A Peek Inside: Designing a Chapbook’s Interior Layout

“Blurred Book Pages”. Photo by Caio (Creative Commons CC0 1.0) – public domain image. https://thoughtsonfantasy.com/openfannedbook/

Last week, my team met to work on the interior layout for new author Joe O’Connor’s chapbook, Why Poetry. When asked to volunteer for our desired team during our last class period, I chose this one because I thought it would be interesting to open my eyes to some of the challenges of a book’s physical production. I had no idea how many other windows would be unveiled to me as well in the short time we worked together! 

The most revolutionizing discovery proved to be my newfound ability to find and download other fonts to my computer. As a Mac user, I’m bound to their version of Microsoft Word, a program called Pages. While I like the program itself, I was always wanting for new fonts, but never knew there was a way to obtain them…for free! When our wonderful and diligent group leader, Julia Snyder, instructed us to search on dafont.com, for possible fonts in which to set O’Connor’s body text, I found hundreds of new letter styles at my fingertips. I cannot contain my excitement (and my shock that I’d never heard of this miracle before)!

I selected several serif fonts, some of which were plain enough for body text but still had a little more style than the monotonous Times New Roman every student has memorized. I also found a few that could potentially work for titles. While we opted with Robot Thin, a sans-serif font, for the main text, selected for its “open” appearance, our group did choose Angleterre Book, I font I picked, for use in the numerous titles throughout the work!

Julia then introduced us to Adobe InDesign, similar in layout to Adobe Photoshop, which I currently use in AR-330: Digital Photography and Post-Production. I liked how, by creating a Master Page, we could keep the same placement of body texts versus titles or page numbers, and the same margins on each page-in-progress, which gave the chapbook a uniform, fluid feel despite its gorgeous poems and unique covers. Laying out each page was a laborious process, but together we wrestled with the font size and copied and pasted each title and each poem to its appropriate text box. 

The most exasperating aspect hit us, coffee-less, at 8 am when we met again to finish the project. Nearly finished, we simply couldn’t adjust the print settings to allow us to print the layout we required for our mockup of the book interior. At last, we surrendered to Google, and found others had experienced the same problem; the computer program had added extra pages, and we had already designed it with a sufficient addition of blank ones. Any more, and the poems would not be printed in the proper order.  We followed online advice and were ecstatic when it printed correctly! Then we tried to find a stapler to finalize the tangible copy of our hard work…

All in all, I truly enjoyed working with the interior layout team, whose members were pleasant and hard-working. My mind has expanded in its understanding of books. I had no idea how much effort was entertained in the making of a single page!

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