BOOK DESIGN & FORMATTING FAQ

Fiction: 4.25″ x 6.87″, 5″ x 8″, 5.25″ x 8″, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 6″ x 9″

Non-fiction: 5.5″ x 8.5″, 6″ x 9″, 7″ x 10″

Novella: 5″ x 8″

Children’s: 7.5″ x 7.5″, 7″ x 10″, 10″ x 8″

Textbooks: 6″ x 9″, 7″ x 10″, 8.5″ x 11″

Memoir: 5.25″ x 8″, 5.5″ x 8.5″

Coffee-Table Book: Custom-size, go wild!

That being said, the brave amongst you may decided to go down the custom-size route and if you do, UK Design Co is here to help. We not only format and design books in any size, we also know a number of Printers that won’t charge you a premium for custom-size books!

To the inexperienced, navigating your way through the never-ending array of paper choices, is at best tedious and at worst, impossible. Fear not, UK Design Co is here to help and as a guide, we recommend the following:

Novel-style Book

Text Pages: White or off-white, 70-80gsm Uncoated
Image Pages: White 115gsm-150gsm Silk Coated
Cover Pages: White 300gsm-400gsm Silk Coated

Children’s Book

Text Pages: White 130gsm-170gsm Silk Coated
Image Pages: White 130gsm-170gsm Silk Coated
Cover Pages: White 300gsm-400gsm Silk Coated

Coffee-Table Book

Text Pages: White 130gsm-170gsm Silk Coated
Image Pages: White 130gsm-170gsm Silk Coated
Cover Pages: White 150gsm Silk Coated (to be wrapped around a board cover)

Most Printers will stock a particular brand and there isn’t a huge difference at budget level between the various big paper brands.

If you are looking for a particular finish or for something that gives your book that little bit extra, UK Design Co will guide you through the 1000s of different stocks that we work with to find something that is perfect for your needs.

Paper is typically measured in gsm or grams per m2, i.e. if you had sheet of 80gsm paper that measured 1 x 1 metre, it would weigh 80 grams. This is not to be confused with ‘mic’, the measurement that determines the thickness of a sheet. ‘Mic’ is used to calculate spine width and just because 2 different sheets are both 80gsm, it doesn’t mean that they will have the same ‘mic’. It is therefore good practice to ask the Printer that is producing your book to tell you what the spine width will be for their preferred brand of paper.

Please note! To your Printer, ‘pages’ and ‘sides’ are the same thing. If your book has 200 pages when you open it in Microsoft Word, your book is 200 pages long, regardless of whether you want it printed double-sided or single-sided. ‘Pages’ only ever refers to the number of printed sides.

If UK Design Co are formatting your book, you don’t need to worry about spine-widths. We will work out your page count, communicate with your preferred Printer (or one that we have recommended to you) and will adjust your covers and spine alignment for you, automatically.

One of the easiest ways to identify a professionally designed book is how the content sits on the page. Text needs room to breathe and this is achieved with correctly set margins. UK Design Co recommend the following margins that will fit most page sizes:

Top: 1″ (Any header can fit within this measurement)

Bottom: 1″ (Any page number / folio can fit within this measurement)

Left: 1″

Right: 1″

Gutter: 0.25″-1.5″ (To avoid content being lost in the spine, depending on how many pages are in the book)

Please note – there is a trade-off between space and cost. The more space your text has, the less words will fit on a page, therefore the more pages you will have when it comes to printing your book.

If UK Design Co are formatting your book, you don’t need to worry about margins. We will correctly set your margins and gutter during the formatting process, automatically.

Main text body: Justified

Page alignment: ‘Odd-Even’

Any off-page content such as headers or page numbers can be either ‘Centrally’ aligned or if professionally formatted, ‘Odd-Even’ aligned. This method will see off-page content shifted to the right on Odd pages and to the left on even pages. The thicker your book, the greater the requirement for Odd-Even alignment – if done incorrectly, you risk content being too close to the spine and therefore uncomfortable to read.

To align a book correctly usually requires some experience, where seemingly tiny adjustments make all the difference in turning your manuscript into a professionally designed book. If UK Design Co are formatting your book, we will correctly align the pages and all other content – it’s not something that you ever need to stress over again!

Ultimately, you can of course have a Contents Page if that’s what you want, however, there are times when one is actually expected. UK Design Co recommends the following:

Fiction: No, unless it is relevant to the story

Non-fiction: No, unless it is relevant to the story

Novella: No, unless it is relevant to the story

Children’s: No, unless it is relevant to the story

Textbooks: Yes

Informative Works: Yes

Poetry and Prose: Yes

Memoir: Yes

Coffee-Table Book: Yes, unless there is a preference for a particularly modern/clean design.

