Feedback on Book Design

Hi everyone

I am typesetting my first book and wanted to get some feedback on it. You can be totally brutal, I don't mind.

Please check it out here: [Bad link]

Thanks in advance.

jslabovitz's picture

No need for brutality. It's a decent design, nothing groundbreaking, but it probably doesn't need to be.

I see that it's a very small book, with quite wide margins. This gives it a classic look, which could be appropriate for the audience and purpose. However, I find the type size to be rather too large for the short line measure. You have lots of rivers of whitespace, and too much hyphenation. I'd sacrifice some margin, and decrease the type size a bit.

Speaking of margins, I'd be a little concerned about the tightness of the inner margin. Have you designed this to fit the specs of who will be printing this? If not, make sure you've allocated enough space for the binding.

I notice a bit of variance as to whether you're using single-quotes or double-quotes. Decide on one or the other. (I understand some view these as different functions -- say, quoting a word vs. a phrase, or dialogue -- but to me it just looks inconsistent.) Personally, I prefer single quotes, but it will depend on your audience.

I'm not a fan of the small-caps section headers. There are so many long headers (see p. 71), and the styling makes it difficult to read. What about reversing the styling of the sections/subsections -- eg, make the section headers italic (U&lc) and the subsections small-caps?

The section/subsection numbers (like on p. 67) are quite distracting, and don't seem to add to the content. Generally I prefer to drop these unless it is reference material where someone is literally referring to those sections. This also seems the only piece in the book where the numbers are used.

In the Notes on Contributors section, I'd choose *either* paragraph indents or an extra linespace -- not both.

In that same section, I see several places where you should be using an en-dash (eg, year ranges) instead of a hyphen.

The Appendix (which should just be called that, since there's only one) needs some help. I'd ask the editor to rewrite the delegation lists so they are not bullet lists, but just paragraphs. Also, the last paragraph (which I gather is important) is getting lost: it's actually harder to read in italic, and shouldn't be split across the last two pages.

Hope these suggestions help a bit.


damascity's picture

Thanks for your suggestions John. All my work experience has been in web design and I haven't formally studied design before so this book has been a challenge. I've been going through books of Bringhurst, Hochuli, Haslem trying to get a better grasp of the details but without expert advice there is only so far I can go. Your feedback is just what I was looking for! I'll implement your suggestions and see how it looks.


litera's picture

Is this book going to be sold? Because sure as hell it's freely available here. I doubt that publisher will be happy about it if they find the whole PDF on the internet.

Actually there's a disclaimer about this on page preceding "Contents"...

I advise you to take the PDF off and create a new one with just sample pages. You may end up in a law suit.

damascity's picture

Thanks for the concern litera. I work directly for the publisher, which is a non-profit organization that puts all of its books online as free pdf downloads while offering printed versions available for sale. You can see the rest of them here:

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