Book design is everything that affects the appearance of a book
Book design encompasses size, margins, typography, line spacing, page numbers, headers and footers, page layout, parts of a book, cover design, and even your choice of paper.
The Chicago Manual of Style is the standard reference for designing a book.
Wikipedia.org is also a good source of information.
I will cover the more common elements here. If you get confused, remember, every book you own is a training aid.
Book Design: Size
Your first design decision is the size of your book.
The most common size for trade paperbacks is 6 X 9 inches. If you are writing the standard “How To” or a novel, use the popular 6" X 9" format. If you are writing for children or seniors, you might prefer a larger font and a larger trim size. You also have to take photographs and illustrations into consideration. For example, a table of statistics might require a wider page to be readable.
Standard trim sizes available from CreateSpace for black and white interiors include: 5.25" X 8" 8" X 10"5.5" X 8.5" 8.25" X 8.25"6" X 9" 8.25" X 6"7" X 10"
Nonstandard sizes available from CreateSpace include:5" X 8" 6.69" X 9.61"5.06" X 7.81" 7.44" X 9.69"6.14" X 9.21" 7.5" X 9.25."
Other publishers carry different sizes.
Book Design: Margins
Margins are a primary element of book design. They will be affected by your selection of page size. Normally, the larger the book, the larger the margins. For the sizes offered by CreateSpace, 5" X 8" through 8" X 10," margins between .5" and 1.25" are the norm.
Using Word’s mirror margins will allow you to set the inside margin wider than the outside margin to compensate for the spine and page curl.
The header and footer margins can be left at their default, or set at half of the margin. This is the time to consider what headers and footers you want, and where you are going to put them. The best way to determine what you like is simply to look at lots of books.
For my book design, I used a margin of .8" for the top, bottom, and outside margins, 1" for the inside margins, and header and footer margins of .4".
Book Design: Headers and Footers
I would use different odd and even headers to put the book title on top of the left pages and the chapter titles on top of the right pages.
I used different odd and even footers in my book design to put the page numbers on the outside margins at the bottom of the page. Putting page numbers on the bottom of the page simplifies formatting in that some pages are allowed to have page numbers at the bottom but not at the top of the page. For example, new chapters usually begin in the middle of the page without headers or page numbers on top, but it is okay to have page numbers on the bottom.
It seems silly to list chapter page numbers in the Table of Contents, and then not have page numbers on the first page of the chapter, so I always put the page numbers on the bottom. You can, of course, switch back and forth from top to bottom, but that also seems silly.
Page numbers are the only hard and fast requirement here. They are usually placed on the outside of the page either on the top or the bottom of the page. Page numbers can also be placed in the center at the bottom of the page.
Literary book designs normally do not use any headers or footers other than the page numbers. Technical and “How To” books usually use headers or footers to identify the book and chapter. A popular arrangement is to put the books name in a header on the left hand page and the chapter name in a header on the right hand page with page numbers on the outside of the pages at the bottom.
Book Design: The Parts of a Book
The inside of your book is called a book block. The book block is divided into three parts: front matter, main body text, and back matter.
Book Design: Front Matter
Front matter consists of all the pages that come before the main body of text. The pages are traditionally numbered in lowercase roman numerals. Each page is counted; however, blank pages do not show their page numbers. Headers are not normally used in this section, and there are no footers except for the page numbers.
The half title page is the first page of your book and is always put on a new right hand page. This page includes the title only. It omits the subtitle, author’s name, and publisher. It is an optional page, but a nice touch. Page two may contain other books by the author or left blank.
The title page is always put on a new right hand page. It contains the book’s full title, subtitle, if it has one, the name of the author, and the publisher. See the title page of this book for an example.
The copyright page can be put on the backside of the title page. It contains your copyright notice, date published, publisher, and where published. The purpose of the copyright page is to protect the author from plagiarism. Book numbers, photo credits, and illustrator credits can also go here. The type may be smaller than the main body text, if desired.
The dedication should be on a new right hand page. The author has full discretion whether or not to have a dedication page, and to whom to dedicate his book.
The foreword, if included, should be put on a new right hand page. It is an introduction written by a recognized authority, other than the author, that explains the importance of the book.
The preface is also put on a new right hand page. The purpose of the preface is to give the author’s reason for writing the book.
Acknowledgments are also put on a new right hand page. This is an opportunity for the author to show his appreciation for all who helped in the creation of his book either directly or indirectly.
The table of contents is put on a new right hand page. The table of contents includes an accurate listing of chapters and the pages on which they begin. If the book is divided into parts or sections, they would also be included. A table of contents should reflect the structure of a book at a glance.
You are not required to have all of the above pages in your book. At a minimum, you should have a title page, a copyright page, and a table of contents.
Whenever you are required to begin an element on a new right hand page, you are often left with a blank page preceding it. Blank pages are a nuisance because they should not have any headers or footers on them. They should be completely blank. This usually means using section breaks to make each blank page a section of its own. Section breaks will be covered in “Page Design.”
Book Design: The Main Body
Body text can be divided into parts, sections, and or chapters. If the introduction is written by someone other than the author, then it should be treated as part of the front matter. If it is written by the author, it is part of the main body text. The main body text is numbered with Arabic numerals beginning with the number 1, and numbered sequentially to the end of the book. NOTE: When you are asked for the total number of pages in your book, be sure to add the front matter pages, body text pages, and the back matter pages.
Parts are usually larger than chapters and should begin on a new right hand page. Parts usually contain introductions to several related chapters.
Sections can be either larger or smaller than chapters. Chapters are the main divisions of most books and should be numbered sequentially, even if they are divided into parts. The first chapter in a book, or a major part, should start on a new right hand page. The remaining chapters can start on either the left or right hand page. Chapters are usually further divided by headings and subheadings of descending weight.
Book Design: Back Matter
The back matter consists of the appendix, notes, bibliography, glossary, index, and a colophon. You are already familiar with these, although, you might not have come across a colophon as they are not as common as they used to be. A novel would not need any of these. A technical manual might use all of them. An “About the Author” page could go on the back cover, if the author is famous or an authority; otherwise it might go in the back of the book ahead of the items listed above.
The appendix comes directly after the text and consists of letters, documents, and miscellaneous material that relates to the material in the book. It begins on a new right hand page.
Notes are footnotes, which because of their extent, have been placed at the back of the book. This section is often divided into chapters.
The bibliography is a list of books and periodicals, which the author has used as source material or has recommended to his readers. There are many great style guides for listing references, so I will not cover reference styles here.
The glossary is a list of terms and their definitions used in the text.
The index is an alphabetical list of references and their page numbers that the author deems important. It is usually the last part of the book to be assembled. An index is one of the things MS Word does well.
Colophons describe the fonts, papers, ink, bindings, etc. that were used to produce the book.
Book Design: Paper Choice
CreateSpace currently offers a choice of two papers. Cream colored paper is the usual choice for novels and other types of fiction. White paper is used for technical, How "To books," and other non-fiction books.
Get access to FREE book publishing tools, resources, and a growing online community of authors. Learn how.
The Book Design Wizard
Poetry Book Creator
Leave Book Design and return to the Home Page