What I learnt about formatting books—part 3

Quilt book layout—part 1

If you’re part way through, or want to write a quilting book, here’s what I had to think about when I wrote my three books—at once!  I self-published my books, did most of the editing and all of the formatting myself.

The first thing to address is the page size.  Novels tend to be smaller books and quilt books are generally letter size or 8.5″ x 11″ which is the standard page size in the US.  This is a little wider and shorter than an A4 page.  Decide where your book will be printed and what book sizes they offer before writing a word so you know what your page size will be.  You can set the page size in your word processor on the computer.  If you live in a country that uses A4 but want your book printed in the US, be aware when you print out your book on the home printer that it may look like the proportions are wrong but don’t worry about this.  You can get copies of your book before it’s published so you can check the proportions on each page then.  As long as it looks fine on your computer screen, you should be right.  Not all book printers or publishers offer options like spiral binding books, fold out patterns that can be ripped out of the book or printing a CD of patterns that will be included with the book.  These are things you may like to consider to set your book apart from others in your genre.

You’ll need to read the publishers or book printers layout parameters before setting out your layout.  You’ll probably have no idea as to how many pages your book will be before writing it so you won’t know how far to keep the inner margins from the spine.  Thicker books need the margins further away from the spine or you won’t be able to read the text there.  You’ll also have to decide if any images will go into the bleed area.  This is where a picture will go off the edge of the page.

The inside title page may include things like the title, an image, your name, the year and place of publishing.

Place any copyright information and acknowledgements on the next page or two.  Are there images you would like to place on these pages too?

The contents page or pages are next.  If there is a lot of information to go on these pages, keep the fonts fairly plain and the number of images to a minimum.  There are many layouts and ideas for contents pages online.  If there isn’t much information for the contents pages, go to town with dressing them up.  Major chapter headings can be in a different or bold version of the font and the sub-chapters can be in the font you’ve chosen for the main body or paragraph text.

Major chapter pages might benefit from being more of a title page with an introduction to the chapter on it. Sometimes these are a two page spread, making it feel more luxurious. Another option is to arrange the book so the new chapter page is on the right hand side of the book.  This may mean adding to, or spreading out the previous chapter to include the left hand page before the next chapter.

Decide where your page numbers will go and set this up within the word processor options.  Do you like page numbers on the outer side of the page, whether they be at the top or bottom of the page?  Some authors like to put their page numbers in the centre at the bottom of the page. Personally, I find this harder to flick through the book looking for the page number I’m after.  Remember page one will always be on the right side of the book.  Do you wish to print the book title on the left hand page along with the page number and have the chapter name printed with the right hand page number.  Do you want it in a decorative font or a decorative title bar (like a page break) there too?

When you read a book, you never look at one page at a time. Design the layout of two pages at a time—the two pages facing each other.  Look at how many images and text need to fill those two pages.  If there isn’t enough text to fill up the two page spread, add in or enlarge any images to balance it out.

Design every area for easy reading.  Different subjects within a chapter can be broken up with a title in a bold font.  This also works well in a glossary in the back of the book.



What techniques will make your book layout easy to read? My books are not the usual style of quilt book as they don’t actually feature quilts and photos but these techniques and pages will work normal quilt books. Stay tuned for more on quilt book layouts.

Happy quilting and formatting,


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