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Book Printing Styles: Inverse and Reverse Printing

June 05, 2024 (Last Updated June 25, 2024)

At 48 Hour Books, we are always trying to stay up to date on the latest book printing trends to best serve our self-publishing authors. A popular book printing technique that has been in-demand is reverse printing.


What is Reverse Printing?

Reverse printing, also referred to as inverse printing, knockout printing, surface printing, or negative printing, is a printing technique in which the paper surrounding images and text receive ink, while the image and text do not.

For example, if you wanted to print a page that is black, surrounded by white text or white design elements, the paper would print the black ink surrounding the white elements. In traditional printing, ink is applied to the images or text areas and not the surrounding paper.


Black & White image with text


Reverse Printing with 48 Hour Books

Some printers will print inverted text and design elements in “reverse print mode,” meaning white ink will be printed on black paper. Unfortunately, we are unable to print the interior of a book in "reverse mode" (white text on black or dark gray background) due to limitations with our printing equipment and toner.

However, we know some authors want to incorporate dark black or gray pages with white text into their designs, so there is some gray area here (hehe). Essentially, this would refer to any page on which the background displays as more than 50% black toner coverage.

At 48 Hour Books, we can print a certain number of pages in a reverse-style printing:

  • Up to 5% of the total pages in your book at no extra cost, or up to 30% for an additional fee.
  • We are unable to print the book if it has more than 30% of the pages in reverse style, so we’d require the files to be changed before we can print.
  • For example, if a book is 100 pages, it can include up to 5% reverse-style pages at no cost, or 5 total pages.

If you are not able to adjust your files or feel the reverse printing is necessary to your design, we can allow up to 30% of the total pages (in this example, 30 pages), to be reverse-style. The pricing would be as follows:

  • An upcharge of $0.05 per additional reversed page per book would apply to help cover the toner costs, printer service, and setup required to accomplish this.
  • An additional fee of $1.25 per book would be required to print a 100-page book with 30 pages in reverse-style ($0.05 x 25 pages). If you’re printing 100 books, this would add $125 to your order.

Interior page - reverse printing


As always, we’re here to help answer any questions you may have related to reverse printing. If you need specific pricing for this service, you can always contact us and we are happy to help price everything out for you. 

Don’t forget that we also can help with book design, formatting, eBooks, and more!



Learn More

If you want to know how to publish a book, our website is a great resource. Know exactly what to expect after you place your order by reviewing our detailed pre-press and production schedules, shipping schedules, FAQs and more. Through our blog, learn the ins and outs of publishing, including terms you should know and tips on marketing, design and other important publishing topics.

various best-seller book covers


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