I have recently been helping several new-ish authors, along with some quiet well-established writers, with the design and layout of their book’s interiors.
It appears many authors, even those with some experience, do not understand the established and recognised principles of interior book design.
The standard layout of books is no accident. It has evolved from the first medieval printing presses to the current day online publishing, and POD.
The issue here is, if these basic conventions are not followed, at least to the greater degree, your book will look and feel amateurish to readers.
Thus, leading to slow take-up of your title, and possibly, maybe probably, eliciting poor or bad reviews.
In short, an inadequately formatted book, even one which has undergone meticulous copy, line, and development editing, will fall short of the standards expected and required by today’s avid readers.
This post, unusually for me on this blog, directly addresses the basic principles and concepts of interior formatting of paperback & hardcover books and, to some degree, that of their lesser cousin, the eBook.
I have not called this post ‘Interior Formatting,’ as that covers a much wider and far more complex set of procedures, and is covered elsewhere in greater detail, as in my books ‘The Frugal Author’ and ‘Lots of Author Stuff you Need to Know’.
At the end of this post, you will find links to these two books which address many, if not most aspects, of independent and small press authorship.
Both books are ready to download now and, I am certain, you will find the answers to many of the questions you have, but have never asked.
NOW, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, HERE IS THE PROMISED POST….
BOOK DESIGN AND SECTION LAYOUT
Note: a page is one side of a leaf.
When you ‘turn a page’ you are actually turning the leaf of a book, which is two pages. Each side of the leaf is a single page.
In this post, ‘Blank’ indicates a page typically left blank by traditional mainstream publishers.
The front matter of a book consists of its very first pages: the title page, copyright page, table of contents, etc. There may also be a preface by the author or a foreword by someone familiar with their work.
First Page: Blank/Flyleaf
Leave this blank.
2nd Page: Frontispiece/Blank
Page 2 is the back of page 1 and remains blank unless you include an illustration.
Such an illustration is called Frontispiece.
This decorative illustration or photo appears on the page next to the title page.
Traditionally, a Frontispiece will be placed on a left-hand page.
Usually opposite the Frontispiece.
It shows the full title of the book, along with the author’s name as they appear on the cover.
The Colophon or copyright page includes technical information about copyrights, edition dates, typefaces, ISBN, as well as your publisher and printer.
Usually positioned on the reverse of the title page.
Quotes from esteemed reviewers and publications in praise of the book.
This praise, or some of them/it, often appears on the back cover too.
A page where the author names the person, or people, to whom they dedicate their book, and why.
This typically comes after the copyright page.
Table of Contents
A list of chapter headings and the page numbers where they begin.
The table of contents, often abbreviated to ToC, should list all major sections that follow, both within the body and in the back matter.
Blank or Epigraph
A quote or excerpt which indicates the book’s subject matter.
An Epigraph can be taken from another book, a poem, song, quotation or almost any source.
It generally immediately precedes the first chapter.
Reason for writing, word of thanks.
An introduction written by the author, a preface relates how the book came into being or provides context for the current edition.
An introduction is written by a person other than the author.
Often written by a friend, or scholar of the author’s work. Otherwise by a recognised authority of the books subject’s matter.
It is an honour to be asked to write a Foreword.
The body of a book is pretty self-explanatory: the main text that goes between the front matter and back matter. For readers and writers alike, this is where the magic happens — but it’s not just the content that’s crucial, but also how you arrange it.
Prologue (for fiction)
The section before the main story begins.
A prologue aims to set the stage and intrigue the reader.
Many prologues contain notes of intriguing events which only become contextualized as the reader gets deeper into the story.
Introduction (for nonfiction)
A few pages that usher the reader into the subject matter.
The introduction clarifies the book’s setting and/or events linking to the content, along with other information relating to the main narrative.
Note: The difference between a preface and an introduction is a preface is personal to the author, discussing why they authored the book, and what their process was.
An introduction relates directly to the subject matter, it establishes the position of the book in relation to its content.
All books have chapters, or sections, into which the narrative or content is divided.
Epilogue (for fiction)
An Epilogue is a scene that wraps up the story in a satisfying manner.
Often an epilogue takes place sometime in the future from the last chapter.
If the book is part of a series, the epilogue may raise new questions or hint at what is to come. A technique known as a ‘Hook’.
