Book Design

Book Design

Have you written a book? Ready for it to be turned into a beautiful paperback and/or an ebook?

This book design information applies to a fixed page book design such as a book being designed for printing and/or fixed layout ebook. It assumes the text is final and ready to enter the design stage. However if it needs proofreading or editing we can supply this service prior to book design commencing.


1. Design Conceptualisation:
Prior to layout and typesetting it is important to engage in design conceptualisation, which involves project management, planning ahead and confirming the project scope or brief. We often do this very quickly and simply, because during sales the job is half done. Although this is an ongoing process, prior to commencement of book setup (content layout) we analyse your existing collateral and brand style and assist with decisions like:

  • Relation between print and digital editions (if both)
  • The format and size of the book
  • Conceptualisation—Creative Brief, including target market (and devices)
  • Colour selection (not set in stone at this stage, just some ideas)
  • Font selection (not set in stone at this stage, just some ideas)
  • Image selection (not set in stone at this stage, just some ideas)

2. Book Setup:
Book Setup Tasks Include:

  • Template design
  • Page size and margins setup
  • Columns or grid setup
  • Master pages setup
  • Color palette customisation
  • Paragraph styles setup

3. Text Formatting:
We format text either through a word processor or directly in Adobe InDesign, the desktop publishing application.

Text Acquisition:
Text acquisition is the method by which text is created (such as typing in a word processor) and imported into a desktop publishing application.

Usually this step is done by the customer, however we are able to OCR-scan or type up hand-written text.

Text Composition:
Text composition consists of many individual tasks regarding where and how text is arranged on the page and how the text is formatted, including spacing, hyphenation, indentation and type styles.

A novel is much simpler to put together than a non-fiction book, which may have complexities like footnotes or end notes, headings and tables, bulleted lists and images with captions. There is less work required in typesetting a novel. It is also faster, and therefore cheaper, to produce a 40,000 word book than a 100,000 word book.

So, what is involved in the 'text formatting' part of designing a book?

With a novel of 100,000 words there may be as many as 280 pages to carefully craft. These are 280 individual pages that the typesetter looks at multiple times to ensure:

  • all pages have appropriate margins (eg. the centre part of the book must have larger margins to account for the gutter)
  • spacing between lines, paragraphs, headings etc. is consistent and attractive
  • headers and footers are correct
  • fonts and colours are chosen carefully and consistently
  • drop caps, dividing lines (dinkuses) and other layout features are crafted in an appropriate way for this book and genre
  • page numbering is consistent, page numbers are removed from front and back matter
  • all text is readable
  • front matter and back matter is correct and consistent

We don't have to manually put page numbers on every single page as there are certain automation techniques available to us with Adobe InDesign, but every page does have to be looked at carefully, especially when content or formatting is changed somewhere in the chapter preceding the page, which has a flow-on effect to all subsequent pages of the book.

The text will flow from one page to another inside a text frame, much like it does in a Word document, however, our aim is to produce a book that is easy to read, attractive and professional, something that a librarian or a bookstore owner would feel comfortable stocking. In order to achive this there are certain steps a typesetter must perform and aspects they must focus on. If you have not noticed these things in books you have read, good. It means the typesetter has done their job. The features of a good book layout should not be very noticeable. They are meant to complement and ease the reading experience not stick out like a sore thumb. The profession of crafting text is intricate, and detailed, and in a world where desktop publishing is a skill owned by most people, sometimes the book designer is under-appreciated.

Just to give a few examples:-

Widows and Orphans
It is a book designer's job to ensure there are no widows or orphans (single words or single lines appearing on a subsequent page all by themselves). At first glance it may seem impossible to deal with this problem. After all, text takes up as much space as it takes up, and the book designer is not allowed to simply delete a phrase here or there to make the book fit. No, they must not alter the text. They can't even alter the size of the text. So what can they do? There are many tricks employed by our book designers, and they include slight changes, that are barely noticeable to readers, to heading spacing, tracking, kerning and leading.

Text frames line up top and bottom
That's right, most novels, if you look carefully, line up perfectly at the top and bottom of every page (except when only half a page is used, such as at the end of a chapter). How is this achieved without the reader being able to notice larger and smaller gaps between the lines (leading) etc.? It is a careful art.

Chapter lead pages
Most novels have half a page for the beginning of each chapter, and these will usually start on the right-hand page, unless trying to reduce costs by reducing page count. In any case it is the book designer's job to ensure all chapters start in a consistent and logical way.

Paragraph styles
Most manuscripts do not come to a book designer with styles having been applied. Much as this SHOULD BE done by writers and editors, it often is not. Instead, we bring in a Microsoft Word document and through come a bunch of saved Word styles, that are inconsistently used. The book designer must apply paragraph styles to ALL text, to ensure there is no local formatting, which can come back to bite them later. They must ensure that formatting like bold and italics, drop caps and special symbols are maintained, and that the fonts chosen are readable and appropriate for the genre. Once paragraph styles are applied to an entire book design, it is a simple matter to (a) change them to suit the tastes of an editor or client, and (b) convert to ebook format, which inherently requires styles, as it makes a smaller ebook if it is built using CSS in the XHTML.

These days a good book designer prepares their book dynamically, so the workflow is as efficient as possible. Even if the author or editor start making lots of changes, or there is a new edition, it should be as simple and efficient as possible to apply these changes in the layout.

