A key aspect of the self-publishing process for all indie authors involves considering how the interior pages of the book should be formatted. While it is possible to format the internal pages of your book yourself in Microsoft Word, collaborating with a professional typesetter will produce a much higher quality result.

Using Adobe InDesign (which is industry-standard desktop publishing software), typesetters are able to precisely format your book’s internal page layout to create a professional-looking outcome. This approach will also ensure your final book will satisfy printing specifications, including correct margin settings, trim size, embedded fonts and proper colour profile for images (i.e. CMYK, not RGB).

The optimal format for your written message

Written text is often not the only element that appears on the pages of a book, although it may be for most novels and many narrative-style non-fiction books. Graphic elements such as photos, illustrations, diagrams, charts, graphs and tables can also enhance your book.

Both text and images within your book’s page layout design should be formatted to allow readers to readily engage with your content.

Page layout design for text-heavy books

If you believe that your written words on their own will be appealing to your readers, then opt for that approach. For example, a simple and straightforward text-only layout design works well for novels and collections of short stories.

On the other hand, supplementing a fiction book’s text with images can often work well. For example, if you’ve written a fantasy novel set in an imaginary world, including a map can be a useful visual aid for readers. This illustrative artwork will provide a visual indication of the setting for your story and increase your book’s aesthetic appeal.

Page layout designs for books containing both text and images

Many authors (particularly non-fiction writers) use images to enhance their message to readers. For instance, a biography about a famous person typically contains written text with photographic insert sections. Similarly, many cookbooks consist of complex layout designs with step-by-step instructional text for recipes, accompanied by multiple photographs and other graphics.

For books that contain a mix of text and images, the internal page layout design should be formatted to showcase all the elements to best advantage. Ensure the images have sufficient negative space within the book’s layout design to ‘breathe’; one carefully positioned image can often be more effective than a collage of many.

Book formatting tips

Below are some formatting options for creating a professional-looking book layout design.

Design your book’s internal pages to suit your target audience

Depending on the genre of your book, the text and images need to interact in unison and suit the audience demographic. For example, children’s picture books usually include a very small amount of text on each page as the illustrative artwork is the major component of the layout design. Likewise, a coffee-table style photography book might contain large glossy photos on each page, with simple captions under each image and a brief text introduction at the front.

Regardless of whether you opt to incorporate text only or text and images in your book, it is important to keep your readers – and how to effectively communicate your message to them – firmly in mind. Your final decision about your book’s page layout design (including font size and/or style, page numbering, paragraph structuring etc) should be influenced by its content and what you think will deliver an enjoyable reading experience for your target audience.

Decide which page layout design best suits your print book

If you are struggling to figure out exactly how you’d like the internal pages of your book to be formatted, it can be useful to spend time researching books in the same or a similar genre or subject area as yours.

Pay attention to how the text and/or graphic content is laid out within them. But don’t just stop there – investigate online to find out how popular these books are, as this will offer you some insight into whether their page layout design was appealing to readers or not.