How to Format a Book for Printing

Welcome to our guide on formatting a book for printing, where our aim is to help you achieve a professional look for your book while ensuring its content remains accessible and engaging for readers. It’s important to strike the right balance in formatting – simplicity is key to avoid overwhelming your audience, yet there’s ample room for creativity to make your book uniquely yours. Follow these expert tips to master the art of book formatting and transform your manuscript into a print-ready masterpiece.

Before you start

The first step on your checklist should be determining your book’s genre. Without this crucial decision, your formatting efforts might not align correctly.

You don’t want to format an academic journal in the same style as you would for a horror novel.

Books require different formatting styles depending on their genre, so it’s essential to clearly identify the genre and niche of your book.

Make a note of the styles you prefer

Look through all of the books you own – even if they are in a different niche; what do you like about them, and what do you not like?

If you don’t have many books then the next place to search is at your local library or local book shop.

Have a look through as many books as you can and make note of the following style formats;

  • Size of the book
  • The thickness of the book/number of pages
  • Font styles for the main text and headings
  • Line spacing
  • Paragraph formatting
  • Page numbering

Most books you look at will have similar styles in their niche.

You will most likely be able to start identifying the genre and niche of the book based on the format of the book.

If you want to know what fonts and font sizes are used for the book, look at the preliminary pages.

The author or typesetter may have added information on the font, font size and line spacing, which will help you identify what format you like the look of.

What size should my book be?

Choosing the right book size is crucial, not only for its formatting but also for impacting the final printing costs.

You will want your book to fit in with other books in your genre on bookshelves but not blend in.

If you are planning on a multi-series, then make sure you get this correct at the start. – You don’t want to have a series of books in different formats.

Remember – the bigger the book the more expensive the printing will be.

Basic book sizes for formatting and printing;

  • Fiction: 4.25″ x 6.87″, 5″ x 8″, 5.25″ x 8″, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 6″ x 9″ (B-Format)
  • Novella: 5″ x 8″ (B-Format)
  • Children’s: 7.5″ x 7.5″, 7″ x 10″, 10″ x 8″ (Royal to A4)
  • Textbooks: 6″ x 9″, 7″ x 10″, 8.5″ x 11″ (Royal to B5 Quattro)
  • Non-fiction: 5.5″ x 8.5″, 6″ x 9″, 7″ x 10″ (B-Format to B5 Quattro)
  • Memoir: 5.25″ x 8″, 5.5″ x 8.5″ (B-Format to Royal)
  • Photography: Whatever you see fit!

Most photography books tend to be in a large format hardback book – normally in the region of A4 or bigger.

A well-formatted photography book in hardback can look amazing, nothing comes close to the feel of a hardback book.

There are many different sizes you can choose from, but the above sizes are the most common. Some printers may limit what size they can produce.

You don’t want to have something too different unless you are sure the particular size serves a purpose.

The below image gives you a rough comparison of the difference in size between books.

To see a full range of sizes that different printers offer, please visit – Choosing a Hardback or Paperback Book Size

If you’re uncertain about whether to opt for a hardback or paperback format for your book, our blog post “Hardback vs Paperback – Which is Best?” offers valuable insights to help you decide.

What size should my margins be?

The margins are how far away the text is from the edge of the paper.

On average, the margins for a book are between 13 to 18mm depending on the type of book, the genre of the book and the number of printed pages.

You want to ensure you have a nice space around the content but not to have overly large blank areas.

The book’s gutter usually has slightly extra margins, about 5 to 8mm—the more printed pages your book has – the more space is needed for the gutter.

When the book is in its final format, you will be able to get an idea of the number of printed pages it will be.

With this information, you can put the number of pages into a spine width calculator. The calculator will give you a measurement of the book’s spine, which you can then use to work out the gutter size.

What is the best font to use for my book?

If you have written your book already, you might have already decided on a font. Perhaps you are not quite sure if the font you chose suits your book’s style.

Deciding on a font for your book is a very big decision and something The Book Typesetters can help with.

The best font to use for your book is mostly down to personal preference, but you need to have a font that your readers can easily read

If you don’t have a good font, the time and effort you put into formatting your book could be wasted.

Look at some of the books you like and look in the prelims to see if they have any details on the fonts the designers or typesetters have used. More often than not, you should be able to see something in the prelims like … Typeset in Garamond 12pt.

If you want to stick to a common font for your book, which I advise, then you should look into the following top 6 fonts.

These are my top 6 fonts that work well for almost every type of genre.

Most of these fonts are used in fiction and non-fiction formats.

