What I learnt about formatting a book—part 5

Do the photos look like they’ve been taken by a professional or do they look like snapshots? What angle is best to illustrate the point? Are they in focus?

Images and illustrations—part 1

The layout of the book depends largely on the images within the book.  Will they need the full page to show detail or will a 3″ image do?  If you’re unsure, make page mock ups with a full page image, half page image and a small image.  Here are a couple of the layouts I used in my book.



Typical two column layout in my book.



This was a more atypical page in my book that uses a text box, different sized illustrations, a page break and one and two columns (uneven at that). The one column text is a short paragraph. This is as messy as my book is layout wise, but I think it still works.


If you’re using a full page illustration created in an illustration program and then imported into your word processing program, remember to set your page size to the paper size that the book will eventually be printed on i.e., if the book will be printed on letter sized paper, then set your page size to letter.

If using a half page image, will you be needing a page break under it?  I decided to make my own page breaks.  It can be hard to create one with a little design on it as they are very thin.  For me personally, I feel a large page break line would be a little distracting from the text but as always, it depends on the book.

Although I used a two column format for my first book, I found that I needed some pages to have only one column as the illustrations had to use the full width the page, even though they weren’t very tall.  In this case, I made sure the paragraphs were short and sweet as it’s harder to read a full page of text that’s about 7″ wide.

The columns in my book were even.  Many quilt books use one wide major column and a narrower column.  Look through the quilt books on your shelf to see if this format will work for you.

I feel people like a lot of images in case they can’t get their head around the instructions in the text.

Do you want pictures to seamlessly go over the two pages?  You’ll have to look at how the book is bound and how far images can go into the book block.  The book block is where the pages are connected to the spine.  How far the images can go into the book block depends on the number of pages are in the book.  The more pages, the further from the spine the images and text will be.  I decided to avoid this issue as a first time author.  I would probably look at doing this if I had a publisher as they have the experience to do it without too much hassle.

One thing I loved about my favourite quilt book is the photo and illustration referencing.  If there are two photos and three illustrations on page 14, they are referenced as photo 14A, photo 14B, figure 14A, figure 14B, and figure 14C.   This means that if you add or eliminate images from the page, you don’t have to change every image reference through out the book each time if you decided to reference the images in order across the book e.g., image 1 on page 7, image 2 on page 8, image 3 on page 9.

Reference each image within the text and put a caption under each image.  When referencing an image on another page, I put the page number in brackets afterwards in case someone hasn’t picked up on the image referencing system, e.g., Figure 14A (page 14) shows…

With captions, you’ll  need to pay a little attention to whether you use the words: top, bottom, above, below, left, right, clockwise, anti-clockwise or counter-clockwise.  Using above and below are usually reserved for a caption in the vertical centre of two images (so one image is above the caption and one is below).  If both images are above the caption, try using top and bottom instead.  There’s obviously no difference between the two anti-clockwise words, it’s just one is the English term and the other is American.  Choose your preference.  Here in Australia, we use the both and it doesn’t bother us—okay—it might be a bone of contention with a few die hard grammar nuts!

Next post, we’ll look at strokes, grey scale and hand drawn illustrations, until then…

Happy quilting and formatting,




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