Part two: in the series developing my new book, “The New Publisher”
Written and published in May, 2011 © David Bergsland • All Rights Reserved
Page layout basics
Setting up your book to be read
One of the more daunting aspects of book design for the inexperienced is page layout. Most people have Word experience and Word cannot do professional page layout. In fact, it is worse than that because Word’s feeble attempts give you bad habits and poor expectations that must be corrected.
Many parameters have to be covered for every document. Many of these are set up as you go through the Preferences for your applications. You might want to consider setting your measuring system to inches or millimeters, for example. Only die-hard traditionalists use points. You should work in whatever measurement system works best for you. Every application has important decisions to be made in Preferences. To repeat, the point is to set up your applications so they work best for you.
Starting at the beginning: Document Setup…
Many of the choices found in this dialog box are based on experience that you may not have as of yet. The first choice is that we always start with print. There are many reasons for this that we have talked about repeatedly elsewhere. The second is that we always start with color. Except for Kindle, all of our ebooks will be in color. For years printing and color were mutually exclusive for publishing books in the kingdom because printing in color was (and is) too expensive to be good stewardship.
- In this new publishing world, all documents will be done in print and in color: This is due to the wide variety of formats and media you will be using. BUT, you will severely damage your relationship with your readers if they think you are wasting money on color printing. The color is for the monitor. Print comes first because if the high quality required. Printing in color is usually squandering resources and offending your partners.
Some of the things are obvious
In this book we are concerned about publishing so several of the options are predetermined. Let’s go through these choices quickly:
Facing pages: Yes. We are doing multiple page documents. This gives us a workspace that mimics a book.
Master text frame: No. It doesn’t do what you want it to do.
Intent: Print. Always. Only print uses 300 dpi full color images and supports vector images. Only Postscript can handle the fonts and styles we need to do excellent typography.
Number of pages: This can range from 12 to 100 pages to start. You’ll be adding more later. You need 24 pages minimum to publish. It should be divisible by 4.
Save Preset: You’ll probably end up saving several document presets at various sizes. Just click this button and name your setting.
Document size [page size]
For the new publisher, document size is a given with few options. Here the concern is distribution. The fact that we can publish free is wonderful, but it includes some restrictions. You need to make wise choices.
There are only certain sizes acceptable to Amazon (and the other distributors offered by our on-demand print suppliers). You must make at least one version of your book in a size that can be distributed through Amazon (unless you have no intention of selling any copies online). They are the 500# gorilla at this point. The standard trade paperback (as close to normal as you can get) is 6×9. In general, I would always release a 6×9 version.
Amazon accepts 13 standard page sizes in early 2011:
|5 x 8 inches||√||√|
|5.06 x 7.81 inches||√||√|
|5.25 x 8 inches||√||√|
|5.5 x 8.5 inches||√||√||√|
|6 x 9 inches (trade)||√||√||√||√|
|6.14 x 9.21 inches (royal)||√||√||√||√|
|6.69 x 9.61 inches||√||√|
|7 x 10 inches||√||√||√|
|7.44 x 9.69 inches (Crown)||√||√||√|
|7.5 x 9.25 inches||√||√|
|8 x 10 inches||√||√|
|8.5 x 8.5 inches||√||√||√|
|8.5 x 11 inches (letter)||√||√||√||√|
There are several sizes that cannot be distributed up to Lulu’s 12×12 premium casewrap. CreateSpace also provides for custom sizes with no distribution.
Remember, it only costs a proof to release another version (if that)
Some of Lulu’s sizes work really well with comb binding and saddle-stitching. These cannot be distributed through Amazon (although Lulu makes them available through its marketplace on Amazon), but they can work really well to add workbook varieties to the mix, for example. They might not have the larger distribution, but might be real handy to offer low price releases by your ministry directly.
A bleed is needed when you produce a design where you really need the ink to go exactly to the edge of the paper. To produce a bleed, you make everything that reaches to the edge of the page extend one-eighth inch beyond the edge and then trim the piece back to finished size after printing. That’s one-eighth inch, nine points, or a little less than four tenths of a millimeter (.375 mm to be precise).
The power cutters used in the industry are the reason a bleed is necessary. These huge guillotine cutters slide their knives through stacks of paper several inches thick. They can cut 1,000 to 3,000 sheets at a time. Those huge cuts force the paper to slide around a bit. The result of these limitations is that cuts are only accurate to plus or minus a sixteenth of an inch or so.
This seems to be too obvious, but many ruin their job here. The most common amateur mistake is to make margins too small. You can assume that you need to leave .5” margins, minimum. Neither Lulu nor CreateSpace will accept a book where copy comes within .375” of an edge.
In addition, margins are often a large part of style. If you are trying for the elegant look of an old book, for example, you will need huge margins. There are many formulas, but here’s one you can try: 100% inside, 125% top, 150% outside, and 200% bottom (for example, 1.25” top; 1.5” outside; 2” bottom; and 1” inside). “Look at all that empty paper. I can’t afford to waste that space!” You might want to keep some old books to remind yourself. Very high-priced products, or very cultured clients like the opera, commonly use one-inch to two inch-margins or more.
Conversely, if you need to convey maximizing your money — fundraising materials and the like — you need very small margins, gutters, and a lot of rules and boxes. You need to fill every open white space, making the page look like everything is crammed in to save money. Even if it is not strictly true, readers will think it is. The point to remember is: the smaller the margins, the cheaper the look.
Minimal professional standards: basically you want the margins to be large enough to engender trust. Most readers have a subconscious reaction to cheapness—making is synonymous with unreliable and many other negatives. You need to be careful to make your work look professional.
