Publishing 101: Interior Design

Publishing 101This is one in a series of posts entitled Publishing 101: Draft to Book in 30 Days. To learn more about this challenge, visit the Publishing 101 page, where all links regarding this topic will be listed as they become available.

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The interior design for a book is like the interior design for a bedroom or kitchen. For a room the designer must decide the colours of the walls, the material for the floor and the style of light fixtures and furniture.

When you design the interior of a book, you need to think about which font style and size to use for the front matter, the back matter, chapter titles, headers, footers and the body of the text (the actual story). You must also decide the layout of these items. Will the page numbers be at the top of the page or the bottom? Will they be centred, to the left or to the right? Will they be a number or will they have the word ‘page’ in front of them?

In general Interior Design focuses on…

  • book dimensions
  • paper colour
  • front and back matter font
  • novel text font
  • chapter titles font and style
  • headers font
  • page number font
  • drop caps for chapter starts
  • scene break design

Book Dimensions

I’ve chosen 5.5 inches wide by 8.5 inches tall for Fowl Summer Nights. It’s a good average size for a novel. If I were publishing a children’s picture book, I might go 8×10. I’ve also published books at 5×8 and 6×9.

CreateSpace also provides the following sizes (width by height in inches)

  • Most Popular Trim Sizes: 5 x 8, 5.25 x 8, 5.5 x 8.5, 6 x 9
  • More Industry-Standard Choices: 5.06 x 7.81, 6.14 x 9.21, 6.69 x 9.61, 7 x 10, 7.44 x 9.69, 7.5 x 9.25, 8 x 10, 8.5 x 11
  • More Sizes: Custom Trim Sizes: 8.25 x 6, 8.25 x 8.25, 8.5 x 8.5

Publishers can also enter their own trim sizes, however while these books can be sold on and your eStore, they are ineligible for the Bookstores and Online Retailers distribution outlet within the EDC.

The custom trim sizes may have other restrictions and costs the most popular trim sizes and industry-standard choices may not have.

Before you choose the size, you can check out the manufacturing cost to produce the book. I’ve estimated Fowl Summer Nights to be about 95 pages. In 5.5×8.5 format, one unit (book) will cost $2.15.

NOTE: This is not the actual cost of the book to me since it doesn’t include taxes, postage and border fees paid upon delivery. The actual cost to produce the book and get it to me will be around $4.00, and that’s only if I order 50 or more copies. If I ordered less, the price for an individual book rises. The more copies you order, the better your shipping cost will be. The selling price for Fowl Summer Nights will be $6.99.

TIP: I could (and probably will) add a few pages to this book as I’ve done to others. The space would easily accommodate a few blurbs for other books by me, an author interview or the first chapter of another book since the cost to produce Fowl Summer Nights doesn’t change until I reach 109 pages. In other words, the price for one unit containing 4 to 108 pages is $2.15. If my book held 109 pages, it would cost $2.17. The ‘free pages’ at the back of the book can easily accommodate a little marketing.

Paper Colour

CreateSpace provides two options for interior paper colour: white and cream. I’ve used both and find cream softer on the eyes. White is still nice though. Fowl Summer Nights will be printed on cream paper.

CreateSpace provides two options for interior print colour as well: black and white and full colour. Black and white is perfect for novels with no coloured images. If you’re writing a book with coloured images throughout, be prepared for a sharp increase in price if there are a large number of pages.

Full colour is perfect for children’s picture books, and since there usually are between 24 and 48 pages, the price hike isn’t as significant as if it were a 200-page novel.

Novel Text Font

If you click the list of fonts available on a program such as MS Word, the number of choices may overwhelm you. There are dozens of options, some pretty, some plain. But first…

A Word on Font

The function of the font inside a book is to allow readers to read the text with ease. If it is aesthetically pleasing, then it adds to the interior design. But the important fact to remember is the text must be readable with ease.

Fancy text may be pretty, but if it’s difficult to read, then I don’t recommend using it.

Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer has an interesting post regarding fonts: Understanding Fonts & Typography. If you decide to read only one of the other posts he mentions, choose 5 Favourite Fonts for Interior Book Design. He provides links to purchase the font, but in some cases—such as Garamond—the font comes with word processing software such as MS Word.

Free fonts are available at

…back to Novel Text Font, or as some call it ‘the body of the work’, which is the actual story.

Taking Friedlander’s advice, I’ve used Garamond in many of my books. The most recent publication—Nova Scotia-Life Near Water—however was created using Palatino Linotype. It has a nice, airy feel about it.

