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Basic Book Design

Basic Book Design

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Published by: Putrimales on Nov 07, 2008
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10/26/2012

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“KEEP OUT OF TROUBLE” RULES:
1.For bound books 6"x9" or smaller, use 0.5" margins on the
top, outside and bottom of books, and a 0.75" inside mar
gin.

2.For 8.5"x11" documents (bound or unbound), use 1-inch
margins.
3.Adjust margins, font size, and columns to produce 65-70
characters per line (including spaces).

DEFINITIONS
mirror margins

Printers usually require minimum one-half-inch margins. Narrower
margins risk smearing wet ink as the printing press’s rollers move
the paper.

Increasing margins (e.g., to one inch) makes your book longer

12

Basic Book Design

and costlier to print. However, I recommend increasing the inside
margin (the margin closest to the binding). This makes the book
easier to read. Pages tend to curl near the binding. Less light gets
into the center of a book. Increase your inner margin to three-quar
ter-inch.

The Chicago Manual of Style (18.17) advocates printing 65 to
70 characters on each line (including spaces). In Microsoft Word,
select a line and use Tools…Word Count to count the number of
characters. E.g., in the last paragraph, the full lines varied from 63
to 69 characters.

If your lines have substantially more than 70 characters, consid
er using two columns.
Make your three outer margins equal. This makes the text look
square on the page. E.g., set your margins at three-quarter-inch for
the inside, one-half-inch for the outside, one-half-inch for the top
margin, and one-half-inch for the bottom margin.
Professional book designers will object that books traditionally
have a narrower top margin and a wider bottom margin. This looks
good if you have a running header but no running footer. I prefer
equal margins, to maximize use of the page and reduce page count.
As noted above with font choice, using equal margins is a rule to
keep novices out of trouble. If you understand traditional book de
sign don’t follow this rule.
Use mirror margins with unequal inner and outer margins, if
your document will be bound (e.g., a book).

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