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Design & Typesetting

Design involves typesetting of the text and laying it out, incorporating all textual and visual elements in a balanced and aesthetic way. Microsoft Word can be used for creating digital books but it doesn't have the same functionality as the dedicated typesetting software required for producing high-quality books . I have been using industry-standard Adobe InDesign for over 15 years to produce many hundreds of documents, including business cards, leaflets and display banners, but mostly full books, from novels to children's illustrated books, advertising materials, research reports, technical manuals, educational materials and reference textbooks. I can design entire documents, both inside and out. Moreover, if I have edited a text and am therefore very familiar with its content and intended audience, then I am able to apply 'special measures' for handling the trickiest typesetting and layout situations.


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 and page layout, such as the amount of white space, the size and spacing of typographical features, headings, running heads and page numbers, and typefaces and fonts. Paragraph styles are used to make sure these are applied consistently through the whole document. Note that:


  • Novels are fairly straightforward to format, with a simple heading and text structure and usually no illustrations, thus they are quick to deal with. 

  • Books with illustrations, tables, boxes, quotes and multilevel headings take far take longer to design and layout. They required multiple paragraph and character styles to be defined, and make it difficult to balance out different elements on the pages. 

  • Books with colour require additional attention.


I help authors and artists plan early - normally during the text editing stage - by creating a 'story board' to guide the artwork content and sizing alongside the text, and often tweaking the narrative to tie in perfectly with most appropriate image to suit the narrative. Pages must also be visually balanced by varying close-ups and wide-screen shots, as well as sizes and orientation.

Cover design

I have extensive experience in this area and will collaborate with you 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. You may also want a dust jacket for a hardback, or text inside the covers. I create the front, the back, and the spine (the cover wrap), where the spine width is calculated when the final page count and paper weight are known. I will also sort out the many features that go on the back of the book, such as:


  • logos and ‘branding’ colours

  • ISBN barcodes

  • blurb copy

  • straplines 

  • author and publisher information.

I can also advise on the most suitable paper type, book format and size, binding (e.g. perfect bound or wirobound) and cover material (e.g. hardback, softback, matte, gloss or soft touch, embossed or debossed). In all cases, I work closely with the author to come up with a range of concepts and layouts that can be adapted and whittled down until the final cover emerges.  

Don't forget other uses for the cover design

I can also provide digital "marketing" images of the cover in various formats for promotional purposes, such as: 

  • social media posts

  • author platforms

  • promotion packs for agents

  • websites

  • book launches

  • events at fairs and festivals.

If you need other supporting and branded materials, this can be part of the package too. Items include:


  • advanced information sheets (AISs)

  • business cards
  • leaflets
  • posters

  • display banners (paper, card, vinyl, etc)

  • invitations

  • a wide range of merchandise.


Professional typesetting, as part of the design process, ensures the highest-quality output for documents destined for conventional and print-on-demand publications, and optimises the reading experience of readers. The more complex the book, the longer it takes.


I add HTML-like 'tags' while editing the tet in Word to differentiate specific features of the text. I also generate front matter and end matter (e.g. copyright information, content and figure lists, author bios, appendices and reference lists).  Before flowing the final ‘tagged’ body text into InDesign, I consult the author as necessary to:

  • set up the optimum dimensions of the document, including parameters like margins, gutters and bleed
  • select a colour palette

  • select pagination parameters and styles

  • choose suitable fonts and set up language/font rules (e.g. for hyphenation and ligatures)

  • create standard page elements (e.g. running heads, page numbers, footnotes)

  • create bespoke character styles and paragraph styles for every elements of the text (e.g. headings, quotations, captions)

  • create master pages as required for uniformity

  • check the quality and suitability of all images

  • obtain quotes from conventional printers if wanted.

During typesetting

When flowing the text into InDesign, I must:

  • insert special characters/glyphs for mathematical and scientific expressions and other symbols

  • find the best place to insert visual features and adjusting them to fit, and adjust their sizes as required

  • eliminate"editorial nasties" like widows, orphans,  bad line breaks and inappropriate hyphenation
  • eliminate "visual nasties" such as long and short pages and overall visual balance of all features on the page
  • insert necessary blank pages
  • ensure the total number of pages is divisible by four, eight or twelve for the folded signatures used in conventional printing*
  • add page numbers to the contents list.


PDF proofs are generated for the author and/or a proofreader, and there may be several rounds of amends. 

After typesetting (and proofreading)

The following become possible when the pages are set and approved.


  • Creation of an index. I use SKY Professional Indexing software to do this, then convert it to Word for the author/proofreader to review, before flowing it into InDesign.

  • Indepth pre-flight quality checks on the approved proofs (e.g. for overset text, unlinked images and colour modes).

  • Determine the optimum output specifications for print-ready proofs.


The cover files go through a similar process, then I calculate the precise spine width based on the final page count and paper weight.

*A signature is a fixed number of pages 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.

Examples of my page designs TO FOLLOW

Helping you get your book all the way to publication

You can be confident that I will take your book or document all the way to publication. PDFs created from the InDesign files can be streamed in to print-on-demand (POD) platforms or sent to conventional printers. I will explain the practicalities of printing and working with printers to meet all their requirements and standards. I am happy to do the 'print-buying' to obtain quotes from a range of printers, and I will coordinate with the chosen printer to complete the job. And if you also want digital formats like Kindle, leave it with me!

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