Typesetting Rules for Authors

Typesetting, the process of arranging the content to enhance the beauty of written words, is also bound by some rules despite being creative. Therefore, typesetting rules and regulations or tips, whatever the term used for the process, should be followed to get the best output post publishing.

In short, it has the power to entice the readers if used correctly or can be the reason for despising, no matter how good your content or story is.

While preparing text for typesetting, you might have come across some predefined templates to make your work easy as it takes care of your content from header to footer, suggest the best font and indentation, and provides required margins.

But, by understanding the typesetting rules, you can create your version, an easier-to-read book with a catchy eye layout. But for that, you must consider that the work must look less 'self-published' to the readers.

This article has excellent tips to help you with typesetting and interior page layout.

Let's begin with the book layout typesetting tips for self-publishing.

14 Book Typesetting Tips

  1. Alignment of Paragraphs

    Alignment of Paragraphs

    If you have gone through the traditional style of book publishing or if you pick any professional book or writing material, you might have noticed that the content is always in 'justify' alignment.

    This is because it gives a more formal feeling to the content and is easy to read. This alignment is apt for long-tail books; however, books with short content always use correct alignment to make them readable.

    So, it is up to you and depends on the type of book or writeup you want to publish. Choose what is adapted by the readers easily.

  2. Text Style

    Text Style

    Ragged text can be used to give it a more personalized feel, but if not appropriately placed, it may irk the readers if the ragged text is on the higher side or contains a large volume.

    On the other hand, as suggested in the first pointer, you can use justify to give a more formal tone to your text.

  3. Margins- For Book Binding & Clarity of Content

    Margins- For Book Binding & Clarity of Content

    We know you are aware of the margins- the blank spaces around your text blocks and their usage to give a clean and explicit content feel and leave the space for binding.

    The use of margins also comforts the reader's eyes while going through the lines.

  4. Font Style & Size

    Font Style & Size

    When it comes to book font size and placement, the all-time favourite font style is sans serif as it is one of the most convenient and readable fonts, and the readers quickly recognize words when the content is published in this font.

    And talking about font size, using large or big fonts can bring an unprofessional look and feel to the book. Therefore, the ideal practice one should follow while choosing a font size is accommodating 70 characters in one line each.

    However, the trim or book size is different for novels and memoirs.

    For Fiction novels (80k – 130k) - 5.25 x 8 or 5.5 x 8.5 & For Non-Fiction – 6 x 9

    Fonts for novels should be under 11-12 pts.

  5. Book Block & Line Spacing

    Book Block & Line Spacing

    A book block, if explained in simple terms, is a predefined area in which the book's text remains closed or confined tightly. This is a process by which the lines on two opposite pages are lined with each other, and when the book is opened or closed, the words must converge in the same line.

    Line spacing in a book is also essential as it provides the proper spacing between the lines and the difference between two paragraphs. This gives more clarity while reading the content.

  6. The Widows & Orphans

    The Widows & Orphans

    Always remember, if your one paragraph has ended and the following paragraph is going to start on the next page, but its first or second line is on the last section of the page, then it is a typesetting blunder.

    Neither the first nor the last line of the paragraph should be at the ending of the beginning of the page. This interrupts smooth reading.

  7. Words Spacing & Widows

    Words Spacing & Widows

    Regarding word spacing in typesetting, it should be optimal and easy to read to book lovers. However, if placed tightly, the spacing may look dark and unclear, and on the other hand, if lines are placed loosely, a lighter feel may create reading issues.

    Talking specifically about the ideal number of characters in one paragraph, it should always be more than 5 characters, including punctuation marks for a subtle look.

  8. Running Heads & Feet

    Running Heads & Feet

    In the books, you might have noticed small information about the book, its author or so, and it is called a running head while the other info like page name and number is shown at the bottom of the page in some books is the foot.

    While typesetting, one should be very careful in the placement of these two as they might look small or get significantly less or no attention, but that doesn't mean they are of no use. However, if not placed correctly, it may give an unprofessional look to the content placement, and the reader who has lost track can't be able to return to the place where they left reading.

  9. Hyphenation


    Using too many hyphens is pretty annoying from a reader's perspective, and some norms must be followed for using the hyphens in the writeup like the last line mustn't have any hyphens as it may lead to a confusing state for the readers. Also, the use of hyphenation must be avoided for names of people and places and capitalized words.

  10. Quotation Marks

    Quotation Marks

    The use of Quotation marks is a must; apostrophes and curly quotations give more expression to the lines and the idea behind them while writing. Every quotation mark has its importance and must be used accordingly.

  11. Italics and Boldface

    Italics and Boldface

    These options should be used less and only where required because the unnecessary or frequent use of bold and italics may break the reading flow.

  12. Text Underlining

    Text Underlining

    One more thing apart from the Bold and Italics, the Underlining of the text must be used less or not being used chiefly; the reason is the same, it distracts the readers.

  13. Special Characters

    Special Characters

    Use of some special characters in the writeup must be avoided or to be used minimum if necessary.

  14. Art & Images

    Art & Images

    While typesetting, one thing which is most important to keep in mind is the place to be planned for illustrations, images or artwork, if your book has to show any.

If these pictures are to be included in the book, then a proper setting and arrangement are to be made to clear any cluttering.

Mistakes to Avoid in Typesetting

Now that we have shared the top tips for typesetting, it is time to give some cautionary advice about common mistakes to avoid while typesetting the book.

  • Make sure to leave enough white space and margins
  • It would help if you were on your while typesetting, as word processor documents do not derive the desired results
  • Make sure to avoid the mistake of creating orphan or widow text
  • Avoid too much positive tracking or letter spacing
  • Avoid tracking and kerning
  • Avoid insufficient contrast against the background
  • Never use two spaces after the full stop; readers can catch that.

Bonus Read: History of Typesetting!

Here we are sharing a timeline of typesetting-

  • 1000 AD- the Chinese created the first printing press
  • In the year 1297- A revolving table of types was created by ang Chen.
  • In the year 1440- The modern printing press was invented by German metalworker Johannes Gutenberg.
  • The year 1474- The rapid spread of movable type printing across Europe.
  • The year 1476- The first books were printed in England.
  • In the year 1490- The first typeface was created.
  • In the year 1500- The concept of pocket or portable books was introduced.
  • In the year 1557- The first cursive typeface was invented.
  • The year 1734- First time a complete name-bearing typeface was introduced with straighter serifs and significant contrast between minor and major strokes.
  • In 1815, a typeface with square serifs was introduced, later known as slab serifs.
  • In 1920, Frederic Goudy emerged as the world's first full-time type designer for creating several innovative designs under the Broadway typeface.
  • The year 1954- The use of whitespaces was first time introduced.
  • In the year 1985- Adobe invented PostScript.
  • The year 1996- A cross-platform font file format named OpenType was developed by the joint efforts of Adobe and Microsoft.


Typesetting is not just a process; it's a whole different dimension of publishing the writings; with years and years of invention and inclusion of new features now and then, this process has reached new heights and to understand it, one needs time and must realise a proper set of rules to get the best results.

This brings the topic to an end, and we hope our research has given you sound knowledge.

MAPSystems is a hub providing Prepress Services from proofreading and editing the writing to typesetting; we offer all-inclusive support to the publishing houses, self-publishers and authors.

From traditional typesetting methods to modern-day publishing requirements like content digitization, we provide an end-to-end service for all.

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