Typesetting for Print Books: A Guide for Self-Published Authors

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When daydreaming about publishing their book in print, most writers picture what the cover will look like and what it will feel like to see a copy out there. They dream about seeing their name in big letters, praise strewn across the back cover of their masterpiece and the spine standing out on the packed shelves of a bookstore. All these elements are indeed crucial—you need a killer cover to attract the attention of potential readers, but what about the interior of the book? 

The interior design might not be the first thing that stands out to a potential reader, but it’s what makes the reading experience smooth and enjoyable. It’s not as exciting as a unique cover design, and it isn’t going to feature in many authors’ daydreams, but it’s a vital element to get right as you move toward publication. Good typesetting is something readers shouldn’t notice—its purpose is to keep them engaged and immersed in the writing—yet it’s something that will definitely stand out if done wrong. 

Preparing a book for ePublishing is different from preparing it for print publication, which is why we also offer professional eBook formatting. Whether you’re publishing traditionally or electronically, good interior design is essential for any book.

If you want to self-publish your book in print, and it has already been edited and proofread, check out our custom typesetting and interior book design services and start working with a professional right away. It’s important to ensure that all the writing has already been finalized—if you change anything after typesetting, you’ll have to readjust the interior design all over again. 

Not sure what exactly typesetting is or whether you need it? Let’s go over some of the basics. 


What is typesetting?

Typesetting is the way text is arranged on the page before a book goes to print. It’s what makes the writing look organized and easy to follow, with professional typesetters perfecting elements such as margins, typeface, font size, and chapter and section styling. 

These may sound like minor details, but they can play a major role in the reading experience, which you want to make as smooth as possible for your audience. A professional typesetter will make sure everything is standardized, flowing cohesively from beginning to end. To do so, they will focus on elements such as line spacing, drop caps, widow and orphan lines, and kerning. 

If you’ve never heard of these terms, don’t worry—typesetting requires advanced design skills and tools that only experts possess, which is why we don’t recommend that authors do their book’s interior design themselves. The result can look amateurish and unprofessional if the work is done by someone without the right experience. Typesetting is also more difficult and time-consuming than you might think, and if you attempt the job on your own without having solid experience, you may quickly grow frustrated.

What does a professional typesetter do?

A professional typesetter focuses on what your book will look like in print and how the way the text fits on the page affects the reader’s experience. From the page and margin sizes to the font size and chapter breaks, these professionals will make sure each sentence and page in your book look their best by adjusting the space between words and lines, arranging justification, and ensuring that any stylistic choices (such as different fonts for headings or chapter titles) fit your genre. They’ll also adjust the text layout on each page, ensuring that no new page begins with the last line of a paragraph or ends with the first line of a paragraph.

If your book contains any graphics, images, tables, or illustrations, a typesetter will also make sure they enhance the aesthetics of your work rather than confuse or detract from it so that even the most technical book has a visually pleasing look. Obviously, the more visuals you include, the more difficult and expensive typesetting will be, so choose your graphic elements carefully.

Should you do your own typesetting?

If you want your book to be consistent, polished, and organized and to have some personality, then the answer is a resounding no! Even if you know exactly what you want, unless you’re also an experienced typesetter, you probably don’t know how to achieve it, and amateurish typesetting can significantly degrade the reading experience. 

Typesetting done right will make your book more appealing and unique while keeping readers focused on the story you worked so hard to craft. Making all of this look effortless is anything but easy—it’s not a skill you can simply pick up through reading, which is why we strongly suggest hiring a professional typesetter if you plan on going the traditional publishing route. Not only will you end up with a polished, professionally formatted book that has your readers gliding through the pages, but you’ll also save yourself tons of time and stress and focus on other aspects of your book.

For self-published authors especially, the question of whether to hire a professional typesetter can be tough as the service will incur a cost they may not have budgeted for. However, if you want your book to look polished and compete successfully with other works released by a big publishing house, professional typesetting isn’t something you want to skip. Yes, it can be costly, but it’s an important investment in your book.

If interior design and typesetting are outside your budget, consider our basic print formatting services, which will prepare your book for printing by following industry standards. If you want the full interior design treatment, don’t hesitate to reach out to our typesetting team!

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