Basic Book Design/Headings and Subheads

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Headings and Subheads[edit]

Set your chapter and section heading leadings in multiples of the text leading. This will align your lines of text on facing pages.

E.g., you’re using 15-point leading for your text. Make the chapter headings 45 points and the section headings 30 points. The chapter heading might have a 14-point font, preceded by 20 points above and 11 points below (20+14+11=45). The section headings might have a 12-point font, preceded by 15 points above and 3 points below (15+12+3=30).

If you don’t do this, the lines towards the bottom of the recto (right-hand) pages won’t align with the lines towards the bottom of the verso (left-hand) pages.

Don’t use relative leading (e.g., single-spaced, double-spaced), especially if your headings are a larger font size than your text. Instead, use absolute leading (e.g., 15 points).

Numbering Sections[edit]

If you number your chapters, sections, and subsections, use whole numbers for chapters, the first decimal place for sections, the second decimal place for subsections, etc.

In contrast, the Chicago Manual of Style numbers its sections and subsections consecutively. E.g., its four levels (chapter, section, subsection, sub-subsection) are numbered:

6. Spelling and Distinctive Treatment of Words
INTRODUCTION
6.1
6.2
6.3
6.4
SPELLING
Preferences of Special Groups
BRITISH VERSUS AMERICAN SPELLING
6.5
SPELLINGS PECULIAR TO PARTICULAR DISCIPLINES
6.6
Plurals
GENERAL RULES
6.7
COMPOUND NOUNS
6.8
6.9
PLURALS IN DICTIONARIES
6.10
PROPER NOUNS
6.11…

I.e., the Chicago Manual of Style numbers most—not all—paragraphs consecutively, restarting the numbers in each chapters. A better way to number subsections is:

6. Spelling and Distinctive Treatment of Words
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 SPELLING
6.2.1 Preferences of Special Groups
6.2.1.1 BRITISH VERSUS AMERICAN SPELLING
6.2.1.2 SPELLINGS PECULIAR TO PARTICULAR…
6.2.2 Plurals
6.2.2.1 GENERAL RULES
6.2.2.2 COMPOUND NOUNS
6.2.2.3 PLURALS IN DICTIONARIES
6.2.2.4 PROPER NOUNS…

LaTeX automatically numbers sections in this style.

Unnecessary Sections[edit]

Each of your lowest-level subsections should have at least two paragraphs. Each next-higher-level section should have at least two subsections. Each chapter should have at least two sections. If you find lone paragraphs or sections, consider removing the heading.

Bleed Tabs and Thumbnail Indexes[edit]

Bleed tabs are blocks of black ink (with something written in white in the blocks) at the outer edge of each page in a chapter so that you see black blocks when you look at the edge of the book.

Bleed tabs require placing a graphic outside the text margins. A bleed tab is always placed on the outside page edge (never on the inside, top, or bottom of a page).

Create the graphic in Adobe Photoshop. You might also be able to create the image in Microsoft Word using View…Toolbars…Drawing or Insert…Picture…Autoshapes.

In Microsoft Word, create a table using Table…Insert > Table… Specify one column and one row. Set the initial column width to fit your graphic. Insert your illustration in the table using Insert…Picture…From File…

Select the table and go to Table…Table Properties… Set the horizontal alignment to Left or Right, with zero indent. Open the Options window. Set all cell margins to zero. Close these windows.

Select and drag the table’s left or right border to fit the illustration.

Select the table and go to Table…Table Properties… again. Select Text Wrapping…Around and open the Positioning window. Click Move With Text.

Select Horizontal…Position…Left (or Right) and Horizontal …Position… Page. This aligns the graphic with the edge of the page.

Set the Vertical…Position…as you wish (e.g., aligned with a paragraph, or centered down the page).

Your printer may want the bleed tabs to extend 1/8" or 1/4" beyond the paper edge (this is what “bleed” means). If so, set Microsoft Word to use a larger paper size, and let your printer crop the PDF files as he or she wishes.

Thumbnail indexes are like bleed tabs, but have paper cut-outs. Expensive dictionaries have these.