The reader’s first impression of your novel goes along the following sequence: first impression comes from the book cover and the title (they always go together), then it’s the blurb, and then the content. Before the reader gets immersed into the world and the characters you’ve created, they have to read a certain amount of pages. Those pages are filled with words, nothing but black letters on white pages, if you will. Sometimes, the design and formatting of those pages can make the reader’s experience of the words you’ve written more enjoyable. On other occasions, the reader might need a magnifying glass and opt to read another book instead. Below, we’ve gathered several principles referring to how to make your book look professional, instead of amateurish and clumsy (which might scare your readers away on the first page).
1. Font Principle
The font is one of the most important elements of the design of your novel. If you use a font that is not easily readable, you might lose your reader on the initial page. The font has to be easy on the eyes, both attractive and comfortable to read, since the page count in a novel is usually more than one hundred pages, at least. There are fonts that have proved to be the best, since they were created for use in books, like Garamond and others that would string the letters together in a way that makes the words easily recognizable. Additionally, you have to take care not to make the font too small or too big, because either the reader will tire easily, or your book will be turned into a “large print” and it will have more pages than necessary.
2. Margins Principle
The margins on the pages of your novel will have to be roomy enough so that the reader can read comfortably. If they are too narrow, some of the words might get sucked into the spinal edge, and reading the words will require the reader to literally pull pages out of the book. Depending on the size of the book, you should use margins that will leave enough room on all sides and will not be stretched too wide, making the lines easier to read, and the text flow better.
3. Chapter Beginnings
Chapter beginnings deserve a special treatment. They have to be precise, and to show the reader that they are embarking on the next part of your story. The first chapter should always begin on a right-hand page, and all the others have to begin on a new page. Don’t string chapters continuously in your book – you don’t want the readers to miss the mark of a new chapter and get confused. Also, you don’t have to write “chapter” always, simply a number would do. But, make sure to begin writing one third into the page, and adding a stylized first word or letter adds a certain entertaining flourish to it.
4. Justify Paragraphs
To justify your paragraphs means to align the words on both sides, instead of just the left hand side like many are used to, which ends up with the right side looking uneven and ragged. This is important because the reader might get distracted from the continuously uneven right side of the paragraph. However, paragraphs that are even on both sides will be easier to read. Another paragraph principle is to indent the first line to let the reader know that another paragraph has begun, and some even go so far as to leave a whole blank line between two paragraphs. You can choose whatever method suits you better, but you have to ensure that your book doesn’t resemble a big, running block of words.
5. Symbols, Header & Footer
Depending on the nature of the content of your novel, you can use many symbols in the header or footer of the pages. These could be a star, a circle, or a special symbol that reflects the content of your book. For instance, with a symbol, you can announce the breaking of a scene. Announcing a scene break with a symbol is a lot more interesting than a plain blank line, and it will further emphasize the breaking of the scene. Also, in some novels, you can use the header and footer to input the author’s name and the title of the novel, or the current chapter.
Image credit: VFS Digital Design on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/photo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic.
As a 22-year-old art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.