Basic Book Design/Page Size

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Keep Out Of Trouble Rules[edit]

  1. For books printed on offset printers, use a 6"x9" page size.
  2. For books or anything else printed on laser printers (including Xerox Docutech printers), use 5.5"x8.5" or 8.5"x11" page size mf.

The standard book size is six inches wide and nine inches tall (6"x9"). Your book will probably be cheapest to print, easiest to read, and easiest to sell (e.g., it'll fit on bookstore shelves) in this size.

Larger books are harder to hold, carry, or put on a shelf.

Smaller books lose disproportionately more space to margins, increasing the cost. A 6"x9" book has nearly 20% more text space. But a 6"x9" book costs only about 5% more than a 5.5"x8.5" book. The result is a 15% cost savings.

The cover of a 6"x9" book is 15% larger than a 5.5"x8.5" book. The cover is your best advertising space. In a bookstore window, passersby are more likely to see a larger book.

Setting up your software applications for 6"x9" pages can be tricky. In Microsoft Word, go the File…Page Setup…Settings… Custom Paper Size.

Inkjet Printer Limitations[edit]

If you have an inkjet printer connected to your computer, Microsoft Word usually won't allow a 0.5" bottom margin. Depending on the printer, it may require a minimum 0.56" or 0.67" bottom margin. 0.06 inches may not sound like much, but in a 224-page book, that's two extra pages.

To get around this limitation, tell Microsoft Word you're using a laser printer. Word should then allow a bottom margin up to 0.2".

Alternatively, use the default paper size, e.g., 8.5"x11". Save your document as a PDF file, and use Adobe Acrobat to crop the pages.