Book Design Basics II

By Colin Dunbar

In this post we continue with our book planning, and at the end I’ve included the items you can include in your Book Design Checklist. Having a completed checklist will save you time when you start formatting your book in Word.

Typefaces (fonts)

What font type and size will you use for the body text of your book? Choosing the right font and size can greatly impact the readability for your readers, so make sure you choose the right ones. Keep in mind that serif fonts work well for hard copy books, while san-serif fonts work better for ebooks and on-screen reading.

font types

The difference between the two are the curves at the end of each letter, examples of popular serif fonts are Times New Roman, Trajan Pro (Great for titles, headings, etc.) and san-serif fonts are Helvetica, Arial, etc.

A san-serif font can also work for hard copy, and I’d suggest this for your book, then there’s no need to change the fonts for your PDF copy (which can be time consuming and a pain in the yazoo).

Also, for hard copy books, the font size can be 10 point, while for PDF ebooks 11 or 12 point is preferred (easier for on-screen reading) Adobe offers the following: “Format the text using fonts that are easy to read on-screen, such as Verdana or Helvetica. Avoid fonts with delicate serifs or thin strokes. For readability, use font sizes of 12 points or greater[1].” I don’t suggest using a font bigger than 12 point as this tends to reflect an amateur book design (and can be associated with hype – there are people who use large fonts to inflate the number of pages of the ebook, to try and justify a higher price). Also, keep in mind that the text size can be changed in the ebook viewer.

What font type and size will be used for Headline 1, 2, 3 (I don’t suggest using headlines beyond level 3)? The headline types are usually determined by the type of content, and I don’t recommend using headlines further than level 3 (see examples below).

Example headlines:

headline levels

As I mentioned earlier, your reader can change the font size in their ebook reader (or e-reader software). For this reason I don’t recommend using very large font sizes for your headlines (this can affect readability, and also reflect an amateur impression).


The margins in your book are the space at the left, right, top, and bottom of the page, around the text. What will your left and right-hand margin sizes be? Keep in mind for double-sided printing, the inside and outside margins can be different widths (to allow for binding). And your top and bottom margins (remember to allow enough space for your header and footer). More on this later.


Will your book have headers? Just to refresh, this is the text at the top of each page and the opposite of a footer. And what will they contain?


What will you have in your footer? Usually, the footer contains only the page numbers. Please don’t include a copyright notice in the footers, as your book will have a copyright notice on the Edition Page. It screams amateur!

Book Divisions

Will there only be Chapters, or is the content divided into Parts and/or Sections? Fiction is usually only divided into Chapters. A non-fiction book can also use Parts; usually done to group similar types of information together.

Graphic Images

Do you have graphics in your book? Where will you get them? If you will be using images from any of the royalty-free sites, do you know the terms of use?

Image Captions

Will the graphic images have captions? Many non-fiction works include captions for graphics, common for a step-by-step “how-to” book.

Caption Typeface

What font type and size will you use for your captions? The font type is usually the same as the body text, but bold, and sometimes captions are italic (to help separate the captions from the body text).

PDF conversion

Will your book be converted into a PDF ebook version? If so, do you have PDF conversion software?

Book Design Checklist

The following are the basic items you should have in your checklist:

  • Will it be a hard copy (printed) book, a PDF ebook, or both?
  • Size of hard copy book?
  • What font type and size will you use for the body text?
  • What font type and size will you use for the headlines?
  • What font type and size will you use for the captions?
  • What will your margin sizes be?
  • Will your book have headers? And what will they contain?
  • Will your book have footers? And what will they contain?
  • Where will you get the graphic images?
  • Will the graphic images have captions, and what will the font style be?
  • Will your book be converted into a PDF ebook version?

All preparation is now done. In the next post we start with the actual formatting of your book in Word.


1 Comment

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One response to “Book Design Basics II

  1. Pingback: Book Design Basics I | Format Book In Word

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