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Book Design Formatting Interiors

Proper formatting of the interior of your paperback is as important as your cover. It advertises that your book is polished and adds a bit of sparkle.

Font choice, chapter number art, ornamental symbols, or images at the ends of chapters can be simple or elegant. These choices can support the genre and tone of the book.

As mentioned in the previous post on font choice, you should obey all laws and licensing restrictions. Make sure you have permission to utilize the fonts and symbols.

Common flourishes and asterisks are inserted with [Insert] [Symbol] commands. You can create your own unique symbols and chapter heading designs. In Word, they would be inserted as images. You may be able to insert them in your ebook.


Fonts should be easy to read. Therefore, you should stay away from fancy fonts such as comic, handwritten, and script. They may be used for the word "Chapter" and chapter headings, but should be avoided for your interior text.

There are instances of inserting handwritten and cursive fonts for items like letters, newspaper articles, diaries, etc. Of late, there are many "creative" ways of inserting text messages, emails, social media posts, mechanized voices, etc. into books. Those methods are a personal choice, but visually interrupt the flow and act as low-grade speed bumps.

Your fonts should not be too thick or too thin. Times New Roman is good for newspaper articles that cram a lot of words in a tight space, but is not necessarily the best font for your book.

The size of the font matters. Each font has its own vertical and horizontal sizing within the standard space. Some are evenly spaced. Others are squat or tall and thin. They also affect line spacing. Some fonts may look small at a 16 point size, but make it look like you have double spaced the text.

If you choose an unusual font, make sure it looks visually pleasing in a block of text and is easy on the eyes. It is best to stick with a size 11, 12, or 14. Sizes 9 and 10 are hard to focus on. They are sometimes used for extremely long tomes to minimize page length. Readers won't thank you. Make sure the font does not crowd letters together so they are hard to distinguish.

Size 16 is considered large print for standard fonts. Sizes 18 to 24 are considered giant print. If you wish to produce an official large print version of your book, there is more than font size to consider. You can read more here.

In addition to permission to use the fonts, they must be supported by the software. It is also important to make sure the fonts are embedded in both Word and PDF versions.

You can learn the steps for Word here.

You can learn the steps for Adobe here.

For MAC users, go here.

If you utilize specialized fonts in a print version, they must be returned to a supported font for ebook submission, usually Arial or Times New Roman. The e-reader will have different options for the viewer to choose from. Unsupported fonts and symbols produce garbled letters.


Line spacing can help or hinder the visual flow of your text. Single line spacing is the standard. You can utilize 1.25 or 1.5 to enhance readability. Some writers go so far as double spaced to unnecessarily bloat the page count. The font you choose affects the visual aspect of line spacing. If the font you choose looks too cramped with single spacing, utilize the slightly larger 1.25 or 1.5.

It is critical with block paragraphs to separate them with a line.

End of paragraph one.

Start paragraph two.

It is not necessary with indented paragraphs but can add to the readability.

End of paragraph one.
     Beginning of paragraph two.

End of paragraph one.

     Beginning of paragraph two.

The same is true with lines of dialogue.

"Do you want to go?" Sally asked.
"No, I don't," Dick said.

With spaces between:

"Do you want to go?" Sally asked.

"No, I don't," Dick said.

Indented with spaces between:

     "Do you want to go? Sally asked.

     "No, I don't," Dick replied.


With print books, titles can be left or right justified or centered, depending on the effect and artwork you utilize. Justification should be full for the body of the text. It provides a satisfying column effect. You can use left justification if you want to be radical, but I don't recommend it. 

Justification must be left for all text in an ebook. The size of the page shifts with the font style and size the reader chooses. Therefore, centering or right justification will not look the way you hoped.


Hyphenation word breaks can be used in the print version. However, with the text justified, it is unnecessary. 

Hyphenation should not be used in ebooks. Hyphens will appear mid-word rather than at the end of a line.


This is another personal choice. Both can work. With block, the first line of the paragraph is flush with the left margin. The standard is one tab space in on the first line. Some designers choose to indent only the first paragraph of the chapter. If you wish to customize it, it is best to change the settings to zero so the program does not automatically choose for you.

You find this setting in Word under Paragraph Layout. 


Since you have a left and right side, margins should be set to mirror each other on odd and even pages. For a 6 x 9 trim size, margins should be set at 0.5" on the top, outside, and bottom and a 0.75" for the gutter or inside margin (they are the same thing). If you set a gutter margin, then enter the value zero for the inside margin.

There are minimum requirements for a gutter margin depending on the number of pages. The larger the binding, the more distance you need. For up to 300 pages, the gutter can be 0.5 inches. If your book is 300 to 500 pages, you should increase it to 0.625 inches. If you exceed 500, it should be 0.75 inches, and if you exceed 700 pages, it should be 0.875 inches.

Anything that appears outside the margin guidelines is said to "bleed." If you include tables or images, it is critical they do not cut too close to the edges. Images, inserts, and table edges should remain one quarter inch inside the inner and outer margins.


Drop caps can add drama to the first letter of the first word of your chapter. As with any font, you need to make sure you have permission to utilize it. You highlight the first letter of your paragraph, select [Drop Cap], then right click the drop cap to change font, size, position, etc. Three lines is the default height, but two lines are better for most fonts. Indented is also better than having the drop cap hang out on the left by itself.

Next week, we look at tools for interior design.

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