What is book formatting?

by Sep 9, 2021Book formatting

Book formatting is a design process that transforms your manuscript into a professional book interior layout.

Every book, whether fiction or non-fiction, undergoes book formatting before printing and binding to make sure that every page is readable, professional and consistent. It also applies to books in digital or eBook format.

Once past your book cover, book formatting takes care of your readers experience on each page including how they consume and navigate the contents of your book.

Jacquetta, a YA novel written by 13-year old Hallie Green

During book formatting, you will see your written work come alive. From a generic Word document to a visual layout that grabs and guides your readers, this is one of the most fun and exciting final stages of your publishing journey.

We Shall Never Speak of This Again by Dan Casey, a historical family memoir

Elements of book formatting

Book formatting involves two main elements, typesetting and page layout.


Typesetting involves preparing your text to create the best reading experience. When typesetting is done well, readers don’t even notice. But when done poorly, readers won’t be able to ignore it.

Good typesetting is all about enhancing the reading experience.

Eat My Meat, a hunting book by Pat Gatz

During typesetting, your text is styled, organized and arranged. It involves the following aspects of your book interior:

  • choosing the appropriate fonts to use
  • the hierarchical structure of the content
  • proper spacing of lines, called leading
  • proper spacing of letters, called kerning and tracking
  • balancing of paragraphs and edges
  • removing of unwanted errors such as widows, orphans and double-spaces
  • consistency of paragraph and heading styles

Typesetting can also express time and mood along with providing emphasis and importance to specific sections of your text.

Page layout

Page layout is the foundation of book design. It is the arrangement and composition of visual elements on a page including text blocks, images and graphics to help the reader easily navigate the book.

Fundamental Biomechanics by Akouetevi Aduayom-Ahego, Ehara Yoshihiro, Sarah R. Chang and Gary Guerra

Page layout gives your book structure to achieve a beautiful and professional design. It involves the following aspects of your book interior: 

  • margins according to printer requirements
  • visual balance of your page 
  • order and arrangement of your front and back matter
  • placing of images and captions
  • alignment and proximity of various sections 
  • contrast and hierarchy to show importance or emphasis
  • design and graphics for your chapter pages

Page layout also involves manipulation of white spaces (or negative space) to define and separate sections and also to provide breathing room for the reader.

Typesetting and page layout goes hand-in-hand in creating a beautiful design that fits your genre, personality and brand. You cannot have one without the other. 

Want to know more about book formatting?

This article titled How to Format Your Book, by our partners at Kindlepreneur, is a great read on different aspects you need to know about formatting your book including:

  • file types and formatting guides for every major publishing platform
  • book formatting software for professionals and amateurs
  • rules and steps to formatting properly
  • picking the best trim sizes for your book 
  • how to design beautiful chapter pages
  • list of book formatting services
  • key terms you should know

Kindlepreneur is a website dedicated to book marketing for self-publishing authors with a compendium of self-publishing and book marketing knowledge so that real authors can get their books seen.

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