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Guidelines for Large Print Materials

The Clearinghouse for Specialized Media and Translations (CSMT) recommends the following guidelines for large print instructional materials for kindergarten through grade eight.


  1. FORMAT: Textbooks, Workbooks, and Library Books

    1. All materials assigned to be produced in large print must retain integrity and format of pages as in the original material.

    2. Black-and-white text should be dark and black, having good contrast to ensure highest reliability between the lightest and darkest parts of each page and image.

    3. Background behind main text shall be removed, and white text on background should be reversed.

    4. Navigation cues given by the headers should be maintained. If headings are not converted to black, the color must be prominent with good contrast.

    5. Arial and the font size 20 will be the default format unless otherwise indicated by the CDE.

    6. Book dimensions shall be a maximum of 12 inches by 9 inches by 1 inch unless a different and specified size is approved in writing by State of California.

    7. Minimum margin for books shall be 0.5 inch.

    8. No printing shall be in the “gutter or folded” area.

    9. Books volumes shall not exceed 150 pages per volume. Books that require two or more volumes must include the front matter and back matter in each volume (unless the front/back matter exceeds 50 print pages).

    10. Front Matter (the print pages that precede the main text) and back matter (the print pages that follow the main text) shall not exceed more than 50 print pages. If it contains more than 50 print pages, it shall become one volume and will not be included in other volumes.


    1. Paper used shall show good contrast and sharpness of print by using a white matte, highly opaque paper with a minimum of 50-pound weight.


    1. Print quality shall be maximized for contrast, boldness, and sharpness, such that edges shall be smooth and defined without jagged edges.


    1. Text shall be the color of the original book unless otherwise requested by the CDE.

    2. Selected books will be in color as determined by the CDE. Workbooks where color does not contribute to accessibility (e.g., shading of text or borders) will be designated by the CDE as black and white at the time of assignment.

    3. Illustrations, photographs, and other graphics shall be printed in color if the original graphic is in color.

    4. Color photos should be of high contrast black and white copies.

    5. Photos, drawings, and designs should not be split without justification and prior written approval from the CDE Contract Monitor. Do not split images relevant to the text when reformatting the book.

    6. Reverse print (white on black) within graphs/charts and reference boxes is acceptable.


    1. Large print materials must retain the original type of cover and binding.

    2. Books with hard cover shall lay flat when opened.

    3. All covers shall replicate front and back of original book, including the scannable bar code.

    4. Spine of hard cover should include the title of the book, grade level, ISBN and the volume information (e.g., Vol. 1 of 7).

    5. Soft cover with multiple volumes should have the volume number clearly indicated on the top of the cover (e.g., Vol. 1 of 7).


    1. Textbooks, workbooks and library books produced in soft covers must have flexible plastic covers with plastic spiral binding.

    2. Hole shape and size:
      1. All holes shall be circular (round)
      2. 125-size holes on books ≤ ⅜"
      3. 187-size holes on books ≥ ½

    3. Hole Placing:
      1. Hole placing shall be 5 per inch for books ≤ ⅜" thick
      2. Hole placing shall be 3 per inch for books ≥ ½" thick

    4. Coil:
      1. Coil shall be made of stiff plastic
      2. Coil shall exceed book thickness by a minimum of ⅛"
      3. Coil shall exceed book thickness by a maximum of ½

A large-print book may be composed of several volumes. If this is the case, each volume must be the same size and cannot be larger than 9 inches by 12 inches by 1inch thick and must average a total of 150 pages.

Print pages that precede the main text (such as title page, copyright, authors, reviewers, contents, and others) constitute front matter. Print pages that follow the main text (such as a glossary, index, appendix, and others) constitute back matter.

A large-print book that requires two or more volumes must include the front matter and back matter in each volume. In the event three or more volumes are required, and the front matter and back matter exceeds 50 original pages, then a separate volume is required that includes both front matter and back matter.


The first page of large-print books adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) must contain the following return information:

California Department of Education
CSMT Media Warehouse
3740 Seaport Blvd., #20
West Sacramento, CA 95691

Return large-print books, postage-free, by writing the following in the upper right section of the package: "FREE MATTER FOR THE BLIND OR HANDICAPPED.”


Large print is generally defined as print for text passages that is larger than the print used by that segment of the population with normal vision. The print sizes most commonly used by the sighted population range from 8- to 12-point fonts.            

The CSMT takes the position that large-print for use by the low vision students in grades kindergarten (K) through grade eight (8) must be in 20-point font, depending on the material.

The "X-Height" is the size of the lowercase “X” letter. The overall measurement of the printed font (including caps, ascenders, and descenders) is called the "body size." Letters such as "h" and "f" are the ascenders and letters such as "g" and "y" are the descenders. The baseline is the bottom of the "X."

To confirm that the type size meets the 20-point K-8 requirements, measure from the bottom of the lower case letter (x, o, or e) to the top using a loupe with a scale of .005 inch increments. The measurement scale for 20 points equals (=) .135 inches.

Note: 20-Point Font: Multiply 25.4 by .135 inches = 3.429 millimeters

A book dimension must be 9 inches by 12 inches by 1-inch thick and must average a total of 150 pages. In the event a large-print book with a 20-point font cannot be produced within the 9 inches by 12 inches dimension, the book dimension may increase in size to 10 inches by 13 inches, only with prior approval from the CSMT.

Good judgment and past experience must be used in determining the appropriate font and book size for use by low vision students. A library book dimension of 8 inches by 11 inches must be used if a 20-point font size can be maintained.

When possible, the finished large-print book must match the same size as the original book. Manipulation of the text and image may be made if the dimension and size of the book is less than 9 inches by 12 inches. However, the large-print book must maintain all other requirements.

Questions: Laurie Garcia | | 916-319-0964 
Last Reviewed: Monday, November 23, 2015

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