The foundation of book page layout

The Readable Paragraph

What makes good design is often indistinguishable to an untrained eye.

The general public and your customers know what looks good and what looks bad, they know they are attracted to some things and turned off by others, but what they don’t necessarily know is WHY.

Articulating the reason why a design looks more visually pleasing than another design is nearly impossible to get out of a consumer. They may say things like, “that font is cool,” but would they still think that font is cool if the ‘A’ was a little too close to the ‘T’? Maybe not!

a line illustration of an open book

What they are unaware of, are the hidden design secrets that make the visuals they are taking in all work together. A great example of this in the most simple sense is the body copy in a book. Any given book. If a publication has been well designed, every detail will have been painstakingly reviewed and considered down to the last letter, hyphen, orphan, and space. That’s the reason why some books have a much more natural and easy reading flow than others. Since it can take a lot of time, often this design investment isn’t made and it is usually just left to the expensive coffee table books. Novels often don’t get this kind of royal treatment due to the large volume of copy to be reviewed.

Have you ever read a book that makes your eyes tired? it may be because the lines of text or even the letters are too close together and need more breathing room. Alternatively, lines that are too far apart may take longer to digest. Do certain words take longer to read? Maybe the ‘x’ height of the chosen typeface is too tall, making it harder to distinguish letters. If you really want to get down to the details, there may be a couple of letters that feel too close that should be moved apart manually.

The first piece of body copy below is just a block of copy pasted into Microsoft word. It feels clunky and jumbled. The other 2 samples are designed versions that show both left aligned and left justified text that feel more natural to the eye, and provide a cleaner and easier read.

text design for books and publications

A good designer will be able to point these details out, but the reader may only notice that they are reading a bit slower or their eyes feel strained. They likely won’t be blaming it on the space between the ‘A’ and the ‘T’ but they know that something’s up! It’s our job as designers to ensure that the design of the work doesn’t get in the way of the actual work itself (unless of course disruption is the intention, but that’s for another post)!

Leave these design decisions to us! It’s what we love to do and it is at the core of our business. We want your customers and readers to have the best possible experience with your content!