Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Basics of Interior Book Design

How do you get a reader to choose your book from the shelf and look inside? An eye-catching cover and tempting title are sure to entice someone to pick it up and turn it over to read the synopsis on the back before flipping through the pages to read snippets of what’s inside.  

Does the inside of your book do justice to the cover? Although most readers don’t know the rules of design, they can tell if the interior pages look professional. Even if your content is valuable, who wants to read a book with tiny type, misaligned graphics, or misspelled words? When you wrote your book, you carefully selected the words to get your message across. It’s important that those words make an impact on the printed page.

Don’t let a poorly designed book damage your credibility.

Interior book design encompasses all the elements on a page that give it style. These aspects include:
  • Choice of font: body text, chapter headings, and subheadings
  • Width of margins
  • Style of chapter headings
  • Spacing between the lines
  • Headers and footers – page numbers
  • Placement of graphics, charts, pictures, or callout boxes
Follow these tips to help you with the design of your book’s pages:

Look at other books and see what you like about the layout. What is the size of the book? Are the page numbers in the header or in the footer? Which font do you prefer? Should your chapter headings be large and fancy, or small and plain? Do the graphics have borders around them? You can save time and money if you have some idea of what you like and don’t like about interior pages before handing your manuscript over to the page designer.

Don’t settle on a basic template. A book designer should be able to customize your interior layout and use the fonts, spacing, design, and graphic elements you want. If you are unable to tailor the page design to your preference because of limitations on the number of graphics, choice of font, or any other element, it’s time to look for another designer.

Ask to see samples of the designer’s work. Ask for references and speak to the designer about her experience working with authors. Look at samples of her work. If possible, use a designer who has been referred by someone you know and trust.

Listen to your designer’s suggestions regarding layout issues. There are a few hard and fast rules for interior page design and a good designer will tell you if you are breaking those rules. For instance, odd numbered pages are always on the right and even numbered pages on the left. On the other hand, some issues are neither right nor wrong, such as the position of page numbers. They can be in the header or the footer.

Your page design can be created in Microsoft Word. A manuscript does not have to be converted to a fancy graphics program for printing. Microsoft Word is adequate for designing a book – graphics and all! 

You’ll be proud when you hold a finished copy of your book in your hands. Make sure that it shines.

Debbie Kerr is a typesetter and proofreader specializing in interior page design. She also designs speaker sheets, postcards, and bookmarks for marketing your book.

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