Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Beautiful Books in Print

Happy Wednesday, everyone! What a lovely day it is. So, I was poking around my e-mail and came across a post that went up on The Book Designer. It's all about layout and page margins. If you have more than a moment, go check it out. Totally worth your time. So, today I'm gonna talk about another aspect of print book formatting: beautification. So, grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Joel makes some excellent points in his post about a book designer needing to be detail-oriented. We pay attention to the things you may miss or may think aren't important. What I think needs to be added to that post is something about the designer beautifying the book beyond the typography (which is the number one consideration). If your designer doesn't know typography, your book won't look (or read) like it should. But, that's another post. For now, let's talk consistency and artistic elements that will make your book stand out from the crowd.

When I'm formatting a book, elements and typefaces from the cover can be found within the pages. Sometimes, I'll set the books text in one of the fonts used for the cover, but this is rare (display or title faces do not good reading make). Rather than use a font that doesn't flow well, I tend to use the display or title fonts for the details. Running headers (or footers) can be set in any typeface you'd like because they aren't put there to help you read. Page numbers can be adorned in many ways because they serve only to mark a place or add a bit of glamor to a page.

My favorite place to use the cover fonts is in the chapter titles and numbers. And, man, are there a ton of ways you can format that first page! It's the page where the text generally begins about halfway down and you have all that white space to play with. You can add flourishes, decorative type, images, logos, anything! Drop caps are fun, too! But any good designer is going to take the time to make sure it's consistent.

You don't want a flourish on chapter one and then not again until chapter thirty. You don't want story breaks to have boring white space between them. Above all else, you don't want someone to open the book and be shocked by how different the inside is from the outside. They should be wowed.

If I've read the book, my imagination goes a little wild when I'm adding those little details that make a book sing off the page. I sometimes use elements from the cover or story throughout the design.

Here are a few of my interior designs (I'm including the covers so you can see how they match):

(There's a chance to win a printed copy of that last book shown, Borrowed Things, running right here on this blog! Check it out!)

Those are the types of things I love to do when formatting books. That logo on Borrowed Things is repeated for every story break (smaller in size, of course).

A couple of books I was wowed by when I opened them:
Splintered by A. G. Howard
Reckless by Cornelia Funke
Fearless by Cornelia Funke

These are the book designs that stay with me. Sure, I remember stories from many books, but it's when I'm wowed by a design that I remember the story with vivid detail. Each of those links provides a look inside option. Go look inside! See what these people are doing. Love it. Learn from it. Your only restraints are your imagination!

I hope you all got a new perspective on book beautification and consistency in design today. I also hope you checked out Joel's blog and took his advice to heart. Remember, don't sacrifice readability for lower printing costs! Margins matter!

If you're interested in having a book formatted for print, contact me using this form.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. I'm still wowed when I open my book thanks to you! I love all the compliments from readers, too. You are simply awesome! ;-)

    1. I'm happy you love it and get many compliments :) That makes every second I spend formatting worth it! I'm humbled by your praise :)

  2. I like the idea of reiterating cover type in chapter openings. I've done it myself a few times but I can't help feeling that this is something that readers won't notice and only other book makers will care about.

    I spend a lot of time massaging each pbook paragraph. I adjust wordspacing, add, remove and change words if necessary, and kill widows and orphans.

    But will readers -- especially those who have become accustomed to crappy ebook typography -- appreciate the work that goes into a pretty page? I think not.

    1. Ah, but they do appreciate it. Like Tia with Chasing Memories, nearly everyone who reads The Bird compliments the pretty design and artistic elements. I think readers do like "pretty." Especially if they're women. :) Thanks for the comment, Michael; and welcome to the blog!

  3. I received my copy of Chasing Memories today from Amazon and I love holding that book in my hand! (the Heather Topham Wood book I won isn't half bad, either). I look forward to reading one or both of them when I am on vacation soon. Thanks again! You rock!

    1. I'm glad you love the design, Alana! We've gotten a lot of great feedback on it. Thanks for letting me know they arrived safely. I hope you enjoy the heck out of them! Let us know! :)

  4. Borrowed Things is new to me, I'll have to check it out. Like the look of the chapter heading.

    1. Thanks, Heather! Tia wrote a glowing review. I haven't read it yet, but I plan on it! :) Thanks for the comment luv!


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