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The Basic Principles of Book Design and Production


13 – 14 May 2010 (Thu – Fri)
9.30am – 5.30pm

Toa Payoh Public Library
6 Toa Payoh Central, Singapore 319191

Course Fee: $420.00

This is a past course. View upcoming courses.

Both editors and designers organise the material of a text in such a way that the significance and message are clear to the reader. Good book design not only enables the reader; it can create a beautiful object in its own right.

This two-day course is for editors, new designers, picture researchers, marketing staff who deal with freelancers, or anyone needing an overview. The course assumes that you are familiar with the terminology of editorial processes and publishing generally.

Course Content

What is the goal of good book design?

  • Making the author’s intentions clear
  • What the reader wants
  • Selling and marketing through design
  • Branding
  • Profitability
  • Saleability into foreign markets – rights deals

A book as a physical object

  • How we look at it, read it, and use it
  • How we market and sell it
  • How we store and distribute it

Analysis of good and bad design

Elements of design

  • Style and consistency
  • Repetition
  • Variation
  • Integration of text and words
  • Use of white space
  • Design signals / codes: type, icons, page elements, heading weights, left to right conventions, top-down conventions

The page

  • Margins
  • Columns
  • Gutters
  • The grid
  • Running heads and pagination
  • Working with the page
  • Unusual devices


  • Typesize
  • Leading
  • Typefaces
  • Type as a tone of voice
  • Justifying vs non-justifying
  • Indents
  • Captions
  • Headings & heading weights

Illustrations: artwork, photographs, and pictures

  • What is a “good” picture?
  • Picture research
  • Writing good captions
  • Sizing the picture: indicating significance, focus, cropping
  • Artwork treatment: vignetting, silhouetting, bleeds, frames, combining text and artwork
  • Line drawings / tints / halftones

Non-pictorial illustrations: graphs, charts, tables

  • What is an effective chart/graph?
  • Types of graphs and charts: pie charts, bar charts, graphs
  • Representing information graphically


  • How and where to use colour
  • Functions of colour: background, emphasis, decoration, in charts, maps, plans, tables, line art, panels, rules
  • Use of two-colour texts
  • Process colours


  • Paper for text and for covers
  • Physical properties
  • Optical properties
  • Properties of different types of paper
  • Coated and uncoated papers
  • Matching the paper to the book and the design

Elements of cover design
Elements of book construction

  • Prelims and end matter
  • Sections and signatures
  • Binding: wirestitched, threadsewn, perfect binding
  • Format: paperback, hardback, lamination, dust jackets, looseleaf, cased
  • End papers
  • Book marks (ribbons)
  • Headbands
  • Thumb index
  • Coloured foredge
  • Tip-ins
  • Trimmed or untrimmed pages

The financial parameters

  • Budgeting and budget management
  • Costing a book: price, discount, production costs, royalty, gross profit

Good book production

  • Book decisions
    • Economical formats
    • Economical extents
    • Price
    • Profitability: trimming a budget to make a book more profitable
  • Process decisions
    • Design and production brief
    • Pre-production meeting
    • Cast-offs
    • Miniatures
    • Computer to plate

Editorial mark-up for design

Developing a good design, artwork, and production brief

Designing marketing material

  • Brochures
  • Catalogues
  • Leaflets
  • Direct mail
  • Web site


  • Price / quality / service
  • Obtaining estimates
  • Costing
  • Procurement processes: checks and balances
  • Sourcing and spreading suppliers
  • Payment methods, credit terms, VAT, duty
  • Ownership and storage of film
  • Reprints

Quality control: origination, printing, and binding faults

Practical matters: digital archiving

Further reading

About the Trainer:

Registration Details

Registration is on a first-come-first-served basis and workshop fees must be paid before the workshop. If the minimum number of participants is not met for the class, the organisers will inform all participants about possible postponement and cancellation, two weeks before the workshop date.

Cancellation & Substitution

The workshop can be cancelled or postponed two weeks before the workshop date if the minimum number of participants is not met. Participants will be fully refunded for workshops cancelled by us.

Participants who are unable to attend a workshop they have registered for are to inform us of the reason two weeks before the workshop date. They will be fully refunded in the event of extenuating and mitigating circumstances (E.g. illness, bereavement, accidents) . Those who inform us up to five (5) working days before the workshop date will receive a 50% refund. Participants can also attend another course at the same value within the same year.

Upon registration, you are deemed to have read and understood the cancellation, withdrawal and substitution policy and accept the terms contained therein.