These are just a few examples of what my book design team and I could literally fill a book with to explain our craft. We love designing books and we hope you will enjoy any experience working with us.

Approval to Continue
After setting up about 10% of the book design, our designer will send this draft layout to you for comment. Adjustments can be made to the styles and design until you are satisfied. Then we continue with the entire book layout using this style.

4. Designing Images (interior and cover design):
Image selection and preparation may occur at any point during the book design process. Working with images in desktop publishing involves:

Image Acquisition:

  • May be from scanning or by acquiring digital photos or illustrations.
  • Image creation & editing
  • Image conversion

Image Placement:
“Placing images” is the process of bringing images into a desktop publishing application, like Adobe InDesign.

  • Interior of book—images inserted and text adjusted for optimal layout
  • Title text, front cover, back cover, spine rough, and title page designed

Image submission guidelines : Images must be supplied as high-quality image files.

If you are supplying low-quality images or images embedded in other file types (such as PDF, Microsoft Word or PowerPoint) more work will probably be required by our team to make them into print-ready files that we can insert into your printed book layout. Unless stated otherwise, this is not included in 'optimise quality and layout of images' or 'working with images for print' item on quotes.

Low-quality versions of your images should be inserted into the manuscript Word document to indicate placement. If any of your images need to be re-sourced for copyright clearance, heavily edited or re-created for print resolution or other quality factors, you will need to do this, or pay for our time to do so.

During any book design project, our designers will make minor improvements to images in Photoshop, save them to the correct format, colourspace, DPI and size, and insert the images into the book layout using Adobe InDesign. We can also insert captions and credits if you provide clear instructions with your supplied files. See our Submission Guidelines for more details.

(Publish My Book Online is our new global print and ebook brand)

5. Print Layout Book Proofing:
The bulk of the proofing (customer’s opportunity to review and comment on every page) is done during this phase. Several rounds of work may be necessary to reach the desired outcome.

Layout proofing is a process where someone checks every page of the typesetting, design and layout (cover and internals) of a book. It is not proofreading. Layout proofing is done at three separate stages in our workflow, by three people other than your designer, and you will be one of the layout proofers.

Excellent book design is a team effort, and while our book designers are experienced and professional, it takes a fresh pair of eyes to bring the observation skills, critical thinking and energy required to check the design and layout.

Some issues our layout proofers notice are critical and others are more subjective, so we apply a care-factor rating to communicate to the designer how important each suggested change is, and we open a discussion where necessary.

On all of our book typesetting jobs we provide layout proofing as a step where another designer/editor here checks every single page for accuracy, consistency and aesthetic appeal.

Our standard book layout proofing checklist includes:

  • Page layout and spacing
  • Table of Contents
  • Text
  • Tracking
  • Leading
  • Widows and Orphans
  • Hyphenation
  • Text boxes justification
  • Drop caps
  • Headers and footers
  • Headings

Books with images, books in colour, and more technical books go through an even more rigorous layout proofing procedure. After all, two heads are better than one.

The three stages of Layout Proofing

Stage 1—A layout editor checks the sample chapter layout
                 The client checks the sample chapter layout

Stage 2—A layout editor checks the entire layout
                The client checks the entire layout

Stage 3—A layout editor checks the final layout approved by the client
                 The client is asked to approve the print-ready PDF

Final Approval to print must be received by the following people before we go to print:

  • You, the client
  • All designers and layout editors involved
  • A manager

6. Ebook Design (including interactivity and enhanced features):

  • Coding to ePub
  • Video file conversion and placement
  • JavaScript interactivity

Draft ePub files (ebooks) created and supplied to customer for testing on devices. More versions created to account for corrections to layout, improvements or changes to design.

Discover more about:

7. File Preparation (Ebook Proofing and/or Print Prepress):
This is the final stage before delivery, to make sure the document is rendered as a digital book and/or printed exactly as the client wants it to be done. The final checks involve:

Prepress—Print books

• Font embedding
• Trapping
• Color specs verification
• Imposition
• Preflight check
• Packaging of digital file


• Font embedding
• ePub validation
• Meta-data confirmation
• Final ebook testing on devices
• Packaging of digital file(s)

8. Delivery:
After the document is designed, we do a final round of internal auditing to ensure that quality standards are met. We then deliver print projects to the client for printing (or arrange print procurement) and final digital files to ebook sellers such as Apple and Amazon for distribution.

Quality is an ultimate aim of Australian eBook Publisher. We aim to offer excellent communication and maintain exceptional creativity and quality from the outset.

Further Reading From the FAQ

Book Marketing

Customer Feedback

"I have really appreciated your support with my book, Amanda. I'm sure your other clients are of the same opinion. Quality professionalism is never in over supply, neither is generosity of spirit. You have both."—Henry Grossek, radio announcer and author of Game On: Building the Education Revolution

"Thank you, Australian eBook Publisher. I am delighted with the quality of the print edition of my novel, Beast-speaker. The service that Amanda and her team provide is exceptional: friendly, helpful and everything is delivered within the promised time-frame. The print on demand package is easy and affordable, and I highly recommend it to anyone considering publishing with Australian eBook Publisher."—W. A. Noble, author of Beast-speaker

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