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Overview of Creating a Book Cover with Adobe InDesign

by Ron Kurtus (20 February 2019)

One part of publishing a book is creating various versions of your book cover using Adobe InDesign.

The process starts by creating three new actual-sized cover documents: front cover, back cover, and spine. You will need the exact width for the spine, according to the number of pages in your book and your printer's specification.

To make a print-ready version of the book cover, open a new page and paste the front cover, spine, and back cover into a single image. The add bleed to the full cover. Finally, make a PDF file of the cover to send to your printer, along with a PDF of your book's contents.

You can then create a 3-d version of your front over with its spine for advertising purposes.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Create cover parts

The actions in creating a book cover consist of creating the front cover, back cover, and spine.

Front and back covers

The front and back covers are single page documents. They should have a 0.25 inch border so that text does not go to the edge. A typical book size is 6X9 inches.

You create a cover in layers, depending on your design.

File > New > Document

The first time you do this, use the following settings:

Save Preset and name it Cover 6x9 for use again.

Although you can have a background color, sometimes using the Rectangle Tool and assigning a color to it is better, especially if you have other colored areas in your cover.


Create a document with dimensions such as 0.5 in wide and 9 in high. This is for the spine laying on its side. Add colored shapes and text boxes.

Then create a new 9 by 0.5 (vertical spine). Mark the sideways spine and paste in the vertical spine document.

The reason to do it this way is to facilitate inputting text.

Note: If the width of the spine changes after you have completed the cover, you will have to make adjustments on the final bleed version of the full cover.

Create full cover with bleed

Bleed is a 0.125 inch border around the book cover, needed by printers in case there is a slight printing misalignment.

Create a new 1 page document that is 12.xx inches wide and 9 inches high. The "xx" is the calculated spine width. In the creation of the document, include a 0.125 in Bleed.

Paste cover parts

Copy and past the back cover, spine, and front cover in that order onto your full cover document. You could Place the cover parts, but that would not allow you to change the colored rectangles to allow for the bleed.

Adjust the cover parts, so that they line up perfectly.

Fill in bleed

Mark the various parts and adjust their start points and widths to fill in the bleed areas.

Make PDF for print

Export the full bleed cover as a PDF: File > Export... > Save as type Adobe PDF (Print).

Make versions of front cover

Export the front cover as a JPEG: File > Export... > Save as type JPEG.

The JPEG file can then be re-sized for promotional purposes.


You can create a paperback book cover with Adobe InDesign by creating three actual-sized cover documents: front cover, back cover, and spine. You then create a full-size cover document that includes a printer bleed area.

You can copy your cover files to a Promotion folder, where you can reduce the size to make promotional images of your cover.

Be methodical in your efforts

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Create a Book Cover in Adobe InDesign - Method by Susan C. Daffron

How to Create a Historical Fiction Book Cover in Adobe InDesign

How to design a book cover in InDesign -

Design a Paperback Book Cover in InDesign -

InDesign Resources


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