One other main design element, apart from the book jacket design, is the way that the text is laid out on the printed page. You might not believe it, but even a fiction paperback book has a page design that has been carefully planned. It is tempting to assume that the text is simply dropped into the page, a bit like the way text is cut and pasted into a Word document. However, every book has a page design, and once the text is ready, each page is styled to an appropriate format. A good page design involves a consistent formatting of a number of elements:
- Font or typeface used (some books use modern fonts, although they aren’t always the easiest to read)
- Margins (business and other non-fiction titles often have wide margins so that readers can make notes as read)
- Headings and sub-headings (a good page design will include a hierarchy of headings that make it easy for a reader to navigate through a chapter of section)
- Lines and borders (for example, a line at the top or foot of each page can look attractive)
- Illustrations (Black and white or colour? How will pictures be captioned? How much space will be left above and below a picture or diagram? Will illustrations be free standing, or will they have a border around them?)
- Paragraph styles (for example, some page designs allow clear space between paragraphs. This can look wonderful, but will obviously require more pages overall)
If you are self-publishing, I recommend strongly that you invest in a professional page style for your book. A qualified and experienced typesetter would realistically charge around £500 for this, although this would be your major expense incurred turning a manuscript into a book ready to be printed. Once you have a page design, a typesetter typically charges a rate per page for styling text and illustrations to meet the page design. It’s like formatting a Word document, although there is specialist Desktop Publishing software that typesetters use to do this (Quark Express or InDesign). If you are on a tight budget, you could format the text yourself in Word, copying the page design styles that you have paid for.