  • Garamond
  • Georgia
  • Palatino
  • Baskerville
  • Minion Pro
  • Cormorant

For more information on fonts, see – 7 Perfect Typesetting Fonts

You have a formatting outline – now design the style!

Putting all the above formatting options together will give you the overall style of your book.

Every book and every genre has a set style that is consistent throughout. Your book’s style is similar to a personal brand.

You can have different fonts, sizes and headings for different books, but when they all come together, your readers can see the styles match.

Consistency is king when it comes to formatting.

It’s advisable to maintain a consistent format throughout your book unless there’s a specific reason for variation, like a compilation of stories from various authors.

It’s important to establish set styles for the following elements:

  • Copyright page – This is the page at the front of your book that lists all the publication, copyright, legal, printing, design, listing and ISBN information.
  • Title page – the title of the book.
  • Subtitle/half title –the title of the book with the author in a smaller font than the title page.
  • Chapter headings – the heading of every chapter before each part of the text.
  • Page numbers – small numbers identifying each page number, usually in a small font in the bottom middle of the book. Preliminary pages are usually in Roman numerals. Blank pages with no text on them are not usually numbered.
  • Footers – small text parts at the bottom of every page before the page number. They usually have information such as chapters, authors, notes and/or references.
  • Headers – similar to footers but at the top of the page. They have information for chapter title, author and/or book title.

What preliminary pages should I have?

You will want at least a title page, copyright page, table of contents and a preface, but here are all the options you could have as preliminary pages.

  • Title Page: This is the most basic and essential preliminary page. It should include the book’s title, subtitle (if any), and the author’s name. Some authors also include the publisher’s logo or name at the bottom.
  • Copyright Page: Located on the back of the title page, this section contains copyright information, the book’s edition, ISBN number, and sometimes a disclaimer. For books that include copyrighted material, this page will also list credits and acknowledgements for those works.
  • Dedication Page: This is an optional page where the author can dedicate the book to someone special or influential in their life. It’s a personal touch that adds emotional value to the book.
  • Acknowledgements: Authors use this section to thank those who contributed to the book’s creation. This can include mentors, family, friends, and professionals like editors and publishers.
  • Table of Contents: Essential for non-fiction and reference books and sometimes included in fiction works, the table of contents lists the chapters or sections of the book and their corresponding page numbers.
  • Foreword: Written by someone other than the author, the foreword provides a context or background for the book’s material. It’s an endorsement of the book and its author.
  • Preface: Here, the author introduces the book, sharing the story behind its creation, its purpose, and what they hope the reader gains from it. Unlike the foreword, the preface is written by the author.
  • Introduction: This section provides a preview of the book’s content, setting up the reader for what’s to come. It’s more common in non-fiction books and aims to hook the reader’s interest.
  • Prologue: Often found in fiction, the prologue sets the scene for the story or provides background details that are crucial to the plot but don’t fit naturally into the body of the book.
  • Epigraph: An optional page that features a quote, poem, or excerpt that hints at the theme or mood of the book. It’s a stylistic choice that can add depth to the reading experience.

Including these preliminary pages in your book can significantly enhance the reader’s experience by providing essential information, setting the tone, and offering insights into the book’s creation and purpose. Each element uniquely prepares the reader for the journey ahead, making them an integral part of the book’s structure.

Should my chapter pages be unique?

You can be a bit creative with your chapter pages, depending on the genre of your book. Experiment a little and see what looks good.

But do not overdo it. Make sure it is in line with the genre of your book.

Remember, chapter pages should be on the right-hand page of your book if you want a traditional style.

You may have noticed this when you were doing your initial research on formatting.

If you are not worried about a traditional book format, you do not need to worry about this.

Do page numbers matter?

Many designers use Roman numerals for the preliminary pages or leave them blank.

Your book should always start on page one on the right-hand side page and will leave all blank pages throughout the book with no page numbers.

The style of the page numbers should align with your book’s main body. They are normally in a small font and centred at the bottom of the page.


Many different parts make up the formatting of a book. The main thing to focus on is what you are happy with. It is your book, after all.

Take note of all the points above, but only use the set styles you are happy with.

Ask your friends and family for their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s your book, and all your hard work has gone into creating it.

If you have finished formatting and need help printing, why not use our book printing calculator to get a quote for your book, or have a look at our book printing options.

About Jamie Rand

I'm the Business Development Manager at Imprint Digital, a leading book printing company. This blog is where I share insights and strategies from my journey, offering advice for everyone in the publishing and printing industry.