High Contrast Mode:

Book Printing: How to Provide an Accurate Page Count

Book pages printed with images and text

Clear and complete specifications are an important part of any print project. The specifications provided by a printing client act as a detailed guide for their chosen printing company. By fully understanding the scope and features of a project, the printer can provide an accurate price quote and ultimately produce the final product exactly as specified.

It should be noted that compared to most other types of printing, Book projects require a longer list of specifications. This is because a book has several additional facets to consider, such as the binding style, the paper and ink choices for the exterior cover, and the paper and ink choices for the interior pages.

The page count of the book is another important specification that needs to be provided. That being said, you might be surprised to learn that of all the specifications needed to print a book, the page count is the one that is most likely to be miscommunicated.

Since inaccurate specifications can lead to misunderstandings and delays, we wrote this article to help those who are not entirely clear on how to determine a book's page count. In that regard, below is a simple explanation of how to properly calculate the page count when creating the print specifications for a book.

Pages of a Book

Sheets vs Pages

Let's say someone handed you a book and a handheld paper punch. You are instructed to randomly choose one page in the book so you can punch a hole through it. You flip through the book to find a page and decide on page 39. You then punch a hole through it as instructed.

Even though you were asked to punch a hole through only one page, there is now a hole in two pages - page 39 and page 40. This is because page 39 and page 40 were printed on opposite sides of the same sheet of paper.

Needless to say, this is a goofy scenario. But it illustrates an important fact, which is that every sheet of paper you can flip within a book (or punch a hole through) will equate to two pages. This means if there are 80 such sheets within a book, the page count will be 160, not 80. Likewise, if there are 109 sheets in the book, the page count will be 218, not 109.

We point this out because the number of sheets (a.k.a. leaves) within a book is frequently listed as the page count when submitting a book's specifications. However, this is incorrect and will result in an inaccurate quote. There will always be twice as many pages as there are sheets.

Some additional points about how to count pages in a book:

Blank pages need to be included in the Page Count -

Depending on a book's layout, blank pages will occasionally appear. For example, a new section or chapter will almost always start on a right-hand page. This means the opposite left-hand page will be blank if the prior section or chapter ended on a right-hand page. Any blank page, regardless of where it appears in a book, should still be included in the page count.

Don't assume the last printed page number is the true Page Count -

Books often have front matter such as a title page, table of contents, acknowledgements, the foreword, etc. These pages are either not numbered or they may be marked with lowercase roman numerals. Even though these pages may not be in the book's primary page numbering sequence, they are still included in the book's total page count.

The Page Count will always be an Even Number -

Because each sheet (leaf) within a book has two sides, the page count will always be an even number. The last printed page number in your book might show 81, 117 or 303, but that will not be the true page count.

Don't include the Book's Cover in the Page Count -

To avoid confusion, the majority of printers will recommended that the book's cover not be included in the page count. For example, it is better to write the specs as something like "16-Page plus Cover book" or "52 Pages + Cover" and then list the ink and paper specifications for the pages and cover separately.

The exception to this is if the book is a Self-Cover book, which means the entire book (pages and cover) is made from the exact same type and weight of paper. In this case, the cover (which equals 4 pages: outside front cover, inside front cover, inside back cover, and outside back cover) is included in the total page count.

For example, the specs might read "20-Page Self Cover book" or "56-Page Self Cover." If the ink colors differ between the cover and pages, then list the ink for the cover separately from the ink for the pages. Otherwise, the ink color can be specified as a single line (i.e. full color throughout, black ink throughout, PMS 289 throughout, etc.).

The bottom line about Book Page Counts…

Every single sheet bound within a book that can be grasped between a person's thumb and forefinger, even if the sheet is blank on one side or blank on both sides, will count as two pages of the book. Of course, this last point is easier to visualize on a physical book than a book that may only exist as a layout in design software at the moment. But this explanation should still help clarify how pages are counted.

If you have an upcoming book project, get in touch with Color Vision Printing. Just give us a call at 800-543-6299 and we'll be happy to help. Or, if you have already determined your project specifications and would like a quote, you can submit our Quote Request form by clicking here.

Since 1984, Color Vision has printed thousands of books and booklets for a variety of clients and industries. We look forward to assisting with your book project too!

Related Article: Helpful Advice for Page Numbering

American Express Discover Mastercard Visa

High Contrast Mode: