Top 10 Book Formats All Writers Should Know

If you’re considering self-publication, you will want to know each of these 10 book formats.

If you are considering tackling the writing of a book, you may be wondering exactly how to format it. Thankfully, there are industry standards that you can follow to properly format your book for the best possible chance at publication. Even if you opt for self-publishing, following these formats will help you get more eyes on your book. Most industry formats use the term trim size to talk about how tall and wide the book is. The type of cover is also a common consideration when choosing book formats. In today’s digital age, you will also need to decide if you are printing your book, offering digital copies, or looking towards an audiobook.

Here are 10 book formats to consider as you consider your publication options.

1. Hardcover Books

Book Formats: Hardcover books
Bookstores typically charge more for the hardcover book

Hardcover books are hardbound books that have seen spines. Often they have a removable dust jacket to help protect the cover from damage. The industry standard trim size for these books is 6 inches by 9 inches to 8.5 inches by 11 inches. Most books get released as hardcovers for their first release, then come out in paperback a year later. Bookstores typically charge more for the hardcover book. As a result, these books tend to last longer than their paperback counterparts. Many genre fictions, such as books in the fantasy or romance world, do not get a hardcover release. Indie press books also tend to come out without a hardcover version.

2. Trade Paperbacks

Trade paperbacks are the standard paperback books in many bookstores and other retailers. They tend to measure five inches by eight inches and are easier to carry around than hardcover copies. You will find most book types available as trade paperbacks. This is because they are accessible and portable. The paperback idea dates back to World War II when soldiers wanted to read something from home but did not want to pay the high cost of hardcover novels. When the soldiers returned from the war, publishers had changed and offered the easy-to-carry book format for all readers, and the book publishing world changed.

3. Mass Market Paperbacks

Mass-market paperbacks are a bit different than trade paperbacks because they are made for the masses. This is almost always the type of book you will pick up if you shop for a steamy romance novel. However, you will also find them in other adult fiction genres. These books are slightly smaller than trade paperbacks, measuring 4 inches by 7 inches. They are also one of the most affordable books on the market. You won’t see mass-market paperbacks in young adult books, which is interesting. However, many adult genres are available in this industry standard.

4. Oversized Books

Oversized books are the coffee table books you often see used as decorations. These come in larger book sizes and tend to contain images of art, architecture, or landscapes. Photography collections are standard in this format as it allows the photograph to show clearly. Cookbooks can also come in large formats, containing images within the recipes. While the sizes of oversized books vary, these are almost always at least 10 inches wide. As a result, they tend to be quite heavy and have a hard book cover with a dust jacket.

5. Miniature Books

Miniature books are books that are smaller than trade paperbacks. By definition, these books are no bigger than 4 inches in size, but most publishers in the United States limit miniature books to 3 inches. Historically, miniature books were priced works showcased classics in small form or held religious prayers and verses. Today, they have changed a bit, and a common reason for a publisher to publish a miniature book is to publish a book of jokes or quotes. Miniature books are popular novelties because you can toss them in a purse or pocket. But unfortunately, they can have a smaller print font, making them harder to read.

6. Photo Books

Photo books are typically non-fiction books that strongly showcase an artist’s photographic work. These can be cookbooks or books that show photographs of a location or even artwork. Photo books are typically larger than fiction books because they need to showcase the photographs they contain. They rarely have a standard size. Because photo books are designed to showcase photography, they often have a binding that allows them to lie flat when open. This binding may be spiral for recipe photo books to make it easier to turn the pages and find a recipe. 

7. Children’s Books

Children’s books tend to be more significant to allow for illustrations in between the text. A small 5-inch by 8-inch size is standard, but so is a larger 10-inch by 8-inch size. A children’s book’s vertical orientation will likely measure 7 inches by 10 inches. Square trim sizes are also possible in the children’s book world. Keep in mind that books designed for children often have non-standard formatting. This helps them stand out as booksellers.

8. Kindle or Digital Books

Digital books are designed for reading on a Kindle, tablet, or mobile phone. They often have the same book format as the printed version f the book, if one exists, with matching page numbers and line spacing. If you self-publish a Kindle or digital book, you will want to choose specific formatting in Microsoft Word. For example, for Amazon Kindle eBook manuscripts, You want a 5 mm indentation and single spacing for the manuscript.

In addition, the chapter titles need to be formatted using Heading 1 with the alignment in the center, and you will need to create a table of contents. The font does not matter with Kindle books. You can leave it as Times New Roman or choose a different font based on your preferences. The reader can choose their font if they wish, so you do not need to worry about this part of the book design process.

9. Audiobooks

Book Formats: Audiobook File Formats
The key to making audiobooks that reach an audience well is choosing the right reader

Audiobooks are books that are read aloud. They typically get produced much later than the print book, but they increase the accessibility of the book for people who may not have time or ability to read a print version. Adding an audiobook allows a publisher to reach more people with a title and increase sales. In addition, there is no special formatting for audiobooks because the book does not have a print version. The key to making audiobooks that reach an audience well is choosing the right reader. The reader needs to have an engaging voice and smooth reading skills.

10. Manuscript Format

Finally, if you are making a manuscript to send to various publishers and you are not quite sure what format they will use if they pick up your book, there are a few ideas to help it read better. First, stick with black, 12-point Times New Roman font. Most publishers can easily read this. Next, use a standard 8.5 by 11-inch page with one-inch margins on all sides and an indentation of .5 inches for paragraphs—double space between lines and single space after periods.

Unless you are writing in poetic form, left justify your margins. Finally, use page breaks and page numbers. Save your file as a Word document. This is the most acceptable format for most publishers. By keeping your formatting to this standard, you will have a better chance of an editor reading it.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our round-up of the best writing books!

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