Book Layout


In our first project, Typeface Design, we focused on the creation of individual letterforms while also gaining proficiency in making vector-based graphics. In Project 2: Book Layout, you will begin to understand how the design of individual letters affects legibility and style of longer sections of text, such as paragraphs. Your goal is to create a legible and style-appropriate chapbook layout for the seven short stories included in “Arriving Late: Scenes from the Greatest Class I Never Saw,” written by students in English 251: Introduction to Creative Writing. (A chapbook is a small book, 15 to 40 pages, usually with a soft paper cover. Many small poetry presses produce chapbooks for new authors, but they can also be used for fiction.)

Your primary choices are concerned with typeface (which font are you using?) and the space around the letters and lines of text (linespacing, marginsalignment, and tracking). Both of these choices have a direct impact on style as well as legibility. You want to create a clear hierarchy for the reader: This includes clearly marked sections, paragraphs, and page numbers, as well as a table of contents.

The techniques and design skills you gain in this project are also directly applicable to choices made in the design of websites, which we will discuss later in the semester. It is easier to practice these skills first in a static design, such as the printed page, because there are fewer variables and your intention for the final output is easier to keep consistent while you focus on improving your eye for design.

– – – – –

Required Resources

– – – – –

Page Layout and Adobe InDesign

Text frames

Text frames are one of the powerful capabilities in InDesign, allowing you to flow your text from one location to another.

We will design our chapbooks using Adobe InDesign. InDesign is a desktop publishing program used primarily to design printed materials. It has a number of features that make it ideal for laying out brochures, books, magazines, and other longer-form print pieces. It is the industry standard for the creation of such materials.

InDesign allows you to set paragraph and character styles within your documents, allowing for easy changing of typefaces, line spacingparagraph indents, alignmentdropcapspage numbering, and other aspects of print documents, especially ones that are generated on a regular basis. It also features a number of settings suited for the professional print industry, such as monitoring of specific spot and process inks and typefaces within documents and the ability to package all related files into self-contained folders.

– – – – –


In addition to making sure your paragraphs of text are nice and readable, you can style your chapter headings using different fonts, special characters and symbols, etc.

Drop caps and eye-catching author and title headings can attract readers to the beginning of each story.

Your objective for this project is to create a well-designed, easy-to-read, and style-appropriate chapbook layout for all seven stories in “Arriving Late: Scenes from the Greatest Class I Never Saw.” A key question is: Who is the audience for this chapbook? Other students? English faculty members? Potential publishers? How will that dictate your design choices? Our focus for this project is the inside of the book. We will work on the cover and illustrations in Project 3.

  1. Choose one story to use as a test: Make at least three different layouts using 5.5 x 8.5-inch pages. Vary typeface, spacing, dropcap choice, margins, and title/author headings. Ask several other people to read your layouts: Which one is most legible? Save these print-outs to hand in with your notes.
  2. Once you have decided on a layout design for your first story, save paragraph styles and character styles as appropriate. Then use these to more efficiently layout the remaining six stories in your chapbook.
  3. Add pages numbers using master pages. Also add a table of contents.
  4. Extra credit: Add consistent and style-appropriate graphics to embellish page numbers or title/author headings. Graphics could be made in InDesign, or in Illustrator and linked to your InDesign file.

Page numbers can be given a stylistic flair that is appropriate for your reading audience. Note the legible serif font used for the main paragraphs in this book. Also note that the essay title is repeated vertically on each right-hand-page directly above the page number.

– – – – –

Technical Specifications for InDesign

These are the steps will follow in class to make our chapbook. Make sure to take some notes as we go. Some tutorial links are also provided for your reference:

  1. Before making a new document, go to InDesign > Preferences > Units & Increments and change Horizontal and Vertical Ruler Units to Inches.
  2. Next, make a New Document in InDesign with Facing Pages. Page Size should be 5.5 wide x 8.5 high (a 8.5 x 11 page folded in half).
  3. Practice threading the text of one short story through several text frames until you get the hang of it. Adjust the size of text frames to fit margin guides. Also, adjust margin guides as needed for more or less space. To globally adjust margins on all pages, use Master Pages in the Pages panel.
  4. Try at least three different layouts for this story (copy the story three times, adding more pages as needed using Layout > Pages > Insert Pages). Change the typeface, leading (line spacing), dropcap for first paragraph, indent for subsequent paragraphs, and the title/author heading each time. You may also adjust margin size each time, depending on how your other choices affect the text. Try to make three visually different designs, but also keep them all legible. Use at least one sans serif and one serif font.
  5. Make sure to use Space Before and Space After tools instead of pressing the return key to make extra spaces between lines. Likewise, make sure to use First Line Left Indent instead of hitting the tab key. These are all located on the Paragraph panel.
  6. Print your layout designs using these instructions for double-sided printing in AML 103 using the color printer. It is hard to really evaluate your designs until they are printed.
  7. Refine one of your designs, making adjustments based on your prints. When it seems perfect, save paragraph styles for: First Paragraph, Body Copy, and Title and Author Headings. Depending on your style choices, you may need a few more than these, and you may also need a character style or two.
  8. Use your saved paragraph and character styles as you thread the rest of your stories into text frames. Add pages as needed. Make sure the final total number of pages is divisible by 4.
  9. Add a table of contents that is styled to suit the rest of your design. (Bulleted and numbered lists may be helpful here.)
  10. Add page numbers that are styled to suit the rest of your design using master pages on the pages panel. (For advanced users: How To Get Page Numbering to Start Where You Want It)
  11. Save your file as a package to make sure fonts and images are included. If your file is called “yourlastname-yourfirstname-02.indd” then your packaged files will appear in a folder called “yourlastname-yourfirstname-02 Folder”

Adobe Help and the InDesign tutorial page on your class website are good places to start to find even more help!

– – – – –

What You Will Hand In:

  1. Your thumbdrive, labeled with your first and last name and DTC201. Your files for this project should be packaged in a folder using the InDesign File > Package feature. This will produce a folder called “yourlastname-yourfirstname-02 Folder” and this is what should be on your thumbdrive.
  2. Final printed book layout, on 5.5 x 8.5-inch pages (8.5 x 11 folded in half).
  3. Folder or binder containing your notes for this project. They should be well-organized and legible. Make sure your first and last name and DTC201 are written on the outside.