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Producing a manga or other manuscript is not as easy as it looks.
There are rules you need to follow, and various issues may occur if you don't get it right. Worst case scenarios include parts of the manuscript being cut off, tones being destroyed, or missing your deadline because you have too many or too few pages.
We have therefore included a guide so that you can avoid issues when creating your manga manuscript.

[1] Page Layout of a Manga
[2] Data Production

[1] Page Layout of a Manga

First learn about the layout of pages in a manga.
The pages of a manga usually contain various lines. There are rules for each of these lines.

(1) Default border
(2) Crop mark
(3) Cropped border
(4) Bleed width (bleed)
(5) Center crop marks

(1) Default border

The large square frame in the center of the page. This is also called the "inner frame" or "inner line".

If features of the manuscript such as dialog and pictures are drawn near the edge of the page, these may be cut off or disappear during the finishing process. The purpose of the default border is to prevent this.
The frames of the manga should therefore be drawn inside these lines as a rule.
Placing important dialog and pictures inside the default border also ensures that they will be printed and displayed in an easy-to-read area.

Of course, you may want to place some dialog and pictures over the default border for effect.
In this case, make sure that they are not too close to the "cropped border" (see below).

 NOTE  Be careful of the bound side of the book when placing dialog over the default border!

The figures below show dialog placed over the default border.
In paper books such as fanzines, the readability depends on whether this is done on the inner side (bound side) or outer side of the page.

While doing this on the outer side does not cause issues with readability, the dialog becomes somewhat difficult to read if this is done on the inner side (bound side).

(2) Crop mark

The general term for the lines at the corners of the page. This serves as a guide when setting the finished size of the book.

 NOTE  Do not completely fill the areas with the crop marks.

If these areas are completely filled, the crop marks cannot be seen.
Some printing shops will not accept fanzine data or commercial manga data where this is done.

(3) Cropped border

The lines extending from the inside of the crop marks are called the "cropped border".
As a rule, the area inside these lines is the area that is printed and displayed when finishing (the size of the finished book).

For example, if a manga is created on A4 paper, the finished size is usually B5.

When creating works such as fanzines or commercial manga, do not place important pictures or dialog very close to the cropped border.
They may be cut off or disappear during finishing.

(4) Bleed width (bleed)

This area is important during finishing. There are various terms relating to this area.

  1. The area outside the crop marks is called the "bleed border".
  2. The width of the area from the "cropped border" to the "bleed border" is called the "bleed width" (pictures inside this area are called "bleed information").
  3. Drawing as far as the "bleed border" instead of creating frames along the "default border" is called "full bleed".

During finishing, the page is trimmed along the cropped border.
However, in the case of paper works such as fanzines, there is a variance of several millimeters between pages when the paper is actually cut. Full bleed should therefore be done to avoid white space from occurring.
As a rule, full bleed is recommended even for e-books where only the area up to the cropped border is displayed for all pages.

In the case of printed fanzines, different printing shops specify different bleed widths (generally 3mm-5mm). Check this information in advance on the website of the printing shop you plan to use.

(5) Center crop marks

The center crop marks are the "+" shaped lines at the top, bottom, left and right of the page.
On the pages of works such as fanzines and commercial manga, these lines are required to indicate the center of the page for the printing shop staff. They can also be helpful during production of the manga, such as when you want to place a picture at the center.

[2] Data Production

Next, let's learn the rules for producing the data of each manga volume or book.

(1) Number of pages in a work or book
(2) Cover page and back cover page
(3) Manuscript size
(4) Resolution
(5) Color depth (color mode)
(6) Moire
(7) Required pages, etc. when creating book data

(1) Number of pages in a work or book

There are basic rules concerning the number of pages in a manga work. Pages are generally drawn in multiples of 8 or 4.
Similar rules also apply to the page composition of book data.
Some printing shops also have a minimum number of pages for fanzines, such as 16 or 20 pages.
In most cases, the cover page is considered the first page and the back cover page is considered the last page.
Note that this count includes any blank pages.

The reason for these rules concerning page numbers is because multiple pages of a paper book are printed on either side of a large sheet of paper.
These are then cut to form the individual pages and then bound.
Pages therefore need to be created in multiples of 8 (if printed with 4 pages on each side of a sheet) or 4 (if printed with 2 pages on each side of a sheet).

This means that while it may be easy to add two more sheets to a work that was initially supposed to have 20 pages when creating an e-book, this causes issues when making a paper book.
If your fanzine is too short, you can bring it up to the minimum number of pages by adding features such as a postscript, bonus pages or a contents page.

(2) Cover page and back cover page

The cover page, back cover page and the reverse of these two pages are referred to as Cover Pages 1-4.

  1. Cover Page 1: Cover page
  2. Cover Page 2: Reverse of cover page
  3. Cover Page 3: Reverse of back cover page
  4. Cover Page 4: Back cover page

For fanzines, it is usual to submit all of these as one piece of data, with Cover Pages 1 and 4 joined together.
Cover Pages 2 and 3 are not usually printed, but some printing shops will provide this service for an additional fee, or as part of a plan fee.
If you want to print Cover Pages 2 and 3, check the website of the printing shop you want to use in advance.
The data for the cover pages is referred to collectively as the "cover page data". Take care in cases such as when submitting the cover page data ahead of the rest of the data.

