Providing educational resources and opportunities for all individuals involved in book and book-related publishing.

BAiPA | Book Design for Reading & Comprehension

Hosted/Organized by: Bay Area Independent Publishers Association

BAIPA monthly meetings are now exclusively on Zoom, at least until we get through this COVID-19 crisis. The Zoom links will be provided to you via email on the Friday evening before, around 9 PM.

Therefore, all non-members MUST register in advance in order to participate. However, all current BAIPA members will get the Zoom info for the morning session automatically, but they must pre-register for the afternoon workshop.

Please scroll down to the bottom of this page for the list of available tickets. Members, please log in first.

The general meeting begins at 9 am, the speaker presentation is at 11 am, after Q&A, networking time, introductions & announcements, followed by a lunch break from 12:15-1:00 PM, and then our Afternoon Workshop from 1-3 PM.

(Click here for the schedule for the day)


Book Design for Reading & Comprehension

Bill will discuss how to design a book for reading ease and comprehension, and how to set type to direct the reader’s eye.

– Bill Amatneek –

We all want to make our books look attractive to the eye, and certainly the cover should be attractive. But the book’s interior, the text, should invite us to read and reward our reading.

Designing a book to be easily read and understood is the subject of this program. We’re going to examine how the eye reads and how the brain processes our reading. This will show us how to set type to speed the reader along, and how to stop the reader in his or her tracks when we wish, and make them reread, if we wish.

We’ll talk about line length, typeface selection, serif and sans-serifs fonts, magazine vs. book design, matching of title and text fonts, type and leading size, the book you must own if you are designing your own book, and the one piece of software you must use. (We’ll look at other books and other software as well). We’ll discuss the hyphen, en dash and em dash, “white space,” the two uses of an ellipsis and how this special character affects reading, the one-sentence paragraph, expressing thoughts with text, using lower-case caps, a.k.a. small caps, abbreviations and acronyms, tracking and kerning, the ampersand, using type to suggest objects, having fun with the epigraph and colophon, using or not using quotations marks, using isolated quotations throughout your book, and using consistency to suggest usage.

We’ll examine the three parts of a book: front matter, body, and back matter, what elements should or can go in each, and their order. In the front matter, we’ll look at page numbering, a “Kind Words” page, bastard title page, the advertising card, the full title page and its content, the copyright page and its extensions, the dedication, preface, epigraph, table of contents, introduction, foreword, and acknowledgments. In the book’s body, we’ll talk about creating “pools” of text to guide the eye, typesetting section and chapter title text, widows and orphans, beginning a chapter on the verso vs. recto page, and running headers & footers. Finally, we’ll discuss why back matter is sometimes set differently than body and front matter.

1. How we read and how we comprehend what we read.
2. Book design, layout and typesetting for reading and comprehension.
3. Typesetting techniques to direct the reader’s eye and mind.

About Our Speaker: Bill Amatneek

Bill Amatneek has designed, typeset and published three books to date, two editions of his memoir-ish Acoustic Stories, about playing string bass in the acoustic music movement, and more recently his anthology, Heart of a Man: Men’s Stories for Women.

Bill has a bachelor’s in the psychology of visual perception, and has studied how the eye reads and the mind comprehends reading. He sat at the feet of book design masters including BAIPA’s own Peter Masterson, the late Steve Rennick (who headed UC Press,), and Dave Bullen, who designed books for Houghton-Mifflin for 40 years. He’ll talk today about how to design, layout, and typeset a book to make reading and comprehension easier.

Book Design for Reading & Comprehension