Conclusion (for nonfiction)
This section sums up the core ideas, values, and concepts of the text.
Explicitly labelled conclusions are becoming less frequent in nonfiction books, which now commonly offer final thoughts in the last chapter, but academic dissertations are still formatted this way.
This allows giving final notes on the books content not otherwise addressed.
It is a useful tool for edited, revised, and new editions.
The Afterword can be written by the author or another person.
A brief final comment after the narrative comes to an end, usually just a sentence or two.
For example, “Mr Archibald Carruthers died at his Cotswold cottage three months after this book’s publication. Happily, he saw his story come to fruition.
Also known as the ‘end matter’ is the material found at the back of a book.
Authors utilise the back matter to offer readers further context or information.
The back matter is also an excellent marketing tool, listing the authors ‘other publications’ and giving links to websites.
A section to acknowledge and thank all those who contributed to the book’s creation.
The acknowledgements generally appear directly after the last chapter.
About the author
Is where the author gives a summary of their previous work, education, and personal life.
For example, “John Doe lives in Hampshire with his wife, two wayward daughters and two, even more wayward, Great Danes”.
If the author has sought permission to reproduce song lyrics, artwork, or extended excerpts from other books, they should be attributed here.
Such items may also appear in the front matter.
A section rarely used nowadays, but worth considering for inclusion.
Thought-provoking questions and prompts about the book, intended for use in an academic context or book clubs.
Appendix or addendum (nonfiction)
Additional details, or updated information relevant to the book, especially if it’s a newer edition.
Chronology or timeline (nonfiction)
List of events in sequential order, which may be helpful for the reader, especially if the narrative is presented out of order. A chronology is sometimes part of the appendix.
Supplementary notes relating to specific passages of the text, and denoted within the body by superscripts.
Most often used in nonfiction, but occasionally found in experimental/comedic fiction.
Definitions of words or other elements which appear in the text.
In works of fiction, the glossary may contain entries about individual characters or settings.
A glossary should appear in alphabetical order.
For example, in a science fiction book, the Glossary could list the names and details of individual planets in the story.
Generally used in non-fiction.
A list of special terms or phrases used in the book, along with the pages on which they appear, so the reader can find them easily.
An index should appear in alphabetical order.
A formal list of citations, a comprehensive breakdown of sources cited in the work.
Here are those two books I mentioned earlier, books no author should be without.
The Frugal Author
Amazon Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/2EYcJjZ
Amazon Worldwide: http://authl.it/B07B27SPBL
Non-Amazon bookstores: https://books2read.com/u/3JynnB
Lots of Author Stuff You Need to Know
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/301nGYY
Non-Amazon bookstores: https://books2read.com/u/bP5O9
Amazon worldwide: http://authl.it/B07K5Z3F9K
5 thoughts on “Interior Book Layout & Design Principles”
Thanks Paul. Really helpful, especially as I’ve been wrestling with textual editing over the last week or so. And have just written about it in my blog.
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Ohh. I shall have to have a read 🙂
Of course, most books (especially fiction) don’t need all these sections, but it’s good to know what they’re called and the order in which they should appear. The way I understand it, the colophon isn’t the same as the copyright page; it contains similar information but occurs near or at the end of the book, in the back matter. I think they were found more often in early printed books.
One thing that makes a book look amateur is page numbers on blank pages and on most of the front matter pages.
I’ve expended much energy in learning how to wrestle Word documants into submission so they can be turned into decently formatter books.
I have tried to encompass all here, but fiction & non-fiction works do require different/various sections. I was hoping to have made that clear in the post.
Ahh now, page numbering… lol.
I am certain Microsoft could make this a far easier thing to do in Word.
I prefer to have the front matter separately numbered and usually in roman numerals.
Regarding Colophon/copyright pages; As with all things, even this subject, they evolve.
With online and eBooks ever-growing I expect much of the information we are used to adding to our work will be dropped, or simply linked, or web addresses given, QR or bar codes used to access the relevant information.
One more thing. Personally, I like a good deal of front matter as it helps with the previews and ‘look insides’, limiting the amount of body content of your book someone browsing can read for free.
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You summed up the topic quite thoroughly in a single post, Paul. I put in the bit about page numbering because It’s been a challenge for me. Interesting point about using front matter to limit the free preview material!
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