The saying goes that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. It’s really what’s inside that counts. And while the cover of a book design is often what gets someone’s attention in the book store, the satisfaction comes from a beautifully designed interior. Without careful consideration of how the words look on a page, your book is going to be beautiful on the outside but plain and droll on the inside.
And people might not be compelled to read it.
So, if you want a pleasing book layout, you are going to need to know a little bit about typesetting and layout. We’ve got 5 tips for you to make sure your next book is a masterpiece.
Yes, margins are just a blank piece of paper, but any artist will happily discuss with you the importance of negative space. There are three margins (top, bottom, outside) and one gutter (the inside margin). Each of these margins is beneficial. For example, the outside margin provides a space for someone’s thumb to rest without obscuring the words. Top margins hold valuable information about the book. And the gutter is where you find the binding, so you want to ensure the gutter is large enough.
Understanding how trim size could affect the layout of a book and the appeal to the buyer is essential. There are two standard sizes: 5.5×8.5 and 6.0×9.0. Whether these are good for your book, however, remains unsaid. You might want to make a wider book for illustrations or lengthen the trim size to make a thick book look less daunting. You also need to think about how trim size affects paperbacks, hardbacks, and casebound books.
Art and Images
If your book includes artwork or photographs, you will need to alter the layout to make space. Text and artwork interact on the page, so you want to consider the genre. For example, cookbooks often feature a picture of the finished product on one side with the recipe to the other end of the page. A children’s book often has illustrations above a small caption or bit of text that continues the story.
Avoid Common Mistakes
Always leave enough white space. Don’t try to cheat and get more words on a page to save money when publishing. Look out for widows and orphans, since that could maroon lines of text from the rest of the paragraph, making information hard to follow. Check for hyphenated words that break into separate words, such as overbearing vs over-bearing, since that could also be confusing.
Lastly, we have the typeface. Most books use Caslon, Garamond, Baskerville, or Goudy fonts, but reference books, art books, and cookbooks may switch to sans serif fonts instead. Sans serif looks more modern and is easier to read.
But it doesn’t matter what font you choose—as long as it’s legible. Consider the bold font, italics, and capital letters. Also think about your audience. You might want a bigger font and font size for books that cater to older adults.
The other thing you can’t forget is leading, which is the white space between lines. You never want to diminish that space between lines, because it will make the passages extremely difficult to follow. Shoot for 33-36 lines per page.
To make any book layout look like it was professionally done, carefully consider things like the margins, white space, art, typeface, and the presence of widows and orphans. Be thoughtful with how you set up the book. Your readers will take note of the design and find reading the content much more enjoyable.