An Edition Page, sometimes referred to as a Copywrite Page, is where Authors/Publishers will typically include several key bits of information. Although there isn’t a definitive structure to the Edition Page, it is commonplace for at least some of the following details to be included:

  • Author details
  • Publisher details, address (including country)
  • Edition details (i.e. other available formats, what edition the book is, any relevant ISBN information)
  • Designer details
  • Printer/Binder details
  • Copywrite information
  • Any other relevant person details (i.e. Proof Reader, Copy Editor, Co-Authors, Marketer, Editor-at-Large etc…)


Professionally designed and formatted books always have an Edition Page, unless there is a specific reason for not having one.

If UK Design Co are formatting your manuscript, we will sort everything out for you. Our team will either work with the Edition Page you supply or will contact you to provide information that is specific to your book.

Laminating is when the Printer or whoever Binds your book, applies a plastic (or other synthetic) layer to the outer cover, affecting both the final finish and the durability of your book. Lamination is available in a wide range of finishes and most Printers will provide at least the following options:

  • Matt (some will prefer Satin)
  • Glossy
  • Soft: Similar to Matt in appearance but scratch-resistant and almost rubbery to the touch

 

There are many occasions when stock selection or the subject of your book will dictate whether lamination is suitable and if so, which type of finish is best. For example, if your book has a craft-style textured cover, lamination could ruin the effect and is therefore best avoided.

UK Design Co recommend lamination for almost all of the books we design/format, whether Paperback or Hardback bound. Laminating the covers vastly improves the durability of your book and provides the opportunity for a wider range of interesting finishes. It is a cost-effective way of taking your book to the next level – so much so in fact that all of the Printers that UK Design Co works with, now provide lamination as standard to our customers.

‘Paperback’, otherwise known as ‘Softback’, ‘Soft-bound’, ‘Soft-cover’ or ‘Perfect-bound’, is the most common binding method for books in the UK.

Here is an illustration of what a Paperback book looks like:

‘Paperback’ books require a wrap-around cover, with the front, spine and rear all printed on the same side of the same sheet of card. The artwork (cover file) must therefore be supplied as per the below diagram:

If UK Design CO is handling you order, we will ensure your covers are correctly setup to print during the design process.

‘Hardback’, otherwise known as ‘Hard-cover’, ‘Case-bound, or ‘Hard-bound’, is the most common binding method for premium books in the UK. 

Here is an illustration of what a Hardback book looks like:

Without experience, it is very difficult to correctly setup the cover of your ‘Hardback’ book. There are several factors to consider and you will need to calculate/generate a working template. In some cases, your Printer/Binder should be able to supply you with the relevant dimensions in either InDesign, Acrobat or Photoshop format. Here is an example of what you could expect to receive:

Unless you have experience in this area, UK Design Co strongly recommends that you use our services. During the design process, we will communicate with the Printer/Binder directly, generate a template for your specific book and will correctly set your covers to size.

‘Paperback’

Pros:

  • Most commonly purchased type of book
  • Lighter and therefore easier to carry around
  • Cheaper to produce
  • Custom sizes available (some Printers/Binders can only produce set sized Hardback books)
  • Customers expect ‘Paperback’ for a wide range of common book types, such as Fiction and Non-Fiction

Cons:

  • Typically commands a lower RRP in bookstores or on Amazon
  • Less durable and more prone to damage, especially the book’s covers and spine
  • More likely that pages will fall out (albeit it unlikely to happen if you choose the right Printer/Binder)
  • Feels like a lower quality product when compared to Hardback

 

‘Hardback’

Pros:

  • Typically commands a higher RRP in bookstores or on Amazon
  • More durable and therefore has a longer lifecycle than a typical Paperback book
  • Several options during the binding process that strengthen the book or add design features
  • Feels like a higher quality product when compared to Paperback
  • Jacket or dust-covers allow for additional design opportunities

Cons:

  • Less commonly purchased than Paperback
  • Heavier and therefore less likely to be carried around
  • Often slightly larger and therefore more awkward to read
  • More expensive to produce
  • Some Printers/Binders can only produce Hardback books in set sizes
  • Some binding specifications require the total page count to be divisible by 4

Yes!

It is possible to covert a ‘Hardback’ cover to ‘Paperback’. The easiest way to do this is to use the ‘working files’ – i.e. the original files in whatever software was used to create the cover – and then manually alter the dimensions and page spacing to accommodate your new book size. This will often involve moving each individual element on the cover and to maintain accuracy, it is always best to use a template. If you are unsure how to do this, UK Design Co can do all of the necessary work for you.

If you don’t have ‘working files’ and still need your cover to be converted from ‘Hardback’ to ‘Paperback’, it is a far trickier process. UK Design Co are expert at working with closed-PDFs so get in touch and we will provide you with all the relevant information and costs.

Yes!

It is possible to covert a ‘Paperback cover to ‘Hardback’. The easiest way to do this is to use the ‘working files’ – i.e. the original files in whatever software was used to create the cover – and then manually alter the dimensions and page spacing to accommodate your new book size. This will often involve moving each individual element on the cover and to maintain accuracy, it is always best to use a template. If you are unsure how to do this, UK Design Co can do all of the necessary work for you.

