File Issues and Review Process

File Review

An important part of your title setup and file revisions is the file review process. Any time new files are uploaded to your account, our file technicians review the files to ensure that they are print-ready and meet our specifications. 

What’s the process?

New Titles

Once you upload your files during title setup, you will be asked to pay the title setup fee. After the fee is paid, you will be able to see “Title in Premedia” on your Dashboard. This means that your files are in the queue to be reviewed by our premedia team. They will check to see if your files meet our specifications, and the file review turn-around-time for new titles is 3-5 business days.


File Revisions

If you have an updated file that needs to process, uploading a revision is fast and simple. You click on the title of your book, taking you to your Title Details page. On the right-hand side, you will see a button that says “Upload Revision.” Click this button and then submit your new file (remember to also press the “Continue” button at the bottom of the page and pay the $40.00 per file revision fee to ensure we receive your file for processing). The turn-around-time for interior file review is usually one business day, and covers typically process in 1-2 business days.

Something to keep in mind is that you only need to submit the revised file. For example, if you updated your cover but not the interior, you only need to submit a new cover file for review.


If your files are print ready, you will receive an eProof to approve on your account, and you will also receive an email with a link to the eProof. Approving the eProof allows you to enable your title for distribution (if applicable) and allows your title to be available for printing.

eProofs for Case Laminate Covers

If your book has a case laminate cover, your eProof will be cropped to the board area of the book. Content in the gutter area will not show when your cover is cropped on the eProof, but it will appear when the book is printed.

You can see the gutter content on the eProof page that displays your cover file on our template. The attached document provides a visual and more information.

Common File Issues

Ensuring that your files are print-ready is a key ingredient in printing your book. There are many factors that go into making a printed product look ideal, and your files are important elements in the printing process. Knowing what our specifications are and making sure your titles meet our specifications will allow for a smooth review process and bring you one step closer to printing your book.


What are Lightning Source’s file specifications?

We offer a File Creation Guide that features our file specifications for both interior and cover files. Not all printers are the same, and we recommend even the most experienced publishers review our File Creation Guide. Our guide contains important file recommendations, and you may run into some terminology you aren’t familiar with. Outlined further in the article are just a few of the terms you can learn and familiarize yourself with to better understand our file specifications and how they affect the printing of your book.


Cover Template Generator


The Cover Template Generator is a tool publishers and their designers may use to see specifications for a particular cover. The template displays bleed and safety areas, and it also provides a free barcode. In addition, the template provides information such as spine width and document size.

Below is a link to our Cover Template Generator:

Cover Template Generator



Title Processing Error

If your title has been placed in a status of "Title Processing Error", you may be wondering what that means and how to move forward. This status indicates our file technicians may have discovered something in your file that could cause a printing issue. In many cases, the file will need to be adjusted by the publisher or designer to correct the issue, and it will be submitted as a revision on the account. Any revisions submitted due to a "Title Processing Error" notice will not incur the $40.00 per file revision fee.

Some common errors are listed below:

  • Crop Marks on Interior PDF File

Crop marks, printer marks, and registration marks are unnecessary for our printing process, and they could appear when the book is printed. We ask that files are submitted without crop marks, printer marks, or registration marks.

  • Complex Image in Interior/Cover PDF File

Complex images can sometimes cause delays in the printing process and should be flattened/rasterized.

  • Cover File Uploaded for Interior Part (or Interior File Uploaded for Cover Part)

In order to ensure your book prints correctly, you may resubmit the files in their respective locations on the file upload page.

  • Corrupt Interior/Cover File

Typically, a corrupt file occurs when there is a bad font or image, but it can also be caused by a special character (such as an ampersand “&”) in the file name. The errors will need to be fixed to ensure your book prints as intended.

  • Barcode is Not Formatted Correctly

Barcodes are mandatory on all titles, and barcodes that will not scan will cause delays in the printing process. Barcodes should be black only (0 Cyan / 0 Magenta / 0 Yellow / 100 Black) and placed over a white box or background. Barcodes should also be large enough to scan (we recommend 1.75” x 1”) and should be a vector graphic or high quality rasterized.

  • Cover Layout Submitted is Not Built to the Correct Specifications

If the cover artwork is submitted at the wrong trim size or if it does not correspond to your title’s metadata (trim size, bind type, interior type, page count), you will need to submit a new file. If you are having difficulty formatting your cover to meet our specifications, we recommend using our Cover Template Generator.

  • Revised Interior/Cover Submission Did Not Fix All Issues

Although new files were uploaded, there are still issues that could occur in printing, and corrected files will need to be submitted.

  • PDF Document Size is Incorrect

The PDF document size refers to the entire document, including crop marks, measurement notes, and white space of our cover template. The PDF document size is noted in the white area of our cover template.

  • Ink Coverage Exceeds 240% CMYK

High ink coverage can potentially lead to printing problems such as streaking, spotting, and cracking. These issues may not manifest themselves on every printing of the book and may occur in future printings. The overall combined percentage of CMYK values of artwork for our presses should be less than 240%. For example, the 'rich black' we recommend would be 60% Cyan 40% Magenta 40% Yellow 100% Black (60+40+40+100=240%).


