it myself in the past, but couldn't remember it!

I'm publishing a junior fiction novel. It was 150 pages or so at 12pt font, but I've been researching similar titles and they use 13pt on 15pt spacing (for example) When I switch to 14pt I had to make the margins a little wider to get the optimum number of characters on each line.

I can bring the margins back in again, but for some reason LaTeX only goes from 12pt to 14pt. I'll have to find out if there's an option to force 13pt instead.

I'll definitely check out your site, and your book. I self-pubbed three titles a decade ago but a lot has changed since then.

(Edit - just bought your book. Thanks for releasing it on Kindle!)