Book Construction Basics

There are a few terms and industry standards that can be helpful when discussing your book and it's design needs. We have compiled a short list of the most basic elements of book construction here.

Trim Sizes and Spine Width

Books are measured by their physical dimensions, or trim size. Our templates come in a variety of trim sizes that will correspond to the physical height and width of the book. For example, a 6x9" template will yield a print book that is 6" wide, and 9" high.

The spine is directly proportional to the number of pages in the book. In industry terminology, a page is one side of a sheet of paper. So a book with 100 pages will have 50 sheets of paper, printed front and back.

eBooks Have No Set Page Sizes

eBook formats will not have a set page size. Word does require a page size for the document, but once the file has been converted to an eBook, the margins, gutters, and spacing will be ignored by eReader devices.

Further, Section Breaks get converted by eReader platforms into page-breaks automatically. This removes blank pages automatically from your finished eBook file.

Verso and Recto Pages

When you open a book, even-numbered pages on the left are called verso pages. ,The odd-numbered pages on the right are called recto pages.  (The verso page is the back of the previous recto page.)

The vast majority of books follow the industry standard of the first chapter opening starting on a Recto, or right-hand (odd-numbered) page 1.

Often, a prior chapter ends on an odd-numbered page. When this happens, it is customary to make the back of that recto page (the verso) blank, to allow the next chapter to start on the correct page.

This is also true for many front matter pages like dedications and quotations.

Gutter Margins

Books have bindings in the center to hold all of the pages together. These bindings cause the pages to roll inward toward the center in what is called a gutter. Extra page spacing, or gutter margins, are required on the inside edges of the page to account for the gutter.

Even pages will have larger margins on the right side, and odd pages will have larger margins on the left side to allow the page to appear centered when bound in book form.  These are called mirror margins, and your template has them built in.

Most Formatting is Discarded during eBook Conversion

eBooks and eReader platforms are still in their infancy. Although newer eReaders may incorporate some font embedding, drop-caps, and fixed layout, eBooks are still dominated by minimal text layout options. As such, our 2Way templates are built with formatting that is most common across the multitude of eReader platforms, and omit format features that most often malfunction, like fancy fonts and fixed layout.