As an author, you’ve poured your heart and soul into crafting a compelling story, but the visual presentation of your book is equally crucial to captivate readers. Interior book design plays a pivotal role in enhancing the overall reading experience. In this guide, we’ll explore essential tips from a seasoned book designer to help authors navigate the intricacies of trim size, margins, blank pages, running heads and feet, chapter headings, typography, leading, paragraph styles, and signature details.
1. Trim Size
Choosing the right trim size sets the foundation for your book’s aesthetics. Consider the genre, target audience, and the overall tone of your work. Standard trim sizes, such as 5.5 x 8.5 inches (13,97 x 21,59 cm) or 6 x 9 inches (15.24 x 22.86 cm), are popular for fiction and non-fiction, but don’t be afraid to explore custom sizes for a unique touch.
Margins provide breathing space for your content and contribute to a harmonious layout. Optimal margins ensure comfortable reading and prevent the text from feeling cramped. Aim for a balance between aesthetics and functionality; standard margins typically range from 1.25 to 3.25 cm (0.5 to 1.25 inches).
This layout is:
Trim: 6 x 9 inches
Margins: 22.225, 20.75, 25.4, 22.225 mm
Font body text: Caslon regular
Font size: 12pt~15pt
Paragraph style: line space.
3. Blank Pages
Strategically placed blank pages can add visual breaks and enhance the pacing of your book. Use blank pages before new chapters or significant shifts in content to create a sense of anticipation and improve overall readability.
4. Running Heads and Feet
Running heads (headers) and feet (footers) are often overlooked but can add a professional touch. Include the book title or chapter names in the headers and page numbers in the footers. Consistency in font and placement contributes to a polished look.
5. Chapter Headings
Chapter headings are a vital element of interior design, setting the tone for each section. Choose a font that complements your cover design and use consistent styling throughout. Experiment with different fonts, sizes, and formatting options to find the perfect fit.
You can also choose to compliment the interior design of your book with headings and sub headings using the same font as your chapter headings, or your body text.
The choice of typeface significantly impacts the readability and visual appeal of your book. Select a font that aligns with the genre and mood of your work. Ensure readability by avoiding overly decorative fonts for body text. Aim for a harmonious combination of serif and sans-serif fonts for a balanced look.
Leading, the space between lines of text, plays a crucial role in readability. Adjust leading based on your chosen font and trim size to find the right balance. A general rule of thumb is to set leading at 120-145% of the font size. So if your type is 10pt, then use 12pt leading.
8. Paragraph Styles: Indent or Line Space
Consistency is key in establishing a professional appearance. Choose indented paragraphs or a line space between them. Define paragraph styles for body text, block quotes, and other elements. This ensures uniformity throughout the book and streamlines the design process.
9. Signature Details
- Drop Caps: Add visual interest to the beginning of chapters by incorporating drop caps—enlarged, stylized initial letters.
- Leading Lines: Use decorative lines to separate sections or add emphasis to key elements.
- Pull Out Quotes: Highlight impactful quotes by placing them in a distinct style, drawing attention to their significance.
- Glyphs and Dingbats: Experiment with decorative characters to enhance chapter breaks or emphasise key points subtly.
- Font Case + Tracking: Utilise uppercase or lowercase text strategically, and adjust tracking (letter spacing) for optimal readability.
Attention to detail in interior book design is a mark of professionalism that can elevate your work to new heights. By considering trim size, margins, blank pages, running heads and feet, chapter headings, typography, leading, paragraph styles, and signature details, authors can collaborate effectively with book designers to create visually stunning and reader-friendly publications.
This article was written for Amsterdam Academy Press with whom I work, together with the AAP Team, to bring self-publish books to life.