Making Your Book Look Professional

Are there enough blank pages in your book?

A book is going to be printed on both sides of paper. Hence, before submitting your book you must check whether the content is coming on the right page. If one side is to remain blank, you must insert a blank page in your document. For example, if you have a "Title Page", which includes the name of the book and comes just after the cover, then you would want the back side of the page to be blank. A "Dedication Page" or "Table of Content" starting from Page Number 2 would not look good. So, you should have a Title Page followed by a blank page, followed by other content.

Similarly, if you have Table of content running into odd number of pages, you should leave a page blank after that, so that the actual content does not start on the back side of the page containing the table.

See an example here.

Have you included some standard content?

Title Page

This should be the first printed page in your book. The name of the book should appear prominently on it. Optionally name of the author and other information can be there. Leave the page after it blank or include the "General Information" mentioned next on it.

General Information

Have a page giving information about copyrights, publishing and printing. This page can be there at the back of the title page. We have created a sample, which we can use after inserting your name in the suitable places. Find it here.

Dedication

You may want to dedicate your book to someone. In that case have a page for that. Leave the next page blank.

Preface and Foreword

Preface is generally written by the author to introduce the book to the readers. This can be a place for a heart to hear talk with the readers. Having or not having a preface depends on the individual style of the authors.

Foreword is usually a introduction written by someone else. If you know someone who can write a good foreword for your book, it is a good idea to include that.

For both of these, if they take up odd number of pages (1, 3 etc.), remember to leave the next page blank.

Table of Content

A table of content makes it easy for the readers to locate the content. If you are formatting your book in word-processor, you can use the word-processor's features to create a table that does not need to be updated manually. You can find information about how to do it in MS word in this article.

Once again, if it runs into odd number of pages, leave the next page blank.

Formatting of the book

There are a number of things you can do to ensure that the content of your book is formatted well. Some of the tips for MS word can be found in this article.

Download a template showing all of the above here.

Have you fallen for fancy fonts and styles?

When you look at the vast list of fonts available, with some of them being very stylish, it is sometimes hard to contain the urge to use them in your book. But it important to contain that urge. The most important thing when you are designing a book is the readability of the fonts you use. Avoid difficult to read stylish fonts except when you want something to stand out.

A rule of thumb is that sans-serif fonts look good on screen, while serif fonts look good on print. For the main text of your book, pick up one of the serif fonts like Times New Roman, Palatino Linotype, Baskerville etc. for the main text of your book. You can find a list of fonts of various types on this wikipedia page. Keep the stylish fonts for occasional use in titles, headings etc. Also, do not use bold, italic or underline styles unless required to make some content stand out.

Is your spacing right? And font sizes?

Too often, people have too much spacing in the book and use too big a font. While it is a good idea to have enough spacing and sufficiently large font size to make the book readable, it is not a good idea to unnecessarily increase the number of pages in the book by having very large font sizes or too much of spacing. In general single line spacing works fine for printing. If you are printing something for proof-reading etc., you may want to have a 1.5 or double spacing between the lines, so that there is space for writing comments. But not in the final copy. In the font sizes, for most serif fonts for Latin alphabets, font sizes of 8-11 work well. They may look too small on screen, but are fit for print. A good way to judge it is to take a printout of a single page on any printer close to you (at home or the nearest cybercafe) and compare the font size in print with that of any of the books you own.

Is the formatting consistent through out the book?

Unless required by the context of the content, you do not want to have a single spacing on some pages and a spacing of 1.15 on some others. Nor do you want the text alignment, fonts styles, or font sizes to change arbitrarily. Make sure your formatting is consistent throughout the book.

For tips on ensuring correct line spacing in MS word, check out this article.

Have you taken care of formatting the content pasted from web?

It is specially necessary to ensure that the formatting is correct when you paste the content from your blog or website. Most word processors try to be intelligent and keep the original formatting intact. This hurts the formatting for print. Take special care of the following:

  • Hyperlinks: Remember, in a printed book, readers can not click on a hyperlink. So, make sure you remove the hyperlinks. If you do need to point out a particular link, give the complete text of URL. Also avoid giving pointers to complicated URLs in a book intended to be printed, as typing them out is difficult for the readers. If there isn't an alternative to the complicated URL, tell the users how they can reach to the intended page from a simple URL (e.g. homepage)
  • Fonts, spacing, alignment: It would almost always be necessary to reformat the content pasted from web for it to be consistent with your books. Do not be lazy on that front!
  • Tables: Tables are the most difficult things to format in a word processor if they are pasted from the web. It is likely that you'd have to re-write the tables totally. Do it! It's worth the time to get a consistent look in the book.
To see some tips on pasting the content from web so as to reduce the formatting overheads, see this article.