Now that you've spent all this time on writing your life stories, you don't want them to disappear into the basement/attic/back-of-the-drawer black hole with nary so much as a "thank-you-that's-so-kind-I'll-just-put-this-on-my-shelf-and-read-it-later." Wouldn't you rather have your family history efforts proudly displayed on a coffee table, better yet -- devoured under a blanket with a flashlight after bedtime by curious grandchildren?
I'm feeling generous today, so I'm going to give away three professional book design secrets that anyone can use to improve the readability of any book.
1. White space is your friend. Don't feel like you have to fill up every inch of every page with something. White space gives the eye a place to rest and gives your book a more organized, restful feel. Using larger margins also ensures that you leave plenty of space for "trim" (the 1/8" or more that will be trimmed off the outer edges of your book after printing) and "gutter" (the space where your page disappears into the spine of the book).
2. Consider using narrower columns of text. If your book is wider than 7-8 inches, you may want to split your text into columns. Narrower columns shorten the distance the eye has to travel across the page, leading to less eyestrain while reading. If done properly, it can also give your book a more professional look.
3. Choose a simple, serif book font for the body of your text. Save the fancier fonts for the cover or chapter headings (even there, use with caution!) Serif fonts such as Georgia, Garamond, Jensen, are arguably considered easier to read on a page than sans-serif fonts like Arial and Helvetica, which are used extensively on the web. Also make sure that you use a reasonable font size: generally 11-13 points, depending on the font. If you are aiming for a large-print book, you can go up to 16 points. Consider your audience: a visually-challenged person may appreciate the larger font size, while a younger person may find anything larger than 14 points looks like "shouting."
Need help? If designing your own book feels too intimidating for you, check out our custom design services.