Hello, i'm designing a book for a poem. A single poem that is, so the pages are quite sparse of words, 1-3 lines of text, 5-15 words per page, as well as 1-4 images (photographs). Each page has text and images placed in different places, with images of varying sizes. I have the type set at 12.5pt. The page size at w196mm x h240mm, and the margins at top21mm, bottom34mm, inside13mm and outside21mm. I'm quite new to indesign and typography in general, and have been researching how to design a book layout - (page size, margins, columns, baseline grid etc.) I find it quite hard to get a grasp of, as their are obviously endless variations of grids and layouts you can choose from. I finally decided on a page size/margin size as a starting point, but I still really don't undesrtand what might be considered well or badly designed measurements. All I could really understand was that it helps to have numbers with common denominators, and golden ratio numbers for the margins (which i used) I've looked all over for courses/videos that explain this, but when say choosing a margin size or page dimension, they never explain why exactly a certain measurement has been chosen, they just enter a seemingly arbitrary number.
I know this isn't specific to Indesign but if anyone could please explain or advise me on how to make these decisions it'd be much appreciated! Images of my work in progress attached.
Typography is the art that conceals the art. You need to experiment and look at other books to get the feel for the most suitable layout for your book.
As a size 12.5pt is meaningless – there are a number of variables such as the x-height of the font you choose.
It's customary to set poetry so that it is aligned left and centred on the page based on the longest line.
this was exactly what i was looking for, thanks Eugene.
@nadrojxinnam This is not a simple conversation but I’ll give you some general guidelines. First, you need to determine if the book is going to be printed and/or prepared as a digital book. Each of these formats have their own size considerations in terms of print materials and viewing platforms.
Spend some time in a bookstore to find books that look and feel like what you have in mind. Note the title of the book and do an online search to find the details from the publisher about the trim size. There are standard trim sizes for books, typically based on genre (e.g., trade, inspirational, novels). Specialty tiles, such as poetry books with color images, can be practically any trim size... it depends on what you are going for.
Based on your sample, it’s hard to tell what you have in mind. When setting up an ID document for print, typically you use the final trim size with .5-inch margins, plus a .125-inch bleed all around. The inside margin is set based on how many pages the book is going to be so content doesn’t fall too far into the gutter. You also have to consider any unique paper materials selected. For print, the cover file is a separate, single page (not facing pages) document with back cover, spine, and front cover art and the spine measurement is calculated on the number of pages... the overall dimensions of the cover file also depend on the materials used. Again, these are general guidelines and every project has its own specifications that you have to get exactly right for print. My screenshot below is a basic set up for the interior pages of a square photography book that will be printed.
If this will only designed as a digital book, how will readers access the book? Do you want it to fit nicely on a computer monitor, tablet, and smartphone? One thing I notice is that your background graphic is not extended to the red bleed line. If you were printing, this wouldn’t work. From an aesthetic viewpoint, the ratio of text to image size on the pages is very unappealing. Is there any reason for using such a small font for a line with only a few words? Why are the photographs running at such a small size on the page with so many different croppings? Again, I’d suggest spending time looking at similar books for inspiration and taking some professional courses to get better at using InDesign. I hope this is helpful!
Hi Jain, really appreciate the lengthy reply! I definitely want it printed AND in digital format. In terms of having the margins all of similar size, I read in JMB's book "Rastere systeme" that this could appear somewhat dull, and that different sizes give the words a bit more dynamic. About the graphic extending to the bleed line, I hadn't considered this, so thanks! I'm very new to this area of design. About the small text size, I had actually initially experimented with much larger 60pt or so text, but felt it looked like the words were being screamed at the reader, or even gave the feel of a children's book a bit; and being a poem, I was going for a more subtle, calm tone. But maybe you're right, it could be a bit bigger . . . Very helpful, thanks Jain 🙂
@nadrojxinnam You're so welcome and I'm glad I could be of help. The point of setting the overall margins in the initial document set up is to make sure you know exactly where the trim and bleed lines are. These are typically standard half-inch margins all around, with the inside margin being based on number of pages. You don't want text falling too close to the trim line. Absolutely, you want to have variety on the way you place individual text and graphic elements on the pages. Don't confuse document margin page settings (which are guides for the printer and viewer) with image size, cropping, or placement of elements on the page. Enjoy!
Personally, I would always have a larger inner margin for a book, to allow for the amount that will be 'lost' in the binding. I usually go for at least 5mm greater than outside margin.
That's really done at imposition stage.
But good point and always check with the print vendor, even getting a blank dummy sent out can really help.