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Using Images to Bring Your Book to Life

Many of our authors like to include their own artwork, illustrations, or photographs on their covers or interiors. This is a great way to make your book more appealing to readers, but there are very specific requirements an image must meet in order to be published. In this video, we’ll help you determine which kinds of pictures to send and which kinds probably can't be printed. First, let’s talk about where we can put images.

Images for Your Cover

We’ll design a cover for your book, but if you have specific pictures you would like to use, we can accept one or two of your own images as long as they meet the size and resolution requirements we’ll learn about later. You are also welcome to browse this stock photography website for images: (choose from any collections except Hemera or iStockphoto). You can select up to two stock images for your cover at no additional charge. Just be sure to include the ID numbers of the images on your Submission Form. If you need to use more than two images, see our Fee Schedule or contact a representative to learn about stock image processing fees.

Images for Your Interior

If you are publishing a color book, each of our color publishing packages includes a certain number of image insertions. If you want your color book to have more images than your publishing package includes or if you are publishing a black and white book, image insertion fees will apply. Images include photographs, drawings, artwork, screen shots, charts, or any other graphic that would need to be inserted into your manuscript. If you are selecting stock images for your interior, there is a processing fee for each stock image you choose. See our Fee Schedule or contact a representative to learn more about insertion limits, insertion fees, and stock image processing fees.

Permission to Use

Making sure your images are legal or sending the necessary written permissions will help keep your book moving through production without delays. You must have legal permission to use any images you submit. Trafford reserves the right to refuse to process graphic images that seem to come from copyrighted sources unless written permission from the copyright holder is included. It is usually safe to use your own artwork or personal photographs, but a photograph taken by a photography studio or a professional photographer will require the studio’s or the photographer’s permission, even if you paid for the photograph to be taken. In addition, most images on the Internet or in newspapers and magazines are copyrighted and will require written permission to reproduce.

How to Send Your Images

You’ll want to make sure your images appear in your book as crisp and clear as possible. To keep your book’s production moving smoothly, you’ll also want to send them in a way that is easiest for us to understand and work with.

First, your images should be submitted as separate, individual, electronic files. Your manuscript should include image insertion placeholders that indicate what image file should be placed where. Please do not embed your images in the manuscript itself. If the images are embedded, we will need to strip them out before production begins and an image extraction fee will apply for each image that needs to be removed.

We prefer to receive your images as TIFF files. We can also accept JPEG or GIF files. If you are submitting a completed cover design that includes the cover text, be sure that you send it as a layered Photoshop or TIFF file where the text is on a separate layer from the background.

If you have only hardcopy of the images you’d like to send, they will need to be scanned or converted into electronic image files before they can be inserted in your book. Scanning services are usually available at your local office supply store. We also offer scanning for an additional fee. See our Fee Schedule or ask a representative if you have questions about our scanning services.

Image Size & Resolution: What You Need to Know

An image is only as good as its resolution, relative to its size. Size and resolution together determine the quality of your image and how it will look in the final book. Problems with image size or resolution are the number one reason for production delays so we’ll do our best to help explain.

Image Resolution

You can think of resolution as the crispness or quality of focus in your image. Obviously, we want the best possible resolution. Resolution is measured in PPI, or pixels per inch. You may also see it measured in DPI, or dots per inch. They both mean roughly the same thing and can be used interchangeably. Images for your book should be no less than 300 PPI or DPI. Anything less will not print with accurate clarity and may appear fuzzy or jagged in your final book.

Image Size

An image’s resolution is directly related to its size. You should send your images at the size you would like them to be printed. We recommend that they be no less than 6 inches wide for landscape-oriented images or 6 inches tall for portrait-oriented images. If you send an image that is smaller, we may be limited in where we can place the image and how big it will be in the final book.

Full Bleed Images

A full bleed image is one that extends all the way to the edges of the cover or the page. If you want an image to be full bleed, you’ll need it to be slightly bigger than the page or the cover itself. This is because full bleed images are required to extend beyond the edge of the cover by 1/8th of an inch and beyond the edge of the interior pages by ¼ of an inch. This outside 1/8th or ¼ of an inch is called the bleed space and it will be cropped off by the printer. For this reason, you should make sure there is no vital information near the edges of your images if you intend for them to be full bleed. Unfortunately, we are not able to print full bleed on the pages of our black and white books.

For a full bleed image on your front cover, you can determine the minimum size requirement by adding 1/8th of an inch to the cover’s top, bottom, and right-hand side. For example, if you are publishing a 6 by 9 book, a full bleed image will need to be submitted at 6 1/8 by 9 ¼ inches.

For a full bleed image on the interior pages of a color book, add ¼ inch to the top, bottom, and outside edge of the final page size. For example, if you are publishing an 8 ½ by 8 ½ book, the minimum size would be 8 ¾ inches wide by 9 inches tall. Remember that the outer ¼ inch will be cropped at the printer.

As a general rule, the bigger your image, the better your layout and design options will be. We can always make an image smaller without sacrificing its quality, but we cannot enlarge an image without decreasing its resolution. You can learn how to check your images and make sure they meet the minimum requirements by watching our video tutorial: How to Check Image Size & Resolution. If you are publishing a color book, we also strongly recommend you watch Color Books, Guidelines & Design Options to learn more information unique to color publishing.

How to Tell Us Where Your Images Go

Once you’re ready to submit your images, you’ll also want to help us understand where they go. Here is how to communicate image placement.

First, rename your image files in chronological order as they should appear throughout your book. This tells us very quickly how many pictures there are and what order they go in. It also helps us recognize very easily if we may be missing an image.

Then type the image placement holders into the manuscript itself, exactly where you’d like each image to go. If your images have captions, type the captions directly beneath the placeholders. We ask that you keep your image placeholders between paragraphs, never in the middle of a paragraph. Your placeholders should stand apart from your main text for easy recognition. We recommend making them bigger, bolder, and red. In production, we will simply replace these easy-to-spot markers with the images that should go there. Please be sure that the instructions refer to the images by their exact file names or we may not understand which image goes where.

RGB and CMYK Color Space

RGB stands for “red, green, blue,” the primary colors of light. CMYK stands for “cyan, magenta, yellow, black,” the primary colors of pigment. Any color images that appear on your cover or inside a color book must be CMYK. It is best if you can convert your images to CMYK yourself so you can see exactly how they will look when printed. Otherwise, we will perform a standard color mode conversion on your images to make them CMYK printer compliant. The difference between RGB and CMYK usually isn’t noticeable in photographs, but you may notice a slight color variation in a rich background color or in colors that approximate a neon effect. These vibrant RGB colors won't look bad when converted to CMYK but they will look different—usually a little more subdued.

If you have any additional questions or concerns for your book, you are always welcome to contact us at 1.888.232.4444.

Prepare for Publication

Call a publishing consultant today at 844.688.6899 or e-mail Your publishing consultant will assist you along the publishing process, make sure you read the terms and conditions, and take your payment. (We accept credit card, check, or money order). After the submission of your materials, you’ll be on your way to having your book published. Are you looking to sign up for additional marketing services? Call your Marketing Consultant today at 844.688.6899 to get a free consultation on the services that would work best for your marketing campaign. You may also send an e-mail to

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