By: Marc Histand | A 6-minute read

Your manuscript is finished, and you’ve had the book edited several times. It’s a masterpiece! Now, you face the daunting task of designing the interior so it stands out to readers. While this challenge is not for everyone, there are some simple techniques you can use to make your life a bit easier and, even if you don’t design the entire book, provide important details to the page designer so their expectations are more apparent.

The F1/Help button is tinted red

Determine your book’s hierarchy and assign headings

  1. Many people skip this important and, quite frankly easy, step. As an author, you know that books have different segments depending on book type and length. These segments, from largest to smallest, are part, chapter, section, and sub-section. When you’ve determined these book segments, you’ll want to be sure you set your heading styles so all of the segment headings match. Instead of assigning these manually, use the provided heading set up tools found on every word processor. For Microsoft Word, use the instructions, found here, to set up your headings. Use the hierarchy above to determine what heading numbers you’ll use for which text.
A selection of various heading styles in Courier font

Determine your margins

You’ll want to be sure that your book’s margins are set to a good distance from the end of the page so your words don’t run off the page and there’s enough blank space around the text so the final product doesn’t look like you are trying to pack too much content on one page. If you’re creating a mass-market book, feel free to blow out those margins but remember, quality begets quantity. Don’t forget that to reach that huge market, the book must look good.

Link your table of contents

Using the headings that you created in step one, link your table of contents so that while you continue to work, your table of contents will update to the appropriate page numbers. This way, there’s no guesswork involved in creating and maintaining a correct TOC.

Decide what design add-ons look best for your book

a copperplate etching-style flourish

A new section or chapter is not complete with some kind of design element. Be sure to use online stock image resources to acquire the proper elements. Remember; when doing a simple online search, it is not guaranteed that the images you’ll find are available for reuse. Should you use an image that is not available for reuse, you open yourself up to copyright infringement. Stock image websites may charge you a small fee to download and use the image, but you’ll have a little peace of mind knowing that you aren’t breaking any laws.

Now that you’ve completed these few steps, it’s time to have some close friends, colleagues, or family members take a look at your book. What are their reactions? Did they appreciate the design elements that you’ve chosen? Do they feel that the book’s look and feel match the overall plot and genre? If not, it may be time to go back to the drawing board.

Here’s where things can get frustrating. Let’s say you’ve revisited your interior formatting several times but still aren’t able to find the right combination of fonts, styles, and sizes to encapsulate the true look & feel of your book. Graphic design isn’t for everyone and, let’s face it, that’s what you are attempting. Still stuck? First, reach out to your network and check to see who out there would be willing to provide you with assistance at a discount. There are many graphic designers out there that like to use family and friends’ projects to broaden their portfolio and will cut their pricing on those projects. Take advantage of these situations and you’ll be surprised about who you’ll find to help. Can’t find that person I’m describing? (Time for some shameless service plugs) Take a look at our formatting services! The 2Nimble team of graphic designers and typesetters will create a masterpiece out of your already lovely manuscript. Offering both themed and custom design, we have what you need… no matter your needs.

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