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What Is a Book Gutter (and Other Terms Self-Publishers Need to Know)

October 26, 2020 (Last Updated August 16, 2021)

Marcy G.

A book gutter is the blank space down the center of an open book where the pages are bound together.

The gutter of a book is the blank space where the left and right pages meet. Book publishers make sure there is no text there because it would be difficult to read.

You need to leave the right amount of space for the gutter, and that can vary between hardcover books and softcover books.

Learn more about book gutters and other important self-publishing terms.


What Is a Book Gutter?

The definition of a book gutter is the inner margins of the open pages, where the pages are joined together.

To see the gutter, lay a book open on a table. The seam down the center doesn’t have any text on it. In other words, both the left and right pages have a blank space where they join together. That space, or margin, is called the gutter. It runs down the center of an open book.


Book Formatting with Gutters

Sound confusing? It doesn’t have to be! 48 Hour Books can help.

We offer book formatting services that help you get your book’s format just right. Whether you choose our book formatting templates and do it yourself or hire one of our experts to perform the job, your book will be formatted beautifully — gutter and all.

Our book formatting specialists know all about book gutters and other self-publishing terms, so you can leave the formatting to the experts, if you wish. Our reformatting service uses our in-house graphic designers to design the interior of your book just like the best-sellers.

Contact the book formatting experts

Ready for a more DIY approach? You can learn everything you need to know about printing and self-publishing your book with help from 48 Hour Books.

Start by downloading a free book template.

See all book formatting templates


More Book Printing Terms

Interested in learning more about book printing terms? Check out these other important areas of a printed book.


The gutter can also be considered the inside margin. On a left-hand page, you’ll have your gutter margin on the right. That’s where the page is bound. On a right-hand page, the gutter margin is on the left, because that’s where the page is joined.

Your pages will also have a top margin, which is empty space at the top of the page; a side margin, which is empty space on the edge of the page (not the bound edge); and a bottom margin, which is the empty space at the bottom of the page.

Margins keep your words from running all the way to the edges of the page. Not only is it difficult to read words that run all the way to the edge, but there’s a chance important words could be cut off during the printing process.


As noted, the gutter is the white space visible in an open book where two pages are joined together.

Some designers will refer to the space between columns of text as the “gutter,” but that is more specifically called an “alley.” It’s important to leave enough space between columns of text so that the reader’s eye can easily move from one line to the next, without “jumping” across to the next column.


There is also a spacing factor called “creep,” which usually only applies to books that are saddle bound, or saddle-stitched, in the center. The way pages are stacked and stitched in a saddle-stitched book would cause the margins to appear in the wrong place on the outer pages versus the inner pages. A printer would account for this “creep” in spacing by making creep adjustments. With perfect bound books, this usually isn’t an issue.

Page Spread

Page spreads are pairs of pages that are typically viewed together. For instance, the left page and right page of an open book would be considered a page spread. In layout software, you may be able to view each page at a time or see the pages together in page spreads.


Why You Need a Gutter

When you have a book that is perfect bound, the pages are stacked on top of each other and then glued together. Opening that book curves the pages away from the center. Imagine a line of text runs all the way from the left-hand edge, across the page, and into the gutter. It would be increasingly difficult to read the words as they get closer to the point where the pages come together.

When you’re self-publishing, it’s important to keep the gutter in mind so that all of your words are easily read. A properly sized book gutter allows the reader to easily move from left to right, no matter which page they’re reading. And lines of text are never buried in the seam of the book with proper gutter spacing, ensuring that all of your words are easy to read — not just the words in the middle and on the edges.


We’re here to help

Want to know more? Reach out to our team today to find out how we can help you through all steps of the book publishing process. We provide book formatting services and tools, so your files are print-ready. We can help over the phone, too – our customer service is unmatched. Contact us to get started.



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Sign up for the 48 Hour Books newsletter to learn how to self-publish your book — and get it printed faster with us than anywhere else.


Parmalee Paula Cover August 16, 2023

I need info on printing my manuscript. Thank you

48 Hr Books August 16, 2023

Hello! We require print-ready PDF files of your inside pages and cover. Once your files are ready, simply place an order at our website then upload your files. Once you approve your proof and pay in full, your books go to print! We recommend visiting our website for information on pricing and how to place an order. If you have questions after browsing our site, please call us at 800-231-0521.

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