DIY typesettingYou’ve finished your manuscript and decided to take the route of self-publishing. Now, it’s time to prepare your text for your reader by investing in top-quality typesetting – or maybe not.

Self-publishing has become a popular choice for authors of all kinds, and in the DIY spirit, many are choosing to typeset their manuscripts themselves.

The thing is, typesetting is a nuanced process with a whole host of seemingly unnoticeable but extremely important rules, tips, and tricks. It takes years of experience to master the technical art of producing attractive, easy-to-read print and digital texts.

In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons you might be tempted to typeset your book yourself, and then we’ll examine just four of the many drawbacks of DIY typesetting. But first, let’s clarify what typesetting is and why it’s imperative to your text’s success.

What is typesetting?


Typesetting is the arrangement and design of text on a page – it’s how a text actually looks. The typesetting process includes font choice, type size, kerning, spacing, leading, tracking, punctuations, hyphens, scaling, justification, widows and orphans, and more.

Professional typesetters will provide other interior design elements too, such as white space, new chapter designs, visual supports, and more.

Why is typesetting important?

Poor typesetting makes reading a chore. Proper typesetting makes reading effortless. A clear, quality layout leaves the right impression, ensures your message is communicated effectively, and produces an enjoyable reading experience.

Three reasons you may be tempted to typeset your book yourself

Looking at your finished manuscript, you are reminded of all the hard work you’ve put in. But your text isn’t quite ready for publication yet – you need to undergo the typesetting process.

Here are three reasons you might be tempted to take on that huge task yourself:

  1. Save money. Hiring a professional typesetter comes with a fee, and you’d prefer to save that money than spend it. If this is the top reason why you are considering DIY typesetting, do keep in mind just how long it’s going to take you – especially if you don’t have the right software.
  2. Make sure your book looks exactly how you envision it. Maybe you have a specific look in mind for your text, and you are worried that if you work with a professional typesetter, they won’t be able to create it. A quality typesetter will work closely with you to ensure the finished product is everything you’ve dreamed of – that, we can guarantee.
  3. Typesetting looks easy – why would I hire a professional? It’s as quick and easy as pasting your text into a Word doc, selecting a font, justifying the text, and adding page numbers, right? Not quite. Typesetting is extremely nuanced. One tiny mistake can stick out like a sore thumb on a page, detracting from the reader’s enjoyment of your text.

DIY typesetting: four reasons it’s a bad idea


Now, let’s look at four of the reasons why DIY typesetting is a bad idea.

1. You’ve put a lot of time and effort into your text – why stop now?

Chances are, you’ve spent hours upon hours working on your manuscript. Why sell it short? Why not give it the very best shot at success? Professional typesetting can give your book the edge it needs to capture the hearts and minds of your audience.

2. You don’t have the right software

You can typeset a text in Word but you need to be familiar with the styling jargon and design elements required to format a book.  So, if you don’t have any advanced design or typesetting software, you simply will not be able to achieve even a passable finished product. If you’re open to investing in the right software, keep in mind that can be expensive to buy and time-consuming to learn.

3. You’re not familiar with typesetting techniques

There’s only so much you can learn from scouring the internet or examining your favourite books. Typesetting is technical – even something as seemingly innocent as a misplaced hyphen or wrong font choice can turn a reader off and make your publication look amateur.

4. You’re too close to your text

You’ve read and re-read your text. A fresh pair of eyes will pick up on little mistakes and typos that you’ve scanned over time and time again. Proofreading is an integral part of producing a book, and when you’re too close to your text, it can be near impossible to do yourself.

How to choose a professional typesetter

DIY typesetting is time-consuming and results in an unpleasant reading experience, reducing your manuscript’s chance of success. With that in mind, it’s now time to find a professional typesetter that you can rely on.

Here are a few key factors to keep in mind:

  • Is the typesetter experienced?
  • Can they typeset both print and digital publications?
  • Do they provide proofreading services?
  • Can they work to your deadline?
  • Can they produce any visual elements you’d like to include in your text?

Read more about choosing a professional typesetter in our article, How to choose a typesetter: 5 critical considerations.

Get started today

If you’ve changed your mind about DIY typesetting and are ready hand your book over to a professional, get in touch today. Contact our friendly team on (07) 3395 2022 or head to our Contact page.