Laying out a book seems like a secondary task to creating the content, right? Well, message and delivery style really can’t be separated. Imagine Donald Duck trying to deliver Franklin Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech. It wouldn’t work, right?
Similarly, without a solid book layout that allows the reader to follow along, they’ll be frustrated trying to understand what it’s saying, or at the very least, be distracted by poor interior book design.
What Is Interior Book Design?
So far, you might get the impression that we’re talking about book formatting. Formatting is important, yes, but it’s more about technical requirements on the part of the publisher. Design is far more comprehensive and has to do with creating a mood or a feeling just from the appearance of your book’s pages.
Think about book designs you’ve seen that evoke moods, like yellowed paper and wavy edges to simulate age, fonts that are from particular time periods, and how text interacts with graphics on the pages.
Tips for Interior Book Design
As you can imagine, interior book design is an involved process! Your book layout will be a large part of the reading experience, so put the appropriate effort into making it as compelling as your book’s content.
Determine the Size of Your Book
Book sizes are usually tied to book genres. A breezy romance novel probably should be in a mass-market paperback size, which is usually 4.25” x 6.87”, or a trade paperback size, which is closer to 5” x 8”. A novel or novella that’s not terribly long can be that size without ending up overly thick or having a font that requires a microscope to read.
A novel that’s either classic literature or larger in scope could be printed as a hardcover, which typically means a size of 6” to 8.5” x 9” to 11”. Art, photography, and children’s picture books can come in a wide range of sizes to maximize the experience of the artwork.
Keep Your Font Style Simple
For a novel being released from a mainstream publisher, your font may not even be something you can choose. Times New Roman, Georgia New, Garamond, Bookman, and other more straightforward fonts are probably as far as you can go.
For an illustrated book, like an art book or a children’s book, you can play around with fonts more freely to match the tone of the book design. The most important thing to remember is that your font must be readable.
Use a Typical Font Size
The vast majority of books have either an 11-point or 12-point font size. Large print books for the visually impaired are exempt from this, of course.
Again, if you’re laying out a book meant for children or are creating something more artistic, you can have font sizes that vary more. Want one letter per page for your children’s book about the alphabet? In that case, it would make sense to use a large, page-filling font size!
Be Creative with Chapter Pages
All this talk of fonts and font sizes may make you think you can’t deviate from them if you’re writing a novel. Don’t forget about chapter pages! These pages are a great place to add a little flair to your layout design.
Your page number, chapter title, and even the first letter of the first word could be an opportunity to use a specific font to create specific emotion.
Be Mindful with Headers and Footers
Overly wordy headers and footers are distracting. Even if you have a long book title and a long chapter title, this isn’t a good reason to have a 3-line header.
You may have to split the difference and put the book title at the head and the chapter title at the foot, for example. You also have to have room for your page numbers when laying out a book.
Pay Attention to Your Margins
Not every book can be spiral bound to make use of every inch of a page. Remember that your book must have a binding, and that binding eats up space on the page. The part next to the binding is the gutter and must have a larger margin than the outer edge of the page.
Margins aren’t arbitrary; the standard is one inch. This inch leaves enough space to give the readers’ eyes the ability to quickly identify the end of one line and the start of the next without wasting huge amounts of paper or ink.
Be Attentive to Your Special Pages
Don’t want your book’s content to get copied and reprinted without your permission? The copyright page, in particular, is important for you, the author, for exactly that reason.
Yes, your book has to have copyright info inside to prevent such theft. Your forewords, introductions, and dedications belong in the front, and your afterword, acknowledgments, and bibliographies belong in the back.
Imagine listening to a record of Bach concertos that suddenly and inexplicably turns into a hardcore rap album. Consistent layout design will keep you from confusing your readers. Changing font sizes, indent spaces, margins, chapter page layouts, and the like will give the reader the sense that the book design was not thought out at all.
Ask for Help
Above all, if you’re creating an interior book design and don’t know what to do, get help! There are plenty of designers who know how to create compelling layout designs and will be happy to offer their services. You’ll have to pay an outside talent for this, but it’s worth it to get a readable, consistent, enjoyable book out of it.
Don’t Let Interior Book Design Stump You — Contact Print Bind Ship!
At Print Bind Ship, we know what it takes to make a book that will satisfy readers. Authors from every genre trust Print Bind Ship every day to get their books into eager customers’ hands.
The best part is that you don’t have to do the dirty work of manufacturing, storing, and shipping the books to consumers — we’ll do all of that for you! So if you want readers who will keep coming back for more, contact Print Bind Ship today.
The standard book margin is one inch. This width can vary for art or children’s books.
The most important elements are consistency and readability. Font size and type, margins, headers, and footers — all of them work towards a pleasant reading experience.
Beyond book formatting, which is a set of specifications from a publisher, the interior layout creates a cohesive reading experience, whether it’s plain text or an interplay of text and graphics.