5 Rules for Creating the Perfect Book Design Template

Don’t you just love that feeling when you settle down on a comfy couch with a freshly brewed coffee and you finally have time to pick up that book you’ve been longing to read? But then when you open it you discover it hurts your eyes, or even gives you a headache. If this has ever happened to you, I guarantee it’s a result of poor internal book design (or typesetting as I tend to refer to it). 

The best way to avoid your book having this impact on your audience is to make sure you follow some very basic design principles. Since I design books all the time, I’ve created some book design templates so I’m not always starting from scratch and making the same mistakes (it’s far more fun to make entirely new mistakes, right?). Here are 5 rules I use when designing the internal pages of a book, and I’ve even included an InDesign book template you can download if you’d like to use it for yourself.

1. Use a professional layout program when creating your book design template

I cannot stress how important it is to use a program such as Adobe InDesign or Affinity Designer to create the internal layout of your book. While you can technically use Microsoft Word or any other text editor, I guarantee you the results won’t be nearly as aesthetically pleasing – these programs simply aren’t designed for this type of work.

A professional design program will help you set up your book design template so you can easily replicate it for future books, saving you time and a lot of tedious work. The design program will not only help you to set-up all of your pages, type and images correctly, but when it comes time to publish your book, it will also export it correctly for your printer (and design programs also have some pretty easy functions to easily turn your works into e-books!).

The downside is, these programs aren’t cheap, especially if you then need to spend time and/or money learning how to use them. If your book project is a one-off, we recommend you hire a professional book designer. It’ll be worth the expense to have a book you can be proud of (and one your audience won’t get blurred-vision when trying to read). 

2. Create each chapter in its own file 

If you’ve determined the DIY approach for your book design template is for you, then setting up your book so each chapter is a standalone file is a must. Why? There’s a few reasons:

  • If one of your files becomes corrupted, you lose only one chapter and not your entire book.
  • Design programs are heavy on your computer, and large files make your load time very slow. Keeping the chapters as individual files keeps your computer running quickly for you.
  • It makes editing easier. If you need to make an edit to page 107, it’s far easier to skip to it if you only have pages 101-116 to scroll through. 
  • This feature is especially useful if you have multiple-authors or editors who are responsible for individual chapters; it means you only have to send them the relevant files for review, and not the entire book.

A great feature that design programs have, which even some professional designers don’t seem to know, is the “book” function. When you create your first chapter, you can then save it into a book file, so all the chapters are in one central and easy-to-open location. This feature is especially great as it will automatically make each chapter flow on from the previous one, so the starting page will be on either the right (recto) or left (verso) without you needing to worry about it, and the page numbers flow automatically. Pretty cool, huh?

3. Choose the right fonts 

I cannot stress enough how important font choice is. There are a few basic questions you can ask to help with the decision:

  1. What type of publication are you creating? A kids book or a brochure, for example, have far fewer words, so the font choice is a bit broader as you don’t necessarily need to think about a large amount of text in one spot. A novel, on the other hand, needs a serif font, as these have been designed for readability.
  2. Who is your audience? A business book will need a clean and straight font, whilst a child’s book needs something with a bit more energy and fun. A beautiful handwritten style font (which should only be used for headings and/or special text blocks) probably isn’t appropriate for a book about mountain climbing. 
  3. What size should the font be? This is determined by things such as the age of your audience, the amount of text, and the topic.

Font choice is critical to ensure your readers have a great reading experience.

4. Use paragraph and character styles for your book design template

There is nothing more tedious than deciding you want to change something as simple as a font style, size or colour, but then needing to work your way through an entire document and updating each paragraph manually, right? There’s a simple solution which makes this process far less painful, and that’s using styles to ensure consistency and easy updates. 

You should set up each paragraph or section (the text that appears between each line break) with a paragraph style. You can then use a character style for individual emphasis on certain words (personally I typeset a lot of periodical journals, so making a character style called “Italic” is important for when books are referenced). 

The styles you need will be different for each type of publication you create, but I find using consistent naming conventions helpful, and you can also save all your styles into folders. For example, all heading styles can be grouped together, or all footer text. Being organised in your initial set-up pays off in a much smoother design process long-term.

5. Remove all widows and orphans from your book design template

You know those pesky words that appear hanging on their own at the end of a paragraph (orphan), or even worse, at the top of a page (widow)? Yeah, make sure your book design template doesn’t allow those. These are common mistakes, and ones that designers often manually fix (only to have them broken again when a few text edits are made). 

I personally set up a GREP (Global Regular Expressions Print) script in InDesign to automatically ensure these don’t occur. I’ve included this in my free template which you can download below – but if you’d prefer to simply use this on your own template, here’s how you set it up:

  1. Create a blank character style called “NoBreak”
  2. Open your paragraph style (I recommend applying this rule to all paragraph styles)
  3. Go to GERP > New GERP Style
  4. Apply Style: > NoBreak
  5. To Text: .{10}$

This will then ensure the tail end of any paragraph has at least 10 characters – so no more orphans!

To then ensure you also don’t have any widows, go to Keep Options and ensure you select that there’s always 2 lines that are kept together at the end of any paragraph. The Keep Options rule is also a good one for paragraph heading styles to ensure a heading is always kept on the same page as the content below it.

Get started with your book design template

These are just 5 simple rules that if you follow every time, you’re sure to end up with an outstanding final result.


If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this, don’t despair! We’re here to help. Impressum offer a suite of services and one of them is typesetting! So if your manuscript is ready for layout and design, please get in touch and we can help you out.

Download free InDesign A5 Book Template