Session 18 – Designing interior layouts (part 2) – 17.03.16

Today, we continued on from last week’s session about interior design by taking a piece of text provided on Blackboard and eliminate the errors that had been introduced. This was harder than I first thought since, unlike copy-editing, you are looking for more than just grammatical and publisher-specific setting errors but, more specifically, making the necessary changes such as hyphen, en and em-dash misuses. These inconsistencies can be found by a programme integrated within InDesign by pressing Command F; you can look for all the hyphens that should be en-dashes, for example. However, this only finds the punctuation marks that you have been searching for, it will not distinguish what is correct and what is wrong. You have to go through all the flagged hyphens to see if that hyphen has been accurately used; if it has, move on; if it hasn’t, make the change. Although not being the most exciting part of production, this process is pivotal for a books consistency. As David Moratto explains, A professional interior book design sells your book while/and most importantly delivers what your content is all about. Whether your book is a novel or technical your interior pages have to navigate the reader effortlessly (properly), through your book pages. Without interior design, the reader will notice the quality. Quality is not just in the content but in how it is produced so it is important to meet these basic requirements. I feel like I have made decent progress doing this and feel ready to tackle the typesetting assignment at the end of the module.


Moratto,.David. http://www.davidmoratto.com/BOOK-DESIGNER/interior-book-design-samples.html [date accessed: 22 March 2016].

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Session 17: Designing interior layouts (Part 1) – 10.03.16

For the first part of this session, Becky Chilcott primarily discussed the cover designs we did last week, giving us constructive criticism which will be very useful and insightful for future practice. This was the first real cover I had created and I did struggle somewhat to get the effects I wanted to work straight away, but the little mistakes I made will be rectified now that Becky has guided and instructed me on how to improve the design. For example, the main mistake I made was setting it to Portrait instead of Landscape without realising. Incidentally, the cover looked odd; more like a map layout than a fiction book. I learnt that sticking to the brief is very important; little mistakes won’t be made that way and will make the design accurate. For future reference too, I will now make sure that I am not too close to the bleed like this is below. Little things are forgotten sometimes, particularly when it’s something new, so now I can look forward with an aim to make better spreads. However, despite the errors in my first attempt at a cover, there are positives to be taken, such as my effective use of photoshop, typography and general basic InDesign layout skills which are proven here. This gives me confidence and reassurance.

Cover Task.jpg

For the second part of the lesson, Becky introduced us to typesetting. This involves how the text is laid out and eliminating inconsistencies and punctuation errors whilst also giving the text an identity. For example, a little illustration that matches the front cover could appear on each chapter title, such as the stars in the later editions of Harry Potter.

  (Google Images, 2015)

It was definitely worthwhile looking at how to typeset. Not only is the knowledge in this area critical for my typesetting assignment, but also in the publishing world, whereby even if I do not become a typesetter, knowledge of its process will be advantageous in the workplace.


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Session 16 – Font exercise (03.03.16)

In this session, the class were encouraged to practice and develop their eye for detail and appropriateness when applying suitable fonts to front covers. This was great use of time as part of my preparation for ‘Just So Stories’. By searching for fonts using websites such as 1001fonts.com and dafont.com, I realised just how important it is to apply the right font to a front cover. Per cover, there is a limited selection of fonts that complements the cover design. That is the main lesson I learnt from doing this exercise; through theory alone, you cannot truly comprehend the necessity of using an appropriate font.

Above, are the front covers we were asked to consider fonts for. We were given the title and left to browse, which took longer than expected. Below are pictures showing the fonts I chose, whereby for each I gave a brief explanation for my decisions.


I definitely feel like it was worthwhile associating myself with typography and cover design. I have learnt to appreciate the time that is taken in the publishing industry to find the font. It has a huge influence in how well the book stands out on a bookshelf. The wrong font could be enough to jeopardise the sales of that book due to its lack of appeal. If the text is not clear enough from a distance, or when the image is a thumbnail online, then a great sounding title will be lost on a potential customer. If the font is sloppy, unappealing, illegible, or just unprofessional (such as the overly-used, and some would say abused, Comic Sans or Papyrus fonts), it will immediately turn off the reader (Linsdell).

For next week, I aim to take one of these covers and create a near-finished cover design, including front and back covers, spine, and flaps, as Becky has asked us to do.

Linsdell, Jo.(2014) Why Book Covers are So Important, Writers and Authors. http://www.writersandauthors.info/2013/07/why-book-covers-are-so-important.html [accessed 8 March 2016].

1001freefonts. http://www.1001freefonts.com/ [accessed 8 March 2016].

Dafont. http://www.dafont.com/ [accessed: 8 March 2016].


