While the main goal of a book is to share content, the structure of the pages can greatly facilitate that function. There are several basic elements that go into page structure that can make that sharing more effective.
Book Page Structural Elements
Following are some considerations that you should take into account when thinking about your book design.
- Trim size. The size of your book will largely depend on what you’re presenting. Here are some examples: mass market books—4.25″ x 7″; trade paperbacks—5″ x 8.5″, 6″ x 9″; novels—5.25″ x 8″, 5.5″ x 8.5″; manuals and workbooks—8″ x 10″, 8.5″ x 11″; non-fiction and hardcover books—6″ x 9″, 7″ x 10″; photography or art books—usually large.
- Content area. This is where your text, graphics, tables, pictures, etc. will be placed.
- Margins. Margins are the spaces between the content area and the edges of the page. There are a number of choices, including mirror margins, equal margins, classic book design margins, etc. One special margin is called the gutter, the inside margin closest to the spine of your book. This includes the space needed to accommodate the book binding, which will depend on the binding method used.
- Page ratio. The most popular trade book size is 6” x 9”, which is a ratio of 2:3, the familiar upright rectangular shape that’s almost the icon for a book. However, this ratio is not mandatory. For example, many photographic books are square (ratio = 1:1), which allows the printing of both portrait and landscape pictures.
- Navigation. You’re probably conscious of navigation on a web page, but you probably take for granted the navigation aids in a book. However, they’re an essential part of the structure, used to help readers find their place in the book. They range from page numbers to running heads, running feet, tabs, colored margin-sections, hyperlinks for e-books, etc.
- Sidebars. For many, if not most, books, the content area defines where your content will go. However, there are situations when you want to intentionally create non-text elements that break out of the content area. This might be for quotations, background information, small charts, lists, small graphics or pictures, other resources, etc. that you want to share with your readers but don’t want to include in your text. This is done by creating sidebars, which should be part of your book design plan.
The above structural elements are important in the basic design of your book pages. Combined, they can best show off your manuscript and help attract your target audience.
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