Book Sizes and Layout

Choosing the size of your book has a great impact on sales for many reasons.

First, people have an impression of a book based on its size. If it’s a standard small, paperback size, they assume it’s a casual, enjoyable read. This is the size that most mystery books and romance novels come in.

If they pick up a hefty tome with hard covers, they get a different impression. This has more serious content that they will have to pay close attention to.

Comic books tend to have a certain size that allows the reader to enjoy the graphic panels on larger sized pieces of paper.

The standard letter size, 8.5 x 11, is often used for textbooks and instructional manuals.

It’s also important to keep in mind the size of your book has a big impact on the cost – and therefore how many people will be able to afford to buy it! If your book has only 100 pages in a large size, it could be inexpensive – but if it runs to 400 pages when you squash it down into a smaller size, the per-page charge could cause your book to cost three times as much. That might change it from a book that people love to buy to one they think is overpriced.

Here is a chart of standard sizes that most publishers offer.

4.18″ x 6.88″, 4.25″ x 6.875″ – Small Paperback

5″ x 8″, 5.25″ x 8″, 5.5″ x 8.5″- Standard Paperback

6″ x 9″, 7″ x 10″, 8″ x 10″ – Novel

8.5″ x 11″ – U.S. Letter

7.5″ x 7.5″ – Square

8.5″ x 8.5″ – Larger Square

6.625″ x 10.25″ – Comic Book

9″ x 7″ – Landscape

6.14″ x 9.21″ – Royal

7.5″ x 9.25″ – Technical Manual

7.44″ x 9.68″ – Crown Quarto

8.27″ x 11.69″ – A4


The table below gives a rough relationship between word count and page for different types of book.  There are a number of assumptions such as the design and layout of the book, the number of quotations and much more. This is based on practical experience. A more theoretical approach is set out below that would be useful if you are making a mock-up.

word page estimatorMatching word count to your page

To get an idea of what your book will look like you need to match the number of words per page on your word processor page to the finished printed page. This is an art rather than a science but here are a few tips.

Lines per page

For paperbacks you get 25-50 lines per page with 35 being a good average. This line count includes blank lines between paragraphs as well as lines with just a single word.

Words per page

At one extreme you get large print books with 250 words on the page. Academic books might put 600 words on a page with works of reference squeezing in 1000 words. A good working average is 400.

These figures represent continuous words with no blank lines or breaks. In practice you need to subtract 15-20% from the page word total once the white space is taken into account. This gives you 200 (large print), 500 for an academic book with 350 words per paperback page as a working average.

To put these numbers in perspective, if you type with a font size of 10, you could be packing nearly 1000 words on each A4 page – which would make nearly 3 paperback pages.

All this relates to the standard paperback size book. Pages come in many sizes and it often makes sense to opt for a larger page format to reduce the print costs.


How to match the page sizes

There are 2 ways:

The first is to adjust the white space around the text. You could set up your page to leave half the space white. This is a bad idea because the output will not feel like the finished article unless you have access to an industrial guillotine to trim the blank paper.

The second approach is to adjust the font size. The table below gives the page word count for relevant font sizes for a popular typeface:

Times Roman font   size 10 12 14 16 20
Target words per   page 1112 815 582 435 320
Lines per page (you   can adjust the margins to achieve this) 60 50 43 37 33

Notes: Figures based on:

  1. Average of 3 different styles of text (5% variation).
  2. Figures are for solid text so subtract 15-20% for real layout with blank lines.
  3. Times Roman was used. Wide fonts such as Arial fit 7-10% fewer words per page but the same number of lines.

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