Typesetting – Part Two: Print Styles

As promised, the second part of my answer to Ankaret Wells‘ question about how I typeset Fauxpocalypse. In Part One I described my method of identifying the various types of paragraphs in my document, and admitted that my initial style list turned out not to be the best list. This article will cover how I turned the list into documents that are both accessible and beautiful.

Initial Considerations

Before altering any of the text styles I created a copy of my master document with a page style set to match the final size of the print book.

There are three basic guides I apply when creating a document that will be viewed printed out:

  • Serif fonts are easier to read than san-serif
  • Uniformity will never look muddled, so only deviate from the common typeface where it adds value
  • The human mind has difficulty processing a change of more than 3 points

Typefaces

So my first step was to pick my primary typeface. I have always liked Times New Roman, and it is a very common typeface so will look “right” to most people who have used a computer. To aid readability I initially decided on 12-point text with a 3em first-line indent.

Next I considered the various titles. When I took over Fauxpocalypse the front cover had already been agreed, and was typeset in Arial Black. As there was no good reason to add a third typeface I decided to use that for all the titles inside. I created a style called Title in a similar way to Body. I chose a default of 30-point centred text with no indent so the title page would match the cover.

To maintain uniform document, I then went through creating special styles that inherited from either Body or Title. While my existing style list was acceptable for this, it did not properly reflect the inheritance, so I recreated it as:

[Body]
-[BodySection]
-[BodyTableOfContents]
-[BodyCopyright]
[Title]
-[TitleSection]
-[TitleChapter]
-[TitleAuthor]

That way I would see straight away that the Table of Contents and Copyrights were in the main typeface rather than variations of Title. Once I had created and applied all the styles to the document I started re-setting the document.

Adjust Type Sizes

My immediate thought was that 12 point Body text – while very readable – was also very large for a book. So I scaled it down to 11 point.

This created a range of 8 – 14 points for any text that was next to a normal paragraph. Section titles stood out enough without a size advantage, so I set them to 11 point as well but set them to justified rather than centred.

I wanted author names to stand out more than section titles if a story started with a section title, so I set Author to 12 points; this gave me the option of going up to 15 points for Chapter/Story titles, however, that was much larger than the body text so I went with 14 points.

Insert Page and Line Breaks

I wanted each story to start on a fresh page, so I set the Chapter style to insert a page break above the text. This left the title at the top of a new page, so I set the style to insert 5cm before the text.

The sections within the stories did not need to start on a new page, but did need a clear gap before them so I set both Body Sections and Section Titles to insert space before the text. To keep this in proportion if I changed typeface sizes again I set this to 2em; however, using a fixed measurement such as 0.5cm will still produce a pleasing look if you (or your word processor) prefer more common units.

Tweak Layout

The copyright page flowed onto a second page. As very few people read the copyright page for enjoyment, I reduced Body Copyright to 10 points so it would fit on one.

Although it did reduce the page count by one (which would make a slight saving on buying copies in bulk) I did not like the first story starting on the back of the Contents page, so I inserted a manual break to force a blank page. I then made a note in my style sheet, so that I would remember to check again if I changed the Body Contents text.

Having a single line on its own looks odd to me, so I set widow-and-orphan control to 2 lines. To prevent Section Titles from being the last line of a page, I set them to remain with following paragraph.

I feel justified text looks better than ragged-edge, so I set Body to justified (final line: left). Because other sections are set to inherit this updated the copyright, table of content, &c. without me needing to do anything.

Fine Tune Text

However, justification breaks words on hyphens by default. As I prefer the look of compound words on one line I did a search-and-replace to insert non-breaking hyphens.

I feel spaced ellipses ” . . . ” look better in print than tight ellipses “… ” so I also replaced used search and replace to insert non-breaking spaces into the ellipses to keep them on a single line.

Page Numbering and Table of Contents

However, it did not have page numbers yet. Readers expect the page numbers to start with the main text, so I created a new page style for front matter which did not have a footer, and set the first pages to that. This let me start page numbering with the main text. If you want to use Roman numerals for the front matter or omit numbering for full-page illustrations within the main body the same technique applies.

I could now add the page numbers to the table of contents. However, it looked a little cramped so I set the alignment of the contents page to justified (last line: justified); this caused the page numbers to move to the right margin. I then inserted non-breaking spaces between the words in the titles and authors to make them group naturally from the left margin.

Now it really looked like a book.

In Part Three I will share how I set up a copy for ebook printing.

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