Book Design | Interior Page Layout Mistakes to Avoid

Gabriel Maybank || November 1, 2016

Why Your Book’s Interior Design Important

You can’t judge a book by its cover. All self-publishers seems to know this. If readers are not judging the cover, then what are they judging. It is your book’s interior…by the way people do judge books by the cover. Let’s back up to the basic function of a book. Why do people read books? People read books to extract information from the author. The overall functionality of a book is to strike the reader’s attention and then guide them through a story, concept, lesson, etc. The author’s position is to communicate a clear message to their readers and engage or invoke a response.

Let’s define what clear means in terms of interior designing for books. The text must match the audience expectancy or at least be within range. It’s ok to push boundaries and I encourage it, but be mindful of why those guides were created in the first place. Font, for example, which font becomes overwhelming distractive or which one presents a clean, professional, and polished look to your book’s interior in retrospect to the audience expectations of the book’s interior. In a children’s illustration book, you can use crazy or decorative fonts, if it helps move the story and communicate clearly. Imagery holds a higher importance in children’s books. Using those same decorative fonts, even as headers or chapter headings, in an educational or college course type book, not a good idea. So ask yourself, which font presents a clean, professional, polished look in retrospect to the audience expectations and aids in communicating my message clearly?

Once you’ve considered fonts that are easy to read, then you have to determine and display the hierarchy of information. This is the “meat” of the interior design. Especially in non-fiction books where you may have different categories or parts, sections, or subheads. Then you have to give the reader navigational cues to move them along throughout the book, such as chapter headings and page numbers.

Interior Layout Mistakes to Avoid

Do not leave blank pages on the right hand side of your spread (InDesign). If using Word to format your book, you are going to have to count out your pages and determine which ones will be odd and which ones will be even. Page 1 should begin on the right (see more below).  Main thing, do not have blank pages on the right hand side. When you open the cover of the a book, every page that you turn to all the way to the end of the book, needs to have something on it.

Not very page needs a page number. Cover pages, copyright page, blank pages do not need page numbers. Sometimes even the introduction, or any other page leading up to a table of context does not necessarily need to have a page number.

Blank pages should be blank pages. It is acceptable to have a blank page on the left hand side of the page. Chapter headings, author’s name, book titles should not be on blank pages.

Odd-numbered pages should begin on the right side of the page and even-numbered pages on the left. The first page when you open a book is page one on the right hand side, so odd-numbered pages need to be on the right throughout.

Justify the text so the right edge of the type column is just like the left edge. Unless it is for artistic effects such as poetry, you do not want a ragged right edge. It does not give the clean, professional appearance.

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