Also, be aware that in most cases, Cover Page 1 is counted as the first page and Cover Page 4 is counted as the last page.
This count includes Cover Pages 2 and 3 even if they are blank.

(3) Manuscript size

The following sizes are usually used.

  1. Commercial manga: B4 pages (finished in A4)
  2. Fanzines: A4 pages (finished in B5)

The size can be selected to suit the purpose or the publishing method, but care needs to be taken if publishing the same data by multiple methods.
For example, commercial manga data produced in B4 size can easily be converted to A4 size for a fanzine, as this is simply a matter of reducing the size.
However, enlarging data can cause issues such as reducing the cleanness of the lines.
If, for example, you are publishing a work as "a commercial manga and as an e-book", the data should be produced in B4 size, but A4 size can be used if publishing as a fanzine and an e-book.
Carefully consider how you will publish the work before deciding on the size.

(4) Resolution

The following resolutions are usually used.

  1. Color manuscripts: 300/350 dpi
  2. Monochrome manuscripts: 600 dpi

Using larger resolutions is not recommended except in cases such as works that will be large when finished (such as posters), as this makes the data large.

(5) Color depth (color mode)

The following color depths (color modes) are usually used.

<Paper books>

  1. Color manuscripts: CMYK color
  2. Monochrome manuscripts (for paper books): Duotone

<E-books>

  1. Color manuscripts: RGB color
  2. Monochrome manuscripts: Duotone or grayscale

If you have not yet decided on a publishing format, it is recommended to use the settings for paper books, for the same reason mentioned in the section about manuscript sizes.

When creating a manga manuscript in PAINT, make sure that the layer expression colors are correct for the manuscript settings.

 NOTE  Here is a simple explanation of the difference between duotone and grayscale.

  1. Duotone: Expressed only in black and white. Gray areas are expressed by means such as dot tones.
  2. Grayscale: Expressed in various shades of gray in addition to black and white.

Black and white manga manuscripts are generally produced in duotone.
However, there is no hard and fast rule for this. Grayscale is more suitable when publishing in e-book form, for example, as the gray fill in place of tones is more suitable for the scaling up and down that readers may do while viewing the e-book. Printing shops that handle fanzines may also have printers that can print grayscale as attractively as duotone.
Please read the following section on moire in addition to this section and decide on the best setting for your manuscript.

(6) Moire

Moire is an effect that occurs when patterns such as dot tones are not expressed as the artist intended when the work is output.

Here are various causes of moire and ways to avoid it.

  1. Understand the purpose of dot tones when using them

Most published manga are printed in two colors: black and white.
Tones such as dots that resemble shades of gray are therefore used in place of actual gray coloring when the artist wishes to express shades of gray.
If publishing an e-book or printing with a printer that can express gray well, there is no reason to use dots.
Understand that processes such as using dot tones with grayscale or using anti-aliasing for dot tones (an effect in which the dots themselves contain gray) are not related to this reason.

  1. Take care when overlaying tones

If the tones are not overlaid correctly, this can create moire that resembles a pattern. Take care when overlaying dot tones with different numbers of lines, angles or densities.

  1. Do not change the size of rasterized images

Changing the size or resolution of manuscripts containing rasterized dot tones can result in a lack of uniformity in the dot size (irregularity of the shapes), causing moire.
When using PAINT, it is recommended to leave the tone layers unrasterized, as moire will not occur when outputting unrasterized tone layers.

  1. Do not use anti-aliasing or opacity settings for the tones

Gray is used for anti-aliasing to create clean, smooth lines around the black sections.
This means that if anti-aliasing is applied, gray is used for the dots themselves.
This causes distortion in the shape of the dots during printing and output, creating moire.
Please note that the same outcome also occurs when applying opacity settings to the tones (changing the alpha value or fill value).

However, it is extremely difficult to avoid moire in e-books, which will be scaled up and down by readers.
Therefore, when creating works that will be published in e-book format only, there may be cases in which more attractive images can be created by filling the images in gray instead of using tones.

(7) Required pages, etc. when creating book data

In addition to the parts of a book you are likely familiar with, such as the preface, postscript or contents page, the following pages and settings are also required when producing book data. The required items vary depending on the publishing method.

  1. Title page

The title page is the first page of the main text seen after opening the cover. It contains the title and other information.
There is not much use for a title page in e-books and whether one is used in a fanzine also depends on the author's preference, but including one may make page composition easier.

  1. Folio

This is the page number printed on the page.
The page number is generally counted from the cover page and displayed at the bottom of each page.
Whether folios are needed depends on the publishing method, but they are required by many printing shops when printing fanzines.
For e-books, meanwhile, there are cases in which folios must not be used.

  1. Colophon

Information on the work and its publication, usually included at the end of the work.
Various information is included depending on the situation, including the title of the work, author name, publication date, printing and production company, contact details and website URL.
Whether a colophon is needed depends on the publishing method, but they are required by many printing shops when printing fanzines.

Related pages can be found here:
Fanzine Publishing Terms