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Design & Typesetting

Design involves typesetting of the text and laying it out, incorporating all page and visual elements in a balanced and creative way. Using Word is appropriate for digital books but not for those that will be printed. Word simply doesn't have the same functionality or quality standards as dedicated typesetting software. I have been using industry-standard Adobe InDesign for over 15 years, in which time I have produced hundreds of documents, including business cards, leaflets and canvas display banners, but mostly books of varying complexity, such as novels, reference texts and illustrated books. I design the entire document, inside and out (or only the cover, if that is what you wish). There are many advantages of working with me on the design if I have edited the text for you, because I will know all about your content and intended audience.


Interior page design and formatting

I will suggest an interior design that suits the content and intended readership of the book, making choices about the size and other visual aspects of the text on the page, such as the amount of white space, the size and spacing of the text body, headings, running heads and page numbers, and the best typefaces and fonts for each element. These choices will be applied consistently through the whole document. Remember that:

  • Novels are fairly straightforward to format, and  tend to be in black and white, so they are quick to deal with. 

  • Complex feature-rich layouts and illustrated books take longer to design because the various elements on the page must be visually balanced and work in harmony with the text.

  • The use of colour in illustrations and textual elements requires additional attention.


It is vital to plan the artwork before the illustrator makes a start - that is, during the editing stage. In consultation with you, I create a 'story board' for the illustrator as I edit, tweaking the text so that the images tie in perfectly with the words. Visually balanced pages are achieved by varying close-ups and wide-screen shots, image sizes and orientation and applying other design effects.

Cover design

There are at three parts to the cover of a printed book – the front, the back, and the spine, whereby the spine width is determined by the number of pages and the paper weight. There may also be a dust jacket, or text printed inside the covers. We will collaborate on your preferences for the design, which may be image-based or typography-based, photo-real or graphic, according to the content and audience you wish to entice. Again, the balance of text, imagery and space is important. I will also incorporate other necessary elements, such as:

  • logos and ‘branding’ colours

  • ISBN barcodes

  • blurb on the back cover

  • straplines on the front

  • author and publisher information.

I can wrap the front-cover artwork on to the spine and back cover, and advise on the cover material – hard or soft, matte or gloss laminate, soft feel or fabric, embossing and debossing. In all instances, you will receive a range of mock-ups to review.  

Don't forget other uses for the cover design

Digital versions of the cover are powerful tools that can be used for all manner of promotional purposes. 

  • social media posts

  • websites

  • author platforms

  • advanced information sheets (AISs)

  • promotion packs for agents

  • business cards

  • leaflets

  • book events at fairs and festivals

  • book launches (invitations, posters and display banners).


Professional typesetting, as part of the design process, ensures the highest-quality output for documents destined for conventional and.or digital publication, and optimises the reading experience of your intended audience. The processes for e-books and POD books are shorter than that for conventional printing, as indicated by the following outline of tasks.

  • In Word, add HTML-like tags to different features of the text. I do this during as I edit the text.

  • Set up the dimensions of the book or other document in InDesign, specifying parameters like margins, gutters and bleed for images.

  • Set up language/font rules (e.g. for hyphenation and ligatures).

  • Flow the final ‘tagged’ body text into InDesign.

  • Create other page elements (e.g. running heads, page numbers, footnotes).

  • Create suitable character and paragraph styles for all elements of the text (e.g. headings, quotations and other features.

  • Insert special characters and glyphs for mathematical and chemical expressions.

  • Insert or create the front-matter pages, such as copyright information and the contents list.

  • Insert or create the end-matter pages, such as author bios, appendices and reference (not the index).

  • Insert images and other features in the most appropriate place within the text and 'edit' complex layouts to fit.

  • Check quality and suitability of all images.

  • Check entire document  for ‘nasties’ like widows and orphans, and bad line and page breaks.
  • Adjust long pages and short pages for visual balance.
  • Ensure deliberate blank pages are in place and that the total number of pages meets requirements for conventional printing of signatures (see below).
  • Add page numbers to contents list.

  • Produce a PDF proof for author and/or proofreader review, then incorporate author/proofreader amends[].

  • Produce revised proofs of the text and re-send to author and/or proofreader (there may be several cycles of reviewing, amending and re-sending)


  • For traditionally printed books only:

  • Create an index in Sky Indexing software (if required) from the final print-ready proofs and insert into InDesign file.

  • Send to PDF proof for author and/or proofreader review and revise as necessary until author 'signs off' approval.

  • Carry out pre-flight quality checks on approved proof and check print output specifications.

  • Liaise with chosen printer and send to print.

Cover files will go through the same process, but spine width will only calculated when the final page number (and paper weight) is known.

*A signature is a fixed number of pages (divisible by 4) that can be printed, folded and bound into a book, usually made up of 8, 12, 16, 24, 32 or 64 pages, and sometimes resulting in blank pages at the end of the book.

Helping you get your book all the way to publication

I can also take your book or other printed material all the way to publication. Documents laid out professionally in InDesign can be streamed onto e-book and POD platforms and/or to conventional printers. The first two platforms simply follow on from the typesetting process, but for books destined for traditional printing, I source print quotes while I am working on the design, which can save considerable time. I work with a  

print-on-demand (POD) 

conventionally printed books - I will advise on the logistics of printing and working with printers, covering book sizes, paper types and weights, types of covers and  bindings. I can do the 'print-buying' to secure quotes and liaise on all aspects of the job placed with the chosen printers. Typeset books are usually destined for traditional printing. I work with a The printer will produce yet another set of proofs, which will need to be checked carefully, by the author and myself - especially full-colour and illustrated books. Of course, the InDesign files can also be used for digital and POD platforms of your choice. Just let me know and I can arrange these too.

FREE Consult

30 min

We are glad to offer a free consult to help answer your questions about self-publishing and to determine if our services would be a good fit for you.

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