Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Basics of book design

by Rob - November 29th, 2009.
Filed under: Publishing.

Okay, I gotta say it. You folks who are designing your own books: there are some simple rules you should follow.

1) the first page of a chapter does not have a page header

2) blank pages have no page headers

3) don’t put extra space between paragraphs

4) the first paragraph of a chapter is not indented, and usually has special typographic treatment (a large initial capital, the first few words in small caps, etc.)

5) the first paragraph of a new scene is not indented

6) don’t put some horrendous graphical ornament at every scene change; in most cases a simple skipped line suffices (except when the blank line would be the first or last on a page)

7) books do not end with the words “The End”

8) for God’s sake, use smart quotes and em dashes, not typewriter quotes and double hyphens

I’m stunned at how many people sit down and lay out their books without ever once pulling a professionally published one off the shelf to look at how it’s normally done.

Thank you. :)

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