Interior book design isn’t something that gets a lot of notice; cover design takes the attention. In a lot of cases, the interior design of a book isn’t actually meant to draw the eye. Instead, it’s meant to lay out the content in a way that allows the reader to follow along without distraction. Oftentimes, the layout is something that goes unnoticed until there is something wrong or out of place. Layout design is a very particular and detail-oriented process that involves anything from trim size and color to spacing and font selection.
Several key components aid in a successful interior design. One of the first determinants is the trim size of the book. This is crucial to know before starting on the rest of the interior design, as it can directly affect further decisions such as headers, footers, and margins. Trim size can be standard among genres, with most books staying within an inch of five by eight. Trim size can also control pages numbers, which is also valuable to know before diving into the other aspects of interior design.
The next important decision is font selection. In the case of typeface and size, it is usually best to go with the standard. The wrong font can lead to one of those situations where the reader gets the feeling that something is wrong, even if they can’t define what it is. Common book fonts include Garamond, Bookman, Times New Roman, and Adobe Caslon Pro. Another important consideration when thinking about fonts is what might look good on screen versus in print.
Once font and trim size have been decided on and words are on the page, layout comes into play. Having a good structure and making good use of space is critical for a professional-looking book. This includes the spacing between words, lines, and paragraphs. A tip to follow here is to single space after punctuation, since double spacing here can lead to odd-looking empty space. Margins can also be decided at this stage. Remember that cramped content can make for a difficult read, while words that have breathable space and a solid structure make content easy to follow and even skim.
While interior book design involves a lot of precise decision-making, there is plenty of room for creativity within the inside of your book. Consumer novels can have fun fonts and artwork on chapter pages. Fans of the Harry Potter series have even gotten tattoos of the three stars that border the page number in the books.
Books such as artwork collections or travel guides have even more creative leeway. 50 Hikes in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests, a recent publication by Ooligan Press, is a great example of creative interior design. The guide’s illustrations, maps, sidebars, and symbols provide quick information, and the sections separating the hikes by area make the book easier to navigate.
While the interior design of a book may not always be as flashy as cover design, it is just as, if not more important. A book with a good layout and design may not always get noticed, but a book with a bad interior can ruin professionalism and even lose readers. With these tips, sticking to industry standards when necessary, and utilizing creative practice where possible, the interior design of your book can become the backbone needed for its content and cover to shine.