File Creation Programs

Ultimately, it is up to the publisher to decide what programs are used during file creation. Typically, design software programs such as Adobe, InDesign, Photoshop, and Quark are used for projects such as book layout or cover design.

Lightning Source recommends and supports submission of PDF files that are created by exporting from InDesign/Quark using the PDF/X-1a:2001 or PDF/X-3:2002 setting. We also recommend and support PDFs created by Adobe Acrobat using the PDF/X-1a:2001 or PDF/X-3:2002 setting. Other PDF creators are not guaranteed and any additional charges or revision submissions resulting from the use of other PDF-creator programs will be the responsibility of the publisher.

Exporting from InDesign/Quark or creating PDFs with Adobe Acrobat are the best way to produce consistent and stable PDF files for printing on Lightning Source print engines. Other PDF producers have caused a variety of issues, such as those that degrade the files themselves and/or the performance of the print engines.

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a word processing software commonly used for creating basic documents such as letters, term papers, tests, and quizzes. Because Word is a word processing software, there can be many issues when using the program for book layout. For example, it can be difficult to control graphics, text flow, and positioning of your books content may skew when you save the word document as a different file type (such as PDF). Another common issue with Word is that it converts colors to RGB, and Lightning Source requires that files are submitted in CMYK.

In addition to color, text, and layout issues, Word’s default page size is 8.5 x 11 (standard letter size). Many publishers mistakenly create their interior pages at this default size, even when the intended trim size is smaller. Doing so will result in a proof and printed product with cut-off text on the top or on all sides.

Lightning Source accepts PDF files made from Word, but no technical support for Word is offered as it is not designed for book layout. If you are using Word and need further information, we recommend consulting a graphic designer or Microsoft Support.

File Terms

There are terms used in the printing world that may be new to you, but they are important in understanding aspects of file specifications and printing. Some common terms you may encounter are featured with explanations below:


Bleed is the area that goes beyond the edge of the page or cover before trimming, and it is ultimately trimmed off. If you have an image or background that you want to print to the edge of the book, when it is bound and trimmed, you will need to extend the image or background past the trim. If you do not, the pages or cover may have white on the edges.

*Covers require a 0.125” (3mm) bleed on all four sides (an exception is case laminate titles, and they require a 0.625” bleed on all four sides for wrapping purposes).

*Interior files require a 0.125” (3mm) bleed on the three outer edges, but not the bind side (inside edge) of the page. If your text or artwork is not intended to bleed, you may submit your file at the trim size.


Trim is where the page is cut, and the trim size is the final size of your book after trimming.

*Because our print-on-demand services allow for a 1/16(0.0625 in/2 mm) variance in printing, any text or images that are too close to the trim edges could be cut in the printing and binding process. We recommend keeping images/text in the safety area.


The safety area is where text and graphics are not at risk of being trimmed off or lost in binding. *For interior files, we recommend a minimum of 0.5” (13 mm) safety area on all sides of your text block.

*For cover files, we recommend a minimum 0.25” safety area. Also, make sure that you have a 0.0625” (2mm) safety area on both sides of a spine 0.35” or larger. If the spine is smaller, we recommend a 0.03125” (1mm) safety area on both sides of the spine.

To calculate your spine width, you may use our Weight and Spine Width Calculator:


 Spine Calculator

Embedded Fonts

Lightning Source requires all fonts to be embedded in your files. This ensures the look and placement of text on the page, and it is important for keeping the document fonts and layouts as intended.

  • It is important to keep in mind that when you are creating your files, the default Acrobat “Standard” PDF setting does not embed base 14 fonts, and we recommend that all PDF files are submitted as PDF/X-1a (2001) or PDF/x-3 (2002). This is an industry standard PDF format that embeds fonts by default.

To check and see if your fonts are embedded, open the PDF in Acrobat and select the File menu, and then Properties. The Fonts tab lists the names of all fonts in the file: (Embedded) or (Embedded Subset) should appear next to all fonts listed. If one of these tags is not listed, the font is not embedded.


Color Modes

For all covers and color interiors, images must be submitted in CMYK. For black and white interiors, images must be converted to grayscale or black and white (bitmap).

CMYK is the typical color model used in printing for color documents. RGB, commonly found in programs such as Microsoft Word, is a color system used for representing colors used on a screen, not a printed product. If an RGB file is submitted, it will be converted to CMYK for printing and may not look as the publisher intended. Files with spot colors will also be converted to CMYK for printing, and the printed product may look different than the file submitted.

Black and white (bitmap) uses either 100% or 0% black to create text, line art, and images.

Grayscale uses percentages of black ink to create a range of gray shades from white to black.


Highlighted in this article are just a few of the features that are important in file creation and the printing of your book.


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  • 0

    You have used other people 's files inside my book's covers!


    Isbn 978 1 4566 2137-7

    Locked Gates by Howard West 

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