Book Page Layout Tips


We have some industry standard tips to help you with the page layout process. Your page layout is the cornerstone of your design, and should be given great care.



This page is designed for those who are choosing to create their own page layout. If you'd like us to create your layout for you, a basic page layout (not including photographs, tables, or bulleted lists) is included with every order. Get Started.





Basic Page Layout Principles

Once the task of writing and proofreading your manuscript is complete, the next step is to create a proper page layout for your book. The term “page layout” is used simply to describe the way text and images are situated on a page. In order for your book to have a professional look and feel, there are four basic principles to follow.  


In order for your page layout to be visually appealing and to keep the readers interest, you should have contrast on your pages. Notice the use of contrast on this page, color, font size,  font style, and bold headings. Use a contrasting type for headings, keep the headings very different from the body type. Don't go overboard, use one type for the body copy and a different one for the headings.  Consider a newspaper and how the headings are larger and bolder.  

Choose one justification and stick to it.  As a rule, center justification will give the page layout a formal look.  It is commonly used for wedding invitations, formal announcements, etc. Left justification will give your book a more conservative professional look.  Full justification within the layout will give your book a clean orderly look.  With full justification, your headings could be either left, right, or centered on the page.  

Create a sense of unity throughout your book  by adding a few visual elements that you like, then repeat them throughout your book. Look through some of your favorite books to see what they have used on the pages; you may get some inspiration. Perhaps a decorative ornament under the heading of each chapter, or a decorative drop cap to start each chapter might give your book a special look. 

Organize your type properly by grouping text together that relates to each other.


It is important to choose a page layout style, and follow it consistently throughout your book. As a reference tool, we have provided a number of recommended page layout examples complete with font and margin settings at the end of this page. Using the following information will help ensure a professional page layout and a file that is ready for print.




First of all, we recommend using a word processing software which you are familiar with. Take time to familiarize yourself with basic keyboard functions and toolbar commands. Microsoft Word is easily the most popular software for creating a page layout and is widely available. Other popular software is Microsoft Publisher, and Adobe InDesign.




Page Size

Choose a page size which is appropriate for your style of book. For example, a family history book or school yearbook is commonly printed in an 8 ½” x 11” size format, while books such as novels, autobiographies, and poetry, are commonly printed in the standard 5 ½” x 8 ½” format. If you have any questions regarding the proper page dimensions for your particular book, please contact us.   




Margins, Headers/Footers

When setting the margins for your pages, it is important to not set them less than ¾” to ensure a proper distance between the printing and the edge of the page. We recommend that when choosing a margin setting for your page layout, you should allow 1/8” extra for the binding edge. For example, if you have selected a margin setting of ¾” for the top, bottom, and right hand side of the page, the left hand, or binding edge should be set at 7/8”. This makes the text appear balanced on the page when the book is bound.


Microsoft Word uses a measurement which is referred to as a gutter. When using the gutter, margins should all be set at ¾" with a gutter measurement of .2". Care should also be taken when placing information in the headers or footers, such as chapter heading or page numbers, that sufficient room remains between the edge of the print and the edge of the page. A header/footer measurement of ½” is a common setting for a standard page layout.




Hard Page Returns

When transferring manuscript files from one computer to another, it is not uncommon for errors to occur in the page layout of the manuscript. The most common page layout error is a problem referred to as text re-flow. Re-flow is the repositioning or shifting of text and images which may occur when a file is opened using a computer other than on the one it was created with. There are a number of causes for text re-flow, but it is most directly related to the fonts which are used.


A hard page return placed at the bottom of each page creates an invisible barrier to ensure that text and images remain on the page they were intended. Hard page returns are inserted by positioning the cursor at the bottom of the page and pressing the Ctrl > Enter keys together. It is highly recommended that this be done as often as possible throughout the manuscript. Hard page returns are not necessary when submitting a PDF file. PDF is an acronym for "Portable Document Format". Once a file has been converted into a PDF, it can be opened on any computer without problems such as text or photograph shifting. You can create your own PDF file with the proper software. For a free download of PDF software, click here. 








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