10 Things to Avoid in Designing and Formatting a Book (Easy with Steps)

Now in your designing and formatting phase as an author? Congratulations! Here are the tips before you even plan how to put sassiness in your book.

Chapter Lengths

Chapters can either excite, cliffhanger, or bored the readers by showing the story’s flow and how readers should read it. That is why planning how to cut scenes in your plot is essential. Teasing a reader with only five pages of one chapter while the next has 20 pages might annoy them, resulting in a poor reading experience. So to prevent such backlash from books with questionable chapter breaks, consider breaking the flow of annoyance with additional space between paragraphs.

Paragraph Styles

Paragraphs are there in books because a new idea or scene has begun. They break the flow of texts naturally. But the problem, authors have a different phases of breaking paragraphs, and some readers might not enjoy the paragraph styles that some authors do.

So once the book is published, editors read each paragraph, edit necessary breaks for the general public, and try not to make it look like a formatting error. Examples that editors do with sections are indenting the first lines and adding additional spaces between paragraphs.

Running Heads – Not Found?

Running heads, commonly known as page headers, is text on top of pages. It gives readers an idea of which chapter they are into or the book’s title. In addition, it helps readers since they will look to the upper-left or upper-right corners of their books to navigate the silent table of contents of the book.

But the common mistake of self-publishing authors is to forget such part for the sake of either beating the deadline or ink saving. We should never forget how glaring missing running heads would look to books, that it is not only weird but also questionable.

Unblank Blank Page

Yes, running heads in book design and layout are essential, but some book authors forgot to delete running heads to pages that should have been blank and nothing more. Running heads should not go to every page. If the book’s page is intended to be blank, you should not put anything, even a page number.

Paging Method

Your paging should be consistent. If you use Roman numerals, only use them for significant book pages like the preface texts pages. These numbers are called folio, with the drop folio being the numbers at the bottom of the page. Meanwhile, the blind folio describes the counted pages but does not have a page number.


Consistent margin is one of the significant rules of book design and layout. For example, is the readers’ thumb making reading texts below uncomfortable, or did the margin not predict that the spine’s glue requires more significant portions?

Our goal is a responsible book design and layout and a comfortable reading experience for everyone. Book designers should appropriate margins on the book’s plan and the reading pattern and flow of the plot.

For good book margins, determine the probable page size of the book, the page numbers that the reader will reach once printed, and the vision the book will look like once it curves thanks to the pages.


Font choices should always prioritize their readability for the general readers. It should also contrast the book design by having different typefaces for chapter titles, part titles, body texts, or even the running heads.

For a pleasing reading experience, book design and layout artists should only stick to two to four font styles. They should also use appropriate font styles based on the book’s theme, plot, or content. 

Also, the fonts should be legal for use, as some fonts are premium in editing software.


Book design and layout will never be complete without this feature. Readers are perfectionists, and one inconsistency with alignment will give them headaches.

Alignments are essential to make it more professional, especially if the books are under academic publishing. Though it is acceptable to use left-alignment in texts, it is rare and used as a style for fiction books or to show a citation.

On the other hand, If books have bulleted sections, readers should notice indention. Consistency to indentions should prevent messiness of the book reading experience as it reminds readers how different it is from the main idea.

Justified alignment is the most recommended use, as it gives straight edges and consistency to paragraphs. In addition, it will quickly grasp the eye’s vision for constant patterns and shifts whenever new sections are present.


Layouting images and illustrations depend on the appropriation of the texts and the genre of the book. That is why balancing both imagery and texts together can sometimes be tricky for design and layout artists.

The cookbook needs a lot of images to show the cooking method and finished product of the recipe, while the children’s book has a lot of illustrations to tickle the imaginative minds of young readers. While some books, like photography folios, only need a large amount of print for the photographs and small captions.

As a piece of advice, give space for arts to bloom in its place, do not layout them together to form an uncomfortable college, but rather, a practical column for celebrating its aestheticism.

Widows and Orphans

Nobody is happy with reading a paragraph breaking at the edge of the page or design. But, as designers, you should keep out of constantly having widows and orphans in each section. Like paragraph styles, hyphenated words for breaks or leaving sentences without a supporting fellow sentence from the same paragraph should never be an option unless highly needed.

Planning book design and layout and the book cover design are hectic, meticulous, and exhausting. Still, authors should enjoy this phase for the book’s publishing and readership success.

The Content Experts PH can help you with book formatting, cover design, layout and so much more. Contact us today at marius@contentexpertsph.com!

Published by Marius Carlos, Jr.

Marius D. Carlos, Jr. is an editor, author and translator based in Pampanga. He is the Creative Coordinator and a founding member of Vox Populi PH. He is the author of two books and has published locally and internationally. His works have appeared in Rappler, Business Mirror, Philippines Graphic, Breaking Asia, and the Philosophical Salon. Marius is a freelance professional engaged in SEO copywriting, content SEO and making websites for business rock. He writes for businesses and agencies at The Content Experts PH (contentexpertsph.com). Linktree: https://linktr.ee/thecontentexpertsph Email for work: marius@contentexpertsph.com

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