The old adage “Never judge a book by its cover” is used in a myriad of circumstances, but what about when you get past the cover? One is led to believe, then, that you can judge a book by its interior, and this is absolutely true. The interior design of a book improves (or ruins) the readability of the work.
You may be asking yourself, what is interior book design? It’s the font style and size; it’s the use of graphics (or not); and it’s every decision from margin size to chapter layout to the incorporation of quotes. Drawing certain details from Why Interior Book Design Matters, my hope is to introduce some of the basics to interior book design.
One essential aspect of interior book design is font choice. Some fonts are considered overly used; Times New Roman and Arial are among these offenders. And some fonts are easier on the eyes, keeping the reader absorbed in the story. Even after specifying a font, though, it’s important to use them effectively. You can’t go overboard on bolds, italics, or underlining, and you need to refrain from writing in ALL CAPS. Note how jarring that was.
Another aspect to look at is the spacing and margin width. Do you want to use single-spaced text, double-spaced text, or something in between? Should the margins be small (therefore increasing line length), or should they be larger? These are the types of questions that a designer considers when developing the interior of a book in an effort to assess every last detail. If done well, aspects such as spacing and margin width can work with the font to improve a reader’s interaction with the physical text, which positively influences a reader’s experience with the story.
Finally, let’s briefly discuss the inclusion of images. Images can affect design for better or worse—whether they are little graphics at the bottom of the page or full-page illustrations of a scene. It’s important for you to consider whether such images add anything to the chapter or whether they are taking away from the rest of the book. These are not simple questions to ask yourself, but they are important and will help immensely when working on a book or a short story.
I have briefly touched upon a few key elements of interior book design, but regardless of the component, everything will contribute to a work’s readability, hopefully creating a cohesive product that enhances the entire experience. Until next time, I hope this sates your curiosity for what goes on in the design realm of publishing.