Formatting Your Book Interior

Book WallIn previous posts, we went over all your book design options: using a free online template, going the DIY route with Microsoft Word, or hiring a professional book designer.

But no matter how you design your book interior, here are some guidelines.

What is the best font for printed books?

For the main text, stick with a standard font. I recommend Garamond, Minion, Palatino, or Caslon, for your book’s main text, particularly if this is your first attempt.

For your chapter and section titles, you can be more creative, but be sure the font is readable and pleasing to the eye.

What size font should I use for my book?

Keep the body font at 12 points, or at least close to it. Too large, and the body font will look oversized; too small and it will be difficult to read.

Chapter and section titles can be larger, of course. If the page feels crowded, try to adjust the leading—the distance from the baseline of the text to the next baseline—to be a little larger.

Most programs will automatically set leading at 1.2 of the font size (14.4 for a 12 pt. font), but increasing it can make the page a little more breathable.

How should I justify my text?

The best justification for your body text is on both right and left sides. That means the margins will be straight, unlike a Word document with ragged right edges.

The beginning of each paragraph should be indented, and you should not put an additional space or paragraph return after a paragraph.

Often paragraphs at the start of a chapter or after a break are not indented, and the first after a chapter title may use a drop cap or some other style.

What are the best margins to use for a book?

Leave sufficient margins. The inside, or spine side, should be wider than the outside to allow for the binding.

Don’t try to squeeze too much text on the page—give your words a little breathing room. If the text seems too dense to you, try to adjust the leading, as mentioned above.

Correctly place headers, footers, and page numbers. If the author name, title, or page number are in the header, be sure to delete or move that information to the footer on chapter opening pages. Never have a header or footer on a blank page or a section page.

How do I paginate my book?

Odd-numbered pages are on the right (recto) page, even pages on the left (verso). Start your text (or introduction) on page one, even though there are pages before that.

It’s not necessary to include page numbers on front and back material, though in some cases an author may choose to.

Speaking of front and back, be sure to include a title page, copyright page, and table of contents, if you are using one.

Some books also have acknowledgments, a preface or introduction in the front and appendices, author information, and an epilogue in the back.

The Chicago Manual of Style has a suggested order for books that is worth reviewing.