by Zach McAleese
As a member of the Infinity Publishing graphic design team, my job is to format the interior of our books so that every single book is unique, looks professional and is bookshelf ready. Readers expect to crack open a book and feel the comfort of consistent chapter headings, uniform text layout and page numbers that all land in the same position on each page. If the formatting is out of whack, the reader will have a harder time focusing on the book’s content. Many authors fail to understand that the interior book formatting is part of the reader’s experience.
Manuscript files make their way to my desk directly from our editorial department, once the book has gone through its final edit. From here this is where the magic begins. If you’re an author who has already had your manuscript professionally edited before sending it over to us for publication (and if your book has not been professionally edited, I’m the first to see this and well, I can’t do anything to make improvements on that) there are a few things I recommend to help us work together to create the best interior layout. As a book designer, my time should be spent creating the best layout for your title, not fixing formatting errors that ultimately take away from design time.
Here are 5 tips to prepare your manuscript for professional formatting or to help an author format their own interior file:
First make sure that your manuscript is set up properly. Check the page size and margins so that they meet our required settings (see Publishing Guide). This will help ensure that what you are seeing on your computer screen will be as close as possible to how it will look in your actual book.
Consistency is key to creating a uniform layout to your book. Applying presets to the paragraph settings of your manuscript will allow you to continuously work on the manuscript without having to worry about inconsistent spacing or entering unintentional tabs.
Be creative with the layout, but avoid being distractive. Complex formatting can not only be an incredibly tedious effort, but sometimes an unnecessary one at that.
Use simple fonts. Don’t go crazy with fonts that are difficult to read. Fonts like Times New Roman, Garamond and Georgia make for easy reading. If you choose to use multiple fonts in your book, be sure that they complement one another; especially if they are on the same page.
Add headers or footers. For those unfamiliar with what headers and footers are, it is the addition of text to the top and/or bottom of each page in your book (usually the book title on one side and the author's name on the other).
Your interior formatting is as important as your book editing, cover design and book marketing campaign. You can’t have one without the other. Together they all help to create the best book possible.
A graduate of Temple University, Zach McAleese began his career with Infinity’s audio department and now works as our valiant book formatter. A connoisseur of music and film, Zach’s formatting skills are surpassed only by his ability to grow a powerful beard.