Don’t commit these five book design sins

You’ve probably spent years mastering the craft of writing and have authored an excellent book. Hurried, mistake-ridden formatting can nullify all of your good work, though.

Simply put, if your book is difficult to read merely because of its appearance, few will bother to work their way through it. At the very least, an unprofessional appearance gives readers the impression that you’re an unprofessional writer.

As an editor, I often see these five cardinal sins of book design:
• Bad typography – Always stick to a simple, easy-to-read font. Cambria and Garamond tend to work well. Use italics and boldface sparingly in the text and never underline.
• Off-center headers and titles – A page lacks symmetry when some of the text is off-center. This frequently occurs because the chapter title or the header was unintentionally indented.
• Too much line spacing – Years of reading have conditioned buyers of your book to views lines that are grouped together into paragraphs. Double spacing in a paperback or an ebook will confuse readers; a point of empty space between lines (i.e. single-space) usually is sufficient unless writing children’s or large print books.
 Indenting when using block formatting – Block formatting indicates a new paragraph by placing a blank line between the last line of a paragraph and the first line of the next one. Indenting is redundant.
• Putting page numbers on blank pages – A page number suggests there should be text on the page. For decades, book design style has left page numbers and headers off blank pages, which typically is a left-handed page next to the right-handed page on which a new chapter begins.