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Session 15: Guest Speaker (25.02.16)

Today, Ness Wood came in to talk to us about her experiences in book design and impart knowledge to us about production. What I found particularly interesting is how paperback and hardbacks often have contrasting front covers – usually minimal changes, but changes all the same. She gave the example of supermarkets wanting book cover designs being presented in a certain way in order for them to add their price tags and other promotional stickers without obscuring the text. The example she used was ‘Jampires’ by Sarah McIntyre and David O’Connell. (see below for image). The positioning of the ‘jampires’ were changed for supermarkets. Customising designs to suit different providers definitely aroused my interest since I did not think this would be something a publishing company would be willing to do. Is this a direction in publishing that will become more affluent in the future? Various booksellers wanting different designs to suit their own purpose?

__ went on to discuss illustrators who are prolific in the publishing industry’s eye. Sarah McIntyre, Sue Heap, Mini Grey, and Shirley Hughes. It was beneficial to know who are the biggest figures within the picture book scene. Below are various examples of illustrations of those mentioned above.



After Wood’s talk, we were given the task of designing a new cover for the picture book ‘Lionheart’. This gave me the opportunity to practice cover design for my production assignment. I found this enjoyable and even though I have not finished I feel more comfortable using Photoshop to structure the front cover the way I want it. However, I will aim to do more in order to feel more than just ‘comfortable’, and more confident. In all, it was a very engaging lesson!

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Session 14 – Cover Grids (18.02.16)

Cover grids enter into a more mathematical mode of book production. Adhering to specific dimensions is essential when it comes to working out the size of the book’s jacket and cover flaps, if applicable. The reason for this is simply due to the size of a book differing depending on what type of book it is; for example, a picture book will have a very small spine and larger, wider front and back covers compared to that of a fiction book which will usually have a more compact size and wider spine. As Becky Chilcott explained in the session, to determine the size of the spine you need to know the number of pages in the book.
I learnt today that books are bound in multiples of 16 and are always set with a bleed. This is the extra 5mm used for trimming a book cover when printing. Crucial elements to a cover design should not be less than 5mm to the edge in case it gets cut. Below, these pictures show the basic dimensions a book may have; the front and back flaps are those mainly associated with hardbacks.



Using grids a means of producing designs for books first started by Polish freelance designer Romek Marber as he ‘conceived a grid layout for Penguin book covers that became one of the most praised and recognised layouts of all time’ (Book Design Blog). Due to its relevance in book production even now, his relevance to publishing is easily acknowledgeable. Below is a classic Merber grid layout:

Marber Grid Penguin Book Cover Design

Today, Adobe InDesign is the application which does most of the leg work for you. However, you still need to set the dimensions in yourself, thus making it mathematical due to the necessity of knowing the dimensions you need for a specific book in advance. Therefore, we experimented with basic cover designs using cover grids and after a while I was able to produce a basic front cover with a bleed. Using Photoshop to create the design I wanted, I transferred this into InDesign, fitting it within the grids. I now feel more assured having practised this that I can produce a cover design for the assignment later in the module so this makes me feel optimistic going into next week.


Book Design Blog. A Brief History of the ‘Marber Grid’ – The layout that changed book covers forever, Book Design Blog. http://thebookdesignblog.com/book-design-articles/history-marber-grid [accessed: 20.02.16].

Eye Magazine (2004) Penguin Crime, Eye Magazine. http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature/article/penguin-crime-text-in-full



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Session 13 – Working with type (11.02.16)

A relatively straight forward concept maybe, but there were some pieces of information I learnt in today’s session which I had not thought of before when it comes to type. In publishing, even the smallest mistake such as misusing a semi colon is criminal; it is an error which simply should not occur so it was beneficial for me to distinguish all the forms of grammatical errors that can be made in order for me not to make the embarrassing errors myself in the future.
One area which was covered in the session was the impact of font and how even this can say something about the title of a book. Experimenting with font was therefore a useful exercise as I could see some fonts really did suit certain themes more than others. Becky Chilcott discussed the difference between font, typeface and typography since there is a misconception for everything type to be seen as ‘font’.
* Font – A font is the combination of typeface and other qualities, such as size, pitch, and spacing.
* Typeface – The typeface represents one aspect of a font. The two general forms are serif and sans serif.
* Typography – Typography is, quite simply, the art and technique of arranging type. (Creative Bloq).

Every designer needs to understand typography. All three definitions intertwine and are reliant upon one another when it comes to book design. A good, stand out font for the book in question is essential, to the degree that books are recognised by that font. An example of this is the Twilight books; its font automatically associates itself to the book and in the last few years, that font has been discouraged for all books.

I now realise how font is essential in book design and can be the difference between making a sale and staying on the bookshelf, forgotten. I will take careful steps into deciding the font type for my own book design for the assignment in this module.

