Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lay Out a Book without Laying an Egg

Only one rule exists for laying out a book without laying an egg: consistency. If your readers are to navigate your book successfully, they will encounter no surprises. Preventing surprises requires that you make a number of decisions before you start writing your book.

Chapter Start
The type of book you are producing affects how and where a new chapter starts.

For multi-chapter book like an extensive family history, chapters start on an odd numbered page. This start isn't a hard and fast rule, but rather a custom...a custom your readers will have observed their whole reading life.

For a display book, like a coffee table book, which may also be multi-chapter, you might want to consider an even page start because you have both the even page chapter start plus the odd page to display a big splashly start for a chapter. For example, do you have a photograph or graphic to start each chapter? Do you want to start the chapter with a grapical family tree on the even page and actually strart writing on the odd number page?

For a smaller book--for example, a 20-page commerative book about one person or one family unit--you don't have to divide it into formal chapters. In this type of book you have only sections but no chapters.

Headers and Footers
Headers and footers are design elements that are intended to assist your reader with document navigation. When headers and footers are well done, a reader can pick up a book an thumb through it, and see chapter titles in the upper right of the page. They can literally thumb their way to Chapter 10: The Walter McKee Family because they can see it as the thumb through your book.

Even when a chapter starts on an even numbered page, you still want chapter divisions reflected in your headers.

For a smaller book, you may decided that you don't want the overhead of headers and footers...perhaps just a page number so that when you generate the table of contents and index.

Paper Size and Margins
With the development of PODs (print on demand) businesses, your ability to select paper sizes has expanded. If you would like to use a size other than the normal 8.5 x 11 inch paper, you can. Just be sure that the POD you are using can accommodate you.

Margins should be at least .5 inches. White space (any place where there is no text or graphics) makes a document look less crowded. I like one inch margins because they provide enough room for someone to make a notation in the margin (known as marginalia, aka notes, aka doodling).

Layout for this Exercise
For the purposes of this layout exercise, I'm going to produce a book with the following characteristics:
  • Margins = 1 inch with a .5 inch gutter (used for binding)
  • Orientation = Portrait (Landscape is used when you want a document that is wider than it it tall)
  • Pages = Mirrored Margins (I want my page numbers appearing on the outside edges of pages)
  • Paper = 8.5 x 11 inches (I want to be able to go to my local print shop and get it copied)
  • Chapter Start = Odd page (My chapters will always start on an odd page)
  • Header = I want an line at the bottom of my header with text above the line.
  • Footer = I want a line at the top of my footer with text below the line.
  • Chapter Start Header = No header because I want to use a chapter start graphic...decorative.
  • Chapter Start Footer = I want the same footer.
  • Page Number = I want them in footers on outside edges.
To set all of this up, we are going to use the Page Setup dialog on my next post.

No comments:

Post a Comment