While POD Print has an experienced design team that can help create your book’s interior text files, you may wish to design your layout on your own instead. If so, here are some tips and tricks for maximum readability and a professional product.
In the example above, the text is set to left-aligned, the default alignment in Microsoft Word and many other word-processing programs. This keeps the left side flush, but leaves the right edge ragged. For printed books, this is not the standard. Most printed books use a “fully justified” alignment that keeps both sides flush to the edge margins.
Now that we’ve applied full justification, we can tackle the font selection for the text. Most printed books use a serif font, which has small “serifs” (or “feet”) at the bottom. These sorts of typefaces lead the eye more easily from word to word, so they’re ideal for larger blocks of text in print. Times New Roman is a classic example of a serif typeface.
In our book layout above, the font is the current Word default, Calibri. This is a sans-serif (“without feet”) font and is more suited for on-screen usage or small bits of text like headlines, rather than body type.
For more information on the difference between serif and sans-serif fonts, check out our blog post on font choice for logos.
So we’ve swapped the font for a nice, readable serif, but the size is a bit large for these page dimensions. For printed books, 10-point to 12-point is a fairly common size, so we’ll downsize ours to 10-point.
In printing, the space between lines of type is referred to as “leading”, named for the strips of lead that were placed between the letter blocks on old printing presses. The leading in the sample above is a bit tight with the lines of type placed so closely together. This can make blocks of text harder to read, because it’s more difficult for the eye to pan from one line to the next. Let’s add a little more spacing. Standard spacing is about 125% to 140% of the font size, so if our type is 10-point, we’ll choose a spacing closer to 13-point.
The spacing between the edge of the page and the text can also affect how easy or difficult it is to read a book. Standard spacing for most novels is somewhere around 5/8” to 1”. The sample above was a bit tight at 1/2”, so we’ll add a little extra margin.
There, that’s much more readable! Next up, gutters. The space in the middle of the book where it’s bound is called the gutter. This uses up a little bit of the margin on the inside, so you’ll want to add just a little extra margin in the center of the book to allow for that, so the margins look visually similar when the book is open.
Headers and Footers
With our gutters now set, we only have the finishing touch left: headers and footers. These can be the extra flourishes that really help your book shine. There’s some wiggle room in where to place these items, but the headers and footers usually include the book’s title, the author, and the page numbers. Check out some of the books on your shelf for examples of variations, but we’ve included a sample below as well.
And there you have it! The graphic design tips that will make your book look like a professional product. If this feels a bit overwhelming, please reach out to us and our design team would be happy to work with you to create a layout for you.
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