Book Design

This guide is primarily aimed at users creating their own artwork with Word. The information given can also be adapted and applied to other design software like QuarkXPress, InDesign, Publisher or other desktop publishing packages.

Page Size

The single most important thing to do as early in the process as possible is set the page size. What size that will be is up to you, but common sizes plus their price ranges is given below.

Small (134 x 200 mm up to A5)

  • 134 x 200 mm – minimum size for a normal book
  • C-format (134 x 216 mm)
  • A5 (148 x 210 mm)

Medium (over A5 up to 6” x 9”)

  • 6” x 9” (153 x 229 mm)
  • A-format (110 x 178 mm) – smaller than minimum size and hand trimmed, so costs a little more than a small size book
  • B-format (128 x 198 mm) – as per above              

Large (over 6” x 9” up to A4)

  • B5 (176 x 250 mm)
  • B5 JIS (182 x 257mm)
  • A4 (210 x297mm)

To set the page size go Page Layout menu -> Page Setup -> Paper tab, then either select the size from the dropdown list or select ‘custom size’ and manually key in the size if it doesn’t appear in the list.

Things to consider when selecting a page size:

  • Cost – the three size ranges increase in cost per page as the size range increases. Conversely, increasing size can reduce the page count and book thickness, which reduces the unit cost.
  • Content – If the book is primarily text the smaller sizes offer a more comfortable experience for the reader. If the book contains images or tables then larger sizes are more appropriate as images need to be a reasonable size to preserve the detail in them.


There really isn’t a hard-and-fast rule here, but a few guidelines can help.

To set the margin go Page Layout menu -> Page Setup -> Margins tab. Set the ‘Multiple pages’ option to Mirror Margins, which will change the Left and Right margins to Inside and Outside. These will alternate as the pages go from left-hand to right-hand pages.

Things to consider when setting margins:

  • Book size – smaller books need a larger inside margin; larger books can have a smaller inside margin.
  • Page count – thin books need a larger inside margin; thicker books can have a smaller inside margin.

We recommend starting with these settings:

Top: 17 mm      Bottom: 20 mm       Inside: 20 mm       Outside: 17 mm


Typefaces, Font Size and Line Spacing

We recommend serif fonts like Times New Roman, Book Antiqua/Palatino, Garamond or Goudy for the body text. Serif fonts are generally recognised as easier to read in body text than sans-serif fonts like Arial or Helvetica.

The font size is matter of choice, but we do recommend a size in the range of 9 – 11 point for most books. Line spacing should be set to single or 1.15 lines.

Things to consider choosing a font size:

  • Audience – if the audience includes elderly or visually impaired readers, larger sizes of up to 12pt are better.
  • Page count – larger sizes will increase the page count, thickness and cost; smaller sizes will reduce them.


Page and Section Breaks

When you need to force a new page to begin, use a Page Break (Page Layout or Insert menu -> Breaks -> Page Break) to force a new page, rather than multiple carriage returns.

When you come to the end of a chapter or section, use a Section Break (Page Layout or Insert menu -> Breaks -> Section Break) instead. There is a choice of type with section breaks, the appropriate choice is Odd Page, which will make the new chapter begin on the next odd-numbered right-hand page.

NB. New sections should always begin on an odd-numbered right-hand page.


Preliminary Pages

Here are a few commonly included pages at the start of a book – including them helps to keep the book looking professional. Look at an existing book to get an idea of how these are normally placed.

  • Half Title Page (right-hand page - optional) – includes title of the book and author only. Use a full title page here if you don’t do both a half-title page and full title .
  • Imprint Page (left-hand page) – includes copyright details and disclaimer, ISBN and CiP details, printer and publisher details.
  • Full Title Page (right-hand page) – includes title of the book, author, publisher, edition or volume set details.
  • Dedication (optional)
  • Contents (begins on right-hand page – optional)
  • Preface (begins on right-hand page – optional) – author’s introduction
  • Foreword (begins on right-hand page – optional) – third-party’s introduction
  • Acknowledgements (optional) – author’s thanks


Page Numbers

Automatic page numbering will work fine in most cases. We recommend setting up centred page numbering in the footer, which then makes it irrelevant whether the page is left or right-handed.

NB. Right-hand pages are always odd-numbered, left-hand pages are always even-numbered. DO NOT USE the 2-page view in Word, as it shows right-hand pages on the left and vice versa, which is the opposite to how they will view in the printed book.

If you want to be completely correct, preliminary pages are numbered in lower case roman numerals, then from the first page of the main body of the text is numbered in arabic numerals, starting from one. NB. You’ll need to insert a section break before the first page of the text to be able to restart the page numbering and change the numeral type.


ISBN, CiP and Legal Deposit

We recommend obtaining an ISBN for your title, to secure legal ownership of the rights for the edition and to enable easy inclusion in library cataloguing and point-of-sale systems. ISBN’s can be obtained online from Thorpe-Bowker ( who are Australia’s official ISBN agent. NB. You do not need to buy the optional barcode, just the number – we can create the barcode here from the number included as part of the normal setup process.

If you have an ISBN for your title, then you can apply for a CiP (cataloguing-in-Publication) index from the National Library of Australia. This is normally included on the imprint page. It’s free and can be applied for at

Finally, all new publications need to satisfy the Legal Deposit requirements under your State law. Mostly this just entails sending a copy to each of the specified archival libraries. Details can be found here: