How to Calculate an Accurate Castoff: Book Pages, Signatures, and More (Part III)

Written by on January 17, 2013 in How To - Leave a Comment

So, we’ve talked about finding your character count (without spaces) and how that correspondes to your world count and page count, but now it’s time to talk about how that translates to your page signatures for your publishing efforts.

What’s a page signature, you ask?

In book binding, you take a number of pages and fold them over to create a series of smaller books that will then be stitched or glued together between the covers to create the entire book. Take a look at the photo below:

dharmit shah

See the segmented sections of the book? Those are the signatures. Signatures are usually 32 pages (or, at the very least, divisible by 8) and, in order to send your book to the printer, your designer is going to have to make your book fit nicely into them. This means that, sometimes, you’ll see a book with a few blank pages at the end.

Some common page signatures.

If you don’t have a handy chart, like the one above, with a list of standard page signatures for your self-publishing adventures, just grab a calculator and divide by 32. If you’ve got a whole number, you’re set. If you’re not, you need to figure out just how many pages you need to add to keep your page count divisible by 31.

So, if I snag my calculator and divide by 32, I can see that the 284 page book in our last example comes out to 8.875 signatures, rather than a whole number, so I have to determine how many pages to add to make it fit!

A little quick math reveals that the next closest page signature (make sure you round up!) will be 288 total book pages, including text, frontmatter, and backmatter. This is the number your designer has to stick to. If the layout goes over, you’ll need to either find a way to add more content so that you can go up another signature or cut so that you’ll stay under 288 pages.

And there’s your final lesson in page signatures and self-publishing. Any questions?

Photo creditDharmit Shah


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