This is the first installment in our series “How to Typeset a Book”. In this series, our goal is to explain the most basic book layout issues so that you’ll know what to look for, whether you attempt the task yourself or you choose to work with a book designer (and we hope you do). What you read here will be very different from what many others say, and that’s the point. There is so much misinformation about book layout now, that we just have to speak up in defense of traditional quality standards. Once you understand the astonishing number of details book designers attend to in the course of laying out a book (when it’s done correctly), you may conclude that it’s far better to spend your time building your publishing business and promoting your title.
I’ll start with “big picture” considerations, and work my way down to more specific typesetting points in future posts. As you read, you’ll understand why Word is not the best software to typeset a book, no matter what others may say, and why it’s important to use a page layout program such as InDesign if you do decide to take on the task yourself.
Text style: One of the first decisions a book designer makes when starting to typeset a book is whether the text will be justified or ragged. Justified text imparts a formal tone, whereas ragged text is more casual and personal. The choice should suit the tone of your text. Just keep in mind that reading a large volume of ragged right text can become very annoying, very quickly. If you choose it anyway, turn off hyphenation, or set the hyphenation parameters so that only very long words are hyphenated (for example, only words longer than 15 characters). This will prevent large gaps at the end of the line when the following word is very long, but not annoy the reader with too many hyphens. Much more on hyphenation in future posts.
What do you want to know? What topics should we explore together? How can we help you along your publishing journey? Everyone here at 1106 Design wants to help. Post your comment here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Michele DeFilippo, owner, 1106 Design