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I'm new in InDesign and someone asked me how to calculate the spine (backbone) of a book (The book has 160 pages). Can anyone help me out...

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I would ask the Press company that will print the book for the exact value, because a book's spine will vary with the thickness of the paper — which, in turn, varies from batch to batch.

Any automatic calculation or estimate may not be accurate enough, although it will work fine if you only need to do a layout draft.

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If you can relate your paper to the ones they have available, there's a spine thickness calculator at Find it on the page and log in as guest.

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up vote 0 down vote accepted (how to calculate)

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Here is an answer from another forum. You will need to know the size of your book in order to create the cover. While you gave the number of pages, you didn't give the other dimensions. The formula for 160 pages would be .0025(in) x 160= .4 in (width of spine). Here is an example for a book 423 pages long (the calculation should be based on 424 pages).

"I am printing a book that is 5.25 X 8" I am printing it on cream color paper and it is 423 pages long. When I used indesign to set up the dimensions I used the .0025 X423 formula to figure out the number for the spine. When I put that number in.. InDesign automatically changed it (I forget to what # but a bigger number) Ideas around this?

Re: Creating a Spine in InDesign Based on the required formula and page count, your spine width is 1.0575".

In InDesign, create a new document with the following specs:

  • width = 11.5575 (5.25 + 1.0575 + 5.25 = back + spine + front)
  • height = 8.
  • columns = 2 (this creates the back and front cover sections)
  • gutter = 1.0575 (the gutter forms the spine)
  • margins = 0.125 or 0.25 (on all four sides) **
  • bleed = 0.125 (on all four sides)
  • slug = 0

** For the safe margins, the old minimum requirement was 0.25, and I still use this because CS has a pretty broad "variance" policy and they also like to "tweak" your artwork without telling you if they consider live elements to be too close, so this helps prevent any interference.

After rereading Michelle's list of numbers I can see what you might not be seeing. If I am wrong, please correct me. By setting your page dimensions to 11.0575 all you have to do then is set the 2 column widths to 5.25 and the gutter between these columns to 1.0575 and your cover layout is done. (Great trick, Michelle. I never thought of doing it that way.) The left hand column is your back cover and the right hand column is your front cover. And the gutter is your spine."

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