Interior Design for Print Books: A Guide for Self-Published Authors

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You’ve imagined your book cover way before you started writing your story, but have you thought about what the inside of your book will look like? From typesetting to font choice, margins, and chapter titles, the interior design is just as important as the cover design when it comes to the reader’s experience, but it’s not an area that authors tend to dwell on. Making the wrong design choices can mean producing a book that’s difficult to read or looks unprofessional, so it’s much more important than you might think—don’t just leave it to chance. 

An essential thing to keep in mind is that although they share some basic principles, interior design and formatting are different for print books and eBooks. They may look about the same, but digital books have certain requirements that don’t apply to print ones. For eBook formatting, click here. If you’re overwhelmed by all the design elements needed to make your print book stand out, check out our custom typesetting and interior design services

What does poor interior book design look like?

Bad interior book design includes oddly sized or overly intricate fonts, tight margins and line spacing, sloppy title pages, and unconventional style choices such as shifts in typeface or colors. It looks unprofessional and degrades the reading experience, perhaps even distracting from the content. Interior book design shouldn’t be something your readers ever even think about—it should be smooth and allow them to comfortably flip through the pages. 

Unless you’re publishing a children’s book or a large-print edition, you should choose a serif font in 11 or 12 point—anything smaller will be hard to read, and anything bigger will feel strange for most readers. Margins that are too close to the spine or the edges will make it uncomfortable to hold the printed book, and bright colors will strain your readers’ eyes. 

Stay consistent—don’t change fonts (unless it serves a specific purpose, such as representing a text message), and maintain the same style and format throughout the book. As a basic rule, consider who your readers are and cater to their expectations and, above all, their comfort and ease of reading.


Formatting your print book yourself

Once you’ve chosen a printer, they’ll give you their formatting specifications, which you must follow exactly to get the desired results in the final product. From file format and page size to text justification and the positions of chapter titles, headers, and footers, there are things you can choose to fit better your genre and target audience and others that are standardized to comply with the printer’s capabilities and international standards. So, don’t take any creative liberties with what they tell you to do. You can exercise your interior book design creativity with other elements that they don’t touch on.

Doing this yourself can be tricky if you don’t have the experience although it can reduce your expenses if you are on a limited budget. However, many self-published authors hire a professional interior designer to format their books before sending them off to the printer because they want the inside to match the quality of the cover and the writing to make the book look professional and offer a pleasant experience for the reader. 

While an author can easily file away interior design as a trivial nice-to-have, it can make a huge difference to a reader’s experience, enjoyment, and impression of a book; it can make the difference between a one-time reader and a loyal lifelong fan. Working with an expert will ensure that your book is up to industry standards, your file compatible with your printer, and your vision executed faithfully. 

Formatting eBooks

Since eBooks require specific formatting for the text to be adjustable on eReaders according to personal preferences, many of the design elements you choose for your print book will not translate to its electronic version. Interior book design is arguably even more important for eBooks since improper formatting can dramatically reduce readability. To get professional styling, spacing, layout, drop caps, and more, check out our custom eBook formatting services for authors if you’re ready to make your book available to download. 

How your book looks inside and how easy it is to read shouldn’t be an afterthought since it’s as important as the contents and the exterior design. A good interior design smoothly guides the reader through the pages, remaining invisible but playing an essential role in giving people enjoyment from reading your story. Examine other books in your genre or titles that deal with similar themes and subject matter, and don’t stray too far from the industry standard, or you’ll risk printing a book that comes across as amateurish. Imagine what you want the final product to look like, how it will fit in a reader’s hands, and what kind of reading experience it will provide. Get input from others as well so you can come up with the smoothest interior design possible for your book. 

If you would like an expert to apply a custom design to match your genre and style, head over to our typesetting and interior book design services for authors

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