If you don’t have ‘working files’ and still need your cover to be converted from ‘Paperback’ to ‘Hardback’, you will need a high level of technical proficiency if attempting it yourself. Be wary of spacing, bleeds, spine width and alignment! If you don’t have experience in this area, UK Design Co can do everything for you. We are expert at working with closed-PDFs so get in touch and we will provide you with all the relevant information and costs.

An E-Book is a digital representation of your book that can be used on any compatible computer or mobile device, such as Amazon Kindle or iPad. The market for E-Books is constantly growing. UK Design Co strongly recommends producing books in both printed and digital format to reach a wider consumer audience.

There are various software packages that can help you create your own E-Book, however, if you don’t have experience in this area, UK Design Co advises you to use our services. There are a number of rookie errors that can be made when converting your manuscript to E-Book format and having UK Design Co convert your manuscript for you is very cheap. Furthermore, if we are formatting/designing your book, we provide E-Book conversion as a bolt-on service for even cheaper.

UK Design Co recommends the following –

Amazon Kindle: .MOBI

General tablet and other hand-held devices: .EPUB

If you intend to ONLY view your book on a computer: .PDF

If you are unsure of how to convert your manuscript to E-Book or would like multiple E-book formats to cover every eventuality, UK Design Co can handle the whole process for you. We have a wide range of options to suit every budget and no request is ever too big or too small.

Getting your book on Amazon Kindle is simple but there are a number of steps to follow. The below link will take you to Mike Fishbein’s article that explains the whole process. We strongly urge you to check it out.

Don’t forget – UK Design Co are here to help you format/design your E-Book, print editions and covers.

https://mfishbein.com/how-to-self-publish-a-book-on-amazon/

If you would like ink to run all the way to the edge of the sheet with absolutely no white borders, your document requires ‘bleed’. As is common with desktop printers, commercial printers cannot print to the edge of the sheet. To combat this, it is necessary to add at least 3mm of additional background onto each edge of your artwork. That way, your Printer will be able to trim the document to the correct size, cutting through the additional background and ensuring that ink runs all the way to the edge of the page. If you are unsure how to set your manuscript to print correctly, UK Design Co can produce this for you. This is something we do automatically for every order we design/format.

A drop cap (dropped capital) is a large capital letter used as a decorative element at the beginning of a paragraph or section. The size of a drop cap is usually two or more lines. They are strictly decorative and are often used to create a more classic feel for your book.

An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number that is used by publishers, booksellers and libraries for ordering, listing and stock control purposes. It enables the book industry to identify a specific edition of a specific title in a specific format.

Although ISBNs are not compulsory, they do vastly enhance the professional feel of your book and are almost always required by booksellers to assist with their internal processing systems.

UK Design Co strongly advise our customers to consider ISBNs for their books.

ISBNs are available from the Nielsen ISBN Agency (UK and the ROI), however, customers of UK Design Co on average receive a discount of around 30%.

If you would like to register an ISBN, get in touch today and UK Design Co will handle the whole process for you.

Please note, ISBNs are non-transferrable and are specific to each version/format of your book.

The easiest way to improve the environmental performance of your book is to have it printed/bound by an eco-responsible supplier. UK Design Co only works with Printers and Binders that share our approach to responsible business. If we are designing/formatting your book, we offer a wide range of ‘Printer Support’ services that include finding Printers for you or working directly with your preferred Printer. This includes helping you achieve the environmental goals you desire for your book.

If you are interested in environmental methods, please speak to a member of the UK Design Co team.

Almost all books in the UK are printed via Digital or Lithographic methods. The general rule is that if you require low quantities (approximately less than 500 copies) it will work out cheaper to produce via Digital processes, whereas over 500 copies, Lithographic processes become preferable. This is only a general rule as book specification can significantly alter the quantity at which Lithographic processes are beneficial. It is also true that some book specifications can only be printed Lithographically, regardless of the quantity required.

Within our ‘Printer Support’ service, UK Design Co will match you with a Printer that we have vetted specifically for your needs. This includes every aspect of your print order, achieving the best value, quality, environmental performance and timeframe. We will also ensure that the Printer we recommend is best placed to provide you with a wide range of stock and finishing options, enabling you to achieve the aesthetical goals you have for your book.

UK Design Co are here to support you through the entire printing/binding process.

Each UK Design Co customer has a different set of requirements and expectations for their book. We are able to design and format simple book requests within 2-3 days and always provide upfront information so that our customers know when their orders are going to be delivered.

Our Design Team operate from 8am-10pm Monday-Friday and we provide a flexible service, frequently accommodating urgent requests for our customers.

Our Team are highly experienced and can work to the tightest of deadlines.

If you would like to know how long your book will take to design and format, please ask member of the UK Design Co Team.

UK Design Co uses a wide range of software options to design and format books for our customers. If you are interested in designing and formatting your own books to a professional standard, we recommend the following software, as a minimum:

  • InDesign
  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • Acrobat DC
  • Microsoft Suite

 

There are a number of fantastic online courses you can take to learn each of the above software to a basic-intermediate level and it takes on average around 1800 hours per software to reach a competent standard.