For the new publisher: I would assume a three-quarter inch (.75”) margin as my minimum. The gutter margin (toward the spine of the book) should be at least an inch. The on-demand printers tend to cut slightly undersize and even half-inch margins can look very cheap and too tight for your work in the final delivered product.
Be very careful with your column choices. The new publisher almost always uses a single-column format (to make conversions to ebooks more straight forward). Your focus must be easy, comfortable readability. Generally, the more asymmetrical and the more open you can lay out the piece, the better. Of course, you can go crazy and make things totally illegible. Modern style tends to be chaotic, splashy, and overly complex. But your innate taste and discretion should keep these tendencies in check. The problem, of course, is that taste and discretion have become rare. I know you are working hard to learn taste and reduce that trend — thank you.
The basic concept is to focus on the reader. You are writing to serve your reader. If you are not doing this, you need to have a little talk with the Lord about why you are writing in the first place.
Books are a very conservative piece of design. The type needs to be invisible. Your goal is to present the content are irresistible to read and easy to understand. That is the essence of good typography.
- Be very careful of using cheap clip art and the supplied templates: Art and layouts from sources like Office are instantly recognizable, and subconsciously cause most readers to reject your work as bad quality, bureaucratic, official, or any number of similar horrible epithets. There are now several Websites with excellent stock photos to download for free or for a couple dollars each: morguefile, fotolia, bigstock, and many more. All of us use stock art. The important thing is to locate high quality images, with unlimited use.
Column width: The first assumption is that you have column widths in good, readable range. The formula we use for column width is very simple and gives you a good starting point for readability.
Here’s a practical rule of thumb that’s less complex than most:
40% of the body copy point size in inches
So, 10 point type works well in a column that is four inches wide. 12-point type may need nearly five inches (10% is 4.8”). This assumes a normal x-height of about 50% of the cap height or a third of point size. If the x-height or width of the letters is radically different than the norm you will need
to make adjustments.
Adjust your margins to leave an appropriate column width: You can see that this gives us some problems with the smaller book sizes. The normal size of body copy is 10 point type with 12 point leading. We’ll talk about that elsewhere. But it is a fairly rigid norm.
This gives you a four inch column. For a five inch wide book, this only allows for half-inch margins on the sides. As mentioned that is very tight. You can probably take the column down to 3.5” with no readability issues, but you dare not go more narrow than that.
On the other hand, an 8”x 10” book leaves you with four inches of margins. This is not a bad thing. One inch margins on all sides leaves you with an extra two inches for the gutter. This makes excellent room for a sidebar and to hold graphics up to six inches wide.
For a 6×9 book: my normal setup is .75” top and outside. I set the bottom at an inch to leave a quarter inch to hold my page numbers. I use the resultant 1.25” inside margin to help keep the copy out of the gutter and make reading more comfortable.
For a low price workbook to help your clients, a letter-sized book might help: You can set it up with three-quarter inch outside and inside margins, and two 3.375” columns with a quarter-inch gutter between the columns. This will enable you to convert a 200 page 6×9 book to eighty pages or less—enabling a cheap workbook for group studies.
Guides are the non-printing lines that enable designers to line up graphic pieces to keep their designs tidy. More than that, it is assumed that text blocks will line up with each other; that graphics will line up to an assumed grid; that headlines and subheads will relate to that inferred grid.
- Especially when you are learning your craft, shut the guides off on a regular basis (there’s a shortcut): Until you get used to the fact that these lines appearing in your design on the screen do not print, you will tend to leave room for them. As a result, many of your white spaces will be surprisingly large. Proofing a printed hard copy helps a lot, but simply turning off the guides and frame edges occasionally will tend to keep you on track.
Some might think that this fantastic ability requires at least a larger subhead, or something. Really, all that master pages do is place repeating elements automatically. Unless you have a graphically intensive book or a repeating task like a monthly magazine, a journal, or a large newsletter, master pages are only used to place automatic numbering markers for page numbers.
Automatic page numbering
You insert an automatic page number into an insertion point in the text by right-clicking and choosing: Insert Special Character>> Markers>> Current Page Number. If you insert a page number on a normal page, the number will be on that page only. It will always be correct, no matter how many pages you add, delete, duplicate, or rearrange. If you add these numbers on a master page, the page number will appear on all pages where that master page is applied.
Table of Contents and Index
Here are two more capabilities like master pages. Tables of contents are created from information stored in the Style palette. Indices are created by hand-flagging the entries and then automatically gathering them into an index.
Tables of contents are used quite a bit. Newsletters, magazines, books, and so on all need tables of contents. You simply collect the heads and subheads into a new story and then reformat as desired. The TOC paragraph styles can be generated automatically.
- Indexing is a very difficult, specialized skill: In most cases, if an index is needed, a pro is needed to write it. A poorly written index is worse than no index. It infuriates the reader. A good index will cost you hundreds of dollars. I usually use an complete TOC instead. But this is not really the best practice. Ask the Lord in your case.
In general, sidebars are a wonderful idea. As mentioned before, sidebars contain interesting data that is not essential to the document. They add reader interest. They add graphic interest. They alleviate boredom. They contain graphic and typographic aberrations that are added merely for aesthetic reasons. As you have probably figured out by now, making room for sidebars will usually require a larger book size.
This is the rough draft of the second part of a series of postings
I am headed toward a new book called something like “The New Publisher”. If you have questions, concerns or comments, please share them with the rest of us. My goal is a book that will really help you.