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Picture Book Cover Analysis


‘Superworm’ is illustrated by Axel Scheffler whose work here is littered with strong, bright, colourful images which will appeal to a child, so too parents looking to inspire their children with colour and getting used to animals. It gives nature an exciting twist as the imagination is allowed to bloom and so the visual representation to do this here is very strong. The worm and other animals look friendly too and this will help to engage a child’s connection with the characters.
Due to the front cover being packed with detail, the title for the book is appropriately short so that the picturesque nature of the book cover is not ruined or the text get in the way of the pictures. To this end, it is clever to have the title in the space for the sky, even more so to use the title as an extension to the picture as seen with the spider hanging off from the title. This is a great use of the space and the effect works well overall. The font is bold and easy to read which is good as this makes it easier for young children to associate themselves with the alphabet.
Potentially, there are too many characters introduced in the cover. Although the child will be able to distinguish which character is ‘Superworm’ the other characters may divert attention away from the worm, who is the main character. It may lead to confusion as to why only the worm is ‘super’. Introducing the other characters could be argued to be better placed in the story only, and not on the cover. However, the inclusion of all the characters together displays a kind of friendship – something the book may be striving to convey as its moral. Personally though, I think the Superworm stands out well. If it had been a worm lying flat on the ground it wouldn’t have given the same effect. As it is, the worm looks super, whereby even the other animals are looking up to the Superworm. In all, I think it is a very well laid out picture book.


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Session 12 – Working with imagery (04.02.16)

Designing book covers inevitably involves using images and as such, the importance of them was discussed in today’s session. The very basic features of images using either RGB (Red, Green, Blue) or CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) format was something I had not heard of before today’s session so this was a simple, yet very important point to keep in mind for my own designs later in the course. Deciding between the two is decided before the design has even started. RGB is traditionally used in digital as the quality and range of colour is not as high as that of printed books. Therefore, CMYK is used for printing.
Another key part of using imagery in production is that of photography. And with that comes licencing laws which needs to be considered carefully before and during a cover design. There are 3 main types of licencing for using pictures:
Rights Managed (RM) – An exclusive contract meaning only you can use that picture.
* Royalty Free (RF) – The option which allows anyone to use for different things.
Microstock (MS) – Images which are sourced from libraries – for example, Flickr.

A further aspect of using images in cover design which needs to be considered is that of the image quality. For the purposes of cover design, the most important thing to understand is ‘dots per inch’. This is the number of dots per inch printed on the image; the higher the number of dots, the better the quality.

This is the best way of displaying the difference between the two. The 72 dpi image is in low resolution and can be used in digital books, whereas the 300 dpi image is in high resolution and can be used in print books. The latter also means that changing the size of the image will make no difference; the quality of the picture ensures, for example, that the image does not pixelate. This was a very useful piece of information and will be good knowledge going forward when making my own front cover. For the rest of the session we put this knowledge to the test by having some time on Photoshop, and this is something I need more practice with as I am finding it quite confusing.

1. vsellis. (2013) Understanding DPI, Resolution and Print vs. Web Images. http://www.vsellis.com/understanding-dpi-resolution-and-print-vs-web-images/ [accessed 10 February 2016].

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Session 11 – Introduction to Production (28.01.16)

The more technical side of the module was introduced to us today as Becky Chilcott, a book production designer, briefed us on the basics of production and what is to be expected in this part of the course. For most of the session Becky went through a slide-show containing various book covers she has been able to produce, as well as other book covers which have unexpected design fronts. For each example, she gave us the blurb of the book and asked us what the design might look like. One that came up was Jacqueline Wilson’s book ‘Opal Plumstead’, which tells the story of a schoolgirl suffragette in a time when war is impending. We were not told the author’s name, only the blurb. The class agreed that the story sounded quite dark and would therefore have a design to depict this. However, when we saw the cover design and author the class were very surprised since the cover did not reflect the nature of the story. However, Jacqueline Wilson’s illustrator Nick Sharratt is an example of how familiar illustrations identifies an author to their readers; without whom, sales plummet.

I learnt that a cover should not give too much of the story’s plot away; there needs to be a sense of mystery and subtlety which, done effectively, hooks the reader. As Becky said, there is no right answer with cover designs, not everyone will agree that the final cover is the best one.
For the last part of the session Becky got us to take the book that we brought to the class and come up with an idea for an alternative book cover. The book I brought was ‘The Girl On The Train’. I felt that this helped to get me used to thinking about effective designs.


Jacqueline Wilson. (2015). ‘Opal Plumstead’ http://www.jacquelinewilson.co.uk/library.php?b=73 [accessed 29 January 2016].


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Session 10 – Summary and Exam – (10.12.15)

For the first hour or so of our final copy-editing session Lianne Slavin went over what we had learnt over the past 2 weeks and afterwards I felt that I had gained a solid understanding and working knowledge of what copy-editing is all about and felt prepared for the exam which took place in the final hour. Using Microsoft Word for the exam, I was able to navigate my way through the text and administering the necessary changes with the ‘Track Changes’ icon in the tools table. Overall, I am happy with my development through this semester and now have a sound knowledge of both commissioning editing and copy-editing.

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