Typesetting and Book Design

Have you just written a book and need some help getting it ready for print? 

Typesetting is the art of laying out your text and/or images onto the pages of your book. There are multiple ways of doing this and many different software suites that can help you but, it is not necessarily something you want to attempt yourself.

A typesetter will help transform your manuscript into an easy to read book format – PDF for book printing. This will include creating the correct margins and spacings, designing and organising the chapters and adding the page numbering.

They mainly focus on the design and layout of the text/internals of your book; however, they can also suggest the right sort of style you should consider for your book’s genre.

If you want some more information on typesetting your book for print, we have a handy guide for Microsoft Word that will help you – Formatting a Book in Microsoft Word.

We also have some templates that you can use at the end of this post to help you typeset and design your book – Microsoft Word & InDesign.

A book designer will come up with many ideas for your book cover and create the final look of your book. You may find that your typesetter is also a designer, which would be a bonus.

In the image below you can see the difference between a page that has been typeset incorrectly and a page that has been professionally typeset.

Typesetting Examples

Image from: Reedsy

1. Hyphenated words one after the other on multiple lines.

2. Poor uneven word spacing which is not consistent with the rest of the book.

3. Incorrect use of hyphens.

4. Multiple spaces used.

5. Incorrect tracking and kerning.

More information on Typesetting and Design can be found at Book Design UK.

Some key terms to note for typesetting;

Point size;

This is the size of the font you set in your document. Different fonts may have different sizes at the same point size.


Kerning is the space between characters. In professional typesetting and design software, this space can be manually adjusted to create the perfect design in your book.


Tracking is similar to kerning, however, Tracking uniformly defines the space between letters in a block of text.



Leading adjusts the space between the bottom of one line to the bottom of the next line. Adjusting the leading can drastically alter the appearance of your book to document so be careful.

Some basic rules if you will be typesetting your book yourself;

  1. Align your paragraphs correctly. Justified paragraph alignment is almost always the way to go if you want a professional-looking book.
  2. Make sure you leave enough space for margins. You will want a generous amount of space for the top, bottom and sides of your book. You will also want to increase the margin for the ‘gutter’ of the book. This margin will depend on the number of pages you have in your book, high-page count books will want a bigger margin than low-page count books.
  3. Font choice should be a serif type for the body of the book. Your headers, titles, sub-titles will be fine with a San-Serif font but the main text of your book should be a Serif font.
  4. Eliminate interruptions in reading by removing ‘widows’ and ‘orphans’. In typesetting and book design, the first line of a paragraph or piece of text that is at the end of any page is called a widow. An ‘orphan’ is the opposite, it is the last line of a paragraph or piece of text that falls on the first line of the page of the book.
  5. Make sure you have no ‘word widows’. Word widows are similar to widows, they are single words at the end of a block of text that sits on a single line by themselves.
  6. Don’t indent the first line of a new paragraph or chapter. Subsequent paragraphs and chapters can be indented but make sure the first is not.

These are only a few basic rules for you to get started on your typesetting project.


If you think you may need help with typesetting, editing or book design, please contact us

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.