How to Make a CreateSpace Book Cover Using Word or Open Office

Yes, you can use Photoshop or Gimp to create a nice looking cover for your CreateSpace book. But did you know that you can also do this using whatever word processing program you happen to be most familiar with? I tried to make my first CreateSpace cover in Gimp, but it was difficult. I did it well enough for CreateSpace to accept the cover, but not well enough to please myself. So, when it came time for me to revise, I decided to try to edit in Word and import to Open Office.

The cover of this book was created in Word and converted to pdf

The Cover of my first CreateSpace book: "In Case There's a Fox"
The Cover of my first CreateSpace book: "In Case There's a Fox" | Source

After all, I couldn't import directly to pdf from Gimp. I had to import the file from Gimp into OpenOffice just to get to a program that converts to pdf, so before it became a pdf file, my cover was already an OpenOffice file. Who says I couldn't start the whole process in OpenOffice?

For that matter, why not do it in Word? So my final design for the cover of In Case There's a Fox cover was made directly in Word.

The advantages were:

  1. I didn't have to deal with the Guides layer in the CreateSpace template, because I already understood what the boundaries of my layout were.
  2. I didn't have turn off or turn on any layers.


Directions on How to Make a CreateSpace cover using Word

The important thing to understand is that your book cover is twice as wide as your trim size, but exactly the same height. All my CreateSpace books so far (all two of them!) have had a trim size of 5.5 x 8.5 inches. This means that the cover sheet is a landscape sheet of paper of the dimensions 11 x 8.5 inches. In other words, it's a standard sheet of paper turned sideways.

The other important thing to understand is that CreateSpace wants all your images to be 300 ppi. That's 300 pixels per inch. So if you have to resize an image to fit it on your cover sheet, you should make sure it's still within the proper resolution.

If you are clear on all that, here are the instructions for making a cover in Word:

  • Select the print layout appropriate to your cover, both in terms of orientation (landscape) and size (e.g. 8.5 x 11 inches).
  • Select a background color that matches your cover illustration (e.g. Hunter Green, for "In Case There's a Fox")
  • Make sure to reduce all your margins to zero, so the background color fills your page completely
  • Insert the illustrations by selecting "Insert" then "picture" then "from file" and select your illustrations from jpg files.
  • Add Titles ( I used a text box for the front cover, but I added lettering in a contrasting color for the back cover.)
  • Export to pdf. (The better way is to print to pdf, although that is not what I did with "In Case There's a Fox".)


This is what my pdf file for the ultimate cover looked liked in my Adobe reader as a pdf file
This is what my pdf file for the ultimate cover looked liked in my Adobe reader as a pdf file | Source

I gave the page a turquoise background then turned it into a jpg

This is an image that I exported from an old word file of "When Sword Met Bow"
This is an image that I exported from an old word file of "When Sword Met Bow" | Source

I gave this image a turquoise background, too

An image from the back cover of "When Sword Met Bow"
An image from the back cover of "When Sword Met Bow" | Source

How to Make a CreateSpace Book Cover Using OpenOffice

My second CreateSpace book cover was made in OpenOffice. It was for When Sword Met Bow, a manuscript I had prepared in MSWord eight years earlier. I already had a fairly nice looking cover layout for the manuscript in Word, except for one thing: there was no background color.

I did not want to go and do everything all over again from scratch. I no longer had my original images in my present computer, and locating copies of them would have been a huge hassle. So I exported each page as a jpg file from word, and now my task was somehow to make my cover with the use of these images.

Now I was faced with a choice: do I struggle with Gimp to make the background of my images transparent, so they would fit on the turquoise background I had selected for my cover, or do I find a shortcut that didn't involve Gimp? I chose the shortcut.

I gave each of my original document pages a turquoise background. I exported again as jpg. Then I embedded each image in an OpenOffice document with a turquoise background.This achieved the same effect as if my images had a transparent background.

Making a cover in OpenOffice from illustrations that already have titles embedded in them means taking the following steps:

  • open a text document
  • select "Format" and under "Format" select "page"
  • when the box for formatting the page opens, select landscape, and that will automatically give you 11x 8.5 (if that isn't your cover size, then select the size you want.)
  • reduce all the margins to zero
  • When you're done with that, your landscape page will appear. Fill it with the background color of your choice using the "fill" icon on the toolbar
  • Insert your illustrations by selecting "Insert" and "picture" and "from file".
  • Export as pdf

I opened a page in OpenOffice, gave it a turquoise background and embedded the jpgs

Making the "When Sword Met Bow" cover by embedding jpgs in Turquoise background
Making the "When Sword Met Bow" cover by embedding jpgs in Turquoise background | Source

"Ping & the Snirkelly People"

This is how I work on the cover of my next CreateSpace book "Ping & the Snirkelly People" in OpenOffice. (The illustration is by Lanie Frick.)
This is how I work on the cover of my next CreateSpace book "Ping & the Snirkelly People" in OpenOffice. (The illustration is by Lanie Frick.) | Source

When Sword Met Bow

The Back Cover Blurb for "Ping & the Snirkelly People"

This is the back cover blurb for "Ping & the Skirkelly People"
This is the back cover blurb for "Ping & the Skirkelly People" | Source

My Next Book's Cover

My next book's cover will be created from scratch using a cover illustration I commissioned from artist Lanie Frick and using the same basic technique outlined above for an OpenOffice file. This time my titles will be made using the Papyrus font in black. It looks a little like calligraphy.

Ping & the Snirkelly People is a chapter book about a Chinese six year old who goes to her first day of school in the United States not knowing a single word of English. It is set in the same time period when I had to face a similar challenge: circa 1966-67.

Look for Ping & the Snirkelly People on Amazon.com in January of 2011.


(c) 2010 Aya Katz

Comments 8 comments

SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA

I am thinking more and more about self publishing if I cannot find a publisher once my novel is completed, so I will keep your ideas in mind when I am looking into this. Very informative hub and rated up!


DavePrice profile image

DavePrice 5 years ago from Sugar Grove, Ill

This is great! Now if you can teach me how to do it for Kindle DTP I'll love you eternally :D


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, SweetiePie! I wish you great success with your novel. It took years of looking for a publisher for my works before I decided that CreateSpace was the right venue for me. It's not necessarily the first choice of every writer, but it's good to know that it's one of the possibilities.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

DavePrice, thanks! I haven't ventured into Kindle yet. I have a deep seated distrust of a book whose words could vanish at any moment at a third party's flick of a switch. But I don't think it should be very hard to convert to Kindle, if you have published your book with CreateSpace. In fact, they keep trying to convince me to do so, when I look at my books on Amazon. Something comes on the screen and says: "Are you the publisher of this book? Find out more about selling it on Kindle."


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago

Good to know Aya - will file away for future reference. I'm not familiar with CreateSpace though, so I may have to google that. I was thinking of self publishing some books for and about my new grand daughter. Did you do the illustrations for In Case There's a Fox?


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia

Very informative. Many thanks. One day I will get round to producing a book. This will help. Thank you.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, Kimh039. CreateSpace is owned by Amazon, so you get a free listing with Amazon for every book. It's a great way to sell books without leaving the house. (Or the pens, in my case.) Congratulations on your new grand daughter!

Yes, I created the illustrations for "In Case There's a Fox" myself. They are details from two narrative paintings of mine. I'm a rank amateur when it comes to painting, and painting takes a lot of time and patience. But by using different parts of the same paintings as different illustrations, I was able to help tell the story without expending too much effort.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Peter, thanks! I look forward to your book.

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