Insider's Guide to Book Design: What to Know Before You Start

Insider's Guide to Book Design: What to Know Before You Start

Photography Tips

  1. Capture subjects with expansive backgrounds to allow for flexible layout adjustments
  2. Save photos in Adobe RGB 1998 for the widest color gamut and best shadows.
  3. Shoot in high resolution and RAW format for optimal zoom and color correction capabilities.
  4. Opt for more contrast in your photos; lifestyle shots generally fare better than plain product photography due to potential print defects.
  5. Consider the book's dimensions when taking photos, keeping in mind our maximum in-house size of 12"x14".
  6. Avoid centering subjects in a spread to prevent distortion by the book's spine.
  7. For cover images, ensure they're framed with a wraparound design in mind.

Text Guidelines

  1. Use InDesign style guides so that you can change the look of the entire book on the fly without any effort.
  2. Use 100% black for the clearest text. If using color, opt for dark shades.
  3. Steer clear of fonts thinner than 8pt and light fonts to avoid production issues and jagged appearances.
  4. Aim for 10 words per line maximum and 5 minimum for comfortable reading.
  5. Maintain at least a .5" margin on the inside gutter for readability. Print loves breathing room.
  6. Place page numbers away from the edges and avoid using borders to minimize the visibility of manufacturing shifts.

Cover Considerations

  1. Choose durable materials and consider how they age. Linen with foil stamping is premium but costly.
  2. Avoid solid colors (except black) to prevent a cheap digital print appearance. Design with contrast or use colored paper, possibly requiring specialty printing techniques.

Layout and Design

  1. Adobe InDesign is the top choice for control over design. Engage a graphic designer proficient in InDesign for the best outcomes.
  2. If using other software, consider printing through online platforms like Blurb, as additional fees apply for making files print-ready with us.
  3. For color selection, use CMYK for vectors/text and Adobe RGB for RGB elements, setting your workspace to Gracol 2006 (CMYK) and Adobe RGB (RGB).
  4. Digital printing favors contrast over subtle design elements; simple designs work best for small-scale projects.


  1. Ensure your copy is accurate and free of grammatical errors. Quality writing is essential for a successful project.


  1. Your book's design and layout should stand on their own without the need for embellishments. Good graphic design is key to a compelling book, with printing serving to enhance the existing content.

This guide encapsulates the essence of creating a visually appealing and high-quality softcover book, focusing on practical photography, text, cover, layout, and design advice while maintaining the importance of good graphic design and precise copywriting.
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