What is Typesetting? Don’t Judge a Book by its Font

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Table of Contents

What exactly is Typesetting?

You might have come across Typesetting under one of it’s pseudonyms. Some people might simply refer to it as Formatting; and in the publishing world, it’s often referred to as Book Page Composition.

But what is it? It’s basically just how your book is laid out on the page. Go to your book shelf now and grab the closest book, open it up and you’ll see it’s been carefully formatted in a way to make it easy to read – that’s typesetting! Often we take it for granted, but as a writer, it’s an important part of creating a book.

Why is it important?

Typesetting is more important than ever. It used to be, that you could just focus on the writing and the format would be churned out by the publishing press. That’s because there was only one format for a book – a printed copy. Not any more! These days reading is accessible everywhere. Read Stephen King, in the pool, on your Kindle. Delve into Bernadine Evaristo on the tube, using your phone. Or sneak in a chapter of Inga Simpson, on your lunch break, using your laptop. In the modern world, reading doesn’t just stop because you don’t have a book on you; and writers need to consider that when creating their novel.

Your typesetting needs to, not only, work on on all those devices, but look good on them. Just think about the exceptional quality of media content at our fingertips: websites, articles, magazines. We are used to top-notch design and formatting; and that means your reader is too. For your book to hold a reader’s attention, it needs to look great, as well as have great content. 

These days, typesetting is essential. Here at Publishing Push, we offer top-of-the-line Typesetting services to help you achieve that. But let’s start with the basics.

How should your book look? Let us tell you.

Top Ten Rules

Rule one: Paragraph Alignment

You want to ensure all your paragraphs sit nicely on the page and have equal distance apart. Our suggestion is to use the Justified option for paragraph alignment. Not sure what that means? Justified alignment is where the left and the right hand side of the text is aligned creating a straight line. This makes it look professional and tidy. Still confused? You can select Justified for text alignment on your word processor, and it’ll work it out for you!

Sometimes authors might use Dragged Right alignment but generally only for shorter pieces of text within the main body.

Rule two: Margins

Margins might seem like they’re not that important but once a book is sent to press, they’re crucial. You need to ensure you have plenty of room in margins for binding; you don’t want overlapping words in the spine of the book or words running off the page!

Rule three: Fonts

Choosing the correct font can be difficult. We all want to work with a font that expresses our voice and makes it easier to write, but you need to consider what your reader wants.

We suggest a Serif font. It’s more readable because it follows how we would naturally interpret that letter on a page. The classics would be: Times New Roman, Garamond, and Georgia. You might think they’re boring but they’ll make your book more professional and accessible to readers. If you love Sans Serif fonts, don’t despair. You can still use Sans Serif for subtitles, headings, tag-lines to make them stand out.

Tip: If you love writing in a Sans Serif font then write the manuscript in that font and a Typesetter can change it later! No one will ever know.

Rule four: Book Block

Imagine a rectangular box inside the page in your book, all the text will fit inside that and it will correspond on the opposing page – that’s what Book Block is. It keeps all your text aligned and gives a neat, clean look. Not sure what this means? A Typesetter is an expert in Book Blocking and ensure you’re book is up to the publishing standard.

Rule five: Word Widows and Word Orphans

What’s a Word Widow? A Word Widow is the first line of a paragraph that falls on the last line of a page. These might not seem like a big deal but they are disruptive to the reader; turning over to the next page can break the readers attention, and ultimately make your reader more likely to put the book down!

What’s a Word Orphan? A Word Orphan is the last line of a paragraph that appears at the beginning of the next page. Similarly with Word Widows, these can distract your reader from the crux of the story. It’s not always easy to spot these, especially when you’re writing, this is where a Typesetter can step in. They can find these for you and get rid of them.

Rule six: Singular Word Widows

Singular or particular Word Widows are one word that flows over to the next line in a paragraph. This is something small but once again, can take the reader out of the story. A Typesetter can help you to try and eliminate these.

Rule seven: Special Characters

When looking at special characters, the biggest culprit is speech marks. Speech marks can be indicated in two different ways, with the curly, double marks or the singular. Curly marks tend to be more popular in British literature and singular marks in American, but either one is fine. You just need to be consistent! That means once you’ve chosen one type of speech mark, you need to use that one, and only that one, throughout your whole novel. A Typesetter’s job is to spot inconsistencies like this and they can support you to create a book that’s uniform throughout.

Rule eight: Paragraph Spacing and Indentation

Like with speech marks, paragraph spacing and indentation is up to the writer’s discretion. However it’s common to use either, a one tab indentation or a new line. The main thing here is consistency, once you’ve chosen your preferred paragraph layout, make sure you stick to it! Otherwise readers may find it confusing and distracting.

Rule nine: Word Spacing

Word spacing should be even across the whole novel. 

Tip: Just use one space between words and then, if you’d like to space it out further, use your word processor’s spacing tool to edit the whole text. This will save lots of time and work!

Rule ten: Word Stacking

You ever have it when you’re reading a book, and a word ends up being above the same word as below, in a paragraph. That’s Word Stacking. It also refers to when a word that appears at the beginning of a paragraph also appears the end of a paragraph. These can be difficult to avoid sometimes but remember, it’s all about eliminating those reader distractions – and a Typesetter will find these and get rid of them for you!

Hey, Good Lookin'

So what was the point of all that? As always the most important thing to consider is: Is my book readable? Readability is the key when it comes to publishing a book. You want as many people to not only pick up your book, but to keep reading it once they’ve started! All our tips above will help you to make your book the most marketable it can be. But we understand, there’s a lot to think about here, it can be overwhelming! It’s still possible to just focus on the thing that excites you the most – the writing! Publishing Push can organise a Typesetter for you so you don’t need to worry about all these different elements. Just focus on the story you want to tell! Working with a Typesetter will elevate your book to it’s highest standard – and that’s what you, the writer, needs to do to make your book stand out!