For Fowl Summer Nights, I wanted to try a different font again, so I opted for Calibri for the body of the text. Since I don’t have to worry about conserving pages, I have decided upon 12 point, but this may change once I have everything formatted. I might opt to go larger if it doesn’t put me over the 108 page threshold. And that’s the magic of knowing how to use Styles in the MS Word program. In a few clicks, I can change my font from 12 point to 14.

Front and Back Matter Font

I consider the front and back matter the ‘official’ stuff of a book. That’s the copyright material table of contents and about the author. I like the font to look official on these pages too, so I’ve chosen Bell MT. It’s neat and clean and easily read.

Chapter Titles Font and Style

The questions you have to ask yourself when it comes to chapter titles are:

  1. Which font do I want to use?
  2. What size will that font be?
  3. Do I want to write ‘Chapter One’ or ‘Chapter 1’?
  4. Do I want to title my chapters, and if so, will the font be the same as the word ‘Chapter’?
  5. Do I want any fancy graphics near the chapter title?

Chapter Titles provide a little room for spice and entertainment. It’s the one place other than the title where you can use fancy fonts. But I repeat, they must be readable.

Here are the answers to the above questions pertaining to Fowl Summer Nights:

  1. Nyala because it matches the font of the first letters in the title on the cover
  2. 16 point
  3. Chapter One
  4. No titles
  5. Yes, I want to use a simple chick graphic beneath each chapter heading.

Headers Fonts

I like to keep things simple with headers. They’re supposed to be there to remind readers of the title of the book and the name of the author, but otherwise they’re supposed to blend into the background and not get in the way of reading the story.

Keeping with the chapter title and book title theme, I’ve chosen Nyala in 11 point for the headers. All my previous books had these two items (title of book and author name) centred. For Fowl Summer Nights, I’d like to try something different, so I’m aligning them with the outer edge of the page.

Page Number Font and Style

Similar to headers, page numbers should be seen but not heard. They are there for guidance if needed, but otherwise invisible. The font I’ve chosen matches the header font—Nyala—but to make them more usable for readers, I’ve increased their size to 14 point.

I have traditionally centred page numbers at the bottom of the page, but for this novel, I’ve moved them to the edge of the page, just like the headers.

Drop Caps for Chapter Start

I like the look of drop caps, so I’ve used them several times. Drop caps are those extra-large first letters at the beginning of a chapter (not a scene, just chapters) that span two, three or more lines of regular text.

I’ve chosen to put drop caps to work for me again in Fowl Summer Nights. This time around, I’ll use Nyala to make it stand out from the text font which is Calibri. It will stand at 41 point, cover two lines and be a distance of 0.1 from the text.

As you have probably noticed, I’ve used Nyala several times in different areas of the book. This is done on purpose. I didn’t want to create an interior design with twelve different fonts. It’s difficult to connect the regions of a book to each if everything is different, and many different fonts make a book look unprofessional.

Instead, I attempt to use only two or three different fonts throughout the entire book, and if I can tie one of the fonts into the cover of the book I do.

Nyala appears in the first letters of the title and several other items on the cover of the book. It’s also the chosen font for chapter titles, headers, footers and drop caps.

This is something to think about when you design your interior. The size of the font can be different but only a few styles should be chosen.

Scene Break Design

I’ve seen scene breaks in books indicated with a blank space. This is functional, but it’s not pretty. I’ve also seen plain-jane used:


I still use plain-jane (centred and bold) between scenes when I’m writing drafts. It’s simple and quick to insert. But when I’m designing a book, I prefer something a little classier.

For that, I go to Wingdings, Wingdings 1 or Wingdings 2 in the font selection drop-down menu. Regular keys turn into magical symbols that can separate a scene with a little intrigue or spice.

Below is a sample page of the font styles and sizes I’ve chosen. It’s just a sample I hold on my production schedule page to let me know what I’ve decided. Before any decisions are made, I create a few samples, mixing up the elements until I get something I really like.

The circled elements include…

  • Chapter Title
  • Drop Cap
  • Scene Break
  • First paragraph of chapter and new scene flush to the side
  • An added touch to indicate the end of a scene.

Interior Design

This completes this step in the Draft to Book in 30 Days challenge.

Next Post Publishing 101: Cover Design


3 thoughts on “Publishing 101: Interior Design

  1. I’m a bit of a typeface fanatic and spend hours looking through my font library for the typeface I think most suited to the design in hand. When using iBooks Author the number of fonts you can use is restricted. Not a problem, though, as good, clear typefaces suitable for text are offered. For cover, you can design this in InDesign and upload as a jpeg.

    I’m wondering about asterisks (what I normally use) and other designs to denote a scene change, and am rather tending towards just leaving a blank space. It looks less cluttered. I noticed this in a few books recently. With self-publishing it’s one of these things you can be creative, or minimalist with…it’s your choice.


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