Understanding Book Layout: Setting up Page Margins for a Book

Getting The Page Margins Right

One thing that a lot of amateur publishers struggle with is margining their pages properly. A lot of self-published authors who decide to do the entire layout of their book on their own often tend to overlook a few simple things such as formatting and page margins. Even though the page margin may seem like a very small and unimportant aspect while writing a book, it does contribute to the overall look of the book and can impact the reader’s experience.

There are a few things to keep in mind while formatting the margins so that your book looks professional and neat at the end.

Positioning the Text

Most people tend to automatically center the text on every page. But when it comes to page margins for a book, it doesn’t always work like that. Remember that when you type a document out on a screen, the surface is flat. This means that when a person reads the texts, the margins are equal. This formatting is great for computer screens and e-readers. However, for a physical book, the pages actually turn inwards toward the binding. This means that the side of the page with the binding should ideally have a larger margin. Small mistakes like this make a book difficult to read.

Size of Side Page Margins

So now that you know the inner margin needs to be a little bigger, what sized margins should you look at? For the usual Size 6”x 9” pages, most people stick to an outer margin that has about 0.85” of space and they keep the inner margin (that is bound) to about 0.75” per page. Margins these sizes make the margins look symmetrical when a person sits down to reading a book. Another consideration for the margins at the spine is how many pages your book has, the more pages the larger the spine margins should be.

Margins on the Top and Bottom

After the side margins, look at the margins at the top and the bottom of the page. Why are these so important? These margins need to have enough space for the page numbers as well as the title of the book (headers and footers) which is usually put on the top of every page. The layout should be done so that this text does not merge into the text of every page.

For example, for a book that has pages sized 6″ x 9″, usually the ideal margins that you should leave should be about 1” on the top and about 0.75” at the bottom.

Since pages this size usually have about 30-35 lines a page, margins this size will make the layout look natural and easy to read.

A lot of authors who are publishing their own books try to save space by compromising on the size of the margins. The problem with this is it can spoil the reader experience. It is important that your book should look professional. Besides the actual content of the book, the entire design of the book can make a huge difference as to whether a person will pick it up to read it or not.

page margins for a book

Not sure whether you’ve got the margins right or not? The best way to avoid any publishing snafus is to get a professional to do your book layout so that you can be sure that your readers will have the best experience possible. Another alternative is to go to your local book store and compare your typeset pages to those on the shelf, this is a good way to see if adjustments might be needed.